Game of Thrones Memory Lane 502: The House of Black and White

Arya

“The House of Black and White”, written by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, is Michael Slovis’ second foray into the behemoth that is Game of Thrones. The episode is more of a “Premiere: Part Two” than it is its own hour, but this can be excused due to the increasing number of storylines the writers have to juggle.

While an initial reading will suggest that the episode title refers to the physical building in Braavos, it also applies to the familial houses on display in the hour, and the differing blossomings of the values of good and evil in each. This has always been one of the core themes underpinning the show, and while I personally think the nuance slips up occasionally when manifested in extremes (such as in the characters of Brienne and Ramsay), in this particular context it bears fruit worthy of discussion.

The episode opens on a shot of Maisie on a backlot staring at a green screen, before the full magnificence of Braavos is revealed. These Braavosi scenes were shot in and around the Croatian towns of Split and Šibenik, and the set dressers and costume designers spared no expense in ensuring they visually conveyed this new culture to us effectively. We had previously seen an interior snippet of the city when Stannis and Davos visited the Iron Bank last season, but here we are shown the canals and docks in all their Venetian glory.

Moving swiftly onwards, Littlefinger brutally (albeit accurately) deconstructs Brienne’s failed efforts over the last few seasons, thereby convincing Sansa to remain his ward for the time being. There are a few interesting shots in this interior sequence that sadly don’t last long enough. DP David Franco uses forced perspective and a telephoto lens to make Brienne tower over Sansa and Littlefinger. This simple technique is something the show could employ more often, particularly when filming coverage of the Mountain (not that Thor isn’t already huge). Unfortunately, due to the multiple directors per season, the flavour of direction is not always consistent.

Ignoring how the plotline resolves itself in the season finale, Alexander Siddig is suitably enigmatic in his introduction. Long before he was cast as the Lord of Sunspear, he topped many fans’ dream casting lists, and here it is easy to see why. The one-note characterisation of Ellaria Sand in season 5 never sat right with me, and that’s unfortunate, because I was intrigued by her in season 4 (and I loved Indira Varma in Rome). Ellaria is an obvious example of someone perceiving things irrationally, and in shades of solely black and white.

Speaking of black and white, is there a character up until this point who relentlessly applies this strict moral code to themselves and those around them more than Stannis Baratheon? Stannis is defined by his obligation to duty, made most evident through the story of how he dealt with Davos at Storm’s End. Here, we see Stannis beginning to compromise somewhat. He knows who he is dealing with in Jon, admiring the bastard’s easing of Mance’s suffering (although he’d never admit this), and begrudgingly accepting Jon’s refusal to swear fealty to him as king. He senses in Jon a healthy combination of both duty and honour, and a drive to do what is right – essentially, the most noble qualities in both Stannis and Ned.

Jon etc

I have an issue regarding the editing of Jon’s scenes in this episode. His elevation to command of the Night’s Watch comes too hotly on the heels of his refusal to accept Winterfell, and renders the sacrifice unremarkable by way of rapid replacement. Some time for him to stew on it would have made the conclusion more satisfying, whether we physically saw him deliberating on the matter or another scene provided a buffer zone. Brienne’s scene from the beginning of the episode would have been perfect for this purpose, given how she also makes the decision to stubbornly abide by her duty (to say nothing of Stannis’ dying words to her literally being “Do your duty”).

The King’s Landing Small Council scene in this episode has remained memorable to me, and that is largely due to Ian Gelder’s performance as Kevan Lannister. Reappearing briefly in this season for the first time since season 2, he delivers a perfectly respectful verbal smackdown upon Cersei – one that is as memorable for Gelder’s clipped line delivery as it is by his strength of character amongst the other sycophantic council members. It speaks to Nina Gold’s eye for talent that such a small role can have such a large impact. Add to all of this a touch of levity brought by Roger Ashton-Griffiths’ delightfully innocent portrayal of Mace Tyrell, and we have a great scene.

“Mercy, fair trial; these mean nothing to them. All they understand is blood!” Mossador’s bleak advice is grossly misinterpreted by Daenerys after he takes her agency from her, and results in the former slave’s own death as she single-handedly alienates the half of the Meereenese population most loyal to her.

There is an apt parallel between Ellaria and Daenerys in this episode. Both characters wish to enact their personal perception of justice. While Ellaria’s plan doesn’t come into play until much later, she is still vocal about her desires. Her scene with Doran is full of antagonism and negative energy. Dany’s scene with Barristan is diplomatic, and involves discussion and positive energy.  Whether coincidental or not, the costuming reflects this. Ellaria is garbed in black and spews hate and vitriol, while Daenerys is garbed in white and truly believes herself to be making a just and honourable decision. It’s not exactly subtle, but it does convey a point.

