After a slow setup premiere, Game of Thrones kicks season five into high gear in the second episode "The House of Black and White." HBO's hit show based off of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series is getting more interesting and more unique than ever before. Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss continue to develop plot lines not in the books and create characters who will transform the show into its own story.
Now that the show has moved out of the premiere, it begins to kick off some of the major undertones of season five. They're also the moments everyone will be talking about (spoilers ahead).
1) Brienne of Tarth finds Sansa
The first dramatic scene of "The House of Black and White" takes place in a pub. Brienne of Tarth, who swore to Catelyn Stark that she would take care of her daughters, has been romping around the Westeros hillside in quest of Sansa after discovering Arya and killing the Hound at the end of season four.
Lucky for her, she runs right into Sansa Stark with Littlefinger, one of the most manipulative men in Westeros and Sansa's current traveling companion, while the two are in a pub. Brienne pledges herself wholeheartedly to protect Sansa, but is brutally criticized by Littlefinger, who reminds Brienne that not one of the people she swore to protect lived.
Ultimately, though, Sansa doesn't decide to leave with Littlefinger because she doesn't believe Brienne could protect her. Instead, what motivates her choice is a deep grudge she continues to hold against the former King Joffrey.
2) Arya Stark returns
Despite the fact that Arya Stark is one of the best characters on Game of Thrones, the premiere of season five completely ignored Arya's plot line. We left her at the end of season four traveling across the Narrow Sea, and in "The House of Black and White" she returns to the forefront of the plot.
Now in an unfamiliar land, Arya attempts to fight two men on the street who harass her after being denied access to the House of Black and White. Once she pulls her beloved sword, Needle, the man from the House of Black and White appears behind her, and they scatter in fear. The man watching Arya Stark sees her do this and reveals himself to be none other than Jaqen H'ghar, Arya's old face-changing friend.
3) Jon Snow gets a new job
Jon Snow, king of moping, has been injected with a new sense of life in season five. At the end of the season premiere, Jon took one of the first personal actions we had seen in almost two seasons when he shot an arrow into the heart of the burning King Beyond the Wall.
In "The House of Black and White," though, Jon Snow's plot line was one of the fastest-moving and most involved. My co-worker Andrew Prokop wrote that the show was a bit behind on Snow's plot line and crammed a lot into this episode to make Snow's story work. This feels true. The scenes with Jon move quickly, and before the episode is over he's been voted in as the leader of the Night's Watch. And he certainly seems willing to reign justly.
4) Khaleesi stands for justice
Daenerys Targaryen, the last Targaryen and mother of dragons who is currently working her way across Essos freeing slaves, stands for justice. She refuses to make decisions that compromise her morals even when they are probably the most politically stable decisions to make. In this episode, Daenerys's strict following of justice loses her the support and love for the people she's ruling in Meereen.
After one of her Unsullied was killed in a brothel in the series premiere, the Son of the Harpy who killed him is arrested and put in prison, but before she can give him a fair trial, a former slave kills him in his cell. This is an act strictly against the justice system she has implemented in all of the cities she rules. As such, she sentences the former slave to death and has his head cut off in front of the city.
This, of course, doesn't go over well among the thousands of former slaves who live in the city and beg her for mercy. But Khaleesi has never been interested in mercy. It's a moment that reminds viewers just how difficult it is to be a ruler and a moral person, but also that Daenerys has a little more Dothraki in her than we might think.
5) The quest for Myrcella begins
What seems like forever ago, Cersei and Jaime Lannister's daughter Myrcella was shipped across Westeros to Dorne to be promised to the prince as a kind of treat. At the time, Cersei was miserable about this and furious at her father, Tywin, for insisting this happen. Now that Tywin is dead and Tyrion is missing, Cersei begins planning to retrieve Myrcella from Dorne and return her to King's Landing.
Her decision to get Myrcella comes after a threatening note arrives from Dorne, which is paired with scenes in Dorne that show that Ellaria Sand, paramour of the late Oberyn Martell, would love nothing more than to use the young princess as a way to take revenge on Cersei.
The episode ends with Jaime Lannister on another quest around the world— this time, to save his only daughter.
Correction: A previous version of this piece misspelled Khaleesi and Cersei; our apologies to these strong ladies.