‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 2 Recap: The House Of Black And White

Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 5, Episode 2 —The House of Black and White.

Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, we suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.

One of the many things that has always made Game of Thrones standout is that episodes early in the season that are meant to remind viewers of what previously happened and establish the path characters are going to take in the season ahead rarely feel like boring “reset” episodes.

Even though last week’s debut episode of Season 5 was all about getting viewers back into life in The Realm and refreshing their memories of what transpired at the close of Season 4, it did so while still moving forward. There are no “Hey, remember that time” moments – just references to past events, mentions of important people in different places and forward motion.

Sunday’s sophomore episode for Season 5 – ‘The House of Black and White’ – followed a similar structure, catching viewers up on a few characters that didn’t get face time in Episode 1 and continuing the narratives for several others.

A Stark Girl in Braavos

The ship carrying Arya arrives in Braavos and the spirited young Stark is brought to The House of Black and White, told by the ship’s captain that the man she is looking for resides inside. When she knocks, a man answers and informs her that Jaqen H’ghar does not live there. Dismissed and annoyed, she sits on the steps in the rain for a couple days before tossing the Braavosi coin she was giving into the water.

Wandering the streets of the city, she kills a pigeon for food, but is approached by three 20-something males, wondering what she’s carrying. Never fearful, Arya draws her sword and prepares for a fight, but the man from The House of Black and White emerges for a doorway behind her and her would-be combatants scatter.

She follows the mysterious man back to the house, where he returns her coin. When she asks who he is and where Jaqen H’ghar is, the man pulls away his face (as the camera passed behind Arya’s back) and reveals himself as Jaqen H’ghar, though he identifies himself as no one and suggests that Arya must become no one as well while welcoming her into The House of Black and White.

Angry, Angry Cersei

Cersei receives a gift from Dorne – an ornamental viper with a necklace that she gave her daughter, Myrcella, before she was promised to the son of Doran Martell and shipped there by Tyrion a couple seaons back. She shows the statue and necklace to Jaime and lays into him for not caring about their daughter’s well being enough.

Having been responsible (in a round about way) for the death of Doran’s brother, Prince Oberyn (RIP Red Viper), Cersei is terrified that something bad is going to happen to Myrcella. Motivated by his sister’s concern, Jaime declares that he will go to Dorne and bring her back. He won’t take an army, but he won’t go alone either.

Jaime recruits Tyrion’s old sidekick Bronn, who has been promised to a nice (but plain) girl that won’t inherit the big castle when her mother dies. Jaime has arranged for her to be married to someone else, freeing Bronn to accompany him “as far south as south goes,” promising him a nicer girl and a nicer castle once they’ve returned.

After getting Jaime to go to Dorne, Cersei attends a small council meeting where she starts handing out jobs, acting, according to her, at the request of King Tommen. Mace Tyrell takes his assignment without quibble because he’s a pushover and though Grand Maester Pycelle objects to getting moved to a new job as Qyburn (the Quack) joins the council, he can’t stand up to Cersei, but Uncle Kevan Lannister can and does.

The newest member of the clan to arrive in King’s Landing shoots down Cercei, declaring that she’s “the Queen Mother, nothing more.” #Burn

Welcome to Dorne

The first image we see from the city of Dorne is the viper bracelet worn by Ellaria Sand, the paramour of the late Prince Oberyn. She’s seething as Myrcella Baratheon prances around the Water Garden and shares those thoughts with Prince Doran Martell. While Ellaria wants to butcher Myrcella and send pieces of her back to Cersei one-by-one, Doran has no interest in vengeance.

Ellaria tells him “The Sand Snakes are with me,” an allusion to Oberyn’s three dangerous daughters we’ll meet later this season, and wonders how long Doran will remain in power as the current ruler refuses to start a war with the Lannisters over Oberyn’s death.