Drogon

Later on, Dany reaches out to Drogon, but he flies away. Again, the colours are important. The Black abandons the White. They are incompatible, and trying to force them together is an exercise in futility. This is an important lesson for many characters in the show, as well as in a more metaphysical sense for the story.

The content of Arya’s scenes during this episode starts the throttle for a theme that is still growing as we’re about to watch season 6 – the theme of identity. Furthermore, the theme of identity ties into the overall theme of the episode. Who was Arya before? Who is she now? Who does she hope to become? In becoming no one, will she leave behind the vengeful drive and determination that has characterised her thus far? Can she truly become no one, and if not, where does that failed process leave her? Morality has been a staple of Arya’s characterisation ever since the first season, and it couldn’t be more apparent than it is now. The doors of the House of Black and White stand for that. One may be permitted to enter and step on the path that leads to becoming no one, but all good and evil, all black and white, all essence of self that may identify an individual – it must all be left at the door.


Memorable lines:

“… Jaime fuckin’ Lannister!” – Bronn

 

“Are we really going to spend the entire road to Volantis talking about the futility of everything?”

“You’re right. No point.” – Varys and Tyrion

 

“I found him there after the battle was over, in a puddle of his own making.” – Samwell Tarly


Character introductions:

Doran Martell

Areo Hotah

Trystane Martell

The Not-so-Kindly Man

Character deaths:

Mossador

Beautiful Death for “The House of Black and White”:

502

Final note:

I’ve just noticed that I haven’t mentioned either Jaqen H’ghar or Tom Wlaschiha once in this piece. That isn’t by design, it’s just that there is nothing further to his appearance in the episode than his appearance in the episode. I know Sue will either kill me or kick me off the site if I don’t mention him, so, here you go, Sue:

Jaqen is great.

Tom is great.

Everyone is happy. On to episode 3!

75 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK!!!”

      I want to meet Lyanna Mormont next season. She seems like a badass.

      I would have changed the order of the last three scenes and have the episode end with either Arya entering the House of Black and White, or Jon getting elected as LC. Those two scenes have more of a climax than Drogon being an angsty teenage drama queen.

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    2. Dany’s final scene with Drogon is one of my favourites of the season. At times I think the show loses sight of Dany’s inner life in favour of the Stern Queen facade, so moments like this I wish we’d have more of the last few seasons.

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    3. I think this episode has the best Meereen scenes so far. Really great adaptation of almost every theme in that storyline. Very effectively and very smart.

      They showed in 10 minutes what GRRM wrote in 10 chapters.

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    4. The black grandpa’s face when Arya says “Valar Morghulis” is still the most priceless reaction any character has ever had on this show.

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    5. Sean C.:
      Dany’s final scene with Drogon is one of my favourites of the season.At times I think the show loses sight of Dany’s inner life in favour of the Stern Queen facade, so moments like this I wish we’d have more of the last few seasons.

      I think we had many moments like this in S5. Her scene with Daario in E1 and E7, her scenes with Barristan in E4 and E2. Her scene with Jorah in E8.

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    6. Sort of an unremarkable episode when viewed against other GoT episodes, especially when you consider that 402 was The Lion and the Rose.

      The highlight of the episode was Jon Snow’s scenes. The one with Stannis and Davos is memorable for the look on Jon’s face when Stannis offers him Winterfell. Great, subtle piece of acting by Kit there in a season in which he really elevated his craft.

      But it’s his election as 998th Lord Commander of the Nights Watch that steals the episode. Perfectly played by Aemon, Jon, Sam, Alliser, and Slynt. This event really belonged in Season 5, and I was glad they didn’t try to cram it in to the jam-packed end of Season 4.

      This episode marks the first time we see Vengeful Ellaria in Season 5, and I for one found her to be insufferable. It’s not that her motivations are so outlandish as to beggar belief, it’s just that the Arianne plot line concerning Myrcella makes so much more sense. I think the omission of Quentyn and Arianne make a ton of sense. George didn’t need to drop a dozen new Martells on us in FeastDance, but that’s not to say that some of their plot points wouldn’t have made sense given to other characters on the show.

      For instance, Ellaria could easily have tried to go about Arianne’s plan to crown Myrcella through the use of Dornish law. If revenge against the Lannisters was her ultimate goal, crowning Myrcella and pitting her against Tommen would have hurt them just as badly as killing her outright. “To crown her is to kill her'” as even Tyrion believes early in ADWD.

      Instead in this season she comes off as quite the villain, wanting to torture and murder an innocent girl for the crimes of her ancestors.

