'Game of Thrones'
'Game of Thrones'

Elsewhere,my favorite "Game" character, Gwendoline Christie's towering Brienne of Tarth, still has Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) firmly in tow, trudging toward King’s Landing on what we already know is a misguided mission, which adds to this thread a strain of pure existential pig-headedness that makes Brienne seem even more magnificent -- and her contemptuous flick of the sword at the end of her skirmish with Jamie on the bridge seals the deal. Gwendoline has the off-hand charisma of a born action star.

In all of the road scenes, including a third involving Arya Stark and her companions, we have a sense of trajectories converging. That’s the structural implication of a storyline that has several groups of people on the move at the same time. And it’s an absorbing hike, even though none of these travelers reach their destination over the course of the episode.

Meanwhile, most of the heavy plot lifting the episode is being done back at King's Landing, in the sequences involving Sansa and the Tyrells and the preparations for Joffrey's wedding. Without them, "Dark Wings, Dark Words" would be the show's second episode in a row that was almost entirely expositional.

In these scenes, Diana Rigg's matriarch Lady Olenna Tyrell is introduced, questioning Sansa (Sophie Turner) closely about the Joffrey's suitablity as a husband for her granddaughter Margery (Nathalie Dormer), eliciting the blurted revelation that dear Joff is anything but. The women in this scene, along with Shae (Sibel Kekili), enconsed as Sansa's maid for safe-keeping by Peter Dinklage's besotted Tyrion, are most of the visible political scheming in this episode, though to what end has yet to emerge. 

As with everything else in source-novelist George R.R. Martin’s bob-and-weave storytelling, however, as faithfully adopted and artfully enhanced by Benioff and Weiss, voyages rarely follow a direct path or end up quite where we expect.