WARNINGS: Please note that due to the nature of this episode, the following review contains spoilers from the Song of Ice & Fire series through A Dance with Dragons.
The one thought that I was able to sort from the jumble immediately after watching this episode was that “High Sparrow” was definitely a misnomer.
Sounds hyperbolic, I know – and yes, this is Game of Thrones, a show that has so much going on that its episodes must be pretty hard to title, period. But of everything that happened in “High Sparrow”, Cersei’s interaction with the episode’s namesake seemed far less important than it probably should have.
The other problem is that there were quite a few awkward scenes topped off by one very, very bad plot “twist”.
Those awkward scenes began with the shotgun wedding of Tommen and Margaery. Obviously we weren’t going to experience the spectacle of her wedding to Joffrey, considering the current state of things…but they leapt right into the ceremony, and then from there to the wedding night! Yeah, Tommen has been aged up quite a bit, but regardless of how little they “showed”, I couldn’t put aside the feeling of unease that it caused.
And Margaery certainly isn’t wasting any time getting on Cersei’s bad side. Of course I understand what she’s trying to do, and at times I really enjoy show!Margaery, who is so much more forward and in many ways a stronger character than she is in the books…but the one thing she’s missing is any mystery. We know what she’s doing and what she’s thinking so much of the time (basically all of it, really), and it’s to the point where it’s all just very predictable.
Speaking of predictable, in a lot of ways this episode was anything but. Cersei marching through what I assumed was Flea Bottom to have a conversation with the aforementioned High Sparrow? I certainly didn’t picture her doing such a thing, no matter how upset she was with the Margaery situation…and don’t even get me started about what’s going on with Sansa Stark.
Seeing the Boltons in Winterfell was bad enough, but I actually felt my stomach turn when Roose started talking to Ramsay about marriage, so soon after Littlefinger’s conversations with Sansa about the same thing. And sure enough, they cut from Roose and Ramsay to Sansa and Littlefinger.
The thing is, I mostly saw all of that coming because it was an idea that crossed my mind years ago (and stupidly joked about at the very first Ice & Fire Con) – an idea that I wrote off as too sick and twisted even for this show, especially if they meant to portray a Ramsay at all similar to the book character. And yet here they are, doing it anyway.
Before this episode, I’d never cried over Game of Thrones. But I started crying almost immediately when Sansa appeared for the first time, and it took quite a while for me to calm down. Talk about FEELINGS!
The problem is, I can’t talk about what happened in this episode without comparing it to the books. Sansa has clearly taken the place of one Jeyne Poole, and honestly I don’t approve of that in the slightest. Additionally, if they make her go through with the wedding night as they did Tommen and Margaery – and if it’s anything like Jeyne Poole’s experience in the books – I’m honestly not sure I can even continue watching this show. The fact of the matter is that Sansa’s virginity is extremely important; in fact, they pointed that out in “High Sparrow”. If she is actually forced to wed and bed Ramsay Bolton, then everything that has happened to her has been for naught.
Arya, on the other hand, is right on track – not only did she gain entrance to the House of Black and White, but in this episode she moves up in the ranks after supposedly getting rid of “Arya Stark’s things”. Thankfully she didn’t toss out Needle, but apparently Jaqen can’t sense everything she does. Either that, or he’s somehow okay with her essentially hanging on to the biggest part of who she really is. This is one storyline I’m following with interest.
Tyrion, on the other hand, is following a path just as boring – if not more so – than his one in the books. While I completely understand the fact that he is traveling with Varys, the combination of that with his trip to the whorehouse and subsequent abduction by Jorah felt off-kilter.
One of the more cohesive story lines in “High Sparrow” was that of Jon Snow – surprising, after last week’s rushed Lord Commander Election. His interactions with Stannis and Davos were well-written and acted, and while Janos Slynt’s blubbering was overplayed, the execution scene as a whole was powerful.
In the end, though, I think one very big question that this episode brought up was whether the High Septon’s walk of penance was the only one of those we’ll see this season…or whether it foreshadowed a much bigger walk of penance.
How do you feel about these developments? Do you think we’ll see another ‘walk of penance’?
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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