House_of_Black_and_White

There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

Dorne! Dorne! Braavos! Braavos! Excuse me while I do a dance of fangirl glee right now. Before this season began, they told us point blank that the show will be changing things from the books. They need to. The books aren’t even close to finished, and they moved most of the storylines to the most recent places. Honestly, it’s fine with me, in a general sort of way. I already look at the two as different. I will never stop being angry about Arianne Martell being removed from the series, however. Until the end of this show I will still be yelling BUT ARIANNE. No regrets. Still, Dorne and the Martells are basically my favorite, and in the books Arya’s adventures in Braavos always stayed the most interesting chapters for me. So this episode hit all my fangirl sweet spots. We’re going to be spending a lot of time across the sea this season, with Tyrion and Varys headed to Dany on top of Dorne and Braavos taking center stage. I am a-okay with this. Previously on Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister is dead and Cersei’s as paranoid as ever about all their enemies. Tyrion and Varys are on their way to see Dany, since Varys has been team Dany for a long time now. Brienne’s almost given up her quest to find Catelyn’s daughters, since Arya ran off after the fight with the Hound. Oberyn Martell was gruesomely murdered in a battle with Gregor Clegane, in front of his lover Ellaria. Dany’s struggling with her rule and sad her dragons are either missing and/or kind of angry at her right now.

First off on the King’s Landing side of the water, Cersei is rightly paranoid when it comes to her daughter Myrcella, who was sent to Dorne to marry the heir some time ago. A threat was left in the form of a fake snake, and Jaime agrees to secretly go into Dorne and take his daughter-niece home. In the books his storyline gets kind of boring for a bit, so this seems much more interesting. He takes Bronn with him. Yay Bronn! He tells Bronn he’ll get him a better castle/title/woman if he succeeds. Cersei’s taken over the council, and most people are cool with it, but her uncle Kevan is like ha ha nope. He is not easily pliable, and he refuses to recognize her as the leader of King’s Landing. Oh snap. He said he’ll go back to Casterly Rock until Tommen himself sends for him. Nice. On the Wall, Jon is elected the new Lord Commander after a passionate speech from Sam. His enemies are not pleased, and neither is Stannis, since he wanted to make Jon the legal heir to Winterfell. Poor Jon, he finally got what he wanted, but he chose the Wall instead. Honestly you’d think he would want to help Stannis; not just for his own revenge, but honestly, this war needs to get over already. The Wall could use more help with winter coming, and clearly Stannis is more interesting in helping the brothers than Cersei. Also Brienne and Pod accidentally come across Sansa and Littlefinger, but Sansa also is very suspicious of her like Arya was. She refuses to go, and Brienne manages to escape just barely. You’re not having the best adventure, are you, Brienne? I can’t blame Sansa here; we all know Brienne is a good person, but she has no reason to believe that right now.

game-of-thrones-55Finally let’s go hang out on the other side of the sea, where everything is awesome. We meet the leader of the Martell family, Doran (newcomer Alexander Siddig). Ellaria’s angry as they watch his heir Trystan walk with Myrcella, saying that they should chop her up in revenge for Oberyn. This isn’t in the book so I cringed, but I understand their reasons for it. Doran rightly points out that Oberyn went into the duel to the death willingly, and therefore there’s no honorable way to seek vengeance for it. He grieves, but he’s having none of that nonsense. In Braavos, Arya finds her way to the House of Black and White (the name of this episode) where she is told she’ll find Jaqen. She is turned away at the door and stays there for some time, stubbornly refusing to budge, until she says to hell with it and tosses the coin away. After managing to hunt a pigeon for herself, she is accosted by thieves, but survives when Jaqen himself shows up. He gives her back the coin and brings her into the House, revealing himself to be the person who turned her away in the first place. It was all a test! Welcome to your new life, Arya. Also, we missed you Jaqen, you handsome shapeshifting devil.

And lastly we have Dany. Tyrion and Varys are on their way to her, and I’m excited for when they eventually get there. Although they might not be getting a good welcome, at this point. Dany is struggling, and I think a huge part of it has to do with her thinking she has to force her new people to be exactly like she wants to. She has trouble finding compromises, and there’s a naive part of her that can’t even fully respect their culture. Freeing the slaves was one thing, but she’s very unbending in other ways. They capture a former master who is responsible for killing one of her Unsullied, and while she wants to execute him right off, Ser Barristan warns her not to be like her crazy father. She agrees to a fair trial instead, but one of her freed slaves murders him before he can have one. Dany puts him to death for breaking the law, and the slaves turn on Dany, furious with her. I understand her reasoning, but she really has to break this idea that the leader is infallible. She sees her freed dragon Drogon, but he flies off before she can touch him. I wonder if Varys and Tyrion will be able to help her, or if she’s willing to be helped. I love her, but I hope with some time and experience she’ll learn to be less rigid.

This was a fantastic episode all around. It was exciting, pushed all the main storylines forward, set up the chess pieces for the rest of the season, and got me psyched for what’s next. So far I can note all the differences from the books, but I agree with them. Outside of Arianne. The North never forgets.

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