BEFORE THIS POST: I will be in Japan for 10 days starting tomorrow. I queued posts for regular blogging, but updates will come-- be home on the 30th!
[Warning: these are spoilers for Game of Thrones book and show watchers]
- The House of Black and White/The Titan of Braavos are stunning and satisfying 100%:
Hi... Can you say beautiful? If you couldn't before this episode, you'll be able to now. The House of Black and White is not as temple-like and sacred as I think it should have been. After all, people come to the House of Black and White to be taken care of, for a peaceful death. The ill and the wounded bleed or pass out and the priests take care of the bodies. It's a temple to the Many-Faced Gods above all else. This looks more like a fortress. Still, it was beautiful. The doors, for one. The Titan of Braavos was also wonderful. We already earned a glance of this a while ago, but now we get a little bit of context-- it is the protector of Braavos. And it's breathtaking.
- I've always wondered, now I know: The Kindly Old Man is Jaqen H'ghar
YES! There are a lot of non-canon things that give me a sour taste in my mouth. I immediately ask if Dan and David even bothered to think deeply about those implications. But this-- this is something that a lot of book readers speculated about: whether the man at the House of Black and White who takes Arya in really is Jaqen H'ghar. I think that this is one of those things that was wise to reveal, and even makes me excited for any changes they might make in the future. It was so shocking for everyone watching. And this is awesome! Because the Arya/Jaqen team makes my heart warm.
- Shireen is a sweetheart and it's nice downtime in between arguing.
Agh! Stannis' Daughter-- what a sweetheart. She's not very fleshed out in the books. This is another creative change that was made that I think was successful. She teaches Gilly to read, and while that doesn't happen at all in the books, if Shireen met Gilly (like she does), I like to think that that's what would have happened. They would have gotten along-- and they do! I think that, having them meet and giving them any other relationship would have been inorganic.
- Daenerys is flawed and dynamic and it makes me love watching her.
Daenerys is not a good ruler, let's make that clear. At least, in my eyes. But that's the point of her character. They say that whenever a Targaryen is born, they flip a coin to decide if he will be great or mad. Daenerys seems to struggle with wondering which one she is. She's not the wonderful perfect Khaleesi. She has good intentions, but she is young, brash, and unwise in a lot of ways. She doesn't have her own fully-developed grasp on what "justice" means to her but she works through it anyway. I like her as a character, because she is dynamic. Interesting, because she is highly flawed. I think it's important to recognize that she can do wrong. The slaves of Essos call her Mhysa (mother) for breaking their chains (don't even get me started on the white saviour complex going on here)-- but she is not ready to be a mother yet, it seems like. I like showing her vulerable side. She's young and ruling is not easy. I like that they made her fuck up royally. She isn't looking too great right now, because this is a learning process for her. Oh, plus, Emilia Clarke is absolutely killing the Valyrian accent. Get it, gurl.
- [Bonus]: The Dark-Skinned man guarding Doran Martell? I believe that's Areo Hotah, and he's a Point of View character in the book series (one of the narrators). I'm unspeakably happy that he's making an appearance.
They DO NOT hurt little girls in Dorne.
- We explicitly know that Magaery is a two-faced bitch, instead of having to guess.
I don't love that this is explicit. Something fun about Margaery in the earlier seasons (and even now in the books) is that you don't know if she's sweet or not. Is she ever genuine? Is she ever ingenuine? We're pretty sure it's somewhere in between, but we don't know, right? She's plays gentle and graceful to some people, and then reveals her wicked greediness to those she trusts, but her sweetness also seems real often. Last season, it seemed a lot like she wanted to be the Queen, but most of the behind-the-scenes plotting and scheming seemed to be the doing of her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell. This season, she's taking on a bit more of a flat "smile in front of people, frown in front of my family" dichotomy that spells it out for us: she. just. wants. to. be. Queen. I think it would have been best if we're left to wonder, or at least if we saw the two mixed together simultaneously, rather than seeing someone with two personalities. I love the actress, Natalie Dormer, but it's a little boring.
- Ellaria Sand wants to go to war, and that pretty much kills who she should be. Ellaria is wonderful because when Oberyn dies, she says fights passionately for the Sandsnakes to lay down their weapons-- it's what he would have wanted. That's what Dorne is, really. They are an lively, passionate people who stand up for what they believe in, but at the end of the day, they are lovers. When the Sand Snakes urge Doran to go to war with the Lannisters, she begs them, and says that enough blood has been shed. She is the one who exercises peace and restraint, even in her heartbreak. Now she is just a foil to expose Doran's character. I admired what Ellaria should have been: she showed me that a woman can be strong, and still seek peace. She holds no grudge against Myrcella. "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" does not mean you have to be aggressive. I was hoping we'd get this line from the book:
"Oberyn wanted vengeance for Elia. Now the three of you want vengeance for him. I have four daughters, I remind you. Your sisters. My Elia is fourteen, almost a woman. Obella is twelve, on the brink of maidenhood. They worship you, as Dorea and Loreza worship them. If you should die, must El and Obella seek vengeance for you, then Dorea and Loree for them? Is that how it goes, round and round forever? I ask again, where does it end? I saw your father die. Here is his killer. Can I take a skull to bed with me, to give me comfort in the night? Will it make me laugh, write me songs, care for me when I am old and sick?"
- Jamie Lannister goes to Dorne which feels so unnatural it's unbelievable
They replace a wonderful character, and don't introduce him. They just cut him out. Aerys Oakheart is a member of the Kingsguard, like Jaime, sent to keep an eye on Myrcella. The wonderful thing about Aerys is that, unlike the rest of the Kingsguard, Aerys is pure, through and through. He's a wonderful foil to all of the darkness in the world of Westeros. Refreshingly noble: but not in the self-righteous way. He's humble, and a little naive, like a child. Jaime Lannister should be in King's Landing. His interactions with Doran might be good: they're both good and reasonable people from opposing houses. But in what world would Jaime be sent to Dorne? The Lannisters would not let it happen. Not only that, but Jaime Lannister is an intrusion in the Dornish peace. Aerys fit there, in a weird way. Jamie seems like a disruption. Unnatural. I feel aggression and violence spawning from this.
- [Bonus]: Bronn and Lollys: Bronn doesn't get to marry Lollys and own lands? He's going to DORNE now?!
Overrall, great episode. Perfect pacing for Game of Thrones, with just the right amount of gore, while still setting us up for excitement. 9/10 for sure! PS: Happy late birthday, Maisie Willliams (Arya Stark)!