Knock knock. Oh hey, Drogon. "Game of Thrones" season five, episode two review "The House of Black and White"
In my review of the first "Game of Thrones" episode, I mentioned the foreshadowing and how the characters who had power in the last seasons, will lose it in this season.
The power is fluid. It comes and goes as easily as Drogon. (Nice to see you again, dragon. Hope you haven't killed anymore children.) The power struggles aren't up for debate, but what causes those wins and loses varies between character and situation.
I've read the books, and I won't spoil it for anyone, but I cannot wait for this one certain scene with this one certain character who does this one certain thing. Hint: it involves Cersei, a body-double, and the most unnerving and invasive exchanges of power in "Game of Thrones."
The most noticable power struggle, and my second favorite, is conquering a few countries, freeing all the slaves, and not having the ability to control its people. One way to lose power is to abuse it. My girl, Daenerys Targaryen, looked amazing in her white dress on that platform, sentencing the Sons of Harpy murderer to die, but her people, the ones she set free from slavery in season four, hissed at her and threw rocks at her. Her guards had to form a shield so she wouldn't get hurt. Anyone remember when Joffrey Baratheon needed protection, fleeing the crowd in an earlier season? Good intentions aren't an infallible defense against an angry mob.
Even though Daenerys has the best intentions (equality, justice, no slavery) she encounters conflict because of the cultural differences in Meereen. She's being pressured to re-open the fighting pits by Hizdahr zo Loraq, and to punish the former masters who once had slaves. She's getting advice from Barristan Selmy and she's learning she that conquering and ruling are two very different things. Daario Naharis did get an epic kill this week, stabbing a Son of Harpy through a fake wall. Drogon is a great symbol of Dani's power; it comes and goes. Perhaps the throne of Meereen isn't the one she should be sitting on.
My favorite is storyline is Arya Stark's, because it's the most interesting and has the most potential to surprise me. After leaving the Seven Kingdoms and crossing the Narrow Sea, she arrives in Braavos. She finally found Jaqen H'ghar and the Faceless Men in the House of Black and White. The epic return of Needle saw the end of a poor pigeon, and the start to a badass and versatile Arya. She's still listing the people she's going to kill. The list gets smaller, but her dedication doesn't waver just because her hit-list contains people a sea away.
Arya went from little to no power in the end of season four, to the potential to gain a massive power. I know what she learns in this mysterious house, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone because it's truly one of the best storylines in the entire series. Although, the name "Faceless Men" and Jaqen's abilities should be the only hint viewers need to figure it out.
Jon Snow obtained power he didn't really want. The Night's Watch voted on the new Lord Commander and Samwell nominated Jon, unsurprisingly. This storyline offers a blend of angles. Stannis is at the Wall, breathing down Jon's back after ending Mance Rayder's life before the fire could, and Jon turns down an offer that might have seemed possible in season one. This part reminded me how many things have changed in Westeros since season one. In this episode, Jon still gets heat from his fellow brothers for having sex with Ygritte, one of the Free Folk, and many doubt his loyalties to the Night's Watch because of it.
Jon has unstable or hallow power at the end of this episode, and it'll be interesting to see how David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote this conflict. It'll be even more interesting to read what happens in the sixth book because George R.R. Martin, this rude, clever, imaginative man, wrote a heart-stopping cliffhanger that's been torturing me for two years.
Also in the North, Shireen Baratheon, Stannis' daughter, teaches Gilly how to read. It's kind of a sweet moment until Gilly starts talking about what they did to her sisters who had Greyscale, the disease that keep Shireen out of public eye. It's great and harsh reminder of the extremes some people use to get rid of something they don't understand.
Cersei Lannister is losing her power. She's trying to be the main ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, but the Small Council reminds her of the little power she actually has. Her methods are always questionable, to be nice, but her motivations are rarely in dispute. Cersei does everything for her children. Now that her eldest son, Joffrey, is dead and her baby boy is set to marry Margaery Tyrell, Cersei's feeling a bit protective, and for good reason. Myrcella, her daughter, is in Dorne with the Martell's. Oberyn Martell was gruesomely killed in a fight to the death last season, giving the Martells more reason to hate the Lannisters. Jaime Lannister decides to get Myrcella, which gives the show a beautiful transition to the southern most part of Westeros, Dorne.
In Dorne, Prince Doran Martell, head of the House Martell, is chair ridden because of gout. Characters with disabilities often become favorites. Everyone loves Tyrion and fan approval shifted rapidly in favor of Jaime Lannister as the seasons progressed and he lost a hand. This feeling isn't shared by Oberyn's scorned lover, Ellaria Sand, who urges Doran to send Myrcella back to King's Landing in multiple pieces. I'm pretty sure this moment set the scene for Dorne in season five. This level-headed ruler is a great contrast from what we see in King's Landing, but Ellaria wonders how long he'll be in charge. Much like Daenerys, he's pressured to do unfair things his people want.
Tyrion and Varys are still traveling to Meereen and Tyrion is still drinking. Finding Daenerys is his main goal this season, and right now he's along for the ride and wine. Currently, he doesn't have much power at all, except the power to hide from his sweet sister. Cersei put a bounty on Tyrion's head for killing Tywin. People are killing dwarfs and bringing (just) their heads to Cersei. He hasn't been caught yet.
The transitions in this episode were perfect. Right after Tyrion questions the number of dwarves in Westeros, a dwarf head appears right in front of Cersei.
Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne run into Sansa Stark and Littlefinger, Petyr Baelish, at an inn. Brienne tells Sansa of her oath to protect her and Arya, but Sansa refuses. Brienne symbolizes the kind of naive power that gets people killed in this world. She may be the only main character still trying uphold an oath she made many seasons ago. Thankfully, she has the awesome power of her sword and overall badassery. Kills two and three in season five go to Brienne of Tarth, for saving Podrick when he fell off his horse and into the river. I wonder if Brienne will stick to her oath, or if the world will finally change Brienne, like it has with almost every other character.
Drunk Tyrion is always great, and I absolutely love the dragons, but Arya takes the win for favorite moment this episode when she knocks on the door of the House and Black and White. No one answers so she knocks again. It's such a mundane and simple action for the world of "Game of Thrones." Doors are usually knocked down, kicked down, or taken down with fire. Rarely do we see characters that vulnerable, wondering if someone will let them in.
It's taken a lot of self control, but I've managed not to watch the leaked episodes online before they air live. Watching the episodes with the rest of the world is one of the best parts of these shows and I cannot wait for next Sunday.