House of Black and White – Game of Thrones Review

The second episode this season almost felt as if it were still part of the season premiere which is perhaps down to the scale of the show and the impossible nature of catching up with all the characters within an hour, nevertheless it was a very intriguing episode.

Despite the episode being called the ‘House of Black and White’ we spend barely anytime anywhere near the aforementioned house as Arya is refused entrance by a doorkeeper whose visage is creased with old age and knowledge, afterwards she waits and waits and waits (remind anyone else of Tyler Durden’s Project Mayhem initiation? Jut me?) before taking to the streets of Braavos (A city we’ve heard plenty of but have not seen until now). Soon Arya is again faced with that mysterious man clad in robes after his presence disperses a group of thieves preying on the young stark girl. After following the old doorkeeper back he reveals himself in the familiar guise of Jaqen H’ghar once more, this confuses Arya who had asked for H’ghar earlier. He then tells her that ‘A man is not Jaqen H’ghar’ and that he is ‘No one and that is who a girl must become’ they then enter into the headquarters of the faceless men. Having Tom Wlaschciha back as the soft spoken assassin with a penchant for speaking in 3rd person from season 2 was a great move by HBO as his performance was one of the second season’s highlights for me and ever since his departure I’ve been hoping for him to grace our screens again. Also something I found quite interesting about seeing this city for the first time is that the large statue The Titan of Braavos is very much an incarnation of the Colossus of Rhodes thus pertaining to the idea that the land across the sea is very much rooted in mythology and magic.

On the subject of Magic a certain runaway Dragon visited Daenery’s briefly before disappearing into the distance again; one could see this as a metaphor for the state of affairs that face the young queen as her hold over the city of Meereen seems to be slipping away. After a public execution of a former slave a civil war breaks out between the masters and slaves of the Meereen of before which demonstrates that Daenery’s is very much out of her depth. The slaves see this execution as a betrayal and portray this through a very visceral hissing; this is a huge departure from the cries of ‘Myhsa’ meaning Mother in Meereen’s native tongue that she was graced with last season after sacking the city. One can only hope that Daenery’s can recuperate the love her subjects once displayed otherwise attaining the Iron Throne will remain a dream rather than become reality.

Tyrion is subjected to yet another box (albeit a larger one) for his travel towards Meereen and all the while the self-proclaimed ‘God of Wine’ continues to drown his sorrows. Feeling cooped up he muses upon his situation with a simple question ‘How many dwarfs are there in the world, is Cersei going to kill them all?’ In true Game of Thrones style we get a straight cut to a severed dwarfs head dropped in front of Cersei which gives the scene a dark comic undertone.

Myrcella’s fate is in flux after the Lannister’s receive a viper shaped threat courtesy of Dorne no doubt thus spurring Jamie into recruiting Bronn for a secret mission to retrieve the golden haired child. Meanwhile in Dorne we are reintroduced to the late Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand in the form of a wonderful close up of her clenched fist complete with a Snake bracelet that coils up her forearm, a pan up reveals her draped in a black dress mourning and plotting revenge. She observes from an ornate tower as the ‘Lannister girl skips about the water gardens’ and challenges Doran Martell on his inaction to avenge his brother’s death and suggests sending Myrcella back to Cersei finger by finger. This is rather shocking seeing as last season Oberyn assured Cersei that they ‘don’t hurt little girls in Dorne’ a similar sentiment is uttered by Prince Doran in this scene ‘we do not mutilate little girls for vengeance not here, not while I rule’ however Ellaria’s response of ‘and how long will that be’ hints at a potential for major conflict in Dorne this season. Personally for me the highlight of last season was the introduction of Oberyn and Ellaria due to they’re languid nature, they’re reverent dedication to each other and the fact that they’re quite obviously different to pretty much everyone else in the seven kingdoms (except maybe Tyrion Lannister). However tragedy struck and tore the two apart and in grief there is no way of telling what Ellaria will do to avenge her lover, perhaps as hinted in this episode she’ll compromise her morality which should make for a fascinating storyline.

Way up north the noble Jon Snow rejected Stannis’ tantalising offer of legitimisation (something that he has wanted his whole life) in favour of keeping his vows as a member of the Nights Watch. However at the voting for the new Lord Commander (the 998th to be precise) Samwell offers up Snow as a nominee reasoning that ‘he’s the commander we turned to when the night was darkest’, Snow wins by one vote. A season’s fly by Jon Snow has probably had one of the biggest character developments, from bastard boy of Winterfell to Steward then Ranger and now Lord Commander he has risen up through the ranks and has proven himself to be a natural leader. The fate of the Night’s watch and perhaps the rest of Westeros now lie in his hands with winter coming.

All in all this episode was a great end to last week’s reintroduction to the world of Game of Thrones as we were presented with two fascinating new destinations, a favourite character returned to take Arya’s story arc in an interesting direction and several plotlines hint at the action to come for the rest of season 5.

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