Photo: HBO and Sky

Game of Thrones: High Sparrow

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first two episodes of this season have been burdened with setting up the story to come. In ‘High Sparrow’ this week, we started to see more of the big picture, with clear strategies emerging from the various opening gambits. Stories are overlapping with each other more and more, giving us an idea of what the upcoming flashpoints will be. It’s exciting stuff!

By far the… err… flashiest point looks to be the wedding between Ramsey Snow (Matthew Rhys) and Sansa Stark (the Midlands’ own Sophie Turner).

The eldest Stark daughter must be pretty sick of having matches made for her by now

The key difference this time is that Sansa is playing the titular game, with the quite understandable goal of avenging her family.

Factoring in the ever-Machiavellian Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and a broken Theon (Alfie Allen), it seems certain that this story will go somewhere very interesting indeed.

This marriage is a textbook Thrones scenario: everyone has their own agendas and leverages, but it’s not clear who’s going to strike first. I can’t imagine that we’ll have to wait too long before this alliance starts to fissure – expect drama, flaying, possibly sex. This is all assuming that the unhappy matrimony isn’t disturbed by Stannis, who is finally getting ready to move on from Castle Black, presumably because of his failure to out-frown Jon Snow.

It’s a bad week for Janos Slynt. Photo: HBO and Sky

Speaking of Jon, it was a good week for the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. A less good week for Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter)’s head, though, which found itself removed from his body after forgetting just how attached the Starks are to the idea of decapitating people.

I’m still a little frustrated at the lack of scale on display at the Wall. After last year’s climactic battle, we’ve only seen lots of people talking, and two executions.

Nonetheless, Jon’s new status is already throwing up interesting conflicts, and it’s fun to see a once-naïve character embracing the thornier aspects of power.

Kit Harrington continues to make the character grow in a believable way. Well done to him

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. Photo: HBO and Sky

However, this week’s MVP was Maisie Williams, who delivered both the best performance and the best swear as Arya. It is remarkable how well the casting decisions made more than five years ago are paying off. Admittedly, Arya has the benefit of having really juicy writing, unlike, say, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). (Incidentally, I am enjoying the Bran-lessness of this season). However, with Arya’s new role as funeral attendant-cum-face-changing assassin, this trend looks likely to change.

Wait, can we have two MVPs? Natalie Dormer shone as Margaery Tyrell this week, spawning a thousand Tumblr posts about her perfectly deployed sass.

Lena Headey also deserves praise for finding the humanity in Cersei. It’s a shame that the writers sometimes let her character flounder as a simple villain, when she has the capacity to be something so much more interesting.

Tyrion finally does something interesting. Photo: HBO and Helen Sloan

Tyrion finally does something interesting. Photo: HBO, Helen Sloan and Sky

It’s also impressive that Tyrion’s brief segment stands out in an episode as busy as ‘High Sparrow’.

Both the character and the audience should be glad to see his exit from that carriage, because it finally gave him a chance to do something. Even though this something was just a quiet moment with a sympathetic prostitute, it felt like we were finally seeing Peter Dinklage making use of his talent again.

It does still seem like we’re anticipating what’s to come, rather than celebrating what has been good so far. However, this feeling is diminishing with every episode. Now, with so many of the stories developing and crossing over, payoff can’t be far away.


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