I'M GOING TO FIGHT THEM ALL -- A SEVEN-KINGDOM ARMY COULDN'T HOLD ME BACK: For many shows, the first episode coming off a long hiatus opens with fifteen or twenty minutes of checking in separately with each of the principal characters, reminding the audience who they are and what motivates them. Some shows -- The Wire, Mad Men -- either recognize that their sprawl precludes this or invent ways to put everybody together (say, a surprise 40th birthday party) to streamline and minimize the intrusion of the reintroduction process.
Not Game of Thrones. It's amusing to me that it takes an entire hour-long episode just to lay eyes on each major character once, with only a few prime movers (Tyrion and Cersei in the red corner; Robb and Bran in the grey corner; Dany in the thirsty corner; Stannis and Melisandre in the crazy pants) meriting a second scene. So there was less actually happening in this episode than there was updating us on status (Tyrion is acting hand, because Pa Lannister sees what a mess Cersei and Joffrey are making; Robb is winning the war; Stannis is a dick) or putting the wheels in motion on things that will pay off later, for better or for worse. Because of the structure, this episode felt like all prologue to me. About the only thing that really happened [MILD SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED OR READ] was that incompetent boob Janos Slynt proved what an even more incompetent larger boob Ned Stark was by locating all of Robert's children in about a thousandth of the time it took Ned last season.
It doesn't take a reader of the books to know that something's going to happen soon, though. And it's great to have this show back.