Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 2 – The House of Black and White

<–S5E1 – The Wars to Come                                                 S5E3 – High Sparrow–>

Well here I am…back again doing what I said I wouldn’t do last week, but since I started the precedence, I feel obligated to continue.  I’m going to try to get these out every Wednesday since I get home earlier than I do any other day of the week, plus it’s a long enough interim for the episode to marinate and stew in my brain.

First off, episode two was far superior to its predecessor but I still have a few gripes.  Now these are not “OMG the show totally sucks now.  I can’t believe they left that out!” type of gripes.  They’re more, “Hm, I wonder how they going to do this pretty relevant thing now?” gripe.  As before I took to the internet a day after viewing to see what my favorite theorists were saying.  Bar was the first one I found..

This is a book vs. show type of video and is therefore rife with spoilers for you non-booky folk.

This one is just a review of the episode and doesn’t give anything away…unless  you haven’t seen prior episodes.

So the four topics I’m going to cover are Brienne Can’t Keep “Quiet,” (No) Funerals and Fever Dreams, The Folly of Queens, and the House of (Meta) Black and White.  I know other things happen in the episode (Littlefinger and Sansa going…somewhere and the introduction of Doran Martell), but I’m only going to talk about these since they stood out as most significant to me.  Because this will be comparing/contrasting the book to the show, turn back now if you haven’t read up to A Dance With Dragons (Book 5).

***SPOILERS ARE UP AHEAD***

Brienne Can’t Keep “Quiet”

A Feast for Crows (Book 4) sees Brienne and Pod (along with an omitted and frankly extraneous character Nimble Dick) doing nothing but wander around the countryside looking for Sansa and/or Arya.  The show has already had her find Arya only to have the youngest Stark daughter refuse her protection, and now in the second episode of the fifth season, Brienne finds Sansa.  I’d say that show Brienne has better luck, but seeing as neither of the girls accepts her offer, that luck seems fairly sparse.  Brienne’s insistence on following Littlefinger’s caravan means she will not be going to Quiet Isle, which therefore means she will not be meeting the gravedigger whom everyone pretty much knows is really the Hound.

So either in the world of the show the Hound is truly dead and therefore does not have a role to play in the end game as suggested by James and LaDonna in the (very thorough and extensive) video below.  It’s long, but well worth the watch.

Or Beniof and Weiss are going to re-introduce him in another way.  We technically didn’t see him die, so anything could happen.  Brienne sort of fulfilling her mission (she DID find the Stark girls) is almost anathema to what occurred in the books as she winds up in the clutches of Arya and Sansa’s undead mother who is not happy that the Maid of Tarth seemingly betrayed her.  What also can’t be ignored is the fact that Jaime does not venture out into the Riverlands in order to rectify the atrocities the Mountain committed there, but instead appears to be going to Dorne with Bron as his wing man to bring Myrcella home.  This brings me to my next point of…

(No) Funerals and Fever Dreams

The show differed radically from the books on the subject of Lord Tywin’s funeral. His body lay in state for seven (?) days (there were also 7 septons and 77 septas.  7 all around!).  I had assumed the first episode only showed the first day of this, because in the book Cersei brings Tommen to pay his respects to his grandfather, and while they are standing there the stench from Tywin’s rotting flesh fills the sept with an awful and nauseating odor.  His body is literally rotting as they watch.  Some theorists suggest that this may be a sign that Oberyn Martell poisoned Tywin before the prince’s fateful duel with the Mountain using widow’s blood to shut down his bowels.  Alt Shift X has some thoughts on that and they are not in favor.

The show seems to be attempting to simplify things and leave less up to whimsy so I suppose we have to say that Tywin wasn’t poisoned, but there’s something else missing on which I must speak.

If you haven’t watched any of the videos I’ve included, I beg you to at least indulge me for the one below.  It’s not long, but I think it is pivotal in several silences A Song of Ice and Fire upholds.

We have never once seen a ghost (except for Ghost of course) in the entirety of the narrative.  Why would GRRM start now?  It being a dream is also suspect as the woman points out that Jaime only has one hand, and in his dreams he always has two.  I cannot take credit for the majority of ideas in the following theories.  I heard most of them from James and LaDonna, though I forget the video it was in, possibly the one on Rhaegar Targaryen, but I’m not sure.  THAT’S an amazing video by the way so linked above, but getting back to Jaime…he sees his mother, Johanna Lannister, who supposedly died giving birth to Tyrion (something neither Cersei nor Tywin ever forgave the dwarf for).  The “candles burning in her eyes” suggest that she is using a glass candle to speak with him across a great distance as that is their purpose (it’s also suspected that his is how Quaithe communicates with Daenerys.  I have more to say about the glass candles especially since four are known and there’s another concept that uses four candles that has a huge significance to the story of ASOIAF as a whole.  Yes, I suck for being so vague…) and also that she is possibly a Silent Sister, women who take vows of chastity and silence and attend to the dead.

