We said last week that Game Of Thrones feels bigger this season, and “The House Of Black And White” certainly reinforces that. There are two new recurring locations: Braavos and Dorne, with more on the way when Tyrion finally gets to leave his slightly bigger box. The show may have visited Braavos before with Stannis and Davos and given us glimpses of Essos with Dany, but now we’re getting new regular locations the world suddenly feels much larger. Braavos looks fantastic, with the establishing shots and Arya’s trip through the canals making it into a believable city, not just a few sets stuck together with CGI. Braavos is instantly established as one the world’s richest cities – it looks cleaner and happier (if not safer) than the war ravaged Westerosi cities, or the slave ridden cities of Slaver’s Bay.
But Dorne… Dorne is what we’re all waiting for. It’s what we’ve been waiting for since Prince Oberyn stole our hearts last season. We may have only seen fleeting glimpses of the Water Gardens but damn, the new Spanish locations look amazing. And so do the Dornish costumes, including Areo Hotah’s longaxe. It’s everything that was so captivating about Oberyn: the flamboyance, the lust for vengeance, the deadly elegance. Though we only spent a few moments with Prince Doran, Areo Hotah and the grieving Ellaria Sand we can’t wait to get back and see more of the trouble Ellaria is stirring up in the southernmost region of Westeros.
Brienne and Pod are back this week and thank the Seven they’ve cleared up that whole weird near-miss with Sansa. Last week’s “Oh, look, Sansa just happens to be driving by” moment was slightly ridiculous; it makes more sense for the unlikely duo to actually bump into her. And it makes even more sense when you realise they are dining in The Inn At The Cross Roads, seemingly the only inn in the whole of the Riverlands and the real nexus of Westerosi politics. The ensuing fight scene and horse chase (the Game Of Thrones equivalent of an exciting car chase) injects a much needed bit of action after last week’s slow opener. Plus Pod and Brienne are the new Tyrion and Bronn – the best comedy pairing this side of the Narrow Sea. On the other side of the Narrow Sea Tyrion and Varys hold that title, long may we enjoy their sarcasm and snide comments.
We’re also starting to get a serious look at how far Off Book this season will go: Jaime is sailing to Dorne with Bronn to “rescue” Myrcella from the Martells. Not that she needs rescuing, it looks like she’s having a nice time flirting with her betrothed, swanning about in a pretty pink frock. She’s going to be all “Dad why do you ruin everything” and storm out the room, no doubt slamming the door. Or that’s how we imagine it going down when Jaime gets there. We also imagine fans of the book will be rocking back and forth in a corner, because the fear of spoilers and unexpected events is too much to deal with. Not that we’ve being doing that (OK, maybe we have a little bit).
The great pyramid of Meereen still has a harpy on it in the title sequence, despite the fact that it was torn down in the last episode. Is this from lack of attention, production costs or a sign of things to come?
Stannis and Jon’s intriguing relationship continues to develop at the Wall. Jon is very much his father’s son, and Eddard was pretty pally with Stannis the Mannis. But that doesn’t mean Jon owes Stannis loyalty – quite the opposite, in fact, even if that means sacrificing becoming a true Stark. Which, let’s face it, is a good choice. Starks don’t do well in Westeros, but a Snow might. Jon is true to his vows, even if he bent the rules when he fell for Ygritte, and that loyalty and honour is finally paying off – Lord Snow is now Lord Commander Snow.
It’s a rousing moment, but is telegraphed a little too clearly earlier in the episode, with Sam telling Gilly and Shireen about the youngest Lord Commander, and Sam’s expressions during the voting scene. But maybe if they had been a little more subtle it would have been too out of the blue. Is Jon a good choice for leadership over Ser Alliser Thorne? That remains to be seen, but so far he’s been making good decisions, whereas Ser Alliser has chosen to be friends with Janos Slynt, which is a decision so bad it nullifies any good decisions he could ever make.
Daenerys is still struggling with her rebellion problem and now it’s not just the Sons Of The Harpy defying her, her slaves are doing it to too. It’s interesting to watch Dany learn the hard lessons about politics – she’s never going to please everyone. In fact it looks like she’s going to please no one. If she can learn to handle these delicate situations then maybe she can handle Westeros. But until then she needs some better advisers – no offence to Daario but he’s only there because he’s a pretty face, and Slave Guy is now minus one head and won’t be offering any advice.
What she needs is a bald eunuch and a drunk dwarf. Varys and Tyrion would have this situation cleared up in no time. They’re not held to a rigid honour system like Barristan, or deeply biased like Hizdahr, they can make the difficult decisions knowing that the ends will justify the means. Or, even better than those two, sort out the dragons. Drogon’s reappearance is magnificent – he gets scarier and more awe-inspiring each time we see him, and nothing says “I’m in charge” like having a fire breathing monster at your beck and call. Let’s just hope he comes back or we’ll be having a season two “where are my dragons?!” moment all over again.
They Said The Thing!
Arya’s friendly Braavosi ship captain says the episode title as he rows her towards the House of Black and White.
Lollys Stokeworth (aka Lollys Lackwit) is as dull in the show as she is in the books. Played by Elizabeth Cadwallader Lollys is to be Bronn’s bride, in exchange for him turning against Tyrion. Apart from a pretty castle that she might inherit she’s not much of a catch though, so Bronn’s pretty lucky that Jaime’s saved him from her. In the books she’s brutally raped during the riots in King’s Landing and gives birth to a bastard child – it’s for the best that they left this bit out of the show.
Badass Kill Of The Week
Arya kills in a pigeon in one fell swoop. She’s come a long way from failing to catch cats in The Red Keep.