The House of Black and White by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
This episodes title comes from where Arya Stark ends up in Braavos, the House of Black and White where she reunites with the faceless man (otherwise known as Jaqen H’ghar). Given their interactions were a highlight back in series two this shows promise moving forward. Also shown is our first glimpse of Dorne, where Oberyn Martell’s widow Ellaria attempts to incite Oberyn’s brother, Prince Doran Martell (played by Alexander Siddig off Atlantis) to avenge him. Doran however refuses to let her harm Cersei’s daughter Myrcella, leading Ellaria to threaten that Doran won’t be in power forever. This sets up one of the major plot arcs in series 5, as after receiving a threat from Dorne (a viper statue with Myrcella’s necklace in its mouth) Jaime decides to travel to Dorne to bring his niece/daughter back, recruiting sellsword Bronn to help him. Bronn and Jaime make a great pairing, so I’m looking forward to this storyline (especially as it wasn’t in the books so i don’t know what will happen).
All is not well in King’s landing either. Cersei’s attempt to form a new small council is greeted by barely disguised contempt by her uncle Kevan, who tells her he serves Tommen alone and will not serve on a council full of Cersei’s yes men like Pycelle and Qyburn (who has taken over Varys old position). Cersei’s hunters also annoy her by killing various dwarfs who aren’t the brother she so desperately wants dead. Tyrion himself isn’t in this episode much, apart from another conversation with Varys. Tyrion’s storyline is currently killing time until it takes a more important turn late-season, so I’m not surprised by this.
Cersei isn’t the only queen having problems, as Daenerys enforcement of justice in Meereen by executing a freed slave, for murdering one of her enemies without trial, results in a riot between the former masters and freed slaves. Daenerys should be good at ruling if she ever wins the iron throne – she’s getting all the mistakes out the way just ruling Meereen! A glimmer of hope is shown to her as her escaped dragon Drogon visits her at the end of the episode however, suggesting she may not have lost her dragons for good.
Most of the action in this episode comes from Brienne and Podrick’s storyline, as after finding Littlefinger and Sansa in a pub, they are attacked by Littlefinger’s guards. Brienne suffers a momentary depression after Sansa, like Arya, refuses her protection, but with some support from Pod resolves to fight on, declaring Sansa unsafe in Littlefinger’s care. Brienne and Pod are fast becoming the show’s best double act now, after both Arya and the Hound and Tyrion and Bronn have been separated.
Again, however, the best part of the episode belongs to Jon Snow, as he grapples with Stannis’ offer to legitimise him and make him a true Stark, while also being worried by the upcoming choosing of a new lord commander (and the possibility of Ser Alliser Thorne winning). However as the choosing takes place, Sam stands and makes a speech advocating Jon as the next commander, highlighting his heroic actions in previous seasons (while hilariously mocking the cowardly Ser Janos, who supports Thorne). The result is a tie between the two of them, only for Maester Aemon’s vote to give victory to Jon. This finally completes the previous seasons task of setting Jon up as a leader, as well as giving him a new sense of purpose after the loss of Ygritte last season.
Overall very similar to the previous episode, a this has lot of set-up for future episodes but is very enjoyable nonetheless, with the Jon Snow storyline still the stand-out plot arc.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Next Time: Jon Snow asserts his new authority as Lord Commander, Margaery takes her relationship with Tommen to the next level and Tyrion encounters an unexpected enemy in Volantis…