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    7. This is one of my favorites – maybe my absolute favorite episode of Season 5. Just shows how strong the season started… Other than Hardhome, it really peaked early IMO. The Mossador story was (IMO) the best single arc in the Mereen storyline and blew anything GRRM wrote for her out of the water. And so much good stuff in other places too – Bronn and Lollys, BRIENNE MEETS SANSA *AHHHHH*, that awesome horse chase, Jon offered WINTERFELL by Stannis, Shireen/Sam/Gilly cuteness, just so much goodness and excitement from start to finish.

      By the way last night I watched the commentary for this episode by Gwen Christie, Daniel Portman, and NCW. Gwen was hilarious as always, and Daniel was playing into her sillyness masterfully. Also in the scene with Jon & Stannis they were like STEVEN DILLANE IS AN F-ING MASTER I AM INTIMIDATED AND JUST SHOULD STOP ACTING. 🙂

      I also loved after the scene with Jaime and Cersei Nikolai was like “look, now Jaime has a plan… He will go and get Myrcella himself. Somehow. Ok, it’s a really bad plan but…!” And later about Dorne he’s like “Why is she so evil? Why does she want to kill Myrcella?? It’s Oberyn’s fault!!!” Dude, we feel you. I hope the writing for your arc is better this season! XD

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    8. HousePotterz,

      Does she though?

      Nymeria could have killed her in the water gardens. Or they could have shot her with a arrow.

      I will wait until S6 to give final verdict on the plan. But I wouldn’t have liked the crowning plot from the books either.

      EDIT: On a more pleasent note! I completely agree with you on the other things!!

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    9. HousePotterz,

      But for me the Queenmaker plot never made much sense.

      Sure, they want to crown Myrcella and then what? Someone in Dorne will fight to put a Lannister’s bastard on the IT? Someone in the other parts of the kingdoms?

      I don’t think so.

      That plot is more complicated, but in the end it doesn’t make much sense.

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    10. mau,

      Never mind that it goes no where, and Arienne is shown to be the complete idiot she truly is.
      Seriously the entire thing was hyped…and then Hotah just..ended it
      Also this gives us Darkstar and ”I am of the night”….ugh.

      I didn’t really like the plan in the show either, but because to me this is the weakest part in both mediums. But I did liked Jaime being there and seeing Myrcella die.

      I suspect this and Lancel will finally break him from Cersei. She will probaly ask him to protect her in person but he

      goes to the Rverlands instead
      this will be much better in a visual medium then a latter

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    11. Personally this episode didn’t do much for me. Braavos had a weak introduction imo (impressive visuals are don’t excuse this. The old dude rejecting Arya, when that clip first appeared on Conan I genuinly thought it was a sketch or parody or something). The montage of her reciting the names was okay, but I don’t get how she gives up on her coin this quickly after everything she’s been through.

      Meereen scenes were nothing special, except for Dany’s scene with Barristan. Mossador’s beheading was okay, but the final scene just felt like it was there for the sake of having a dragon scene as often as possible. At first when Barristan and co left Dany, I thought there was gonna be a Son of the Harpy assassin or something, and I think that’s what should’ve happened. An intense scene to mirror the attempt on Bran Stark’s life in 1×02, “The Kingsroad”.

      Dorne had a weak introduction. King’s Landing scenes were dull except the small council scene (I just love how Cersei interrupts and dismisses everyone’s opinion, Kevan was great too, as little screentime as he had).

      Brienne’s fight was one big meh.

      Castle Black scenes were strong though. Loved Jon, Davos and Stannis, Shireen interacting with Sam and Gilly, and Jon’s election.

      Next episode is one of the better ones of Season 5 though. Great scenes everywhere.

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    12. mau:
      HousePotterz,

      But for me the Queenmaker plot never made much sense.

      Sure, they want to crown Myrcella and then what? Someone in Dorne will fight to put a Lannister’s bastard on the IT? Someone in the other parts of the kingdoms?

      I don’t think so.

      That plot is more complicated, but in the end it doesn’t make much sense.

      Officially Myrcella is Robert’s daughter – she wouldn’t be engaged to Trystane otherwise, and there’s no indication that Arianne believes she’s Jaime’s daughter.

      Arianne wants Myrcella to rule as Queen Regnant and (eventually) Trystane to be her consort. Then, instead of Tommen, a puppet of the hated Tyrells and Lannisters, you have Myrcella, the elder child (by Arianne’s reckoning therefore, she has a better claim) who is friendly to Dorne and has no relationship with the Tyrells. The Dornish have a lot to gain if the plan worked.

      Of course, Doran had another route to the IT in mind…

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    13. Mihnea,

      I like their plan in the show better because it makes sense.

