I'm a little pissed off.
It played out a little hollow, I thought. Here's why:
Tyrion didn't tell Jaime the he was the one who killed Joffrey, like he did in the books. The entire bit about Tyrion being married once, then having his heart ripped out and stomped on when he learned she was paid to pretend to be his wife and Tywin's knights spent all day raping the poor woman within earshot of Tyrion, THEN Jaime confesses when he springs Tyrion from the Black Cells that Tyrion's wife was just some commoner who actually did love him and Tywin made the whole thing up to be cruel, and Jaime had to go along with it; because Jaime. Tyrion then spouts off to his brother about how he was actually the one who murdered Joffrey, creating more conflict and effectively burning bridges with the Lannisters and his only ally.
Also absent was Tyrion's comment about knowing for sure whether or not Tywin Lannister shits gold.
Let's go to the North, where all sorts of crap abounds. In the books, there was no near meeting at Craster's Keep between the captive Stark kids and the Reeds and Hodor with Jon Snow. There was no return to Craster's to kill the hell out of the deserters of the Watch. What there was was a mysterious ranger who rides a Great Elk, called Cold Hands, who is more than likely a wight. He takes Sam and Gilly to the Nightfort tunnel and then escorts Bran, Rickon, and the Reeds up to the far north where they find the Three Eyed Raven.
Instead, we get some lame near miss stuff (George already covered the near miss stuff when Jon broke loose from the wildlings. You are just beating a dead mule, HBO) with Bran practically instigating Jon Snow's escape and Ygritte's betrayal. Some cannibal Thenns. And NO kick ass sentient zombie rangers. We get dropped into the middle of Book 5, with Coldhands being cut completely out, no exposition on what the direwolves just happen to be eating (wights, if you must know), and then Jojen Reed gets snuffed by his own sister when skeletons start popping up out of the ground like random monster encounters in an N64 Zelda game. Hell, Jojen isn't even dead by the end of book 5. Did the show writers just kill him because they figured once Bran melds with a tree, nobody has to concern themselves with how the actor can practically grow a mustache? They can cover all that up with prosthetics?
Also absent at the tree is Lord Bloodraven. Brynden Rivers, a bastard born Targaryen who is at least 150 years old. A man who is the Three Eyed Raven, as well as a dude stuck in a tree. In the books, he used to be the Hand of the King, back in the days when Maester Aemon was Jon Snow's age and next in line for the throne. He had one red eye because his brother cut the other one out during a battle in which half the Targaryens were trying to take the throne for themselves. Later, he got sent to the Wall (along with Maester Aemon) and became Lord Commander for awhile. Need I point out he had ONE RED EYE. He was an albino. So, the guy we see in the tree is just basically discount Dumbledore, has two eyes (neither of which is red). Hell, in the books, he has tree branches growing out of his empty eye socket. I can understand how budget constraints might prevent a CGI elk for a zombie to ride, but seriously, how hard would it be to glue a rubber tree root to a guy's face?
Brienne fighting the Hound? Okay. Sure, I guess it worked for the show, but it completely makes A Feast for Crows irrelevant to the series. In that book, Brienne goes searching for Arya, hearing the the Hound might have her. She hears someone with his helmet is raiding in the Riverlands, and winds up at a monestary where the monks where cowls. She hears about how the Hound came to the monastery with a bad leg wound and dies in their care. There's a really big monk with a vow of silence she notices in the place who may or may not have bad burns on his face, but the head Septon assures her that no one there is called Sandor Cleagane. The Hound is Dead.
Instead, we get the Hound White-Fanging Arya into mercy killing him. It doesn't take. Besides, the White Fang moment should have been when Tyrion tells Jaime he killed Joffrey. And they needed to include this bit, somehow:
For once, his father did what Tyrion asked him. The proof was the sudden stench, as his bowels loosened in the moment of death.Well, he was in the right place for it, Tyrion thought. But the stink that filled the privy gave ample evidence that the oft-repeated jape about his father was just another lie.
Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.They got the bit right where Arya heads off for Braavos, but what is Brienne supposed to do now? There's no Hound to track, there's barely a reason for her to be in the show. Sansa, Bran, and hell even Stannis has pretty much reached the end of their plotlines so far. There isn't much for most of them to do that isn't Book Five stuff now. Which makes me worry that next season will be a lot of filler just to eke out 8 episodes. Or maybe like book 4, it will be a crap-ton of sitting around in Mereen, waiting for Dany to do anything. Maybe vamping out Sansa some more and turning her into the Sandsnake of the North, or watching Tyrion get drunk on a boat. They could do some great things with the Night's Watch, or even Ramsay Snow and Theon's further descent into madness. Plus, there is the matter of Griff and Griff Jr., the Cat of the Canals (which could be a season in and of itself), Septa Lemore, but after season 5 is done, they will have reached the end of the line as far as source material goes. I think they are just going to drag it out for two seasons (which is fine by me) but they are going to pad the hell out of it with a bunch of crap that doesn't matter, while cutting important bits that do.