Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Game Afoot

"High Sparrow" was a densely packed episode of Game Of Thrones, the best yet this season.  And, as promised, the characters are starting to meet in all sorts of delightful new combinations.

We start with Arya in the House Of Black And White.  She's sweeping up, and it's a good thing too, since there's a whole lot of dirt and dust around.  Jaqen is helping a guy with a drink--though this apparently leads to his death.  Is this why people come?  Arya, who's been apprenticing to a lot of guys over the years, but never so explicitly, it impatient for her learning to begin learning to be Faceless.  But Jaqen sees Arya is all about Arya, when she has to become No One to serve their god (which seems to be death).

Back in King's Landing, Tommen and Margaery get married an no one dies!  Mags is popular with the people, as Cersei can't help but notice. And like Steve Martin in The Jerk, Tommen has found his purpose in life on his wedding night. It's all he wants to do.  Get in line.  (This season Tommen is a young man, so we're not watching kiddie porn.)  Margaery, of course, has no trouble wrapping poor Tommen around her finger.  She puts ideas in his head, such as does he really want his mother hanging around watching him?  He's not as nasty as Joffrey, but he's just as dumb.  Pretty soon he's suggesting mom back to Casterly Rock.  Hmm--she's not going to stand for that. And next Cersei goes to Margaery, and both say nice things that they don't mean.

Up North (is it Winterfell or Moat Cailin?--wasn't entirely clear this episode but I'm pretty sure it's the former) Roose and Ramsay are cleaning up the place.  Ramsay has been flaying Lords who just won't listen, but then, it's second nature to him.  Roose, just as dangerous but a lot smoother, tells him you can't run the North through terror.  As Reek serves them (I assume he's listening, but can he hear?), Roose let's his son know they need help with Tywin gone and no help coming from the Lannisters.  So the right move is marriage--to Sansa Stark.  Wow!  So the plan is finally revealed.

Sansa and Littlefinger, riding up North, stop at Moat Cailin, and he explains his plan.  This is a pretty big deal.  Ramsay is the son of the man who killed Robb.  (He's also the most sadistic prick in the the Seven Kingdoms now that Sansa's former intended, Joffrey, is dead.)  The old Sansa wouldn't stand for this, but Dark Sansa will listen to Petyr--this is how things work. It's even a chance for vengeance.  And they ride on.

Followed by Brienne and Pod.  Lot of open country--no one sees them?  They have a talk.  About time, since Brienne has been pretty jerky around Pod, who's not a bad guy.  They tell of their past, which could be tiresome, but works here.  Pod explains how he became a squire (instead of being hanged by Tywin, so not such a bad deal).  Brienne softens and decides she'll help train him, and then opens up.  When she was a girl she was having a lovely time at a party until she realized all the boys were making fun of her (so she could have been a regular lady if only...).  She was humiliated, until Renly danced with her, and from that point on she wanted to serve him.  Renly was always good with people.  And, we learn, she always knew he was gay--good to know, I guess, that's she's not that naïve.  And now she wants to avenge him by killing Stannis.

So let's look at the scorecard.  Roose and Ramsay wants to take over the North. Theon seems to be on their side, but can he remember what he used to be (and what he used to have?). Ramsay will marry Sansa, who hates the Bolton's. Littlefinger, allegedly sworn to the Lannisters, seems to be turning, though it's hard to say in what direction but his own.  Brienne wants to save Sansa from Littlefinger, but also wants to kill Stannis, who seems ready to march down to Winterfell.  So it should be quite a party.

Speaking of Stannis, he meets with the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow.  Stannis up north seems a bit more reasonable (if still steely).  Snow turns down the offer of becoming a Stark and taking back Winterfell--he's sworn to stay at the Wall.  Snow should tell him Aemon's story, but why bother, he's not moving.  And Stannis takes is reasonably well.  Snow is also thinking like a commander--he wants Stannis on the move--it costs a lot to feed an army.  (Speaking of which, where are these thousands, along with the thousands of Wildlings.  I guess it's just a TV show, not a movie, so we don't get a cast of thousands.)  Stannis announces he's leaving soon for Winterfell.  Good, time to get his plot moving.  Jon says he plans to keep his enemies close--has he been watching The Godfather?  After Stannis leaves, Davos sticks around--the King can see something in Jon. Hmm. What does that mean.  (Do you really want Jon to compete against you?)\

Back in Braavos, one of the young female trainees at the House comes into Arya's chambers and starts attacking her when Arya claims she's no one.  Jaqen comes in and explain how can she say she's Faceless when she's got Arya Stark's clothes, sword, etc.  He's going full Miyagi on her, but a little of that goes a long way.  Arya packs her few belongings and throws them in the bay.  Except Needle, which she hides. Hey, I want her to become a faceless killer, but we don't want to lose good old Arya--she's got a lot of avenging to do, after all.  Back at the House, Arya is finally allowed to go into the room where they take the dead bodies.  They strip them and wash them, but I'm not sure what the point is.

At Winterfell (I think, and not Moat Cailin--still, that's a pretty long ride), Lady Sansa comes in and is greeted by Lord Bolton. Now that's a meeting.  Ramsay says high (and Roose's fat Frey wife says nothing), but a bunch of the ladies there look on in a weird way. And when Sansa is shown to her room, and old lady tells her "Welcome Home Lady Stark--the North remembers." Now that sends chills down your spine.  This wedding may not be going as planned.