      We saw already that wars can start when you kill a member of powerful House. Or when you capture him. We saw that in S1.

      It is simple, but it makes sense. That is how wars started in the past.

      The plot inthe books is so complicated and in the end it makes no sense at all. I mean, who will fight for Myrcella in Dorne?

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    14. Queenofthrones,

      But how did she planned to do this?

      Couple of Dornish lords would support her, but many would also support Doran.
      This would only create a civil war that would have hurt mostly Dorne.

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    15. mau: The plot inthe books is so complicated and in the end it makes no sense at all. I mean, who will fight for Myrcella in Dorne?

      I still don’t nderstand your problem.

      What’s better for the Dornish? To have a Tyrell puppet on the throne, or a bright young woman who likes Dorne and is engaged to a prince of Dorne? It’s a no brainer.

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    16. Mihnea,

      If we take her at her word in this episode, yes. “Let me send her to Cersei one finger at a time.”

      In that sense, I suppose it’s not just about killing her, it’s also about rubbing her pain in Cersei’s face as well.

      Let me clarify. I agree that the Queenmaker plot isn’t perfect. But with Thrones being a show so dedicated to making its characters differing shades of gray it struck me as odd that they made Ellaria so thirsty for Myrcella’s blood.

      The biggest problem with Dorne in Season 5 is that the sum and substance of its inclusion is Myrcella’s death. I was waiting all season for Doran to finally reveal some semblance of a plan, but he never did. In this season at least, he is purely a reactive character instead of the proactive one his book counterpart is. I hope we see more of that side of him in Season 6, and I hope he kills off Ellaria right quick!

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    17. Mihnea:
      Queenofthrones,

      But how did she planned to do this?

      Couple of Dornish lords would support her, but many would also support Doran.
      This would only create a civil war that would have hurt mostly Dorne.

      Arianne expected Doran to do nothing, as he always had before. She was wrong this time but it’s usually smart to assume people will continue to act the way they have in the past. And it’s not her fault that he completely failed to tell her anything.

      By the way, it’s not like Doran’s secret master plan proved to be anything but a complete failure either.

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    18. mau,

      I liked the plan and idea. I’m someone who completely understands Ellarias perspective.
      But I think it needed a bit more time.
      Time, this is my main complain about Dorne in the show. They needed a bit more screen-time. The idea was good.

      As I said overall I liked Dorne better, not because of what it did but because of what it did NOT. Like Arianne/Quentyn all the other one-note side characters and Darkstar.

      But I completely understand why they couldn’t, especially after what Cogman said.
      All in all I’m happy and can’t wait to see more of it in S6.

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    19. Queenofthrones,

      But Tommen is not a Tyrell puppet.

      My problem is that I find it unlikely that Dornish would fight a war to put Cersei’s and Robert’s child on the IT.

      She is a Lannister and a Baratheon. There is absolutely no scenario in which only Dorne can take and hold the IT.

      So the Lannister would still have influence on the IT.

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    20. mau:
      Queenofthrones,

      Still, it doesn’t make sense. Why would someone from Dorne fight to put Cersei’s and Roberts’ daughter on the IT? They hate him, they hate the Lannisters.

      Actually there’s no good evidence that the Dornish hate Robert – the blame for Elia is laid squarely at Tywin’s and The Mountain’s feet.

      Given Arianne (and the rest of Dorne except Doran) believes that Targaryens are all dead or gone, there is no option except the Baratheon dynasty. So she wants the Baratheon who likes Dorne and who will rule with a Prince of Dorne beside her. What Dornishman wouldn’t want want to get the throne for Myrcella and Trystane? Who else should they support? Stannis?

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    21. mau,

      It does make sense, it’s just an incredible risk, which is why Doran didn’t go along with it. The odds were stacked too heavily against Dorne. But set that aside for a moment and think about the endgame IF Arianne’s plot succeeded:

      Tommen dead or dethroned and the Lannisters and Tyrells laid low. Myrcella Queen on the Iron Throne with Trystane as her consort. Their children, of ostensibly Baratheon and unequivocally Martell blood, head of a new pro-Dornish dynasty. Revenge against the Lannisters is icing on the cake.

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    22. Queenofthrones,

      And again, her entire plan was hanging on her fathers inaction.
      To me this shows again just how big of a idiot Arianne is.

      HousePotterz,

      Well here we go back to the Tysha debate. You expected a very certain thing, I did not. When I watch the show, to me the books don’t even exist.
      Doran to me was clearly acting, by arresting them and even threatening Ellaria. And disscussing terms with Jaime.
      I fully expect to see more Doran in S6. I have my guesses, but I won’t detail them here.

