Despite being renewed for a second season almost immediately, Game of Thrones’ premiere ratings (and subsequent episode ratings) were none too impressive, especially for a show with such ridiculously awesome production values.

Today comes news that, for the first time since it’s premiere, the show’s ratings saw a significant increase on Sunday night. Also, we have a preview for episode four, entitled “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things,” perhaps referring to the various cripples, bastards, and broken things in the show.

First, the ratings, courtesy of Sunday’s 9 p.m. airing of episode three was watched by 2.4 million people, up from the preceding two weeks’ 2.2 million viewers. When you include the numbers from the 11 p.m. airing, the show had 3.1 million viewers Sunday night, up from the previous record of 2.9 million.  Considering Osama bin Laden was announced dead around the same time, that’s pretty darn good.

Second, the “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things” preview:

From the preview, we can ascertain that the bristling hatred between the Lannisters and Starks is growing evermore apparent – and potentially dangerous. The tournament held in honor of Ned Stark’s appointment is going forward, despite Ned’s objections and the lack of money to pay for it. And Princess Daenerys Targaryen – also the wife of Khal Drogo – is growing more comfortable in the role of Queen Targaryen, against her brother’s wishes.

For anyone confused by all the connections and players and people within the world of Game of Thrones, check out our own Michael Crider‘s fantastic infographic below (click to enlarge):

Even though there’s very little in the way of action or violence (which isn’t to say that there’s none), Game of Thrones is one of the more intense, suspenseful shows currently on television. Every moment of every episode so far, I’ve been on the edge of my seat – teeth a chattering, thumbs a fiddling – gripped with fear for what might happen next. And you know what typically happens next? Veiled threats or seemingly normal conversation laced with mildly sinister undertones. Somehow, the people behind Thrones have made a show primarily about “talking” more thrilling than anything from – oh, I don’t know – the thirty or so iterations of CSI.

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights @ 9PM on HBO.

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