The big news on Game of Thrones‘ second episode of season five is that Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has arrived in Braavos. As much as we all loved last week’s season five premiere, lethal little Arya was missed. Well, she’s back, baby! And our little girl is (nearly) all grown up. We open as Arya is about to sail between the giant legs straddling the Braavos harbor. The ship’s captain tells her the tale of the Titan who would step into the sea whenever Braavos was threatened and “smash” her enemies. Arya answers with a deapan, “It’s just a statue.” From the outset it’s clear that Arya has changed.
The title of the episode is “The House of Black and White,” which is the home of the “Faceless Men,” the group of ninja assassins of which Arya’s benefactor, the face-changing Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) was a member. Since this is the first place she goes upon her arrival in Braavos, apparently her plan is to go to Assassin School.
The needle on the record skips when the old man with the weather-beaten face in a Jedi bathrobe who answers the door, turns her away. Dejected and at a loss for what to do next, Arya tosses Jaqen H’ghar’s coin into the sea then sits on the steps outside the house to continue to hone her kill list. It’s been whittled to four names (notably absent, The Hound, *stage whisper* because she thinks he’s already dead). Cersei is still number one with a bullet.
The Bickersons – Pod (Daniel Portman) and Brienne (Gwendolyn Christie) – are at a tavern. While eyeballing a serving wench, Pod spies Pyter Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner). Baelish has received a message and tells Sansa that his offer of marriage has been accepted. Sansa comments on the short mourning period for her Aunt Lysa. (Knowing Baelish, and the fact that we’ve just been reminded – and will be again in another minute – that he’s now Sansa’s “uncle” by marriage, I’d put money down that he wasn’t referring to his own match.)
Brienne makes her presence known and while Littlefinger insults her, she is finally able to tell Sansa about her vow to her mother. Dark Sansa takes it all in then ultimately refuses Brienne’s service. (The key is that while she listened, we could see the wheels turning. She’s justifiably wary of strangers, as Brienne points out, but she made up her own mind.) Brienne and Pod narrowly escape Littlefinger’s men. Undeterred, Brienne drags Pod after Sansa and Baelish.
Cersei (Lena Headey) received a threat from Dorne in the form of her daughter’s necklace (in a truly frightening gift box, I might add) and has another hissy fit, threatening to “burn their cities to the ground” if they harm Myrcella. Wounded Cersei is extra dangerous and Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) sees it, perhaps for the first time. But this is new-and-improved Jaime, so he promises to go to Dorne, bring back Myrcella and “make things better.”
Semi-retired Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is attempting domesticity with Lollys Stokeworth (Elizabeth Cadwallader) who natters like a teenager and would surely drive him to smother her with a pillow inside of a month after their nuptials, especially since he isn’t even going to get to live in the cool castle he wanted, until Jaime arrives to tell him that Cersei has promised his intended to someone else. The better to tempt him with an offer of a better girl and a better castle – when they get back from their trip to Dorne, of course.
Tonight we were introduced to a couple of new faces, including one actress playing an “aged up” version of a character we’ve already, albeit briefly, met, Nell Tiger Free (is that the coolest name ever, or what?) as Myrcella Lannister, who has barely been mentioned since Tyrion had her shipped off to Dorne as the betrothed of Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian) in season three. We got the barest of glimpses of the lovebirds in this episode, but Cersei is right to fear for her daughter’s safety now that Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) is back in Dorne and seeking revenge for Oberyn Martell’s grisly death.
Speaking of Oberyn, we finally met his older brother, the Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig). YAY! Apparently he’s nothing like book Doran. I don’t care. Ellaria is still beyond pissed about the manner of her playmate’s death, demanding that big bro do something about it or she’s going to send Myrcella back to Cersei one piece at a time. He’s obviously a much cooler head, since he reminds her that his brother died in a “trial by combat” so his hands are tied. Ellaria sneers that the country and “the snakes,” Oberyn’s three illegitimate daughters, want to avenge him. Doran tells her to chill. “We don’t mutilate little girls.”
