The first episode of the fifth season of "Game of Thrones" was a slow burn. By keeping fan-favorite Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) off the table, the show left out one of its big, secret weapons. But with Arya's return this week, plus a few other huge surprises -- if you think you know what's going to happen from the books, think again -- things are quite literally heating up.
Here are all the biggest, most shocking moments from "The House Of Black And White:"
I Wanna See You Be BraavosHBO
In case you missed our girl Arya, her face is the very first shot of the episode, as she enters Braavos, a fishing village... And the home of whatever place Jaqen H'ghar sent her several seasons ago. After years of things going absolutely horribly for the littlest lady Stark, things have to turn her way now, right?
Nope: she gets turned away at the House of Black and White, her mysterious destination; and then proceeds to wait outside for what seems like days while nobody lets her in. "I have nowhere else to go," Arya pleads. "You have everywhere else to go," growls the man, before shutting the door in her face.
Brienne's Sense Of SansaHBO
How many times have characters missed each other on this show that when Brienne and Sansa showed up in the same pub, I fully expected they would just pass each other by. And then something happened that blew our book-reading minds: Pod realizes Sansa is there, she approaches her, she even tries to take her away... And Sansa rejects her.
What follows is a bananas fight scene (and stay tuned tomorrow for our break-down of just how this happened with the Director of the episode) where Pod almost dies before being rescued by Brienne.
"If both Stark girls refused your service, maybe you are released from your vow," Pod very carefully says to Brienne... But she's stubborn, and then decides to follow.
It's a small change, right? Except this has huge ramifications for all of these characters, at least given what happens to them in the book. We're officially in uncharted territory here, and I love it.
Jaime's Big AdventureHBO
Speaking of book changes, things officially go off the rails here. Bronn is following his book path pretty much to the T -- marrying a plain girl to secure his new, legitimate place in the world -- up until Jaime recruits him to go rescue Mycerlla in Dorne. In case you haven't read the books? None of this happens. Jaime doesn't go to Dorne, he doesn't team up with Bronn, and he definitely doesn't dress like a sexy pirate.
That said, this is a great development... Bronn is clearly a fan-favorite on the show, and in the books he gets completely shuffled off. Instead, we're getting one of the best pairings from last season in spades. Still, despite the relative frivolity (particularly when it comes to "Game of Thrones," this is practically slapstick), sending two of the most dangerous men in Westeros into a powder-keg (as we find out shortly) is a bad, bad ideas that's literally and figuratively going to go South.
Let Me See That Dorne, Da Dorne Dorne Dorne DorneHBO
Speaking of Dorne, Ellaria -- Oberyn's sorta widow -- is ready to wreak vengeance on all of Westeros, but is held back by Doran Martell, Oberyn's brother. It's just a touch here, but for fans, we know this plot is just getting started. If you thought the War of Five Kings was bad? Yeah, welcome to Westeros. Things just got worse.
Dany And TyrionHBO
No, not together -- yet. But they're getting closer to each other, and as Daenerys struggles with shutting down the insurrection caused by the Sons of The Harpy, Tyrion struggles with being shut inside a carriage with Varys, who is trying to coach him, if not to rule then to help someone else get there. It's going to be very interesting to see if they do get together; and if they can, in fact make each other better through it, or if they'll both be too damaged/powerless by that point to make a difference.
That's One Way To Get AheadHBO
"How many dwarfs are there in the world? Is Cersei going to kill them all?" Tyrion quips, followed by a severed dwarfs head plopped on Qyburn's table in King's Landing. Cersei is making moves here, trying to track down Tyrion, while making moves to secure rule of the small council.
Unfortunately, Tywin's brother is having none of it... A usual, Cersei is letting her ambition outstrip her actual power. We're rapidly -- and mild spoilers, if you haven't read the books -- entering a period where your feelings towards Cersei may move from hatred (or abject love, I guess) to pity.
Oof, right in the feels bone. Jon is courted by Stannis to help him get the Night's Watch to retake Winterfell from the Boltons. To do that, he offers to make Jon a rightful Stark, a bastard -- and a Snow -- no longer. Which seriously got me right in the gut probably almost as much as Jon himself. This is something that Jon has wanted the entire series, this is the reason he took the black in the first place... To offer him this for a cause that is clearly wrong -- yet sort of right -- is so sad and painful to watch, it's only relieved by...
Due to a bang-up speech by Sam, who has become waaaaaaay braver than he was back in the first season, Jon is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. And though there's still plenty of danger out for him (Janos Slynt, we're looking at you), Jon is finally in a position to make some real, lasting change in Westeros. Good times are here to stay!
...And then back to the House of Black And White, where the old grumpo who rejected Arya turns out to be none other than... Jaqen H'ghar! Complete with cheesy face-switching effect and all! A boy is very happy everything is working out for Arya.
A Song Of Slaves And DragonsHBO
How badly do things get by the end of the episode for Daenerys? She's forced to kill a representative of the former slaves in Meereen, because she has to do what's right and enforce the law. Except the right move isn't always the right move. She kills him in front of a crowd to show she's a strong ruler, only to incite a riot between the former slaves, and the former slave owners.
The shouts of "Mhysa!" die down, and they start throwing rocks, and our hearts all break a little.
Oh, but that's not all. Lost and sad, Dany wanders outside her pyramid, to find Drogon -- the prodigal dragon son -- has returned. Except instead of bonding with her, he flies away, again. My heart. It can't take this.