In season 1, there were less characters, and although there was still a lot of background that made the story complicated and perhaps a bit difficult to understand for non-readers, it worked. (Background info such as CotF, First Men, Andals, Targaryen history, the many gods in the series are what I am referring to.) What helped make season 1 more cohesive was the fact that Ned Stark was the center of the storm, so to speak. He was the loveable patriarch of a noble family and most of the events derived from him -- Robert's offering him the position of Hand, which meant that his queen and Jaime were in Winterfell, etc. etc. Ned's BEING THERE set off a bunch of chain reactions, and once he agreed to be Robert's Hand, all the plotting started.
The only characters who were not really surrounding Ned Stark in the plot were Viserys and Dany. They were also separated geographically. However, the writers did a good job of explaining why they were in exile and what they were trying to accomplish.
Once Ned was executed, all hell broke loose, and I mean that in a couple of ways. Firstly, people who hadn't read the books were shocked and pissed that the "main character" of the series had been killed. Secondly, it accelerated the War of the 5 Kings. Thirdly, and most importantly, I observed a splintering effect of the storyline - now, instead of a plot that is very textured/includes subplots, but is basically still about Ned and his family (as well as Dany) it became a hundred different storylines.
One thing that struck me forcefully was how much each episode of season 2 skips around. In the first season, each episode seemed like it spent much more time on each character, and the cut from one scene to another was seamless and well-segued. This season, it runs sort of like this: two minutes with Theon hunting the boys - cut - one minute with Bran/Rickon/Osha/Hodor going towards a village - cut - Dany trying to find her dragons for two minutes - cut - Sansa talking with the Hound for 1 minute - cut - Arya and Tywin Lannister talking for 3 minutes (incredibly uncharacteristically, btw -- he even smiles a couple of times) - cut - Sansa gets her period and talks with Cersei for two minutes - cut - Jaime maunders on with a character - Alton?? - who wasn't in the books for four minutes, strangles him and a Karstark son, escapes - cut - Tyrion and Cersei have a heart-to-heart even though Tyrion has already delivered the infamous line of "your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth"....um, what? - cut - etc. etc. etc.
I didn't want to generalize before I had seen more than half of series 2, but this fragmented style of filming book 2 is disorienting and annoying. I understand that this might seem natural because there are 5 kings in the land, so naturally everyone will be all over the place, but what happens when even more characters are added as the series progresses? Will we only see half a minute of each character, unable to savor the longer interactions we enjoyed in season 1? It appears that although the adaptation of the books to TV is well-intentioned, there might be an inevitable downward spiral of fragmentation because of the growing cast, the growing complexity of the plot, and the unnecessary scenes they add to the show. (Perfect example: why on earth did they steal Dany's dragons? If they hadn't made that decision, there would have been extra time to use for longer scenes with the characters.)
Aside from that, my opinion of episode 7 is much like it has been for all the other episodes thus far -- I am left dissatisfied (unfortunately). The only high point for me was John & Ygritte's interactions. I love the actress playing her - she's got her character spot-on and even though in the book I always HATED it when she said "you know nothing, Jon Snow", I thought the way she delivered that line was absolutely fantastic. Grim, and not playful as I had always imagined.
Edited by dark sister, 15 May 2012 - 10:21 AM.