Hello friends and welcome back to our Game of Thrones coverage! We are 3 episodes into season 5. Many book readers have coined a few phrases to explain what is happening to the story. My favorites are "Efficiency is Coming!" and "Convergence is coming!" They certainly are flying through the material of A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons (which mostly happen in parallel timelines) but with good reason. There are a lot of new characters introduced and stories that seemingly go nowhere (or nowhere that couldn't have gone somewhere else more quickly). The show is doing everyone a favor by taking the best parts of the books and moving the story forward. If you read EW.com after the episode last night, you would think the unthinkable has happened to the story of Ice and Fire. Maybe, I'm a little less surprised, because we kind of figured out a certain storyline in our "spoiler labeled" comments last week! We'll get to it in the recap, but basically, there are 3 major character stories that have altered storylines in the show compared to the books. But all 3 of those characters are moving towards a story that IS in the books (that may have involved other "NEW" characters). Hence...CONVERGENCE, EFFICIENCY!
Translation: I'm still loving the show and I think the showrunners have the best interests of the plot in mind while still being faithful to GRRM's story. And this episode was easily my favorite of the 3 so far. Every scene had me on the edge of my seat and I loved the transitions from setting to setting. Cersei was talking about Littlefinger? We cut to Littlefinger. Brienne was talking about vengeance on Stannis, we cut to the Wall on Stannis. It was a very seamless way to tie the whole episode and story together.
Book Knowledge Disclaimer: As mentioned above, we do dive into the books here but not past what we've already covered from a TV show perspective. So, I'll discuss differences (where I remember) in the recap. In the comments, if we dive into book theories, we will note them as such at the beginning of the comment and request anyone else do the same! With all of that said, let's dive in!
- James Hibberd's humorous recap
- Showrunners Interview about Sansa story
- Interview with Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) about his story
- A man was killed in the House of Black and white after uttering the reknowned Braavosi words and then having a drink provided by Jaqen. This seemed to assist in Jaqen's training of Arya. Arya noticed the 7 gods of Westeros all present in the House of Black and White, but Jaqen mentioned there is only one god and Arya definitely knows its gift. I'd have to say the answer to that riddle would be DEATH.
- Later on a girl in the house puts Arya to the test. She asks Arya "who are you?" Arya responds with "No One" and the other girl continued to hit her. Alas, they were playing the game of faces! Loved Arya responding to the attack with the "C" word. Jaqen said she is not ready for this game as she is still not no one. She is still Arya Stark. Her clothes, her sword, her silver. The girl mentioned the Braavosi coin she didn't earn.
- I loved the scene with Arya shedding her old self and throwing it into the water. For a minute, I thought they were going to diverge from the books and have her throw Needle into the sea. I almost cheered when she hid it in in the rocks. This was Arya still hanging onto a thread of her old self. But she could not part with the gift her brother Jon Snow gave to her. Something that is a part of her. Great scene! So much said with no words at all.
- Later on Jaqen moved Arya to the next phase of training. Giving the dead man sponge bath. She asked the other girl what happens after they finish cleaning him? There was no reply. I have an idea, but I'm forgetting if this sponge bath was part of the books. Regardless, I'm staying quiet for now!
- We followed Cersei to the Sept having her listen to the cries for Queen Margaery, whom we know has been an advocate for the people of King's Landing.
- Thankfully, we skipped the wedding ceremony we've seen over and over again and cut right to the creepy sex scene between young Tommen and Margaery. This never explicitly happened in the books. Tommen was not aged up as he has been in the show and we endlessly feel a loving Mother/Son vibe between the 2 of them. I guess that sort of is still there. Plus there's a running gag about Margaery being a virgin in the books when she seemingly is anything but the sort. (That's been somewhat present in the show, but not anymore!) Tommen obviously thinks this is the best thing that's ever happened, though there are enough comments indicating it was short and Margaery wasn't impressed. Though, she has other goals in mind.
