Chekhov's Gunman


GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 3 Review, “High Sparrow”

game of thrones season 5 episode 3 the high sparrow sansa littlefinger

This review is from the point of view of someone who hasn’t read the books. Go back to the library, poindexter.

On Game of Thrones, one can never be too sure of who they’re going to bump into next and how exactly that person is going to ruin your life. Anyone from Ramsay Bolton to a complete stranger to a guy from Pirates of the Caribbean could show up out of nowhere and ruin the perfectly good thing you had going, often when you finally get that perfectly good thing really going. This week Jon Snow tried to honor an enemy and ended up beheading a guy named Janos (I’m told all members of the Night’s Watch have names, but I find this claim dubious). As the old saying goes, “Man plans. George R.R. Martin laughs.”

You know how these reviews go. We take things character by character, and then I crown tonight’s winner at the end of the review. That’s the part you’re waiting for, so let’s just get to that.

Bran’d This Week (Those Too Busy to Grace Us with Their Presence)

–Bran. By the time we revisit him the kid’s going to be six feet tall and post-pubescent.

–Daenerys. I was a bit disappointed that Dany was missing this week after last week’s events almost threw her city of Mereen into an all-out revolt, but soon she’ll be getting a gift-wrapped dwarf laid on her doorstep, so that ought to count for something.

–Jamie and Bronn. It is almost criminal that we didn’t get any of Jamie and Bronn this week. I want to visit them more than anything.

–After meeting Dorne last week, there is no head or tail of them to be seen this week because this is Game of Thrones.

–The Brothers without Banners. My dearly beloved…

Arya Plants a Plot Point for Later

Much like Andy from Toy Story, Arya is having trouble letting go of the things that once meant so much to her. And much like my fan fiction for Andy from Toy Story, it is conflicting with her path to becoming an assassin. After Jaqen asks her to throw out that which she formerly held dear, she has no issue tossing out her clothes (because who needs those when you have sweet, unflattering robes?) but neglects to throw out the sword with which she has killed multiple dudes. Instead of sinking it in the sea, she finds a little hidey hole for it in a rock just like I did when I was her age when I was trying to hide my Toy Story fan fiction. That sword will either be found by Jaqen and predict Arya’s reprimanding, or will be thrown in the sea by Arya during the dead of night when she realizes that they’re all just things, man.

This was sort of a risky maneuver on Arya’s part. Not just because a scary man told her to do something and then she didn’t do it, but because the Faceless Men very obviously have eyes everywhere and totally know that she didn’t throw her sword away and seem to be able to fish things out of the sea no problem. It’s just amateur hour on Arya’s part this week. Real scrub work.

Also, I don’t know what I was expecting from Assassin School, but what I didn’t expect was for Arya to be razzled by a blind girl (one I’m sure will inevitably teach her to see). If this turns out to be the prolonged wax-on/wax-off training sequence it has made itself out to be this week, this is going to be much less interesting than I thought it was going to be. It’s just Arya scrubbing progressively cooler things until she’s scrubbing dude blood off of her blouse. Could be worse?

Margaery Has Sex with a Baby

I’m exaggerating, but only marginally. Do we remember how young King Tommen was last year? When he was playing with his cat he named Ser Pounce? I know they recast him to make him older, and he is certainly not the eight-year-old brought to us by the books, but it is best to not think about exactly what is going on in their marital bed for fear of going mad.

But as much as I’m not wild about whatever weirdness is going on in the King’s kingsize, I do love how much Margaery is learning to play the game. She is proving to be a worthy adversary of cunning to Cersei Lannister, the OG of cunning temptresses. She may never get the royal wino of King’s Landing thrown back to Casterly Rock, but she will certainly give the Queenmother a run for her vast surplus of money. King’s Landing is no longer the snide wonderland of political shenanigans that I loved so much in Season Three, but it still brings its fair share of doublecrosses right when you’re worried you may lose interest.


There was absolutely no way that Tyrion wasn’t getting roughed up by someone. No character in the history of fiction has ever been specifically instructed to not do something for fear of danger and then not been greeted by said danger. Most often that danger is preceded by a lot of not-danger, where the warned character develops a false sense of security.

