Definitely a solid 8. The most important part of this episode was adding some of the original characterization into these characters. That is the thing I look most forward to when George R.R. Martin writes an episode. The other writers sort of understand the characters, but they're ALWAYS missing something or pandering to a trope that makes them seem one-dimensional. When George writes an episode, you can tell, because the characters seem to come alive again. Daenerys was more self-assured, and there was a good emphasis placed on her actual motivations for taking over these cities. Robb was FINALLY given a younger, more playful nature.. We actually see that he is a YOUNG man here. They've been overplaying his brooding, stoic persona.. He felt much better here. Catelyn stood up for herself in at least a SMALL way! Some of her defiance and intelligence shone through a little bit. Jon and Ygritte's relationship was finally portrayed as well as it was in the book. Made me like Ygritte a whole lot more. Brienne actually felt like Brienne, more reserved and kind rather than the hotheaded brash female that's been shown so far.. Sansa was given a much more faithful characterization this episode as well. The bear scene was a little dull.. All in all, just great :). I wish they could write the characters as well as George, but they just seem to miss so much nuance.. I wish he could just write the entire TV series. People have to keep in mind this episode didn't necessarily have parts of the story that were big plot points, and that happens sometimes. We're on the way to the red wedding. This episode was extremely necessary to add some good characterization, but I think those with an attention deficit needed some action to satisfy them.. The bear scene could have delivered that, but failed.. Not George's fault, blame D&D for writing that in. Edit- I feel like George is necessary for these one off episodes, at the very least, because despite all of their changes, he sort of kicks the story back into orbit.. They can stray from the original characters to a certain point, but he helps to reroute them into the positions they need to be for the big payoff at the end. This was definitely what I needed to prepare for the Red Wedding :).