Chaos is a ladder.
With episodic releases for Tales from the Borderlands, Life Is Strange, and Dreamfall Chapters, this third episode of Game of Thrones feels like a drop in an ever larger bucket. The Sword in the Darkness continues the dangling plot threads of the previous episode, and inching the story just a bit closer to the inevitable conclusion which will determine the fate of House Forrester. Each primary character will have an important decision that will feed into this episode and future episodes, though it still feels like the series is dragging along at a far too leisurely pace and more impatient followers might want it to get to the point already.
This is due in no small part to the six-parter series, which I would argue could have been dropped back to the traditional Telltale format of five parts or perhaps even four parts, if just to move the story away from feeling like it's still a setup. It isn't surprising that much of the events from the second episode remain much the same: Asher is still looking for sellswords and dealing with the Lost Legion; Gared is still attempting to discover more details about the North Grove while stationed at the Wall; Mira is still trying to maneuver politically in Westeros as best she can; and House Forrester under the battered Lord Rodrik is still being prodded by yet another Whitehill.
At this point, the plight of House Forester in Ironrath has become akin to slow torture, not at the level of Theon Greyjoy but close enough to dread them. While that's part of the point, as the constant jabs at the already handicapped Lord Rodrik is meant to make us feel more sympathetic and gives the other story arcs more significance, there's no point of relief. Even if House Forrester retaliates, they're encouraged to submit and keep the peace despite the disrespect and the outright occupation of their castle. The fourth-born Gryff Whitehill is just the latest ruffian and wannabe Ramsay Snow to grab the poker, knowing that your character lacks the power to retaliate. By now, the sympathy you're supposed to feel here is obvious in its emotional manipulation and feels exhausting as a consequence.
Meanwhile, Asher has his first encounter with a dragon, a point which will matter by the end of the episode but also has an immediate impact on whether he sides with his ass-kicking female compatriot Beshka or his family advisor Malcolm. The situation where he needs to decide between the two feels a bit forced but does provide tension to their relationships, as Malcolm sees Beshka as a distraction for Asher's ultimate return to Westeros. Asher's plot doesn't move along too far, but considering how it ends, let's hope that he will come back roaring in the next episode.
Gared also gets caught in the action, attempting to cultivate a sense of brotherhood and strike a fine balance between his vows as a man of the Night's Watch and his loyalty to House Forrester. Jon Snow makes a more solid cameo appearance as the more seasoned ranger, though he represents the code to which Gared must adhere or face punishment. That throws a wrench into his pursuit of the North Grove which lies beyond the Wall, though his thirst for vengeance in the late battle sequence might put his standing in the Night's Watch in an extremely volatile position. Whatever your options, Gared finally matters.
Once more, Mira's dealings as a not-so-simple handmaiden to Lady Margaery in King's Landing remains the best of the point-of-view arcs. Her prior affairs with the coal boy, the other handmaiden Sera, Cersei Lannister, and Tyrion Lannister as Master of Coin all have slight influence on this episode. Though we don't see a cameo of Joffrey and can only hear the pivotal events of the Purple Wedding, Mira must speak carefully and entrust secrets as alliances shift like quicksand beneath her feet. Her ending also unveils a plot device that will likely make a significant difference in the outcome of the series.
The Sword in the Darkness stays the course for Telltale's Game of Thrones series, though it still feels like the story is waiting around for something to finally happen. We're nearing the halfway mark already, and the many characters in House Forrester seems to be more or less in the same quandary as the first episode. Many of the choices have little impact on the story, with streamlined plot devices railroading any decisions, but thankfully, the ending of the episode holds the promise that at least three of the four character arcs will, by the Old Gods or the New Gods, reach a turning point.