Spoiler Warning: So many spoilers. So many. Consider yourself warned.
“High Sparrow” is a deeply unsettling episode for many reasons, but none more so than Margaery Tyrell marrying and having sex with Cersei’s last remaining son, King Tommen. What’s worse is how often Margaery talks about their rather overzealous sex life to anyone who will listen and goes out of her way to make sure Cersei knows that the role of Queen Mother means less power and less attention from Tommen.
At the House of Black and White, Arya is getting into the “wax on wax off” motif for her training and is forced to shed the last remaining pieces of her life as Arya. However, unable to bring herself to part with her sword Needle, she hides it in some rocks. She also must learn about death by helping to wash the body of a dead member of the House of Black and White.
Sansa Stark realizes too late that she is being transported back to Winterfell to marry the son of the man who murdered her brother at the Red Wedding. However, Ramsay Bolton’s marriage to Sansa is to be “more powerful than flaying someone alive” so the insane creature that once tortured Theon Greyjoy is game. Sansa is hesitant but also interested in seeking revenge. A maid at Winterfell does let Sansa in on a little secret: The North Remembers.
Podrick tells Brienne of how he became a squire for Tyrion Lannister and she in return explains her loyalty to Renly. She also agrees to start training Podrick to fight so he can stop being a squire. At Castle Black, Jon Snow shows his power with a sword and refuses to let a slight against his leadership go.
Back at King’s Landing, Cersei attempts to make peace with a sect of the Seven known as The Sparrows and we meet the High Sparrow (played by the incredible Jonathan Pryce). Cersei can feel her power slipping, but she knows using religion might be her way back to control. On the way to find a future ruler, Tyrion and Varys stop to listen to a female street preacher express the faith of “The Lord of Light.” It appears that this particular believer is just as crazy as Melisandre, but this one also is searching for “The Mother of Dragons.” At a local whore house, Tyrion finds himself unable to do what he does best and makes the mistake of going out for some air alone.
Want to get uncomfortable? Watch “High Sparrow.” If you don’t remember him, Ramsay Bolton is a complete and utter nutbag. His favorite thing to do is flay people alive. Case in point? Theon’s nether regions being shipped home in a box. However, the point that marriage is more powerful than flaying someone alive rings true back at King’s Landing as well. Tyrion’s lack of drive in the whore house continues the Sparrow’s message in this episode that no one is truly higher than the other. His respect for the young woman and her “skeptical mind” is great, but we can also see a bit of his ex lover in this girl. Tommen’s excited sex life is deeply uncomfortable for me as an adult female with absolutely no interest in barely pubescent boys, and more than once I felt like I needed to turn off the episode or be arrested. I believe this is intentional, but come on HBO!
In better news, this is a transitive episode for many of the women on the show. Cersei unhappily transitions to a background role as Queen Mother while Margaery’s scheming has landed her smack dab in the middle of Queenship. Whether this is an act or her legitimate fear of being cast aside, we have yet to discover. Brienne of Tarth reveals a softer side, but offers the advice “nasty little shits aren’t worth crying over” as a reminder from Renly that sometimes power is in not letting them see you cry. Arya puts aside her demands and starts to learn to serve instead of just lashing out with emotion and basic skill. Sansa quietly schemes, knowing her people want her home.
We are slowly moving along with the plot, but I have a feeling things are going to get a little less conversation and a little more action in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to deal with the image of a half-naked Tommen.