So, of course, after Tyrion bums around a whore house and gets a healthy view of a Daenerys doppleganger’s shapely rump, he is promptly kidnapped by a sullen Jorah Mormont, who wants nothing more than to get back in the good graces of the real, less-naked Mother of Dragons. I suppose Tyrion is going to get himself to Meereen sooner than I anticipated. Although it would be a real shame of Varys couldn’t join them for a while because he was busy searching for Tyrion on the back of milk cartons.


i actually find the potential in this plot to be very exciting though it does stew in me a fear for our dear sansa I’m particularly interested in how littlefinger and roose will contribute to this storyline especially littlefinger because you know I love him but my god why would you let sansa marry ramsay my displeasure with ramsay & theon and their lack of real contributions to the show is well-known but our foreknowledge of this character and everything terrible he has done makes this a tempting bit of development because I mean yeah what a great and dramatically interesting way to bring sansa home again but

game of thrones season 5 episode 3 the high sparrow tommen margaery

There’s a Lot of Crap Going on with Cersei This Week

I have no idea what to make of whatever it is Cersei is doing in “High Sparrow.” One of the main complaints about Game of Thrones is that it often feels like nothing really happens in a given episode, but in my experience the show is equally adept at throwing far too much at the screen in a given week. There is so very, very much going on in King’s Landing this week for it being a show location where only two major characters currently reside. So in order to talk about what exactly happened to Cersei and Co. this week, we’re going to need to break things down even further, because Cersei really seems to be the protagonist of Season Five and they simply cannot put a cap on what they give her to do each week. We are entering into uncharted territory.

–Cersei & Tommen. The heartbreak! Cersei’s own son has been so manipulated by his very persuasive new bride (whom he wed this week in the show’s most successful marriage ceremony to date) that he is trying to talk his mom into leaving the city. That’s bonkers. Now, Tommen is the most obvious little bastard in all the land, so Cersei is by no means fooled, but it’s only proof of Margaery’s influence of the King of the Realm, the same power that Cersei is slowly losing.

–Cersei’s got a guy who can bring people back to life. What are the odds that Tywin’s the one under that sheet?

–There’s a lot of stuff going on with the religions of King’s Landing this episode, and we don’t have much context for it. It’s kind of a mess, honestly. The High Septon (you know, whoever that is) gets roughed up in a brothel, and then Cersei goes off in search of Elizabeth’s dad from Pirates of the Caribbean. We meet this contradiction of a man in the slums of King’s Landing, and he appears to be both harmless and very, very, very, very dangerous. I don’t know yet what to make of these Sparrows or their strange ways or their shaved. I do, however, know that they exist.

Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch Burn Through Plot

Jon Snow, if you don’t slow your Night’s Watch leading ass down you are going to hurt yourself. Once again the people of Castle Black speed through so much story that it almost seems reckless. Is it to make up for the seasons of stagnation? I don’t know if the best way to make amends is to lean so hard in the opposite direction.

Jon’s performance is more than vaguely reminiscent of a decision his brother Robb had to make back in Season 3. Behead the man who dared speak out against you before the discord spreads through your men like illness must during flu season at Castle Black. This plot sort of suffers from being a basic retreat of some previous Game of Thrones moments. Not only does it mirror an action from the late King in the North, but it feels pretty damn familiar to something Dany had to deal with last freakin’ week. This is the second time in two weeks that almost this exact same decision had to be made. It sort of makes this very, very dramatic thing that has happened rather dull. This sort of harrowing decision has somehow become old hat for Game of Thrones.

It’s like Game of Thrones is trying to get me to not like Jon Snow. It’s like the writers are actively trying to make this a difficult plotline to enjoy. Challenge accepted.

TONIGHT’S WINNER: Brienne of Tarth, the Belle of the Ball

As much as Game of Thrones is a show about cross-continental conspiracies and feuds that extend back generations, it is also a show about tender moments for characters we love. Brienne’s lovely, heartbreaking aside about how Renly Barratheon made her feel like a human, like she was nothing to be ashamed of, was as lovely and touching a moment as Game of Thrones has ever earned. As much as I love dragons laying waste to cities and the epic attack on King’s Landing, sometimes nothing beats a tender moment of character introspection. Especially that character is Brienne, one of my personal favorites and one of the precious few truly good and worthy people in all of Westeros. It’s a worthy moment in an episode that never really found its legs.

Episode Grade: B-
Extra Credits:
For the record, my favorite characters in all of Game of Thrones:
1.) Littlefinger
2.) Varys
3.) Brienne
4.) Oberyn Martell
5.) Tyrion
6.) Arya
7.) The Hound
8.) Cersei
9.) Jamie
10.) Joffrey

Check out the reservoir of Game of Thrones reviews here, my podcast Talking Back to the Movies here, and my Twitter feed here.


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One thought on “GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 3 Review, “High Sparrow”

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