This season of game of Thrones has been all about cliff-hangers. It seems like every episode ends with me saying, “I’ll be so pissed if that was the end of…. Dammit!” With so much of the story spread around Westeros, there’s usually not even an immediate answer to those predicaments. This week is no exception; it’s more of a set-up episode than an action episode, but you can already see the dominos that began to fall at the end of Season 4 are tipping over – and my, they fall quickly. No matter the outcome of this Game, I don’t see anybody getting a happy ending.
Religious zealots with power? What could go wrong?: This is a love/hate relationship, but I’m a big fan of the portrayal of the conflict of interest that arises when real power is given to religious cults. It’s been going on throughout time (and is still kind of happening today), but the way Game of Thrones tackles the issue with the Sparrows is genius. It’s all a stupid chess move from Cersei – equivalent to leaving your Queen open to protect a pawn – but the implications are much deeper.
Cersei is really bad at chess: Cersei has zeroed in on Margaery, and is so worried about Margaery taking over the little power she has left that she is willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater to take her down. She’s imprisoned Ser Loras, who, although quite gay, is quite the fighter. Then, she sends the blundering idiot Mace Tyrell to talk to the Iron Bank of Braavos about a reprieve in payment. Oh, and she unleashes the Sparrows on her enemies, which is like setting a nuke off in your backyard and then plugging your ears to prevent collateral damage. In short, she end up with a lot of bad things happening to her in her efforts to thwart Margaery. Too bad Olenna isn’t there to set things straight.
Jon Snow’s self-control: You know, I’ve never been faced with the dilemma of asking the man who murdered my family for help, but I’d like to think that I would have the fortitude that Jon Snow had when he agreed to ask Roose Bolton for men and supplies. Not even the evil vagina of death could persuade Lord Commander Snow to defect from his vow. Stannis was certain that it was honor that got Ned killed, but I’m certain Snow’s honor and duty is the only thing keeping The Night’s Watch from murdering Jon, should he ever choose to defect.
Stannis has a heart?: Wow, of all the crazy crap that happened this episode, Stannis Baratheon sharing his feelings was by far the most surprising. This man has been as emotional as a rock throughout the series, so when Shireen asked him if he was ashamed of her, I was expecting the same old a-hole Stannis we’ve always seen. Instead, we are blessed with one of the sweetest father-daughter stories of the series. Maybe this guy isn’t too heartless to rule the kingdom.
Tommen is not about that life: Let’s be honest, this little bastard is so screwed. In whatever twisted Incest Goldilocks story going on, Tommen bear got the short end of the stick in the leadership area. Yeah, he’s just a boy, and he’s been raised by the most manipulative bastard in the Kingdom, but this goes back to what I said last week about where Robb Stark was at that time. Tommen has been bred to be a snobby little Lordling, while Robb was groomed to become Warden of the North. Either way, this city is gonna swallow this little dude whole if he doesn’t wise up soon. Monster he may have been, but the Crown could definitely need some Tywin wisdom right now.
You don’t get to say those words: I think they’ve done a great job with Melisandre thus far, but hearing her say Ygritte’s phase just got under my skin. I don’t know if it was in the book or not, but not a well-written line. If I were Jon, it wouldn’t magically convince me to do the sex with the Red Woman. It would, however, make me start to believe that I really didn’t no anything.
Ellaria’s vengeance: I’ve heard that Ellaria is actually a benevolent person in the books, which makes sense given that she was practically soulmates with Oberyn Martell. So, her unrelenting resolve to start a war seems like good TV, but it’s a bit conflicting to who she has been as a character. I’m especially drawn aback by her determination to fulfill the revenge by murdering Myrcella, something that both Doran and Oberyn were adement against it. It makes me worry that this is going to make her unlikable and one-dimensional; hopefully it doesn’t bleed into the Sand Snakes, who seemed much more impressionable than I previously thought.
The Unsullied kinda suck: For having their wieners chopped off and trained to murder from childhood, these guys kinda suck. They’re outfitted with armor (-ish), a shield and a long-spear, and still somehow have difficulty to defeat a bunch of guys wearing party masks and pajamas, brandishing daggers. Color me unimpressed, but I expected this army to be ridiculous in combat. Only Grey Worm really brought his A-game, and it still wasn’t enough to save Ser Barristan Selmy. RIP Ser Barristan, the only guy with enough balls to tell Joffrey to shove off and keep his head.
Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things (Odds and Ends)
New real estate: Dorne is finally important enough to have a opening credits – took them long enough, jeez. Also, when Jaime and Bronn are on their way to Dorne, they pass Tarth, the Sapphire Isle. It’s no coincidence; that’s where Brienne of Tarth is from. The water is so blue that it shimmers like jewels, not because it’s teeming with riches.
One more name on the list: With Mace Tyrell being the bumbling idiot that he is, Cersei sent Ser Meryn Trant with him to stand before the Iron Bank of Braavos. Trant is the one who led the charge to apprehend Arya in Season 1 and presumably murder Syrio Forel, and he just so happens to be one of the names on Arya’s short Hit List. We could see a reunion. Or, in her attempt to let go of her previous life, maybe we won’t. Although, I’m personally waiting for a Janos Slynt-sized fistful of karma.
Fighting and fuckin: Really, isn’t that all this show is? Maybe that’s why we like Bronn so much.
More depth to Jaime: As long as he’s boinking his sister, Jaime Lannister will always an irredeemable character. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a complex character. Here, it’s revealed that Jaime regrets helping to free his brother, since Tyrion thanked Jaime by putting a couple bolts through his father. There’s also gotta be some symbolism there with the snake in the sand that Bronn kills… whoa… Sand Snakes? I might be on to something.
High Sparrow/Eddard comparisons: They’re not exactly the same, but it’s an interesting parallel to see how Cersei and the late King Robert enlisted the services of these noble men, and how it sort of blew up in both of their faces. As honorable as Ned was, it couldn’t save him from others’ intentions. Similarly, the High Sparrow himself is a noble and devout man (seemingly…), but his followers… eh, not so much. I’m excited to watch this blow up in Cersei’s face.
Hodor Hodors (Best Quotes)
“There’s nothing like a good fight to get you in the mood to fight. And there’s nothing like a fuck-mad Dornish to clear your headfor the next fight” – Bronn
“Come, let’s speak somewhere the dead can’t hear us.” – Petyr Baelish
“You are Princess Shireen of House Baratheon and you are my daughter.” – Stannis Baratheon
Who won the Game of Thrones this episode?
Uh… The Sons of the Harpy? Varys? Nobody really won this episode. I think Littlefinger has to be the closest to “winning” as it got here. He’s been playing Sansa like a fiddle, and he has a very “big picture” type of game in mind. He knows that Stannis is coming to reclaim the North, and if successful, will need to give a Stark the North to gain the other families’ favor. On the other hand, if Stannis is unsuccessful, then Baelish can play both sides and Sansa can go back to being a submissive wife to Ramsay while Littlefinger keeps favor to the Boltons. That kissing scene, though? Probably could have done without that.
More exciting is Petyr’s exposition about the late Lyanna Stark. The account of a past tournament insinuates that the late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was visually unhappy with his wife, Elia Martell, and quite smitten by Lyanna Stark. Whether or not she returned the affection is unknown since the popular belief is that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped her. Notice Petyr’s reaction to Sansa’s declaration; it looked like he had something to hide. Anywho, the point is that this scene is just adding fuel to the fan theories.
Hush Comics gives “Sons of the Harpy” a B for meandering around in spectacular fashion. The dominos have begun to fall, and it doesn’t look like anybody is going to win this Game.
All media credited to HBO