They had no option really, between 10 episodes for Storm of Swords cutting alot of characters and plots to make it super plotdriven and no time for character development or a more slowly paced beginning of season 3 to catch up with characters previously cut (Barristan, Ramsay, Reeds, etc.) and then let the stone start rolling at end of season 3 to season 4, I certanly prefer the later option.
Producers already said they can not possibly do more than 10 episodes per season because of the long distances between locations and complications shooting the series.
So, would you rather have super condensed 10 episodes with crazy things happening and characters barely having time to develop and cutting alot of important players to what they are doing now?
The ideal situation may have been 15 episodes season, I rather like slow paced series where things are properly introduced and I would hate to see them cut small character moments to make explosive events drive the show every episode.
I loved this episode by the way. 3rd best episode after 4-5. Last 2 episodes of the season and season 4 will be amazing covering the sick last half of Storm of Swords and the long set up will make the climax so much more rewarding and we will come to care more what happens to these characters as we got time invested in them.
The Wire would not have the most amazing moments of catharsis in TV history without the slow buildup in the beginning-middle part of the seasons.
But my main problem is not just the slow build-up. The problem is, in addition to being slow, it is NO build-up at all.
I don't necessarily mind that there isn't much action happening. Right now I have the feeling that they are streching it way too much, but normally, I don't necessarily mind "transition" scenes, or more intimate scenes.
The problem is, they are not very good at all at "building up" anything. Because, as I've said before, in addition to delaying the big scenes, they also have terrible editing with tiny bits of each story in each episode. That just kills any kind of "build up" there may be.
I agree that the last one was better in this regard, and therefore it was also better as an episode.
If they want to have some transitional episodes, they should take time to do this properly.
There's plenty of great stuff going on at the moment that is not necessarily "action". For instance, Arya and the Hound. But how much time did they spend on this? A couple of minutes, and then it was over.
Same thing for Sam and Gilly, as I said, why divide this story into two tiny scenes and put them in two different episodes?
I agree with you that it's often worth "investing" time in character development, but IMO they are just not investing this time properly.
The Tyrion/Sansa scenes in this one were an exception, they were good, and long enough to be enjoyable.
In other words, I don't care about the slow pace per se, but if it is slow AND badly edited, then I don't find it engrossing at all.
Maybe they are cutting up the story into tiny bits because they have the impression that changing story constantly is going to create dynamism, but for me, it does the exact opposite. It "takes me out" of the story, if that makes any sense.
It's about as enjoyable as biting one mouthful of food and getting the food taken out of your mouth. I know series like to leave you feeling hungry for more, but it's becoming really a cliché and to do this constantly is just killing the pace, IMO.
No, really, I don't think there was any episode that was really good in season 3. And yet I had loved season 1, and parts of season 2, I'm not a "book nazi", I was even willing to watch when it started turning into fanfiction rather than adaptation. But right now, I do feel there is a big slump in quality, and I know other fans who feel the same (or have stopped watching altogether).