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Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 3 Review
When we first see Queen (Mother) Cersei in this 3rd episode of the 5th season, we can almost feel sorry for her. Almost. As her enclosed litter makes its way through the streets of King's Landing, throngs of adoring subjects are packed on either side. But they are not clamoring for her--their attention is all on Margery Tyrell, travelling in the litter in front, and Cersei may as well be invisible. No doubt she is remembering the prophesy from her childhood. How much more clear could it be that Margery is the girl who was foretold, the one who is younger and more beautiful and will usurp Cersei's power. Not that it isn't badly in need of usurping. This episode shows Cersei doing what she does best--throwing her weight around in order to make truly disastrous decisions for the realm. Even Tommen doesn't want her around anymore.
Across the Narrow Sea, Arya is told what it really takes to become a Faceless Man (or Faceless Girl, I guess, in this case). The price is, especially for her, nothing to shrug off. Will she be able to leave all that old hate behind? Her List of Names? Can she truly put poor Arya Stark to rest and become Nobody? For a moment, standing on the edge of a Braavosi warf, it seems as if she can. Perhaps in time, she will. But for now, her choice to hide Needle rather than chuck it into the harbor shows us that Arya is not gone yet. The North Remembers.
We actually hear that line in this episode, spoken by an old serving woman as Sansa returns to Winterfell. That's right--my earlier predictions about Littlefinger carrying her off to Dorne were wrong. Instead he's brought her to Winterfell to wed Ramsay Bolton, son of the current Warden of the North, and overall Man of the Year. Ever since last season's finale, when Sansa covered Littlefinger's butt for the Lords of the Vale and revealed her new black hairdo, the show has been trying to show us that this is not the same old Sansa, but rather a girl who has decided to play the Game, and who knows how to play it. However, in this episode, her fate is once again out of her hands. Not only that, but she is once again being forced to marry a sadistic monster. For his part, Ramsay swears he will never hurt her. Anybody believe him? I didn't think so.
In the novels, Ramsay's unfortunate bride was Jeyne Poole, a friend of the Stark sisters. Whether Sansa will share her fate is anybody's guess. Will she turn the tables on him somehow? Will Brienne and Podrick (who are still following behind) manage to rescue her? It's questions like this that make me so excited about this season. Even those of us who've read the books are holding our breath.
At Castle Black, John decides to remain John Snow rather than become John Stark. Stannis is clearly angry but, as Davos tells John, this is only because Stannis "sees something in him." With the Baratheon armies still camped at The Wall, and the fate of the Wildling prisoners still undecided, these two men will have to make many decisions together in the coming days. For my own part, I like Stannis, but I believe the criticisms against him are justified. Right now he is too brittle, too uncompromising, to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Will John's council mellow him out a little? We shall see.
We also see Ned Stark get some long overdue justice this episode, when his bastard son takes the head of the man who betrayed him. Well, one of the men, anyway. And there's really no way John could have known that Janos Slynt betrayed Ned in the first place (I doubt it's something that got brought up at many Night's Watch parties). Still, John faces the issue of Slynt's insubordination in the manner that a true Lord would. He passes the sentence, and swings the sword. The solemn nod from Stannis across the courtyard says it all.
Meanwhile, Tyrion and Varys reach Volantis. Specifically, the Long Bridge, which divides the two halves of the ancient city. Taking a brief respite from their rolling box, Tyrion chats up a girl in a brothel, only to find that small talk is about all he is capable of now. It's a truly poignant moment, bringing home once more just how broken Tyrion is after the events of last season. And things won't be getting better for him anytime soon, either. Stepping outside to relieve himself, Tyrion is snared by none other than Jorah Mormont himself. Where is he being taken? "To the Queen."
Overall, the episode still felt like it was setting the stage for the events to come, rather than truly pushing the plot lines forward. It is far from boring, however, now that we have some sense of what those events will be.
Some Random Things:
- Just in case it was not clear, the Queen that Jorah is referring to is NOT Cersei. Tyron might even end up beating Varys to Mereen.
- Here's to Jonathan Pryce in his Game of Thrones debut as the High Sparrow: leader of the religious fanatics that have taken up residence in King's Landing, and who Cersei begins an unexpected alliance with. While he may come off as a kindly old man, Cersei would be very unwise to trust him too much. But then again, it's Cersei.
- It's nice to see a wedding in Westerns that doesn't end in some sort of horrible anguish. Margery might be manipulating Tommen, but she's still a much better influence than his mother.
- Gotta love that scene with Qyburn in his laboratory. As if the Frankenstein parallels weren't obvious enough...
- The girl in the brothel with the blonde Dany wig was funny enough. But the fact that she was wearing a (very) abbreviated version of Dany's famous blue dress was the icing on the cake.
- It was both a little funny and a little sad to see Arya resort to the Hound's favorite curse word the moment the Blind Girl strikes her. Looks like she misses him after all, in her own way.
- "I'm afraid. I've always been afraid." Slant's last words serve as his perfect epitaph. We can almost feel sorry for him. Almost.