I knew from the title that this was going to be a good amount of Arya (my favorite character), and it didn't disappoint!
Opening title sequence: King's Landing, The Eyrie, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen
Arya arrives in Braavos and is taken to The House of Black and White, a large windowless structure with one black door and one white. She knocks, and an older grumpy-looking gentleman in a hooded robe answers the door. She pulls out the coin Jaqen gave her and mentions his name, but the man says there is no one there with that name, and refuses to let her in. Disheartened at being turned away, Arya sits down on the steps and stays there all night, reciting her hit list to herself: Cersei, Walder Frey, The Mountain, Meryn Trant (my, it's certainly diminished, hasn't it?). The next day, irritated, she tosses the coin into the water and walks off.
She ends up on the streets of Braavos, killing pigeons to eat. Some men come and try to take it, but she pulls Needle on them, which then makes them eye the sword instead, which they deem worth a hundred pigeons. She notes that "nothing's worth anything to dead men" (yet another badass line from the episode!), and the man in the hooded robe appears, sending the thugs scattering. Arya follows him to the House of Black and White, asking who he is. The man changes his face, and Jaqen is standing there. When she asks why he lied about being there, he insists that he's not Jaquen, he is no one, and she must become no one as well. He opens the door for her, and she enters.
In The Vale:
While eating at an inn with Brienne, Pod is into the girl who pours the ale, with Sansa and Littlefinger across the room the whole time. It turns out Littlefinger has asked someone to marry him and the mystery woman has accepted. Pod finally notices Sansa and Littlefinger when the ale girl stops at their table, but warns Brienne that she shouldn't do anything. Sending Pod off to ready the horses, Brienne goes ahead and makes her move anyway. She describes her situation with Catelyn to Sansa, but Littlefinger tries to discredit her at every turn, reminding her how the two people she had been sworn to protect, Renly and Catelyn, had both been killed. Sansa is not interested in her protection, because she remembers her bowing to Joffrey at his wedding. Littlefinger seems to want his men to kill her (he implores her to stay with an evil look in his eye, and his men try to stop her as she goes) to prevent her from telling anyone else about Sansa's whereabouts.
Brienne and Pod make a break for it on horseback, and Brienne tries to slow down Littlefingers knights by setting the other horses free. Pod, being Pod, loses control of his horse, which ends up bucking him into a river. One of Littlefinger's knights finds him and plans to kill him, but Brienne makes easy work of both him and the next guy who comes along (she even cuts that guy's sword into pieces -- three cheers for Valyrian steel!). Pod muses that Brienne might be free of her oath now since both girls refused her help, but Brienne thinks that Sansa is right to be wary of strangers. She asks Pod if he thinks Sansa is safe with Littlefinger; he doesn't, and they head off to follow them.
In King's Landing:
An uneasy Cersei summons Jaime to her, where it is revealed that Myrcella's necklace has been sent from Dorne in a box, a gesture that both Cersei and Jaime interpret as a threat. Jaime is concerned that someone will hear Cersei shouting about "their" child, but she counters with saying that he's never really been a father to them anyway, and that all of them are in terrible positions (Joffrey dead, Myrcella stuck in Dorne with people who hate the Lannisters, Tommen about to marry the "whore from Highgarden"). Spurred to fatherly action, Jaime decides he's going to go to Dorne to get Myrcella back.
In the Crownlands near King's Landing, Bronn and his bride-to-be Lollys Stokeworth are walking near her family's castle. Bronn is happy at the prospect of living there, but Lollys tells him that her mean older sister inherits; he tells her that people like her sister get what's coming to them. As they near the castle, they see Jaime waiting in the grass like Simba waiting to pounce. Jaime gives Bronn a letter saying that Lollys will now wed a Bracken, which angers Bronn since he had made a deal with Cersei. Jaime promises that if he comes to Dorne with him, he'll find him a more suitable bride.
