The story moves on apace and struggles with what to leave in and out from the books.
The Good? Bran's first experience as a warg, Jon's confrontation with Craster, Theons turncoat moment, Tyrion's scheming to trap Cersei's snitch and Sansa's dismay at her self-made situation are pitched perfectly.
The Bad? Arya's plight is done a real disservice by condensing 3 to 4 of her chapters into 2 scenes. This criticism can be levelled at almost any episode to a degree but in this one Aryas friendship with Hot Pie, Lommy and Gendry is sadly underdeveloped. Also Aryas interaction with Rorge, Biter and Jaqen, which is crucial to their later stories, is pretty much cut completely. Why does this matter if the the story gets told? Well for me Arya is one of the strongest characters in the whole saga. Along with Tyrion, Jon, & Dany she stands out as a character we sympathise with and love to watch (or read about).
The Ugly? (Well not quite but it fits with the title) Briennes intro was excellent. She isn't exactly the masculine brute described in the books so I'm not sure the ridicule she attracts because of her masculine features will be justified but she certainly is a tall woman, towering over Caitlin and most of the men in the show. I was worried about Briennes casting because GRRM is so keen to describe her god awful looks but I think my worries were misplaced.
My only other Ugly issue with the episode is the gay scenes with Renly & Loras. Not very subtle though admittedly more restrained than the hetrosexual scenes. GRRM is noted for being quite graphic in the sex department but he doesn't make this aspect of Renly's sexuality explicit for a reason, it leaves the reader thinking and this should be how the producers treat other sex scenes too. The producers, sadly, overplay the adult aspect of the books to the detriment of the story. I'd rather see more of Arya's story and less rutting, which brings me to Margaery. The casting of Natalie Dormer was only going to result in a bit of bare flesh, which I don't mind as she is an unconventionally beautiful and fine actress but when we get to later seasons and she is a target for Cersei's hatred, we really are not going to believe she could be the virginal queen she insists she is. It doesn't help that she is supposed to be a similar age to Sansa, who lets face it portrays the consummate virgin princess. Margaery, however, reveals that she is not only a sexually avaricious schemer but also into the same level of deviancy as the Lannister twins. I do like Natalie Dormer though and I think she will be a credit to the show.
Overall it was a good episode but unfortunately the restriction of 10 episodes per season means we only get a few scenes per episode for each major character. Some viewers will find this a real disappointment or even a turn off. I sympathise with the producers problem; spend more on the cost of each episode but cap the seasons budget. Lovers of the books will want to see more episodes in line with other major TV dramas but sadly the money is probably never going to be forthcoming.