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Game of Thrones 5×3 Recap – High Sparrow

sansa-and-littlefinger

House Stark/Baratheon

Here we are, inside the House of Black and White. It’s damp and a bit spooky with a lot of statues along the walls. Arya is grumpily sweeping as Jaqen sits with a man by the pool of water in the middle of the floor. He gives the man a cup of water and they exchange “Valar morghulis. Valar dohaeris.” The man then drops dead; all men must die and these people are no joke.

Arya is over the sweeping. That’s not what she’s here for; she wants to serve. She’s got a kill list! Come on let’s get going! What must she do to become a Faceless Man? The answer? She must become no one.

Later, Arya is confronted by another girl that’s in training at the House of Black and White. “Who are you? You, who walk in here with a coin you never earned, whose value you don’t respect. Who are you?” Arya, ever the quick learner, replies “no one.” The girl whips Arya. With every objection, the girl continues to whip her. “Who are you?” the girl asks again. “You’re about to find out!” says Arya as she reaches for Needle and I applaud my television but Jaqen enters before it can escalate into an all out catfight. Jaqen scolds Arya for wanting to become “no one” while she is still holding on tightly to all of her personal belongings. Time for a makeover!

After her first costume change since season 1, Arya throws her personal items into the Narrow Sea. The last thing is Needle. Can she do it? Images of Jon Snow and a happy Stark family at Winterfell flash through my mind. Don’t do it, Arya! Whew! She doesn’t do it. Instead, she hides Needle in some rocks and continues sweeping.

Jaqen shows up and leads Arya down a scary staircase to a room with the latest body and the bully-girl that was whipping Arya. Together, Arya and the girl undress the body and begin to clean it. “What do we do after we wash them?” she asks. No answer.

Speaking of Winterfell, we’re baaaaack! It’s now decorated with House Bolton flags, some gross looking bodies, and there’s poor Theon. Back to the bodies, they’re victims of Ramsay of course. He went out collecting taxes but decided to flay and collect bodies instead. When Lord Cerwyn refused to pay anyone but a Stark, Ramsay calmly explained that he “flayed him living along with his wife and brother, made his son watch. The new Lord Cerwyn paid his taxes.”

Roose Bolton is nervous. Not only is his son a psychopath but also he doesn’t have enough men to hold the North. Yes, he made a pact with the Lannisters but that pact was with Tywin, who is now deceased. The remaining Lannisters won’t send someone this far north. Roose explains to Ramsay, “We’ve become a great house by forming alliances with other Houses and parlaying those alliances into greater power. The best way to forge a lasting alliance isn’t by peeling a man’s skin off. The best way is marriage. It’s high time you married a suitable bride. And as it happens, I’ve found the perfect girl to solidify our hold on the North.” It’s then that my stomach sinks. It makes perfect sense. It’s Sansa.

Side note: I loved watching Theon eavesdrop during this scene. There’s still a small part of Theon left in there. He still understands the game being played. The subtleties by Alfie Allen make that crystal clear. I hope Theon rises up and protects Sansa.

Sansa and Littlefinger arrive at Moat Cailin. That’s when Littlefinger reveals his plan. He’s taking Sansa “home” to Winterfell and he’s made a marriage proposal for Sansa, not for himself. She objects, naturally. Roose Bolton murdered Catelyn and Robb. Littlefinger gives her the pep talk he’s probably been preparing since the Red Wedding:

“Winterfell is your home. Always. You’re a Stark. Dying your hair doesn’t change that. You’re Sansa Stark, eldest surviving child of Ned and Catelyn Stark. Your place is in the North. You’ve been running all your life. Terrible things happen to your family and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room mourning their fates. You’ve been a bystander to tragedy from the day they executed your father. Stop being a bystander. Stop running. There’s no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family. Avenge them.”

So that’s it, Sansa escapes one psychopath only to marry another. She will wed Ramsay Bolton and hopefully avenge her family by murdering him in his sleep. Fingers crossed.

Now this is the biggest deviation from the books to date. It changes everything. At first I found it strange, shocking even. Sansa would never marry the man responsible for killing her family. Then I warmed up to it.

First, it brings a Stark back to Winterfell—Winterfell is the closest thing us viewers have to “home” and seeing a Stark there just makes things feel a bit better. I’m sure the warm and fuzzies won’t last. Surely Ramsay has wreaked all kinds of havoc on our beloved home but let’s just live in this happy place and remember simpler times for a few minutes longer. As the servant said, “Welcome home Lady Stark. The North remembers.”

Second, it gives Sansa a mission. Why should Arya be the only Stark girl out for vengeance? Poor, naïve Sansa with her lemon cakes is no more! She’s grown. She’s evolved. She is pursuing vengeance in her own way. We have to remember that Sansa was bred to be married. She was told from a young age that she would be a princess and that she would marry for power. She now is simply using the tools she has available to avenge her family.

Third, it gives Sophie Turner something to do. The actress has been severely underused. Her character has been pretty one-dimensional from the start so I like this change. If the actress can handle it, I say let’s see it. And judging from soundbites in December, it seems like we will. “There was one scene that I did do which was super, super traumatic, and I love doing those scenes,” Turner said. “It was just really kind of horrible for everyone to be on set and watch.”

When Sansa arrives to Winterfell and meets Roose Bolton for the first time I just knew she was going to slap him. Instead, she smiles and curtseys. Ramsay and Sansa meet. Each is falsely charming. Myranda (Ramsay’s like-minded, torture friendly girlfriend) angrily watches from afar. Later, Ramsay and Littlefinger watch Sansa cross the courtyard. “She really is lovely, I hope I can make her happy…I’ll never hurt her. You have my word,” says Ramsay. Ha, yea right. Littlefinger remarks that he hasn’t heard much about the young Lord Bolton. Ramsay clarifies that he is actually Roose Bolton’s bastard. Can we just pause for a second and take a look at Littlefinger’s face:

Petyr Baelish Littlefinger - What is Petyr Baelish thinking?

