There comes a time when in the course of human affairs you just can't avoid having a battle, and a battle means a battle SCENE. You can only have people making veiled threats for, well in this show two seasons, before someone gets mad enough at what is spewing out of a rival character's mouth to come to where that character is and shut them UP!
Having read a bunch of the Sword of Truth books and seeing what Legend of the Seeker had done to rape them I was worried. In retrospect I shouldn't have been though, Sam Raimi loves to rape and desecrate his source material. For the uninitiated born after say 1995, good fantasy has not been hard to come by in your lifetime. Fantasy used to be thought impossible to do right on screen. Legend of the Seeker was a perfect example of this. In the books you have armies of thousands and wizards throwing Black Lightning but on screen you have five characters and a few extras. That was pathetic.
Needless to say I was worried about this episode in particular, I mean I started worrying when I heard they had gotten a green light on Season 2 (My first words were: "How are they going to get around the battle of Blackwater?) and have continued to worry about it since then. I honestly didn't think they could do it on their budget and was having visions of hearing the battle described from the battlements with dialogue like "THEY'RE COMING THROUGH!"
That's what I was expecting, and while they were using the same five extras repeatedly, they managed to widen the scope of the battle with a few REALLY well placed effects shots. After the initial impact of those shots you can sit back and watch a fairly accurate TV translation of the Battle of Helm's Deep.
Speaking of Helm's Deep, one of my favorite things about that battle were the cutaway scenes inside the fortress where they show the women and children terrified. I think those types of scenes add to the feeling of jeopardy. Because of the nature of this particular story we have a lot of characters behind the lines and it is they (Cersei and Sansa in particular) that give this episode that special something. Cersei drinking and grabbing random children to talk to is great. You can see the beginnings of her mind starting to go.
All in all This was a Great episode, it fulfilled my expectations which usually isn't that hard but was in this case, but it loses a point for not having The Chain in it. Readers of the book will understand why this is a loss.
Can't wait for the last one, a lot of stuff has to happen in that last episode.