**NOTE** I’ve read the books so there may be moments when I refer to a segment that happened differently than how the book version went down but I’ll do my best to not spoil what that difference was or what’s likely to come. With that said, any review I write on GOT may contain book spoilers. Read at your own risk**
From north to south and across the sea, the fifth season’s players all travel to new destinations bound for the next chapter in their game. Enter the realm of sand and we have the semblance of a new family ready to harness vengeance through patience. Those focused on tonight’s episode “The House of Black and White” have already started their trials and tribulations, most importantly, Arya Stark, who has landed in Braavos for training to become a faceless one. Gorgeous views and layered tones mark the scale and colors of the many lands overtaken by our cast as both Jon and Daenerys struggle with leadership on different fronts.
I find every episode it like taking a really long breath of air and once you let it out, it’s over until the next one comes along. A show like this can end and begin in so many different places, it’s hard to see it as one theme or a self-contained piece of the plot. It’s one of the few engaging shows that can continue to operate on this formula and does such a skillful job at it. My only gripe as it comes with reading the series too is how long and often our principle cast (those that remain) spend the seasons never crossing paths with each other except on very slim and minute occasions. There’s a trade for everything when it comes to grand storylines.
My first reaction was laughing at how horribly lucky Brienne was with running into both Arya and Sansa and being forced to fight or flee on both encounters. Her cause is so diluted that it’s difficult to see how she’ll stay on this road searching for Sansa hoping to convince her of Littlefinger’s dastardly ways. Whether Sansa is aware of this or not, she’s playing her own game now and keeping Littlefinger close? But where are they going and what will happen if Brienne catches up with them?
Tyrion and Varys remain isolated and comparable companions. It’s not easy to be bored when great actors throw lines at each other as these two do. Am I anxious to see them get to Daenerys? Yes, but everyone should know of the obstacles that will be in their path. Tyrion should technically be on a boat sailing toward Dany, but that either hasn’t happened yet, or his travels will in fact be different this time around. It least to future spoiler-y questions about whether or not he’ll meet certain other characters, but I’m holding out that it’ll happen. Maybe not this season, but it will happen.
In another diverging segment, Jaime declares to Cersei that he intends to bring their daughter back from Dorne and he even pulls Bronn to assist with that endeavor. I should have seen this since it was Bronn who helped train Jaime last season and since Tyrion is gone, who better to form some kind of bond with than ol kingslayer himself. Cersei’s acts have unfortunately become a little stale for me as her actions and reactions are almost telegraphed at this point. She needs fresh opposition and Margaery hasn’t been truly set loose yet. Hopefully those two begin their game soon enough.
Everything is going as expected with Arya. Knowing her trials ahead doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch because she’s been through many tragic encounters and now it’s time for her to take control of her life. It won’t be easy, but we’ll be seeing a new side to her very soon.
Back at the wall, Jon has been voted as the new commander of the watch. To be treated with such a defining moment when he had been pondering becoming a true Stark of Winterfell was such a clutching moment. His responsibilities will only grow as will two sides of the night’s watch. With Stannis still looking to grow his army, it will be interesting to see how Jon contends with this ruler and whether he’ll turn his sights further north or drag to the south and deal with closer more lively enemies.
The development with Daenerys is relatively the same. She’s trying to make good conscious decisions while dealing with who she freed and who made enemies of in doing so. All this and Drogon reappears only to fly off, still the free dragon. And who’s going to tell him to return home and be with his siblings? Even Dany is weary that her children are growing up too fast. Before long, her symbols may burn the very city she’s trying to rule.
Sometimes the moments that come through as the best are the ones that are original and not tied to a scene in the books, yet. I particularly liked Brienne meeting Sansa at the inn and once more trying to convince a Stark child to accept her pledge and be under her protection. She represents one of the purest good and noble characters and she’s completely thwarted by conniving resistance with Sansa still too careful for her own good. Though it’s frustrating to see Brienne have to be on the run so much, she’s determined and capable which means, there’s a lot more to her we will see, especially since her mission is alive and well.
Though everyone’s played wonderfully their parts, I want to give the MVP to new season comer, Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) Wisely showing a sage-like patience he’s commanding and intelligent, knowing what he has in his possession and not wanting to rush to war or vengeance even though he lost much. It’s also good to see Siddig again. I’ve seen him in other IP’s but Deep Space Nine was always my favorite of his shows. Let’s see how he does here in Westeros.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
Is it me or did Myrcella look quite a bit older since her last appearance? No doubt a new actress but how much time could have possibly passed to initiate that kind of growth?
Without a Lady Stoneheart to usher in a powerful vengeance plot, I can see why Brienne is still on the hunt with Sansa. I want to see where this goes, but I’m weary because Littlefinger has been rather cunning in his power ploys and won’t put up with someone like Brienne for long. If anything he’ll just turn Sansa away from her even further than he already has.
I can already see Jaime and Doran being too high profile characters to sit down and truly define whether or not war is going to spoil the lands of the south or whether Jaime will see Cersei in a new and darker light.
As much as I’d like to see Varys meet Daenerys and become her most devoted follower, I wonder if that will be in the works since this is a major deviation from the books. Tyrion needs good characters to play off of and for now the duo works.
It’s going to be extremely difficult to ascertain if the hound survived his fight against Brienne because if he did, we may never get to know about it, and if he didn’t, we also may never get to know about it. At least until his helmet shows up where it shouldn’t.
8 out of 10. The flow and script felt better this week even though quality was about the same. Grand scope lands, very detailed differences between sand, snow, and water. We’re getting so much of the big picture that it’s almost taxing how much more we have to wait before everything just blow up in a single land war. Nothing from the Greyjoy’s or other folk around the north, but I imagine they won’t be absent for very long. We’re still just getting warmed up and Jon has the most important mission of all. Prepare the north, or help fight the south? Good luck convincing Stannis the road that must be taken to fight the white walkers.
No more words