Friday, May 8, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.03: "High Sparrow"

“I’ve been sweeping this floor for days. I didn’t come here to sweep floors.”

This episode of “Game of Thrones” made me absolutely hate Littlefinger. I always thought he was slimy, but I appreciated his ingenuity, and I’m an Aidan Gillen fan from his “The Wire” days. But what he does in this episode is absolutely unforgivable. There are lots of other interesting plots brewing in this episode as well, but the Littlefinger turn stuck with me the most. Littlefinger is right that Sansa has been through a great deal and deserves a break from tragedy, but what he does in this episode is only going to make things worse. Littlefinger seems a bit unfamiliar with what he is walking into, but that seems unusual for him. Littlefinger is an information-gatherer on the level of Varys. More on all that later, though.

We begin this episode with Arya, who is still at the House of Black and White. She has been doing cleaning detail instead of training, and she is not happy about it at all. She wants to get on with the training already. While sweeping, she sees Jaqen kill a man by giving him water from a fountain. The whole thing is really creepy. Another girl who does cleaning at the House taunts Arya, asking her who she is. When Arya says “no one,” the other girl hits her. Jaqen chastises Arya for still having so many of “Arya Stark’s” belongings. She can’t be “no one” with so many of “Arya’s” things around. Arya throws all of her belongings into the water except for her Faceless Man coin (which she keeps) and Needle (which she hides under a rock). I think refusing to give up needle is Arya refusing to completely give up her own identity. After appearing to get rid of all her belongings, she is more accepted by everyone at the House, and she moves up in ranks to corpse washing duty with the other girl who was taunting her. Nice work if you can get it, I think not.

We also see a bit of Tommen and Margaery’s wedding in this episode, although it’s handled very quickly. Most of the focus is on the fall-out from the wedding. We see a bit of Tommen and Margaery’s wedding night, and Margaery uses Tommen’s joy at finally getting some to try and manipulate him into sending Cersei away or at least giving her less influence. Tommen ends up asking Cersei if she might be happier living at Casterly Rock, since she likes it so much more than King’s Landing. Cersei says she wants to stay where her family is. Cersei is generally starting to feel out of place and pushed aside, and Margaery telling her that her son is so enthusiastic that she is sure to be a “Queen Grandmother” soon just adds salt to the wound. I don’t really like Cersei or Margaery, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I think Margaery is both drunk with power and enjoying giving Cersei a bit of a taste of her own medicine.

Now we start to move into the part of the episode where Littlefinger does the unforgivable thing. At Winterfell, which is now being rebuilt, Roose Bolton is chastising his sadistic son Ramsey. Ramsey has been killing Northerners who refuse to pay their taxes because they think there should be a Stark in Winterfell. Roose wants House Bolton to be the accepted Wardens of the North, and he doesn’t want his idiot son messing that up. He says marriage is the more traditional way to make alliances and gain popular support. We next see Littlefinger and Sansa, who are near Moat Cailin. Sansa realizes they are on their way to Winterfell. At that moment, I knew what was coming next. Littlefinger has arranged a marriage between Sansa and Ramsey. Since Sansa is the oldest living Stark heir, her marriage to Ramsey would give House Bolton the legitimacy Roose craves. Sansa protests at first, but Littlefinger convinces her to “stop running” and stop being a “bystander to tragedy.” Bastard.

Luckily for Sansa, Brienne and Podrick have decided to keep following her and Littlefinger as they head North. Brienne says she knows where they are going now, and along the way, she offers to teach Podrick how to fight. She even opens up enough to tell him the story of how she ended up in Renly’s service. Her father threw a ball to try to marry her off, and all the men laughed at her. Renly danced with her so she wouldn’t look like quite as much a fool, and she was extremely grateful. She’s rather devastated that she couldn’t save his life in return. By the end of the episode, Sansa has returned to Winterfell, and folks there are welcoming her home. Since Ramsey is a horrible, sadistic person, though, the happiness isn’t going to last long. Littlefinger claims he doesn’t know much about Ramsey, but like I said earlier, I don’t buy that. He has thrown Sansa to the wolves.

We also spend some time at Castle Black in this episode. Jon officially turns down Stannis’ offer to become Jon Stark and take back Winterfell. He can’t betray his vows. Stannis isn’t thrilled about the decision, and he says Jon is too honorable for his own good. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess? After Stannis leaves, Davros tells Jon he would do more good and more honor to his vows fighting the Boltons than he would hiding in a frozen castle. Later, Jon starts handing out new assignments to his fellow Night’s Watch in his new capacity as Lord Commander. He names Ser Alliser as First Ranger, which seems like a bad move, but maybe he is just trying to keep the peace. Another high ranking brother is assigned to one of the lesser castles that is basically a ruin, and he refuses his assignment. He keeps acting like a jerk until his head is on the chopping block and Jon is about to swing his sword. At that point, he starts to beg for mercy, but Jon beheads him anyway. Ser Alliser seems to approve. As he would.

Back in King’s Landing, the High Septon visits one of Littlefinger’s brothels, where he is discovered by Lancel and some of the other Sparrows. They parade him naked through the streets and beat him before leaving him for dead. The High Septon then visits the Small Council and demands that the High Sparrow (the leader of the Sparrows) be executed. Cersei decides to pay a visit to the High Sparrow. She seems to appreciate his honesty, and she tells him that the High Septon is now in the dungeon. She also tells the High Sparrow that the High Septon had wanted him executed. She’s not going to do that though. When she gets back to the Red Keep, she has Qyburn, the new Master of Whispers, write a letter to Littlefinger. Underneath a sheet in Qyburn’s lab, the Mountain’s body shakes, and Qyburn tells him to shush. I can only wonder what horrible experiments have been happening.

We finish up the episode in Volantis, across the Narrow Sea. Tyrion arrive in Volantis just in time, because Tyrion is seriously going stir crazy. In the city, they find that the people have become quite taken with Daenerys. They see a Red Priestess (like Melissandre) proselytizing in the street. She’s not talking about the Lord of Light, though. She’s talking about the Dragon Queen. Also, at the local brothel, the most popular whore has been made up to look like Dany, complete with platinum blonde hair. Tyrion chats up a different whore, but when she offers to go to bed with him, he finds himself not interested. I guess he’s too traumatized over what happened to Shae. Disappointed, he decides to urinate into the river, where he is captured by none other than Jorah, who says he is going to take Tyrion to see the Queen.

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