Game of Thrones: High Sparrow

e99e3a55-088a-4ef3-8662-74bfc5acb5ff-620x372Previously on Game of Thrones: Tyrion and Varys set off on what’s turning out to be an interminable road trip. Bree and Pod found Sansa and started following her and Petyr. Arya arrived in Braavos and finally made her way into the House of Black and White, and Jon managed to get two offers of a lifetime.

We’ve got Moat Cailin in the credits this week.

Arya’s been set to work sweeping in the main room at the House of Black and White, which is filled with statues of the various gods of this world. There’s also a large, black pool in the middle of the room. Another girl who looks to be about Arya’s age carries buckets of water around while Jaqen offers a man a drink of water from the pool. The man goes to kneel before one of the statues and Arya sets her broom aside and asks Jaqen when she can begin her real training. She’s tired of sweeping the floor. Jaqen reminds her of their motto: all men must serve. Arya protests that she wants to serve. Presumably just not in a janitorial capacity. He says she serves herself and must learn to become no one.

He walks out and Arya sees that the man who just drank is now lying dead before the statue. Two men appear and carry him away. Arya asks the other girl where they’re taking him, but the girl doesn’t respond or acknowledge her.

It’s a royal wedding in King’s Landing! Let’s hope they’ve laid on extra tasters today. Cersei travels to the Sept, looking about as happy as she did for her father’s funeral. The ceremony goes off without a hitch and Tommen and Margaery are officially wed. They’re both beaming, but I think it’s for different reasons. Cersei forces a smile.

In what I understand is a departure from the books, the happy couple waste no time consummating the marriage. Like most teen boys, Tommen says he just wants to do this all day every day forever. Margaery laughs and flirts and they gigglingly refer to each other as husband and wife. Tommen reflects that all his happiness came at his brother’s expense, but he doesn’t feel badly about it. Nor should you, Tommen, Joffrey was a shit. Margarey says she thinks they’ll be very happy together, and then immediately starts going to work on her husband, commenting that Cersei is so protective of him, like a lioness guarding her cub. He prickles a little at the idea that his mother still considers him a child. Margarey hilariously says she adores her mother in law, who’s always been so kind to her, but that Cersei is unlikely to ever let young Tommen out of her sight.

Tommen takes that to heart as he strolls along the ramparts with his mother. Cersei foolishly tries to cast some shade on Margaery, so Tommen suggests his mother take herself back to Casterly Rock. ‘Seriously, mum, you’ll be much happier there! Don’t come back for Christmas, we’ll just send cards, mmkay?’

Cersei goes to see Margaery, who’s giggling with her girlfriends over how eager her young husband is. Margaery greets Cersei with a hug and a not-so-subtle jab at Cersei’s heavy-drinking ways. Cersei says she just came by to ask if there’s anything she can do for Margaery. I’d say this is a new game Cersei’s playing, but she genuinely seems a bit frightened and desperate here. Margaery, a bit bitchily, asks how she should refer to Cersei now: Queen Mother, or Dowager Queen? Or won’t it matter, since surely she’ll be grandma soon? Cersei reminds her that she’s there if Margaery needs anything, and then sweeps out, looking humiliated.

Winterfell’s been rebuilt, but seems like a miserable place. Reek makes his way across the courtyard and sees three new flayed bodies being strung up. He seems a bit disturbed.

Inside, Roose tells Ramsay that they can’t just go around flaying people all the time, and that he sent the young man out to collect taxes, not bodies. You really should have sent someone else, then, Roos. Apparently the fresh bodies are a lord who refused to bend the knee, his wife, and brother, all of whom were flayed alive in front of the lord’s son. Roose tells his son to stop stuffing his face so they can talk business: they need support to hold the north, and they can’t rely on the Lannisters, so Ramsay needs to make a good marriage. Roos has even found the girl…

Sansa! Oh, Jesus. She and Petyr and their men arrive at Moat Cailin, which she recognizes. She asks Petyr where he’s taking her and he says he’s taking her home. She immediately realizes that the marriage Petyr was talking about at the inn was not for him, but for her. Isn’t she still married? She’s horrified by the idea of having to marry into the family that killed her brother and flat out refuses to have anything to do with this. Petyr insists he won’t force her to do anything, but she’s been running away and being a bystander to tragedy since her father died, and it’s time for her to stop being a bystander and become a player. He urges her to use this chance to avenge the family she loves. She thinks about it for a few moments, then remounts her horse.

The party moves on, watched from a nearby cliff by Brienne and Pod. Pod asks how they’ll get through Moat Cailin and Brienne says they’ll go around. He points out that’ll take them miles out of their way and she says it doesn’t matter, because she knows where they’re going.

