TV Show Review

TV Review: GAME OF THRONES: Season 5, Episode 3: High Sparrow [HBO]

Margaery Tommen High Sparrow

HBO’s Game of Thrones High Sparrow TV Show Review. Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3: High Sparrow continues this season’s trend of uniting diverging plots and forging unexpected alliances. By casting aside the Meereen and Dorne plots this week, High Sparrow is the most cohesive episode of the season.

Arya (Maisie Williams) is in the midst of a story-line that we have watched before in countless movies and television shows. We have all seen the apprentice not understanding the merit in the master’s mundane lessons routine done to death. Fortunately, in her typically rebellious fashion, Arya protested the wax on wax off style training in her first scene. The best that we can hope for is that season five doesn’t try and stall her storyline by dwelling on the humdrum aspects of her apprenticeship.

So far, the most compelling aspect of Arya’s arc is her emotional journey to “destination no one”. Needle is Arya’s only link to her family and to Winterfell and Maisie Williams did a wonderful job of silently translating Arya’s inner turmoil when it was time to cast away needle and cut ties to her old life.

Cersei’s (Lena Headey) free-fall into irrelevancy is about to reach terminal velocity. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) toyed with the would-be queen with the gleeful joy of a kitten swatting around a ball of yarn. Formerly Game of Thrones Lebron James of treachery, Cersei is now a role player, desperate, powerless and stuck on the bench.

It didn’t take long for Cersei’s rivals to flaunt their disrespect. Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) continues subverting the Lannisters with impunity, Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) took in Sansa (Sophie Turner), granting her asylum from the crown and Margaery channeled her inner Rachel McAdams, turning their brief conversation into a scene from Mean Girls. Even though Cersei is taking note of who is on her naughty list, the act may prove fruitless. Game of Thrones is not a show where anyone is guaranteed their comeuppance.

How about Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Margaery keeping it x-rated? Only Game of Thrones would offer audiences a close look at a boy-king consummating his marriage. The children on the show are “aged up” several years from the characters they portray in the books for these precise types of scenarios. At this point in book 4, A Feast for Crows, Tommen is around 11 and still years away from consummating his marriage.

Tommen immediately consummating his marriage is one of the points where the series is veering off from the novels and I’m enjoying the pace at which the show is moving this plot forward. It feels like Margaery and Cersei’s tug of war over Tommen’s affection will come to a head sooner rather than later.

Back in Winterfell, we see that Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) hasn’t given up his sadist ways. I could hear a collective groan from Game of Thrones fans around the globe when Theon (Alfie Evan Allen) and Ramsay popped back up. Fortunately, Littlefinger offering Sansa to the Boltons made the storyline interesting again.

What continues to make season five exciting is how the show’s main characters are finally finding themselves in positions to control their fates. So much of Game of thrones has been about people reacting to horrible circumstances. Season five is showing us what happens when these victims finally have the power to affect change. The act of marrying Ramsay Bolton not only allows Sansa to escape the Lannister’s witch-hunt, it also provides her the resources to avenge her family.

Like his sister Sansa, Jon (Kit Harington) is also a character adapting to a role where he can affect his destiny. Jon has barely been in command of the Night’s Watch and he is already showing that he is comfortable wielding his influence, promoting one adversary to keep an eye on him while executing another.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, Game of Thrones punishes people that adhere to ideals. Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) recognize this and see the trait in Jon. In their own way both men try to make Jon understand that his stubbornness is not a virtue. Although Jon has taken the black, he must learn to see Westeros in shades of grey in order to stay alive and protect the realm.

I had an issue with Jorah (Ian Glen) kidnapping Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) at the end of the episode. What sets Game of Thrones apart from every show on television is its sense of scale. Game of Throne’s world is engrossing because it feels expansive and lived-in. For several seasons, the cast of the show spread out over various continents, making it feel as though they would never reunite, and season five feels exciting because the characters and their plots are finally coming together. However, these random encounters between major characters have to stop. Last week Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) sat in the same inn as Sansa and this week Jorah was in the same brothel as Tyrion. These fluke encounters come across as lazy writing and make the world seem small.

High Sparrow cast a wide gaze on most of the cast as they solidified their hold on power.  Margaery and Cersei dueled for Tommen, Cersei gave the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) her ear, Jon made a display of his new authority and Sansa accepted an alliance with the Bolton’s. There is a new-found sense of order to Game of Thrones chaotic world. For the first time in five seasons, it appears the show is foreshadowing where each plot is heading. That being said, Game of Thrones loves to subvert expectations. For now, all we can do is sit back, relax and enjoy the calm before the storm…of swords.


I’m glad that someone on the show finally addressed Cersei’s drinking habits. The first step is admitting that she has a problem.

Jon continues to make a show of his new-found authority. He immediately earned the respect of Stannis with his subtle demand for his squire to remain in the room.

Stannis is portrayed as a noble character yet no one seems to be pointing out what a hypocrite he is for asking Jon to break his Night’s Watch vows. If Jon does break his vows to help Stannis, will Stannis give him the Davos treatment and cut his fingers off too?

What is going on in Qyburn’s (Anton Lesser) lab? Are we due for some Frankenstein monster style action?

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About the author

Victor Stiff

Born and raised in Toronto, Victor has spent the past decade using his love and knowledge of the city to highlight and promote significant cultural events such as TIFF, The IIIFA awards, and the Anokhi Gala. He is an avid reader of Sci-fi and Horror and constantly sits through indie film marathons in rabid anticipation of the genre’s next great film auteurs. He also contributes sci-fi and fantasy movie reviews to

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