Things running through Littlefinger’s mind at this very moment

  • Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t. Sh*t.
  • Is it too late to change my mind?
  • Thiiiiiiiis is the bastard?
  • Joffrey>Ramsay
  • What did I get my precious Sansa into?
  • Can I request a do over?
  • Wait, isn’t she technically still married to Tyrion?
  • I’m definitely going to hell now.
  • I hope he lets me keep my little finger.

Moving on, when Roose arrives Littlefinger assures him that Sansa is still a virgin. They discuss their histories with the Lannisters. “The Lannister name doesn’t mean what it used to.” Littlefinger explains to Roose that every ambitious move is a gamble and “the last time the lords of the Eryie formed an alliance with the lords of the North they brought down the greatest dynasty this world has ever known.” This union has potential.

Nearby, Brienne and Podrick are following Sansa and Littlefinger. I’ve never been so happy to see Brienne in my life. Surely, she will act as Sansa’s guardian angel in this wreck of a situation.

Brienne and Podrick have what has to be their first ever real conversation. She knows she hasn’t been very kind, but he tells her, “You’re the best fighter I’ve ever seen. You beat the Hound. I’m proud to be your squire.” With that, you can see Brienne perk up. Maybe Podrick isn’t so bad after all? She decides to train him. She will teach him how to fight and properly ride a horse.

Brienne then talks about her service to Renly and how their friendship came to be. Her father once held a ball so she could find a good match. It was wonderful. No one noticed how tall she was. They all whispered sweet nothings into her ear. She was so happy. Eventually she realized the boys were toying with her. She tried to run away but Renly Baratheon stopped her and said, “Don’t let them see your tears. They’re nasty little sh*ts and nasty little sh*ts aren’t worth crying over.” He danced with her all night and no one bothered her after that. “He saved me from being a joke, from that day until his last day. I couldn’t save him.”

Then we learn Brienne’s plan for vengeance; she’s going after Stannis.

Heading over to The Wall, Jon Snow is hard at work as the new Lord Commander. He’s everything we thought he would be: kind, patient, stern, loyal.

During a meeting with Stannis Baratheon, he refuses the opportunity to become Jon Stark. His place is on The Wall. “You’re as stubborn as you’re father and as honorable,” Stannis tells him. Jon Snow wants to know how much longer they’re going to be crashing at Castle Black. Stannis is basically that drunken friend that passes out on your couch and eats all your frozen dinners before dawn. Castle Black is running out of food and winter is coming. Stannis says he plans to march on Winterfell within the fortnight.

But, what to do with the Wildlings? Will Tormund compromise? Stannis thinks that Jon Snow should execute them. The other Brothers don’t want the free folk around. And what to do with Ser Alliser Thorne? Dismissing Stannis’ advice, Jon Snow says he intends to keep his enemies close.

After Stannis exits Davos says to Jon Snow, “he sees something in you. Might not be apparent from his tone but it’s the truth. He believes in you.” Stannis only wants to do what’s right for the Seven Kingdoms and he thinks he needs Jon Snow to do that. Davos reminds Snow of the line within the Night’s Watch oath—the shield that guards the realms of men. “That’s what you swore to be. Maybe people need you outside of The Wall. As long as the Boltons rule, the North will suffer.” I wonder how this is going to play out with Sansa? Could Jon Snow potentially rescue the North and Sansa?

Later, Jon Snow appoints Ser Alliser Thorne as First Ranger. He decides to send Lord Janos Slynt to Greyguard, which is apparently a ruin. Slynt does not want any part of that dump. Snow tells him “that was a command, not an offer.” Slynt refuses, repeatedly.

Slynt’s refusal is punishable by death. Snow cannot start his reign as Lord Commander by being soft so he has Slynt hauled to the courtyard for execution. If there’s one thing that Jon Snow has learned, it is how to properly behead someone when it’s needed. He marches to the podium.

“If you have any last words my Lord, now’s the time.” Slynt begs for forgiveness. He declares Jon Snow the true Lord Commander. “I’m afraid. I’ve always been afraid.” The Night’s Watch is not a place for scared men, not with winter coming. With that, Snow chops off his head. Stannis nods approvingly.

House Lannister

We check in at King’s Landing with a little Tour de Cersei Lannister. Under the sound of ringing bells, Cersei is carried in her litter toward the Great Sept of Baelor to celebrate the wedding of King Tommen and Queen Margaery. The street is lined with people from the Capitol adoringly shouting the name of the new Queen. Cersei is seething as she realizes that Margaery has succeeded in winning over the people of the city.

Margaery exchanges yet another set of wedding vows (third time’s the charm, right?) and finally becomes THE Queen that she always wanted to be. I loved how in this scene, we see Cersei through the silhouettes of the new couple as they exchange their first kiss. It’s evident that this wedding is the last thing Cersei ever wanted to happen. Boy, no one can deliver a scowl quite like Lena Headey.

After the wedding, we cut immediately to Margaery and Tommen consummating the marriage. Margaery knew better this time and didn’t spend any time waiting. When they finish, the new King is practically squealing with pleasure and expresses concern for hurting Margaery. Oh sweet innocent Tommen. You didn’t hurt her. Is he really so different from his cruel brother, Joffrey? I hope so for Margaery’s sake.

Speaking of the late King Joffrey, Tommen confides in Margaery that he often thinks about how everything he has – a new, beautiful Queen and the title of King – is only his because his brother is dead. Margaery tells him that he shouldn’t feel guilty about that but Tommen insists that he feels no guilt. Maybe he isn’t so different from Joffrey at all. Margaery starts to carefully sink her claws into the Boy King. Instead of revealing her true feelings toward Cersei, she feigns admiration of the Queen Mother’s motherly affections. She tells Tommen that it is so wonderful how Cersei is always looking after him like “a lioness guarding her cub.” Tommen insists that he no longer needs his mother looking after him because he is officially a man. But Margaery reminds him that as long as Cersei is in King’s Landing, Tommen will always be her baby boy.

