Dorne, dragons, and duos. The second episode of the season kicks off new storylines and picks up others. There are some scens where not much happens, maybe, but the writing is so good that it really doesn't matter all that much.
The House of Black and White, the second episode of the season, brings with it more of the build-up of the first, but already storylines are starting to unspool themselves and it would seem that Weiss and Benioff are pushing for the same kind of dynamic, action-packed season we got last year. The episode, as usual, darts all over Westeros and Essos, starting a few new storylines and progressing others.
We get to, briefly, see Dorne for the first time, homeland of the ill-fated Oberyn Martell (who kind of . . . exploded last season). There, Oberyn’s brother Doran (Alexander Siddig) and paramour Ellaria (Indira Varma) argue over taking revenge on the Lannisters. Varma bristles with anger and malice, and looks set to become another in a long line of incredibly well-written, engaging female characters.
Whatever the Dornish decide to do, however, they had better do so quickly, as Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) team up and head to Dorne to rescue Princess Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) from all the angry, beautiful Spanish people. So far, the show has proven adept at providing some of the best character pairings on television, and Jaime and Bronn as a duo could have the potential to be even better than Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound.
On that note, Arya makes her return this week. Arriving in the city of Braavos after the Hound’s untimely death last season, Arya goes to the House of Black and White (they mentioned the title!), home of the Faceless Men, the shadowy assassins who can change their faces. There we get to see lots of the Arya stuff we’ve been missing for the past year: one-liners, the listing of names, a young girl with awesome levels of bravado, and general bad-assery. We also meet an old character from previous seasons.
As well as the new stuff this week sees the progression of storylines introduced last episode. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) get an honourable mention – not much happens to them this week, just the opportunity for more great dialogue with the duo once again claiming best line of the week: “Are we really going to spend the entire road to Volantis talking about the futility of everything?” – “You’re right; no point.” In King’s Landing, meanwhile, Cersei (Lena Heady) is her usual horrible self, berating Jaime, lording it over the small council, and continuing in her attempts to have Tyrion killed.
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman) get more to do this week, catching up with Sansa (Sophie Turner) and trying to “rescue” her from Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen). There’s a short flash of more than welcome action, and Littlefinger, with his flavourful accent provides more skin-crawling creepiness which contrasts nicely with adorable fumbling of Pod.
At the Wall, the choosing of the next Lord Commander is set to take place with Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) looking likely to win, while Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) faces a momentous decision after a meeting with ‘King’ Stannis (Stephen Dillane). The Wall parts of the episode bring with them some of the most important story progression this week, as well as the closest thing Game of Thrones comes to cute (a ten year-old girl sending a strongly worded letter to Stannis) and what could be Sam Tarly’s (John Bradley-West) finest hour.
Finally, in Mereen Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) faces growing troubles, with her conquered people getting ever more discontented and tensions rising in the city. She tries to deal justice, but may be unable to turn the city into a peaceful place. Whatever happens, Daenerys’ story is at long last starting to maybe get interesting (read: more dragons).
Game of Thrones is broadcast on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 9pm