Daenerys and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: ‘Game of Thrones’ recap of ‘The House of Black and White’

Revenge is brewing like coffee in a percolator in ‘The House of Black and White.’

The once freewheeling Ellaria looked remarkably like a raven-haired Cersei skulking about the towers of Dorne. She looks disapprovingly down upon a happy Myrcella Lannister Baratheon, and implores The Viper’s brother, Prince Doran Martell, to avenge Oberyn’s death by mutilating her to spite Cersei. Fortunately for Myrcella, Doran echoed Oberyn’s sentiments from last season: they do not hurt little girls in Dorne.

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Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Cersei is on the hunt for Tyrion, at the expense of every dwarf’s life in Westeros. She doesn’t even slightly flinch at the sight of a curly, blonde, dismembered head landing with a thud on the table before her. This life is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of knowing Tyrion is no longer living, and she’s willing to go through as many innocent lives as necessary in order to get what she wants. (Like that’s any surprise.)

Cersei’s hatred for her little brother is misplaced, as is Ellaria’s hatred for Cersei, as is Cersei’s hatred of Dorne. We’re working through one big hate triangle here. Cersei must know somewhere within her that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, but isn’t it easiest to go after the person that she’s despised her whole life? Ellaria’s hatred is only rooted in Oberyn’s untimely (and awesomely gruesome) death, which just happened to take place at King’s Landing. (I’ll give her this one: if you’re going to torture-by-way-of-revenge anyone in King’s Landing, it may as well be Queen Bitch herself.) And because Cersei can’t cope when things don’t go her way, she resents Dorne for housing (or in her eyes, imprisoning) her only daughter. Truth in judgment is replaced by impulsivity in action with these two ladies: as long as someone dies, they’ll feel better. Or, at least, they think they will.

And thus, Jaime’s on his way to Dorne to retrieve Myrcella (with Bronn in tow! Yay Bronn!) and we already know this won’t end well. Part of me hopes these two bachelors will like Dorne so much they’ll just stay there, drinking wine and cavorting with whores. At least then a whole bunch of people won’t die. But who am I kidding? This is Game of Thrones. Of course a bunch of people will die.

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Revenge is also the undercurrent of the state of affairs in Meereen. The Sons of the Harpy (the Harpy being the big, gold, winged chick Dany had removed from the top of the pyramid last week) are setting out to subversively kill anyone Daenerys saved, whether it’s an Unsullied or the former slaves of the city. It was foolish of Dany to believe that she could conquer and rule, when her M.O. up until now had been to conquer and peace out. Before Meereen, she hadn’t stuck around in one place long enough to see her royal credence overthrown. But now, after she has Mossador (former slave turned Sons of the Harpy killer) executed for disobeying her orders for a fair trial for one of the SotH, Dany’s officially having a crap day. Not only do the former masters already hate her, but in beheading one of their own, the former slaves hiss at her in vitriol. With her Unsullied shielding her head from raining rocks, Dany retreats to her chambers in disbelief. Her “the law is the law” stance may be the most moral of any on this show, but she’s quickly learning that the repercussions of it are throwing Meereen into chaos.

And just when Dany’s at her lowest, she spots her beloved Drogon atop the roof of her bedroom. As he crawls his way closer to her, with her arm stretched out, longing for acceptance, you really do hope he’ll recognize his mother and offer her a moment of affection. Instead, he casually sniffs her hand and takes off to cruise over the city. Dany has nothing. Her controlling nature strong-armed everyone into adoring her, but that nature is now driving away everyone and everything she’s cared for.

At least Daenerys has the tactical masters of Tyrion and Varys on their way to her, even if she doesn’t know it yet. She has a good council as it is, but she could really use the skill of these two outcasts. Varys is always one step ahead of everyone and Tyrion’s intellect can carry him through most sticky situations. I’m not sure how, but their presence will likely be able to bolster a recovery campaign for Dany. At this point, she could really use one.

Littlefinger, the other tactical master slithering around Westeros, has used his influence to corrupt Sansa’s common sense to the point where she mistrusts everyone but him. Granted, he did have help in this area. Since Ned Stark’s death, Sansa hasn’t been able to put faith in anyone to look after her well being. Littlefinger is actively trying to keep her out of harms way, even if it means shielding her from Brienne, possibly the last person in all of Westeros with a moral compass. The irony is that her morality is lost among the cruelty of this world. Brienne’s oath to bring the Stark girls to safety is an impossible task, and her plans doesn’t evolve past actually finding them. The Hound was right when he asked her where “safe” is, and she knows it, but her stubbornness prevents her from recognizing reality. Where could she possibly take them where they could be safe? The Wall? And then what? They hang out in hiding until Cersei’s dead Brienne’s stubbornness is admirable, but it’s not very effective. It’s leading her to make rash decisions, like scattering the horses of Littlefinger’s entourage and in doing so putting defenseless Pod at risk.