The next scene takes us immediately to Cersei and Tommen strolling through the Capitol arm-in-arm.   The two discuss the new Queen and the new marriage and then Tommen reveals that the seeds of doubt planted by Margaery have successfully taken root. Tommen suggests that Cersei leave King’s Landing to return home to Casterly Rock where she can finally be happy. Tommen probably does want his mother to be happy but these words are not his and Cersei knows exactly where they are coming from.

She heads right to the source and visits Margaery and the ladies of the court. This is my favorite Margaery vs. Cersei scene to date. Cersei enters the room as Margaery recounts the four different times that her and Tommen consummated the marriage. When Margaery spots Cersei, she jumps from her chair and greets Cersei with a hug and an exclamation of “Mother!” Now that Margaery is Queen, she is fearless, almost careless, wasting no time to take jabs at Cersei. “I wish I had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us.” Cersei dismisses the comment, though she does appear to be a bit shocked, and claims that the reason for her visit is just to make sure that her new daughter-in-law knows that she is always there for her. Margaery expresses gratitude and reveals to the Queen Mother that she may soon be a Queen Grandmother, since she is so exhausted from Tommen’s “enthusiasm.” Cersei doesn’t linger and as she excuses herself, Margaery throws one last jab. “What’s the proper way to address you now? Queen Mother or Dowager Queen?”

Cersei maintains her cool, insists such formality is not required, and marches out of the gardens. The laughter of the girls rings through her head as she’s leaving. She may have been calm and level-headed in that moment, but we know Cersei will not go down without a fight. Margaery better watch her back (and her drinks!).

Back in Baelish’s brothel, we find the creep-tastic High Septon selecting from amongst the Seven Whore Gods. The Septon’s fun is interrupted by the Sparrows, led by Cersei’s favorite Lannister cousin Lancel, who are there to reprimand the Septon for his promiscuous behavior. As punishment, they force him to walk through the streets naked, flogging him whenever he attempts to cover himself, while the crowds hiss “sinner, sinner.”

The re-clothed Septon marches directly to the King’s Council and asks Cersei to throw the head of the Sparrows, the High Sparrow, in the black cells as punishment for the assault against him. Pycelle spoke up in his defense, but that doesn’t surprise me. (We remember you, Ros!) The wheels in Cersei’s head are spinning…but why?

Despite warnings from her King’s Guard, Cersei weaves her way through the poor in Flee Bottom (I’m guessing) to find the High Sparrow, a shoeless man feeding soup to the poor. The High Sparrow (hey you, Governor Swann) and Cersei discuss his choice of nickname, which he finds humorous, and his decision to give away his shoes, which he made to remind himself who he really is. The High Sparrow then reveals that he knows why Cersei has visited – to arrest him for what he did to the High Septon. Cersei reveals that the High Septon actually requested for the High Sparrow to be executed but rather than doing that, she has thrown the Septon into the Red Keep. “The faith and the crown are the two pillars that hold up this world. One collapses, so does the other. We must do everything necessary to protect one another.” Oh really? Since when has Cersei become so religious?

After her visit with the Sparrow, Cersei heads to see the mad scientist/healer Qyburn and asks him to send an urgent message to Petyr Baelish “wherever he’s slithering about.” She also asks Qyburn how his project is coming along and tells him to keep at it. After she leaves, we see what we thought was an inanimate body on a table come to life under a blanket! What is under there, Qyburn? Is it a Franken-Mountain of sorts?! Whatever it is, Cersei knows and I don’t have a good feeling about it.

We catch up with our favorite Lannister, Tyrion, as he starts to lose his mind on the road to Meereen. Tyrion insists that he is sick of seeing Varys’ face and he needs to get out of the cart for a bit before he goes crazy. Lord Varys warns him that there is a price on Tyrion’s head and if he’s recognized, it’s all over. Tyrion insists he’s just one more drunk dwarf and the two step out in Volantis. Reminder – Volantis was the home of the late Robb Stark’s wife (RIP, the North Remembers) and through re-tellings of her childhood, Talisa revealed Volantis to be a major slave city.

We find Varys and Tyrion walking through a gigantic, organized slave market. We learn that the slaves are marked by tattoos on their faces as to be easily recognized. But word of slave revolutions from Slaver’s Bay have made their way to Volantis and the slaves are not happy. Tyrion and Varys stumble upon a Red Preacher of the Lord of Light surrounded by a chanting crowd. The preacher is talking about slavery and claims that the Red King hears their misery and has sent them a new savior. “From the fire she was reborn to remake the world; the Dragon Queen!” Tyrion mocks the speech and jokes about how they are on their way to the savior. The Red Preacher hears him and a dark, foreboding look is exchanged between her and Tyrion.

Tyrion and Varys head to a brothel and we learn that the influence of the Dragon Queen has reached even the most desperate of places. A prostitute walks around dressed in an ass-less Dany get up, hair and all. Tyrion and Varys sit in a darkened corner and don’t realize that there is another Game of Thrones character/Dany lover in their presence.

Tyrion leaves Varys to talk to “someone with hair” and finds a bitter brunette prostitute. “They all want to f*ck a queen,” she says as she glares at the Dany imitation. She knows Tyrion has no money but the two share a connection and she offers him pity sex. To everyone’s surprise, including Tyrion’s, he rejects! “I’m sorry, I can’t.” She reassures him that she can and coaxes him to join her but he insists it’s something he cannot do. “Believe me, no one is more shocked than I am. I hope it passes!”

Defeated, Tyrion leaves and goes to piss into the sea. He hears someone walk up behind him and thinks its Varys. Alas, it is not! It is Ser Jorah Mormont, who we spotted earlier in the crowd.   Jorah seizes and gags Lord Tyrion. “I’m taking you to the Queen,” he says as he carts off Tyrion on his shoulder. We’re left to wonder the question of the hour….WHICH QUEEN?! I would bet all of the Lannister gold that it is none other than the love of his life, Daenerys Targaryen.

Side Note – Tyrion made an off-handed comment while listening to the Red Preacher about the disease, greyscale.  We also heard Stannis’ daughter, Shireen Baratheon, discuss the illness from which she suffers with Gilly in last week’s episode.  Something tells me that this is no coincidence but foreshadowing and we can expect a major character to go down from the illness before all is said and done.

