Game of Thrones – Episode 5.2 “The House of Black and White”

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Synopsis: Arya spent all that time since last season sailing to Braavos, and as this episode begins she arrives underneath the giant legs of the statue at the port. The captain of the boat drops her off at the entrance to the House of Black and White. She knocks on the door and a man opens the door. One, it’s another black man on Game of Thrones, which brings us up to three. Two, he doesn’t know Arya, and when she says she’s looking for Jaqen, he says no one by that name is there. Arya sits out front for the next few days recounting her list (which has lost a few names, I guess she got over Thoros, Beric and Illyn). Giving up, she tosses the coin in the water and walks off. Podrick and Brienne eat in the bar when Pod notices Sansa and Littlefinger sitting in another booth (really, is there only one restaurant between King’s Landing and the Vale?). Brienne approaches and tells Sansa of her vow to Catelyn. Littlefinger doubts Brienne’s loyalty and Sansa is all too willing to let him speak for her. She saw Brienne at Joffrey’s wedding and saw her bow to the king. Brienne and Pod take off, but are chased by Littlefinger’s Knights, but thankfully Brienne takes care of them. Brienne says they will follow Sansa from a distance. Cersei summons Jaime to show her a threat she received from Dorne against Myrcella. Jaime vows to go to Dorne to get Myrcella back. Bronn hangs out with his chatty new wife-to-be, Lollys, when they notice a visitor: Jaime. He tells Bronn that he no longer has to marry Lollys, and that frees him up to join Jaime in Dorne. In Dorne, Ellaria meets with Doran, Oberyn’s brother, and chides him for his inaction. He doesn’t want to invite a war, but Ellaria says the Sand Snakes are with her, whoever they might be.

Daario and Grey Worm find one of the Sons of the Harpy and back in Dany’s small council, they argue what to do with the man: kill him as Daario suggests, or give him a trial, which is Selmy’s side. Selmy tells Dany about serving her father and that the rumors of him being the mad king were in fact truth. He says that his thirst for blood is what started a rebellion and ended with all Targaryens being wiped out except her and Viserys. Dany agrees to a trial. Varys and Tyrion make their way to Volantis in a small carriage. Varys says it’s just a stop on their way to Mereen. Tyrion makes good on his promise to drink himself to death on the way. He wants to take a walk but Varys cautions him that Cersei has promised a lordship to anyone that brings her Tyrion’s head. Back in King’s Landing, a head lands on Cersei’s desk, but it’s not Tyrions. Qyburn asks to keep it, for research purposes. Cersei hosts the small council, taking Tywin’s spot at the head of the table. She appoints Mace as Master of Coin, welcomes Qyburn to the council as Master of Whispers, and appoints her uncle Kevan as Master of War. Kevan questions Cersei’s authority and chastises her for filling the council with sycophants. He won’t be playing along. Shireen, having successfully taught Davos to read has taken a new student-Gilly-who learns “s” by the end of her first lesson. Gilly asks Shireen about her greyscale and recounts some of her sisters’ issues with the disease. Selyse enters and sends Gilly and Sam away and berates Shireen for communing with wildlings.

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Stannis is upset with Jon Snow for showing mercy to Mance Rayder by killing him swiftly. Snow tells Stannis that the free folk will never for follow him since he burned their king alive. Stannis shows Snow a missive from Bear Island, led by a young Lyanna Mormont, Jeor’s niece, where she maintains allegiance to the Stark family. Davos notes that there will be an election that night for a new Lord Commander and that Alliser Thorne will likely win. He offers to give Jon the Stark name and to become Lord of Winterfell if he pledges allegiance to Stannis. In the hall of Castle Black, Maester Aemon calls for candidates. Slynt nominates Thorne. Another candidate is nominated and they start the vote, but Sam interrupts. He shames Janos for his cowardice in battle and then nominates Jon Snow and recounts his successes and victories. The votes are cast and there is a two-way tie for first place, Aemon casts the deciding vote for Jon Snow. Thorne and Janos glower. Arya walks along the streets of Braavos when she is accosted by some men. They step to her and she pulls her sword, but it’s the man from before that sends them running when he lurks behind her. Arya follows the man back to the House of Black and White and he gives her back her coin. When she looks up it’s none other than Jaqen. Mossador, the former slave on Dany’s small council, kills the Sons of the Harpy prisoner and leaves his body for everyone to see. He is brought before Dany and she asks him why. He did it for her. Dany holds court in the hills of the town as Mossador and the freed slaves cry for mercy. Dany demands he be punished for the murder and Daario takes his head. The former slaves hiss at her and suddenly they’ve got a revolt on their hands. The former masters and slaves start to fight as the Unsullied rush to get Dany back safely to her chambers. Later she hears a noise at her window and goes outside to see her prodigal dragon, Drogon, above her. He is tentative and when she reaches out for him he flies off again.

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Comments: Really, this dragon tech is next level. There’s really no hint of CGI and it’s easy to forget you’re not looking a real creature. Kudos to that team. While it’s good to check in on Arya, it’s a harbinger that she’s in storyline Siberia for a while. Is it really necessary to see Batman train to become Batman? I believe this is our first look at Dorne, another locale that has been much discussed. The death of Oberyn is still felt and the war between the Lannisters and Martells isn’t over. Dany’s storyline is interesting in showing that actually ruling is more difficult than becoming a ruler, and as challenging as her small town problems are, they will obviously get worse if she takes over the seven kingdoms. Jon Snow’s political advancement was expected and certainly paves the way for more issues especially given he’s already entangled with Stannis. Tyrion and Varys continue to be comedy gold. Sansa continues to grow a backbone but has put her faith in the wrong person, Baelish. All in all, another episode of quick hits and laid groundwork, but no real standout moments. 

Quotes:
Varys: Cersei has offered a lordship to the man who brings her your head.
Tyrion: She ought to offer her cunt. Best part of her for the best part of me.

Sam: Did you know that the youngest Lord Commander in history, Osric Stark, was elected at the age of ten?
Gilly: I know “S.”

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Foreshadowing: The talk of greyscale doesn’t feel like a throwaway caution. Selyse’s comment that Shireen has no idea what people are capable of will prove true. First mention of Lyanna Mormont, Jeor’s niece, who even before she appears makes an impression. Ellaria mentions the Sand Snakes. They sound scarier than they will ever prove to be.

Title: Spoken by the captain who sails Arya ashore. He leaves her at the entrance where she will find the man she seeks.

Deaths: Some Knights of the Vale are ended by Brienne. Mossador kills the Son of the Harpy. In return, Mossador is beheaded by Daario on Dany’s command.

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