Welcome back to StAR’s weekly recap of Game of Thrones! Aaaaaaaand your hosts, Rukma Sen and Dylan Sweetwood!
Rukma: So I wanted to spend this entire review talking about Jaime in his jacket, but in the interests of sophistication and wisdom, I won’t. But Jaime in his jacket though. Everyone take a moment, and appreciate this man. This is the man who casually pushed Bran Stark (still absent, thank the Old Gods and the New!) out of a window, but he looks so beautiful in leather. Apart from Jaime, the episode does some more setup, but slightly more interesting setup than episode 1. Drogon, Dany’s missing teenage dragon returns, smells her hand, and flies off to burn some more children to death (I assume). Jon Snow faces a difficult choice (…meh), and Dany engages in more terrible political decisions. Cersei and Dany both show signs of megalomaniacal insanity. In place of Aerys the Mad King, is Westeros gearing up for a dynasty of Mad Queens? Ser Barristan’s cautionary tale about her father’s madness and egotism is summarily ignored by Daenerys Stormborn, mhysa, the whitest saviour to ever save. For once, though, she faces some opposition from her colonized creatures, following a really horrible decision she makes, even by her standards.
Dylan: I never thought I’d say this, but Arya’s story arc seems to be the most compelling one so far. Having spent the last three seasons wandering around Westeros (she was Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer for a while, then she was kidnapped by The Hound, then her mother died, etc.), it’s nice to finally see Arya do something she wants to do. That something is becoming a faceless man (woman, person…?), which is basically the most badass thing anyone on this show is doing at the moment. Take a seat, Jon Snow and Daenerys; this is Arya’s show now. Another interesting dynamic that seems to be emerging this season is that the point-of-view characters have scattered across Westeros (and even Essos), as opposed to remaining in two or three key locations. What this means is that the character dynamics this season will rely more on pair relationships, like Brienne and Podrick, Jaime and Bronn, Tyrion and Varys, and Sansa and Littlefinger (ew). It also hopefully means that we’ll see more unlikely encounters take place, like we already have with Jon Snow and Stannis/Melisandre. Of course, Dany has always been isolated from the rest of the cast, but supposedly she’s going to meet Tyrion this season (so Varys hinted in the last episode, anyway). Anyway, pieces are beginning to fall into place this season, which is exciting. Yay!
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, Season Five, Episode Two, “The House of Black and White”
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Rukma: We should really just buy HBOGO, it only costs like $15.
* * * DISCLAIMER: WE DO NOT ENDORSE STREAMING * * *
Arya and some guy arrive in Braavos and sail through a giant statue’s legs, landing at the mysterious House of Black and White.
Dylan: Why is Arya here again?
Rukma: To learn how to be a faceless man.
Dylan: You mean a faceless person.
Arya gets the door slammed in her face, then sits in the rain for a few days before throwing her important coin in the harbor, repeating the names of the people she’s going to kill.
Rukma: I feel like that’s what you have to do to get a job.
Dylan: What, sit outside in the rain?
Rukma: And go over your kill list.
Then, Brienne and Podrick are somehow coincidentally at the same pub as Sansa and Littlefinger. Brienne tries to convince Sansa to come with her but is rejected because Sansa has trust issues, surprise.
Dylan: Is Sansa drinking?
Dylan: I knew I liked her.
Rukma: …but it’s beer.
Dylan: Oh. Nevermind.
Podrick and Brienne flee the scene, but Podrick fucks up and Brienne has to kill a bunch of people. Back in King’s Landing, Cersei and Jaime fight again, this time about their daughter Myrcella, who is being held captive in Dorne.
Cersei: You’ve never been a father to her!
Dylan: YEAH THERE’S A REASON…
Jaime decides to go to Dorne to rescue Myrcella. Who will he bring with him? Cut to Bronn and his out-of-nowhere fiancee. Jaime shows up in a Starlord-inspired red leather jacket, looking fine.
Dylan: I now ship Jaime and Bronn.
Rukma: Game of Thrones does buddy comedies!
Dylan: Jaime and Bronn’s excellent adventure!
Now we’re in Dorne YAY! Ellaria (hot companion of the slain Oberyn) and Doran (king of Dorne) argue in faux-Spanish accents about whether or not it would be acceptable to mutilate a teenage girl.
Cut to Daenerys in Mereen. She continues to (not) deal with her shit at a rate twice as slow as everyone else in the show.
Rukma: Have you ever known Dany to make a politically sound decision?!
Dylan: Is Barristan Selmy good or evil?
