Good finale for the Season 2 closer of Game of Thrones. After several episodes stuffing plot points into themselves like one of those dishes that stuffs a quail inside a chicken inside a duck inside a goose - the finale unfolded cleanly and we got some quality time with good characters.
The Big Girl killed some scumbags and showed Jaime Lannister that he might be in for quite a fight if she ever goes after him one-on-one. Eery face-changer guy finally showed his true 2nd face. The blue-eyed undead are on the march, Winterfell is burnt to the ground and in a hilarious bit the buffoon Theon Greyjoy is clobbered by an Iron-born after giving a rousing speech. Poor Tyrion gets no hero's parade, no thanks even for saving Kings Landing - instead he wakes up with his large face-gash to find he's been abandoned and shunted aside. Only Lord Varys remains true (as a self-serving power-player can), as well as his lover, but Varys says he must distance himself for the time-being.
The main takeaway for a fan who has not read the books is that the people of these novels are completely unsentimental and rather ruthless in their approach to life. Everyone seems to be scheming about their next move and what they have to give up to survive or get power. The broad sweep of the story is still a bit overwhelming with so many characters and conflicts to follow, but it is entertaining to be sure. Our Dragon Lady Daenerys finally got some answers in the Warlock Tower (visions of possible futures and alternate realities - including a touching scene with her dead king Kahl Drogo stuck in some kind of purgatory) and she burned at least one copy of the Warlock by coaxing her little reptile children to belch fire. Over 9 months until Season 3 - yikes ... how will it be possible not to read a bit about what is to come?