Four Letter Nerd

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 Review: The High Sparrow

Fourletternerd Recap Writer Totally Drops the Ball

I want to start this review with an apology. In several of the season preview articles I wrote, I presented the “High Sparrow” as the new High Septon. In the books, this is the case with the Sparrow being chosen by the faithful to serve in the post. But as it turns out, the Sparrow and the Septon are two different people as of now. Though the show hinted at it in the first episode with the appearance of a High Septon greeting Cersei as she went to see her father’s body, I completely missed it because I assumed the Sparrow would come and be the new Septon. I apologize for my assumptions and my oversight on this matter.

Now, this doesn’t mean I am upset with this change in direction. I believe the Sparrow storyline is very promising, unlike some deviations from the book that I will discuss in this recap. Some changes are insulting the viewer’s logic, such as the whole “Sansa is pretending not to be Sansa by dying her hair black, but still going by the name of Sansa” plot Baelish has concocted (once again, I will discuss this later). But there is still plenty of great things moving forward, such as a wedding that actually made it to consummation, new Lord Commander Jon Snow taking charge at the Wall, and Jorah and Tyrion on their way to the see Daenarys!!! But let’s start with Arya, and that new cult she’s gotten herself involved with.


So I am sure with all the information presented so far, everyone out there understands the entire House of Black and White, Many-Faced God situation Arya’s gotten herself in? What? Nobody? Well, that is by design, because it is one confusing storyline. But things start simple enough tonight with Arya sweeping. Apparently, she’s been doing this for days now and let’s Jaqen know that she really wants to start training. Jaqen does his best Mr. Miyagi, telling Arya she’s not ready (I almost thought he was about to break out and show Arya how all that sweeping is really practicing for a fighting skill, but the line between 80’s family comedy and modern day mature fantasy stopped here).

Later, a girl walks into Arya’s room and asks who she is. Kind of like saying “Jesus” to answer any question in church, Arya knows the correct answer is “nobody.” The girl whips her, apparently not believing the authenticity of Arya’s answer. After a couple of more whips, Jaqen comes in and points out to Arya that if she’s really nobody, then why does she still have Arya Stark’s clothes and sword? In one of the best scenes of the night, we see Arya putting all her clothes and possessions into the sea. But though she thinks about long and hard, she won’t give up Needle, hiding it into the rocks instead. I was very worried that this relic from Arya’s past and her prime protection all these years was about to drift off in the sea, but am so glad it didn’t. By the end of the episode, Arya has been promoted from sweeper to dead body cleaner. You go girl!!!!

Arya considering whether to include Needle amongst the things she gave up.


King’s Landing

I am loving the emphasis on Cersei’s point of view for most of the King’s Landing scenes. Looking out of her carriage seeing the people waving at Margaery and saying “Queen” towards her while Cersei looks on. Brilliant!!! And we have a wedding!!! Not only did no one die at this wedding, but Tommen and Margaery made it to consummation (nice work King Tommen!!!) Margaery uses the moments after to plant seeds of doubt about Cersei’s presence at King’s Landing to Tommen. She’s had to wait awhile, but Margaery is now ready to make her move to replace Cersei. It doesn’t take long as Tommen later approaches his mom and ask her to return to Casterly Rock. That is two people within her own family (counting Uncle Kevan last week) who want Cersei to butt out of the affairs of the Iron Throne.

A new queen bee in Westeros?

Another situation Cersei had to deal with involved the High Septon. We see the Septon on his knees participating in some weird religious ceremony in a brothel. But before the festivities can begin, Lancel and his Sparrows break in and apprehend the Septon. What follows is what’s known as a “Walk of Shame.” To atone for his sins, the Septon must walk through the streets naked while being whipped as peasants look on. The Septon demands justice from Cersei and her council. It is here where we first hear about the High Sparrow.

Cersei meets the High Sparrow as he is feeding the poor. This serves as a mere introductory discussion between these two power players, with Cersei informing the High Sparrow that the Septon wants him executed. The Sparrow takes no strong action in response, simply responding with his intentions to serve all those in King’s Landing since those of higher both don’t seem interested in it. Keep an eye on these two throughout the rest of the season.

Cersei and the High Sparrow interacting for the first time.


Moat Cailin

Now here is a book deviation that is off to an awful start. The High Sparrow is a slight deviation, but still has plenty of promise to be a great story. But our first Bolton appearance of the season brings with it a collective groan from me. Ramsey has gone through the North flaying men who wouldn’t pay him taxes. Roose points out that the North will not unify behind the Bolton’s through Ramsey’s aggressive tactics. They must do this through marriage and there just happens to be a girl with the right name on her way to Moat Cailin.

Sansa is riding with Littlefinger when he tells her about the arranged marriage he has made for her with Ramsey Bolton. Lady Stark is rightfully horrified by this proposal and seems to regret lying for Baelish last season. But Littlefinger seems to have another plan in mind when he encourages Sansa to seek vengeance for her family.

Though what that plan is, who knows? Later Littlefinger seems to indicate to Roose Bolton that he would like to unite with him and run the Lannisters out of King’s Landing. So which is it Baelish? Are you working with the Bolton’s or seeking vengeance against them? While talking with a skeptical Roose (I don’t think two people in this show ever had more of a reason to be skeptical of each other than these two do), Littlefinger receives a letter from King’s Landing.

Keep in mind, the whole story of Sansa and Baelish is supposed to be a secret. Very few people are supposed to know where they are or that they are even together. So when Cersei sends a letter for him to the Vale, how does it end up at Moat Cailin? How did she know he was at the Vale in the first place? And why did Sansa even bother to dye her hair to hide her identity when she proclaims herself as Sansa in every public place her and Baelish appear in? And how does Cersei not know Sansa and Littlefinger are together with so many people having seen them in the same place? Surely, one person would’ve reported back to King’s Landing with this information.

