That’s more like it! Game of Thrones was solid last week, but this week it absolutely hit the “full speed ahead” mentality that we are used to. I mean, how many of us did not want to see Arya stab some dummies before she was led away by the disguised Jaqen H’ghar?
We saw some serious deviation from the books yet again, we got some fan favorite characters back, and we got one great fight scene to remind us that, even though power is stabilizing, there is still some serious animosity to deal with. Seriously, who wants to mess with Brienne, the Hound-Killer, at this point?
This episode addressed some serious neglect from the first episode, opening with a shot of Arya finally arriving across the narrow sea. And again, she is rejected upon her arrival. Her Braavos coin seems like a “get out of jail free” card, but it does not grant her entrance to the “House of Black and White” that the episode is named for. Instead, we are granted a very Fight Club-esque scene of Arya waiting, and waiting, and waiting. “You’re too old, fat man. Your tits are too big.”
Arya is one of the most popular characters on the show, so of course we got a lot of her this week after not checking in with her last week. And Game of Thrones did not disappoint with her scenes. Arya could be the only focused-character on this show, and Maisie Williams would carry it. She is a magnetic presence, and her scenes as Arya this week were gripping and fulfilling. The House of Black and White will surely remain a presence in Game of Thrones even after the episode named after it.
Arya was not the only pleasant surprise of the week. We got Bronn back this week, along with his hilariously clueless fiance. Jaime and Bronn have formed a great relationship on the show, and hopefully their team-up will lead us to the pure gold type of scenes that we saw from Arya + Tywin and Arya + The Hound. Jerome Flynn did not get a chance to truly shine this week playing Bronn, but he has been one of the most consistently entertaining actors on the show. In the books, he does not play as big of a role as it appears he is going to start to play on the show. This is another example of how the show stays fresh and responds to the best stories that we don’t see in the novels. Jaime and Bronn adventuring to Dorne has a chance to steal the show every week.
Speaking of Dorne, we finally got to travel down south and see the southernmost kingdom of Westeros in all its glory. The results were… inconclusive. The prince of Dorne, Doran Martell, does not seem terribly troubled by the death of his brother (since, as he states, a trial by combat is not murder, but a legally binding contract). The brother of Doran, Oberyn Martell, who developed a severe, short term headache last season, had a group of bastard daughters called the Sand Snakes who really want to avenge their dad. Keep a look out for more of them next week. Either way, the clashing ideals of the ruler of Dorne and what seem like the some of the most influential people in Dorne will surely lead to some trouble down the road.
King’s Landing and the Wall proved to be the most important locales of the week. In our visit to the Wall, we found Jon Snow being unwilling nominated for next Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Even better, he was nominated against his arch-rival, Alliser Thorne (and some other guy we’ve never heard of, so he obviously was not going to win). Naturally, Jon used his lack of charisma to win people over, and he became the successor of Jorah Mormont, just like the Old Bear had wanted. Seriously, if Game of Thrones had been made fifteen years ago, how great would have Keanu Reeves be as Jon Snow? We also got to see the tension developing between the court of Stannis and the wildling garrison at the wall, with the encounter between Gilly, Selyse, and Shireen as the wildlings continue to prove that they are, indeed, people. But, ultimately, it’s all about Keanu Snow.
King’s Landing was also a big part of this week’s episode, as we got to witness Cersei showing just how paranoid and incompetent she has become. She appointed Qyburn, the closest thing Westeros has to Dr. Kevorkian, as her Master of Whispers. She also has a severe case of achondroplasiaphobia, essentially putting a deathmark on any little person left in Westeros (since she has promised a lordship for whoever brings her the head of Tyrion). We are starting to see the cracks in Cersei’s armor, however. The scene between her and Jamie towards the beginning of the episode was great. It demonstrated the shift in power between the two, as Jaime finally made a decision for himself and decided to go find his daughter (and recruit Bronn in the process). Cersei also alienated her uncle, Kevan Lannister, which bothered almost everybody, since he seems to be the only competent Lannister left in King’s Landing.
We’re left with Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, and Queen of Mereen. However, all of those titles appear to mean nothing, as her soldiers keep finding knives across their throats. Daario, Grey Worm, and Barristan keep counseling her towards different end games, none of which share the idealistic utopia that Daenerys seems to maintain as hope for the future. All of the problems continue to highlight Dani’s biggest problem: it does not seem like she really knows what she is doing. Her biggest weakness in the fight for the throne is that she is so far removed from it; Dani is not a part of the actual “game,” so her chances of winning still seem slim. However, she does has that whole “Dracarys” thing, which seems fairly effective.
The show-stealer was certainly Brienne of Tarth encountering Littlefinger and Sansa. Podrick Payne again proved his worth, alerting Brienne to both the identity of Sansa and the danger of approaching her. We got a great combat scene as Brienne showed that she is indeed a boss fighter (as the nameless minions fell to her immediately), but she could not achieve her goal, again. Brienne’s quest is one of futility; she is living in the old world were knights have bravery and honor. However, Sansa and Arya have both learned that life does not exist by a code of chivalry. Brienne can vocalise her quest as much as she likes, but she is not going to win the Stark girls over unless she truly proves that she understands how terrible life can be. So don’t be surprised when Arya and Sansa kill Brienne, then high-five over her dead body.
Overall, this was a great Game of Thrones episode. We got to see some of our favorites return, witness some important events occur, and we were left with just enough surprises to keep us wondering throughout the episode. The court of Dorne, Qyburn on the King’s Council, Daenerys fighting the Sons of the Harpy, Jon Snow being voted Lord Commander, and Arya entering the House of Black and White, episode two gave us lots of exciting plot points to attach to. Hopefully everyone realizes it is about time for someone to get killed in horrific fashion.
What did you think of this episode of Game of Thrones? Better than the episode last week? Let us know in the comments.