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 5×3:

Jenn’s Pick –  “It’s a perfectly good face.”  – Varys in response to Tyrion’s angst against only seeing him for days on end.

Elizabeth’s Pick – “Stop being a bystander. Stop running. There’s no justice in the world. Not unless we make it. You loved your family. Avenge them.”

Game of Thrones Recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera (Lannister and Targaryen) and Elizabeth Bond (Stark/Baratheon and Martell).  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.

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Game of Thrones 5×1 Recap – The Wars to Come

Young Cersei

Before diving in, let’s start with the fancy updated intro. Winterfell is no longer on fire and we have a new addition, Pentos! We later find out this is where Tyrion has landed.

House Targaryen

The first Daenerys Stormborn moment of the season opens with the golden statue that sat atop the slave city of Meereen toppling down over the city.  Is this a symbol for the season to come?  Is Dany’s army beginning to fall?

This episode certainly doesn’t help my theory.  After the statue is successfully down, an Unsullied heads into town to visit a brothel.  Strange, I thought.  Why would he go there?  Apparently, he had visited this brothel before and has a regular request of the women there.  He lays down topless while a topless woman lays behind him and rubs his head.  He seemed so relaxed and innocent until…his throat is suddenly slit.  The women and the killer, a man in a golden V for Vendetta mask, stand above the body and watch as he bleeds out.

The mask is left on the body of the Unsullied for Dany to discover and it apparently represents the Sons of the Harpys, a group that is bad news bears for #TeamDany.  It turns out that Dany is not being heralded in the slave cities as a liberator but as a conqueror and citizens are rebelling against her and her Unsullied.  Dany tells Barristan Selmy and the rest of her Jorah-free Queen’s Guard to hold the burial of the murdered Unsullied, White Rat, in a temple – an action meant to anger those who are rebelling.

After this is decided, Missandei and Grey Worm chat in private per Missandei’s request.  She asks why White Rat and many other Unsullied are being spotted visiting brothels considering all Unsullied are also eunuchs.  Grey Worm does not know and leaves without providing any more insight.

Dany continues to deal with the politics associated with liberating the free cities.  Her ambassador from Yunkai returns with Daario Naharis and says the deal to establish a council of elders was agreed upon.  However, the former masters have a request – they want to reopen the fighting pits.  Rather than slaves fighting to the death, they suggest that free men be allowed to fight free men.  He argues that Dany making this decision would send the message that she respects their pre-established culture and traditions but Dany refuses.

Later, in the boudoir, Daario Naharis attempts to convince Dany that she should indeed reopen the pits.  Daario explains how he rose through the pits as a champion, which gave him resources to help his mother and lead him to become the man he is today.  He tells Dany he isn’t afraid to speak the truth to her and warns her that a sign of weakness will give her enemies the chance they need, therefore it’s imperative for her to show her strength now.  Dany points out that the Unsullied are patrolling the streets but she misinterpreted Daario. “You’re not the mother of Unsullied.  You’re the Mother of Dragons.  A Dragon Queen with no dragons?  That’s not a Queen.”  You go, Daario.

Finally, Dany braves the underground cage she created and enters the dragon lair.  At first, the room is silent and Dany cautiously calls out the dragons’ names.  Suddenly, fire erupts and the dragons are enraged, thrashing and spewing fire at their mother.  They don’t seem to recognize her but if they do, they definitely don’t care.  Dany runs out of the lair, visibly shaken and frightened of her full grown children.

House Lannister

We have our very first Game of Thrones flashback, LOST style in our season-opening scene.  Meet young Cersei Lannister – a rebellious blonde teenager who is still arrogant, bossy, and a little too confident.  Young Cersei guides her friend into a creepy house in woods near Casterly Rock.  The two girls enter per Cersei’s insistence and find a witch? a creepy woman? a sage? I’m not 100% sure.  But Cersei uses her Lannister name to force the woman into telling her future.  The woman licks a drop of Cersei’s blood then gives Cersei three questions.  Cersei asks when she will be married but the witch tells Cersei won’t marry a prince, she will marry a King and become Queen.  However, she won’t be Queen for long.  “You’ll be Queen for a time.  Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear.”  She also tells Cersei that the king will have 20 children but Cersei will only have three children and she will see them all die.  “Gold their crowns, gold their shrouds.”  Eeeeeerily accurate, if you ask me.

We cut to Cersei in the present day preparing to attend the funeral of the late Tywin Lannister.  She is wearing black to mourn her father as she marches through the streets of King’s Landing to the sound of the bells accompanied by a King’s Guard.  Cersei makes the funeral attendees wait so she can have a moment alone with her father.  Turns out Jaime Lannister is also with Tywin and the two share a not-so-tender moment.  They discuss their fears – Jaime’s fear that the lords and ladies of Westeros will try and steal everything Tywin has created for him and Cersei’s fear of where and what Tyrion is doing.  Cersei is completely focused on “the little monster” who killed their father.  She asks Jaime if he set Tyrion free.  When Jaime doesn’t respond, she tells him that at least Tyrion killed their father by choice.  Jaime helped in that killing by refusing to ever acknowledge that Tyrion was a problem.  It’s not surprising to me that Tywin, the man who stood between Jaime and Cersei for their entire lives, is continuing to drive them apart in his absence.  But it is surprising for me to see Jaime’s concern for the inheritance he cannot have and so boldly refused while Cersei is dismissing the inheritance we thought she’d go after.  Maybe Cersei really was the Lannister who contributed most to Tywin’s legacy.  With a farewell kiss from Cersei, we see the last of Tywin Lannister.  I cannot say I’m upset.

