TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 2 “The House of Black and White” (USA, 2015)

got the house of black and white

There are some big plot changes from the book going down right about now, but none quite as significant as Jamie’s fifth season quest and some other changes which begin in this episode. “The House of Black and White” sets everyone’s favourite kingslayer on a much different course than in the source material, and the writers should be commended for being inventive enough to work the show’s favourite characters into the arc, and do so without wedging anything in; something lesser TV shows would probably struggle with.

The fan favourite I’m writing about is Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. The last we saw of the witty sellsword-cum-lord he was sadly turning his back on Tyrion because Cersei promised him a lady and a castle. In case we held bitter feelings towards him for that, the show almost instantly redeemed him by pairing him back up with Jamie on a rescue mission to Dorne. Jamie wants to right his wrongs to Cersei by bringing Princess Myrcella back now that Dorne pretty much hates every Lannister in the realm. This open up the possibility of their being an on-screen duo to trump the potential meeting of Tyrion and Dany, or the great chemistry between Jon and Stannis; it also makes it likely that either Bronn or Jamie will be the big death of this season, and either of those would hurt. Bronn is the most likely candidate as his death wouldn’t really change the course of the show, and Game of Thrones needs time to settle into it’s new change rather than have to start to make them all over again.

In mentioning Dorne, one has to be slightly disappointed with the way the show chose to work the new setting into the show; at least initially. We get a very short scene or Ellaria chastising Prince Doran Martell, Oberyn’s brother, for not lashing out more than he is expected to. Ellaria wants blood and death as revenge for the horrific killing of Prince Oberyn, but Doran wants to try and keep peace between Dorne and King’s Landing. These two opposing desires in Dorne are likely to cause a big ripple effect this season, and it wouldn’t be Game of Thrones without Ellaria eventually getting her way. She makes mention of harming Myrcella and also of enlisting the help of the Sand Snakes, Oberyn’s children. Though the scene is short and leaves us begging for a close look at Dorne, it is effective in establishing the mood in the dessert-like area in the wake of Oberyn’s death.

Arya’s journey was picked up here, bringing her to Braavos and the House of Black and White. The producers have done an amazing job with Braavos, making it look and feel world’s away from places like King’s Landing and juxtaposing Arya against this mysterious city. The reveal of the frail old man to be Jaqen H’ghar was well done and again tells us that the showrunners know what they’re doing when they decide to stray from the source material. All of the sudden the fact that the show is going to outrun the books doesn’t seem that bad. I’m expecting that we’re not going to see much action as far as Arya is concerned this season, rather we’ll be sticking with her as she – hopefully – goes through a transformative experience in Braavos, one which sets her on the hero-revenge course we’ve all been waiting for.

I was surprised to see Brienne finally come across Sansa, and her bloody showdown with Littlefinger’s Knights of the Vale was terribly exciting to watch. There’s also that sense that Brienne could possibly be on her way out; she’s found both stark girls now, and they’ve both rejected her help. The show is going to need to set her – and Pod – on a different course now, but they are such fan favourites that an ill-fated end to this unsuccessful quest seems in line with what Game of Thrones makes waves for.

Dany’s story was given another layer of complication with her execution of a freed slave, especially with the reason for that execution being that he killed a Sons of the Harpy pest who was awaiting a fair trail. All these conflicting advisers surrounding Dany are the ones really adding weight to her story as she struggles to be a proper and adaptable ruler. Things don’t end so well with the slaves turning against Dany – that hissing was so creepy – but now the stakes are raised at Mereen just enough to thankfully change the relatively dull landscape at Mereen. Dragons are slowly coming back into the picture too, with Dany spotting Drogon at the end, who came to check on his mother and then fly off again, casing that huge shadow over the land.

Jon Snow being voted as the next Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was the other big thing in this episode, and it gave us the episode’s best scene. Sam was the MVP here as he, hilariously, told Janos Slynt off and embarrassed him by telling everyone where Slynt was during the big wildling battle.

A lot happened in “The House of Black and White”, progressing Season 5 with some impressively efficient storytelling and table setting. After the second episode is usually when things really start to happen, now that we’ve caught up with all the major characters, but this one really felt like it would usually be found somewhere in the middle of previous seasons. We got a big chunk of the story here, and a great look at where things are heading.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights

– Sam embarrasses Janos Slynt
– Brienne vs Knights of the Vale
– Jamie and Bronn off to Dorne
– Jaqen H’ghar revealed at The House of Black and White

Lowlights:

– Dorne scene rushed and felt wedged in

Game of Thrones airs in Australia on Showcase, Foxtel every Monday at 11am with a second screening at 7:30pm