Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 2 ‘The House of Black and White’ Review…

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If the first episode served as a reminder of where all the pieces were on the game board after the events of season 4, this started lining them up for their moves through this series. Spoilers ahoy…

Arya made it to her Dagobah and found her Yoda. After her painful journey last season I can’t wait for her to become her own little woman. She’s often been so much more than the adults she’s encountered or been around. Yet now she has found her path she seems lost–she seems so far away from the politics and people of Westeros, and presumably will stay as such while she trains, I wonder whether there will be much of the old world–the Lannisters–left for her to exact the revenge that has driven her so far? What does her future hold? With her sister seemingly walking a dark path with Baelish, her brother having an unknown destiny, and her half-brother at the Wall. Will she be the only Stark to want the North again for the family name? Or will she live as an assassin supporting other people’s vengeance?

Arya’s not the only lost soul–this epsiode shone a spotlight on how fragile a construction the strong and fierce (and wonderful) Brienne is, a woman who strives to be accepted as an equal to a man in this world of men, yet has failed in both opportunities to earn respect, and from the outside looking in her loyalty would seem to be steered by the opportunities of glory. She’s lined up for another failure with Sansa rejecting her offer as support, but with Sansa in Baelish’s company I imagine his affections are fickle and come second or third to his want for power, so perhaps Brienne will get her chance to save a Stark. But to do so, she’s going to have to be the loyal dog to a master who doesn’t know she needs her.

Jon Snow has had an air of greatness about him all along. It’s been tough to see him shackled to the Night’s Watch through his oath. The Watch is a curious place of pride and shame–with it’s noble cause supported by the rejects and the scum of the civilized world, and Jon really has little to be ashamed of. Stannis’ offer of a name and place in the wider world could’ve been Jon’s chance to escape, to shine, and a direct route to be the great man he could be. I was surprised by Sam’s nomination of Jon, and even more surprised that he was elected and accepted the high commander of the Night’s Watch over being a King’s man. He’s struggled to see the Watch and the Wildlings in the black and white terms his superiors have, so he could be in a position to become the new King of the North. But I can’t help thinking that the enemies he’s earned through this election won’t make this an easy command–and they are going to be just as dangerous, if not more, than what’s beyond the wall.

Daenerys. Oh Daenerys. She was warned not to have her word as the law, and she actually took the advice–but instead of having an enemy on trial she had an ally. To see the people turn on her so quickly after her almost messianic rising in the last season was troubling. What seemed such a firm grasp of power now seems to be clutches at sand. I’m not sure things are going to work out the way I want them to for her. She already has the slaver nobles as her enemies, and now it would seem she has made an enemy of the ex-slaves. What should we make of Drogon’s return? Is it a reminder of her potential greatness, or was its sniff of her hand and it’s consequent flight a sign that destiny, the destiny the dragons seemed to support, has abandoned her with her first steps on the road to power?

If Daenerys loses control of Mereen where will that leave Tyrion and Varys? Varys once again stood out for me in the episode. Thrones is tricky, but Varys seems at his most honest at the moment–and vulnerable. It’s clear now, that he has indeed left King’s Landing and his position behind. He has his network of sparrows, but out of court, with only Tyrion as his apparent pawn to play with now, it will be interesting to see Tyrion and Varys fare with their fates entwined. I have a bad feeling about this…

The best line goes to Bronn ‘It’s Jaime fucking Lannister’. And it was. In what has to be a leather jacket designed to make him look as sexy as f***. It will be interesting to see Jaime on a personal mission, as although Cersei and Jaime are never going to be a popular couple, Jaime–despite what he did to Bran (and probably lots of other things I’m neglecting to think about because of his hotness)–has been a character to get behind over the last season. Seeing him risk himself for his daughter would go some way to rehabilitating him. Some way. But then this is a show where it’s hard to find many characters to act as your moral compass to follow. Nice seeing our man Bashir Alexander Siddig in Dorn.

As for Cersei? Well, she’s ensconced herself in a position of power quick enough, but I think her ally in the new minister of whispers could well end up turning on her as I’m pretty sure he has his own agenda.

Another engrossing episode from start to finish. Love it.

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