Saturday, May 02, 2015

Game of Thrones (S5E03): "High Sparrow"

Episode of 3 of Season 5 of HBO's Game Of Thrones aired earlier this week and is titled "High Sparrow." This episode (S5E03) features the debut of acclaimed British actor Jonathan Pryce playing the soon-to-be important role of the High Sparrow, a leader of a religious sect. As you can see from the pictures above, and as I have said before, this season revolves around Cersei Lannister (played by Lena Headey), and to a lesser extent Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams).

I think the main theme of this episode is alliances or partnerships. There are numerous "big moves" made in the Game of Thrones in this episode. First, Cersei seeks out the man they call the High Sparrow, the head of a group of believers in a hard-core version of the Seven Gods religion that dominates Westeros. She wants to align faith and crown (church and state) in a mutually beneficial pact that will lead to stability in the kingdom, and more power to each of them, especially her, she thinks.

This is important because, in sharp contrast to the other dramatic weddings that have happened on the show, the wedding of Margaery Tyrell and Tommen Barratheon proceeds without incident and is vigorously and repeatedly consummated. Thus Cersei's grip on power is more and more tenuous since her title of Queen Regent or Queen Mother may soon slip to Dowager Queen or Queen Grandmother as soon as Tommen's new bride successfully delivers a new heir. Margaery takes a little too much pleasure at informing Cersei of this fact of life to her face, and also points out to the newly deflowered King that perhaps he no longer requires such close devotion from his mother.

Another example of alliances being forged/re-arranged in S5E03 are in The North, where Littlefinger reveals that he has offered Sansa Stark's hand in marriage to Ramsey Bolton, the Lord of Winterfell. So, a Stark may again be residing in Winterfell, but as we in the audience know (and knowing Littlefinger's penchant for secrets its hard to imagine that he does NOT know), Ramsey Bolton is a psychopathic sexual sadist and his father, Roose Bolton, murdered Sansa's brother Robb Stark (the former Lord of Winterfell) in cold blood.

In addition to these events there were other important plot developments in this episode. The first  of these was at the Wall, where newly elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch Jon Snow was forced to eliminate a thorn in his side and demonstrate that his orders must be followed by beheading Janos Slynt for refusal to follow a direct order. Other important developments were Tyrion Lannister's kidnapping in Volantis by Ser Jorah Mormont (formerly a key adviser to AND secret informant on Dany Targaeryen) and confirmation that Brienne and Pod are continuing to follow Sansa and Littlefinger.

A key take away of this episode is that the showrunners have made a definitive split from the story that is being told i George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice and Fire and the story being told in this television adaptation called Game Of Thrones.

The best parts of the episode were:
  • The best line of the show was when Sansa shows up at Winterfell and one of the servants addresses her as "Lady Stark" and Sansa turns around, surely thinking, "Lady Stark was my mother, I'm not Lady Stark" and the servant says "The North Remembers!"
  • The verbal jousting between Margaery and Cersei and the look on Cersei's face when Tommen asks her whether she wouldn't be happier if she moved back to Casterly Rock and her realization that his new bride is already manipulating her son was priceless.
  • Another highlight was the conversation between Littlefinger and Roose Bolton. I like how explicit the show is about how significant Littlefinger is to all the intrigues and plots that change the power structures in Westeros. I don't think that was remotely as clear in the books.
  • The look that Sansa Stark gives Roose Bolton as she approaches her fiance's father, recognizing that he is the man responsible for the death of her brother and mother, before waiting a beat (or two) and then giving a perfect curtsey.
The parts of the episode I could have done without:
  •  Did we really need to see the stump of the decapitated body of Jonas Slynt
Grade: 8/10.

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