When I saw in the preview that this would be the episode where Lady was killed, I was kind of apprehensive.
I'd mentioned before that the wolves didn't get a lot of screentime in the first episode relative to what they got in the book. What was lost in that is not only the connection that the reader/viewer has with the wolves, but an understanding of the connection that the Stark children have with the wolves. They felt very key to the story.
And so when Lady's death came... I, as a reader, not only felt the pain of that loss, but also a sense that something had gone horribly wrong here. This wolf had a purpose, and now it's gone. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? It was the single, most significant moment in the book for me, because it shattered all my expectations and left me wondering what would happen next.
I already knew going into this episode was not going to be able to recreate this moment for me, but I feel they did things right building this scene:
Firstly, they managed to squeeze in a scene of Sansa walking Lady early on. Really, I'm glad they managed to squeeze in some kind of connection.
Secondly, Nymeria protecting Arya, and Summer defending Bran.... without these moments, we would have had no reason to care about Lady at the end. I feel like they could have gone just a little farther, and it only would have taken seconds... 1) either giving mention to the fact or showing that after the assassination attempt, Summer stayed by Bran's side, and that's why Catelyn felt safe leaving her son. And 2) showing Ghost's distrust of Tyrion during the scene with Jon... it also would've had the added effect of giving the viewer just a little bit more to chew on in regards to their opinion of Tyrion.
Thirdly... Bran waking up at the moment Lady was killed... I don't recall if Bran woke up at the same time as the book. If he did, the connection was not made as strongly as it was here. But it did establish that there may be a special connection between the Starks and their wolves, and it was a pretty great way to end the show. Bravo.
The other things that stick out in my mind from this episode... enjoyed watching Daenerys gaining confidence over the course of this episode, and Joffrey swinging the sword at Arya caused me to catch my breath. It's rare that they nail a scene just right like that for me.... it's like the scene in Point Break where the guy is trying to shove Keanu's head into spinning lawnmower blades.... I've seen it dozens of times, but each viewing still causes my blood to race.
And Jaime and Cersei are making for an interesting viewing experience, in that they're hard to hate even though they're clearly evil. Cersei, because she's played by the beautiful Lena Headley... her distressed look at the end of the first episode makes me think that if she were my girlfriend and ended up on death row for murdering my own parents, I'd still be there to comfort her. And then Jamie has kind of an evil Han Solo thing going on. I love the weird diversity of the three Lannister siblings.