      Ellaria’s change didn’t bother me. But I will not enter a debate on this just because I understand why some people didn’t like it.
      To me it all right, and enjoyed this take on her character. I found it completely believable.

      And frankly? I was glad we didn’t get her ”war is bad” speech. I didn’t find it bad, but I was just fed up with this after every single Riverlands chapter had a big neon sign on it saying ”War is bad!!”. It felt that Martin was beating me over the head with this. It was just to obvious.

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    23. This is weirdly one of my alltime favourite episodes. I can’t really say why. It might just be that it flows impeccably…

      I absolutely loved the scene between Stannis and Jon and I hope that Lyanna Mormont’s letter will turn out to be foreshadowing for S6!

      And a very big shoutout to the actress who played Lollys. Just brilliant!

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    24. mau:
      Queenofthrones,
      But Tommen is not a Tyrell puppet.

      Tommen has two main influences. His mom, and the Tyrells. Tommen is getting closer to the Tyrells all the time. He’s married to a Tyrell woman who is older than him, and who will therefore probably always have a strong influence on him.

      From the Dornish perspective he’s a Lannister-Tyrell puppet.

      My problem is that I find it unlikely that Dornish would fight a war to put Cersei’s and Robert’s child on the IT.

      She is a Lannister and a Baratheon. There is absolutely no scenario in which only Dorne can take and hold the IT.

      So the Lannister would still have influence on the IT.

      I agree with the bolded it would be difficult to actually get her on the IT through anything except assassination. They would certainly need allies.

      But that wasn’t your original complaint – you were asking why Dorne would support Myrcella over Tommen. This seems obvious. Myrcella has Dornish loyalties and friendships and putting her on the throne means yet another Dornish person as co-ruler, and plenty of opportunities to get other seats of influence for Dornish IF it succeeds. I suspect Arianne probably had dreams of being appointed hand of the queen or another powerful role.

      Explain how this is not better for Dorne than Margaery Tyrell co-ruling with Tommen?

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    25. HousePotterz,

      The problem is that it can not succeeded.

      Besides couple of Dornish lords, no one would have supported her. No one in the Reach, no one in the Stormlands, no one in the riverlands…etc.

      Her innabily to see this is stagering. And creates one of the dumbest characters in the books.

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    26. Queenofthrones,

      But they don’t have an army strong enough to take the IT. And they can’t force Myrcella to fight against her own family. And Cersei wouldn’t attack Dorne after they crown Myrcella.

      And if they win in that war somehow they will still have a Lannister Queen, and she is likely do decide to have Kevan or whoever as her Hand. They can’t control her if she really becomes the Queen.

      The Lannister would still rule. Martells would just replace Tyrells.

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    27. Queenofthrones,

      Because it creates a civil war. Because not everyone in Dorne would support her.

      They would support Doran in a status Quo. The same way they did for a long time.
      It’s not like the IT has much influence in Dorne. They practically rule themselves.

      To me this plan, just shows Arianne’s incredible stupidity.

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    28. Mihnea:
      Queenofthrones,

      And again, her entire plan was hanging on her fathers inaction.
      To me this shows again just how big of a idiot Arianne is.

      It’s always logical to assume an object at rest will stay at rest, absent an outside force.

      As far as Arianne knew, Doran was immovable. Turns out it’s worse – he was stupid enough not to inform his heir of the “master plan” upon which everything hinged.

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    29. Queenofthrones,

      Margaery is not an older woman in the books.

      I said that I don’t think that Dornish would fight to put Myrcella on the IT, because the Lannister would still remain in power, through her.

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    30. Queenofthrones,

      Her actions prove him mostly right though.

      It one thing when Doran doesn’t declare for one of the kings and sends Dorne to war.
      It is a entirely different thing when his own duaghter would basically rise in rebelion against him.

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    31. Great episode. Great review. I agree with the thoughts on the camera angles. The confidence of the actors and directors shows in the changes they’ve made every season. Some notes:

      Lyanna Mormont – the fact that this was the only response to Stannis’ ravens was foreshadowing that we will be seeing more of the Mormont’s in the future

      Jon & Dany – the interplay of their reactions to the requests of mercy – I thought it was great that the adaption included corresponding scenes in both their arcs in the same episode, showing their reactions to similar decisions they had to make

      Lots of foreshadowing – greyscale, Selyse to Shireen – comment about you still don’t know what people will do (from reading your books)

      I too thought Kevin’s small council scene was great – I think they left out his book line about Cersei being an unfit mother …

