[Spoiler alert: This episode recap is for people who've played the chapter and want to read about and discuss it. If you don't want to know what happens, flee now.]
The first episode of Telltale's Game of Thrones concluded with a silent shot of the infamous, exiled thug Asher Forrester stalking through sandy Essos, looking very much like the future saviour of House Forrester.
The second episode, 'The Lost Lords', opens with him demonstrating his grimy toughness by pissing against a wall and scaring a scorpion away by scowling at it. Then he proceeds, with his fellow sellsword Beshkha, to butcher some well-dressed mercenaries, to drive the point of his toughness home.
This opening scene aims to maintain the momentum of the previous episode, and in narrative terms it does a good job of establishing Asher as a killer, but it also lays a key weakness of this particular Telltale series bare by squandering its energy on tedious, fiddly QTEs.
Later, Garrett Tuttle arrives at Castle Black and surveys the yard in which his new brothers are toiling. There's archery, swordplay, and barrel-lifting, and in the context it's clear that you're going to have to join in. You can only look on in dismay as you contemplate the tedium that awaits.
Fortunately, such moments are rare in 'The Lost Lords'.Game of Thrones 1.5
The strange thing about this second episode is that it feels like a first episode, relegating 'Iron from Ice' to virtual prologue status.
Asher was an ominous absence in episode one but now he's a central player. His story has just begun. Rodrik Forrester was a corpse, and now he's alive and ruling Ironrath after the sad false start of Ethan's reign. His story has just begun as well.
Hapless killer Garrett barely figured, but now he's coming into his own, and close to becoming a protege of Jon Snow himself. Everything that happened in the previous episode was just preamble for his adventure at the wall.
Which means that while the rest of the plotlines get up to speed Mira's is stuck almost in a holding pattern at King's Landing, even rehashing the same old dilemma about using Margaery's influence (knowingly or otherwise) to save her family.
The ever charming Tyrion gives her the opportunity to be bolder with her highborn connections, and later she almost falls victim to an assassination, which should imbue the next chapter with a sense of uncertainty and peril as she tries to work out who was responsible using the only tools available to her at King's Landing: cunning and furious politeness. But at this stage Mira's storyline is the weakest.Arise Ser Rodrik
Rodrik's is the strongest. While Ethan's doomed tenure was characterised by his helplessness and youth, Rodrik starts on a firmer (though hardly enviable) footing. At the very least he has age and experience on his side.
With his wayward brother Asher set to return and the Whitehills determined to humiliate and destroy their ancient enemy under the protection of the madman Ramsay Snow, Rodrik's position is precarious. He is Telltale's Ned Stark, right down to the walking stick, the difference being that you can have a significant hand in steering him from Ned's fate.
Unsurprisingly, it's Garrett's plotline that feels most like HBO's Game of Thrones, thanks to a solid, well-written scene at the top of the wall with Jon Snow and some authentically fruity language. And Garrett's situation has a precedent in Snow – both men have grievances calling to them from the world beyond the wall.
'The Lord Lords' is a slightly odd chapter. Simultaneously developing and introducing plotlines gives it an uneven feel, and, ominously, the most original plotlines – Mira's and Asher's – are also the least convincing.
And as a possibly significant aside, the statistics at the end of the chapter revealed that two of the choices produced a consensus of more than 90 percent, which suggests that the balancing of some of the decisions isn't calibrated to Telltale's normally high standards.
But it's never very sensible to judge a Telltale game by a single chapter. You might not enjoy this one as much as the last, but you should absolutely play it anyway so that you can be around to see what happens next.Screenshots from PC version.