TV Review: "Game of Thrones" 05x02: "The House of Black and White"

I see some sites and discussions talking about how much each episode of Game of Thrones diverges from the books and it's hilarious. At this point it's almost impossible to compare them; the timeline is completely different. While episode one was going full A Dance with Dragons, this episode was covering stuff from A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. You see how the story here (which again, is covering plotlines from the last three books), once it's cleaned up and put together, makes sense? Imagine how complicated the books are after three.

It doesn't matter. The show's got a handle on it really well, and doesn't make the mistake of letting go of plotlines for too long.

That being said: holy shit, this episode was awesome; finally it's set up the plots for the season, pointed the characters in the right direction (even more than the first episode did), and gave me enough surprises to remember why I love this show so much. "The House of Black and White"  completely began to fix many of the problems I always had with the later books, which is how many main characters have focal plotlines but nothing to really do. Jon Snow finally finds himself in the position which will give him something interesting to do, at least for a while. There is something happening in Meereen. Jaime is going to do something that matters (his story in Feast was aimless as hell).

I gotta say though that I was a bit disappointed with the way in which they shoved Jon's step ahead in the Night's Watch in our faces out of nowhere. In the books, there was a far more clever and delicate political maneuvering that really displayed Sam's intelligence, and what an important asset he is to Jon Snow. In here it just felt rushed and, though the scene was exciting and it got the job done, wasn't nearly as interesting. Sam is a smart guy, not just a Jon Snow fanboy.

However, I'm worried that Brienne's story will be as boring as it was in the books (though probably not quite as much, or at least there won't be so much of it). Game_Brains referred to her as "a housewife with nothing to do who takes Neighborhood Watch too seriously" and it made me crack up because that's fucking exactly what she's like right now. I mean, she was the same (or worse) in the books, but right now she's the only character which makes me feel like she's going nowhere. Pod does make a point of it ("Uh, if both Stark girls refused your service maybe you should pack it up, yo." I think was the line), and it made me laugh, but it also made me think that the show is aware of it, and might do something about it soon. Oh and I did raise an eyebrow at one particular action Brienne took that, in my eyes, didn't make any sense. I had my own interpretation, but it's flimsy. What a confusing tactic.

I'm so glad that the common theory that Bronn would continue to take Payne's role in accompanying Jaime in his new quest turned out to be true. Not only was I so very glad to see Bronn again, as there isn't one scene with that man on-screen that isn't awesome, but I was so glad to see them respect the character in the way the books did. Bronn is interesting because he's one of the few 'good guy' characters who finds himself in a much better position as the story progresses, going from a penniless sellsword to a married lord and a knight (all thanks to my boy Tyrion). Oh and great to see they actually cast someone to play Lollys Stockworth. She seemed a bit pretty to play Lollys but it was great. I love Lollys and I don't know why. All I know is I'm really looking forward to seeing him and Jaime on the road.

What's going on in Dorne? I'm a bit confused about what's going to happen with this story. I'm forgetting details from Feast but I'm wondering how they're gonna handle the story. Aero Hotah looked scary as hell, and I'm glad because he's a badass. I was hoping to get to see Arianne or the Sand Snakes this episode; we only got to see Doran being a bit of a wimp and Ellaria transforming into Cersei.

Speaking of. Boy, that Cersei sure is being Cersei. I cannot wait for her to go through her Feast/Dance storyline, though hopefully it's gonna be way more eventful in the show because it possibly can't be any more boring than it was in the books. Additionally, and though the revelation didn't make much sense, I loved the red viper threat/warning they sent her. What a cool prop, and what a Dornish thing to do.

But you know what's super cool about this episode? Dany. I never thought I'd say it but Dany is becoming likeable again, and that's mainly because she finally has shit to do in her story. A Dance with Dragons would've been so much better if there was shit going on like there is here. D & D aren't respecting the character, or her story, and they're making her way better because of it. No kidding, it's the first time Emilia Clarke has had to act in several seasons. Her scene with Drogon at the end of the episode was amazing; I'm not sure if it was because it was tense, or moving, or just amazing to look at because holy shit that CGI is great.

But let's move on to the character whose scenes gave a title to the episode: Arya. Her story was particularly cruel in the books because it was too interesting to be given so little time. I hated how Brienne had three times as many chapters and one third of the story. I love seeing Braavos because I love seeing the change of scenery (plus, you know, Braavos is awesome). I loved the design of the massive House of Black and White. I loved how the scene effortlessly reinforced the strength of Arya's character (though her throwing the coin in the canals was kind of stupid). I particularly loved the big revelation. It's a worldwide broadcast so I think we all heard the squeal of a million fangirls at the same time.

Tyrion. Uh . . . Tyrion whined some more. Nothing worth mentioning.

I didn't think I'd say this, but could this season turn out better than the last two? It's hard to imagine considering the material being adapted now, but goddamn this looks promising. As expected, this was a much better written and edited episode than the season premiere, and it leaves me thirsty for more (and no, I will not watch the leaked episodes).

Reader Observations

  • Did I see the "Fetch me the block" scene in the preview for episode three? They did remind us all that Janos Slynt is a pussy this episode.
  • Tyrion and Varys are going to Volantis; I wonder if they'll meet with Jorah in there.
  • My only concern about Jaime going to Dorne is that it will make his reunion with Brienne impossible. My theory for book six (Jaime and Brienne being forced to fight to the death by Lady Stoneheart) might not make it.
  • Was that really Jaquen, or just some dude wearing one of Jaquen's faces? Is Jaquen doing his thing in the Citadel? Who cares?
  • Sansa is totally fucking marrying Ramsay and this shit is going to go south fast.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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  1. NO YOU WILL NOT GET TO SEE ARIANNE BECAUSE THEY CUT HER OFF COMPLETELY AND NO THE LADY STONEHEART ARC WON'T APPEAR CAUSE THEY DIDN'T CAST HER EITHER. Sorry, still angry about Arianne. I think you're the only person liking this season. Who has read the books.