Tyrion Lannister doesn't know it yet, but he ended "Game of Thrones" Season 5, Episode 3, "High Sparrow," in a much better situation than his estranged wife, Sansa Stark.
Does anyone in the Seven Kingdoms and across the Narrow Sea have worse luck with weddings and engagements than Sansa? Joffrey. Tyrion. Now Ramsay Bolton. Either Walder Frey or Qyburn's monster must be next. Tyrion was a prince of a husband in comparison, but -- to his credit -- he never wanted to marry a young girl who didn't want him. Now she's engaged to the guy who flays for fun. Seven hells. Do you think the Boltons can be killed off before anything ... happens? This is a big change from the book, but we could say that about several storylines this season. Is that a good thing? It makes the ride a little more exciting...
Janos Slynt may have actually ended Episode 3 in a better situation than Sansa and he got his head chopped off by the new Lord Commander. Last week, Daenerys Targaryen executed an ally and it was the wrong call. This week, Jon Snow executed a fellow crow himself and it was the right call. Completely different circumstances. Jon was being tested in his first act as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He needed to establish himself as a strong leader or the disrespect would spread like a disease. You can't disobey a direct order. No one will need to be told that again. And in his other assignments, Jon showed great wisdom. He may even be able to turn Ser Alliser into an ally, with that First Ranger honor. (Maybe.) Then again, Stannis Baratheon seemed to approve of Jon's lack of mercy, and if Stannis thinks it was the right call there's potential for it to have been the wrong call. Like Dany, Jon will still probably have to face dissent from people who should be allies. Haters gonna hate!
Meanwhile, Tyrion just got abducted by Ser Jorah Mormont while pissing off the edge of still another wall. Ser Jorah said he's taking Tyrion to the queen. Tyrion must assume he means Cersei -- who'd pull a Jon Snow and chop his head right off -- but we know Jorah is just trying to find his way back into Dany's friend zone. It's not where he originally wanted to be, but at this point the friend zone is his best bet and maybe bringing The Dragon Queen a Lannister will please her in some way. She could use him as a hostage or maybe just use him to get knowledge about her enemies. Little does she, or Jorah, know that Tyrion wanted to see her anyway. He would be a fantastic ally for her, if she can ever learn to trust him.
Read on for a full recap of Episode 3:
Opening credits: We're shown King's Landing, Moat Cailin (in the North), Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, and Meereen. No Dorne. Why not Volantis instead of Meereen? Dany isn't even in this episode.
The House of Black and White may be too quiet for Arya. The opening scene shows Arya sweeping in a dark space as Jaqen H'ghar gives a cup of water to a strange man. The water comes from something like a well at the center of the room. Arya notes that she's been sweeping the floor for days and she didn't come here to sweep floors. She wants to learn how to be a faceless man. He says the man is teaching a girl. (It's like the Karate Kid. Wax on, Arya!) Valar dohaeris. All men must serve. She wants to serve herself. A girl must become no one. Which one is the many-faced god? There is only one god. The girl knows his name, and all men know his gift. Cue a shot of the man who drank the water. He is dead. She asks a woman where they are taking that man, but there's no response.
Margaery is worshipped, Cersei ... not so much
We follow Cersei's carriage on the way to King Tommen's marriage to Margaery. The people call out for Margaery. They love her. That's the step you missed on the way to the top, Cersei. Make them love you.
Tommen loves sex
Goodness, what would Ser Pounce think of this? Tommen is an energetic lover, and a fast one. He worried that he hurt Margaery, but she calls him sweet. He just wants to have sex all day long. She wants to know everything there is to know about King Tommen. She owns him now. It's weird to him to be the king, but you know she doesn't feel weird about being *the* queen. Margaery deftly segues into the subtle suggestion that Cersei should go to Casterly Rock, because she's smothering Tommen. She never says that though. She leaves it to him, making sure it's his idea. Margaery would definitely win "Survivor."
Cersei is less subtle
They go for a walk, Tommen and his mother, and she says he seems very much in love, and goes on about Margaery. He asks if she ever misses Casterly Rock and he brings up how she always insults King's Landing. Tommen: "I want you to be happy, mother. ... But wouldn't you be happier in Casterly Rock." This is Margaery's "perhaps."
The Real Housewives of King's Landing
Margaery is gossipping with her friends about Tommen going four times in one night (!) and Cersei comes over. "Mother!" Remember when Cersei wanted to kill Margaery for calling her "sister"? Mother doesn't seem like an improvement. Also love this classic burn from Margaery: "Can we bring you anything to eat or drink? I wish we had some wine for you, it's a bit early in the day for us." GURL! There's so much tension in this little scene. Cersei just tells Margaery to let her know if there's anything she can do for her. Margaery, who can fake it like no one else, asks if she should call Cersei Queen Mother or Dowager Queen? Marg also tells/warns Cers that Tommen is such a enthusiastic lover that Cersei may be a grandmother soon. Round 1 most assuredly goes to Margaery.
Um, she has to marry HIM now?
