Game of Thrones for Noobs III
Season 5 Episode 3: "High Sparrow"Pop CultureMonday, April 27, 2015
The Story Thus Far
Throats were slashed while Arya Stark sailed to the land of needlessly dickish shape-shifters and was eventually allowed into the House of Black and White, whatever that is. Death threats were made upon the house of Lannister, even as Jamie traveled south to find his sister’s daughter, who is also his own daughter (yuck!). The prince of Persia (or whoever that guy on the balcony was) told his sister-in-law to get lost, Tyrion drank like a bastard inside his medieval version of a tour bus and Jon Snow was offered a last name but didn’t take it—which was smart because he became the leader of the guys who hang around the Wall that is supposed to keep out ice zombies or Wildlings or whatever else these xenophobic monsters have decided to fear. One of Daenerys’ dragons returned. His name is Drogon, which is the creative equivalent of naming your dog Dawg.
We rejoin those Westeros crazies a few weeks later, as Arya finds herself in a real Karate Kid situation. The shape-shifting guy makes her sweep his house instead of learning cool shape-shifting moves. Probably down the road, it’ll turn out that there are sweeping movements required to perform the magic, and she shouldn’t be so impatient. This little girl has had a hell of a time.
Joffrey Jr. or Tommen or whatever he’s called, meanwhile, is married to someone I don’t recognize (who is maybe named Margaery because George RR Martin can’t ever just spell a damn name the way it sounds) by the honorable Father Muttonchops and finally gets to touch a girl. Apparently he’s awesome at it, too, because he’s like, “You were making noises like I was hurting you,” but she’s like, “Naw, my liege. That ruled, actually. You’re great at it.” Call me crazy, but Margaery seems like she’s up to no good. And how old is this kid? He looks like he’s 12, so there is no way he was that good. She seems to tell Tommen what he wants to hear. Plus, everyone on this show is plotting against someone else, so let’s not be shocked when she stabs him in the face, OK?
Anyway, we don’t trust her, and Cersei doesn’t either. And since the Queen Mother is often politicking and scheming, she immediately goes to work on her son by basically telling him his new wife is stupid. He’s like, “You should travel while you still can, Mom. Go to Casterly Rock or something,” and she feels like all mothers do when their sons have just become kings and banged for the first time, which is to say she’s nervous and hates Margaery. But still, she tries to form bonds even as her son’s new bride all but calls her new mother-in-law a drunk and an old lady and also kind of tells Cersei that her son has a huge wang and rules—not only as a king but at boning. This might make anyone else feel weird, but Cersei seems to stare wistfully toward the horizon and wonder when her brother will get home so she can bone as well.
Things really pick up when the guy who had the invisibility powers on the brilliant British program Misfits pops up to eat a whole fucking turkey and debate the shape of the family Lannister with his dad. Apparently his name is Ramsay, and his last name used to be Snow (is this a Vonnegut Slapstick situation, where everyone with the same assigned name is family?), but he’s Michael Bolton’s cousin now or some such, and now he and his lantern jaw are supposed to marry Sansa Stark in order to strengthen alliances. Nobody seems to want it, but nobody seems to want anything that happens to them in GoT.
Nearby, Brienne and what’s-his-dick discuss personal histories when they could be out slashin’ throats. This young guy was sentenced to squiring at some point in what was supposed to be a punishment, but he loves it and gushes at the lady-knight. She may have hated him before, but she is beginning to warm to him and promises to train him and his stupid face. I smell another Karate Kid situation brewing here but mostly wonder why they’d start a fire in the grassy lands of flammable-ness. Brienne relates a story that gives us a little insight into why she is so pissed all the time. It would seem that as a child, she was the “ugliest girl alive” and “a great lumbering beast,” and at debutant balls, young dudes would travel from all corners of the land to tell her they liked her, as a joke. Indeed, this has made her aggressive, and one can’t help but think that every time she’s onscreen, she should just slash a throat or two. It’s an important scene, though, as now we know she’s going to try and kill Stannis.
Back at the Wall, Jon Snow is settling into his new office. He turns down the last name Stark from Stannis “No Nickname” Baratheon, like he said he would, and Stannis isn’t thrilled and calls him “honorable,” but not as a compliment somehow. Then Jon Snow says, “Winter is coming,” and I finally know why everyone was saying the same on Facebook when this show debuted. Anyway, Stannis and Snow verbally spar, and the king’s manservant stays behind to placate Snow with a bunch of clichéd statements before telling him to get out in the world and slash some throats. It’s a tale as old as time—the overachieving guy who likes to fight is strapped to a desk instead of hitting the streets and cracking some skulls. Though things may have started to come together for Snow, he’s going to learn that the two great tragedies of life are not getting the things you want…and getting them.
