Monday, April 20, 2015

game of thrones: it's a black and white world

I have not succumbed to the temptation of watching any of the leaked episodes of Game of Thrones. I prefer the anticipation of waiting until Sunday night. Maybe because I am caught up on George R.R. matins books I feel that I can relax a little. At least I thought so, but the second episode of the fifth season,"The House of Black and White," went off in a few new directions, so very different from the books, that I am starting to feel like one of "The Unsullied" (non book readers. But not to worry, there were enough nods to Martin's prose to keep everyone, readers and watchers alike, happy.

Arya outside The House of Black and White

Arya (Maisie Williams) arrived in Braavos, and we saw the first real, child-like smile we have seen from her in a long time as she took in the life and bustle of the city, the water, the warmth. So different from her childhood home of Winterfell and the hell she has been going through for the past few years. But don't think that she has lost her edge or determination. At first rebuffed at the black and white door outside of the The House of Black and White she soon showed her mettle against a group of toughs in the city that threatened to take her sword Needle. As she made her way back to the black and white door she finally was able to reunite with the enigmatic, shape-shifting Jaqen H'ghar. I don't know about anyone else, but I was thrilled to see the original actor for the role, Tom Wlaschiha, show his face again.

Up at The Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) seemed to have more options than ever before in his young life. Stannis offered to give him his birthright — he would no longer be The Bastard of Winterfell, but Jon Stark, something he had wanted all his life from his father, and become the Lord of Winterfell — if Jon would leave the Night's Watch and fight for him. The Night's Watch had something else in mind. They held an election for a new leader, and after a heartfelt nomination speech from his best buddy Sam, Jon found himself the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. His smile at hearing the news was another welcome sight.

And then the show started to spin off in its own direction. One of this season's several road-trip dream teams, Brienne and Pod, ran across Littlefinger and Sansa in a tavern, with disastrous results. Sansa rejected Brienne's offer of service and protection and Littlefinger, per usual, instructed his men to kill the pair. After a quite exciting chase and rescue (Brienne rescuing Pod, of course) they decided to follow Sansa at a discreet distance, hoping that her rejection was out of fear. I worry for these two, as their story is going off into unknown territory. But I must admit I also find the turn of events intriguing.

Drogon is back!

In Meereen, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) was struggling more than ever to lead her people. First she insisted that an assassin of one of her Unsullied be given a fair trial. But when that man was killed by one of her men she ordered his public execution. This didn't go over at all well with the people of Meereen who went from calling her Mhysa (Mother) to Hissssss. Probably not a term of endearment. Dany's only bright spot was a quick visit from her oldest boy, her dragon Drogon.

Other nice touches: The princess Shireen teaching Gilly to read, Cersei getting a verbal smackdown from her Uncle Kevan — the first of which I'm sure there will be many this season, as she tries to consolidate her power base in King's Landing. We also caught a glimpse of another odd couple dream team, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys, on their way to Dany and Meereen. Hopefully they can talk some sense into the girl queen and help cut out some of her endless political struggles that padded out Martin's last few books. And finally, Jaime is teaming up with Tyrion's former sellsword Bronn to go rescue his daughter, the Princess Myrcella from Dorne and the Sand Snakes. Everyone seems to be pairing up, to entertaining effect, in one way or another in the Seven Kingdoms.


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