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Review: Game of Thrones – The House of Black and White

Season 5’s second episode, much like the season premiere, offers us a look at several different locations, as we are shown glimpses into what most, if not all, of the major players are up to. The show opens on a ship as it arrives at Braavos carrying Arya Stark, who has crossed the Narrow Sea from Westeros using the coin she was given by Jaqen H’ghar. The ship’s captain takes Arya to a house with a black and white door where she is greeted by an old man wearing the robes of a monk. She tells him that she was sent by Jaqen, but the man replies that there is no one there by that name. Dejected, Arya spends the night on the steps of the house under a deluge of rain, reciting the names on her list of people to kill over and over.

 

In the morning, Arya throws her coin into the sea, leaves the house and wanders the city.  Later, Arya is confronted by a group of men who attempt to relieve her of her sword, but are scared away by the man Arya had met at the House of Black and White. She follows him back to the house, and he returns her coin before changing his face into that of Jaqen H’ghar. When Arya protests that he had lied to her earlier, he replies that he is not Jaqen, but is “no one,” who is who Arya must become, and leads her into the house.

 

 

Brienne and Podrick dine at a tavern that just so happens to be playing host to Littlefinger and Sansa at the very same moment. Despite Sansa’s dyed hair, Podrick immediately recognizes her and Littlefinger, and informs Brienne. Brienne confronts Sansa and offers her protection, which Sansa refuses. Littlefinger’s knights try to restrain Brienne, resulting in a skirmish that leaves a few of the knights dead. Pod suggests that perhaps Brienne has been released from her oath since both Stark girls have refused her protection. Unconvinced, Brienne resolves to follow Littlefinger and Sansa

 

 

At King’s Landing, Jaime is summoned to Cersei’s chambers. A message has arrived from Dorne in the form of Princess Myrcella’s necklace around a statue of a snake. Interpreting this as a threat, Jaime vows to go to Dorne and bring Myrcella back to King’s Landing. Jaime then travels to Stokeworth in hopes of convincing Bronn, now Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, to accompany him on his mission. In return for Bronn’s help, Jaime offers him a better wife than Bronn’s betrothed, Lollys Stokeworth, as well as a better castle.

 

 

In Dorne, Ellaria Sand appeals to Prince Doran that it is insulting to Oberyn’s memory to allow Myrcella to continue living a life of ease in Dorne, and suggests that the Sand Snakes, Oberyn’s daughters, feel the same way. She asks Doran to allow her to send Myrcella back to Cersei “one finger at a time.” Doran refuses and Ellaria leaves, fuming.

 

 

The two major plots of the episode, however, occur at the Wall and in Mehreen. At the Wall, the time has come to elect a new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Ser Alliser Thorne is the presumed shoo-in winner which, as Stannis points out to him, is not good news for Jon Snow. In an attempt to win Northern loyalty, Stannis makes Jon an offer – bend the knee and Stannis will legitimize Jon as Ned Stark’s trueborn heir, making him Jon Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. Despite urging from Sam to take the offer, Jon refuses, saying that to break his vow to the Night’s Watch would make him an unfit Lord of Winterfell. The brothers of the Night’s Watch gather to elect a new Lord Commander, an election that I won’t spoil for you in case you haven’t gotten the chance to watch the episode yet.

 

 

In Mehreen, Grey Worm and Daario capture the Son of the Harpy responsible for the murder of one of the Unsullied in last week’s episode. After Barristan warns Dany not to follow in her father’s form of harsh justice, she decides to give the man a fair trial. One of the former slaves has other plans, however, and murders the Son of the Harpy before he can stand trial. Daenerys is then faced with the decision of how to deal with the murderer and…I’m going to spoil her decision, because I need to react to it. So, if you don’t want to know, don’t read ahead of this point. I’ll even put in a paragraph break for you here.

 

 

Okay, so Dany decides that the best way to deal with a person who kills a man before he has the chance to stand trial, is to kill him without giving him a trial. Yep. That’s what she does. As you may expect, this is not a popular decision among the multitude of freed slaves that are crying out to Dany, calling her Mhysa (“Mother”) and pleading with her to exercise mercy. A riot breaks out, pitting the former slaves against the former masters and Dany’s approval rating as Queen of Mehreen drops to roughly 0.0%. All is not lost, though, because Drogon returns to Mehreen, causing Dany’s eyes to light up in hope and elation. As she reaches up to touch her dragon, however, he flies away…and that’s it.

 

 

Overall, I thought this episode was fairly mediocre. There were a couple of interesting developments, but the pacing of the episode was plodding at best. The show looked great, of course – it always does. And the acting, as usual, was spot-on, but the show can only get by on that for so long. Eventually, something has to happen. As this is only the second episode, I can forgive the slow pace a bit, but still, with only 10 episodes per season, it seems a shame to waste one without significantly furthering the story. Game of Thrones is still a great show, but this episode left me wanting more.

Season 5's second episode, much like the season premiere, offers us a look at several different locations, as we are shown glimpses into what most, if not all, of the major players are up to. The show opens on a ship as it arrives at Braavos carrying Arya Stark, who has crossed the Narrow Sea from Westeros using the coin she was given by Jaqen H'ghar. The ship's captain takes Arya to a house with a black and white door where she is greeted by an old man wearing the robes of a monk. She tells him that she was sent by Jaqen, but the man replies that there is no one there by that name. Dejected, Arya spends the night on the steps of the house under a deluge of rain, reciting the names on her list of people to kill over and over.   In the morning, Arya throws her coin into the sea, leaves the house and wanders the city.  Later, Arya is confronted by a group of men who attempt to relieve her of her sword, but are scared away by the man Arya had met at the House of Black and White. She follows him back to the house, and he returns her coin before changing his face into that of Jaqen H'ghar. When Arya protests that he had lied to her earlier, he replies that he is not Jaqen, but is "no one," who is who Arya must become, and leads her into the house.     Brienne and Podrick dine at a tavern that just so happens to be playing host to Littlefinger and Sansa at the very same moment. Despite Sansa's dyed hair, Podrick immediately recognizes her and Littlefinger, and informs Brienne. Brienne confronts Sansa and offers her protection, which Sansa refuses. Littlefinger's knights try to restrain Brienne, resulting in a skirmish that leaves a few of the knights dead. Pod suggests that perhaps Brienne has been released from her oath since both Stark girls have refused her protection. Unconvinced, Brienne resolves to follow Littlefinger and Sansa     At King's Landing, Jaime is summoned to Cersei's chambers. A message has arrived from Dorne in the form of Princess Myrcella's necklace around a statue of a snake. Interpreting this as a threat, Jaime vows to go to Dorne and bring Myrcella back to King's Landing. Jaime then travels to Stokeworth in hopes of convincing Bronn, now Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, to accompany him on his mission. In return for Bronn's help, Jaime offers him a better wife than Bronn's betrothed, Lollys Stokeworth, as well as a better castle.     In Dorne, Ellaria Sand appeals to Prince Doran that it is insulting to Oberyn's memory to allow Myrcella to continue living a life of ease in Dorne, and suggests that the Sand Snakes, Oberyn's daughters, feel the same way. She asks Doran to allow her to send Myrcella back to Cersei "one finger at a time." Doran refuses and Ellaria leaves, fuming.…
Overall - 6.5

6.5

A continuation of the season premiere, aesthetically pleasing and technically sound, but plagued by slow-pacing.

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