Season Five, Episode Three — “High Sparrow”
By Jarrod Jones. Well, then. Even though Game of Thrones is only two episodes into its fifth season, it has already felt like the series has payed some sort of undeserved penance by pacing itself with the momentum of a dead turtle. (Though it definitely doesn’t look like it’s skimping on its budget.) But this week’s installment paradoxically ramps up its action — albeit incrementally — by letting some of its pieces lie completely still on the board. Cersei and Margaery reach an understanding. Podrick finally has a breakthrough with Brienne. Jon learns what it means to lead. And we learn that Tommen is a rather, um, rambunctious young fellow. (Which, ew.)
WHAT WORKED: Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Queen Mother Cersei (Lena Headey) have a battle of subtext in plain view. Watching the newly-minted queen toss such underhanded barbs at the woman who wants her dead more than anything else in the world was an eye-brow raising moment (“I wish we had some wine for you; it’s a little early in the day for us.“). And while it is certainly not news that both women absolutely despise each other, this razor sharp tête-à-tête had me cracking open a pint of double chocolate chip ice cream.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) realizes that her sojourn to Winterfell with Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen) isn’t at all what it seemed, and to watch her finally unleash just enough grief-stricken anger over her broken home and Baelish’s callous decision to hand her over to the rat-bastard Bolton family gave Turner an opportunity to flex some dramatic muscles. Sansa is no stranger to cruel little boys, and because we know what Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) can do means that only horrible things can come from this unnerving turn of events.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) begins to settle into his role as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but leading a crew of restless, celibate, and frostbitten men means that he has to learn to flex his leading muscles. That could have become a completely undersold and adorably sad sequence (considering that Harington has the charisma of a steamed carrot), but instead we get a glimpse into an undercurrent of menace that most wouldn’t normally associate with the Stark Bastard.
WHAT DIDN’T: For an episode where lagging plotlines were set aside (Jamie Lannister, I’m looking at you) in the name of serious story progression (and the introduction of two new — and recognizable — faces), there wasn’t much to complain about this week. Although… Was I the only person who hid behind a pillow when Marjorie and King Kid tossed around the bedsheets in a post-coital bout of gross?
“There’s no justice in this world. Not unless we make it.” – Littlefinger.
“Nothing’s more hateful than failing to save those you love.”- Breanne.
“Welcome home, Lady Stark. The North remembers.” – A Random (and cool as hell) Lady.
BEST MOMENT: Come on. Margaery vs. Cersei.
EPISODE’S MVP: Margaery Tyrell. The very presence of a new queen in King’s Landing means that Cersei’s profile (and influence) is quickly dwindling. And I think I can speak for at least 99% of Thrones‘ viewing audience when I say that there might be nothing more satisfying than watching Lady Lannister squirm. (Barring, of course, the sudden infusion of twelve million dollars into all of our checking accounts. That would be pretty satisfying too.) Natalie Dormer’s squishy-cheeked smirk stymied Cersei to no end — and made this grown-up squeal like a toddler running through a sprinkler. More, please.
– The Red Priestess is none other than Yukio herself, Rila Fukushima. Don’t front. I know you’ve seen The Wolverine.
– The very presence of former Bond villain Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies) means that we’re in for at least five episodes of silky-voiced monologues from this titan of character acting.
– I’m just guessing here, but the honeymoon for Margaery and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) isn’t going to last very long, despite what the young buck is boasting.
– Adios, Janos. Let his passing serve as a lesson to the Night’s Watch that there’s a new sheriff in town, and he ain’t the milquetoast most take him for.