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Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 2, ‘The House of Black and White’: Dorne and Dragons!

Review: 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 Episode 2, 'The House of Black and White': Dorne and Dragons!

PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 1, ‘The Wars to Come’: Upheaval Reigns

Post-“Game” Analysis

After last week’s “Catching up with Westeros” Season 5 premiere, Episode 2 had a bit more action, a bit more intrigue and even some smiles. Among the positive additions were the return of Arya and her hit list, the return of Bronn (whose clothing has gotten way more fancy!) and Varys stuck with Tyrion in a slightly larger box for a trip south on the road to Volantis so they can find their way to Mereen. The episode still suffered from a bit of set-up fatigue, but hopefully now that we’re all clear on where everyone is, where their allegiances lie and who’s aiming for what, the season will be free to take off into the story. 

Wit of the Week 

Arya has finally made it to The House of Black and White, which floats ominously as its own island alongside Braavos. When she knocks on the door, a cranky, hooded man answers, but denies that anyone named Jaqen H’ghar is there. She pleads, claiming she has no where else to go, but the man answers: “You have everywhere else to go.” The line is definitely chuckle-worthy, because it sounds at first as if he’s basically saying, “Anywhere but here, kid.” But really it’s more about how far Arya has come, and how far she still has to go. Arya would indeed love to join the Faceless Men of Braavos, but she has lots left to learn and lots left to experience. Then again, Jaqen does eventually return…well sort of. “A man is not Jaqen H’ghar,” he says. He is no one. “And that is what a girl must become.” This is a huge turning point for Arya. For a few seasons now she’s pretended to be others, hiding her identity as Arya Stark. And viewers have long hoped that she would reunite with at least perhaps one of her family members and reclaim her name. But now, she will leave that identity behind entirely, in exchange for a new life and, perhaps one day, new abilities. 

Most Poised to Take the Throne?

Up at The Wall, after mercifully firing an arrow through Mance Rayder’s heart as he burned alive, Jon Snow is in trouble with Stannis. The legions of Northerners that Stannis is trying to recruit are sending back snarky letters declaring their allegiance to the “King of the North,” or whomever is left in the Stark family. One of the replies even leads Jon Snow to…what…what was that?!? Was that a smile on Jon Snow’s face?!? Stannis’ offer of making him a full-blown, non-bastard, legitimate Stark almost makes Jon Snow smile, and later, when the Knight’s Watch vote on a new Lord Commander, Sam gives a rousing speech, leading to Jon Snow’s election by one vote, that of Maester Aemon. You go Maester Aemon, you blind Targaryen in hiding! The election win makes Jon Snow smile yet again. Man, we are on a role here with the smiling Jon Snow. Which only means that miserable things are bound to happen to him next.

Great Moments in Feminism

With her son dead, her father dead, her dwarf of a brother to blame for both murders and her one-handed brother becoming less helpful to her every minute, Cersei has had it up to here with her family disappointing her. After receiving a threat on Myrcella’s life from Dorne, Jamie rides off with Bronn to bring Cersei’s daughter home — but with Jamie gone, Cersei has to maintain control of King’s Landing, or she’ll lose the upper hand. Sometimes Cersei’s pride and ego can get the better of her, but not this episode. She gleefully takes the seat at the head of the table, declaring herself a sort of regent to Tommen as he grows, which doesn’t sit so well with the rest of the High Counsel (except for Qyburn, the creepy bastard). The entire scene goes to show that, just because audiences get to see women in significant roles of power, doesn’t mean that everyone within the world is on board with it.

The same issue comes up again and again for Brienne, who, though she can easily best a talented knight, will still be ridiculed for her career choices. When she and Pod finally run into Sansa and Littlefinger again at an inn, she pledges her allegiance to Sansa, who is understandably freaked out, leading them to flee, and leaving behind Brienne and Pod behind to fight their guards in a great (and hilarious) fight scene. It’s true, that Sansa has little reason to trust anyone at this point, though why she continues to trust Littlefinger is also a questionable decision. Perhaps she’s still playing her own game.

For the Book Nerds (May Contain Spoilers From “A Song of Ice and Fire”)

Before being interrupted by Brienne, Littlefinger had remarked that his proposal had been accepted. In the novels, Littlefinger arranges for Jeyne Poole, Sansa’s gal pal from way back in Season 1, to be passed off as Arya Stark and married off to Ramsay Bolton, née Snow. It’s said that the Boltons know full well that Jeyne is not Arya, but marrying a Stark would make Ramsay the Lord of Winterfell, so they agree to it. Could this be the proposal that Littlefinger is referencing? It’s looking more like he might try and pass Sansa off as Arya instead, or maybe even herself? (Sansa pretending to be Jeyne Poole pretending to be Sansa?) He did say that he was going to take her where the Lannisters would never think to look for her. Going back to Winterfell would be hiding in plain sight. 

Who’s the God of Tits and Wine? 

Prince Doran Martell is the God of Tits and Wine and he doesn’t give a crap about Ellaria Sand’s revenge requests. How badass and yet totally zen is this guy? When Alexander Siddig was cast as the wheelchair-bound sassafrass Prince of Dorne, “Star Trek” geeks everywhere rejoiced; while in the novels, Prince Doran is much older and more frail, the showrunners made the right move by skewing Doran a bit younger. As Myrcella Lannister wanders the gardens and flirts with Doran’s son Trystane, to whom she is betrothed, Ellaria storms about in some serious shoulder pads plotting to send her back to Cersei, piece by piece. Her quest for revenge doesn’t seem to faze Doran, who notes that Oberyn died fairly, in a trial by combat.

Ellaria’s anger will no doubt lead to some rash decisions, and the juxtaposition of Doran and Ellaria is definitely an interesting one, one that reflects even modern day international conflict. Ellaria is out to avenge what she believes is a wrong, but Doran would rather move past it and not resort to violence. Ellaria is eye for an eye. Doran is turn the other cheek. Their impulsive and patient moves could lead to consequences that reverberate for centuries in this land; this may be a fantasy series, but the bitter battles of Westeros, with its familial revenge and ever-shifting loyalties, echo in our world’s wars.

Why, Show, Why?!?!

After last week’s emergence of the Sons of the Harpy, Daenerys’ servant Mossador takes his own revenge on the man who murdered the Unsullied, even though Dany was going to have him tried fairly. Since there’s no question in that case, there’s no reason for a trial, and Dany has Mossador beheaded. His fellow former slaves, of course, don’t like this one bit, and hiss at her before starting a minor revolt, throwing stones and attacking her soldiers. But, really, what was Daenerys expecting here?! Dany definitely could have given them a one-time-only shot, but perhaps the Targaryen anger that Sir Barristan mentioned does indeed lie within Dany too. It’s frustrating to see her budding rule crumble a bit over a stupid decision. How can she recover?

Most Magical Moment

Last week left us wondering, where is Drogon? This week he finally returned, in one of the most exquisite scenes of the entire series.  While Dany’s two other dragons have had their growth stifled as a result of being locked away, Drogon hasn’t had that hindrance, and boy has he grown. He also seems to be a bit more well behaved than the other two, but he doesn’t exactly have anything to be pissed off at Dany about. Perhaps Drogon might inspire her to set the other two free.

READ MORE: Kill this Character, Kill the Show: Who ‘Game of Thrones’ Needs Most

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