- Margaery wastes no time getting into the King's head about his mother. It's sneaky stuff, but she's trying to convince Tommen that his mother would be better off in Casterly Rock. Later on we see Tommen talking to Cersei as if it's in her best interest. She can already feel the new Queen's devilish work at play. She even confronts Margaery later on and it's nothing but kind words on the surface. Actually, if anything, Margaery comes off more like the scorned woman throwing underhanded insults in Cersei's direction (indicating she's not the queen anymore, lying about Tommen's vigor in bed, calling Cersei a grandmother, etc...). Of course, her comment about not drinking wine so early was the best! They certainly play up sympathy for Cersei in the show. In the book, all of this Margaery stuff happens "OFF BOOK/SCREEN" and we only get the interpretations from Cersei's insane mind. Naturally, she hates Margaery and just assumes she's playing Tommen against her. Here, we're actually seeing it at play.
- Other King's Landing stories included Cersei bringing a letter for Littlefinger and asking Qyburn to send it. We have no idea what's in this letter but it does reach Littlefinger.
- Meanwhile Qyburn says his experiments are going well and we see a shrouded being pop up and drop back down. If we've been paying attention since last season, it clearly is his experimentation on The Mountain. Who would've thought such a meaningless introduction to Robb Stark in Harrenhall would have translated to Qyburn being on the small council and doing some crazy experimentations in King's Landing? GRRM does subtle character introductions well in the books, and the show has adapted them well most of the time too.
- There's also a whole story with Lancel Lannister and the other sparrows publicly shaming the high septon in the streets of King's Landing after finding him in Littlefinger's whorehouse. It was basically a way to introduce us to the High Sparrow played by Jonathan Pryce. Cersei aligns herself with the sparrow and sends the high septon to the dungeons. I don't remember if this story was in the books, but I'm sure it's leading somewhere related! By favorite part of the whole storyline was when the High Septon came to the small council and he didn't know how to address Qyburn.
- Roose tries to explain to Ramsay Snow that flaying people of the North is not a way to win their respect. With the death of Tywin Lannister, their list of allies grows shorter. Roose has another suggestion in mind, a marriage for the new young Lord of Winterfell.
- That's right folks, the marriage Littlefinger discussed last week was for Sansa Stark to marry Ramsay Bolton! WHAAAT!?!?!? As mentioned, we kind of figured this one out in the comments last week but it is definitely a change from the books. It still is in the spirit of the books. Sansa had one extremely lousy storyline in the books and never left the Vale or Robin Arryn's side. I can't tell you one thing interesting that happened in that story. Meanwhile, there most certainly was a wedding for Ramsay Bolton in the books. But it was to Sansa's old Winterfell friend Jeyne Poole. However, Jeyne Poole was passed off as being Arya Stark (because the Bolton's assume Arya Stark is dead and how would anyone else know?) And remember, EFFICIENCY IS COMING! Why not have Ramsay marry an ACTUAL Stark? And since we have Darth Sansa this season, why not have Littlefinger make this sound like a really good idea? I think it works. I think the details of this marriage may change a bit and I think Sansa is going to end up with a juicier story. The interview with the showrunners said they had this in mind for Sansa's story since season 2 so they are not just doing it on a whim.
- Sansa agrees to this proposal by Littelfinger with a little nudge from him that suggests she avenge her family. Littlefinger certainly is always looking for a way to rise in power. Taking out the Boltons might be another one of his goals.
- Sansa had some great moments in Winterfell already. Her fake greeting with Roose was excellent. And there was an old lady that secretly told Sansa, "The North Remembers". This seems to indicate she'll have allies within those walls.
- It should be pointed out that we got a glimpse of Ramsay's former girl, and she does not look happy about this marriage!
- We also had scenes between Littlefinger and Roose and Ramsay. It's a stretch to think Littlefinger knows nothing about Ramsay, but we'll go with it. He did learn he used to be a bastard. Ramsay also promises he'd never harm Sansa. Hmmm, we'll see. Roose, meanwhile, received Cersei's letter to Littlefinger and opened it. We still don't know what it says, but it made him suspect that Littlefinger was still working for the former Queen. He does intend on responding, but Roose is going to need to see the response. This whole letter thing was driving me crazy. Why won't someone just read it aloud!!!???