      I thought the introduction to Dorne was great … it just started to go downhill after this … as I’m not sure of what effect Dorne has on the end game, other than resulting in Myrcella dying. I’m not sure what the rest of the plot advances (Jamie and Myrcella’s tender moment before she dies notwithstanding) … in the books Tyeneand Nymeria are headed to KL … here presumably Tyrstane is … although that is not clear …

      Arya is a bad-ass but I think at this point she thinks she is more of a bad-ass than she is – without the Faceless Man intervention, I’m not sure that braavosi fight would have gone so well for her

      Sansa – for some reason LF’s comment on how observant she was to see that he was handed that note seemed like a little overkill … my 5 year old niece would have noticed that he got a note and wondered what was in it …

      A great 2nd episode …. I think some people were spoiled with season 4 and thought every episode should have sustained high notes and that may be part of the reason for criticism … I remember friends thinking the first two episodes were so slow …. when so much was happening

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    32. “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark!”

      That line was always badass, both on the page and on screen. But I’ve got to say that after watching the most recent trailer for Season 6, it’s even more awesome than before. 🙂

      “The House of Black and White” really does feel like the Part 2 of the season premiere for several storylines, but others start moving quite nicely. I would place it about on par with “The Wars to Come”. Maybe a hair above.

      This may not be the most widely held opinion, but I’m glad that Jon’s election as Lord Commander was set up and dispensed with efficiently. Watching Sam Tarly whip votes from featured extras in backrooms was not how I wanted to see the show to spend its precious time. I’m happy that time was devoted instead to scenes like the one where Shireen teaches Gilly to read and talks to her about Greyscale. I thought that sequence was wonderful – and funny to boot! (“I know ‘S’.“). That scene also helps set up the Stone Men, who become highly relevant in a few episodes.

      The drama (such as it is) of the Lord Commander election as it is represented on the page was never going to translate effectively to the screen. Furthermore, the adaptive choices that the show has enacted prior to this season had rendered such political maneuverings far less relevant than they might otherwise have been. Other than Jon, Alliser Thorne was the only relevant candidate who we had spent any time with prior to this episode (Janos Slynt’s cowardice during the battle removed any threat he represented, even if he had put his name forward).

      Based on the current climate at the Wall and the lack of other viable options, Thorne was clearly going to win the election, as Davos states earlier in the episode. (Poor Denys Mallister. The man got like five votes. Also, RIP J.J. Murphy). So, rather than engaging in backroom politics, Sam stands up and gives a touching speech for Jon that swings the tide in favor, and Aemon casts the deciding vote. I thought that it was an effective and efficient way to represent this particular plot point. It worked for me completely.

      Well, almost completely. Ideally, I would have liked Stannis’s offer to Jon to have slightly longer to breathe. But that’s my only quibble with the entire sequence, and it’s not all that important. Ultimately Jon refuses the offer, so any time he spent dwelling on it in the interim doesn’t amount to much.

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    33. Did you guys listen to the new EW season 6 preview podcast? Hibberd hypes up the season quite a bit and gives some info too, worth a listen.

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    34. Jared,

      Agree on Stannis offer.

      They could still make it in the same episode, but earlier.
      I thought they went to fast from that to the election.

      But I loved the election itself!

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    35. mau,

      But that’s still a net gain for Dorne.

      As I said earlier, the reason Doran didn’t support the plot was because even if all of Dorne went to war to support the plot, they would likely lose. Arianne knew that also, but wanted Doran to act, to do something, and assumed this plot would force his hand. Call the Dornish banners and go to war.

      And even to have incited the war was to have won, if you’re Arianne. A Lannister vs. Lannister war was her initial goal.

      Mihnea, I of course had some expectation coming in Sullied, and I do understand Ellaria’s motivation. Much like the Tysha issue in The Children, I just found the correlating book plot a bit more compelling.

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    36. HousePotterz,

      As I said, I won’t debate Ellaria, because I can easly see why people may not like the change.
      To me it didn’t make a big difference.

      Now how about we talk about the rest of this episode! 🙂
      There certainly are scenes here who are worthy of discussion!

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    37. mau,

      Agree. In Arianne’s plan Dorne has only to suffer, there is no path to victory there.

      But here, Doran can easlly say it was a rogue assassin who didn’t act in his or Dorne’s name.

      Anyway let’s put this to rest. There are more important things to talk then a 2 min scene.

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    38. I love your recap, especially the attention to the symbolic use of color. It hadn’t occurred to me before.

      However you missed one of the best lines: Arya says “Nothing is worth anything to dead men.” Nailed it! Best line of the episode!

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    39. I love Tyrion and Varys’s scene in the carriage on the road to Volantis, talking about how men like them are reviled and shunned, and must isolate themselves out of necessity. However, their affinity for power and their aptitude for the game is so great that they’re never content to stay inside the box. It’s also one of the funniest sequences of the year, with numerous great lines, including two of my favorite bits of black comedy in the season.