While they get ready to make camp for the night, Brienne and Pod talk about their histories. He used to squire for a knight who stole a ham and got hanged for it. He gave Pod half the ham, so he would’ve hanged as well, if it weren’t for the fact that Podrick’s a member of the Payne family, so Tywin spared him and sent him to be squire to Tyrion, as a sort of punishment. But Tyrion was pretty awesome to work for, so that kind of backfired. He tells Brienne that he’s proud to serve her, because she’s one of the best fighters he’s ever seen. That clearly makes her feel a little guilty, so she apologises for always snapping at him and offers to start training him. He thanks her sincerely, gets a fire going (he’s actually getting some skills!) and helps her out of her armour, asking how she came to serve Renly. She tells a story about her father holding a ball for her when she was young, in an effort to find her a husband. And she had a lovely time, for a while, because all the boys fought over her and flirted with her, but then it turned out the whole thing was a joke the boys had come up with, because teenagers are total jerks. Just as she was about to allow the earth to swallow her up, Renly caught her and danced with her and shut the other boys up, he being the king’s brother and all. He saved her from being a joke, and she was devoted to him because of it. But she feels she failed to protect him, which is horrible, and she’s now determined to kill Stannis to avenge Renly.

Stannis goes to see Jon, and we quickly learn that the kid, Olly, has been made Jon’s new steward. They sit and Stannis asks if Jon’s considered his offer. Jon has, and it’s a generous one, but he has to refuse, because his place is with the Night’s Watch. Ironically, he’s too much of a Stark to be a Stark. Stannis observes that Jon’s as honourable and stubborn as his father, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Jon asks how long Stannis and his entourage plan to stay, since they don’t really have enough provisions for them and the Wildling prisoners. Stannis promises to leave within the fortnight, but the Wildlings will be Jon’s problem. He can see if Tormund is more willing to compromise than Mance, or just kill them outright, as most of the Night’s Watch would probably prefer. Stannis suggests Jon send Alliser somewhere far away. After he leaves, Davos tells Jon that Stannis likes him, thought he doesn’t really show it well. He declares that Stannis is the true king, and Jon counters that he’s staying out of politics. Davos reminds Jon that part of the Night’s Watch declaration includes being ‘the shield that guards the realms of men’, and guarding people means doing what needs to be done, not just sitting in a frozen castle up north. He concludes that, as long as the Boltons hold the North, the North will suffer.

The girl enters Arya’s room at the House of Black and White and asks Arya who she is, accusing her of holding onto a coin she didn’t earn and whose value she doesn’t respect. She asks again who Arya is and a lightbulb clearly goes off over Arya’s head and she responds ‘no one,’ which only gets her a nasty snap with a rod the girl holds. The girl asks again and Arya goes to attack her with Needle. Fortunately for someone, Jaqen comes in and asks what they’re doing. The girl responds that they were playing the game of faces. He says Arya’s not ready, but Arya begs to differ. He asks how she can be no one but still surrounded by Arya Stark’s things.

Arya takes that to heart and tosses her clothes and the coin into the water outside. Needle, however, she can’t bring herself to throw away. Instead, she hides it.

Back inside, she gets back to sweeping the floors. The door through which the dead body was carried earlier opens, and Jaqen takes her through it, down a staircase, to a room where the man’s body lies on a slab, the other girl standing beside it. He leaves the two girls alone and the other girl begins undressing the man, looking pointedly at Arya until she comes over and helps. They remove his shirt and start sponging off the body. Arya asks what they do with the bodies after they’re washed and the girl just gives her a ‘we’ll see’ kind of look.

Petyr and Sansa arrive at Winterfell, where everyone’s gathered to see them, just as the Starks gathered to greet the royal party, all those years ago. What must it be like for Sansa, coming back here after everything that’s happened? The last time she saw this place she was on top of the world, the future queen, petted and cosseted and protected. The worst thing that had ever happened to her was her sister throwing something at her during a fancy banquet. What a totally different lifetime that was.

She approaches Roose, who greets her politely and welcomes her. She gives him a hard look, like she might just punch him in the face, but this is Sansa, not Arya, and she plays a different game. She smiles and curtsies to Roose, who then introduces Ramsay. Off to the side, Ramsay’s crazy girlfriend watches jealously.

Sansa is shown to her room by an elderly woman who calls her Lady Stark and welcomes her home. ‘The North remembers,’ she says.

