And we close on another sort of potential threat to the Lannisters with an extended suspense sequence featuring everyone's favorite buddy team of Arya and the Hound(**). As not-as-dead-as-reported Stark kids, Bran theoretically puts a bigger monkey wrench in Tywin's plans, since he's the true heir of Winterfell. But he's busy traveling further north and getting his warg on, whereas Arya is in the middle of the country and apparently on her way to see creepy Aunt Lyssa at the Vale of Arryn. If news gets out that Tywin allowed one of the Stark girls to escape his custody alive — or, worse, that he was in a room with her on multiple occasions and had no idea — this will at minimum make him look weak to his allies. And if Arya keeps picking up fighting lessons from the Hound (following the ones she already got from Jaqen and Syrio), there's always a chance she could wipe all the names off her revenge list on her own. The episode's title could refer to the two different swords that Tywin turns Ned's into, or it could refer to the two we see in someone's hand: Jaime's and Arya's, which she finally reclaims from Polliver after she and the Hound make quick and impressive work of him and his men.

It's a fascinating closing scene. D.B. Weiss, directing his first episode of the show, does such a good job of drawing out the tension of whether Polliver will recognize Arya and/or whether there will be blood spilled. But it also invites us to cheer at Arya becoming more and more like the sadists she wants revenge on. As she kills Polliver, she recites the conversation he had with her friend right before killing him, and makes sure this is all as drawn out as possible. It's eye-for-an-eye justice, and everyone Arya has on her list deserves some of that, but in an episode that began with our first symbol of Ned Stark in quite some time, I wonder how he would feel about what his daughter is turning into in her travels.

(**) Too soon to pitch Maisie Williams and Rory McCann for "True Detective" season 2?

Some other thoughts:

* The opening credits add two new locations, in the rugged Westeros castle Dreadfort and Meereen, another walled city of Essos. Interestingly, we don't get to either one this week, though Dany is at least on her way to the latter. In the past, the show has treated King's Landing, Winterfell, the Wall and wherever Dany is as weekly locations (and Dragonstone may have reached that level, given its presence in a Stannis-less episode), but hasn't always been consistent about whether we only see other places (say, the Twins) when major characters are there or if we stop at them as placeholders because the credits have to run a certain length.

* Michiel Huisman from "Tremé" steps in as the new Daario, and instantly seems more interesting than Ed Skrein was in the role. Huisman wasn't exactly hit by the ugly stick himself, but Daario now comes across as more calculating and smooth rather than just a pretty boy who can fight. He can pick up on Grey Worm's attraction to Dany's translator Missandei, and is incredibly smooth and sly in the way that he arranges to give Dany a lesson in local botany that of course makes it look like he's giving her a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Jorah didn't like Daario in his original incarnation, and I don't see him being any happier with this guy around his Khaleesi.

* Sansa gets her first good moment in forever when knight-turned-fool Dontos, whose life she saved early in season 2 when Joffrey was on the verge of having him executed, shows up to thank her for her kindness and give her a family heirloom he no longer has any use for. It's not an escape, but at least it's a reminder she has been able to do a few good things in the midst of all the tragedy of her life.

* Some tension at Castle Black, where Jon Snow is catching grief over the murder of Halfhand, sleeping with Ygritte and all his other shenanigans from north of the Wall. At this stage, it's interesting that there's no reaction by anyone further south to the news of White Walkers and the wildling army, given how concerned at least Stannis was at the end of last season, but that could still come later. And Ygritte and Tormund get some company from another wildling tribe who prefer their meat to be of the human variety. Time for a "Hannibal"/"GoT" crossover?

* No Bran this week also means no Hodor. My reaction to this: hodor.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at

NOTE: No more comments on any "Game of Thrones" posts. I tried setting up separate message board forums for readers and non-readers, but there are certain individuals with such small emotional lives that they've decided that they must punish anyone who hasn't read the books by posting extensive spoilers in the non-readers thread. So forget that. Y'all want to discuss this show, I would advise finding someplace else to do it. I'll keep reviewing it, but that's it.

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Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at