As Telltale’s Game of Thrones passes its halfway point with Sons of Winter, the season finds itself picking up momentum with some characters, and stepping back with others. The pacing slows on a few fronts, breaking rising tension the series has labored to build thus far, yet makes use of it, blending a particularly action-heavy episode with just enough narrative importance to make it all count.The main players are where we last left them, all contributing to House Forrester in any way they can. Sons of Winter kicks off with Gared, locked away, facing severe punishments after what took place during The Sword In The Darkness’ final moments. It’s a bit of an annoying launch, as the events of last episode aren’t given any room to sprout into discussion. There’s no way to reason with the already convinced Night’s Watch that Gared’s actions had strictly been out of self defense. It’s a locked down plot device that, at the time, seems implausible, but eventually leads to interesting results as Gared finally embarks on his journey north to uncover the secrets of the North Grove. If Sons of Winter is any indication, the road ahead for Gared and his two accompanying brothers of the Night’s Watch isn’t an easy one. A heated confrontation with a hostile pack of Wildlings unfolds not long after fleeing Castle Black, sending a fairly reliable message that swords will clash again before reaching the North Grove. Gared’s role in the series has evolved into an undoubtably important puzzle piece to the final picture.
Also playing a vital piece in the puzzle is Mira, working her end of the deal in King’s Landing. Though her role is significantly smaller than her peers in the Sons of Winter, it’s an impactful one all the same. She goes about eavesdropping on conversations at a party following King Tommen Baratheon’s coronation, where she hopes to gain more knowledge about the Whitehills’ plot against her family. There aren’t a lot of decisions for Mira to make here, aside from one that proposes the betrayal of Sara’s trust in order to get what she wants. Mira’s connections in King’s Landing are sure to help her family down the road, but as it stands with Sons of Winter, she’s nothing more than a quick check-in for now.Across the Narrow Sea, Asher’s scenes encompass the season’s most action-focused sequences, along with some of its more personal, character-driven moments. It starts with Asher and his companions face to face with Daenerys Targaryen, asking for a group of capable fighters large enough to aid the growing conflict back at Ironrath. It was during this exchange that something dawned on me. The inclusion of characters from the show are prone to feel out of place and in the case of Sons of Winter, jarring. These characters’ lines fail to fully align with those of the ones we’re used to seeing on Sunday nights. Here Daenerys is totally out of character, sporting a much more hostile and self-indulgent attitude, one she never resorts to in the show. Fortunately, Beskha picks up much of the slack, as she’s offered quite of bit of time to develop her character. She’s very interesting and brings some much needed depth to a storyline all about people. Having come to an agreement with Daenerys, Asher and Beskha lead the siege to gain control of Mereen, in which the most action-heavy scenes of the series play out. It all goes down in classic Telltale fashion, but it’s really the interaction with Beskha, where we learn about her dark past in which Asher’s scenes flourish.
Where Sons of Winter really shines is back at Ironrath. Over the last three episodes, similar defeating notes echoed throughout the halls of Ironrath, so much so the entire plot thread was beginning to feel mundane. Sons of Winter breaks the cycle of drab events that defined Ironrath’s role in the first half of the season, to very satisfying results. Bringing Griff Whitehill and his soldiers to the extent of justice deemed fair is a much welcomed and rewarding twist. Out of all the characters we check-in with this episode, Rodrick’s path is by far the strongest and most eventful. It’s constantly exciting and the final confrontation with Lord Whitehill is a tense hostage-negotiation that plays out in true Game of Thrones style. Though it’s slightly less impactful thanks to a failsafe option that goes to highlight just how meaningless large-scale choices can be.Summary: Sons of Winter represents a strange juncture for Telltale’s Game of Thrones. It’s an episode that finds itself starting to slip, yet puts just enough pieces together to withhold the good quality that has been ubiquitous with the season thus far. Telltale’s Game of Thrones has the merits to grow into something great, but the faulty presentation that follows the series continually demands big story movements in order to distract. We’re given just enough to satisfy here, but anything less, and we’re facing a subpar quality standard for Game of Thrones.
Connect with me on Twitter and let me know your thoughts on Sons of Winter. Find me @BraxHaugen.