In "Game of Thrones" Season 5, episode 2, "The House of Black and White," something good finally happened to a good person. There was an interesting shakeup at the Wall while Jamie headed as far south as south can get. "The House of Black and White" featured several changes from George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series.
Warning: "Game of Thrones" Season 5 spoilers ahead.
Old Faces, New Places
Welcome back Arya Stark! The youngest daughter of Ned Stark had booked passage to Braavos using the coin given to her by Jaqen and the phrase "Valar Morghulis" in the "Game of Thrones" Season 4 finale. The first scenes featuring the Titan of Braavos captured that sense of awe that comes with any new adventure. The city is bustling, but Arya has business to attend to in Braavos. Unfortunately, Arya is denied entry to the House of Black and White and she seeks comfort in her Death List.
It's easy to forget that Arya is still very young and a long way from home. Everyone she knows is either dead, presumed dead or across the Narrow Sea. Despite being what could be considered adversaries, she and the Hound had a bond and perhaps some sort of kinship. At the very least, Arya understood the Hound. Even that tenuous thread has been severed, and Arya is a stranger in a strange land. But, if Arya has proven anything on the show, it's that she is a survivor.
Before having to use Needle once again, the elderly man who denied her entrance earlier in the episode brings her back to the House of Black and White. It turns out he's Arya's old friend in disguise, Jaqen H'ghar, or whatever his name used to be, taking on a new face and role. We only get the slightest tease of what's next for Arya but it involves the Faceless Men. Arya has found another way to survive -- and perhaps thrive -- in this deadly world.
Bringing back Jaqen is one change from Martin's "ASOIAF" series that's easy to understand. Jaqen is relatable and a character we already know, having him be Arya's friend avoids any confusion or the need to introduce another character on the show. Efficiency also explains why Jaime is going straight to Dorne.
In the novels, the Kingslayer wanders the Riverlands on behalf of Cersei. Jaime is busy lifting sieges, but it looks like he will be going to Dorne quickly in "Game of Thrones" Season 5. These changes are easy to understand and while it looks like Arya's storyline will be similar what appears in the novels, Jaime's storyline could be headed elsewhere.
Brienne And Pod
In another big change, Brienne and Pod meet up with Sansa Stark. She has been quite good at finding the Stark girls, but has been unable to persuade them to her side. The Maid of Tarth's storyline has undergone several tweaks and it looks like she'll be on a very different path in "Game of Thrones" Season 5.
Sansa and Littlefinger are eating in an inn when Pod recognizes the duo. Brienne pledges her sword to Sansa, but she is questioned about her role in Renly Baratheon's death. She tells the truth again -- Renly was killed by Melisandre's shadow baby -- but no one believes her. Of course, the visit does not end peacefully, and Brienne and Pod are forced to kill a few people and flee on horseback.
The show continues to grow in how it tells a story. The chase scene with Brienne is intense, but "Game of Thrones" adds some humor to lighten the mood. Switching gears from a deadly encounter to Pod's bumbling around and getting thrown off his horse adds some unexpected comedy to the episode.
What's next for Brienne? She did what she was sworn to do -- find Arya and Sansa -- but was turned away. Unless Lady Stoneheart appears unexpectedly in "Game of Thrones" Season 5, Brienne will have a completely different storyline from Martin's series.
A Threat From Dorne
The rift between Cersei and Jamie continues. Cersei receives a threat from Dorne -- a snake holding Myrcella Baratheon's necklace. Cersei is quick to lash out at Jaime and anyone else who crosses her path. She blames Jaime in some way for the death of Tywin and Joffrey.
Cersei's small council is set up to let her do whatever she wants in King's Landing. Qyburn serves as the Master of Whispers and the disgraced maester needs a severed head for what is likely to be a gruesome experiment. She gives Lord Tyrell the position of Master of Coin, but her uncle Kevan is not so easily persuaded by the role of Master of War.
As for who will be his travel companion, it'll be none other than Bronn. He's moved up in the world and he's taking his marriage to Lollys Stokeworth very seriously. When Jaime drops by, he knows it can't be good. Going to Dorne isn't the worst outcome, and there's the prospect of a bigger castle for the opportunistic Bronn.
In "Game of Thrones" Season 5, episode 2, we get our first look at Dorne and House Martell. Myrcella is in Dorne as part of a marriage pact that will see her wed Prince Trystane Martell. Ellaria Sand wants revenge for the death of Oberyn, but Prince Doran Martell pleads for patience and has plans for the future of his family. The Sand Snakes are only mentioned in passing and we'll have to wait another to week for their debut on the show.
What Ruling Means
The Sons of the Harpy continue to give Daenerys trouble in Meereen, but it's the actions of one of her own that gives her the most trouble. The murder of the accused member leads to tension within Meereen between the noble families and Daenerys' staunchest supporters. The public execution backfires and it looks like the Mother of Dragons will have to deal with civil unrest in addition to the Sons of the Harpy. As Meereen descends into chaos, Daenerys is comforted by the brief return of Drogon.
Tyrion will have plenty to do when he gets to Meereen. On the road to recovery, his chat with Varys reveals another side of Tyrion. Despite the quips and sharp barbs, he liked the power and position of being a Lannister in King's Landing.
At the Wall, Shireen teaches Gilly how to read. Stannis tries to give Jon Snow advice and legitimacy. Becoming Jon Stark -- which has a nice ring to it -- is something he's always wanted, but he's sworn to the Night's Watch and refuses the offer. Sam the Slayer gets some nice burns in while nominating Jon to become the 998th Lord Commander. The vote is a draw between Alliser Thorne and Jon, but Aemon has the deciding vote and Jon is named the new Lord Commander.
Jon will need to learn how to rule, much like Daeneyrs did in previous seasons and continues to do in "Game of Thrones" Season 5. There are the Wildlings, the Night's Watch and the factions within that will oppose his rule.
"Game of Thrones" Discussion
-- I like the decision to get Jaime to Dorne. It's different from the novels, and it was unnecessary for the show to spend a whole season with him traveling and teasing a breakup with Cersei. In "ASOIAF," Cersei offers the position of Hand to him, but Jaime refuses the offer. The show sets up the rift quickly and helps place Jaime far away from King's Landing when Cersei gets into trouble.
-- Daenerys' storyline is also improved in "Game of Thrones" Season 5. Tyrion will arrive in Meereen before the season ends and it will be great to see how Daenerys reacts to meeting him for the first time. The civil unrest in Meereen also adds an element of danger that will lead to her marriage and the reopening of the fighting pits.
-- There's no need to drag out the Lord Commander election. After Mance Rayder was killed in the season premiere, Jon takes over and will establish himself as a different leader. I'm interested to see how long Stannis sticks around Castle Black and when the clash with the Boltons will take place.