Back at King's Landing, yet another dwarf has been killed because someone hoped to collect the reward money; Qyburn requests to keep the head. He and Cersei go to the Small Council meeting, where Cersei sits in the Hand's seat. When questioned by her Uncle Kevan, she insists that she's not the hand (because that would be inappropriate for a woman), but that she is just there to advise Tommen until he can choose his own hand. Mace Tyrell offers to be hand, but Cersei tells him Tommen wants to make him Master of Coin. Pycelle then tries, but Cersei then interrupts him to tell him that Qyburn is now Master of Whispers, which has nothing to do with whether or not Pycelle could be Hand. Tommen apparently wants Kevan to be Master of War, but Kevan wants to hear it from Tommen, who he believes should be at the meeting wanting to rule (I'm sure he would be there if he was asked, but Cersei clearly just wants the power to rule with as little interference as possible. Gods forbid Tommen form an opinion of his own). Kevan tells Cersei he's there to serve Tommen, not to be her puppet; he reminds her that she's nothing more than the Queen Mother, and that Tommen can send for him at Casterly Rock if he needs him.
Ellaria, who has had a haircut, watches Myrcella and Trystane walking in the gardens. She angrily goes to Doran and asks why he does nothing when Oberyn has been murdered. Doran points out that he was killed in trial by combat, which is not murder. Ellaria is out for blood, and says that all of Dorne, especially the Sand Snakes, Oberyn's well-beloved daughters, are with her. Ellaria asks if she can send little bits of Myrcella to Cersei over time. Doran points out that in Dorne, as long as he is ruler, little girls will not be mutilated for vengeance. Ellaria implies that may not last as long as he thinks it will.
Daario brags to Grey Worm about how much better the Second Sons are at subterfuge that the Unsullied, because he feels the need to be all alpha, all the time. They enter a home, but nobody is there. Grey Worm wants to leave, but Daario points out that his lack of fear has made him forget how to hide, and he stabs his knife into the wall, cutting a hiding man in the process. Grey Worm finds the mask of the Sons of the Harpy behind the wall.
One of the former slaves implores Dany to have the man put to death, which she doesn't think is a bad idea. Barristan encourages restraint, but Daario insists the man has no information. Hizdahr questions why the man would want to bring back slavery; the former slave insists that the Great Families have been hiring poor men to do their dirty work for them. Barristan says that a fair trial would show the people how a good ruler rules. The former slave insists that mercy and a fair trial mean nothing to the Sons of the Harpy; all they understand is blood.
Daenerys dismisses everyone. Barristan asks to speak to her about her father, the mad king. Dany thinks everything she has heard about his madness were lies, but Barristan tells her the truth about what happened, and cautioned that Aerys giving his enemies the justice he thought they deserved made him crazier. Dany agrees that there will be no execution without a fair trial.
The former slave goes to see The Son of the Harpy, who insists that Dany does not belong in Meereen, and she will never be their mother. The slave ends up killing him and putting him outside in his mask for everyone to see. Dany asks him why he's done it, and he insists it was for her. Dany insists there are no more slaves or Masters, but the slave insists that's not really true. Dany points out that even so, the choice was not his to make, and that the law is the law. She orders him removed, to his dismay.
She goes to speak with the public, and seems extremely overwhelmed by everyone shouting "Mhysa" at her. Hizdhar says she should have just had his head in the first place, and Daario mentions that he keeps telling Dany the same thing about him. She notes that freedom and justice cannot exist without one another, and the former slave is brought out. The slaves start shouting "brother" at him, and he begs Dany's forgiveness. As Daario prepares to kill the former slave, Dany is clearly upset and overwhelmed, but she has him go through with it. The fomer slaves start hissing at her, and one throws a rock at the former masters. Everyone starts trying to fight, so Dany and the Unsullied skedaddle.
Barristan and Grey Worm assure her that her room will be well-guarded throughout the night, and she asks everyone to leave. She senses a presence, and goes out to her terrace, where she finds that Drogon has come back. She is delighted, but she approaches him hesitantly after what happened with Rhaegal and Viserion. As she's about to touch him, he flies off over the city.