      “Are we really going to spend the entire road to Volantis talking about the futility of everything?”

      “You’re right – no point.”

      That exchange had me in fucking stitches. So did “How many dwarves are there in the world? Is Cersei going to kill them all?” Cut to some poor dwarf’s head being tossed on the table in front of the vengeful queen. In case you couldn’t tell, my sense of humor can sometimes be quite dark.

      I like Brienne’s encounter with Sansa, and how it acknowledges the previous interactions that she’s had with both Littlefinger and with Sansa herself. This isn’t the place for me to start bagging on Brienne’s AFFC chapters, save to say that seeing her encounter the second Stark daughter so soon after meeting the first prompted a loud cheer in my living room. I also enjoyed Brienne making quick and brutal mincemeat of Littlefinger’s hired Vale knights. That woman doesn’t mess around, especially when she’s wielding Valyrian steel. 🙂

      Reece Noi, who played Mossador, leaves a strong impression for such a minor character. He was excellent, particularly during his speech about his father and the plight of the former slaves in Meereen. He makes it achingly clear how deeply he believed in the dragon queen, and his devastation when Dany orders his execution was heart-wrenching.

      I was expecting the crowd to turn on Dany after she had Mossador beheaded, but I wasn’t expecting the freedmen to start hissing at her. When that happened, the full weight of how badly she had erred descended on both her and on me. That sound was legitimately terrifying. At the moment, Robb Stark’s status post-Karstark execution sprang to my mind. Dany is striving to be honorable. She wants to be just. And if she were to continue on her current course, she would be doomed.

      Dany seems to know that as well, even if she can’t openly acknowledge it yet. I adore the final scene with Dany and Drogon on the balcony, and particularly Ramin Djawadi’s gorgeous piece of music that underscores the scene (“Blood of the Dragon”. In that moment, the condemned Harpy’s words ring painfully true. “She doesn’t belong here.”

      Finally, while the cat had been out of the bag for a while before this episode, it was a genuine pleasure to see Tom Wlaschiha return to Game of Thrones. A man was missed.

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    40. I suppose I’ll close with a word on Dorne. I’m sure that we’re in for lots of sandbagging on that kingdom and that storyline (perhaps literally) in the next few days. That’s fine, but I’m going to stay positive whenever possible. For instance, I quite like the setup for it that we get in this episode.

      Alexander Siddig was perfectly cast as Doran. Honestly, my biggest issue with the Dorne storyline wasn’t the Sand Snakes. It wasn’t the fight choreography or the dialogue or any of the myriad other complaints that have been discussed to death. It certainly wasn’t the exclusion of certain “beloved” book characters and storylines (Note: It’s hard for me to type that word in that context, even ironically. I am … not fond of Arianne and Darkstar, to put it mildly).

      No, my biggest letdown about Dorne in Season 5 was that Siddig’s Doran was underused – perhaps not criminally, but significantly. I do believe that if he had played a more prominent role in the Dorne storyline as a counterbalance to Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, the subplot would have been better received. As it is, I’m glad that he’s returning for Season 6, and I hope that he gets more to do.

      The part of the Dorne storyline that I consistently loved and continue to love is the Jaime and Bronn road show, which gets off to a strong start here. When I’d heard that they were casting Lollys Stokeworth for Season 5, my immediate reaction was “Really? Why?” As it turns out, her one-scene cameo was a delight. Elizabeth Cadwallader does some nice comedic work in the scene, particularly her facial expressions when she meets Jaime. When “Jaime fucking Lannister” turns up at Stokeworth to recruit Bronn for his mission, she is just adorably starstruck. Honestly, who wouldn’t be starstruck once they got a look at the fabled Kingslayer in that dashing red jacket? (No joke – that jacket is one of the show’s best costumes).

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    41. Flayed Potatoes:
      I would have changed the order of the last three scenes and have the episode end with either Arya entering the House of Black and White, or Jon getting elected as LC. Those two scenes have more of a climax than Drogon being an angsty teenage drama queen.

      +1,000
      Another change I would have made is Stannis offering to legitimize Jon in Episode 1.

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    42. Tywin of the Hill: +1,000
      Another change I would have made is Stannis offering to legitimize Jon in Episode 1.

      I agree. Not enough time was given to let the offer sink in and grasp its significance for Jon.

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    43. Random thought now that I’m thinking about this episode; what if Arya leaving Needle is just a setup for her to return and actually cast Needle into the sea? I always assumed she would return and reclaim it.

