Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
HBO Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister

Spoilers rule, as "Game of Thrones" gets down to the serious business of delivering plot shocks to the viewers' system. Series co-creator and episode co-writer David Benioff directed this one, picking up the pace noticeably in short, tight scenes that bounce us around all over Westeros.

Benioff also clearly relishes the task of executing personally the first of the third season's big shocks, structuring the episode as a whole, and then the scene, for maximum Holy Shit impact.

We're offering our post-mortem on the scene right after the jump, so don't click through to the SPOILER unless you mean it.

In this eventful episode, Rob finally does something in our presence to justify the faith many of his relatives claim to place in him as a commander and as a would be king. Most of his military victories were won off camera, but here he is convincingly and angrily explaining why a seeming victory, bragged about by a clueless cousin, could turn out to be a setback. Time, etc.

Dany, meanwhile, still in Slaver's Bay, has one of her best scenes to date with Jorah Mormont and new advisor Barristan Selmy. The scene is staged so that the pair appear to be perched on her shoulders, like the angel and a devil in the old image, arguing the pros and cons of slavery as she mulls a major purchase. Her ultimate decision goes so pointedly against her stated humanistic views on the subject that you've gotta know she has something up her sleeve. Time, etc, etc.

Emilia Clarke manages to suggest all this without giving the game away, holding her own impressively with major veteran actors Iain Glenn and Ian McElhinney. Clarke doesn't always get her due, I think, probably because people take one look at her and think they know why she got the part.