TV Review: Game Of Thrones 5.2 “The House Of Black and White”
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Game Of Thrones
Episode 5.2 “The House of Black and White”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen, Kit Harington, Diana Rigg, Natalie Dormer, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner
Air date: Sunday, April 19, 2015, 9pm

Last week’s Season 5 premiere of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, Episode 5.2 “Wars To Come,” felt more like a prologue to catch us up as to where all the characters are now rather than a fully formed episode. The premiere also left out one very important character who we’ve all been waiting to see — Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who was last seen presenting a coin and speaking the words “Valar morghulis” to board a ship to the free city of Braavos. Instead, we got a flashback of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) as a young girl, where we see she was a bitch even back then (although, we knew that from all the stories told about her); Cersei and twin brother/baby daddy Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in the present day just barely mourning the loss of their father Tywin (Charles Dance); Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and the eunuch Varys (Conleth Hill) escaping Kings Landing and making it to Pentos; Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) ruling in Meereen with the same old problems; and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) being offered the chance of a lifetime to rule Winterfell.

But this week, in Episode 5.2 “The House of Black and White” we finally get to see Arya. As expected, she’s made it to Braavos, where she arrives at the title House Of Black and White. Once there, she shows the coin and says “Valar morghulis,” just as Jaqen H’ghar instructed her to do when he gave her the coin. Of course, nothing in this universe can be easy and Arya once again finds herself alone in the world. How frustrating! I think we can all agree that we want Arya to be settled already and get to the point where the world knows how dangerous she is.

The episode jumps around a lot, giving us a little bit of each character’s story. Plus, we finally get to see Dorne, where Oberyn Martell’s love Ellaria Sand wants revenge against the Lannisters, who she blames for Oberyn’s death. What she suggests as payback is a bit too much for Oberyn’s brother, Doran Martell, the Prince Of Dorne, played by the amazing Alexander Siddig. Siddig played Dr. Julian Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and also had roles in Merlin and Da Vinci’s Demons, so his debut this season on Game Of Thrones was one I’ve been looking forward to. He doesn’t get much screen time in this episode, but what we do get is a man who’s much different than his brazen brother Oberyn, who pretty much brought about his own death because his need for revenge was so strong. Doran doesn’t seem to have that blinding need, although, he’s clearly in mourning. It will be interesting to see how Prince Doran handles the Lannisters, especially since his son, Prince Trystane, is promised in marriage to Myrcella Baratheon, Cersei Lannister’s daughter, who lives with him in Dorne.

As it turns out, someone in Dorne (we can guess who) has sent Cersei threat. While Marcella is promised in marriage to a prince of Dorne, she’s really a hostage at this point – much like in the way that Cersei kept Sansa Stark captive at Kings Landing under the premise that she would be wed eventually to Joffrey. It’s all political and strategic, yet when it happens to her daughter, Cersei thinks it’s an injustice. And this new threat from Dorne prompts her to complain to Jaime about “their” daughter. Jaime, being the gallant knight he is, immediately comes up with a plan to come to Marcella’s rescue. Jamie, please, have some self-respect already and stop being Cersei’s puppet.

Interestingly, this scene where Cersei displays her signature bitchiness, treating everyone like they’re her servent, leads right into one with Bronn, aka the newly knighted Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, who is telling his betrothed that meanness comes around and that people who are mean always eventually get what’s coming to them. We saw this with people like Joffrey and it’s obviously only a matter of time before Cersei gets hers.

“The House of Black and White” also shows us what a small world this is, since Brienne and Podric once again just happen to bump into another Stark girl — the very person they are looking for! This time they see Sansa Stark on the road — the road to where, we don’t know yet — with Littlefinger, the true master of manipulation. Like her offer to Arya, Brienne pledges her loyalty and shield to Sansa as promised to her mother Catelyn Stark. And much like what happened with Arya, Sansa is like, no thanks! Oh Brienne, if only these girls knew how pure your intentions are!

Now over to Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen: Trying to rule as a sympathetic queen sure is hard! Makes you want to go out and have some heads chopped off just to get people in line. Last season, Dany admitted that she needs to learn to rule and Meereen is going to be her training ground. Unfortunately, her mistakes are getting more and more frustrating. She has adversaries at every turn, and while she must deal with them by showing her strength, she seems to be wielding her powers at the wrong times against the wrong people.

And speaking of ruling, remember boring old Stannis Bareatheon? He’s turning out to be a proven, capable leader. It makes you wonder how he got that reputation as a fuddy-duddy. Stannis is still with his soldiers at The Wall, where he is deferred to as the true King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. After Jon Snow showed mercy last episode to Mance Ryder — the wilding King beyond the Wall — Stannis has to decide how to handle the Stark bastard. King Stannis understands that showing mercy to lawbreakers won’t make people fear him, and people who don’t fear won’t follow. Jon Snow doesn’t think this applies when it comes to the Wildings. Turns out, the Northern folk, who are loyal to the Stark’s Winterfell, have always been a bit unruly. Hence, why Stannis has a plan for Jon Snow that will release him from his oath as a Brother of the Night’s Watch. But, that would be too easy, right? And Jon Snow never takes the easy route. Plus, the universe has other plans for him.

All in all, Episode 5.2 “The House of Black and White” seems as though it would have been a better season opener, as it managed to both bring us up to date with many of the characters and move the story forward. It gave us a little piece of everyone’s storyline and while there weren’t really any “shockers,” the episode was entertaining and packed with a lot of information, so much so that it can easily be viewed three or four times, with new details being picked up on with each viewing. Season 5 is already setting us up for a lot of action, with many of the chess pieces being moved around. It will be exciting to see where everyone ends up.


Game of Thrones Season 5: Episode #1 Recap (HBO)

New episodes of Game of Thrones air every Sunday at 9PM, only on HBO.

Game of Thrones Season 5: Episode #2 – A Threat Against Myrcella (HBO)

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