- Podrick explained how he came in the service of Tyrion. It's a story of a stolen ham and who he used to squire to. But, instead of getting punished with his life, Tywin saved him during the War of 5 kings due to his family name of Payne. He is a distant relative of Ser Illyn Payne, the King's Justice who beheaded Ned Stark. (the actor is no longer on the show because he unfortunately has cancer)
- Brienne spoke of how she came to care for Renly. Brienne's father tried to arrange a marriage for her on Tarth and it was the best day of her life with men fawning over her. It was great until she learned that they were snickering behind her back. It was Renly who basically said "F" them and danced with her. She did know he preferred men, but she never forgot what Renly did for her. He saved her, and she failed at saving him. She swears vengeance on Stannis Baratheon for killing Renly. The shadow had a face and she knows it was him that sent that shadow.
- Brienne is another story that is off book. She's still looking for Sansa and Arya at this point in the story. And that story takes a turn that we're still not sure will happen in the show. Anyway, let's think about this. Brienne wants vengeance on Stannis, Stannis wants to march on Winterfell, Sansa is in Winterfell. There is shaping up to be some juicy off-book/sorta on-book stuff going down in the former/hopefully future home of the Starks!
- Stannis was upset with Jon's decision to not assume the name Jon Stark and to stick to his honor. He did provide some suggestions though for Jon's enemies. He suggested sending Alliser to Eastwatch by the Sea. Jon disagreed with that tactic.
- Meanwhile Davos provided some insightful commentary on protecting the North and guarding the realms of men. He suggested maybe getting the Bolton's out of power was a good step in that direction.
- We learned that Maester Aemon is ill from Sam and he could not attend Jon's first meeting as Lord Commander. More to come on this I assume and it's a TAD different from the books which seems to confirm that Sam's storyline will be slightly different in the show vs. the books. That's all I can say at this point!
- Jon provided his assignments to the Night's Watch. Alliser was promoted to 1st ranger. It is seemingly smart to bestow an honor on his enemy. But, everything he said about Alliser proving his worth is true. Meanwhile he sent Janos Slynt, former commander of the Gold Cloaks City Watch, to some pile of ruins along the wall. He repeatedly refused Jon Snow's command. Jon could not let this go unpunished. He brought Janos outside to behead him for refusing to honor his vows. Once Janos realized it was actually going to happen, he started apologizing and saying he will do his job. He said he's a coward and always has been. Jon followed through anyway and took Janos's head, with nodding approval of Stannis. This was taken directly from the books and handled excellently. You may not recall, and Kit Harrington reminds us, that Janos Slynt was commander of the City Watch who betrayed Ned Stark. So unknowingly, Jon had some vengeance/justice for his father. We should also note, this is the same reason Tyrion had Janos sent to the wall. You could say karma came back full circle on this dude.
- I also forgot to note that Ollie, TV show creation and killer of Ygritte, is now Jon Snow's steward, just as Jon was steward to Mormont. There are suspicions to where this is going, but I shouldn't speak to it just yet. (except for that)
- We witnessed Tyrion admiring a Red Priestess and recalling that the only Red Priest in Westeros was Thoros of Myr. Maybe he forgot about Mellisandre? The woman noticed Tyrion and he realized they should move onto a Brothel.
- The whole exchange with the "bouncer" with rubbing a dwarf and Tyrion's response was classic. There was whore dressed as Dany and allowing people to fulfill their fantasy of being with the Queen of Dragons. Tyrion hit on the less popular girl with some great lines, but then realized he couldn't partake. We assume it's because of what happened with Shae.
- By the way Tyrion's comments about needing to talk to someone with hair (as a slight to Varys) were fantastic.
- We notice that Jorah is in the brothel as well. Tyrion goes to take a piss and Jorah captures him. He says he's going to take Tyrion to the Queen! This is meant to be ambiguous as he could be looking to get back in the good graces of Dany or he could be looking to claim Cersei's reward. I almost said too much here because I know too much! This does happen in the book and happens much later into A Dance with Dragons. We cut out a lot of Tyrion's journey to Volantis which is for the better! Granted, book purists may not be happy with a lot of the characters that were cut out of Tyrion's journey. From a show perspective, this makes complete sense.