Jon announces, over dinner with the rest of the Night’s Watch, that they need a new latrine pit. Alliser steels himself for the unpleasant task, but Jon gives it to someone else instead. Alliser he names First Ranger, citing his experience and good service during the recent battle. Janos, his crony, is named commander of Greyguard, a castle in poor repair that needs to be brought up to snuff. He’s not at all accepting of this post and refuses to take it. Jon tells him this is a command, not a suggestion, and he’s to get his ass to Greyguard immediately. Janos refuses again, insultingly calling Jon ‘boy’ and telling him where he can shove his order. Jon quietly calls for Janos to be taken outside and sends Olly for his sword. Janos clearly thinks that Alliers is going to interfere here, but Alliser just does a great, ‘well, he asked for this’ eyebrow raise and steps aside. Janos is dragged outside and made to kneel, blustering the whole time that he won’t be intimidated, that he’s got friends in the capitol, blah, blah. Jon comes out, is handed his sword, and unsheathes it, telling Janos to say his last words. Janos immediately backpedals, apologizing for everything he’s ever done, admitting that he was wrong, saying he’ll go wherever Jon wants, that he’s always been afraid of everything. He begins to blubber, but Jon takes his head off in one stroke, Ned Stark-style. That’s how they roll in the North. Stannis, watching, gives Jon the tiniest nod of approval.

Back in King’s Landing, the High Septon is at Petyr’s brothel, naked, while young women dressed as sexualized versions of various deities parade around him. He chooses two (the Maiden and the Stranger). Before things can get fun, a gaggle of the Sparrows bursts in, accuses him of having defiled their faith, and drags him outside to walk through the streets stark naked, being whipped and called a sinner over and over.

Once he gest back to the palace and gets some clothes on, he goes to see Cersei and some of the Small Council to demand the Sparrows and their leader be arrested for assaulting him.

Qyburn: You really want to make a thing of this? I heard you were found in a brothel.

Tyrell: No, surely not!

High Septon: Haven’t you people heard of being one with the people? I was ministering to those poor ladies! Naked! Like you do!

Cersei goes to visit the High Sparrow at the soup kitchen he’s running in a really lousy area of town. He’s played by Jonathan Pryce, and he mocks the name High Sparrow, which is not one he came up with. Cersei asks why he’s got no shoes on and he says he gave them to someone who needed them more. He’s a regular Francis of Assisi, isn’t he? He guesses she’s there to arrest him for the matter with the High Septon, which is not something he seems to have sanctioned himself. He still approves, though, comparing the matter to lancing a boil, which is an unpleasant but necessary thing to do. Cersei tells him the High Septon wants Sparrow executed. She tells him that instead she threw the man in the dungeons, for being a corrosive influence in their faith. She tells Sparrow that faith and the crown need to support each other.

She then goes to see Qyburn and asks him to send a message to Petyr. She also asks how his work is going and he says it’s coming along. As he’s getting started on the message, something very large lying under a cover on a table jerks. Qyburn, unconcerned, shushes it.

Reek watches Sansa walk through the courtyard at Winterfell. She doesn’t notice him at all, so different is he. I did note, however, that he seemed to be listening quite closely to what Roose and Ramsay were saying earlier, so maybe he’s not as far gone as we thought.

Ramsay and Petyr watch her as well, and Ramsay says he hopes he can make her happy. Petyr hopes so too, as he’s quite fond of Sansa. Ramsay promises never to hurt her. Yeah, right. Roose joins them and asks for a moment with Petyr. Ramsay agrees, thanking Petyr for arranging this marriage, then goes. Petyr reassures Roose that Sansa’s still a virgin, so her marriage to Tyrion is null. Ahh, ok, then. Roose couldn’t care less, he just needs her name, not her virtue. He asks Petyr if he’s prepared for the consequences, once the Lannisters hear he’s arranged this match. Petyr’s unconcerned, since the Lannisters seem fairly weak just now. Roose produces the message Cersei sent, which just arrived from the Eyrie. He asks Petyr why he’s acting against the Lannisters, when they made him rich and noble. Petyr says that every move is a gamble, something Roose, who struck his supposed ally in the heart with a dagger, should know. Now Roose is in charge of the North, and Petyr holds the Eyrie, and the last time those two areas joined forces they brought down a hell of a dynasty. Roose seems prepared to go along with this, for now.

Tyrion is seriously bored, as am I with this particular storyline. They’re coming into Volantis and he’s so stir crazy that Varys finally gives up and allows him out of their carriage. Tyrion being Tyrion, he wants to go to a brothel. To get there, they walk through a slave market where a follower of the Lord of Light is preaching the whole ‘The night is dark and full of terrors’ line. She mentions the Dragon Queen and Tyrion jokingly comments to Varys that they’re going to meet the savior, and he should have told him that’s what she was. The woman preaching turns and glares at him and Tyrion gets uncomfortable and continues on his way.

They find a brothel where one woman is dressed up as Dany and is quite popular as a result. Tyrion goes and talks to another woman, joking with her and charming her, but when she offers to take him to a room, he realizes he’s not quite up to the task. He seems bewildered and goes to relieve himself. As he’s finishing up, someone sneaks up on him. It’s Jorah! Yay! He wraps a rope around Tyrion’s body, gags him, and tells him he’s taking him to the queen. Ahh, but which queen?



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