Alright…this is probably going to be a long ride so buckle up.  I’m going to start at the beginning and again I take no claim for this part (I do have some ideas afterwards, but I’ll make that known).

Johanna Lannister was a lady-in-waiting for Rhaella Targaryen, once Queen of Westeros and wife of Aerys II Targaryen, known as the Mad King.  It was well known that Aerys was a bit enamored of Johanna, and and he took “some liberties” with her on the night of her wedding to his once Hand Tywin.  What these liberties were we’re never told.  The Targaryens did practice first night, a tradition all but extinguished in Westeros.  All we know is that Tywin was not pleased with the man who had once been his staunchest and oldest friend.  Not long afterwards, Queen Rhaella dismissed Johanna from her service, and Lady Lannister went back to Casterly Rock.  She had the twins Cersei and Jaime.  Years later she had Tyrion and died in childbirth…this is the story we are given.  However, Jaime’s fever dream may possible show that to be a veneer.  If what the Kingslayer sees is true, his mother is still alive.  This means that Tywin lied to his children about her death, and the reason for that could’ve been because of Tyrion’s gross deformities.  While Peter Dinklage looks like this…

Bad ass and suave

Book Tyrion has the unfortunate burden of appearing as so…

Unfortunate looking

 

Tywin (and Cersei) hate him for killing Johanna AND being born an ugly dwarf.  We know Tywin Lannister is a ruthless man.  The Rains of Castamere was not played at the Red Wedding on a whim, and the source of that song, the utter annihilation of two houses, was swift, brutal, and terrifying.  It is possible that Lord Tywin took one look at Tyrion and assumed Johanna had cuckolded him, and he ordered her to leave and never return.  He forced her to become a Silent Sister as they are not allowed to speak, and he told his children that their mother was dead.  I can see Tywin doing that.  He would have no problems lying to protect his legacy, and if this is true, then only at his death would Johanna be allowed to break this silence.  She questions Jaime about whether or not he knew his father, a question that makes no sense…if Tywin is his father.

Let’s go back to Aerys and his attraction to Johanna.  The Mad King was not above raping his own wife; would a lesser woman really be able to refuse his advances?  There are theories floating around that the twins are really Targaryens and not Lannisters at all, and…I kind of could see it.  It is possible.  One of my favorite theorists, Tony Teflon (despite not liking it), agrees.

If this is true, it would lend a source to Cersei’s increasing madness and paranoia (which trickles down into Joffrey’s psychopathy.  I could write another post on nature vs. nurture with the Targaryen/Non-Baratheon children, but I digress), and their penchant for incest.  It also creates a bit of a fridge horror (or fridge murder…) because if Aerys was Jaime’s father then Jaime is a kinslayer as well as a kingslayer.  He killed the unknown father to save the known (and also made the choice between being a good son and being a good soldier/knight).  He also has another dream sequence (not sure which book) where he remembers Rhaegar Targaryen riding off to his fate on the Trident.  Rhaegar puts his hand on his shoulder in a very brotherly fashion and states that he had meant to make changes (implied before Aerys went completely off the deep end and started burning everybody) and would rectify that upon his return.   Like so many characters who make promises of knowledge or action at next meeting ,that meeting never comes.  It’s like an entirely different way to invoke retirony (returnery?) as seen with Ned and Jon and Robb and Jon (Jon really has bad luck with that).

If Jaime and Cersei are not Tywin’s, this means thatTyrion is his only child and son.  This makes Johanna’s tears when Jaime insists that he is a knight and Cersei a queen so valid, if they are not Tywin’s children.  Jaime’s aunt Genna Frey (née Lannister) says as much to him, as well.  “You smile like Gerion and fight like Tyg and there’s some of Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak…but Tyrion is Tywin’s son, not you. I said so once to your father’s face, and he would not speak to me for half a year.”  Tywin is so repulsed by this truth that he cannot stand it, and like many a noble, shapes the truth to fit what he wishes.  Tyrion is his son, but more Tyrion is the reflection of what Tywin really is: stunted, ugly, and twisted only his veneer does not reveal his true form.  In appearance Tywin and Tyrion should be switched for Tywin has the compassion that his father lacks and has it despite or because of the compassion that was denied him.  Also only Tyrion’s name follows the Lannister convention.  Tywin was son of Tytos.  There was also a Tygett mentioned and a Tyg (see Genna’s quote above), and you can see a Ge- prefix convention as well in the fore named and Gerion.  Jaime and Cersei’s names do not fit in with the Lannister motif.  Tyrion is Tywin’s son.