Theon Greyjoy returns -- not looking any better off -- and he sees flayed bodies strung up. They are repulsive, but we can imagine who flayed them. Roose tells his son they can't hold the north with terror alone. Ramsay flayed a lord's family to force him to pay his taxes. Roose tells his son the best way to hold the north is with another alliance. Tywin Lannister is dead and the Lannisters won't bring their army north to help the Boltons hold the north. The best way to forge a lasting alliance is with a marriage. And he knows just the girl to help them cue their hold on the north. Cue Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish riding to Moat Cailin, where the Boltons are shacked up. TURN AND RUN, SANSA! Even Joffrey might fear Ramsay. Sansa refuses to marry a Bolton, partly because she thinks Littlefinger has aligned her with Roose, who murdered her brother Robb. Petyr attempts to soften the blow by saying she's not marrying Roose, she's marrying his son, Ramsay. WORSE. Littlefinger says he won't force her to do anything (yeah, right). Say the word and we turn the horses around, he says, but then says she's been running all her life. "Stop being a bystander, you hear me? Stop running." Good advice, but it does not apply to aligning with the Boltons. He says there's no justice unless we make it. "You loved your family. Avenge them." If they can kill the Boltons, maybe this will be worth it. (Side note: What was the point of changing Sansa's hair if she's stil openly Sansa Stark?)
Pod & Brienne
They are still tracking Sansa. They stop and have a chat. Pod explains how he ended up squiring for "the imp." He says she's the best fighter he's ever squired for. She beat The Hound. He's proud to be her squire. His kindness inspires her to apologize, and to train him, and to be honest herself when he asks how she ended up in Renly's kingsguard. She tells a sad story about how her father hosted a ball and all the young lords were kind and danced with her -- she had never been so happy -- until she heard them snickering. They were toying with her. They called her "Brienne the Beauty" as a joke. She realized she was "the ugliest girl alive." She tried to run but Renly took her in his arms and said not to let them see her tears. Nasty little sh-ts aren't worth crying over. "He didn't love me, he didn't want me, he danced with me because he was kind, he didn't want to see me hurt. He saved me from being a joke, from that day until his last day. And I couldn't save him in return. Nothing's more hateful than failing to protect the one you love." She hasn't forgotten you, Stannis. She knows you were behind that.
Lord Commander's meeting with the king
Jon Snow is Lord Commander and Olly, the kid who killed Ygritte, is his steward, as Jon was steward once. Has Jon considered Stannis' offer to be Jon Stark? He has considered it and he's refusing. Stannis says Jon is as stubborn and honorable as Ned Stark, and that got him killed. Jon wants to know how long Stannis and company will be there. They can't continue to feed Stannis' men and the wildlings indefinitely. Stannis says they'll march on Winterfell within a fortnight. Stannis suggests executing the wildlings. Jon knows there's little love for the free folk there, and we see the kid. Ygritte killed his dad; Styr killed his mom. Davos stays after Stannis leaves and tells Jon part of their oath is to be the shield that guards the realms of men. He doesn't like the Boltons either.
Arya leaves Arya behind
That girl who didn't speak to Arya speaks to her now, and it's all insults. Who are you? No one. She's smacked across the face. "C-nt!" (Side note: Don't you miss The Hound?) Arya's about to grab Needle and take her down. Jaqen H'ghar comes in, notes that her room is filled with Arya Stark's clothes, Arya Stark's sword. How is it that "No One" is surrounded by Arya Stark's things? This might be the scene Maisie Williams said was her favorite - when Arya gets rid of her old things. She dumps them in the water, and looks totally different. Needle, though. She's not quite ready to throw Needle away. It's too emotional. It's more than a sword. She hides Needle in a pile of rocks. Back in the House of Black and White, she follows Jaqen downstairs and joins him and the other girl to unclothe and bathe a dead body. Arya asks what they do after they wash them, but she gets no answer again. Guess she'll find out when it happens.
Sansa meets Ramsay
Sansa and Petyr ride into Moat Cailin. She should slay both Boltons, but she puts on her best fake Margaery smile and pretends to be happy to meet them. A woman inside the place says, "Welcome home, Lady Stark. The North remembers." OK, well remember who helped kill Robb and Catelyn and help her kill the Boltons.
THAT WAS A COMMAND, NOT AN OFFER
Lord Commander Snow sits at the head of the table and addresses the men of the watch. It's long past time to dig a new latrine pit. The latrine captain overseeing the crucial task is ... Bryan. Seems like a good job for a ginger. (Jon does have an affinity for gingers.) Ser Alliser has more experience than any other ranger, so Jon names him First Ranger. Seems fair. Lord Janos gets command of Greyguard. It's a ruin. Jon wants him to restore it as best he can. Janos interrupts him, and spits that he was in charge of the defense of King's Landing when Jon was in his swaddling clothes. "Keep your ruin." Jon: "You mistake me, my lord. That was a command, not an offer." Yaaaasssss. Janos stands and tells Jon to give it to one of the fools who cast a stone for him. "I will not have it. Did you hear me, boy? I will not have it!" Jon: "Are you refusing to obey my order?" [pause for dramatic effect] Janos: "You can stick your order up your bastard ass." Well then! Jon says to take Lord Janos outside. Olly brings Jon his sword. This is going to be good. When his head is on the block, Janos whimpers and says he's sorry. Those aren't the last words he should've gone with. Janos cries for mercy and says he'll go to Greyguard. "I'm afraid. I've always been afraid." It's pitiful. But it's too late. Jon swings his sword. Like a badass boss. Stannis nods from afar. Uh oh. If he approves, maybe it was a bad call. But no. If Janos lived, he'd be back to plotting against Jon within a few minutes.