We immediately find ourselves in a box, peering through a wall of peepholes, moving awkwardly through a city.  Tyrion Lannister has finally arrived in Pentos, safe and sound though covered in poop, courtesy of Lord Varys.  Tyrion looks like shit as he struggles to stand after crossing the Narrow Sea in such dismal conditions.  Varys apologizes for the situation but reminds Tyrion the crate was necessary since Varys broke many laws by breaking him out of King’s Landing making them both wanted men.  Varys tells Tyrion he is at the home of a friend, Illyrio Mopatis (Reminder: this is the same man who housed Dany and her horrid brother, Viserys, before Dany was wed to Khal Drogo).  Varys goes on to explain that Varys, Illyrio, and a group of others were working in secret to support a Targaryen restoration of the throne by overthrowing King Robert, setting forth a chain of events that contributed to where they have ended up today.  Tyrion starts…continues…drinking and it’s visible that he’s being haunted by the murders of Shae and Lord Tywin.  He must come to terms with what he has done before he can begin to plan the next step for himself and for the Realm.

Later, Tyrion and Varys discuss how Tyrion ended up in a box crossing the Narrow Sea.  Varys sticks with the story that Lord Jaime asked him to save Tyrion’s life.  But then he adds more.  Varys saved Tyrion for the Seven Kingdoms.  Varys believes “men of talent have a part to play in the war to come.”  Tyrion is doubtful but Varys reminds him that Tyrion has instincts for politics coupled with compassion.  “What is it you want exactly?” asks Tyrion.  Varys wants peace and a ruler in place who will not spread misery throughout the lands.  They both agree that Tyrion himself could never sit on the Iron Throne.  “But you could help another climb those steps and take that seat.”  Varys goes on to explain the ideal Westerosi monarch – a strong ruler with a gentle heart; both intimidating and inspiring.  Leading to my favorite exchange of the episode:

Varys: “A ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.”
Tyrion: “Good luck finding him.”
Varys:  “Who said anything about him?”

Then, Varys asks Tyrion if he will ride with him to Meereen to meet Daenerys and find out if the world is worth fighting for.  Cue my insides freaking out on this possible character interaction.

Back at the funeral, Ser Loras Tyrell goads Cersei by pretending to fake deep remorse for her father.  Cersei pretends to listen while really focusing on Margaery Tyrell and her young, beautiful hands carefully grazing King Tommen.  As Cersei dismisses herself, she is stopped by a strangely familiar face.  Lancel Lannister returns but is almost unrecognizable, barefoot with a Marine-worthy buzz cut wearing nothing but a plain robe.  Cersei says as much before Lancel’s father walks over and breaks up the conversation.  Lancel’s father apologizes for his sons appearance and tells her that Lancel is now a part of a religious group that refer to themselves as the Sparrows.  Cersei excuses herself, grabs some wine, and seeks alone time.  But Lancel finds her again and, in a new deep voice, tells Cersei that he can be forgiven now.  He talks about how he tempted her into the darkness of their incestual bed and then brings up King Robert and the boar hunt.  Cersei feigns ignorance but Lancel insists that he is finally at peace for what they’ve done and Cersei can find peace in the Light of the Seven, too.  This conversation is strange but we gain a very useful tidbit of information.  Lancel blames himself and the Queen Regent for the death of King Robert.  Maybe the theory of Lancel pouring alcohol down Robert’s throat on purpose has some merit.

Queen Margaery interrupts Ser Loras’ sex-scapades/Martell history lesson (love what you did there, GOT) with a call for dinner.  Margaery has no shame and plops right down on the bed.  After Loras’ handsome lover leaves, she questions Loras.  Shouldn’t he be more discreet since he is set to marry Cersei?  Loras feels otherwise.  Now that Tywin Lannister is dead, he doesn’t think there is anyone living that can force Cersei into marrying him.  Unfortunately, for Margaery that means her mother-in-law will be stuck living in King’s Landing.  “Perhaps,” Margaery says coolly.  “Perhaps.”

House Stark and House Baratheon

We catch up with the Stark family first with Jon Snow. He’s training Olly to be a Man of the Night’s Watch. It feels a lot like Arya’s training in season one. Samwell Tarly and Gilly watch, “shouldn’t you be training too?” He replies, “How many men can say they’ve killed a White Walker and a Thenn.” Oh Sam, let’s not get too over-confident now. Ser Allister grimaces as he passes Gilly. We learn that a Lord Commander has not been chosen yet but Ser Allister is in the running. Gilly is worried that if he’s chosen she will be packing her bags. Sam replies, “Wherever you go, I go too.” Say it with me now, awwwwww.

Out of nowhere, Melisandre shows up. Jon Snow sees what we all see; she’s creepy as hell. He’s being summoned. On the way to see Stannis, Melisandre stares at him with her best bedroom eyes. “You’re not cold milady,” he asks. “Never, the Lord’s fire lives within me Jon Snow,” she says as she takes his hand and places it on her cheek. She the asks, “Are you a virgin?” “No.” “Good.” Now I’m the one grimacing.

Jon Snow and Stannis discuss Roose Bolton’s rule of Winterfell. Stannis asks if Jon Snow wants revenge for Robb’s death. “I want many a thing but I’m a sworn man of the Night’s Watch.” Changing the topic, Stannis and Davos ask about Ygritte. Why was Jon Snow seen taking her body north of the Wall? “It was where she belonged.” Davos brings up that some of the Night’s Watch think that Jon Snow has too much affection for the Wildlings. Stannis reveals that he wants to mount Roose Bolton’s head on a stake. Now that Tywin is dead there is nothing stopping him from taking over the North. He wants Jon Snow to help him wrangle the Wildlings to serve as his army. The best way to do that is to get Mance Raydar to swear his allegiance to Stannis. It’s up to Jon Snow to convince Mance or he will burn.

Later, Jon Snow visits Mance Raydar. They reflect on the irony of the situation. Jon Snow was once his prisoner, insert hearty laugh here. Mance already knows what Stannis is after, “I’ll give him this much, he’s bold.” Mance has no intention of even kneeling and he doesn’t want his people bleeding for Stannis Baratheon’s war. Jon Snow encourages him to reconsider by reminding him of how strong of a leader he is; after all he united ninety clans for one cause and he did it to save them. Isn’t their survival more important than his pride? Short answer, no. Mance Raydar believes that the Wildlings followed him because they respected him. The moment he kneels, that respect is gone.

