Only 8 days remaining until season 6, and in our #GoT50 countdown rewatch, we’ve reached an episode with an introduction pivotal to Cersei’s future. Walking us through “High Sparrow,” please welcome back Paige, aka GameOverRos! – Sue the Fury
We’re approaching the end of our walk down Memory Lane! Today, we revisit the third episode of Game of Thrones season 5, “High Sparrow.” It was written by our fearless leaders, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by Mark Mylod, making his Thrones directing debut. Margaery and Tommen marry, Varys and Tyrion arrive in Volantis, and the new Lord Commander deals with a traitor. “High Sparrow” is all about the pieces moving into place, with plenty of exposition and foreshadowing.
We open in the House of Black and White, where Arya Stark has traded a Needle for a broom, and is sweeping floors. She watches as a man is led by Jaqen to a pool. He drinks, then prays. We later see the man being removed on a gurney. Arya doesn’t want to keep sweeping floors- she wants to be a Faceless Man. No one told her that the whole ‘death’ thing comes with serving, too. Jaqen (in his best Sexy Jesus attire) tells her off, as a girl only wants to serve herself.
Over to King’s Landing, and it’s time for the wedding of Tommen and Margaery. Much to Cersei’s annoyance, Margaery doesn’t die. In fact, no one dies. Is this a first in Thrones history? A wedding that doesn’t have, or lead to, a death? No fair.
Cut to Tommen and Margaery in bed. “Did I hurt you?’” he asks. Oh, sweet summer child. You think this is Marg’s first time at the rodeo? But Tommen is happy. He’ll do anything for his Queen, as long as he can do this for the rest of his life. Even send his Mother away? Sure, why not? What’s the worst that can happen?
Well, from the look on Cersei’s face when he suggests returning to Casterly Rock – the shit is about to hit the fan. The smirking whore from Highgarden wants to get rid of her, and she’ll use the power of her lady parts to make Tommen do her bidding. Over Cersei’s dead body; time to confront the woman herself. Margaery is surrounded by her handmaidens, bragging about all the totally amazing sex she and Tommen had. You can just hear Cersei screaming internally.
“I wish we had some wine for you. It’s a bit early in the day for us.”
Damn. Is Marg a Red Priestess? Because that was a burn that R’hllor would be proud of.
Lena Headey. What can you possibly say about this woman that hasn’t already been said? She is an incredible actress. This scene is no exception. You can’t help but feel sorry for Cersei. She has lost Joffrey and Tywin. Jaime is on his way to Dorne, where her daughter is. She doesn’t even have Tyrion to spar with. And now this woman is trying to take away the last thing she has. You can understand why she does what she does, even if you don’t agree with it.
Up to the North, Roose is not happy. Ramsay has got a wonderfully novel way of dealing with lords that don’t pay their taxes – flaying. Then their children pay the taxes. Roose tries to remind Ramsay that they are trying to unite the North, not alienate everyone. There is only one way to unite the North: marriage.
Hear that? That’s the sound of the audience all going “Oh no.”
Cut to Moat Cailin and Ramsay’s bride-to-be, Sansa. And she is not happy. The Boltons helped kill her mother and brother. Why would she marry into that family? Because Littlefinger has a plan. Littlefinger always has a plan, even if the only person that knows it is Littlefinger. And, as we all know, it never involves him getting his hands dirty. It’s always someone else that suffers. Damn, I hate that weasel. Granted, I can’t help but admire his cunning. But I also can’t wait until Sansa realises how awful he is, and chokes him to death with lemon cakes.
But I digress. Littlefinger urges Sansa to avenge her family. She, reluctantly, agrees.
Nearby, Brienne and Pod watch. This small, expositional scene is so emotional. I love it. Brienne talks of how awfully she was treated as a young girl. “I was the ugliest girl alive,” she says. But Renly was kind to her. So she vowed to always protect him. This does go a long way to explaining why she ‘abandoned her post’ in the season finale. Justice for Renly was personal. She felt she let him down by not protecting him, so she had to avenge him. Damn, am I getting misty eyed? I just want to hug her. It’s such a heart-breaking scene. Hand me the tissues.
Let’s go somewhere happy now: Castle Black, where Stannis, Davos, and Jon are talking. They are being waited on by Olly, who is Jon’s new steward. Jon has decided to reject Stannis’s offer of making him Jon Stark. There’s information concerning food supplies- and winter is coming. Then Davos and Jon talk privately. Davos thinks that Jon should be fighting with Stannis, helping him because the North is suffering under the Boltons’ rule. Do I smell a set up ahead of the next season? Come on, Jon Snow/Stark/Sand/whatever you’ll be called in season 6. Make Davos your Hand. There is no one better for the job.
We return to the House of “Bring Out Your Dead,” where Arya is in her room. Another girl enters, and asks ‘Who are you?’ I know! I am Ser Grissom, and this is CSI: Braavos. [Spoiler Alert: the killer is Arya.] Right? Wrong.
