Episode 2 of Season 5 sets up many future plots, but no one storyline dominates it. Cersei is assuming her role as “king.” Myrcella Baratheon may be in danger from Prince Oberyn’s vengeful family. Arya arrives at the House of White and Black in Braavos. Like this season’s first episode, this episode focuses on the difficulties in ruling and the problems in administering justice.
While Stannis administers justice too harshly, Daenerys doesn’t have a full command of it yet. It is hard to balance the need to punish fiercely enough to create respect (and fear of the law) with the need for mercy. It is also hard to balance justice against the political dimension.
Does Daenerys make the wrong decision?
Arya Arrives in Braavos
Arya arrives in Braavos and the ship’s captain ferries her out to the island where the House of Black and White is located. A shrouded man answers the door. Although Arya shows him the iron coin, he sends her away. Still, she waits on the island, hoping the man will change his mind. After what appears to be several days pass, she finally gives up and returns to the city.
Later on, in the city, the man who answered the door at the House of Black and White rescues Arya from some thugs.
Together they return to the island, and he welcomes Arya into the House of Black and White.
It turns out that the man is Jaqen H’gar. After he changes his face to the Jaqen face, he explains to Arya that he has no identity anymore – a state that Arya also must embrace.
King’s Landing: Cersei’s Gift
Despite Oberyn Martell’s promise that they do not hurt little girls in Dorne, Cersei’s daughter Myrcella may be in danger. Cersei receives a red-viper statue with Myrcella’s lion pendant hanging from its mouth.
In response, Jaime decides to go to Dorne to find Myrcella. The one-handed knight, however, cannot rescue his daughter single-handedly. Jaime goes to Bronn at Stokeworth castle.
Bronn is strolling on the beach with his betrothed, Lollys Stokeworth. Bronn seems to be genuinely enjoying her company. When Lollys complains about her mean sister — and mentions they will never live in the castle — Bronn notes that her mean sister may get what is coming to her.
When Jaime and Bronn speak, the one-handed knight informs Bronn that Lollys will be married to Ser Willas Bracken. (Cersei has reneged on her deal.)
Jaime makes Bronn an offer you would think he couldn’t refuse. Help me in Dorne, Jaime urges, and I will give you a much better girl and a much better castle.
Later, Cersei inspects another decapitated dwarf’s head. Her efforts to capture Tyrion have not let up. Cersei gives Qyburn the dwarf’s head for his work.
Later still, at a small council meeting, Cersei appoints “Tommen’s” council, which she stacks with sycophants. Cersei states she will function in the role of the Hand until Tommen comes of age.
Despite the loud protests of Pycelle, Cersei names Qyburn the Master of Whispers due to his loyalty. Cersei also appoints Mace Tyrell — the son whom Olenna Tyrell describes as a fool — as Master of Ships and Master of Coin.
Kevan and Cersei argue. It is clear this is a puppet council: Tommen is not even there as an observer. When Cersei refuses to explain Jaime’s “sensitive diplomatic mission” to Kevan (Master of War) since it is “not his concern,” Kevan quits the post and states he will be at Casterly Rock.
Podrick and Brienne Find Sansa
While eating in a tavern, Pod and Brienne spot Sansa and Petyr Baelish surrounded by knights. Brienne kneels before Sansa, recounts her vow to Catelyn, and offers to protect Sansa. Littlefinger impeaches Brienne’s ability to protect anyone, and Sansa rejects Brienne’s services, noting she saw the lady warrior kneeling before Joffrey at his wedding.
Just then, Brienne realizes that she is in danger from Littlefinger. Petyr Baelish would not want Brienne carrying tales that he knows Sansa’s whereabouts (let alone has her), so he tries to stop Brienne from leaving. An altercation in the woods follows and Brienne takes down several knights. Sadly, it becomes even clearer that poor lovable Pod has no combat or horsemanship skills.
Is Myrcella in Danger in Dorne?
