The second episode of season five of “Game of Thrones” (2011-present) entitled “The House of Black and White,” was more enjoyable than the first. It had some interesting twists, not to mention a huge shocker: no nudity whatsoever. Take note, HBO: Shows can be good without gratuitous female objectification. Who knew?
There were many new developments across Westeros and Essos. Here’s what happened in “The House of Black and White:”
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is arguably the most powerful person in Westeros right now. She dominates a Small Council meeting, appointing new members and showing that she’s in charge. Her uncle Kevan (Ian Gelder), however, refuses to acknowledge Cersei’s authority, and tells her that he will not return to Casterly Rock until the actual king summons him.
Meanwhile, after receiving a threatening message from Dorne regarding her daughter, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), Cersei requests that her brother/baby-daddy Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) man up and protect their daughter. Jaime tells her that he will go to Dorne to retrieve Myrcella. He then meets up with Bronn (Jerome Flynn), the mercenary who taught him how to fight after he lost his sword hand. Presumably, the two will begin their journey to Dorne in next week’s episode, and “Game of Thrones” will have yet another dynamic road trip duo.
Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), paramour of deceased Dornish Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), tells the leader of Dorne, Prince Doran (Alexander Siddig), that she isn’t happy with his passive response to his brother, Oberyn’s, death. He tells her that he will not start a war out of vengeance. Siddig is perfect as Doran, playing the aging monarch with elegance. While the scene is short, it’s incredibly engaging, adding a new location with surprising delicacy.
Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) wants Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to become Lord of Winterfell. But Jon turns down the proposition, noting that his loyalty to the Night’s Watch precludes him from assuming that mantle.
Later, there is the election for Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Sam (John Bradley) nominates Jon for the position, who then wins by a single vote. In the span of an episode, Jon went from possible Lord of Winterfell to definite Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. It will be interesting to see where his new position of power takes him.
Road trip across Westeros
In a twist of fate, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) meet Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in a pub. Brienne tells Sansa that, by oath to her late mother, she is sworn to protect the Stark daughters. Sansa rebuffs Brienne, and Littlefinger sets his men on the knight and her squire. Brienne and Pod outmaneuver these enemies, however, and resolve to follow Sansa and Petyr on their journey.
Road trip across Essos
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) are stuck in a carriage together, and they are getting really sick of each other. Tyrion is becoming increasingly nihilistic and drunk, and Varys is clearly annoyed with him. They discuss the nature of their exile in a brief yet engaging scene. While they appeared only briefly in this episode, Hill and Dinklage brought further exposition and entertainment to an already engaging episode.
Finally, the audience gets to see Arya (Maisie Williams). After arriving in Braavos, Arya goes to the House of Black and White, a place shrouded in mystery. At first, she is barred from entering, but after a few days on the street she is allowed to return. The presumed proprietor of the house assumes the face of Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), the man who originally gave her the Braavosi coin. They enter the house together, and Arya’s mysterious new life begins.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is struggling to maintain power in Meereen. After her forces find a member of the Sons of the Harpy, she agrees to give him a trial. One of her advisers murders him, however, and so in turn she decides to kill her adviser publicly. This execution does not go well, and results in a riot by the former slaves of Meereen. At the end of the rough day, she sees her third dragon, Drogon. Drogon is realistic and terrifying, a testament to the show’s visual effects team. The dragon flies away and Daenerys ends the episode alone.
“The House of Black and White” was far better than “The Wars to Come.” It was more action-packed, and certainly more engaging. However, it did raise a few questions: What is Arya going to do in Braavos? Will Sansa ever trust Brienne? Can Daenerys maintain control of Meereen? Can Cersei maintain control of King’s Landing?
These questions may be answered in next week’s episode, “High Sparrow,” which will air on HBO at 9:00 p.m. next Sunday.