“The question is…who are you?”

Jaime’s slaying of the potential father in Aerys invokes another trope as well: the Oedipus Complex (this particular idea is mine).  He kills his father and in a way marries his mother.  When the women enters the sept, Jaime believes her to be Cersei.  I also like the double entendre of him calling her “sister.”  She is potentially a sister, but not his.  This heavily implies that Cersei looks like her mother, and Jaime is fucking Cersei.

“Fucking” and “Cersei” leads me to my next point…

The Folly of Queens

While Cersei’s picture may be up there, notice I used the plural queens and not just queen because there’s enough queenly folly to go around.  Cersei is played brilliantly by Lena Headey whose haughtiness actually gets her yelled at in the streets.  I think people are ridiculous for doing so since hating a detestable character shows the skill of the actress, and Lena plays Cersei exactly as I pictured.  She wants power for the sake of having power, not because she wishes to do anything worthwhile with it.  Oh she spouts and blusters about protecting her children, but she constantly uses them as pawns and pieces in order to further her gains.

As her uncle Kevan points out, she peoples the small council with lickspittles and sycophants poised to do her every whim.  When he asks her the very valid question of why Tommen isn’t there and she brushes it off, Kevan calls her out.  Tommen should be there.  He should be sitting in on small council meetings and learning how to rule a kingdom.  I forget what YouTube theorist pointed this out, but Ned Stark had Robb sitting in on councils at a young age.  The reins have to be passed and the sooner your heir learns it the better.  Even Tywin was no better at this with Joffrey, although Joffrey wouldn’t have been a good ruler if he’d sat in on a thousand council meetings.  Cersei clearly has no interest in teaching Tommen how to rule.  She only wants to use him as a mouthpiece for her own reign, and Kevan sees right though this flimsy facade.  When she tries to guilt him, he walks out, refusing to play her petty games.

There is an interesting parallel between Cersei and Dany.  Both of them make egregious errors that will come back to haunt them, but where Cersei makes her for selfish reasons, Daenerys’s intentions are pure.  She truly does want to rule and also help these people (even if she kind of has a white savior complex), and her problems come from thinking a choice is either or, when it is much more complicated than that.  The Dragon(less) Queen, like Cersei, winds up being a failed mother to both her people, as they hiss and condemn her for the execution, and her dragons, as Rhaegal and Viserion attack her and Drogon flies away.

I had to agree with Daario in this episode.  If they were going to execute the man for murdering the captive Son of the Harpy, it should’ve been done discreetly, not in front of a throng of freed slaves who would only see it as their supposed mother taking the side of the masters.  The nuances and intricacies of why she was killing him would be lost on the majority of the crowd.  It leads me to a quote from Men in Black.  “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals…”  Explaining the situation to an individual would more than likely have worked out, but people in large crowds tend to think as one, and they tend to think in black and white.  This of course leads me to the…

House of (Meta) Black and White

This was my favorite part of the episode and (imho) the best and most chilling section as well.  The deviation from the books is that it is not Jaqen H’ghar whom Arya meets in the House, but a figure known only as the kindly man.  It appears as if this person will be played by Jaqen.  Now whether or not he is set to reappear in the books at some later point remains to be seen.  It’s possible that he is the kindly man still in hiding or hell, he might even be the waif.  What I loved was the obvious meta reference that I have YET to hear anyone make, so I’m going to do it now.

Arya comes to the House of Black and White, knocks on the door, which is opened by a stern-faced black man.  He refuses to allow her entrance, and she returns to the life she knew so well in Flea Bottom, the slums of King’s Landing.  I’m blanking on what happened in the books, but I don’t recall her admittance to the House being so difficult.  I recall a pool and people willing to sacrifice their lives to give the men their faces, but if anyone wants to school me in the comments, have at it.  So Arya is confronted by the type you’d find in dark alleys and is prepped to bring the pain with Needle when the Faceless Man shows up, and they all bolt.  He takes her back to her house and reveals his other face (I won’t say “true,” because I believe a Faceless Man would’ve lost his true face long ago) as Jaqen H’gar going from black to white 😉

Like everything I write, this rambled on for far longer than I wanted, but my piece has been said and my point has been made.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you comment, yell, scream, tell me I’m wrong (with support), converse, have discourse with me, but please be nice.  As much as I may grumble, I will more than likely be back next week to fill your ears (eyes?) with babble and (hopefully) your heads with thought.

<–S5E1 – The Wars to Come                                                 S5E3 – High Sparrow–>

2 thoughts on “Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 2 – The House of Black and White

  1. Pingback: Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 3 – High Sparrow | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

  2. Pingback: Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 3 – High Sparrow | The Caffeine Crew

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