Time to get whacked with a stick. “Who are you?” No one. Wrong. Whack. Honey, you just went right to the top of Arya’s list. She’s ready to cross the name off when Sexy Jesus enters. He calls her out- a girl cannot be No One if she is still dressed as Arya Stark. She knows what to do. She walks down to the docks of Braavos to toss away everything- her clothes, her coin, Needle. But she just can’t throw away Needle. “Needle was Jon Snow’s smile.” And viewers everywhere start crying. She can’t do it. She hides it away, knowing that she, and we, will meet Needle again.
Back to Winterfell. Welcome home, Lady Sansa. Meet your new family. One may be a vampire, the other demands his victims rub the lotion on the skin. Makes you almost miss Queen Drunk and King Crossbow. Well, at least there’s Fat Walda.
In her old room, Sansa meets an old lady. “The North remembers,” she says. Sansa is not alone. Hey, she said The Thing! Stop giving me hope, dammit. I know this is all going to end badly. Meanwhile, Littlefinger and Roose talk. Littlefinger is plotting again. Just what we need. Damn, can this episode get any more miserable?
Then it’s time for Jon’s first decisions as Lord Commander. Some poor redhead is assigned to dig a new latrine, and Jon names Thorne as First Ranger. A nice move, given that he’s been a Thorne in Jon’s side since the beginning. Not so nice for Slynt, who is ordered to go to Greyguard. Nope, Slynt is having that, and Jon can stick the assignment up his cave. Tut tut, Slynt. Disobeying a direct order from the Lord Commander? There’s a punishment for that.
It’s at this point that Slynt falls apart. Just as he did during “The Watchers on the Wall,” he shits himself. He begs for mercy- he’s just afraid, you see. It’s all bravado. A swing of the sword, and Slynt’s head falls. Justice for Lord Eddard at last. Stannis watches this, and nods with approval. Yay! Something happy.
Back to King’s Landing and a familiar place: Littlefinger’s brothel, where the High Septon is surrounded by workers dressed as the Seven. And he is very much enjoying himself. But not for long. Lancel and his fellow Sparrows burst in. The High Septon is making a mockery of the Faith, and that cannot stand. He is dragged naked into the streets and forced to walk. Any attempt to cover himself results in getting whipped. Ding! Shame! Damn the nudity warning. Old Septon ass is not what I envisioned.
His humiliation over, the High Septon goes to Cersei to complain about his treatment. He wants the head of the High Sparrow on a pike. Slow your rolls, Seppie. That freaky stuff in the brothel wasn’t the dance of the seven veils. There will be no priest’s head on a platter here. But it does give Cersei an idea. She travels down to Flea Bottom to meet the High Sparrow. She’s impressed by him. So much so that she wants an alliance. No, Queenie. Think about this for a moment. He’s really nutty. But it’s too late. The High Septon is already out of the way, and rotting in the Black Cells. The High Sparrow naturally accepts. Shit, meet fan.
In Volantis, Tyrion and Varys have reached the Long Bridge. Seven Hells, it’s impressive. Tyrion should be in hiding, but he’s got cabin fever, and there are no Muppets around to sing to him. So he and Varys do a little sightseeing. Among the attractions is a red priestess, preaching that the Dragon Queen is Azor Ahai reborn. To Tyrion’s horror, the priestess looks straight at him. Time to find somewhere more comfortable.
Where better than a brothel? And we have a whore dressed like the Dragon Queen herself! Usually, Tyrion would spend a happy time in the brothel, but he just can’t bring himself to do it. Don’t worry, Ty, I’m sure there’s something that can help with you that. Milk of the Bamboo – makes your stalk stand up. This better be addressed in an episode in season 6.
Tyrion excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Nearby is Jorah, clearly there to see Whoreleesi. He grabs Tyrion and declares that he’s taking him to see “the Queen.” But which Queen? Cersei or Daenerys?
Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow. Nina Gold did it again. Pryce is perfect as the fundamentalist Sparrow leader. There’s something about him that makes me think there is more to the High Sparrow than wanting to cleanse the realm of sin. One to look forward to in Season 6.
Faye Marsay at the Waif. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. How long before she ends up on Arya’s kill list?
Bye bye, Janos Slynt. I’m sure he’ll be much better at his new job – being a feast for crows.
Petyr Baelish: You’ve been running all your life. Terrible things have happened to your family, and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room, mourning their fates. You’ve been a bystander to tragedy, from the day they executed your father. There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it. You loved your family…avenge them.
As much as I hate that moustached weasel, he sure knows how to make a convincing speech.
Brienne of Tarth: Nothing’s more hateful than failing to protect the ones you love.
Lord Varys: Where are you going?
Tyrion Lannister: I need to speak to someone with hair.
I love these two. And I’m so glad we’ll be seeing more of them in season 6.