This week’s Game of Thrones episode, “The House of Black and White,” was pretty great, featuring some characters meeting for the first time, the return of Arya, and a brand new part of Westeros. The episode made a bunch of substantial chances to the source material, though. Here are some of the things that were different in last night’s episode.
Jaime going to Dorne
One of the biggest changes of this season is an entirely new mission for Jaime Lannister. In last night’s episode, it was revealed that he would be traveling to Dorne to rescue Princess Myrcella, as the people of Dorne are pretty pissed at the Lannisters right now. This is a completely new storyline, as Jaime never went to Dorne in the books, but it’s a really great change. Jaime’s storyline gets kind of boring during this part of the book, as he travels to Riverrun on a totally separate mission. We won’t get into it here, as it’s possible the show will still have Jaime do this at some point, but let’s just say that Jamie going to Dorne should prove to be far more exciting.
The return of Bronn!
Another awesome change: Bronn is back, and he’ll be traveling with Jamie to Dorne. This is another example of the show giving a character much more significance after realizing how great the actor is. In prior seasons, the show gave Bronn more to do with Tyrion, and now it’s brought him back for this Dorne adventure. In the books, Jamie never goes to Dorne, so obviously Bronn never does either. Bronn makes an appearance in A Feast for Crows, but isn’t in A Dance with Dragons at all.
The Night’s Watch election
This is something that did happen in the books, but the show presented it in a much more condensed fashion. In A Storm of Swords, the night’s watch election is pretty drawn out, taking several days and with several rounds and political machinations. In the show, that’s all condensed into one scene.
Brienne meeting Sansa
Just like how last season Brienne met Arya despite having never run into her in the books, here Brienne meets Sansa and tries to pledge herself to her. Unfortunately, Sansa isn’t convinced, not wanting to trust someone who was at some point sworn to Joffrey. It’s a great, frustrating sequence, but it was completely invented for the show. As we talked about last week, Brienne never runs into either of the Starks in the books, and as of A Dance with Dragons, she’s still out there looking for Sansa Stark. Yes, Brienne’s search for Sansa lasts two full books (though she’s only briefly seen in A Dance with Dragons). The show has wisely sped up the timeline, and now places Brienne at a really interesting place where both Stark girls have denied her service. What now?
In this episode we see the reappearance of Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s lover who was forced to watch his face smashed in last season. In Dorne, she desperately wants revenge against the Lannisters, getting in an argument with Doran Martell urging him to do something. In the books, it’s Oberyn’s daughters, known as the Sand Snakes, who want to take vengeance on the Lannisters, not Ellaria. We still will see the Sand Snakes in the show, but this episode allows us an additional scene with Ellaria, a familiar face from last season. Also, in the books Doran has Ellaria and the Sand Snakes locked away, afraid that they’ll try to harm Myrcella.
Dany and the Sons of the Harpy
It’s becoming clear that the show is just a different animal from the books, because once again here’s something completely fabricated for the show. The climax of the episode involves Dany holding a member of the Sons of the Harpy prisoner, and eventually executing the man who sets the prisoner free. That never happens in the books; Dany never captures a member of the Sons of the Harpy and is never faced with this moral dilemma. This is another pretty great invention, though, and a pretty compelling turning point for Dany and her rule over Meereen.
The return of Jaqen H’ghar
Another return in this episode, Jaqen H’ghar makes a reappearance! It’s great to see a beloved actor and character back in the show, and it makes perfect sense from a storytelling perspective to have Jaqen reappear for Arya when she finally makes it to his home. Arya never runs into Jaqen again in the books. At some point she sees someone who looks kind of like him, but that’s as close as we’ve ever gotten. In some ways, then, this season of Game of Thrones is already proving to be far more satisfying than the books.