[intro-text size=”25px”]With whos and whats established, episode three, High Sparrow, set numerous plots and schemes into motion. Some were worse than others. Yes, I’m talking to you Sansa Stark-Barratheon-Barratheon-Bolton.[/intro-text]
Arya has begun her initiation with the Faceless men. Within the House of Black and White we are treated to some really impressive religious iconography spanning from the Drowned Gods of the Iron Islands, to the Seven, the Fire God and everything in between. Arya is the humble novice to her tutor, Jaqen H’Ghar, who patiently teaches her discipline, restraint and patience through repetitive chores. In the Buddhist tradition, he stresses the need for lack of attachment. For Arya to truly learn from the Faceless Men she needs to give up who and what ‘Arya Stark’ is. Drowning her clothes is a symbolic gesture of shedding old skin and persona but when it comes to her sword, Needle, she just can’t do it. That sword is the very last physical connection she has to her family, gifted from her half-brother, Jon Snow. She pulls a Rick Grimes and hides it under a rock. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of it.
Her sister, Sansa, is aligning herself with another type of faceless men, the Boltons. Yes, those Boltons. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out this character’s motivations. For as traumatized as she has been and as much as the writers would like us to believe that she has learned how to be subtle and savvy she is never far from an increasingly poor decision. Littlefinger has maneuvered her to wed Ramsey Bolton, for reasons undeclared, but what is so frustrating about this scene is the gibberish offered as reasoning. How is marrying yet another sadistic monster “avenging” her family and “making her own justice”? The silver lining of this development is that it gives Brienne a renewed motivation. I look forward to her battle with the Bastard of Bolton. And think on this, Brienne has claimed a blood debt on Stannis, who is about to start his march to same place. Could you imagine the insanity of a one-on-one duel between Stannis and Brienne?
For now, Stannis is content playing Kramer to Jon Snow’s Seinfeld, dropping in on his quarters like they have neighboring apartments. He seems to have genuine respect for Jon and does not sour once his offer to name the Lord Commander, ‘Jon Stark’ is refused. His words of advice do not come as an order or even criticism, he solicits them to a peer, to a son he never had. Later, Jon wisely sets the tone of his relationship with Aliser Thorne early. He plays to his ego and utilizes his skills to the Watch’s benefit, effectively neutralizing a potential enemy. There is strategy in this but also diplomacy. The soft touch fails on Janos Slynt, however. Assigned to Grayguard, the smarmy and entitled Slynt openly refuses the Lord Commander and makes the hell-high mistake of calling him out as the Bastard. His fate was sealed. Jon was forced to take his head if he ever wanted his commands to be taken seriously by the other brothers. Stannis awakes from a nap to catch the beheading and offers his surrogate son an ‘attaboy’ from the balconies.
For an episode named for the titular religious leader, not much of the focus was on the High Sparrow or their order. Religious zealots, the sparrows bust up a brothel and march the High Septon out onto the streets, naked and exposed, after catching him ‘profaning the faith’ with a package deal of prostitutes. Cersei meets with their affable leader and we can see the wheels turning as she grooms the next person she can use to her ends. Her pow-wow with Queen Maegery actually seemed like a genuine attempt to extend an olive branch, realizing she has been out maneuvered by the young upstart. That all went out the window the moment she called Cersei a ‘dowager mother’.
Across the Narrow Sea, Cersei’s brother, Tyrion, needs a bell like a dairy cow. I’m just going to say it. He needs to quit getting trundled away like a bale of hay. Reminiscent of his season one abduction by Catelyn Stark, Tyrion is bound and seized by a drunk and despondent Jorrah Mormont in the same setting as his first kidnapping. Jorrah is just sad. He’s the type of ex who would blow your phone up at three in the morning. He closes the episode with Tyrion over his shoulder claiming, “I’m taking you to the Queen.” Based on the bounty on his head, the audience is led to believe he means Cersei, but given his lovesick devotion to Dany we are left wondering.