Review: Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 – The High Sparrow

There's a new Queen in Westeros, and the battle of the subtle, cutting insults is well and truly on. Cersei, or Margaery - who is the true queen of shade?

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones was so jam packed with plots, schemes and intrigues, it turned out juicier than a flayed man (sorry).

First of all, let’s talk about Margaery (Natalie Dormer), because I’ve a funny feeling a lot of us had sort of forgotten about her. Well, she provided us with several whopping reminders this week, not least by GETTING MARRIED TO TOMMEN, and thereby making herself the actual honest to goddamn Queen-with-a-capital-Q (in other words, achieving the aim that almost every other character in this entire festering series would give a good portion of their internal organs to accomplish).

Next, she started right in with her one-woman ‘gaslight the mother-in-law’ campaign, sewing anti-Cersei (Lena Headey) seeds in Tommen’s (Dean-Charles Chapman) mind and then straight up calling her a drunk. “I wish we had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us” – shiiit son, get some ice on that burn. Seriously, if Margaery had roasted Cersei any more during this episode you’d have to stick a freaking apple in her mouth.

Since Joffrey choked his last and Tommen became King, it hasn’t seemed to matter very much who was actually on the literal throne. But now Margaery has finally weaselled her way up there – and it’s becoming clear that Margaery is a legit Machiavellian badass, and so ably played that if I met Dormer in a dark alley I’d give serious thought to ham-stringing her and lighting out for darkest Peru.

And Cersei? Well, she knows she’s in trouble, but something tells us she’s not going to go gentle into that good night. Nope, she’s plotting something involving that weirdo Frankenstein Qyburn (Anton Lesser) and possibly also the mysterious High Sparrow, brilliantly played by Jonathan Pryce (whose voice should have its own agent and IMDB page). Unfortunately it’s far too early to tell what the hell she’s planning (unless you’ve read the books, of course, in which case you will of course take a staple gun to your lips, out of courtesy to the rest of us).

In other news, Arya (Maisie Williams) drops the C-bomb on some cocky bitch at the House of Black and White, where she’s learning how to be a Faceless Man – the hard way. So far it involves a lot of sweeping, a lot of serving (Valar Dohaeris) and so much mysterious unexplained mumbo-jumbo that I’m starting to wonder if she’s wandered into the House of the Undead from Qarth in season two. One point of interest is that she holds onto Needle when told to get rid of all her belongings; she is told that there is only one God (whose name, we surmise, is Death), but it seems that she’ll never truly give herself over to her strange new vocation, and her plans for vengeance still stand.

Things are moving much more quickly on Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) end. It’s revealed that she’s been betrothed to that renowned bastion of sanity Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), and we get some pretty emotional scenes as she returns to Winterfell (anyone remember the last time there was actually a Stark at Winterfell? The North Remembers). Still learning the trade from Uncle Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) Sansa shows off her Stark honour by balking at the idea of marrying the son of the dude who eighty-sixed her brother – but she quickly recovers, realising that she’ll actually gain influence by the marriage. Sansa’s slow rise to power is hopefully going to be epic, even by GOT standards; Ramsay might be as mad as a sack of hedgehogs, but we’re willing to bet that Sansa will be the one to come out of this marriage alive.

We were treated to another execution this week, only this time it was done proper. The shadow of Ned Stark loomed large as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) cemented his new role as Lord Commander by knocking the block off Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter) for disobeying orders (good on ya, Jon, I’ve been gunning for that smarmy bugger since season one).

Unlike Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who, as you may remember, royally ballsed up an execution of her own last week, Jon has not only judged the general mood of his people correctly, but he also unflinchingly does the deed himself (“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword”).

In fact at the moment, Jon is kicking Daenerys into a cocked hat as far as my favourite characters are concerned (and it’s not just because I think he’s prettier than she is). He’s zooming up the ziggurat, leading the Night’s Watch and turning down lucrative job offers from Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), whereas she (despite being lodged inside an actual ziggurat) is screwing things up more and more with every move she makes.

No appearance from her in this week’s ep, unless you count the prostitute cosplaying her – Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) certainly doesn’t. Yep, he’s back, and looking more tortured than ever, but he should be feeling slightly more hopeful about his situation now, because of all the whorehouses in all the towns in all the world, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) has walked into his. Jorah plans to get back in with his Khaleesi by rocking up at her door with Tyrion in tow, which doesn’t actually inconvenience Tyrion too much seeing as that’s where he was headed anyway, but he probably would rather have arrived in Meereen under his own terms, and not over Ser Jorah’s shoulder.

So, what’s in store for next week? Will Sansa recognise Theon? Will Tyrion turn the Lannister charm on Daenerys? And will we ever, ever get to find out what happened to Benjen Stark? Remember Benjen? Of course you don’t, never mind, forget I said anything.

Best Kill: Hands down, Jon taking off Janos Slynt’s head

Best Scene: Brienne’s heart-wrenching reminiscing with Pod (so much love for Brienne)

Best Line: Has to be Margaery’s classic “I wish we had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us.” Oooh, that’s gonna sting come winter…

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