It’s then that Jon Snow tells him that they plan to burn him alive. Mance Raydar doesn’t want to be remembered yelling from a stake but he’d rather burn then kneel. He will never enlist his people in a foreigner’s war. When Jon Snow says he’s making a mistake, he replies “freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted”

That night, he is marched from his cell. Stannis gives him the opportunity to kneel. He replies, “This was my home for many years. I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.” With a nod from Stannis, Mance Raydar is to be burned. As everyone watches Melisandre steps forward, “We all must choose. Man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness, we choose good or we choose evil. We choose the true god or the false. Free folk, there is only one true king and his name is Stannis. Here stands your king of lies. Behold the fate of those who chose the darkness.” She lights him up. It definitely seemed like Mance is having second thoughts about his defiance. Jon Snow looks disgusted. Yep, Mance is definitely having second thoughts. I start yelling at my television, CUT HIM DOWN! Jon Snow storms off. Mance starts crying. Gilly hides her face. Stannis’s wife is really into it. Tormund Giantsbane is getting angry. All of a sudden, an arrow! Jon Snow shoots Mance with an arrow to put him out of his misery. Thank god.

With that, the show ends. I think it’s safe to say that yes, Jon Snow does have too much affection for the Wildlings.

We briefly catch up with Sansa. She’s with Littlefinger. They are dropping Robin off with Lord Royce for safekeeping. While they watch a pitiful Robin try to sword fight (a big contrast from Olly and Arya, he is actually whimpering) Littlefinger gets a secret note. With that, it’s time to go.

Brienne and Podrick are licking their wounds and planning their next steps. Podrick mentions going to Castle Black but Brienne is not having it. She’s feeling a bit discouraged and doesn’t know what she’s fighting for anymore. She’d like to dump Podrick right about now. Since she’s not a proper knight, she shouldn’t have a squire. Podrick reminds her of her promise; she has to find the Stark girls. Arya might not have been interested but there’s always Sansa. She replies, “I don’t want anyone following me, I’m not a leader. All I ever wanted was to fight for a lord I believed in. The good lords are dead and the rest are monsters.” Is this more foreshadowing for #TeamDany?

Well, lo and behold, there’s Sansa. Riding right by Brienne. Oh, Game of Thrones you can be so frustrating. In the carriage, Littlefinger and Sansa discuss whom they can and can’t trust. Dark Sansa is learning from the master. We learn that Littlefinger is taking her somewhere that Cersei will never find her.

Looks like next week we will get to visit Arya at the House of Black and White.

House Martell

No mention of House Martell yet but it looks like we will get to meet the new family next week. There was a quick mention of Dorne, in comparison to Loras Tyrell’s birthmark. What we know of its geography, there’s a Sunspear bit, mountains, and a place called Sandstone.

Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 5×1:

Jenn’s Pick – “Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?”  – Tyrion Lannister in response to meeting Dany.

Elizabeth’s Pick – “They were born on the wrong side of the wall. It doesn’t make them monsters.” – Jon Snow about the Wildlings

Game of Thrones Recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera (Lannister and Targaryen) and Elizabeth Bond (Stark/Baratheon and Martell).  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.

 


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‘Game of Thrones’ Mystery – Who Killed [SPOILER]?

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS from Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones. DO NOT READ if you haven’t watched “The Lion and the Rose.”

Let’s go over what we know. King Joffrey Baratheon [finally] met his maker during his wedding to Margaery Tyrell aka the Purple Wedding on Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones. After consuming some wine, courtesy of his Cupbearer, and indulging on the Pigeon Pie, Joffrey began to choke. His choking quickly escalated until he suffocated and died. But Joffrey didn’t just choke to death – it was too quick, too painful, too brutal. Joffrey was poisoned, and Cersei knows it. Now the big question is who killed the King? We break down our list of suspects below.

Olenna Tyrell

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Lady Olenna has the means, the motive, and the opportunity. She despises Tywin; she wants to protect her granddaughter from the twisted Joffrey; she provided all of the food and drink for the wedding, making the pie and/or wine all the easier to poison. During the Purple Wedding, she flitted around the High Table and fiddled with Sansa’s hair and necklace; the same peculiar necklace that was given to Sansa by Ser Dantos, the fool from GOT 4×1. One of our RPW writers noticed an interesting fact – when Sansa first wore the necklace, it sported seven purple jewels. After Lady Olenna played with her hair, there were only six crystals hanging from the necklace. Did Olenna swipe a crystal filled with poison? Is she in cahoots with Dantos?

Who killed Joffrey Baratheon?

Who killed Joffrey Baratheon?

It doesn’t help Olenna’s case that she also gave sage advice to Sansa during their chat. “War is war, but killing a man at a wedding, horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing?” In the GOT world, things aren’t usually spelled out so clearly but when murdering a king, what better way to avoid suspicion? Killed Joffrey: Highly Likely

Oberyn Martell

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“The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts,” said Oberyn to Tyrion during our Season 4 opener. We know that Oberyn isn’t in Kings Landing for a friendly hello. He’s here for revenge. Oberyn’s sister was Elia Martell, wife to Rhagaer Targaryen. During the war, the Lannisters sacked King’s Landing killing Elia and her children. Rumor has it, Elia was raped by the Mountain and then split in half. If this is the case, Oberyn holds the Lannister’s, specifically Tywin, directly responsible for the death of his family members.

