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What We Learned from "High Sparrow": Spoiler Whore and Book Reader Edition

By Genevieve Burgess | Game of Thrones | April 28, 2015 |


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This is a book reader review for Game of Thrones, which means that below the dragon there will be discussion of plots from the TV show up to the most current episode that has aired on HBO, as well as spoilers from all five books that have been released. Chapters from books that have not yet been released, as well as information from any episodes that have not aired on HBO, are still off-limits. Thank you for cooperating!

If last week’s episode was about power and how to wield it, this week was by and large about the compromises you make to gain or keep power. There were few people this week who were completely satisfied with their choices, and fewer truly happy alliances. We’re also going further and further off book each week, so get ready for these recaps to get more philosophical in terms of the larger story points being served by the new plotlines.

Arya is getting frustrated at The House of Black and White as Jaqen is sort of Mr.Miyagi-ing her. This seems to be at least half because she’s clinging to being Arya Stark, and half because learning to follow directions is probably pretty important when you’re on the path to becoming an elite killer. I was very scared that she was going to toss Needle here even though she didn’t in the books, and audibly sighed when she hung onto it. As interesting as it is to see No One grow into herself, I think that Arya Stark still has work to do. At the same time, though, Arya has been on her own for a long time and it’s understandable that she’s chafing a bit at taking direction and working on someone else’s timeline, but by the end of the episode it seemed like she was willing to watch, listen, and learn even if she still didn’t quite understand. Also, the line “there is only one god” does make it seem like they’re setting up the Syrio is Jaqen theory that doesn’t work in the books but which COULD work on the show. I am intrigued by this.
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We then get the marriage of Tommen and Margaery, and the show totally Going There wedding-night wise. I’ve seen some mumbling about Tommen’s age, and that he could totally be 18 if a very specific series of conditions was met, but Sansa stated that her age was 14 when she married Tyrion two seasons ago. I seriously doubt that Tommen OR Myrcella are supposed to be older than Sansa. If Tommen were of age then Cersei would have no standing as Regent, and Myrcella would have already been married, so enjoy that scene of a kid who’s probably 13-14 getting sexed up by his late-20s bride! And, of course, Tommen barely has time to learn what an afterglow is before Margaery starts on her plot to get rid of Cersei. I’m sure if you’d asked Margaery Tyrell three seasons ago how she wanted to become THE Queen it wouldn’t have involved fucking a middle schooler and then slyly calling him a momma’s boy afterwards, but here we are. I think I would have been happier if they’d kept it to gifts of kittens. Margaery’s pretty pleased with herself, though, and gets in some very nice burns on Cersei while basically taunting her about screwing her youngest son silly. I’m all for the shade, but arrogance isn’t really a good look in this show. Tends to immediately precede a beheading. (Paging Janos Slynt.)
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Up with the House of “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, BOLTONS, CAN YOU NOT?!?” we get more flayed people and Theon skulking around looking squirrelly as Roose and Littlefinger break the news of impending nuptials to their respective young charges.I wonder what Theon might think of this? What would the book say: “He remembered a time when he had thought that Lord Eddard Stark might marry him to Sansa and claim him for a son, but that had only been a child’s fancy.” Huh. Well that’s interesting.
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This plot is obviously a huge departure from the books, but it does have some advantages in terms of keeping new or tertiary characters to a minimum while achieving the same goal in the show that Littlefinger has in the books; to consolidate the power of the North and the Eyrie. As Littlefinger points out, the last time that happened they brought down the Targaryens. What Littlefinger and Roose seem to be unaware of is how loyal the Northerners are to the Starks specifically and how unlikely it is that Ramsay would keep his promise to never hurt Sansa.
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I also want to recognize Sophie Turner and the work she’s doing with Sansa. It’s becoming more and more clear that her courtesy is her armor, but that she’s not stupid. She knows who Roose is and what he did, she clearly marked that servant who said “The North Remembers”, and while I’m scared for what’s coming for her, I have faith that there is a way through this for her. Maybe even one that lets her hang onto Winterfell.
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Brienne and Pod are still following Sansa to Winterfell, but mostly what we get this week is the story of how Brienne came to love Renly. As awful as it is, it’s still gentler than her history from the books, and the contest to claim her maidenhood in Renly’s camps. It also helps that they let her acknowledge that he was gay, so she doesn’t look as naive. Brienne also pledges to teach Pod how to be a real fighter, so that’s a nice development for him.
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Up at the Wall Jon is getting advice on ruling from Stannis Baratheon. Shoved in there somewhere is the news that Stannis plans to march on Winterfell “in a fortnight” which is interesting. Later, Jon gets about to Lord Commanding the men of the Night’s Watch. Well, all except Janos Slynt who decides that he’s not taking orders from Jon. While we don’t get “Edd, fetch me a block” we do get “Oly, bring me my sword” and Janos gets in a few more pleas for mercy. It doesn’t work, and we have a public beheading for the second week in a row. This one seems to go over better than the one last week, and it’s the decisive move of a leader who is not fucking around, but Jon just barely won that election. It’s not likely that this move turned any of his detractors into fans. Stannis approves though, because Stannis is all about harsh judgement and cutting bits off people.
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In King’s Landing, the faith is making their move, kidnapping the High Septon as he “worships” at this week’s obligatory parade of silent naked women seen from the neck down. (Seriously, does anyone get the feeling that they’re just trolling us with this shit now? “Oh, they think we have too many boobs? WE’LL SHOW THEM TOO MANY BOOBS!”) Cersei decides that in the face of the open challenge Margaery represents, she’s going to attempt her own power move by tossing out the existing High Septon in favor of one that would be, in theory, in her debt. Unfortunately, there’s nothing more dangerous than a man who can’t be bought, and the High Sparrow appears to be just that. She’s also sending messages to Littlefinger since I guess it’s harder to realize that someone is conspicuously not returning your texts when all of them go via raven. So, lots of poor decision making with Cersei this week, although we’ll see how long it takes for her to realize that.
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What’s that in the basement of King’s Landing? Something creepy! And a reanimated corpse.
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Varys learns that he made a huge mistake by not letting Tyrion wander around a bit while they were still in countryside and lets him go walking around Volantis where he immediately profanes a red priestess, locates a whorehouse, basically goes blabbing to the whole whorehouse that he’s Lyrion Tannister and always makes good on his outstanding bills, and then gets himself kidnapped by Jorah Mormont. Looks like maintaining a steady drunk for several weeks doesn’t really help one’s stealth skills. Good news is that Tyrion is going to end up with Daenerys anyway, but now who will be Varys’s travel buddy?
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