Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 3 “High Sparrow” – Written Recap Round-Up

Welcome to Round 3 of the Game of Thrones written recap round-up for season 5! The female cast dominated the night as Arya, Sansa, Cersei, and Brienne made plans for vengeance in the tense and progressive third episode “High Sparrow.”

And don’t forget WotW’s own Sullied and Unsullied reviews!


Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

Laura Hudson, Wired 

Myles McNutt, A.V. Club

Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone

Charlie Jane Anders, io9

James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly

Sarah Hughes, The Guardian

Neil Miller, Film School Rejects 

James Poniewozik, Time

Elio Garcia,

Scott Meslow, The Week

David Crow, Den of Geek



Andy Greenwald, Grantland

Laura Stone, Hey, Don’t Judge Me

Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix

Erik Adams, A.V. Club

Nina Shen Rastogi, Vulture

David Malitz, Washington Post

Libby Hill, Salon 

Thanks for taking the time to read! Leave us a comment letting us know which critics you enjoy and feel free to leave suggestions for reviewers!

Stay tuned for our video recap round-up of “High Sparrow!”

27 responses

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    1. Laura stone on top form, as always. Love that excitement! I’m feeling it too, for the first time as a book reader! Squee!

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    2. I liked this from the AV club (a site I’ve been spending more time on lately)

      That may be a bold claim, but Martin’s story is so sprawling that it often feels like the story could never truly come full circle, especially given we’re still waiting for major convergences that Martin has been teasing for multiple books at this point. The show, by comparison, is pacing itself differently, and uses Sansa’s return to Winterfell to tighten its storytelling and pay tribute to where the show began. Whereas Martin’s return to Winterfell felt like following a war, Game Of Thrones’ return to Winterfell is about character, and creates a stable foundation for whatever comes next.

      This is why I enjoy the show so much and am not so upset about changes as some of my fellow readers are: its taking out what seemed to me filler from the books, leaving us a story and characters we can follow to its natural end (whenever that may be)

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    3. ace,

      So another fall. I actually think this season has been pretty solid so far, especially High Sparrow. What it hasn’t been, though, is especially buzzworthy. Not so many water-cooler endings this season (which I’m fine with just because I think the episodes have had a more consistent strength throughout, instead).

      I don’t know how much of an effect the leaks have had on ratings, but I don’t expect to see a real rebound until after the next “Dany frees the Unsullied” mid-season cliffhanger. Not sure exactly what, if anything, that will be at the moment, but the final episodes look like they’ll be pretty strong in that department, so I expect the season will end on a high note, even if the mid-season lags a bit ratings-wise.

      Depending on how episodes 5 and 6 do, though, it may actually be time to call it in terms of hitting “peak Thrones.”

      Then again, I didn’t entirely expect the show to keep growing its audience as well as it’s done thus far, and we are getting closer to the final season. Since they’ll be able to blast “Final Season” in all the advertising leading up to it, there might be a decent bump in the audience at that point. It’ll just be a matter of whether season 6 grows or maintains from season 5 to bridge that gap. Either way, I don’t expect anything other than a monster viewership explosion or a complete and total crash to have much of an effect on the budget any longer, and maybe not even the latter case as much as you’d expect.

      This is currently HBO’s prime jewel and they’ll fork over the budget to wrap it up properly for a final season regardless of what the ratings look like at that point (again, barring anything ridiculously extreme in either direction) if for no other reason than their back catalog being a major selling point of subscribing to them these days and some known regrets over how Rome and Deadwood ended.

      I was very into the ratings early on in the show’s life, but these days it’s more of a curiosity for me than anything that has a strong bearing on the health and longevity of the show in my mind any longer. It’ll end how and when it’s going to end pretty much the same way regardless of what happens at this point. (It’d be different if D&D were talking 8-10 seasons, but they aren’t. GoT’s current position will see it through a 7th season easily enough as is).

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    4. HBO will never send out screeners again.

      It’s obvious the leaks affected the ratings. The 1st episode has the highest ratings yet and that episode aired on the same day as leaks. I expect the #’s to be much higher by mid season and may even exceed 8 million.

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    5. Delta1212,

      Yeah, there are no big or shocking moments in the early or mid episodes to create buzz and social media chatter like the previous 2 seasons. It is like season 2, I remember the buzz dying down quite a bit after the premiere for that season too. I’m not sure how much the leaks are to blame for the drop. I think it they have some role to play but I still don’t think the show will be breaking new records as the season goes on like it has in previous seasons.

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    6. Greenwald’s description of the HoB&W opening sequence and his commentary made me smile. Arya’s scenes, Cersei’s reactions and maneuvering, and Stannis’s nod made my season thus far. I also love how the critics are noticing the shots, cuts and cinematography this season, more than ever.

      Like James Poneiwozik’s “NOOOOO!” when he realized the Sansa situation unfolding, I am also aghast….yet I am still watching, more fervently than ever.

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    7. Maxwell James,

      I don’t care that much anymore to be honest. The critics seem to change week to week whether they’re going to reference the books, or they say they’ve read the books but declare their reviews are all book-spoiler-free safe areas and I’m tempted to do away with any distinction here whatsoever. In the first couple seasons it was much clearer. Now- *shrug.*

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    8. Sue the Fury,

      This is more or less why I stick to Sepinwall, Greenwald and the designated AV Club newbies thread when looking for Unsullied reviews because I know those are specifically meant to be from an Unsullied perspective rather than just incidentally being written by someone who hasn’t read all the books yet or just doesn’t reference them very often in their reviews.

      Because yeah, that line has gotten a lot more muddled as the show has gone on.

      Edit: And Oz, of course, but that should go without saying

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    9. Valaquen:
      Andy Greenwald is consistently excellent. His reviews are always a treat, and are very, very well written.

      I find his attempts to be clever annoying. But I enjoyed his interview with Joel Fields of The Americans, perhaps because a dialogue prevents him from coming up with too many groaners.

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    10. I just read Laura Stone at Hey, Don’t judge me. Okay, some of the funniest I have read. Totally entertaining. And I highly recommend it. Say I sent you.

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    11. [Spoiler/] The greyscale is going to replace the “pale mare” on the show! Because they cant just make thousands of people shit themselves to death on TV. [/Spoiler]

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    12. Still no love for unsullied Natalie Bochenski?

      it was a tumultuous hour of observing and breaking protocols, observances, customs and other words my thesaurus tells me are synonyms for ritual.

      Despite her hopes being raised by her admission into the House of Black and White, Arya has found her career as a savage killing machine is still some way off. Every journey into a mad cult must begin with the ritual of sweeping the temple floors and receiving lectures on the best way to completely remove your sense of individuality and personal agency.

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    13. Judging by the 3 eps of Season 5, I’m really liking the Vulture reviews by Nina Shen Rastogi. Of all those branded unsullied (she apparently did read something, though, at times there are references that I assume might be from the books, but in no way any of it seems spoilerific), it’s the consistently best written review. It remains thoughtful while playfully mentioning Firefly or Star Trek.
      (Take Laura Stone as one of the reviewers that to my tastes is playing too loose with the subject matter while Alan Sepinwall gets at times way abstract.)

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    14. Oh drat, I mistook Alan Sepinwall for Andy Greenwald in that previous post. Greenwald’s reviews tend to get too grandiose and thoughtful for my liking.

      Sepinwall’s reviews on the other hand are actually ones of the best when it comes to the joy of reading them.

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