Wouldn’t killing Joffrey be an eye for an eye? Killed Joffrey: Highly likely

Tyrion Lannister

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Cersei’s #1 suspect is her baby brother, but did Tyrion really poison his nephew? We all know Tyrion hates Joffrey and that all Lannisters pay their debts. And Tyrion definitely owes Cersei quite a few debts at this point (Shae, his wedding to Sansa, just to name a couple). But is Tyrion stupid enough to poison his nephew at a public gathering, especially after he made numerous threats [including the most recent one in GOT 3×10] on Joffrey’s life in front of the Small Council? I doubt it. Many can argue that Tyrion was the last person to give Joffrey his wine cup, but Tyrion had no way to anticipate being made a fool of by his uncle in such fashion. If Tyrion is the culprit, he must’ve been carrying poison around for weeks waiting for an ideal moment. But to me, that’s still too far-fetched. Killed Joffrey: Not Likely

Tywin Lannister

Charles Dance is a man for austere seasons in Game of Thrones

Let’s face it, Joffrey was like a wild dog that Tywin was trying to keep on a leash. With him out of the picture, the Iron Throne passes to Joffrey’s younger (and easier to control) brother. This means that Tywin is back in charge. And we know he fancies killing people at weddings. But, is the man cold blooded enough to kill his own (horrible) grandson? From a war perspective, it’s not a very smart move since it makes the Throne seem weak. Killed Joffrey: Sort of likely

Sansa Stark

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If having reasons to kill Joffrey was a contest, Sansa would win. He was responsible for killing her direwolf. He killed her father. He repeatedly humiliated her in public. He tortured her endlessly. His family was responsible for the death of her mother and brother. Then he pushes her off to his uncle. If the poison was in the cup, Sansa was indeed the last to hand it to Tyrion. But would Sansa have the guts to kill Joffrey? It’s not likely. She’s always been too terrified of him to act. Killed Joffrey: Really Not likely

Margaery Tyrell

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Sure she’s marrying a psychopath and may want to protect her own skin. Yes, she did feed the pie to Joffrey but Margaery is such a public relations expert that I doubt she would willingly kill off her second husband. I mean, the girl is now two for two. She’s got two dead husbands and is officially damaged goods. Who’s going to want to marry her now? Killed Joffrey: Really Not likely

Cersei Lannister

gotCersei-Lannister

Bottom line, Cersei hates Tyrion. She so quickly pointed the finger at Tyrion, some would assume she orchestrated the death of Joffrey to take Tyrion out herself. You can even argue that Cersei so self-motivated, she saw married-Joffrey as a threat whom she could no longer control.  She could have orchestrated his death just to retain her own power.  But wouldn’t it have been easier to kill Sansa? I mean, two birds with one stone. Also, the Lannisters aren’t ones to act impulsively and killing your own son would be pretty impulsive. And as much as Cersei hates Tyrion, she loved Joffrey more. Throughout his reign, she was constantly trying to steer him in the right direction and make him a good leader (not possible). Killed Joffrey: Really Not likely

Melisandre

got-melisandre

While the Red Priestess was not present at the Purple Wedding, we can’t write her off as a suspect just yet. Recall in Game of Thrones Season 3×8 “Second Sons,” Melisandre tossed leeches filled with Gendry’s blood into a fire calling for the Lord of Light to kill Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, and Baelon Greyjoy as usurpers. Two of those men have now met their end. Can we give Melisandre credit for these deaths, or is it mere coincidence? If I were Baelon Greyjoy, I’d be very careful. Killed Joffrey: Not Likely

On a similar note, WHERE IS GENDRY? gendrymoving

 


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Countdown to Game of Thrones, Season 4 – An Update on the Houses

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To say that the writers of Rock Paper Watch are excited for the Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere would be a gigantic understatement.  Overjoyed, thrilled, elated. They would be much better choices.  In preparation for the premiere, I even rewatched Season 3.  Okay, okay, really Seasons 1-3.  What I realized was quite a lot has happened and I kind of forgot some of it.  So, below you will find an update on the main Houses in Westeros, and a few other key players, as developed after a month of binge watching GOT on my iPhone during my commute to and from work.  

Thank the Old Gods and the New that we only have two more sleeps until premiere day, and I can watch it on a real TV. 

House-Baratheon1

Stannis – At the end of Season 3, Ser Davos Seaworth, Stannis’ Hand of the King, revealed a letter from Maester Aemon detailing the imminent threat of White Walkers beyond the Wall. Alongside the Red Priestess, Stannis peered into the fire yet again. Realizing that the real war lies to the North, Melisandre advised Stannis to spare Ser Davos from death even though he sprung Gendry from the dungeons, sans Stannis’ permission, because Stannis will need him in the future.  Stannis made the decision to ride to the Wall and save the Seven Kingdoms, with Davos and Melisandre by his side. Maybe Stannis is the true king, after all.  Will he arrive in time to aid the Night’s Watch in the Wildling Rebellion?  Will Gendry figure out how to use the boat and make it to dry land? 

House-Lannister
Cersei – Engaged to Loras Tyrell; enraged against her father; envious of Margaery’s control over Joffrey; seemingly not excited to have her lover back, which brings us to her twin brother;

Jaime – Finally arrived safely back in King’s Landing, minus his sword hand but plus his sword lady, Brienne of Tarth. Remember, Brienne and Jaime both swore an oath to Lady Catelyn that they would return Sansa and Arya to Winterfell.  This season, will Jaime prove to be loyal to his word, or loyal to his lover and family?;

Joffrey – The last time we saw Joffrey, he was celebrating the Red Wedding before he was threatened with death by his uncle and sent to bed by his grandfather. Poor Joffrey. Nevertheless, the Cruel & Stupid King is engaged to the careful manipulator, Margaery Tyrell, and the royal wedding will probably happen in the beginning episodes of Season 4. Oh, what a wedding it will be!;

Tyrion – Now celibate thanks to his marriage to Lady Sansa (not really though since his mistress, Shae, is his wife’s handmaiden), and serving as Master of Coin, it is Tyrion’s job to fund the Royal Wedding for the nephew he loathes so much. Will Tyrion succeed and prove his worth to his father, or fail miserably and continue his decline in power?;

Tywin – As Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister proved he is the Grandest Schemer in the Land when he orchestrated the Red Wedding last season. Remember all those mysterious letters he was writing?  With those letters, he singlehandedly stole the North out from under the Starks, killed a majority of their House, and rewarded Lord Bolton as Warden of the North, with full intention to strip the Boltons of the North when Sansa and Tyrion’s “heir” comes of age. Tywin is playing the game of thrones to win, no matter what the cost. At this rate, can anyone stop him?

