The events of the Game of Thrones Telltale adaptation are gradually, very gradually, coming to a head. We discover a rough outline of where everyone is attempting to go with their various plots and have a vague hint as where it's all going to climax in the coming two volumes. I'm fairly sure this is a story which is going to have a sequel, at least as long as the series is on, but it will probably bring a definitive climax to the Forrester-Whitehill feud.
The premise this time around is that the Forester fortunes receive a sudden and unexpected boost from his fiance. Lord Whitehill forced her father at swordpoint to end her engagement with Rodrick Forrester before attempting to marry her to his son Gryff. This final humiliation is too much for either Rodrick or his beloved, resulting in her recruiting the elite guard of House Glenmore to assist him in retaking Ironrath. This, of course, means that suddenly the Forresters have a potential hostage of their own.
|Daeny reacts negatively to anything you have to say. Which is weird because Asher is the roguish mercenary type she loves.|
In short, there is a staggering amount of stuff going on in this episode. This is what inclines me to like it. It really felt like it was a much-much denser story than the vast majority of Telltale episodes. While other episodes in the series may have been more "fun", I'm going to say this is probably amongst the best they've ever done, period. I liken it to the Around Every Corner of The Walking Dead, which is my definitive example of a packed storyline.
|It's like the Last Supper, except everyone is Judas.|
However, the biggest beneficiaries of the game's character development are the unlikable Frey-alikes in the Whitehill family. As Bolton bannermen, they are disgusting petty bullies. They aren't nearly as evil as Ramsay Bolton but they're also more believably despicable too. There's few Hannibal the Cannibal or the Joker serial killers like Ramsay in real-life but plenty of people like Lord Whitehill. I knew I would have to kill the fat bastard as soon as he mocked the Forresters over the body of their dead lord from Episode One.
Here, at least, we get a sense for why Ludd Whitehill is such a piece of offal. We find the magnificent Whitehill castle which has fallen to utter ruin, we find out his wife died horribly when his child was very young, and also that they're surrounded by a desert of clearcut Ironwood. They're impoverished patricians who are, rightly, embarrassments to their status. It may be all their fault that they've run their family fortune into the ground but poverty can ruin people and it's at least *A* motivation other than: "The Whitehills are just dicks."
|I'm not sure if she's supposed to be a potential love-interest for Gared or twelve. Which is kind of disturbing in terms of character-design.|
The best part of the episode was also the chance to chance to sit down across from the Whitehills at a quote-unquote peace-summit. Watching Ludd Whitehill bluster, hiss, and stomp his way around you at a situation where he's not in complete control is delightful. I also liked the non-standard game over you can adopt if you choose to break sacred hospitality. Walder Frey has destroyed any notion that lords and ladies of Westeros can negotiate in peace and such will have long-lasting repercussions.
|Was there anyone who encouraged Beskha not to kill the guy?|
Likewise, Beshka's storyline arc goes in a rather obvious direction. I'm getting that we're making a slow but obvious choice of Essos vs. Westeros for Asher's priorities but I can't imagine anyone sparing Beskha's former master once they hear the story of her abuse.
Gared's plotline is enjoyable with his encounter with the Wildlings being genuinely tense. Unfortunately, Gared Tuttle's inability to give more than a token defense that anyone listens to exposes the fact Telltale games are still as on the rails as your average subway train. I don't mind that choices in Telltale games are illusionary in their importance but I do like it when they're not immediately made unimportant by the next episode's events.
There's a lot of potential "gasp" moments like the results of revealing Sera's paternity, Beskha's vengeance, and Gared's treatment by Frostfinger. I never expected Gared to remain at the Night's Watch very long but I like how they're keeping the general shape of the Jon Snow arc without being completely identical.
|Arthur Glenmore is a hilarious character and a much-needed source of levity in this series.|
PG-13, if not the show's R.
In conclusion, Sons of Winter is a powerful action-packed episode which manages to make its dense plotting and heavy-characterization work well. The Forresters are finally feeling about 7/10ths of George R.R. Martin's work rather than just pale-imitations of the Starks. Given the show has doubled-down on some of its questionable elements as well as taken the grimdark to a new level, watching the heroes slightly improve their station is welcome.