The Sparrows attack
A gross, naked old man -- who is actually The High Septon -- is in Littlefinger's brothel, definitely blaspheming when it comes to having the whores act as The Seven. Lancel and fellow Sparrows bust in. Lancel tells the High Septon he has profaned their faith. He is a sinner and he shall be punished. They make him walk naked in the street as people chant "Sinner!" at him. Foreshadowing of what's to come later, perhaps. Some time later, The High Septon visits Cersei and the council and tells them about the Sparrows attack. He wants justice -- he wants their leader, The High Sparrow, to be executed.
Meet The High Sparrow
Hey, Jonathan Pryce! Cersei meets him while he's feeding the poor. He wears rags and no shoes. They discuss the Sparrow attack. High Sparrow: "Hypocrisy is a boil. Lancing a boil is never pleasant." Cersei tells the High Sparrow that the High Septon wants him executed. But, she says, her own thoughts align with the High Sparrow's. "The High Septon's behavior was corrosive, as was his attitude. Having a man like that reside in the sept eats away at faith at the inside. So now he resides in the Red Keep dungeon instead. 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." She's trying to make an ally but she doesn't realize he probably can't be bribed/bought. Hypocrisy is a boil and all.
Qyburn is Dr. Frankenstein
We head down to his lair. Cersei says to send a message to Littlefinger, wherever he is, and she wants it to be clear that Petyr understands the meaning of the word "immediately." Qyburn is making progress on his project. Is that The Mountain down there? Whoever is under the sheet lifts his/her head up like Frankenstein's monster.
Back at Moat Cailin
Sansa walks by and Theon hides his face. What would Sansa do if she knew Theon was there? It's not like she's not already engaged to someone who killed members of her family. She thinks Theon killed Bran and Rickon but in reality Theon has arguably done less than the Boltons to ruin the Starks. Not that Theon is blameless; far from it. Petyr and Ramsay watch Sansa go by. Ramsay says he hopes he can make Sansa happy. (BARF) Petyr says he's become fond of Sansa, she's suffered enough. Ramsay promises not to hurt her. (BARF) Petyr says he's heard very little about Ramsay, which is rare. If only Petyr knew just a bit more. Can he really be ignorant of who the Boltons really are? Petyr says, since Tyrion didn't consummate the marriage, Sansa is no man's wife. (That's a shame. If only they had ... then again, she never wanted it.) Is Petyr prepared for the consequences, when the Lannisters learn that he wed Sansa to Ramsay? Roose notes that the queen will be enraged, but Petyr notes that Queen Margaery adores Sansa. What Cersei wants is less important by the day. Roose holds out the scroll for Petyr, from Cersei. Roose is already questioning the new alliance. The Lannisters made him one of the greatest lords of Westeros, now he's making moves behind their backs. "Every ambitious move is a gamble," Petyr argues. Roose plans to read Petyr's reply. Don't suffer this micromanagement, LittleF!
Bored on the road
Tyrion is Tyrion's own worst enemy. He's restless being stuck in the wheelhouse on the road. He's losing his mind. Varys points out that he'll lose more than his mind if he's found and brought back to Cersei. Volantis is a big city. Tyrion tries to go undercover, but he is pretty recognizable. We head to the city of Volantis. We see all the slave tattoos on people's faces in the city. Tyrion stops to watch a priestess who is leading a crowd like Melisandre. Tyrion would love to meet Mel. She mentions the Stone Men and greyscale. More foreshadowing of that? She also mentions The Dragon Queen, who is called the savior sent to remake the world. The woman looks at him, and Tyrion wants to leave to find a brothel.
Hey there, old friend!
They head to a brothel and there's a very popular whore who is dressed like Daenerys Targaryen. Who should be in this brothel than Captain Friend Zone himself, Ser Jorah Mormont! Tyrion approaches one of the whores. "Who needs wealth when you can make a woman laugh?" She notes that all the men want to be the girl who looks like Dany, because they all wan to f--k a queen. But Tyrion charms this woman. Then, when it's time to go, he can't. He's shocked and hopes it passes. "When would I do in my spare time?" Is it guilt? Love for Shae? Tyrion goes to take a piss and he's approached from behind by ... Ser Jorah! He puts a rope around him. "I'm taking you to the queen." Tyrion must think he means Cersei, but to Ser Jorah there is only one queen - Dany. The real one. Tyrion was going to meet her anyway, so this could be good. Or it could be an ill-fated detour. Either way, poor Varys just lost his road trip buddy.