Back at the House of Black and White, some weird young girl who apparently also lives there decides to slap Arya right in the face, and the grandmaster shape-shifter tells the littlest Stark that she can’t be faceless (which is somehow her goal, I think?) unless she throws all her stuff in the sea. That’s a bummer, for sure, as some of this stuff was given to her by people she loved who are dead now. Maybe. She doesn’t ditch her pinche sword, though, and that could be a problem later. If the guy who owns the house is as all-knowing/crazy about shape-shifting as he seems, surely he would know she didn’t throw out the sword, and surely he’ll make her pay for it. Either that, or she’ll use it in some moment of desperation when everybody realizes they should’ve had a sword on hand. You’ve got to wonder what emotional weirdness she’s holding onto and why, but the empty gesture of sinking her clothes pays off, and she is taken into the crypt, where the girl who slapped her helps to undress and bathe a corpse. That’s it?! That’s the payoff?! “Thanks for cleaning everything up around here for God knows how long and getting slapped in the face by people and throwing all your cool stuff in the ocean, Arya. Your reward is a good old-fashioned corpse-washin’!” Suck.
When we rejoin those crazy kids at the Wall, Jon Snow’s charmed life is already beginning to smell like shit. There is talk of making redheads dig a latrine pit, and a knight who didn’t vote for Snow in the election shit-talks him and refuses to do what Snow orders. This is not good, and the guy gets his damn head cut off for it. Here I was thinking that Snow was supposed to be this level-headed guy, but when the knight is like, “I’m scared!” he just chops his head right off. Dang. That’s colder than an ice zombie.
a faraway whorehouse, the high lord of Civil War-era facial hair is about to
get down with some ladies when this weird religious extremist group called the
Sparrows runs in and makes him walk nude through the streets in front of
everyone for making a mockery of their god(s?).
Cersei and her group of advisors don’t seem to love that he was visiting prostitutes, but he tries to play it off by saying he brings religious comfort to everyone. But they know…they know. All the same, Cersei sets out to visit the High Sparrow and figure out what their deal might be. He’s just some old bastard who runs a back-alley soup kitchen, and Cersei just talks to him. It would seem she is out to make allies wherever she can.
Finally, we get some decent Dinklage time, as Tyrion and Varys wander through a rat’s nest of a slave-run bazaar. It is like a scene straight out of Assassin’s Creed, and we’ve got to hand it to GoT’s CGI crew, because the ramshackle town stacked high upon itself looks amazing. Tyrion is glad to be out of the carriage and immediately tries to find a brothel, but when they come across a group of slaves talking excitedly about the Khaleesi’s slave-abolishing accomplishments, one of them seems to recognize him. They eventually do find a brothel, and Tyrion says this awesome thing about, “Who needs wealth when you can make a woman laugh?” This brothel has a Khaleesi look-alike, which seems to bother the prostitute Dinklage likes, so then he says another awesome thing about how most people who want to fuck a queen want that simply because they haven’t met one. He can’t get it up, though, and winds up kidnapped by some shady bastard who says he’s taking Tyrion to the queen (which one?!) Fucker should have just listened to Varys and stayed in the damn wagon!
The Bottom Line
It is really hard to keep track of all the names, especially when people who aren’t onscreen are being discussed and even more so when towns and holds and archipelagos sound just like people’s names. And though the producers may be going for a slow build to satisfaction with the Arya plotline, it already kind of boring. Jon Snow seems to be adjusting poorly to what little power he has, and maybe it’s just the way of the Night’s Watch, but decapitating that guy seemed harsh. Apparently, everyone everywhere is fond of decapitation when people don’t listen. It would have been nice to see what happened with Daenerys after she had that guy killed last week and her dragon came back, but GoT seems to enjoy dangling the carrot of progression forever; way too long, even.
Things are moving, albeit slowly. Fewer scenes that feature boring travel, more bustling cities and prostitutes.
Is the House of Black and White trying to break Arya down to mold her? That’s fine, but get on with it already! No dragons. Mostly people sitting around talking…wait, is that what this show’s about?! Damn.
C: Yes, every good story requires a setup and exposition, but can we also pepper in some stuff that isn’t really boring? Cersei’s side-eye agrees.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO. GIFs via giphy.com