Game of Thrones, S. 5, E.3: “High Sparrow”

"Marry the murderer. It's OK because VENGEANCE." Petyr makes Sansa an offer she...can't refuse? Image source: HBO Viewer's Guide

“Marry the murderer. It’s OK because VENGEANCE.” Petyr makes Sansa an offer she…can’t refuse? Image source: HBO Viewer’s Guide

Hello, and welcome to week three, where the plot is made up and the books don’t matter.

That’s ok! It’s interesting to see how this stuff is unfolding as they veer off into no-man’s land.

So here’s the majorest of major deviations: Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton. I don’t even know where to begin with this one…

Let’s start with Sansa, shall we? In the book, she is squirrelled away and hidden quite carefully by Petyr Baelish – none of this running around out in the open, revealing her real identity to anyone who asks. Remember: she’s a fugitive, wanted for assisting Tyrion in regicide. It doesn’t exactly make sense that they’d swoop right in and try to reclaim Winterfell.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, who actually believes that Sansa should be taking this whole “buddy up to your mom’s murderer” so well? Sure, she might know very little about Ramsay, but everyone in the seven kingdoms knows what his father did to her mother and brother and all their men and the wolf. It’s outrageous that Sansa is so easily manipulated into marrying into this bag of assholes. I’m not sure I buy that she thinks she can avenge them by getting married. And don’t you think she should now suspect that Petyr knew the plot to put the Boltons in Winterfell all along? I mean, this match all seems pretty quick and convenient. Are Petyr and Roose pen pals?

On top of that, Petyr, as we were reminded by a convenient scene with Cersei, is still known throughout Westeros to be loyal to the Lannisters and the crown. What’s gonna happen when they find out he stole Sansa away before she could be tried for murder? (Nothing, if this episode is any indication.)

And let’s ask ourselves one more question: what does Petyr stand to gain from this? His motivation is always himself. I refuse to believe that he actually cares for Sansa. His book plot is to gain Winterfell for himself by a marriage between his “son” Robbin and Sansa. This seems like a more logical move, if ultimately kind of a weak play given he’d have to wait for someone else to root the Bolton’s out of Winterfell and wait for the right time to announce he had Sansa all along – but I think more believable since it still ends with him pulling the strings of the North (will he even be able to pull the strings if the Boltons are in  charge of Winterfell?). Exactly how much power does he have as Lord of the Eerie anyway? Enough to put him against anyone who contests this? Enough to overthrow a dynasty, as he alludes?

As for the Boltons… They want the North. That’s as good as it’s ever gonna get – it’s not like any of them are in line for the crown. Their move in the book is to marry Ramsay to a fake Arya – since no one has seen her since Ned’s beheading, it actually is sort of plausible that they could pull that off, as long as no one who knew what she really looks like was around to call bullshit. So this show switcheroo is actually pretty fantastic for the Boltons – they’ve been gifted Winterfell AND get a legit Stark to seal the deal. Everything’s coming up Millhouse!

Oh wait… Except the enforcer of the Winterfell deal, Tywin Lannister, is dead. And the Bolton’s don’t have the wealth or the power to really strong-arm a hold on the North. And Winterfell is bursting with disapprovers, from Ramsay’s nasty little paramour (did you catch her eyeballing Sansa?), to weird old ladies, to families who might be a touch angry that Ramsay is flaying their people alive. Couple that with the aforementioned known liar/manipulator they want to partner with, and the reasons just keep stacking against this union.

“The North remembers.” – Old Lady

Brienne and Pod remember too. While I do like the way I think this is going with Brienne and Pod, did anyone else think that bonding scene was way too long? I hope their discussion is going to mean something soon – it seems pretty important that the show has mentioned “a shadow with Stannis Baratheon’s face” multiple times. Is that going to tie into Brienne’s quest for Sansa, or do you think there will be a deviation and she’ll encounter a chance to avenge Renly? Neither is book plot, so it’s all juicy speculation at this point.

The House of Black and White scenes are getting a little confusing, but that is definitely intentional. Arya thinks she knows why she is there – to be an apprentice for…something? – but really, she knows nothing (must run in the family, eh, Jon Snow?). She’s a little bratty, isn’t she? Like seriously, Arya, what do you think “All men must serve” means, if not frigging chores? She wants to become no one, whatever that means, but to be no one means to cast off Arya Stark. Is she ready to do that? What will become of everyone’s favorite little wolf if she does? And what exactly is the House of Black and White (assassins? Religious nuts? A poor house?)?

Does Margaery ever get tired of pandering to King Doofus? Her lying is so obvious that I start to wonder if the show writers think we’re stupid or just Tommen. I’m gonna go with Tommen being dumb – he’s getting the teenage dream. Of course he’s going to eat up every word his outrageously hot wife spits out. I’m starting to dislike Margaery’s smarmy charm, but definitely love the sweet burns she dishes out to Cersei.

What’s the proper way to address you now? Queen Mother? Or Dowager Queen? How about “old drunk”?

Elsewhere in King’s Landing we learn more about the High Sparrow and the religious fanatics that are establishing their presence. The public humiliation of an elected official is pretty big stuff, which Cersei takes as an opportunity to sidle up to another potential ally. Think she has something similar in mind?

Oh god, I cannot believe they are actually going to try and pull this Frankenstein B.S. over on us. I’ll give you three guesses regarding who is on Qyburn’s table, but I bet you only need one very large one.