Rukma: I like him.
Dylan: Okay but that’s not what I asked.
This time, Tyrion and Varys are both in a fucking box. This scene is completely pointless.
Rukma: We are halfway through the episode and there’s been no Wall!
Dylan: Fingers crossed for no Wall at all!
In the hunt for Tyrion, Cersei orders a lot of little people to be executed, which is fucked. Then she basically takes over the small council. Kevan Lannister leaves because women can’t rule.
Aaaaaand now we’re at the Wall.
Dylan: Well, we may be at the Wall but at least Jon Snow’s not here!
Just kidding, Jon Snow is with Stannis. Stannis offers to make Jon Snow legitimate as the King of Winterfell and, thus, the North.
Jon Snow: I’m gonna refuse Stannis.
Dylan: YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT OH MY GOD.
The Night’s Watch is electing a new Lord Commander. Jon Snow is nominated last minute by Sam and wins even though he clearly does not want this job. He just looks sad the entire time.
Dylan: Jon Snow is so angsty about being liked by other people!
Rukma: Jon Snow is so not into this.
Dylan: Jon Snow isn’t into anything.
Back in Braavos, Arya kills a pigeon and almost three punks before the faceless man reveals his more familiar face (Jaqen H’ghar) and invites her into the House of Black and White. Yay!
Back to Mereen, where things get complicated. Dany debates whether or not to execute Mossador, the former slave on her council, for murder.
Dylan: I bet she spares him. I bet she takes mercy on him.
Rukma: This is Game of Thrones, of course she doesn’t.
She doesn’t. Dany executes Mossador, only to have literally every person in Mereen hiss at her. Oops. There are many suggestions that Dany is becoming her father, the Mad King.
Rukma: Have fun. Fucking Dany. This is usually what happens when foreign powers invade and have no idea what the indigenous culture is like. Ugh! Dany!
Finally, Drogon the angry teenage dragon comes back, smells Dany’s hand, and peaces the fuck out. Bye!
Rukma: So Jaime. Jaime is going to Dorne; this is a pretty significant divergence from the books, where Ser Arys Oakheart goes as Myrcella’s protector and *spoiler* doesn’t do so well. Bronn has pretty much disappeared from the books at this point, so having him team up with Jaime “who said I’m going alone” Lannister is going to prove very interesting. Benioff and Weiss have refashioned Martin’s sprawling, hundred-handed story with so much dexterity in the past–cutting it down to size, excising needless characters, and replacing endless introspection with swords and dragons. I’m piqued by this new Benioff-Weiss twist, and also this means SAND SNAKES. Can we please see the sand snakes soon? With Cersei becoming more brittle by the day, and Dany teetering on the edge of Targaryen family insanity, the show could do with some whip-wielding, sword-spinning Sands. Speaking of sword-spinning ladies, this episode belonged to Arya Stark. As usual, Game of Thrones does its most beautiful character work in the quiet conversations and moments of solitude. And Maisie Williams reciting her kill list on the steps of the House of Black and White, soaked through in the pouring rain, is an image that neatly envelops her past into her future. The North remembers, but Arya’s going to do something about it. Maester Aemon’s deciding vote makes Jon Snow Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, after he rejects Stannis’s proposal to become the Stark in Winterfell. It was poignant and nostalgic to see Jon reject with little effort the name he has always craved. But winter is coming, and Jon Snow is now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, meaning it’s up to him to deal with the zombies. Unfortunately for everyone in Westeros, he knows nothing.
Dylan: Though slightly less interesting than last week in my opinion, this episode established a few really important things going forward. Jon Snow is now the reluctant leader of the Night’s Watch (which is like the annoying nice girl winning Prom Queen at the end of an eighties teen comedy), Daenerys has a couple of revolts on her hands, Jaime and Bronn are skipping arm-in-arm to Dorne (just kidding, maybe), and Arya, formerly the most irritating character, is on her way to becoming the most badass. Still, I have questions. Where is Littlefinger taking Sansa? When is Melisandre going to realize that Stannis is fucking pathetic and stop hanging out with him/following him to the Wall/having his shadow babies? Why is Margaery (a.k.a. “the smirking whore from Highgarden”) absent when she’s clearly the best character on the show? How is Dany’s story arc less interesting than Jon Snow’s?! Hopefully I’ll get answers soon, but if the last four seasons are any indication, there will probably only be more questions until episode nine when a couple of major characters die. Thanks for watching and reading!
Photos courtesy of here, here, here, here, and here.