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Game of Thrones: High Sparrow

“We’re going to meet the savior. You should have told me. Who doesn’t want to meet the savior?”

…in which people make alliances, and sever heads. Plus, Tyrion talks to someone with hair!

Okay, okay. That might sound more flippant than it should, given that “High Sparrow” is a solid episode that continues to balance book material with new information. But I find myself getting antsy with this season: I want more…More what? I’m not sure. Perhaps more death. More despair. Less conversation and more destruction. If that sounds bloodthirsty, you’re right. It’s Game of Thrones, after all.

And we did get a nice decapitation up at the Wall. (It’s the small things we have to learn to be grateful for.) Jon Snow is following in Ned Stark’s footprints: one of the first scenes in the first episode of the show was Ned decapitating a former Brother of the Night’s Watch. He did it himself, because there is no honor in outsourcing punishment. Jon understands that, and he rose to the occasion (even though some of his fellow brothers seemed surprised that he did not accede to a request for mercy).

But Jon is also still finding his footing. His conversation with Stannis was interesting: as Davos explained (unnecessarily, I thought—at least for us), Stannis respects Jon. But Jon seemed uncertain about his authority. He choose to keep his squire in the room (power) but felt the need to explain why to Stannis (not power). By the beheading scene, he did seem a bit more comfortable wielding the mantle of the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

Tommen and Margaery got comfortable, too. And married. It seems like their mutual comfort is the more important of those two facts. Margaery is clearly happy that her new husband is easy to manipulate. But I think she’s also happy that he’s not Joffrey. He’s like a puppy. A puppy running a kingdom.

Well, sort of. Cersei continues to use, and abuse, what little power she has. As Littlefinger pointed out, her influence is formidable, yet waning. Margaery is all-too-aware of that fact. Cersei seems less aware. She definitely thought she was speaking the High Sparrow’s language, because she assumed he spoke the language of power. It could never occur to her that he might speak the language of faith.

Faith—religious or patriotic—is an interesting theme in this show. We saw a glimpse of the North’s devotion to the fallen House Stark this week, when a serving woman reminded Sansa that the North never forgets. That’s why Roose Bolton wants to marry his son to Sansa, of course. It’s a situation worse, perhaps, than her engagement to Joffrey. I wonder if Littlefinger knows just how bad Ramsey Bolton is. (I’ll bet he does.) (I wonder if Theon will wind up rescuing Sansa at some point.)

Faith is a key component in both alliances and in severances. Some people have faith in the solidity of marriage vows. Brienne had faith in Renly for his kindness; Pod has faith in Brienne, and had faith in Tyrion, because he seems unconcerned with reputation. Jon trusted Ned’s nobility, and tried to follow in his footsteps—and has faith in himself that it is the right course.

Faith is a key issue in Arya’s story, too. She disposed of her clothes and her coin, but not her sword. A sword which Jon gave her, let’s not forget, and which represents her inherent Starkness as well as the thin line she walks between defense and offense. Is Arya being faithful to her family, or breaking faith with Jaquen? Or both?

Tyrion, in the most touching scene in this episode, couldn’t break faith with Shay. That’s one alliance that he, at least, is still…um…allied to. That he’s moved past whores (loved the Mother of Dragons cosplayer) means he’s either still wallowing in misery or growing up enough to be uninterested in casual, false love. Maybe once he meets Dany—which looks to happen soon, if Lord Friend Zone has his druthers—they can fall passionately in love, and Tyrion can get a dragon.

Three out of four Lord Ducklings. (Meow!)

Reminder: The comments on these episode reviews are appropriate for newbies. If you haven't read the books, you're safe! If you have read the books and would like to talk about upcoming events, please do so here, in our Season Five book spoiler thread.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Great review Josie!

    I loved the callbacks to the pilot here - the beheading, and Sansa riding into Winterfell again.

    I got the impression Littlefinger genuinely doesn't know how bad Ramsey is. I'm not sure, cause he seemed to be encouraging Sansa to use and then dispose of the Boltons with extreme prejudice, but when he said he hoped Ramsey would be good to her, I thought maybe he really doesn't know - only the flaying would be public, and all Boltons do that, and he might not see a threat to Sansa in it. I would have thought he loves her too much to give her to Ramsey if he knew. But I might be wrong. He's definitely playing a long game of some kind, there's no way he'd forget that Bolton had Catelyn Stark murdered!

  2. One other thought - is Brienne's sudden ability to acknowledge Renly's sexuality a quick retcon, is she covering up in front of Pod, or is this a (very) subtle indication of just how much faith she has in Jaime, given it was him who pointed it out to her? I'm genuinely not sure how to read that!

  3. Juliette, maybe Brienne is just covering her own naivity. Everyone knew about Renly's sexuality. I'm thinking Brienne is soo trying to be this righteous knight, that she is losing her sense of reality in the process. In a strange way, that is precisely how a knight should be...loyal, and without any thoughts about "what if"... Which comes to the conclusion knights = full of heart but very naive people...(?)

  4. What about the ambiguousness of Ser Jorah's statement that he is taking Tyrion to the queen -- would that be the unburnt queen or the queen mother?


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