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Brienne’s other fugitive has finally arrived in Braavos, though Arya’s journey wasn’t met with the warm welcome she expected. Jaqen H’ghar was nowhere to be found, she’s rejected from entering the House of Black and White, and suddenly she’s as aimless as she was with the Hound. But no matter. Arya’s built up resistance to this ruthless world like Daenerys has built up names. It’s no surprise how quickly she adapts to her change of plans. She tosses away her coin in the bay of the Narrow Sea and forgets her former plans entirely, and moves on to beheading a pigeon to have for supper.

Just as a rabble of ne’er-do-wells starts to pick on her, the cloaked gentleman seen at the House of Black and White appears and scares the rabble off. Oh yeah, who else forgot that Jaqen H’ghar shapeshifts? He peels off the aged face he was wearing when Arya first rolled up to the doors, and he gives her the same coin she tossed into the sea. He’s not Jaqen H’ghar. He’s no one, which is apparently exactly who Arya will become.

If Arya takes up an apprenticeship in shapeshifting, it’ll likely make crossing names off her list substantially easier. But where does she go from there?  I have a feeling this yearning I have for her to remember her sweet, sassy younger self is in vain. Last season proved she’s gone too far into vengeance to turn back now, and this will probably seal her old world shut. Still, I can hope.

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Jon Snow can never forget his old world, because it was a reality that was hammered into him on a daily basis. Back in Winterfell, all he ever wanted was to be a Stark, but all anyone ever did was remind him he was a bastard. Now, Stannis is swinging his dick around enough to tempt Jon into betraying his loyalties. With the power that Stannis bestows upon himself, he will offer Jon the name he always wanted, so long as Jon gets the Wildlings on the side of Baratheon. With that name will also come the title: Lord of Winterfell. It’s an attractive idea, but Jon’s wits are always about him. His oath to the Night’s Watch will only sway if a feisty redhead is involved.

Armed with the knowledge that Jon will not leave Castle Black, Sam throws Jon’s name in for the candidacy of Commander of the Night’s Watch. In spite of Ser Alliser glares at Jon’s earnest pout, and with the help of Maester Aemon’s tie breaking vote, Jon is indeed elected Commander. Unlike almost everyone in the Night’s Watch who were sent there because of some foul deed they committed, Jon was forced to the serve at the Wall simply because he had nowhere else to go. His only transgression thus far was falling in love with the wrong kind of girl. Jon’s quick thinking and deftness in war may have swayed the hands of the Night’s Watch voters, but his integrity is at the root of it all.

Brienne’s morality is futile, but Jon’s actually accomplishes something. Dany’s resolve brings her grief, but Jon’s is now providing him with influence. His new position will likely bring complications at the hands of Ser Alliser and his cronies, but Jon’s sincerity will beat out Alliser’s scorn in short order. Stannis said to Jon, “If they don’t fear you, they don’t follow you,” but Jon’s win at the election already disproves that. His undercurrent of charisma and honest heart will inspire, rather than force, people to follow him. Who could ask for a better politician? Especially with a face like that.

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3 responses to “Daenerys and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: ‘Game of Thrones’ recap of ‘The House of Black and White’

  1. Nice review. I like your bit on Arya losing her former self. Some are excited about her training to be a killer, but of course as she does so she loses more and more of her identity (becoming “no one.”) Not even sure they allow for vendettas in a place like the House of Black and White.

    I’m pretty sure Pod said “No” when Brienne asked whether Sansa was safe with Littlefinger, and he and Brienne are right. Littlefinger has protected Sansa, but who knows what he’ll do to save his own skin, or benefit himself? He may be creepily obsessed with her/her mother, but I wouldn’t put it past him to throw her under the bus if he had to.

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    • Ah, yes you were right! I think I must’ve projected him saying “yes” to her because I’m giving Littlefinger too much credit. And thanks for the comment!

      Like

  2. Pingback: Sweep On, Sweep Off: ‘Game of Thrones’ Recap for ‘High Sparrow’ | it's your newsfeed·

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