“Nothing’s Worth Anything to Dead Men” – Review of “Game of Thrones” 5×02
Another episode of “Game of Thrones” is here and gone, and it was quite a slow burner.
The episode, entitled “The House of Black and White,” was the introduction to new locations and characters and, unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment. With the hype surrounding Arya Stark’s plot in Braavos (home of the episode title’s House of Black and White) and the Martells in Dorne, I was really excited for this episode. And it seems that my excitement was a bit premature.
I was looking forward to an in-depth look at Braavos, a location that was only briefly shown in season four when Stannis Baratheon visited the Iron Bank to acquire funds for his army. The episode opened with Arya sailing into Braavos and locating the House of Black and White, only to have her hopes of reuniting with Jaqen H’ghar (a fan favorite from season two) dashed. Just like my hopes. Though the episode was named after the House of Black and White, it barely had any screen time. “Game of Thrones” is usually pretty good when it comes to naming episodes after relevant plot points but this was a misnomer.
A Dorne-related title wouldn’t have been appropriate either. Except for a brief scene of Ellaria Sand demanding Prince Doran Martell seek vengeance for the death of his brother, fan-favorite Oberyn Martell, the Martell presence was practically non-existent. This is troubling, because the casting of the Dornish was huge news in the fan community and their plot is one of the most anticipated of the season. What should have been a grand introduction was rather lackluster.
Instead, this episode revolved a lot around Daenerys Targaryen’s struggles in Mereen. To be quite frank, I’m getting rather bored with Dany’s plotline taking up so much time. It constantly feels like the same situation is being played out every single time she comes onscreen, and I wish this episode was less focused on her poor ruling ability and more focused on establishing critical locations and characters that will be playing a huge role this season. I love the political intrigue of “Game of Thrones,” but I do not love spending a huge amount of time every episode with a character who has become stagnant and is taking away from other key players who are making major strides with minimal screentime. She’s become a hindrance to the other characters and their plots are suffering, and it is only episode two. Unless, of course, this season is going to be very heavy on the “Dany Makes Poor Ruling Decisions and Wonders Why Everyone Else is Upset” moments. In that case, this episode was perfect for guiding the rest of the season.
That being said, this episode had some truly wonderful moments. The mention of Lyanna Mormont made me smile, as did the interactions between Gilly and Shireen Baratheon and Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow. These scenes, which were just breaks from Dany’s story, made the episode not a complete waste.
Next week’s episode seems promising, with more action at the House of Black and White and a return to the Bolton-controlled North. Check here next week after the episode airs for a review.