Game of Thrones – Season 5 Episode 2
“The House of Black and White”
Tensions increase in the south in the latest episode of Game of Thrones as Cerci and Jamie worry about the welfare of Myrcella in Dorne as they fear retribution for the death of Prince Oberyn. At the Wall, Sam presses the case for Jon to become Commander of the Nights Watch, while Stannis tries to persuade him to drop his title of bastard and leave the order to take the positon of Lord of Winterfell. Daenerys faces yet more obstacles in Meereen trying to turn what she sees as a backwords culture into a city bound by more civilised laws. This episode also sees her reunited with Drogon who appears to be over his rebellious streak. Meanwhile, the return of Arya sees her journey south reach it’s end as she arrives in Bravos and earns her entry into the mysterious House of Black and White.
Cerci generally seems to have enough hatred to go around, particularly towards Margery and obviously Tyrian, but in this episode its focused on Dorn as she fears for her daughters safety. Cerci is sent a necklace as a gift from Dorn, something she interprets as a threat on Myrcella’s life. Jamie steps up here and enlists Bronn in a two man mission in an effort to rescue her. Ellaria Sand is desperate for revenge against the Lannisters for the death of Prince Oberyn, however she is kept to heel by the Doran Martell. Things are clearly becoming extremely strained between the Prince and Ellaria over this issue. She wants to see Myrcella dead as direct revenge over the Lannisters, holding them responsible for the death of Oberyn. Doran on the other Hand, takes the appeasement approach by saying that his death was fair and lawful. The conversation exchange between the two points towards potential conflict as the Doran reminds her that he rules Dorn, she replies “for now”. As with last week, its a bit all talk and not quite enough action- this is really my only criticism of this episode.
In the North, the Nights watch need some stability and official leadership, so a vote is taken to decide on who will be their next commander. Sam’s loyal ty to Jon is ever present in the show so naturally he is the one to put Jon’s name forward for selection. Jon’s bid for leadership is received well and so he is elected. As he got the most votes, the decision is met with enthusiasm throughout the group. However, a small band of more experienced members seem to have a lot of issues with the concept of Jon becoming Lord Commander. This is due largely to his history of showing compassion towards the Wildlings. I think however that as in most walks of life, some of those who consider themselves experienced and proud, might take umbrage to some young kid coming in and telling them how to do their job. We will see how well Jon handles any likely dissent, which seems most likely to come in the form of Allister Thorne, who Jon beat to the leadership position and has always had a passionate hatred for Jon from the start.
While this is all going on Stannis tries to convince Jon to leave the Nights watch and help him control the north by making him Lord of Winterfell. The Houses in the north are reluctant to follow Stannis but all this would change due to the fact Jon is Ned’s bastard son and would be likely to support him if he was legitimised by being given the name Stark. He clearly has a great desire for this as he says to Sam “It’s the first thing I ever remember wanting” Jon’s apparent refusal by holding himself to the oath he made to the Nights watch highlights his integrity and morality which mirrors his fathers, as we are often reminded. This lack of ability to compromise his own ideals is a weakness in the Game of Thrones world and often results in a bad end for characters who fail to “play the game”. It will be interesting to see if Jon will be able work around his own feelings for the greater good, as survivors in this show need to do from time to time.
In Meereen, Daenerys has her own moral battles to face by being in stuck in a situation of what to do with a murderer paid by opponents to her regime, the Sons of the Harpy. After having roumers of her father’s brutal methods of controlling society confirmed, she decides to allow him a fair trial in an attempt to distance herself from his notions of ruling. However, the situation becomes more complex as while awaiting trial, he is murdered. This was a killing the city considered just and the people are furious when Daenerys decides to lob his head off. While this was an awkward decision for her to make, she made it in order to show that unlawful murder is not tolerated. Her desire to be seen as a fair Queen and not a corrupt ruler shows by her saying to the killer “The law is the law”. We also see the return of Drogon who seems to be showing obedience to again. Hopefully now this means that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the dragons fighting for her soon.
This episode sees the return of Arya and her tracking down the faceless men in the House of Black and White. She is given entry after proving her determination by not accepting rejection to the building. And ofcourse, rubbing that coin and constantly rattling through the names of all the people she wants dead. She has proven so far that she never gives up and has a talent for survival. As an apprentice of a secret order of assassins it seems likely that she has all of the tools required to become an effective killer over time. This part of the story is still somewhat of a mystery so it will be interesting to see what kind of training Arya will need to do. Valar Morghulis…
We see the paths of Brienne cross with Littlefinger and Sansa as they have a chance meeting at an inn. Despite the fact that Catelyn Stark is dead, Brienne continues to follow the oath she made to protect her children. Arya had previously rejected her help and Sansa does the same, who is well under the influence of Petyr Baelish by this stage and his intentions for her are still unclear. It is clear, however, that Brienne will not give up in her protection over the Stark girls and I think it likely that if anything happens to either of them, particularly Sansa, Brienne won’t be too far away.
Like last week, this one wasn’t quite as fast paced as some episodes of Game of Thrones but it produced a lot in terms of character development and was a solid episode that continues on well from the previous .
With Myrcella in Dorne at the mercy of Ellaria, Cerci fears retribution for the death of Oberyn. Ellria makes it clear to Doran that she wants a war with the Lannisters, the death of Tywin would do nothing but encourage an attack. I think the intervention of Jamie and Bronn will be an interesting one in that should anything happen to Jamie and Myrcella, war would most definitely be on the cards. This is something the Lannisters could do without as they still have leadership issues after Tywin’s murder.
With Jon being made Commander, the Nights watch now have a bit of stability, and although he hasn’t received universal support he is still a popular choice and it’s a burden he should carry well. Perhaps he has more reservations than he is showing as the possibility of him being given the title of Lord of Winterfell is something he makes clear as a massive desire of his.
Daenerys is proving that she is a strong but fair leader. Perhaps the beheading at the end of the episode isn’t necessarily something that in modern times we’d call fair, but in this world, failure for a leader to show a sign of ruthlessness would soon be exploited by her enemies and see her lose power. With Drogon returning who now seems to have a far less volatile disposition, it looks like in the coming weeks we may get to see some dragon action.