If you enjoyed the way nearly everything pretty much went wrong in this season's finale, you will love the third season. The third book, A Storm of Swords, is legendary in the fan community for the epic proportions of its devastation.
After the dust has settled, the pieces have shifted. One of the five kings is dead, while the others plot to kill their enemies. And though some, like Tyrion and Theon, find themselves worse off than before, no one is safe.
The finale may have been a bit overstuffed, but Season 2 as a whole has been tremendously satisfying, given how well it has distilled George R.R. Martin's themes with coherence, compassion and spectacular visuals.
Let's get something straight from the get-go: "Blackwater" is not amazing because it centers around an epic battle with cool effects. "Blackwater" is amazing because it combines an epic battle with beautifully wrought character development.
What does it mean to rule if all your subjects want to see you hanged? How can you cope with being a mother while your children are missing? How do you decide between love and duty when you're a king, a queen or a cupbearer?
Most people stick to the system they've always known -- and hate Jaime as a result -- because the alternatives are terrifying. But change can't be held back, no more than the Wall held back the Wildlings.
"The Ghost of Harrenhal" demonstrates the golden rule, Westeros-style: Blood repaid in blood, death repaid in death. It also reaffirms something we've known since Ned Stark's head was cleaved from his shoulders. Anyone can die. Probably horribly.