Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Ramsay is back!
We will get into everyone’s favorite sadist in a bit, but it seems surprising that it took us until the third episode to see Ramsay and Roose Bolton, who seem to be two of the serious power players in Westeros now. Although, if this episode is any indication, their grip on power in the north is tenuous at best. We got several powerful scenes in this week’s episode, “High Sparrow,” and we definitely spent the most time with our good friend Arya.
Arya is a rare character on Game of Thrones in that she wants the same thing we want for her. Arya wants to exact bloody revenge on everyone who has wronged her, and this is the biggest problem what is happening with her. It is similar to what I discussed last week with Brienne’s character, in that Arya’s quest seems to be a quest of futility. It appears she either has to fully accept her training in The House of Black and White (and thus give up her quest for revenge), or else remain, partially, Arya Stark (and thus compromise her training). I still hold out hope that Arya can stab her way out of any trouble she gets in, but her hiding Needle in a pile of rocks, as opposed to dropping it into the sea, seemed to be an ominous bit of foreshadowing.
On a bit of a happier note: Tommen got laid!
He got laid many times, if the gossip and giggles of Margaery’s handmaidens are any indication. And, is it just me, or is that Mira Forrester (from Telltale’s Game of Thrones episodic series) right in the middle of the giggling girls?
Margaery is officially the queen now, and she’s already utilizing every bit of persuasion she has to get her chief rival out of King’s Landing. Cersei is making some serious moves as well, but seeing the now classic “Cersei Stank Face…”
…As Margaery called her “Queen Dowager” was an easy episode highlight. The dynamic between Margaery and Cersei has become one of the most compelling storylines on the show; both women are supremely ambitious and willing to step out of bounds to make allies. Margaery seems to have the upper hand currently, but a few things are still indicating that the ball is in Cersei’s court. The first is that Cersei has shown an utterly ruthless side (see: decapitated little person, episode two) that we have yet to see from Margaery. We have seen flashes, and I’d be willing to bet that Margaery would not hesitate to get her hands seriously dirty, but Cersei is certainly not afraid to do whatever it takes to come out ahead. The second wild card is Cersei’s pet Doctor Frankenstein, Qyburn, who is up to some shady, shady business in the cells beneath the Red Keep. Her third, and possibly most powerful, wildcard is the new alliance she seems to have struck with Game of Thrones newest character, the eponymous High Sparrow (played by Jonathan Pryce).
The exchange between Cersei and the High Sparrow was great to watch, as it was impossible to tell what exactly both parties were attempting to accomplish. If you watched the preview for “next week on Game of Thrones,” you may have an idea of what Cersei’s master plan is. However, it will be great to see just what these two have in store for one another. King’s Landing is able to remain interesting because, even though the MO always stays the same – every character seems absolutely genuine, but you know they are actually lying absolutely – the cast of characters keeps changing. Maybe the High Sparrow is different. Somehow that seems doubtful.
Although it was a small scene, Game of Thrones continues to build up Brienne and Podrick in Brienne’s seemingly absurd “search” for the Stark girls. Brienne’s character just screams to one of two fates. She is going to come insanely close to rescuing a Stark girl, only to be killed in some horrible way, or she is going to completely screw up everyone’s plans. Brienne seems to be a warning against doing things the old way, as she continually tries to be a true knight, only to watch whoever is in her charge (Renly, Catelyn, Jamie’s hand, both Stark girls running away from her) crumble right in front of her. However, her touching story to Pod about why she does what she does was very touching and revealed much about her character. Specifically, it showed us why she latches on to powerful, compassionate people in the way that she does. Surely that means Brienne will find some sort of victory. Right? Right?
Finally, we returned to my “most interesting” character on the show, Ramsay Bolton. The Winterfell stuff this week seemed more of a setup towards later on, but we can infer some interesting details from an extremely important event: the betrothal of Sansa to Ramsay. This bombshell gave us a great Sansa/creepy Uncle Littlefinger conversation, but it also raised many important questions:
- What is Littlefinger’s endgame? It seemed he wanted to become a powerhouse in Westeros, but this seems to undermine that plan a bit.
- Where is Littlefinger’s famed intel? In the past, it seemed Petyr Baelish and Varys were the two men who knew, literally, everything. How is it that Baelish knows nothing of Ramsay Bolton’s… tendencies? Or does he, and he has something else in store?
- Roose Bolton just made a serious gamble on behalf of the Lannisters… and won. He explained it off to Littlefinger (“I made a pact with Tywin, and Tywin is dead”), but does he really feel like allying himself with Baelish is a better plan than allying himself with the crown?
- Non-spoiler for book readers: Sansa and Ramsay?
Those questions aside, I love watching Roose and Ramsay interact with different people on screen. Roose is essentially the closest thing we have left to Tywin Lannister (“Stop eating and listen”)…
…And watching him attempt to play the game at the highest level should continue to be very interesting.
Speaking of these dealings up north, we continued to see the storyline at the Wall firing on all cylinders. Jon Snow not only turned down the offer from Stannis to become Lord of Winterfell, but he also gained an unlikely ally while silencing a powerful voice against him. Seeing Alliser Thorne’s look of shock when Jon named him First Ranger was another highlight of the episode, along with the final silencing of Janos Slynt. For a moment, it almost seemed like Jon was going to relent to the blubbering, whining Slynt, but seeing him take a head off absolutely clean was a powerful moment that solidified Jon as a force to be reckoned with. Stannis even gave him his support, what with the tiniest of head nods that Stannis only deems worthy for select individuals. Overall, Jon seems to be following in Ned’s footsteps, but much more carefully. He is honorable, but he understands the pitfalls and treachery of the world, so he is doing a good job, so far, of avoiding the problems that could come along with it. However, that means it is probably high time for Joffrey to come back as a white walker and shoot Jon in the head.
Our journey this evening ended with Tyrion, attempting to not go insane by succumbing to his favorite pastime: sleeping with prostitutes. This diversion failed on many accounts: he was very obviously recognized by a woman (bad news: a lordship is promised to whoever brings Cersei the head of her little brother), he no longer can bring himself sleep with whores, even after striking up conversation with them (is he starting to pity slaves? Or is it just the reminder of Shae’s betrayal?), and he also caught the attention of a grizzled, shamed, alcoholic man by the name of Jorah Mormont. Jorah obviously feels that Tyrion is his ticket back into the good graces of the Queen of Dragons, and we can look forward to next week’s episode of “Tyrion and the Sort-of-Bronn who isn’t as funny as Bronn.”
“High Sparrow” raised a lot of good questions about where this season is headed. Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Cersei… we seem to have found the guiding direction for many characters for this season. Obviously, with Game of Thrones, you can never count too many things as set in stone; some of these scenarios will change. Next week, it looks like Dorne will also gain some direction for the season, and we will have the rest of season five to watch it all play out and see who comes out on top. This episode was right up there with the episode from last week as far as entertainment, but outstripped it in (seeming) importance; many characters were pushed into a more clear direction. Game of Thrones continues to impress and shows no signs of slowing down.
What did you think of this week’s episode? How long can Margaery outmaneuver Cersei? Is Jon Snow’s power locked in? What do the Starks and the Boltons have planned? And just what does the High Sparrow have in store for his followers? Let us know in the comments!