Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 “The High Sparrow” Review
*Full book and show spoilers follow*
You either rule, or your serve.
Those who rule, in theory, should be serving those they rule. And those who serve…well, sometimes they want to rule. Thus is life in Westeros (and not too unlike our own society, sometimes).
But when the servers don’t want to serve and the rulers learn they need to serve…well, that’s where this week’s episode of “Game of Thrones” comes in.
We again started off with little Arya (Maisie Williams), who has been biding her time sweeping up the floors of the House of Black and White. A girl must learn to serve, but Arya, feisty as ever, is ever growing impatient spending all her time cleaning the floors. Where’s the blood and action and adventure in HOUSEHOLD CHORES?!?
Nowhere, that’s where.
I’m glad the show showed a bit of restraint; given how much time we were spending with Arya, I almost thought that they were going to have her go blind already. Both here scenes this week seemed to be leading somewhere….but in the end the show has held that off a little longer. I’m still a bit worried the show is going to burn through her arc really fast; especially given how much time we’ve seen her the past two weeks. Maybe it’s just because her story plodded this week, but I’m curious to see how they continue to develop her throughout the rest of the season.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei struggles to hold on to her right to rule. We were treated to a (albeit brief) momentous occasion: A “Game of Thrones” wedding without somebody dying! Who knew it was possible? Who knew it could happen? The colorless wedding, I dub thee.
And booooooom. What a wedding night it was. Little Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) became a man and finally bedded that smirking whore from Highgarden. Given his age (note: the actor is 17, not sure what the character’s age is really supposed to be at this point) I wasn’t really sure what they were going to do with the scene, but Tommen seemed to enjoy himself. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.
For those of you at home keeping score, this also marks the first time that eligible bachelorette Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is finally off the market. How’s the old saying go? Third time’s the charm? Well, if the first two kings die on you, just go for the younger brother. You’ll be Queen eventually.
Oh, and that smirk when she lied about the idea of her being Queen sounding weird. Of course it sounds weird Marg, of course it does.
The new Queen however wasted NO time in sinking her claws into the little King, already plotting at how to get Cersei (Lena Headey) out of her hair. And Tommen was just lapping it up.
Then of course we were treated to Cersei Strikes Back: The Passive Aggressive Menace. She’ll help Marg in any way possible. Any way. Any way. Anything she needs, my dear. Anything I can do as long as it involves putting my lion claws around your tight little throat and watching you choke.
This must be KILLING Cersei, and it’s just so good to see that conflict. Not only does Cersei have to be cordial to this girl she clearly hates, but to see her, the new Queen, radiate happiness with her husband, a happiness that Cersei never had with her husband. And one of Cerise’s last, loved children is now in the hands of the very person Cersei is scared will remove her from power.
It’s also interesting because Margaery, is , essentially, becoming Cersei. She’s manipulating Tommen the same exact way that Cersei manipulates men, and throw in the ultimate irony that Tommen is probably the one person in Westeros (or her family…hey-oh!) that Cerise can’t woo sexually and it’s really a battle of the wills here.
That’s not all in King’s Landing though, folks! We also got some religious rabble rousing, when the fringe group known as The Sparrows decided that the High Septon (Paul Bentley) was getting too high on whores and needed to be dealt with.
We are also introduced to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), fresh from his life in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and who I am debating referring to as King Turtle for the remainder of eternity. Cersei seems to be courting him (God knows she needs the political capital right now), and has throne the old Septon in jail.
I’m near positive this isn’t how it went down in the books (The Septon was overthrown by the Sparrows and was a Lannister puppet), but this is one of the biggest struggles the show is going to have this season: Religion.
Where faith and religion are almost woven into the books, the whole Sparrow movement did kind of come out of nowhere. The show has, for whatever reason, really diminished both the magical and religious elements of the show, so much so that I was surprised how vibrant they were when I started reading the books after starting with the show.
But now we have a huge plot that focuses on…religion. It just needs to be dealt with carefully. And we all know how carefully Cersei tends to deal with things…
(I also, for the life of me, can’t figure out why they are foreshadowing the Mountain so much. I’m pretty sure everybody knows what’s coming now, and to keep beating us over the head with it just seems like overkill. Ha. )
Ah. Ah. AH. I’m going to try not to rub it in TOO much, but next we jumped to Moat Cailin. And I was right. Go back and look at last week’s article. My poor, poor, poor, poor, baby Sansa (Sophie Turner).
Sure, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) gave a good speech about the reasons why Sansa should marry Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). It does put her in charge of the North again. It does let her keep her enemies close (something echoed later on in the episode). And it does let Sansa test her mettle and manipulation powers she’s learned from the best.
But, she’s also going up against one of the sickest, sadist-est, characters in the show. Just look at those flayed men! (Quite the gruesome visual).
Littlefinger’s game here is equally confusing. As Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) pointed out, Littlefinger has nothing to gain by throwing away the support of the Lannisters, and marrying off Sansa, and for someone who has had a giant master plan going all along, this seems an odd wrench in it. I also find it very odd that Littlefinger has not heard of Ramsay’s brutality through any means at all, especially given his spreading notoriety.