Paths Cross on the Road from The Eyrie

As Pod and Brienne have a meal in an inn, the good-intentioned squire spots “Littlefinger” and Sansa Stark enjoying a beverage in the same establishment. Brienne approaches and tells Sansa that she is sworn to protect her, but “Littlefinger” starts picking away at her credibility as a protector, given that the last two people she’s been sworn to protect – Renly Baratheon and Catelyn Stark – are both dead.

Brienne pleas for Sansa to speak with her in private, but the newly decisive Stark declines. “Littlefinger” invites Brienne to accompany them – which seems like a “come with us (and we’ll kill you later)” situation – and Brienne elbows two of his guards in the face and takes off, knowing trouble is brewing.

She and Pod flee on horseback, chased by Littlefinger’s men. She slays a couple of them and saves Podrick from getting killed. When she tells him her plan is to keep following Sansa and Littlefinger, Pod suggests Brienne might be free of her oath to Catelyn, given that both Sansa and Arya have no declined her help.

In a Box Bound for Pentos

Varys and Tyrion are on the road together, traveling by coach, which annoys drunk Tyrion, who says he wants to go for a walk. When Varys tells him that Cersei has offered a Lordship to anyone that brings her his head, Tyrion suggest she offers her lady bits instead – “the best part of her for the best part of me.”

Varys continues to compliment Tyrion’s abilities as a leader and tells him they’re on the way to Meereen in search of a leader – that would be Dany – and Tyrion still seems more interested in the drink than anything else that is going on. That, of course, will change at some point, but not this week.

Votes are Cast at The Wall

Stannis talks to Jon Snow about having shown Mance Rayder mercy by killing him at the close of last week’s episode, and Jon informs him that “The Free Folk” will never follow him. Stannis relays a message to Jon from other Nothern folk, who still pledge allegiance to House Stark, which makes Jon chuckle.

Stannis wants to reclaim the North and he wants Jon to be the one that helps him do it, offering to change his name from Jon Snow to Jon Stark if he lays down his sword in service to Stannis, but Jon won’t do it – he’s pledged himself to the Night’s Watch and breaking that oath isn’t something he’ll do.

The voting for Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is to take place and Janos Slynt stumps for Alliser Thorne while someone else stumps for the longest serving member of the group. Just before voting starts, Samwell Tardy nominates Jon, detailing his role in defending The Wall against The Wildlings and his many leader-like acts in recent years/seasons.

The vote is tied between Thorne and Snow… and then Maester Aemon votes for Jon and he’s the new Lord Commander.

Court is in Session in Meereen

Dany is trying to decide what to do about the Sons of the Harpy, the insurgent group that killed an Unsullied last episode and seem bent on bringing her down and returning the city to slavery. Daario and Grey Worm capture a member of the group, but a representative of the slaves kills him.

Dany has him arrested and taken away, gathers the whole of the populous to a central platform and has Daario decapitate the representative of the slaves in front of everyone. She tries to frame it as a “rules and penalties” kind of thing, but the slaves are displeased and start fighting with the assembled former masters as Dany scrambles back to her chambers.

After dismissing her various guards and confidentes, she ventures out to the balcony, where Drogon shows up for a visit. As she reaches for him, happy to see him, her wayward dragon doesn’t seem to care and flies off to do dragon things.

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Arya learning the ways of Jaqen H’ghar (or whatever his name may be) sounds like a really cool possibility and wrinkle in this story going forward, and the unavoidable clash between Jaime and Bronn and Ellaria Sand and The Sand Snakes is bound to be awesome.

Sansa’s dark turn continues and it’s far more compelling that when she was a pushover, thought there is little reason to trust Littlefinger. He’s a weasal and it just always feels like he’s got something nefarious that he’s working on all the time. There has been no indication of this so far, but he’s Littlefinger – he’s got to be up to something.

Dany’s decision to kill the representative of the slaves is bound to be a bad decision, because this season feels like a “make or break” year for “The Mother of Dragon” in terms of her viability as a ruler. With each episode where Tyrion and Varys don’t arrive in Meereen, the anticipation of them arriving in Meereen and meeting Dany grows.

Tags: Game of Thrones, HBO

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