At the Wall, Snow holds his first (?) meeting.  He could give Alliser a bad duty, like latrine pit, but he won't. Instead the guy he beat gets to be First Ranger.  Smart move.  Janso Slynt is sent to another Fort to clean it up, and he gets high and mighty, refusing the order.  Slynt has always been a weasel, but is he stupid too?  Yes, he is. Or at least a bad judge of character.  When he insults Snow, Jon has him taken outside and gets his sword.  A fine Stark tradition, and Slynt (who did fine in the capital, like fellow weasel Meryn Trant) realizes he's overplayed his hand.  On the chopping block, he starts apologizing. To late, and pathetic last words. Off with his head.  Stannis watches, and approves.  Snow is a man he appreciates, even if they seem to be parting ways.

At King's Landing, at Baelish's establishment, the High Septon is involved in one of his kinky practices when the religious fanatics, the Sparrows, come in and force him out into the streets, naked.  Is this any way to treat the highest religious representative?  He marches into the Small Council (after dressing), rightly complaining. (Pycelle, who knows a thing or two about Petyr's place, quite agrees with him.)  The Septon is your classic religious hypocrite, and I thought Cersei might be sympathetic to his pleas that she arrests the sparrows and execute the "High Sparrow" (played by Jonathan Pryce, as we've been promised).

She seeks out the High Sparrow, humbly serving others.  It might seem nice, but we know you have to watch out with religious fanatics. Yet it seems Cersei is involved in some sort of power play--she's tossed the High Septon in the dungeon.  She knows the Sparrows will stop at nothing, so does she hope she can somehow enlist them for her devious plans?  Cersei is wilful, but not always that smart.  (Wait till they find out where he kids came from.)

Meanwhile, in Qyburn's labs, he's told to send a Raven to long-gone Littlefinger.  Does Cersei have any idea of Baelish's plans.  Does he have any idea of her plans?  We'll see.  Until then, we get to enjoy a little Frankenstein action of Qyburn's part.  That should be fun.

At Winterfell, we almost get the reunion we're waiting for as Dark Sansa walks by Theon/Reek, but doesn't recognize him. I don't know how she's react, but more important, I want to know what Theon is thinking. Is he going to turn? In what way?  Ramsay and Littlefinger have a little talk before Ramsay sends his (former) bastard away.  Roose has received (and read) the message of Littlefinger.  So is Petyr truly planning to side with the Boltons, is he still with the Lannisters, is he rooting for the Tyrells?  I have no idea at this point what he's working at, but no doubt it's devious.  At least Roose understands that it's okay to take big chances, as the Red Wedding showed.

Now we see Tyrion--wasn't sure if he'd make it into this crowded episode. He needs to get out of his wheelhouse and breathe fresh, brothel air.  He doesn't take the threat of losing his head that seriously, I guess.  Varys lets him out for a walk in Volantis.  The two would seem pretty conspicuous, but the town is crowded, so maybe here they can get lost.  They stop and see a priestess for the Lord of Light.  Tyrion mentions "Stone Men" who have greyscale--we heard about this disease last week, so now I can only assume some major character will soon acquire this plague.

The priestess is proclaiming Daenerys the savior.  Really?  I didn't notice Dany being particularly religious.  Meanwhile, Stannis, with an army and a clear claim to the throne, is explicitly devoted to the Lord of Light.  Guess that stuff doesn't play as well in Essos, or at least he needs better public relations.

Varys and Tyrion go out for a good time.  Tyrion starts some banter with a whore, but can't go through with it (neither can Varys, even if he wanted to).  Did Shae ruin everything?  He goes to take a piss into the river, and is out of sight for a second.  Varys goes to follow, but before you know it, there's Jorah Mormont tying him up. Jorah would have been a much more exciting reveal if we hadn't seen his face before the credits reminding us of plot points.  Curse them!  I usually try to avoid this section of the show--I can follow the story, and even if I can't, I'll catch up.  Who needs those snippets anyway?

Jorah says "I'm taking you to the queen" and that's the show.  It's sort of comic, since he's going there anyway.  Tyrion would probably say that if he weren't gagged. (Some comments on the internet saw Jorah's line as ambiguous--which queen?  Certainly Cersei wants Tyrion badly. But come on, Jorah serves Dany, and wants back in her good graces. Besides, he's already got a royal pardon, and could have gone back to King's Landing by now if he wanted to.)

So that's it. All that happened, without even a word about Dany, or Jaime and Bronn's trip to Dorne. (And forget Bran--apparently he's out for the season. Fine with me, since the other Stark charges have so much going on it's hard to keep track.)  I've noticed this season the directors are doing two episodes in a row. Makes sense, since they've got to travel between all the sets, why not do it more efficiently?  But it almost makes me wish we had two hours shown back to back, so even week we could see what all the characters are doing.  Except then that each season would be over in a month.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they were on Moat Cailin the whole time. Jorah was shown many times in the runup to his abduction of the imp. Squinitng in pain at the whore dressed like Dany.

As a reader of the books, I really like the fact that I don't know where this is all going. Although it will make the next Martin book a little alternate history like

4:16 PM, April 28, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

One reason I thought it may be Winterfell is we saw it in the opening credits. Also, Littlefinger told Sansa she's going home, and Brienne said she knew where they were going.

My point about Jorah is it would have been better to be totally surprised when he shows up in Volantis, no matter what the first shot of him is. Maybe it's in the book, but others didn't know. Once we saw him in the credits, you knew as soon as Tyrion says he wants to get some air that they'll run into him.

As for going off the books, one good effect for those that haven't read them is that we don't have to worry so much about seeing spoilers from those who have.

7:49 PM, April 28, 2015  

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