Last week we returned to Westeros with a solid premiere which rung highly with the winds of change. The second episode furthers the foundations formed and offers a detailed account of character and social dynamic transformation.

With each passing hour, HBO’s hallmark show continues to gather momentum, and The House of Black and White sees the path open for a truly important surge on the Iron Throne.

 

Ned-Stark-Spoiler-Warning

The Title: ‘The House of Black and White’
What Does It Mean?

As mentioned in the introduction, various states of transformation are the building blocks of Season 5’s second outing and the title certainly represents as such. We open and instantly join Arya Stark as she arrives in the Essosian city in Braavos; the beautiful and sprawling aquatic-constructed wonderland in which her principal revenge mission will undoubtedly flourish.

After a short boat trip through the Venice-reminiscent environment, she, armed with Needle and her now signature coin, is dropped off at a large and intimidating structure which seems to delicately float atop the bluest shores.

The building is the titular House of Black and White which bears two doors – each one a block colour – like a cast-iron Yin Yang. Arya knocks and asks for her trainer Jaqen H’ghar but it abruptly turned away. Rather than accepting the declination and leaving, she sits and waits in all weathers whilst reciting the names of those upon her ‘hit-list’ and from here onward, the tables begin to turn.

The House of Black and White

Most Shocking Moment:

Showrunners and screenplay scribes David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have littered this episode with subtleties that beautifully amount to something drastic as the show rolls on, but a particular moment on offer here was deeply shocking for a number of reasons.

Grey Worm and Daario head into Meereen’s district and infiltrate The Sons of Harpy which leads to taking last week’s masked murderer as prisoner. Daenerys engages with her small council on the correct course of action for the inmate – trial or death.

After poignant words from Barristan who echoes of her brutal father The Mad King, Khaleesi opts for a judicial hearing; something which doesn’t sit well with noble Unsullied soldier Mossador. After the warrior is rudely harassed by the prisoner, he takes the law in his own hands and executes him before displaying his humiliated and deceased body out in public.

Dany is extremely angry and upset that her order was defied and explains to Mossador that the law is the law thus his crime must be met with adequate punishment too. Taken out in front of all the former slaves of the city, his rights are read and Mossador is sentenced to death. The residents cry for mercy; pleading for Mhysa not to make the order but soon Daario swipes his scythe and his head is removed.

The punishment sparks an array of angry hisses from the onlookers and they begin to attack the Unsullied guards who quickly attempt to protect Dany before they start beating and killing each other in the sun-soaked hills.

This is a deeply powerful sequence which brutally and brilliantly showcases the fractious nature of Khaleesi’s rule over a nation she saved and took under her delicate wing. It also taps back into the episode’s running theme of change; for some better, others undoubtedly worse.

The Unsullied stand forever strong for Dany, but it looks as though her numbers might be slipping away just like her trio of dragons. Tyrion and Varys need to truly step on it…

ellaria sand

Biggest Agenda:

Following his repugnant death at the crushing hands of “The Mountain”, behind the scenes in Dorne, the revenge strategy is beginning to form. Oberyn Martell’s late wife Ellaria Sand has harsh words to spill over his brother Prince Doran who appears to be doing very little to avenge the death of his beloved sibling. Ellaria explains that she has the ‘Sand Snakes’ prepped and ready for departure to King’s Landing (boy are they going to cause the Lannister’s some blood-sodden issues…) and that the residents of Dorne are keen to aid however they may.

Despite Doran practically shunning his sister-in-law before asking his guard to stand down and not take her life, we get a deep look into his stoic, concentrated façade. He has absolutely no intention of letting such a heinous crime go unpunished, but battles in areas like Dorne, Highgarden and the Westeros ruling city are won with their two biggest assets – intelligence and wealth.

Viewers can be assured that we’ll see much more of Doran as the plan to attack those who have wrong-done this great state goes full-steam ahead.

Jon Snow

Best Overall Moment:

The tensions which strike Dany and her expanded army is certainly one of the defining pieces in The House of Black and White, as too is the emotional developments of Arya who is now completely and utterly focused by the sword, but there are a number of characters during whose circumstances dramatically shift, and none more so than the Bastard of The North.

Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon share a coarse exchange regarding the execution of Mance Rayder in which by firing an arrow through the burning and deeply suffering wildling leader, basically undermined the Would Be King’s right. Despite this, Stannis is keen to have Snow in his pocket and tempts him by questioning his allegiance to the Night’s Watch by offering him the chance to return home as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell.

Despite such a crowning reward for the noble knight so often reminded of his pre-wedlock conception, Jon declines and instead returns to Castle Black in which the election for the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is taking place. Various brothers arise and pledge their piece in support of another but soon Samwell Tarly stands tall and explains why Jon should be granted the position. The duo’s activities with the wildlings soon surfaces to much displeasure but Sam remains valiant and takes on challenger Janos Slynt.

After an intense and greatly close vote, Maester Aemon casts his and pushes Jon’s tally to victory thus making him the new Lord Commander. Although Snow could have gladly accepted such an offer from Stannis, having control of the fraternity he knows and treasures so dearly – in an environment like The Wall in which he so bravely defended – the power shift attached is quite frankly undeniable.

House of Black and White

The Verdict:

The once delightful tomboy has become fully rendered as a faceless assassin; a pint-sized and deeply concentrated killing machine. The Mother of Dragons is now understanding the gravity of her situation and the instability of ruling such a vast and agitated nation.

The son so frequently ashamed has risen through the ranks to a position of great magnitude and respect. To say The House of Black and White was a fantastic episode is a dizzying understatement; it was an important one. New roads have been paved for a variety of core characters and we will soon see them venture down into uncertainty and most likely, adversity.

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Chris' love affair with cinema started years ago when school teachers would moan to his parents that he spends too much time quoting & not enough working. He has a degree in Film Studies now so how do you like those apples past teachers and doubters? Despite being a romancer of all things Woody Allen & Michael Haneke, Chris has favourite films in the majority of genres and is a complete sucker for bumbling indie types. He's also prone to gazing at beautiful actresses - particularly Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence & Scarlett Johansson - for overly long periods of time. Just thought we'd warn you ladies...