Of course, good book loving readers that you are, you know this isn’t what happens in the book, at all. Sansa and Little Finger are still far, far away from the North, and this is probably the biggest change that the show has done so far, and by switching in a major character (Sansa) for a not major one (that other girl pretending to be fake Arya), there’s a chance it is backing itself into a corner. Either Sansa never ends up doing anything interesting in the books (disappointing), or they somehow reconcile her arc after all of this stuff with the Boltons and THEN Littlefinger tries to marry her to someone from the Eyrie.
We’ve also heard from both Rheon and Turner that their characters each had a really hard scene to film this season, and there’s only way things can play out with Ramsay. And I’m not sure if Sansa can go toe-to-toe with him.
The other wild card here is Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who has failed every person she has tried to serve, and Pod (Daniel Portman). We only saw them briefly, but had some great characterization out of poor Brienne. I honestly can’t remember if we’ve heard this story before or if it’s something I’m remembering from the books, but it does paint her in a light to remind us viewers that as much as we may be rooting for Brienne, she’s really an outcast in the world she lives in.
And all of this is despite being one of, if not the, best warrior in Westeros. She could also be the one who spars with Ramsay, and if that’s the case…well…I think Bolton is about to see his ass flayed.
North of the wall, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) gave one last attempt to try to get Jon (Kit Harington) to serve him. Ever stubborn, proud, and honorable, Jon of course denies. Stannis was in enough to leave the big giant hairy mammoth in the room decision to John though: What to do with all these Wildings that are now kicking about and eating the Watch’s chips and sleeping on their couches and not paying rent.
(Side note: How does EVERY character know that Ned died for honor? Everybody isn’t partial to what Ned knew and how it got him killed.)
Davos (Liam Cunningham) even tried to reason with Jon. Book-Davos is one of my favorite characters, so I’m always happy to see more of him.
It didn’t seem like John’s decision was totally made up.
We then got some good old Brothers of the Night’s Watch political shuffling, as Jon appointed Thorne (Owen Teale) as first ranger.
Then he lopped off the head of Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter). Slynt served the Lord Commander. but he didn’t serve well.
Now, this was another area this week the show didn’t lead up to enough. The show lost track of Janos for quite awhile, so much so that i would be surprised if any non-book readers remember him from the early season. Even “The Walking Dead” gives characters that are about to die some screen time before they die, and instead we’ve just continually seen Janos mostly in the background. And it almost feels like a waste of a killing when the death reflects more on Jon than it does on Janos.
(Also note: I think this is the first time in a beheading we’ve see the whole shot clear and it hasn’t cut away).
And last, but not least, Tyrion Pink Dinklage) finally gets out of his box! Welcome to Volantis.
It may not seem super important now, but I’m glad the show included the scene with the Red Priestess. But, like before, when was the last time the show even mentioned Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye)? Or the Brothers without Banners, for that matter? But here we are seeing that the fire god isn’t just isolated to a few people, but that it’s actually a movement spreading across the East. We see the important of the different religions, and it also starts to key us in to the whole fire magic getting stronger idea, which is something that’s very key in the books, and has been mostly avoided in the show. It is a song of ice and fire, after all.
Tyrion also, in a crippling blow to himself, learns that his favorite pastime is no longer his favorite pastime. Yes, the god of tits and wine can still drink, but it seems, for now at least, that his whoring days are over.
Of course, this realization comes moments before good guy Jorah (Iain Glen) kidnaps him and declares to nobody in particular but also the entire audience that he is now kidnapping Tyrion…and taking him to the same place Tyrion was already headed to.
This, of course, makes me wonder what will happen to Varys (Conleth Hill) who has already thrown his lot in with Tyrion and can’t exactly just return to King’s Landing and start listening to whispers again.
We did get some good political wheeling and dealings, but this week also felt like a lot of filler. When the two most exciting things that happened were a third rate, low tier character getting his head cut off and Tyrion getting kidnapped and taken to the same place he was heading already, well, it’s just not the most flashy stuff. But a lot of wheels are moving, and hopefully we’ll start to see some of those results sooner rather than later.
Hides your wives and hides your daughters, because “The Sons of the Harpy” is up next!
Notes & Quotes
-I’m normally not a huge fan of (and rarely notice) the show’s score, but this week had a few really good moments: Arya and needle, Sansa making her decision, Jon marching to the chopping block, the High Septon scene.
-Always interesting to note that we did see full frontal nudity of the female persuasion, but no dick this week.
-Also, no Dany this week, which is a shame because I think I could have pulled off the “serving” theme much more with her arc than some of the others here.
-“This is all I want to do, all day, every day, for the rest of my life.” Thataboy, Tommen.
-“I wish we had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us.”
“There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it. You loved your family, avenge them.”
“Nothing’s more hateful than failing to protect the ones you love.”
-“Good job for a ginger.”
“They think I’m special for telling them so.”
-“Who doesn’t want to meet the savior?”
-“Someone who inspires priests and whores is worth taking seriously.”