There was one bright spot to the story line in the North. Brienne and Pod are following Sansa, shadowing her movements as she heads to Moat Cailin. They obviously can’t just walk in there. So they wait outside and share some cool character moments. Pod tells the story of how he became a squire and Brienne shares the story of the dance where Renly saved her from a night of ridicule by dancing with her. She does make two important pledges: to train Pod as a knight and to kill Stannis Baratheon, the man she (rightfully) holds responsible for Renly’s death. Considering that Brienne and Stannis are not in the same vicinity yet, I will jot down the latter promise in the category of foreshadowing for a future season.

Roose, Ramsey, and Walda greet Sansa and Baelish at Moat Cailin.


The Wall

Speaking of Stannis, the “rightful king” and the next Lord Commander have their first meeting with Ollie now serving Jon’s steward. Jon gives his official refusal of the offer made last week by Stannis to be made Lord of the North. Though disappointed, Stannis still sees reason to give Jon advice, encouraging him to meet with Thormund Giantsbane to discuss the offer Mance Rayder refused. He also recommends getting rid of Allister Thorne by sending him to another castle. Jon also receives a pep talk from Davos discussing why the Nights Watch, who aren’t supposed to take action in the political battles of Westeros, should take action against the Boltons. Davos even uses the Nights Watch’s own vows when making his point. Note to the producers: there should never be an episode where Davos doesn’t say something cool.

Follow their meeting, Jon takes the time to assign his first tasks as Lord Commander. He gives Allister Throne the assignment of First Ranger. He also sends Janos Slynt to Grey Guard, another castle on the Wall. But Slynt refuses the order, mocking Jon in front of the other men. So Snow takes action, ordering him to be beheaded. Slynt figured he had Thorne’s protection. But when the new First Ranger allows him to be apprehended, Slynt cowers like he did at last season’s Wall battle. He even asks for mercy saying he will follow Jon’s orders, admitting he’s scared. Jon beheads him anyway in a twist I’m not sure was necessary. Slynt needed to be executed to affirm Jon’s new role as Lord Commander and because he defied Jon. But why did the writers have him beg for mercy only to be killed anyway. Was his cowardice even more of a reason to have him executed? The whole cowardice angle for Slynt was an interesting choice considering he was someone bold enough to defy Jon Snow’s command in front of everyone. I guess he was only bold when Ser Allister was providing protection for him.

“Grey Guard? Oh wait, I thought you said something else. I’d love to go to Grey Guard.”



Our night ends with Tyrion and Varys riding their way through Volantis. Tyrion is going crazy and desperately needs human contact. So despite the risk, Tyrion and Varys head to a brothel. On the way, they hear a red priestess preaching about Daenarys, proclaiming her a savior. A skeptical Tyrion mocks the declaration, but does seem to admire the look of the priestess. Dany’s presence is felt again, this time in the borther, where all the women are dressed like the Mother of Dragons. Tyrion attempts to go with one, but can’t bring himself to do it. So instead, he drinks some more and pees off a window ledge. Unfortunately for Tyrion (but yay for us!!!) an exiled Jorah Mormont sees him and captures him, saying he means to take him to the queen.


-A minor character from last season, Miranda, reappeared in Moat Cailin briefly. She was Ramsey Bolton’s lover and “hunting partner” last season and she was not happy about the announcement Ramsey’s arranged marriage to Sansa.

-In the books, Ramsey marries a fake Arya Starks. Jeyne Poole, a friend of Sansa’s from her childhood is sent pretending to be Arya by Tywin Lannister to try and rally the North to the Bolton’s side.

-A couple of Theon/Reek sightings tonight. And it did not appear that he has bathed since last season.

-You have to love the transformation of Margaery to full-on queen bee status now after her marriage to Tommen. It’s been Margaery for many seasons now putting on the polite face while Cersei ran things. But tonight, the roles flipped as it was Magaery openly flaunting her new position while talking with Cersei (or should we say Queen Mother), who just had to smile and play polite. Regina George would be proud of these passive aggressive tactics.

-Your weekly Qyburn experiment update: We saw movement on the table tonight under a blanket by something that appears alive. We can assume that is the Mountain, unless some other dead body found its way to crazy Qyburn’s lab.

-Grey Guard, the castle Jon tried to send Janos Slynt to in the show, is one of the 19 castles on the Wall. There are only enough men of the Nights Watch to man three of these castles, leaving the other 16 abandoned, and they’ve been that way for a while. Jon wanted one of the castles to be fixed up to hold all the new inhabitants at the Wall.

-It would appear Maester Aemon is sick, as Jon instructed Sam to care for him.

-I was really happy to see the Lord of Light acknowledged in Volantis. That is where the temple for the Lord of Light is located.


-How will Cersei respond to all the attacks being waged against her?

-Will being paired with straight man Jorah Mormont bring out the humor in the Halfman?

-What task will Arya graduate to next week?

-What will the opinion of the Nights Watch be to Jon’s execution of Janos Slynt? And will Thormund Giantsband be more receptive to Stannis’s offer than Mance was?

-And can we please get some coherency back in the North?

Next week, we (finally) get to see the Sand Snakes, Jamie and Bronn in Dorne, and the Sons of the Harpy (based on the previews anyway) appear ready to step up their game.


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Jeff Merrick

2 CommentsLeave a comment

    • It’s not just logic in the Got Universe, it’s the law: marriages that are not consummated in Westeros can be annulled. Tywin warned Tyrion about this when he was refusing to sleep with Sansa until she was willing in Season 3.

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