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REVIEW: Game of Thrones 5×02 “The House of Black and White”

After last week’s episode of reminders if there was anyone left who you were still wondering about, this week should have sorted that right out! Unless you were wondering about The Hound. Or The Mountain. Or Gendry, who has been rowing around and around Westeros for a ridiculously long time and must have enormous arms. And really withered legs. But apart from that.

I was so happy to see Arya safely reach her destination – part of me suspected she’d get diverted by something awful but no, she arrived at the House of Black and White. Sadly the world’s most unimpressed man slammed the door in her face. It was great to see Braavos, a city which brought to mind both Rhodes and Venice. I think something this show always does well is the realisation of George RR Martin’s richly imagined locations which look at once familiar and alien – giving them each a fairly distinct style is also been a strength. It helps the viewers keep them straight and gives the impression of a real and diverse world. I do fear a few could start to merge with Mireen, Dorne and Braavos going rather heavy on the warm yellow tones but so far they’ve been good!

Speaking of places it was great to see, I was thrilled to visit Dorne at last, even if it was only a snippet. The Dorne storyline is definitely my ‘one to watch’ and the Sand Snakes (briefly mentioned tonight by Ellaria Sand) should be brilliant. I was a bit worried by Ellaria’s lust for vengeance but it seems Oberyn’s kindness is a family trait: his older brother Prince Doran is absolutely against mutilating little girls! Hurrah!

And soon to join the Dorne side of things will apparently be Jaime and Bronn – can this Lannister/Sellsword team ever match the glory days of Tyrion and Bronn? Or even Jaime and Brienne? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out. Once again, Jaime and Cersei were snapping at each other – although it was interesting to hear Cersei really come out and shout ‘OUR daughter’ when talking about Myrcella. She seems to have thrown consequence to the wind – I’m getting the feeling that it would take just a little push to make Cersei unravel altogether. Let’s be honest, her grip on sanity has never been the strongest. She loves power and she can wield it well at times – she dances circles around poor Mace Tyrell and Maester Pycelle – but she tends to crumble when a strong mind pushes back against her.

Sansa was on top form tonight, travelling the country with Littlefinger and looking extremely haughty. It’s tempting to think that Sansa has changed completely: from scared, helpless little girl to cool, calm young woman. But to me, she’s very reminiscent of the way she was before any of this ever happened. Remember her up in Winterfell? Haughty, proper, aware of her status and willing to use it whenever she could. The main difference being that, then, her ‘power’ was imagined, it was just fantasy and innocence that kept her how she was. Now it’s real; it’s tempered by genuine pain and a bleak awareness of how the world works. I think that this ‘little dove’ could go very far.

What a relief it was to witness Brienne FINALLY find Sansa. I also enjoyed how tiny she made Littlefinger look. Sadly Brienne was once again turned away – even Pod’s relentless cheer and comedy horse sequence couldn’t cheer her up and now she’s off again to force Sansa to accept her help. I really don’t know where they’re going with that, I enjoy Brienne a lot but her story thus far hasn’t been that interesting. Here’s hoping it improves!

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A story I am currently very interested in is that of Daenerys. As I mentioned last week, her actions continuously make me nervous and this week was no exception. I’d never really thought about how she wouldn’t have known the truth about her father until Barristan Selmy stepped in with his words of advice. It was nice to see him have a good strong scene and I was relieved that Daenerys listened – relieved! For once in a Daenerys storyline I actually relaxed. And then one of the Unsullied murdered a man to whom she had promised a fair trial and it all went to hell again. I’m not saying it was an easy choice to make: spare the murderer or punish him according to their laws but, wow, it made her unpopular. So now I’m back to being nervous. At least Drogon is back.

On their way to our dear Mhysa are, of course, Tyrion and Varys. Currently starring in a small road-trip side story, their exchange this week gave me my favourite quote: “Every pile of shit on the side of every road has someone’s banner hanging from it.” And if that doesn’t sum up the series, nothing will!

And up to the Wall. It should have been utterly predictable that Jon would be voted Commander but because this is what it is, I pretty much expected the worst to happen instead. So yay Jon! Also yay Shireen teaching Gilly how to read, I love these random little exchanges, characters just interacting with each other. It’s relaxing.

Finally: Jaqen H’ghar! Or ‘No one’ as he likes to be known. Although seeing Tom Wlaschiha’s name in the credits did kind of spoil the big reveal. Anyway. Glad he’s back!

Much like last week, I feel that most of what I’ve said about this episode is either ‘glad he/she is back’ or ‘oh, that will be interesting in the future’. Not enough of it was interesting now. I do understand the need for episodes like this and I definitely enjoyed it more than the previous episode. And, of course, I am eagerly awaiting next week’s instalment…

Grade: B+

Extra Thoughts:

  • I know Littlefinger was meant to look unimpressed with the inn’s stew but he actually just looked like he wasn’t sure how to use a bowl. Or cutlery.
  • My second favourite quote was ‘Take the head!’ from Cersei – the way she said it cracked me up. Then I realised what a weird thing that was to laugh at. Game of Thrones makes me worry about me sometimes.
  • How did Daario know where that bloke was hiding? He just stabbed the wall and got it right first time! Didn’t hit a pipe or anything!

What did you think to the episode? Was it better than last week’s? Are you feeling gripped by the current season? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Grace Davis