After several episodes where the action picked up, Episode 8, “The Prince of Winterfell,” acted more like an overture  — an overture to what should become two explosive hours of Season 2 conclusion. As George R.R. Martin’s story has done deliciously in the past, there are multiple pieces moving tactically across a board, the pressure increasing like pawn walls between two defensive players in a high-end chess match. Something is going to break … soon. And when it does, the floodgates will blast open with supersonic power.

The episode may have been less frenetic, yes, but that does not mean it lacked quality. There was plenty to like all around, especially in regard to matters of the heart. Game of Thrones has a tendency to revel in its coarseness and brutality, so when the architects give you something sweet and romantic, you take it and swallow it greedily. Such was the case for Robb Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and perhaps Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen as well (those remain to be seen). Ships may siege cities and children may burn and suffer, but there is still love and passionate feeling, too.

For Robb, it comes in the form of Lady Talisa, the lovely high-born girl turned medic of Valantis. This flirtation has been brewing for quite some time, with considerable chemistry and sensibility. The problem? Robb is promised to another – not because of some stupid arranged marriage based on antiquated customs, but because he traded the right to love for access to a bridge. But how much is that bridge worth? Talisa even muses that it had better be a beautiful bridge before they make passionate love. For romantics, it was one of the great scenes of the season.

In a similar vein, Tyrion finds himself coming to grip with his own serious feelings. When Cersei threatens him by imprisoning the whore she thinks he loves, he pretends she has the right one. Immediately after, he goes rushing home to Shae, looking upon her with a deeper, more devoted appreciation. “You are mine,” he says, and “You are mine,” she says back to him in a beautiful exchange. With Stannis set to siege King’s Landing in just two days and the city wholly unprepared, their fate could become severely tested. Tyrion’s had enough pain in his life – let’s hope this time, his heart gets spared.

Episode 8 also featured Catelyn Stark’s second major error of the series (the first was capturing Tyrion and bringing him to the Eyrie); Tempted by Jaime Lannister’s words, she released him against Robb Stark’s wishes. And no episode could be complete without some of Arya’s craftiness. It was on full display here, as she tricked Jaqen H’ghar into helping her. So many loose ends, so much potential. These last two episodes are going to be ROARING!