From a high balcony, a bereaved Ellaria Sand glowers at Myrcella, a living symbol of the house who slayed her lover. Ellaria is furious. She demands an audience with Prince Doran and she urges him to avenge his brother’s death.
Ellaria tries to push Doran into war. The Sand Snakes are with her, Ellaria threatens.
Then it becomes clear what Ellaria really wants. She is not really there for war. She is softening Doran up so that he agrees to her real wish. She wants Doran to give her Myrcella (to kill).
Ellaria wants to send Myrcella to Cersei one finger at a time. Prince Doran reminds Ellaria that they do not mutilate little girls for vengeance in Dorne.
Another Bad Decision in Meereen?
Daario Naharis and Grey Worm go looking for the Sons of the Harpy assassin. In a house in a quiet alley, they find a man they assume is the assassin hiding behind a wall. Later when Daenerys discusses what to do with the assassin with her council, Barristan Selmy urges a fair trial. The others implore Daenerys to order the assassin’s execution.
Later, when the rest of Daenerys’ councilors leave, Selmy tells Daenerys that people did not lie about her father, his madness, and his atrocities. Selmy warns her not to stamp out dissent the way her father did. The mad king gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved and each time it made him feel powerful.
Daenerys heeds Selmy’s counsel and states the assassin will have a fair trial. But, perhaps this is not the right decision.
A former Meereenese slave on Daenerys’ council yanks the assassin from the dungeon and stabs him to death. The former slave leaves the alleged assassin’s body on the street and paints a message on the wall in blood: “Kill all the masters.”
In short, the slaves refuse to allow Daenerys to be intimidated by the Sons of the Harpy since they fear being returned to chains. They also don’t understand the process of the law Daenerys has in mind.
Without remorse Daenerys publicly executes her loyal servant, the former Meereenese slave. Daenerys is resolutely unmoved by his pleas for forgiveness and the crowds’ please for mercy. Daario wields the executioner’s blade. As her former servant’s head hits the ground, the crowd of former slaves — who called her Mhyssa only a few moments before — turn on her hissing. One of these former slaves throws a stone at the nobility and a riot nearly ensues.
Later that night, Daenerys stands on her balcony, miserable. And, Drogon returns to her. Did he come to comfort his mistress? Daenerys is tentative, unsure how he will react to her. But she just manages to touch his nose before he takes flight again.
Tyrion and Varys Travel to Daenerys
We only see Tyrion and Varys briefly. They travel by covered wagon or caravan to Volantis (where they will find the road to Meereen). Tyrion confesses that he didn’t leave with Shae when she urged him to because he liked the power of being Hand. Tyrion is also restless, tired of being in the caravan, and wants to go for a walk.
Reading the Wall
Sam and Gilly bicker as Shireen teaches Gilly to read. It turns out that Gilly had two sisters who had the greyscale. Gilly then tells Shireen the unfortunate story of how their greyscale transformed them and how Craster dragged them out into the woods (presumably to their death).
Meanwhile, Stannis tempts Jon with legitimacy and Winterfell. Stannis would make him Jon Stark and lord of Winterfell if Jon swears fealty to Stannis. Although this is more than everything Jon has ever wanted, Jon will likely refuse because he has sworn an oath to the Night’s Watch.
Later on, the Night’s Watch vote on their new commander, and Sam puts Jon forward. Even though Alliser Thorne raises the specter of doubt about Jon’s closeness with the Wildlings, the vote is tied between Jon and Alliser. Maester Aemon breaks it by voting for Jon.
I’m very interested in your thoughts about Daenerys’ actions. Was Daenerys wrong to execute her servant (the former slave)? Her most loyal subjects wanted her to release him and probably do not understand the justice system she has in mind. Does a fair trial mean anything to a people who have never experienced that style of justice? Is it hypocritical that the former slave didn’t get a fair trial? After all, she is condemning her servant for depriving the alleged assassin of a fair trial. Is Daenerys a lousy ruler, or is she simply getting her sea legs?