Back in Mereen, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) find the Son of the Harpy who killed GW’s friend The White Rat at the brothel last week. Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) counsels Dany with history lessons, recounting the last days of her father, The Mad King, warning her to temper her justice with mercy. She agrees to give the traitor a fair trial.
New allies Tyrion and Varys (I know everyone loves Tyrion, but he and Varys are quickly becoming my favorite part of this new season) are on the road to Mereen…well actually to Volantis which leads to Mereen…riding in a covered wagon. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is still trying to drink himself to death a la Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. He’s feeling guilty about Shae, and tells Varys (Conleth Hill) that she wanted him to take her away from King’s Landing but he didn’t because he liked feeling powerful. Varys wants him to get over it already and explains that he is looking for a ruler, and that despite the fact that he had no title, Tyrion was “quite good” at the job.
Tyrion has cabin fever and wants to go for a walk. Varys tells him it’s not safe. Tyrion asks, “How many dwarves are there in the world? Is Cersei going to kill them all?” Cut to the severed head of a dwarf plonked onto a table. “Not him,” says Cersei before telling her henchmen to redouble their efforts.
Cersei is acting as surrogate Hand of the King, which doesn’t sit well with the other members of the Small Council. When challenged, she flatters and bribes them with promotions. Except for her uncle Kevan Lannister (Ian Gilder), Tywin’s brother, who’s having none of it, nor her, and he exits stage left on his way back to Casterly Rock.
Sourpuss Stannis Baratheon’s sweet, disfigured daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingraham), is teaching Gilly (Hannah Murray) how to read. Gilly asks about her face and Shireen tells her the affliction is called Grey Scale. Gilly apparently had two sisters who died of it. Stannis’ Queen, the equally sourpussed Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald), stomps in and warns Shireen to stay away from the Wildlings.
As predicted, Stannis the Grumpy is not happy with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) for showing mercy to Mance Rayder, but wants something from Jon: the allegiance of the North. In return he offers Jon what he’s always wanted…the Stark name.
The Night’s Watch is about to vote for new a Lord High Commander. Everyone expects the nasty Maester, Ser Allisar Thorne, to win. Sam very eloquently nominates Jon. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) will never be a good fighter, but he’s found his voice. Jon ties with Thorne. Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) casts the deciding vote for Jon. Allisar Thorne will not go gently (The preview of next week that you can find below would seem to bear that out.)
Arya is sharpening Needle by decapitating pigeons. She’s stopped by ruffians who want to take it from her. While she fearlessly threatens them, they run away at the sight of the same wrinkled old man, who peels away his face to reveal…Jaqun H’gar! Except his name is No One and that is who “the girl must become.” Arya follows him into the House of Black and White.
Back in Mereen, Mossador (Reece Noi) has taken the law into his own hands and killed the traitor. Dany has him arrested, meaning to make an example of him. “The law is the law.” The crowd, which moments before had been yelling “Myhsa!” (mother), now cries for mercy. She does not give it. Immediately, the crowd begins to hiss and then throw stones as Dany is whisked away. Alone in her rooms pondering what the hell just happened and what she’s going to do next, Drogon briefly returns to his Mama. She reaches out to him and since he didn’t try to torch or eat her, I guess they have a moment. Then he flies off into the night…and is gone. Dun dun dun…
A few memorable from Game of Thrones season five episode two:
“Ready the horses.” – Brienne
“We’ve only got one.” – Pod
“Get some more!” – Brienne
“Must we spend the entire journey discussing the futility of
everything?” – Varys
“You’re right, no point.” – Tyrion
“People like you and me are never really satisfied inside
the box.” – Varys
“We don’t mutilate little girls…not while I rule.” – Doran Martell
“How long will that be?” – Ellaria Sand
Meet you back here next week for a recap of Season five episode three titled “High Sparrow.” Looks like we have, among a lot of other things, the return of Roose Bolton and Theon Greyjoy to look forward to.
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