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Arya – Thanks to the Hound, who captured Arya after she escaped from the Brotherhood Without Banners, she was not massacred in the Red Wedding along with most of her House. Unfortunately, she did witness most of it. This poor girl has no only seen her father’s headless body, but also her brother’s headless body with Greywind’s head fixed upon it. What will the Hound do with Arya now that no one can pay him for her? Will she ever use the coin given to her by ‎Jaqen H’ghar and speak the words “Valar Morghulis (All men must die)?”;

Bran – At the end of Season 3, Bran came this close to reuniting with his half-brother, Jon Snow. Instead of a joyous reunion, we got Bran warging into Summer and Grey Wind to rescue Jon from the Wildlings, who turned on Jon right after they figured out Jon’s true identity. After rescuing his brother, Bran decided to split his group sending Rickon and Osha somewhere South (and safe) while Bran, Jojen, and Meera continued North. In an abandoned castle near the Wall, Bran’s group came face-to-face with Samwell Tarly and Gilly as that pair headed back to Castle Black. Despite Sam’s wishes to protect his “brother’s brother,” Sam showed Bran and the Reeds a secret passage through the Wall, sending Bran right in to the thick of danger;

Jon Snow – Jon was a very busy man last season, deceiving Mance Rayder and the Wildlings into believing he was one of them and falling in love with a Wildling, only to reveal at the end of Season 3 that he was, in fact, still loyal to the Night’s Watch and working as a double agent. In the season finale, Jon finally revealed his true colors and left the Wildlings to return to Castle Black and warn the Night’s Watch of the pending attack, thusly breaking Ygritte’s heart. Ygritte doesn’t go down easy, though, and lands three arrows in Jon.  Jon returns to the Castle but collapses before he can speak with Sam and his bros.  Will Jon survive Ygritte’s revenge and warn his fellow Crows before Mance lights the biggest fire the North has ever seen?;

Sansa – Poor Sansa, she is the living Stark that continuously gets the shit end of the stick. She’s stuck in King’s Landing as Joffrey’s puppet, forced into marrying Tyrion Lannister, and missed yet another opportunity to leave King’s Landing (this one was with Petyr Baelish). While it seems like Sansa does have some powerful people in her corner (Olenna and Varys to name a few), at the conclusion of Season 3, Sansa’s life seemed in even more jeopardy. Her family is dead, Jaime is back in King’s Landing, and the Lannisters no longer need Sansa as a bargaining chip. Will her marriage to Tyrion keep her safe?  Will she ever be smart enough to leave King’s Landing when given a chance?

House-Targaryen-

Season 1 tells the story of Daenerys Stormborn and her transformation from innocent young girl to strong, confident Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons. Season 2 tells the story of Dany realizing she can trust no one and must embrace violence in order to gain power. By Season 3, we finally see Dany coming into her own as a true Queen with a gentle heart and a ruthless hand, working to find a balance between what her heart desires and what fulfilling her fate requires.  

Dany moved from slave-city to slave-city, sacking the Masters and freeing their slaves, with the help of her Unsullied, Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Daario Naharis, and, of course, her three dragons. At the conclusion of the season, Dany waits at the gates of Yunkai, unsure of how the newly freed slaves would respond to her and her horde.  When the gates finally open, they pour out in droves, stopping just short of Dany.  Missandei introduces Dany’s with full titles – proof of her unyielding growth.  “This is Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mother of Dragons.” Dany interrupts Missandei to tell the people they are now free.  In a visually powerful scene, hundreds and thousands of the citizens of Yunkai raise their hands, shouting “Mhysa” in unison, lifting Dany over their head, praising her as their “Mother.” 

Dany now has the three things her brother always wanted – love, power, and fear. Is she finally ready to cross the Narrow Sea and take back her kingdom? Can she balance the line between conquerer and liberator?  Thank the Gods we only have a few more days to find out!

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Westerosi Key Players

Petyr Baelish – As a reward for his support of All Things Lannister, Petyr was titled the Lord of Harrenhal and left King’s Landing to pursue Lady Lysa Arryn’s (Catelyn’s crazy sister that still breastfeeds her 9 year old) hand in marriage. The last time we saw him, he was on a ship headed to the Vale. We’ll probably catch up with him sometime this season following his arrival.

Theon Greyjoy – It was finally revealed at the conclusion of Season 3 that Theon was being held by Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey Snow, as a means of removing the Iron Islanders from the North.  Ramsey was also the same person that set Winterfell ablaze, finally turning it into Hot Pie’s Winterhell.  Did you figure this big secret out before the big reveal?

Yara Greyjoy – After receiving her brothers’ penis in a box, courtesy Ramsay Snow, Yara decided to take her strongest men on her fastest ship and sail North to rescue her baby brother.  Touching.  Meanwhile, her father did nothing and was quite content to continue receiving “more Theon.” 

Olenna Tyrell – Olenna may just be the only person brave and smart enough to match Tywin Lannister both in wit and manipulation (their scene last season was uh-maze-ing). Something tells me she won’t send her granddaughter and grandson into the Lion’s Den without putting up a fight.

The Tulleys – In the finale, a gitty Walter Frey reveals that Edmure Tully survived the Red Wedding, locked up in a jail cell, and The Blackfish managed to escape.  What does this mean for the future of the Tully clan?  Will Edmure make it out alive?  Will anyone seek revenge for the massacre?

Lord Varys – The Spider continues to be one of my favorite characters as he proves over and over again to truly care about the good of the Realm. He recognizes the evil players and makes quiet moves to assist the good ones. In the season finale, he even tried to remove Shae from the picture, encouraging her to take his diamonds and leave the city so Tyrion can focus on what needs to be done.  But I want to know – what is his end game?  Who is Varys really working for, or what is he working towards?  

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Take a mouse-scroll down RPW’s Game of Thrones archive page to feed your addiction while you wait for the Game of Thrones premiere this Sunday, April 6th at 9pm on HBO, and be sure to catch our weekly recaps once the action commences!