Another busy episode of Game Of Thrones sets up the final few episodes of S5. Travel proves dangerous, but staying put even moreso.
Let’s bitch it out…
It’s time to break down the top three power plays in this week’s episode:
1) Shifts of power in King’s Landing
Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) does not take kindly to her grandchildren’s imprisonment and promptly goes to work securing their freedom. Unfortunately she makes the same mistake Cersei (Lena Headey) did upon meeting the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce): she believes that his religious fervour masks a desire for power and wealth (which to be fair is the motivation of pretty much everyone else in King’s Landing). When her meeting with him goes nowhere, Olenna turns instead to Baelish (Aidan Gillen) – reminding him about their mutually assured destruction if the Tyrell family goes down.
The result in one of the more satisfying scenes in an episode that almost exclusively focuses on misery for the “heroes”: Cersei’s comeuppance. We knew the moment that the Queen Regent began using the Sparrows to do her dirty work that Cersei’s incestuous relationships would come back to haunt her. It just seemed that Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) would be the one to pay the price, especially considering their conversation in this episode when she gives him an impassioned speech about doing anything to protect her children. Admittedly we’ve been down the “hurt a Lannister child to hurt Cersei” road before (see also: the Purple Wedding) so it’s more exciting to see Cersei herself punished for her hypocrisy. That moment after the High Sparrow babbles on and on about the ancient chapel and stripping the Tyrells of their expensive exterior, then brings out Lancel (Eugene Simon)…you can feel the change of power in the air. Cersei certainly does; that’s why she immediately turns and tries to run. Too late, of course, and now both she and Margaery (Natalie Dormer) finds themselves imprisoned and awaiting trial.
Though there is another kind of penance if either of them admits their guilt beforehand. That sounds like foreshadowing, no?
2) The Wall goes to hell in Jon’s (Kit Harington) wake
Who could have predicted that things would go tits up the minute Jon leaves with Tormund? Oh, everyone? Alright, then…give yourself a pat on the back. The same day that the Commander leaves – placating his greatest adversary by naming Allister Thorne (Owen Teale) interim leader in his absence – Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) finally dies. This leaves Sam (John Bradley) 0/2 in the friend department, something Thorne helpfully points out at Aemon’s funeral just to ensure Sam recognizes how displeased his fellow Watchmen are.
Unsurprisingly Gilly’s (Hannah Murray) presence still riles some feathers in the degenerate population, which leads to our second sexual assault in as many weeks when a pair of Night’s Watchmen try to force themselves on her. Sam, being the manly man that he is, valiantly attempts to defend her honour and ends up on the wrong side of more than a few punches and kicks. It’s actually starting to look really bad when Ghost shows up to save the day (yay direwolf sighting!) and Sam and Gilly celebrate with a good old fashioned boinkfest.
Word to the wise, kids: heed Maester Aemon’s advice and head for the South asap! That crowd of Watchmen did not look receptive to Jon’s plan to recruit the Free Folk and we’ve seen leaders taken down for far less on this show.
3) More misery in Moat Cailin
After last week’s ultra-depressing wedding rape, Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) situation worsens. I didn’t even realize that that was possible…and yet here we are. The bruises on her arms are a simple visual to communicate how much damage his new husband is inflicting on her, so it’s understandable when Sansa implores Theon (Alfie Allen) to help her. She even resorts to using his true name, in an effort to solicit his help communicating with her followers in the North. Alas her would-be ally proves to be more Reek than Theon, running back to his master Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) to tattle on her.
Initially I thought that the tide had turned. The camera tracks Reek as he makes his way through the snow to what we assume is the tower that will house the candle – and bring forward Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who waits in the wings for a signal. Instead the door opens to reveal Ramsay. Later, touring the defenses on the castle wall, Sansa gets in a few good barbs about Ramsay’s bastard status, but he shuts her down quite quickly with a mention of Jon’s rise in stature at The Wall…as well as the sight of the flayed body of the old woman who promised to help her. The camera cuts between isolated body parts so as to reduce the horrific sight, but it somehow also fetishes the gory nature of what Ramsay’s done. Add to this his quip about how long the winter nights are and it just adds up to yet another uber-depressing episode. Cue the laugh-track, because “Poor Sansa!” is still going strong. Ugh.
- Over in Dorne, we learn that Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) is just as headstrong as her mother. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) got his work cut out for him if he hopes to bring her home.
- That one Sand Snake is right: Bronn (Jerome Flynn) has a lovely singing voice. On the whole, however, this scene feels completely unnecessary – unless the potion doesn’t truly cure Bronn, this just feels like an excuse to throw in some female nudity.
- Unsurprisingly Daario (Michiel Huisman) is unimpressed that Daeny has agreed to a political marriage, but they still get to roll around nekkid, so I’m not sure what he’s complaining about.
- Mormont (Iain Glenn) is sold at auction and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) manages the impressive feat of ensuring that he’s not left behind. At a really unimpressive set, Mormont manages to gain an audience with the Queen who ostracized him, but it’s not until Tyrion announces himself that she really takes notice (that’s cold, Daeny).
- Also: Daeny’s games day fashion = Gwenyth Paltrow’s Tom Ford Oscar dress & cape?
- Melisandre (Carice van Houten) wants Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to sacrifice his daughter to appease the Lord of Light and clear the path to victory at Winterfell. Daavos (Liam Cunningham) has the slightly less crazy suggestion that they turn back and wait out the snow. Who do you think Stannis will listen to? <sigh>
- Finally, tonight’s GIF-able moment brought to you by Cersei’s smirking smile as she walks away from Margaery’s black cell below the red keep. Too bad she doesn’t get to keep that warm and fuzzy feeling for long! Muah ha ha!
Your turn: Are you excited to see Margaery and Cersei try to sweet talk their way out of prison? Impressed at Olenna and Baelish’s duplicity? Hopeful that Sam and Gilly will flee the Wall? Is Thorne taking over? Are you tired of Sansa’s depressing storyline? Wondering why we’re getting these insignificant scenes in Dorne? Excited to see Tyrion and Daeny together? Sound off below, but please refrain from spoilers from the books.
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO. Next week: Jon faces the Free Folk