The House of Black & White

gotbannerSeason 5 Episode 2

The House of Black & White or
Bronn Gives Jaime a Hand

.:.

As I pointed out in my micro-review of The Wars to Come, the first two episodes of Game of Thrones are essentially introductories, reintroducing the major players and setting the stage for the next seven episodes (as the finale is generally spent setting the stage for the next season).

I stand by my assertion that delivering a two hour premiere, followed by eight episodes and an endcap, would be a better way of wrangling the adaptation of Martin’s opus, but these are the cards the showrunners have been dealt and they do the best they can considering their situation.

It is not an enviable task. Truncating or eliminating storylines, melding multiple characters (often with very different viewpoints) into a single voice, creating from whole cloth new storylines that then have to seamlessly mesh with those preexisting… That writers’ room must be one chaotic mess, with epic arguments about what gets changed or axed and what doesn’t.

Game of Thrones, in many regards, is more akin to The Dan & David Show. Benioff and Weiss have done an admirable job of bringing Game of Thrones to life. I do not always agree with their choices, but I understand that adapting something as big as Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire is a damned if you do / damned if you don’t crucible.

got502“The House of Black and White” had a lot going for it. Overall, I think it was a stronger episode than the premiere, due in large part to it being better paced. Yes, there was still a lot of exposition, but there was some thrilling action as well.

My favorite bit from “Black & White” was seeing Brienne wield Oathkeeper on horseback. The long sword Jaime Lannister named Oathkeeper and gifted to Brienne was one of two swords forged from Ned Stark’s Ice, a Valyrian steel great sword. Jaime charged Brienne with the task of finding and protecting Sansa Stark and felt it fitting that she be armed with the remnants of Ned’s blade to do so.

Of course, these events played out far differently from book to screen, but it was still a thrill to see Brienne shatter the blade of one of Littlefinger’s guard with a mighty swing from her Valyrian sword.

Plenty of other things to be excited for in this episode: Jaime and Bronn heading for Dorne and Tyrion and Varys on the road to Meereen, played out like two very different takes on a Hope and Crosby buddy comedy; speaking of Dorne, we got our first look at Doran Martell, played by Alexander Siddig and some intriguing plot developments regarding Jaime and Cersei’s daughter Myrcella courtesy of a vengeance-fueled Ellaria Sand; there were equally fascinating scenes at The Wall between Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon, a character who has really impressed me so far this season, and the Lord Commander election was a brilliant touch; the drama in Meereen was well played, as the Sons of the Harpy became the central focus of Dany’s turbulent reign (unlike the novels), punctuated by Barristan Selmy’s recall of the final days of the Mad King’s tenure on the Iron Throne and, of course, the return of Drogon…

Second only to Brienne’s battle with the Vale Men was Aryas visit to the House of Black and White, home of the Faceless Men. No Cat of the Canals here, unfortunately, but the showrunners’ inclusion of Jaqen H’ghar (though a man is not Jaqen H’ghar) as the guildmaster of the temple to the God of Death was a welcome change to the books. It’s something that plays much better on the small screen than the printed page.

All in all, a stellar episode, and one that left me hungry for next week’s “High Sparrow”. If you’re not subscribing to HBO, you really should be:

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