For an episode titled “The House of Black and White,” the issues brought up during the show were anything but. Jon Snow, Daenerys, Shireen, Doran, and Brienne all have very difficult decisions to make – all of which have merit on either side. The Season 5 premiere bulldozed any expectations I had for Game of Thrones and has gotten stronger thanks to this episode. We’re introduced to Dorn, even if just for a bit, and Braavos – which reminds me a lot of Assassin’s Creed‘s Italy. There was a lot to capture this episode, so let’s get to it:
Boy, I tell ya, nothing cuts quite like Valyrian steel. Seeing Brienne smash that guy’s sword before driving her own into his neck made me glad Jaime outfitted her with Oathkeeper, even if it is a lame oath to keep.
I quite enjoyed the awkwardness that the situation between Jaime and Cersei has created. If this were an after-school special, it would finally be delving into the pitfalls of incest. Jaime cannot claim his children (because of the whole bastard king thing), nor can he really just sit back and let them be threatened with the intricate Viper-necklace thingy. What’s a man with one hand to do?
Prince Doran is an interesting character. He has the moral standards of Oberyn, but the looks of Stannis. He refuses to move from his post, and whether that is a symbol of his stance on the matter or that nasty case of gout (mentioned by Tywin in S4E2, “The Lion and the Rose.”), we do not know. As much as I wanted to be on Ellaria Sand’s side, I turned to Team Doran when he said, “We do not mutilate little girls for vengeance.” Ellaria is not to be ignored, though. With the Sand Snakes on her side, I’m curious is her fury turns into a full-on rebellion against Doran.
Ser Kevan takes shit from no one. I’m sure Cersei will find a way to take her uncle’s head for giving her the business, but it was great to see the way he recognized her B/S and immediately was like, “Hell no. I got shit to do, woman. Tell the king to hit me up, because I’m outtie.” It’s nice to see somebody not named Tyrion or Margaery stand up to the Queen Mother.
Holy crap, the wait finally paid off. Fuckboy Janos Slynt talked trash to the wrong Crow, and he was not ready for the flames of retaliation. Samwell Tarley lit this dude up like Jeff Ross for talking trash about Gilly. Line crossed. Shots fired. Tell everybody what a bitch baby Slynt turned into when things got real. I don’t believe I’ve been more gratified in a moment of karmic justice since the Purple Wedding.
How terrifying was the hissing at the end of the episode, when Daenerys decides to punish Mossador by decapitating him in front of everybody? I can’t say that it was a smart plan to begin with, and several thousand furious former slaves hissing in disapproval would seem to support that opinion. I’m surprised there wasn’t more of a retaliation for what happened. Everyone has turned away from her; even Drogon isn’t loyal to her anymore. Did we mention that Dany really sucks at ruling?
The constant subconscious discussion on what “doing the right thing” means. Each of the main character’s plights tackle some deep questions. The decision of whether or not to kill the Son of the Harpy, the opinion of the Wildling’s from Shireen’s POV (very Civil Right’s Movement), and Jon Snow’s sense of duty are all called into question during the episode – and it’s done in a very nonchalant way so you’re not forced to outwardly think about these daunting topics on your own.
The whole timing with Sansa/Littlefinger and Podrick/Brienne is just too convenient. I get that this is a fantasy show with dragons and giant blue zombies, but the story-telling with this encounter just seemed lazy. I don’t know whether or not this part was in the book, but the way they crossed paths in the show was pretty lame. And it wasn’t just the fact that they exchanged words, but how lame those exchanges were.
For one, Sansa lost whatever cool points she earned from bitch-slapping Robin Arryn. She is such a biz-natch, and certainly shows the grooming of Petyr Baelish as she shoos away Brienne. It’s understandable that Sansa would be weary of Brienne, who is covered in Lannister attire, and who insists on some batshit crazy Shadow murdering story; Sansa doesn’t know Brienne like we do. However, it’s just so easy to go back to hating Sansa.
Stannis may be the rightful king, but he doesn’t really have the power to relieve Jon of his post in the Night’s Watch. Luring him by giving him the Stark name is just mean. Being honored as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch should keep him honor-bound for a while, but it might just give him the strong head to make some dumb decisions. Judging by the way he read Lady Mormont’s note, his heart is still in the North. It would be a huge leap in logic to predict that this promotion could be his downfall.
Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things (Odds and Ends)
Damn, that statue must have been a pain in the ass to build. Can you imagine how much work it would have taken to hoist a statue that huge to hold on each foot of land while balancing it forward/backward with a bunch of ships in the sea? A metric fuck-ton. Actually, an imperial one since that’s the unit of measurement these guys were somehow using back then.
Calling Bronn a sell-out wouldn’t be wrong. The dude made a deal with Cersei at the end of Season 4 for a maiden and a castle to not face The Mountain in Mortal Kombat – an offer you would not have to make twice to me. Bronn’s betrothed is Lollys Stokeworth, but Jaime’s offer to sweeten the deal to give him a better lady and a better castle proves that Bronn is still a tool of the system when Lollys is promised to Ser Willas Bracken (whoever the hell that is) instead.
I swear, I thought Davos was gonna show his hand after Stannis talks about mercy to Jon Snow. That guy is just waiting in the bushes for any excuse to show people his stumpy hand.
Hodor Hodor (Best Quotes)
In the first 15 minutes, I found a quote that I will be repeating for years to come. When Arya exclaims that she has “nowhere else to go.” The Danny Glover look-alike retorts with, “You have everywhere else to go.” Besides being a dick move, it’s a pretty witty comeback – something I will use the next time
Tyrion’s continued Fukitol attitude reaches new levels of hilarity when he exclaims that “Every pile of shit on the side of every road has someone’s banner hanging from it.” I almost feel bad for Peter Dinklage because there is no way he is as interesting as in real life as his character is.
Who won the Game of Thrones this episode?
A girl is a fucking BOSS. A girl has lost it all, and yet somehow still keeps going. She saw her father get executed, was almost reunited with her mother and brother right before their untimely execution, and was held “captive” by the Hound right up until his death. Nobody knows that she’s alive, and nobody has gone out of their way to search for her in years, either. Somehow, Arya’s cunning and persistence have led her to The House of Black and White, where she will become a faceless assassin guy just like Jaqen H’ghar. I actually got chills when she told the Braavos frat boy, “nothing’s worth anything to dead men.” What a badass. I feel like she’s got quite a bit to go on her journey, but it’s one I’m most excited for.
Hush Comics gives “The House of Black and White” an A- for moving all the stories ahead in a big way, and using subtext to bring real issues up without shouting them in our ears.
All media credited to HBO