GAME OF THRONES 5.02 ‘The House of Black and White’ Review

GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 2

Episode Title: “The House of Black and White”

Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

Director: Michael Slovis

Previously on “Game of Thrones”:

Episode 5.01: “The Wars to Come”


For over four seasons, it’s been relatively safe to assume that Game of Thrones was setting up Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) as the ruler that Westeros desperately needs even as the story takes its time getting her on the Iron Throne. Daenerys seems to truly care about her subjects, which makes her look good when compared to all of the other options.

But that’s why it’s been stunning to see how poorly Daenerys has ruled Meereen. She’s alienated the masters, the freed slaves and even her dragons. And she’s the last best hope for peace in Westeros?!

Somebody send a raven for Ser Jorah!

There are full spoilers ahead for “The House of Black and White.” You’ve been warned!

Daenerys’ missteps in the second episode of the fifth season were breathtaking to behold. She’s making mistakes left and right. Even if Ser Jorah was still around, Daenerys would probably still be having problems. But when Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney) is the only voice of reason then the Mother of Dragons has big problems.

After Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) finally catch one of the Sons of the Harpy, a freed slave named Mossador (Reece Noi) kills the man without Daenerys’ approval and she sentenced him to death. It was stunning to see how Daenerys completely failed to read the intentions of the crowd before ordering Mossador’s head to be taken. The freed slaves seemed to immediately turn on Daenerys and they literally hissed their displeasure at her.

If only Daenerys had control of her dragons… but they hate her too. Even Drogan, the large dragon seems to scoff at Daenerys when he briefly returns from his travels. Daenerys may have the city, but she’s losing the hearts of the people and she doesn’t have her dragons to make her look strong.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) would be very disappointed if they could see Daenerys now. Although it’s Varys who has put all of his chips on installing Daenerys on the Iron Throne with Tyrion as her advisor. This plotline didn’t advance very far this week, but it did lead to the very darkly humorous scene of a dwarf’s head being delivered to Cersei (Lena Headey). She really is going to have all dwarfs killed who have the misfortune of resembling her brother.

As poorly as Daenerys is doing, Cersei is doing much worse in her futile attempt to hold on to power in King’s Landing. Cersei’s uncle, Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder) is the first to challenge Cersei’s manipulations of the Small Council. That’s the first time that Kevan has really registered as a character. I’m hoping that Kevan sticks around as a foil for Cersei, despite his promise to return home until hearing from the king himself.

This episode also had some of the most satisfying scenes in the series to date, as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was offered the chance to become Jon Stark by King Stannis (Stephen Dillane) before ascending to the rank of Lord High Commander of the Night’s Watch. Ever since Ramsay was legitimized by Lord Bolton, I’ve wondered why the great Ned Stark couldn’t or wouldn’t do the same for Jon Snow. But I think that the series will actually answer that question at some point.

Sam (John Bradley) had a very strong episode as he praised Jon’s qualifications to be the new leader of the Night’s Watch and when he publicly called out Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter) for his cowardness. I loved the added touch that even Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) was laughing at Slynt’s expense… shortly before casting the deciding vote for Jon.

As much as I’d like to see Jon Snow become Jon Stark, there’s a simple reason that it couldn’t happen now. Jon is the main character of the Night’s Watch scenes and they wouldn’t hold the same dramatic weight if he was gone. The only thing that fell flat about Stannis’ offer was that he was upset that Jon mercy killed Mance Rayder… and then Stannis did nothing about it. Stannis may need Jon to take the North, but that was unusually (and uncharacteristically) generous of him.

Across the country, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) finally stumbled across Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen). But once again, Brienne was rejected by one of the Stark daughters. It was amusing that Brienne’s terrible track record as a protector was used against her by Littlefinger. But Brienne is still one of the more sympathetic characters on this show and she had another chance to show off her fighting skills while escaping with Pod.

Meanwhile, Arya (Maisie Williams) finally made it to Braavos, only to face rejection from the faceless men. This was another good showcase episode for Williams as Arya spent most of her screentime alone. She’s just very compelling to watch. It was also a nice surprise that Tom Wlaschiha made his return as the man formerly known as Jaqen H’ghar. Somehow, I missed that casting announcement.

The other major part of this episode dealt with the introduction of Dorne, which is why I was annoyed to see that it was left off of the map in the opening credit sequence. Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) really lost all sympathy from me here as she called for the slow dismemberment and death of Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) as a response to Oberyn’s death.

Fortunately, Doran Martell (as played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig) is far more reasonable. I loved the very subtle way that Doran’s captain of the guards offered to kill Ellaria for Doran before he refused to give the order. Doran seems to be one of the rare good men in Westeros. That never ends well for them.

Apparently Ellaria (or someone working with her) sent a threat to Cersei about Myrcella’s safety, which means that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) are taking a road trip to get Myrcella back. Flynn is almost always comedy gold on this series, and his brief scene in this episode was no exception. It’s no substitute for the Bronn and Tyrion scenes, but the Jaime and Bronn partnership has a lot of comic and dramatic potential as well.

“The House of Black and White” wasn’t a very flashy episode, but I’m excited about some of the new character combinations and the new status quo for Jon Snow. That’s more than enough for me.