The second episode of the season, “The House of Black and White,” continued the premiere’s focus on tying up loose ends and setting up the conflicts to come. "Game of Thrones" is building toward something. Knowing this show, it’s probably something bloody.

Episode MVPs

After sitting the premiere out, Arya Stark arrived in Braavos and gained admittance to the House of Black and White, where she’ll learn from an old friend how to be the best little assassin she can be. However, the stars of her sections were the gorgeous exterior shots of Braavos, a criss-crossing network of dirty canals under a cloud-covered sky.

The show continued to flaunt its expanded production budget when Brienne of Tarth, who finally tracked down Sansa Stark only to have the wary young woman refuse her offer of help, participated in a thrillingly choreographed chase on horseback. Before, "Game of Thrones" had to space these displays of opulence out, but a beautifully photographed visit from one of Daenerys’ wayward dragons toward the end of the hour proved that the show is now the visual equal of any Hollywood blockbuster.

Finally, at the Wall, Jon Snow was elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch thanks to some campaigning by his friend Sam. His new position will force him into a close working relationship with Stannis Baratheon, whose arrival has invigorated what used to be one of the show’s more inconsistent storylines.

Questions for next week

This episode gave us our first glimpse of Dorne, the arid homeland of fan favorite Oberyn Martell. We’ll be seeing a lot more of it soon, as Jaime Lannister intends to smuggle himself into the country to retrieve his daughter Myrcella, who was shipped there back in Season 2. Producers have hinted that this season will break away from George R.R. Martin’s novels, and Jaime traveling to Dorne certainly looks nothing like his activities in the books. The new direction makes some fans nervous, but it’s also exciting, since no one can honestly say they know what’s coming next.

Crazy rumor corner

According to an article in the New Zealand Herald, Brienne may soon fight Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, best remembered for crushing Oberyn Martell’s skull with his bare hands last year. The Herald spoke with Gwendoline Christie generally about the coming season, but this information didn’t come by way of a direct quote from her, so take it with a grain of salt.

As the editor in chief for Winter Is Coming, Dan Selcke spends his time writing about the latest Game of Thrones news and preparing for the long night that will have no end. Read more of him at winteriscoming.net.