'Game of Thrones' recap: New season keeps moving away from books

Season five of “Game of Thrones” offers a new thrill for fans of the books on which the show is based. Author George R.R. Martin still hasn’t finished the sixth book in the series, which means that some of the characters' storylines on this season are brand new. Fans of the books are now watching the show without knowing what will happen next, and the showrunners aren’t slowing down.

Such is the case with the character of Sansa Stark. Having finally escaped the clutches of King’s Landing, Sansa has hit the road with Petyr Baelish. But suddenly, she finds herself same place as Brienne, who promised Sansa’s mother she’d keep Sansa safe. It seems at first that their chance encounter may just be a tease. After all, Brienne has been searching for Sansa for so long. There’s no way finding her would be as simple as looking up and spotting her across the room, especially not two episodes into the new season, right?

Well, proving once again that you can never predict where “Thrones” will go, Podrick spots Sansa and Brienne makes her move. Unfortunately Brienne doesn’t listen when Podrick suggests she move with caution, especially after her failure to secure Arya in last season’s finale. This proves to be Brienne's undoing, especially when she explains to Sansa that she made a vow to protect her to her mother. Petyr rightly notes that she didn’t do a very good job at that and Sansa remembers her bowing to the king at Joffrey’s disaster of a wedding. Sansa knows better than to accept kindness from a stranger and she denies Brienne’s help.

After Sansa's denial, Petyr sends his men after Brienne and Pod, but the pair get away unscathed. Brienne hasn’t given up though, and follows Sansa and Littlefinger to their mysterious destination.

Much like Sansa, Daenerys has also realized she must learn from the past. After Daario found the Song of the Harpy responsible for killing one of the unsullied in last week’s episode, Daenerys chooses to have a fair trial, much to the chagrin of the slaves. She remains unmoved by their pleas, especially after her council reminds her of her father, The Mad King. He was power-hungry and cruel, killing men with wildfire while making their loved ones watch in horror. It eventually led to a rebellion that left every Targaryen dead except for Dany and her brother, and she doesn’t want to repeat his mistakes.

However, an ex-slave later kills the rebel, saying he did it for Dany. Knowing she must practice what she preaches, she declares “the law is the law” and has him killed in front of all of Mereen. While the punishment may be fair, the city does not react kindly, throwing rocks at the queen before a full-scale riot erupts. That night, Dany's dragon Drogon returns, landing just outside the window of her bedroom. She reaches out, tentatively at first, but before she can make contact he flies away, possibly for good.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this episode is Jon Snow. Stannis isn’t happy about the mercy he showed Mance, but acknowledges he will need Jon’s support if he is to earn the loyalty of the north. Stannis's offer? Let Jon leave the Night’s Watch, legitimize him as a Stark and make him the Lord of Winterfell. Jon later acknowledges to Sam that growing up, this is all he ever really wanted, but he turns it down.

Jon's nobility will frustrate anyone who is hoping to see him get away from the Wall and start interacting with other characters in the “Thrones” world, but many will be pleased by his new position in The Night’s Watch. While some of its members still question his loyalty, due to his dalliance with Wildling Ygritte, he wins a vote to become the watch's Lord Commander.

Meanwhile Cersei, who is struggling for power, receives a threatening message from Dorne and begins to worry for the safety of her daughter Myrcella. Jamie promises to rescue his daughter/niece but Cersei isn’t impressed, as Jamie's one-handed and all. However, Jaime doesn’t plan to go alone, he recruits Bronn to accompany him on his mission.

We also get a brief peek at the new world of Dorne, as well as confirmation that Cersei’s suspicions may be correct. While Doran Martell has no interest in hurting Myrcella, Ellaria Sand clearly has vengeance on her mind.

Finally, we check in with Arya Stark, who has arrived at Bravos and seems more hopeful than  in quite a while. She arrives at The House of Black and White searching for Jaqen H’ghar, but is initially turned away. Spurned, Arya takes to the streets, recounting her kill list and eyeing pigeons for food. When some men begin to harass her, Arya pulls out her sword and is rescued by the man who initially closed the door of the House of Black and White on her.

He invites her to return and when he does, his face changes back to that of Jaqen H’ghar. Mystified, he then ominously states that “a girl must become no one” before Arya enters through the black door.