”The House of Black and White. This is where you’ll find the man you seek.”
Even with the unfortunate leak, Game of Thrones once again premiered to series-high numbers. Sounds like a lot of people are smart enough to wait and watch the gorgeous show as it should be seen, in the highest definition possible. Sure, waiting is hard, especially after last week laid out what should be a sensational Season 5 but it’d be a shame to experience episodes as exceptional as “The House of Black and White” in sub-standard fashion.
”Nothing is worth anything to dead men.”
The premiere was largely about talk of and plans for the future and the same can be said for the characters making their fifth season debut this week. Regardless, those who appeared in ”The Wars to Come” were busy putting those plans in motion. The episode opened with Arya’s first appearance this year and she’s pretty much right where we left her last season - on a boat to Braavos. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing the Titan with the port city behind him. What a wonderful use of special effects. “The House of Black and White” is full of breathtaking vistas like that one, making a great argument for watching Game of Thrones in HD.
Sorry, I’ll stop with the anti-piracy campaign. The mix of practical locations and CG is one of the many reasons to watch HBO’s fantasy and the titular House of Black and White is just another wonderful find/creation. Arya on the doorstep reminded me first of The Wizard of Oz, with the cantankerous gatekeeper, and then Fight Club, with the young Stark waiting day and night on the doorstep (reciting those those) in hopes of being invited inside. The invitation doesn’t come, however, until the gatekeeper finds her fending off a few streets thugs with needle. And, after a familiar Mission Impossible style reveal (sans the mask), it turns out that the gatekeeper was really Jaqen H’gar all along! Trippy. Are you stoked to watch a girl become no one? I’m a little worried about losing Arya in the process.
”Experience has made me wary of outsiders.”
Meanwhile, back in Westeros, the other surviving Stark daughter is still travelling to an unknown destination with Littlefinger. That one likes to keep his cards close to his chest, refusing to share any significant details with Sansa or, by extension, with the viewer. She’s trying her best to extract some information from her, uh, ‘uncle’ but Petyr is careful not to share too much. In fact, he doesn’t offer up any information nor does he confirm or deny any of her queries. He does try and reassure her that the old saying, ‘dark wings, dark words’ did not apply to the news brought by the most recent raven. It sounds like Littlefinger has found himself another bride.
As fate would have it, their travels also brought them to the same Inn as Brienne and Pod and, against the latter’s seemingly sound advice, the former goes right up and shares her intentions with, well, anyone who will listen. Pretty much the anti-Littlefinger. And Sansa, like her sister, doesn’t want any of what Brienne is selling but this time the Beauty isn’t letting the Stark girl out of her sight. How about Pod on the horse? Even while his life is in danger he makes me laugh. Speaking of travelling companions, this week also quickly checked in on Tyrion and Varys’ trek on the other side of the Narrow Sea and the two make for excellent company. For the viewer anyway, it seems as though they might be getting a little sick of each other being stuck in that box. I would watch that sitcom.
”The law is the law.”
The Spider and the Imp are headed to see the Mother of Dragons but she night be a little too busy too see them when they arrive. Or maybe even a little too dead if the Sons of the Harpy had their way. The scenes in Meereen opened with Daario and Grey Worm on the hunt for any former masters who are part of the group terrorizing the newly freed slaves. During this search, Daario, much like the ‘Jew Hunter’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, tells Grey Worm about the importance of being able to think like the enemy. Genitals were not the only thing that was taken from the unsullied.
With one of the Sons of Harpy in custody (imagine Game of Thrones as a police procedural? Again, I’d watch) Daenerys’ is put in a difficult position and learns yet another important lesson about being in charge. Of anyone, Dany is certainly getting the most on-the-job training for the position of rule of the Seven Kingdoms. I think she made one right choice - giving the accused Harpy a trial - and one wrong one - executing that kid in the public square. Yes, the law is the law but why is the law eye for an eye? I guess it’s a cruel world. Still, it was something to see the people turn on her and start hissing (one of many snake references this week). And I loved the end of episode. Drogon returned right when Dany needed him most and yet flew off before a full embrace. It was bittersweet. The show at its best.
”You have no idea what people will do.”
One of the highlights of “The Wars to Come” was definitely the final shot, pun always intended, where Jon put Mance out of his misery instead of letting Melisandre burn the King Beyond the Wall alive. Obviously, there were consequences to his actions but not the ones I was expecting and not from whom I was expecting them to come. I’m saying, I thought Melisandre would be pissed but the Red Priestess didn’t even make an appearance this week, instead it was Stannis, with Davos by his side, who dealt with the act of defiance. Remember, Stannis is King. Well, a king. Instead of punishing Jon for the deed, Stannis delivers a word of advice as well as a most tantalizing offer.
Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell. Sounds great doesn’t it? But what kind of Lord of Winterfell would he be if he sold out his brothers and reneged on his vows to acquire the title? Man, I love Jon. I guess I’m a sucker for honor. And the Bastard of Winterfell sounds pretty rad anyway. As does Lord Commander Snow. Out of left-field, Sam throws Jon’s name into the ring during the elections and Maester Aemon cast the deciding vote to make him the 998th leader of the Night’s Watch. Sam had also some pretty sick burns on Slynt. And how about those greyscale stories? They turned into animals? Whoa, Gilly. That’s something you could have brought up before. Now I am curious how Shireen managed to survive. ‘S’ is for snake.
”Mistakes will be made.”
In King’s Landing, Cersei continues to worry about the loss of Lannister power, a situation only exacerbated by the arrival of her daughter’s necklace dangling from the jaws of a snake. A present/message from Dorne. After she and Jaime discuss what to do about Myrcella, the Queen Mother and Qyburn start looking at some dead dwarf heads. Poor guy. First he’s killed just for being a dwarf and now his remains are going to be used for experiments. That Qyburn is unsettling. And GOT dressed him like a Sith Lord.
In order to keep as much power as possibly, Cersei assumes the role of de facto Hand of the King while dividing and conquering the rest of the small council. Now it’s just her, the doofus Tyrell and her Sith. Kevan Lannister has a little too much of his brother Tywin in him to let his niece boss him around so he leaves for Casterly Rock. I don’t think that’s going to be good for Cersei. They might need as many Lions in the capitol as they can get. Everything seems to be slipping away from the once powerful and feared family.
”As far south as south goes.”
The most enjoyable part of “The House of Black and White,” yes, even more so than the quick exchange between Varys and Tyrion, had to be Jaime recruiting Bronn for the trip to Dorne. After seeing Cersei about the necklace, Ser Jaime decides to take matters into his own hand (haha!) and retrieve his daughter from the possible danger that awaits her in Dorne. But he can’t accomplish this on his own and who better to join him than Bronn, his sword fighting teaching and former travelling companion of his younger brother.
Before the pair depart for the southernmost ‘state’ of Westeros, we got to take out first trip to Dorne, the exotic former home of everyone’s favorite fallen prince. How about those Water Gardens? Again, the location scout deserves a raise. There we met his brother, Prince Doran, as well as his bodyguard Areo Hotah, the big dude with the axe. Doran makes a great first impression, showing that he’s a just leader by repeating Oberyn’s line about how they don’t torture little girls in Dorne. Ellaria Sand, however, would rather use the Lannister princess to get vengeance for Oberyn and apparently the Snakes are on her side. So. When do we get to meet these much talked about Sand Snakes?
”Sometimes we don’t have a choice.”
Game of Thrones continues with Episode 3, “High Sparrow,” next Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO. Based on the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R.R. Martin, the series was adapted for TV by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.