In Essos (Somewhere between Pentos and Volantis):
Tyrion and Varys are in a carriage en route to Volantis. Tyrion is depressed and has continued drinking himself to death, and Varys is getting irritated with his behavior. Varys mentions that Tyrion had been a good ruler when he had been Hand of the King. Tyrion admits that he had enjoyed having power, so he hadn't wanted to leave King's Landing. Tyrion really wants to go for a walk, and wonders whether or not Cersei will kill all dwarves in an effort to kill him.
At The Wall:
Shireen is teaching Gilly how to read; Gilly is excited to have learned the letter "s". Sam has apparently been pressuring her to learn faster. Shireen learned how to read at the age of three, and had plenty of time to practice since she was kept inside due to her greyscale. Gilly says that they didn't have a name for it north of The Wall, but that two of her sisters had it, and it consumed them to the point where eventually Craster had to kill them. Queen Selyse enters and tells Shireen to stay away from Gilly because the Wildlings are their enemies, and Gilly may try to attack her in retaliation for killing Mance (which is ridiculous, since Craster's family had nothing to do with Mance, but nobody in Stannis's party cares about that detail).
Stannis berates Jon for mercy killing Mance, and implies that he might punish him heavily. Jon again points out that the Wildlings will only follow one of their own, not him or Stannis. Stannis asks if he knows Lyanna Mormont, who sent the response from the Mormonts to Stannis's call for fealty, saying that they will only serve a Stark king. Jon chuckles a bit, noting that northerners are loyal to their own. Davos mentions that the Night's Watch election is that night, and that Ser Alliser will likely win, and then punish Jon because he doesn't like them. Stannis says that he rewards bravery, but Jon insists that he has nothing to give him. Stannis says he can give him the North, and when Jon brings up his bastard status, Jon offers to legitimize him and make him Lord of Winterfell.
Jon and Sam discuss it later, and Jon admits that it was his first dream, but that he's going to refuse him because he's sworn vows to the Night's Watch. "If I don't take my own words seriously, what sort of Lord of Winterfell would I be?". Maester Aemon begins the election for Lord Commander and opens up nominations. Janos Slynt nominates Ser Alliser, the "only true choice". Ser Denys Mallister is nominated, a choice Jon seems to approve of. Aemon wants to begin the voting, but Sam interrupts him; Jon seems to understand what he's planning, and implores him not to with a shake of his head, but he ends up nominating Jon for Lord Commander anyway. Sam gives a rousing, inspiring speech, which is met with much applause, but Jon's affection for the Wildlings is called into question. When the votes are tallied, there is a tie between Jon and Ser Alliser, which is broken when Maester Aemon votes for Jon.
-I'm so excited to see this next phase in Arya's journey, but I'm a little creeped out thinking about some of the things we might see inside the House of Black and White.
-It was nice to see Pod get to act like a typical teenage boy.
-I feel so terrible for Brienne. She was so devastated after Arya dismissed her, and now BOTH Stark girls have dismissed her. She's probably feeling pretty terrible about herself right now.
-I hope Sansa's not drinking as much of the Littlefinger Kool-Aid as she seems to be. I think she's learning how to play people well, and I hope she just keeps playing Littlefinger more and more.
-I wonder who sent Myrcella's necklace. She's obviously safe in Dorne. Was she not wearing it, and someone took it from her room? Did she willingly give it up to get her parents' attention? Inquiring minds want to know.
-Why is Lollys so skinny? She's supposed to be fat.
-Things are about to go VERY downhill for Dany. Homegirl needs to get it together, pronto. I wonder how similarly Tyrion's journey through Essos is going to end up being from the book. So far, it's been extremely different, but I'm really getting tired of grumpy, drunk Tyrion (and it's only episode 2 of the season!), and I'd love to see some of the book scenes come to light and shake things up a bit.
-Shireen is fantastic. Gilly is great. Sam and Gilly need to learn how to chill out with each other.
-If Jon ever does decide to take Stannis up on his offer, I volunteer to be Lady of Winterfell (I'm sure my husband won't mind).
-I need some direwolves in my life. We need a wolf scene!