I noticed the first episode does not kick off like the book does, which is a pity. I suppose they wanted to remind all the viewers what was happening in each part of the land, and with each character, before introducing Stannis. I feel the introduction of Davos, and the whole scene where maester Cressen tries to poison Melisandre, was handled a bit fast. In the book, there was quite a lead up to it, showing how the maester was preparing the poison. And then when it came to the toast, Melisandre actually told the maester that is was not too late to spill his drink. In the book, it is Melisandre that drank first, and then offered the last remaining wine to the maester himself, which he could not refuse. I'm not sure why they changed it in the episode, it worked much better in the book. This was originally the first scene of the book as well.
They kind of skipped over Dany's time in the desert. In the book it takes quite a while before she sends out her riders, and many people die. Overall they seemed in a hurry to tell a lot in just one episode. But I do like how they transitioned from the comet to Dany in the desert with her dragons. Excellent transition. I also really like the way the dragons look. If the CGI had been sloppy, it could have gotten really laughable to see the dragons every time. But the CGI looks really good, and at no point do the dragons look faky. I'm glad they got that right, because we will probably see a lot of them in following episodes.
I'm glad they also included the scene with Ser Dontos at the start of the episode. They followed that by the book pretty accurately. It shows how Sansa has figured out how to steer Joffrey, allowing her to save lives. Joffrey again steals the show in many scenes. He's a damn good actor.
By the way, Kings Landing looks amazing. We finally get a good look at the bay. They really picked an excellent location for that.
I don't remember Cersei giving Little Finger such a scare by having him seized by the guards. But all in all, it is a scene that adds to her character. And yay, Joffrey gets slapped again. Tyrion is hilarious yet again. I enjoy every scene he is in. Some of the dialogues had me laughing out loud. Especially when Cersei receives the news that Tyrion is now the hand of the king. "Out! All of you, out!"
It is a pity that we don't spend equal amounts of time with every character. There are so many locations and characters now, it is almost impossible to give them all equal screen time. The episode really seemed to be trying hard to show us every character, if only for a few minutes. We see Bran, Jaime, Arya and Jon briefly.
We finally get to see one of Bran's wolf dreams. This supernatural element had been completely missing in season 1, but it is a very important part of the story. I'm glad they finally adress it.
I'm not sure if I like the casting choice for lord Craster. Again it seemed they skipped over a lot here. In the book Jon and the rest of the Night's Watch search through multiple abandoned villages, and travel quite a lot, before they reach Craster's Keep. But in the show they arrive at Craster's Keep right away, and briefly mention the abandoned villages. In my mind, Craster's Keep was a lot bigger. And I imagined Craster as a much older and much more unpleasant man. In the book he was described as aTyrant in his own little keep in the cold woods, intimidating and paranoid and angry. The actor they picked for Craster doesn't really have the right face for the part.