'Game of Thrones' Recap: Could Sansa's Second Husband Be Worse Than Joffrey?

game of thrones high sparrowIt's a tad difficult to believe we are already on Game of Thrones episode 3, "High Sparrow," isn't it? All the characters' storylines seem to be progressing, but are perhaps more distant from each other than ever. Jon Snow's been elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Arya Stark's begun her training at the House of Black and White, Littlefinger has plans for Sansa Stark, Cersei takes over ruling for her son Tommen, trying to win favor with said High Sparrow, Tyrion is planning to meet Daenerys, who made a huge political blunder last week, we'll get our first peek of the season at the Boltons, Brienne is still determined to help Sansa even though she's now been denied by both Stark girls ... yes, it's a lot. So let's get to it: SPOILERS ahead for "High Sparrow" -- watch before you read!

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Arya Stark kicks things off for the second time in two weeks. The House of Black and White is definitely not a cheery place. Arya complains about all the floors she is sweeping, but Jaqen H'ghar reminds her that "all men must serve, Faceless Men most of all." The Many-Faced God is the god worshipped by the assassins, who believe death is the most merciful end. Anyone who wishes to end their suffering can drink from a black cup from a pool at the temple in order to have a painless death. 

A young woman with a long stick approaches Arya and asks, "Who are you?" Arya says, "No one," then gets hit for lying. Arya brandishes the c-word and reaches for Needle, but the woman says they're playing a game when H'ghar interrupts them. H'ghar forces Arya to give up her possessions, but she can't bring herself to get rid of Needle, her gift from her favorite brother Jon Snow and a bittersweet reminder of home. 

As Arya continues to wax on and wax off at the temple, H'ghar leads her downstairs to where they take care of the corpses. Looks like she got a promotion?

Much to Cersei's dismay, Tommen and Margaery tie the knot. Third time's the charm for Marg, perhaps? Margaery finally consummates a marriage, and Tommen expresses his desire to do what most men wish to do all day: get it on. Hard to believe, with Tommen's sweet nature, that he and Joffrey were siblings. Margaery starts right away to flex her control over Tommen, right after bedding him, buttering him up then bringing him down, saying he'll always be his mother's "baby boy." 

Cersei too starts using her powers of manipulation, trying to innocently ask her son how "intelligent" Margaery really is. It doesn't work and Tommen immediately tries to get her to go to Casterly Rock, under the guise of her own happiness. So that calls for a face-off with Cersei and Margaery, with Margaery even quipping about Cersei's adoration for drinking, then discussing what Tommen's like in bed. Margaery seems to have the upper hand in this power struggle, all achieved with skillful feigned politeness.

On to the North, where Theon Greyjoy is looking a bit worse for the wear. Roose Bolton and his son Ramsay are having a tough time rallying the North, whose loyalty lies with the Starks. Ramsay's still a disgusting bastard as always, flaying a father and motoher in front of their son for not paying his taxes. Roose tells Ramsay that Tywin Lannister's death means the Boltons are outnumbered. He says it's time for Ramsay to marry. That poor, poor girl, whoever it may be.

Cut to, of course, Sansa riding with Littlefinger, who hopefully has something up his sleeve to get those Boltons out of the North. He doesn't. Littlefinger admits that he is taking her back to Winterfell, and much to both fans' and Sansa's horror, he admits he wants her to marry Ramsay ... poor, poor Sansa. Sansa freaks oout, understandably so, but Littlefinger has some skillz in persuasion. Little does he know what kind of sicko Ramsay is. (So in the books, Ramsay ends up marrying Jeyne Poole, best friend of Sansa, fooling everyone into thinking that she is Arya -- only he, his father, and Theon know the truth. And Ramsay constantly and sadistically tortures poor Jeyne, a fate we hope will not become of Sansa.) 

Now's a better time than ever for Brienne to rescue Sansa. Podrick and Brienne bond and it's all very cute. Pod admits he wants to be a knight, and she offers to give him some fighting and riding lessons. Brienne tells Pod about her history with Renly Baratheon, when her father forced her to attend a ball. Men were fawning all over her, and she was so happy, until she realized it was all a game, a joke. Renly comforted her and even danced with her. Brienne also is not as naive as Pod thinks, since she knows Renly liked men, then also reveals that it's Stannis she wants to kill.

So inevitably we cut to Jon Snow speaking with Renly's brother Stannis. Snow refuses Stannis's offer to become Jon Stark. Stannis says they will soon march on Winterfell, and they discuss what the future of the wildling prisoners will be. Davos Seaworth says Stannis believes in Jon. Davos reminds them of their vows, "the shield that guards the realms of men," and accuses him of hiding out at Castle Black.

But Jon has things to organize at Castle Black regardless. He opens a meeting by appointing a "latrine captain," and everyone thinks it will be Alliser Thorne, who despies Snow, but it's not. Jon names him First Ranger. Lord Janos Slynt is given command of Greyguard, a bunch of ruins, but he turns down the offer. Jon reminds him that it was a command, not an offer. After Janos keeps refusing, they take him outside. Janos begs for his life and for mercy, reflecting Daenerys's choice at the end of last season -- and Jon follows through, cutting off his head, as Daenerys did. At least the crowd didn't hiss at him this time. (This also felt like a familiar callback to Jon's father, Eddard Stark, beheading a deserter of the Night's Watch all the way back in season 1 when everything was good for the Starks.)

Sansa and Littlefinger make it to Moat Cailin as Theon looks on. Will she recognize him as Eddard's ward? She politely bows to the man who helped murder most of her family, including stabbing her own brother, then sadly has her hand kissed by the biggest bastard in Westeros. But she is home, and reassuringly, "the North remembers."

Ramsay promises to never hurt her, giving Littlefinger his word. Can we believe him? (Guessing not ...) Littlefinger assures Roose that Sansa is still a virgin, because remember, she was once married to Tyrion. 

Finally, we get to the current High Septon, who is the head of the Faith of the Seven and being encircled by a lot of naked women in Littlefinger's brothel. He is interrupted by Lancel Lannister, who brings him outside completely nude, having all the sparrows yell "sinner" at him as he completes a walk of atonement. He approaches Cersei's council and asks her to arrest all the sparrows and execute their leader, the "High Sparrow." 

Cersei wanders through the sad estate that is the sparrows' living situation in search of the High Sparrow. Most likely it is Jonathan Pryce, as he has the most famous face in the crowd. He's giving away food and clothes and claims responsibility for the Walk of Shame of the current High Septon. Cersei placed the High Septon in the dungeons and throws in her support with the High Sparrow. Cersei has Qyburn send Littlefinger a letter, who is up to no good with his sadistic experiments. Who else knew it was coming but still jumped when those bottles started clanging?

Cut to the person Cersei wants dead the most: Tyrion is going stir-crazy yet again. He tries to convince Varys to go outside, much to Varys' dismay. They walk through the streets of Volantis and come across a red priestess, who's, how about that, an Asian woman! Definitely one of the first we've seen in Westeros. She stares right at Tyrion, who immediately demands to go find a brothel. Suddenly, we see ..... Jorah Mormont! Watching whores dress up like his beloved Khalessi and drinking himself silly. Mormont quickly captures Tyrion, who tells him he's taking him to the queen. Tyrion inevitably thinks this is Cersei, but we all know who he really means. At least Mormont and Varys and Tyrion all want to go to the same place, which is to see Daenerys, who didn't show up at all this episode.

But we can only hope that Sansa's fate does not Theon's. How difficult will that be to watch? Can any Stark ever catch a break in this damn series?!

What was your favorite part of "High Sparrow"?

 

Image via HBO

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