Game of Thrones: “High Sparrow” Season 5 Episode 3 Review

Weddings and religion were the hot topics across the Seven Kingdoms this week as Cersei became a lot more likable and Sansa made a choice that could define the rest of her time on the series.

“High Sparrow” continued the trend of familiar faces coming together for the first time, which keeps making the beginning of season five one of the best starts to a Thrones season yet. Take Sansa and Littlefinger’s travels for instance. Not only are they being tailed by Brienne and Podrick, but they also arrived in Bolton-controlled Winterfell, where Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay is being arranged.

Sansa’s struggle and Littlefinger’s pledge for vengeance early in the episode was a strong character moment for the Stark. Even stronger was seeing her walk around her home for the first time since the middle of season one. A Stark hasn’t been in Winterfell in a long time, and it was a great way to reflect on everything that’s transpired since the series started.

But she’s not the only offspring of Ned Stark that may be at the gates of Winterfell soon. After Stannis fails to convince Jon Snow to ride with him to reclaim the North, Davos gives a far more heartfelt plea. Riding with Stannis may stretch the limitations of the Nightswatch oath, but it may also be for the good of the country.

This all comes as Jon is taking on the heavy burden of being the Lord Commander of the Nightswatch. It’s a job he proves to be good at, with the support of most of the men, but also one that may exhaust him, as he executes one of his few naysayers for refusing to take up his new post. It’s great to finally see Jon in a position where he’s not being treated as the punk kid. Stannis watches as the Lord Commander makes a difficult decision, and you know their argument isn’t over.

Meanwhile, Tyrion and Varys continue to draw closer to Daenerys. Their travels bring them through a town enamored with the dragon queen. As Varys puts it, someone admired by both priests and whores is someone to keep an eye on. But as Tyrion drowns his problems with wine, his sight is fogged and he becomes reckless. He’s lucky that is was just Jorah to capture him at the end (also, yay Jorah!).

But even as characters come together, this is still Game of Thrones, which means new characters and locations will probably be explored until the show ends. This episode’s title refers to a new character played by the excellent Jonathan Pryce. The High Sparrow is a religious figure in King’s Landing that gives back to the poor, even if some of his methods are a but louder than some might expect. But with Margaery now married to Tommen and officially queen, Cersei’s power is diminishing. She finds comfort in the High Sparrow’s actions, claiming that faith and the crown are the only two things keeping the world spinning.

This was an excellent Cersei episode. Her reign is over and her role in the game suddenly seems so much smaller. When she tells Margaery that she’d do anything to keep her and her son happy, it feels like a concession speech. It feels right that she would find comfort in her faith now more than ever.

So “High Sparrow” was another strong episode of character movements and motivations being set up. Characters we’ve known since episode one are being put in positions of power, or, in the case of Cersei, removed from one. The effect of seeing all these major figures coming together, the main draw of season five thus far, hasn’t warn off. Game of Thrones seems ready to deliver on some promises made long ago, which makes for excellent TV. Grade: A-


Some Other Notes:

– The only character that’s really removed this season so far is Arya. With Daenerys destined to cross with Tyrion, the young Stark has replaced her as the one outside of the action. It works though, as her new training opens new worlds for the show and allows her to become a threat to every person on that list of hers.

– Brienne and Podrick shared a lovely scene this week as they discussed their pasts and propelled each other toward, hopefully, a better future.

– Cersei may have lost some of her power, but she’s still got a FrankenMountain being built for her that anybody who opposes her will soon have to face.

– Poor Theon back in Winterfell. His mind seems lost, but he’s still got some memories of who he was. This transformation has been very difficult to watch.


By Matt Dougherty

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