Is it back to business as usual at Castle Black? Stannis indicates that he’s off soon, and Jon has begun his lead as Lord Commander. There’s a lot of shuffling around without solid plans – Stannis still doesn’t have enough of an army to resume fighting for the crown, and neither Jon nor Stannis knows what to do with stubborn Wildlings. If they do as Davos suggests and kick the Boltons out of the North, it could be a huge politically uniting move – Stannis would earn the favor of the North people and possibly gain some of the lesser houses along the way, while Jon would have an opportunity to help out his former house and maybe earn some street cred with Castle Black, despite this being categorized under “not my problem” (the Night’s Watch is there to protect people from the evil on the other side of the Wall, not settle house disputes).

Speaking of street cred, Jon’s first act as Lord Commander is to appoint a latrine digging captain (oh, a ginger joke. That’s harsh, Jon) and execute everyone’s least favorite craven, Janos Slynt. It seems a bit hasty, in my opinion, but no one liked the S.O.B. and Jon is in bad need of acceptance and approval. Will this work, or further divide the Watch?

Finally, Tyrion makes some really, really obviously stupid moves. I’d argue that he knew exactly what kind of risk he was taking and just really doesn’t care much about his life. Everyone cheers as Jorah the Explorer returns and makes Tyrion regret his carelessness. This move actually skips over a fair bit of plot involving Tyrion and a group he joins up with for a while. I’m thinking the show is working to combine the two separate story arcs Tyrion has within A Dance with Dragons. Or the show could decide to cut the Shy Maid altogether for the sake of simplifying plot, as per usual. There’s a TON of theories regarding characters within Tyrion’s plot who have not been introduced on the show and I for one am excited to see which ones get axed.

So… which queen is Jorah going to take Tyrion to? And another mention of grayscale and Stone Men? Whatever could that mean! Can’t wait to see what they baffle us with next week!


  1. I’m not 100% happy with the Sansa as Jeyne Poole as Arya role, but I think it makes sense based on the show’s currently consistency.

    Since the Ironborn have pretty much vanished, the Boltons only have to quell internal dissent. The fact that the Lannisters aren’t in a position to send aid (since Tywin is dead) also allows Roose Bolton to do stuff like “oh, my son Ramsay married virgin Sansa Stark. If you want her, you come come get her” and not worry about things, since the Lannisters aren’t in a position to send the opposite of aid.

    And the Boltons hold Moat Caillin.

    Littlefinger’s plan is probably this: he’s positioning Sansa to do something horrible to Ramsay once she’s the legitimate Lady of Winterfell. Since he’s her uncle now, the North rallying to her side also aids him, since he feels he has influence with her.

    As for Sansa cozying up to Ramsay, Sansa’s already used to cozying up meekly to the man who killed her father, but in the North, she has allies.

    Look, I’m not saying it’s totally solid, some things have to be taken with a grain of lemoncakes and salt, but there are worse things they could do.

    I am happy that a lot of story threads are leading to Winterfell… Sansa/Baelish, the Boltons, Reek, Brienne and Podrick, and Stannis the Mannis. Since Reek is at Winterfell, Yara Greyjoy might make a second attempt at kidnapping him.

    I personally would find my heart singing if Brienne and Yara were knee deep, side-by-side, in Bolton blood.

    I was also impressed that Greyscale had a second mention.

    Thank you for the big recap. Even though I’m not as hard on the show’s deviations as I perceive you to be, I really enjoy reading your reviews and thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, lemoncakes and salt!

      Great points. I feel that Petyr’s claim as her uncle is weak at best – he’s not related by blood and was married to her aunt for like a minute. I suppose after he exacts whatever plot he was against the Boltons he can always go ahead and marry Robbin to Sansa anyway and further dig his fingers into the North. He’s a cunning little jerk, I wouldn’t be surprised if his endgame was huge.

      I suppose the more I think about it, the way the story is going just shows how torn apart Westeros is, which creates all the more opportunities for people to start claiming things. Who’s really going to stop them? Stannis, maybe, but not if Brienne has has anything to say about it.

      I, too, would like to see some ladies kicking ass at Winterfell. I just hope Brienne fares better than she seems to in the book!

      And thanks!! Glad you enjoy them. I enjoy nitpicking the plot. It’s really interesting to see how they twist the details for what’s – I’m assuming anyway – the same endgame. I’m hard on it, but only because I like to rant. 🙂 At least I’m not amongst those who are upset because Jon didn’t say “Edd, fetch me a block”!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I mean, we always like when an exact phrasing is used (I remember the riots over the “Only Cat” phrasing omission) but I was DELIGHTED that Slynt’s head was cut off. There’s no way the show could ever recreate the build up, with Jon thinking through his options before selecting hanging, then going for the right way to do stuff.

        Ah, you’re bringing up Stannis and Brienne. Full disclosure. I really like Stannis. Mostly because of Davos. I don’t want Stan on the throne, but I want him on the winning side, supporting the person I want on the throne… I know that’s unlikely.

        But I LOVE Brienne. And even though I’m mad at Renly for leaving Ned out to dry, it’s hard for me not to have a soft place in my stone heart for Renly, for being kind to Brienne.

        Should those two come into conflict, I’ll be super torn.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agree!! I kind of hope Davos and Brienne end up on the same side together and have a future bickering about loyalty while training at-risk squires or something (they both seem to have a soft spot for youths, right?). This could happen, right??

        Liked by 1 person

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