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    44. Watching these episodes again reminds me of how much fun the Dorne scenes could have been if the tone was slightly different. I feel like they were going for B-Movie revenge with Ellaria and the sand snakes ala faster pussycat kill, kill; but it just doesn’t work. I wanted to love them so bad..

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    45. Loved Alexander Siddig’s Doran Martell and Ian Gelder’s Kevan Lannister in this episode. Two small roles played by remarkable actors. Hopefully both of them will get more to do this season (or at least a couple more similarly memorable scenes). Looking forward to it! And only a little more than a week to go!! 😀

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    46. The conversation between Doran and Ellaria in this episode is probably the best thing about the entire Dorne storyline.

      “…he was my brother long before he was anything to you”

      …and…

      Ellaria: The whole country would have you go to war.
      Doran: Then we are lucky the whole country does not decide.

      …are two wonderful ripostes to Ellaria’s vengeful scorn.

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    47. Mihnea,

      Ha! Yeah, Sam definitely pwned Lord Janos in that scene.

      “I found him there after the battle was over in a puddle of his own making”

      Just as good as Jon’s putdown in Season 4:

      Janos Slynt: I commanded the City Watch of King’s Landing, boy.
      Jon: And now you’re here. You must not have been very good at your job.

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    48. “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK” is even more meaningful after the pics of Davos in Bear Island. It’s definitely Bear Island because where else would you see at least three Mormont shields hanging from the wall? Also, I went back to read the “A wiki of ice and fire” description of Bear Island and House Mormont, and the “castle” of House Mormont is a wooden hall surrounded by an earthen palisade, which seems to fit the pics. Instead of introducing the Manderlys or Hornfoots whom show watchers are completely new to, taking Davos and Sansa to Bear Island would make infinitely more sense. Show watchers have spent five seasons with Mormonts and seen that letter last season. Davos was present when Jon read that letter to Stannis. And Davos is a smuggler, so who better to smuggle Sansa to Bear Island? It all makes sense.

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    49. Regarding Brienne and Sansa’s meeting in the inn, I didn’t really grasp it when I first watched the scene, but Sansa isn’t just being a snotty brat when she tells Brienne to leave. She may actually be saving Brienne’s ass.

      When she responds “And sometimes we do” in response to Brienne saying “Sometimes we don’t have a choice” she gestures/glances towards the soldiers surrounding Brienne before telling her she should leave.

      Brienne stares at Sansa, before Littlefinger pipes up with his sinister suggestion that Brienne stay with them rather than go back out on the road where it’s not safe.

      Brienne looks at Littlefinger with suspicion before looking back at Sansa, whose fixed stare seems to suggest “yeah, you’re right to be suspicious”. Brienne then decides to get the hell out of Dodge with Littlefinger’s men trying to stop her.

      I only really considered this interpretation when I saw it mentioned under the Youtube clip of the scene. But it holds water.

      Was i just being dense and missed what everybody else clocked in this scene? Or am I now giving Sansa too much credit?

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    50. Jared,

      Glad you brought this up. There are very legitimate criticisms of the Dorne storyline, which I share, but the bulk of the scenes were Jaime/Bronn scenes, which were almost all good from what I recall.

      Speaking of Elizabeth Cadwallder (who I agree is awesome) one of the funniest bits of this episode’s commentary is NCW complimenting her, but struggling to remember her name, and Gwendoline Christie giving him shit over it.

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    51. mau:
      Queenofthrones,

      Margaery is not an older woman in the books.

      eh? Yes she is older than him. She’s like 8 years older than him in the books. Similar difference as show but both are aged up.

      I said that I don’t think that Dornish would fight to put Myrcella on the IT, because the Lannister would still remain in power, through her.

      Actually you said “why would they fight to put a Lannister bastard on the throne”? I point out they are fighting to put a Baratheon and a Martell on the throne. What Lannister?

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    52. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      you read it correctly, I stated this in Westeros .org and two days later Gwen C proved me right, she said in the margin of the script that Sansa is telling her to get out of Dodge.
      A lot of people disagreed with me saying they did not pick that up so the scene was poorly done.

      With Sansa and Sophie it’s not her words alone, it’s her facial and body language that are important.

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    53. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man: Was i just being dense and missed what everybody else clocked in this scene? Or am I now giving Sansa too much credit

      Nope, I think you are on the mark. After the chase scene with Pod, Brienne and LF’s crew chasing them, Pod asks about Sansa. Brienne’s reply is (something like, I can’t remember exactly) “suspicious of strangers, as she well should be.” Brienne isn’t angry at being sent away, I believe she read the warning in Sansa’s reply and did indeed run for her life.

        Quote  Reply

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