Talk of fathers, talk of marriage and boastful talking dominate Game Of Thrones‘ six episode of S5.
Let’s bitch it out…
As always, let’s count down the top three power plays on this week’s episode:
1) Cersei’s (Lena Headey) big gamble pays off
After a week off, we return to King’s Landing to deal with the fall-out after the Faith Militant arrested Loras (Finn Jones) for his affairs with men. First, however, Cersei gets a status update from Baelish (Aidan Gillen) about the Bolton vs Stannis battle brewing in the North. As usual he plays the discussion as though he’s her willing servant, even trying to negotiate a more impressive title – Warden of the North – in exchange for the use of his Knights of the Vale in the forthcoming battle. Cersei is rightfully wary, but she’s got bigger fish to fry when Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) arrives to negotiate the release of her grandson.
The presence of Olenna and the return of Margaery (Natalie Dormer) are welcome sights because their respective presences guarantee some kind of fireworks. The verbal showdown between Olenna and Cersei doesn’t disappoint in this regard; in fact it is a pure delight (I love how Olenna refuses to mince words!). Unfortunately for the Tyrells, Cersei planned the High Sparrow’s (Jonathan Pryce) inquiry carefully: she ensures that Loras’ lover, who was seen by Margaery, is brought in to testify. This provides the High Sparrow with enough evidence to hold both Loras and Margaery, as a result. It’s a bold, shrewd power play by Cersei – she continues to walk the fine line between using the Sparrows to obtain the results she desires and allowing them the freedom to act on their own. At this point Cersei seems firmly in control, but the speed with which Margaery was taken down suggests that no one is entirely safe.
2) “Poor Sansa!”
The only way that I can even watch the terrible series of events that is Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) life anymore is to play them in my head with canned studio laughter like a sitcom. I call it “Poor Sansa!” (it would probably air on FOX). Full confession: Sansa’s wedding to Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) in the God’s Wood, with slow, swirling snowflakes and a gorgeous fur & corseted gown, is beautiful. The direction and soundtrack makes the whole thing come off like a picturesque fairytale, the kind of wedding that any girl would dream of. Hell even Ramsay looks like he’s dialled down the crazy as they exchange their vows.
Alas a fairytale is all that it is. Sure enough, the whole affair is actually steeped in humiliation and pain, beginning with jealous maid Miranda’s (Charlotte Hope) threatening stories about Ramsay’s other girls. The ugh factor continues with Sansa forced to endure Theon (Alfie Allen) giving her away and then, in a truly depressing and disgusting final scene, Ramsay unveils the ultimate humiliation when he demands that Reek stay to watch Sansa and Ramsay consummate their marriage. It’s a deplorable demand – equalling awful for both Sansa and Theon. Despite playing primarily off-screen, Ramsay’s treatment of Sansa as property to be torn into is vulgar and the scene verges on rape. Sansa may have the confidence to tell Miranda and Theon where to stick it, but she’s still negotiating her relationship with her new husband and Ramsay is not one to be trifled with. Still, Sansa’s going to have to put her smarts to work pronto because I can’t take many more scenes like this <vomit> Poor Sansa!
3) Trouble in Dorne
The final big power play of the episode are the events in Dorne. King Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) correctly anticipates that there is trouble brewing over Myrcella (Nell Tiger-Free) and his grandson, Trystane (Toby Sebastian). When Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) show up at the same time as the Sand Snakes, the swords and whips come out.
I wish I had something positive to say about these scenes, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t find them disappointing. Not only are they far too brief, they’re surprisingly poorly edited, especially the battle between Bronn and the Snakes. From Ellaria’s (Indira Varma) build-up, I anticipated that these women would be hard-core fighters, but the action here feels slow and unconvincing. It’s almost as if the rehearsal, when the actors are still learning the moves, was filmed and used for the final product. I haven’t seen such a lethargic fight sequence on Game of Thrones in quite some time. It’s very disappointing.
- Arya (Maisie Williams) graduates! After Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) observes her administering to a little girl with a terminal illness, he allows her to move to the next stage of her training. The goings-on in the House of Black and White remain S5’s most vague and obscure narrative, and I feel like there’s a willingness to go along with it because of the fan love for Williams and her spunky character. The visual that accompanies Arya’s entrance into the grand hall filled with death masks is the episode’s other stunning signature piece (after Sansa’s wedding). I’m both intrigued and nervous that we have no idea what Jaqen means when he suggests that Arya is ready to become someone else.
- Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) may not consider Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) his travelling companion, but when they’re ambushed on a picturesque beach by thugs led by Malko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), they’re forced to come together. Naturally Tyrion’s quick witted silver tongue saves the day: his “inability to shut up” buys the pair time until they reach Meereen, where presumably Jorah will be put to work in the fighting pits and a “cock seller” will determine Tyrion’s member’s worth. Lol.
- I literally never connected Jorah’s family name – Mormont – with Jeor Mormont, the deceased Lord Commander at the Wall that Tyrion met back in S1. TOO MANY CHARACTERS!
- Also: Tyrion’s critique of Daeny’s (an unseen Emilia Clarke) qualifications to rule sound quite a bit like the complaints some fans levelled at her in earlier seasons. Though, if we’re being critical, Daeny is easily a better, more qualified leader than boy child Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), who currently sits on the Iron Throne.
- Between the nameless girl at the House of Black and White and Miranda at Moat Collins, ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’ feels a bit like Mean Girls, Medieval Edition. Where did all of these bitchy secondary characters come from?!
- Jaqen (when Arya insists she’s not playing the game anymore): “We never stop playing.”
- Tyrion (contesting the claim that he has a dwarf-sized cock): “Guess again”
- Olenna (to Cersei): “Put the pen down dear, we both know you’re not writing anything.”
- Olenna (when Cersei accuses her of thinly veiled threats): “What veil?”
Your turn: was Cersei’s power move masterful? Did you like Sansa’s wedding? Could you have done without the wedding night consummation (so much rape this weekend!)? Were the Dorne scenes disappointing to you? Are you still onboard with the strangeness in the House of Black and White? Will Tyrion and Jorah be sold into slavery en route to Meereen? Sound off below.
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO. Next week: tension at The Wall and Stannis encounters snow on the path to Winterfell.