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Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3 "High Sparrow" Follow-Up for Non-Readers

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3 “High Sparrow” Follow-Up for Non-Readers

Welcome to the followup for non-readers. As the name of the series implies, this post is meant for you if you haven’t read the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but are still interested in learning an extra fact or two that the books cover but show couldn’t find time to adapt.

The spoiler scope is obviously “nothing past the last episode”, so feel free to read on, I will do my best to keep your experience spoiler-free.

TL;DR: Background drops – Trivia trots – Explaining storyline knots – “Why They Did it” speculation – “Just Like Books” appreciation

I Thought I’d Be Killing Templars

"Keep sweeping, this will look great in your portfolio."

There is only one god. A girl knows his name
Jaqen H’gar, reviving the long dead tinfoil hat theories about him being Syrio Forrel

This episode adapted (in a way) Arya’s second chapter from A Feast for Crows. The Kindly Man is still replaced by Jaqen H’gar to use a familiar face (which is quite ironic given the name of the club), but other than that, her journey is heading more or less the same way.

There might be time in the future when the show brings that up, but in case it doesn’t happen, the whole city of Braavos was founded by rebelling slaves of the Valyrian Freehold. They fled to Braavos to establish a safe haven as far away from the Valyria as possible. The numerous cultures and religions of the slaves helped them realize that they all worship the same god of death.

Keep in mind how it’s only Stranger who has his statue in the House of Black and White, not the whole Seven. Many-Faced God is the god of death specifically. People come to his temple to lay down their lives when they’re about to pass, but some to merely come by and light some candles.

The other girl is referred to as the “waif” and at this point she’s as mysterious as she is mean. She’s not exactly waifu material (if you don’t know what a waifu is, please preserve your hope for humanity and remain ignorant of the subject). The scene in which Arya hides Needle is adapted without change.

Even though we seem to be moving on parallel to Arya’s chapters chronologically, future episodes may jump straight to scenes from her last chapter in A Dance with Dragons, so if you do not want the show to spoil the books for yourself, you should probably finish ADWD as soon as possible. You already should have done it for the sake of all the other plotlines in that regard, but in the case you didn’t care at all for the other characters, but want to experience Arya’s story as it is in the books, this is the final call.

Lion in the Sheets

Classic Dreamworks face, by the way.

Does Queen Margaery sound strange to you?

Tommen I Baratheon, probably not aware how silly it is to ask that question to the only person in history to wed three kings in a span of a year

Here’s where things get interesting. Book Tommen is still about 9 years old. Remember “Blackwater,” where Cersei sat with him in her arms on the Iron Throne, ready to dose him with poison when Stannis takes the city? Not that much time has passed since then. Book Tommen is plump, sweet and as childish as it gets, spending his time playing with the royal stamp and his kittens. Whenever he shows any sign of disagreement or is convinced by Margaery to sit on the small council, Cersei threatens to call in his whipping boy, Pate, and have one of the Kingsguard beat Pate bloody.

With such an age difference, how does the marriage thing work, then? As you can imagine, it’s a more of a brother-sister type of relationship, with the newlyweds sleeping occasionally in one bed, but never unattended by the Kingsguard. They have not consummated the marriage yet, which makes Margaery, officially, a maiden three times married. Her supposed maidenhood is understandably an issue in the books, and we’ll come back to that point later in the season as the plot progresses.

The fact that an underage character has been involved in a sex scene is a breakthrough. Prior to this episode, all sexual stuff in Sansa’s chapters has been toned down or cut off, including her explorations with female friends (including Margaery), dreams of questionable nature with the Hound in them, or her wedding night with Tyrion, where they’re both naked (she even comments on how Tyrion’s member is the only part of his body that’s not crooked). What it means for the show, we’re yet to see, but given the age of the actresses, I’d guess this means Sansa and Arya are open for all possibilities now, and I’ve got a feeling that everybody looking forward to that will regret that.

There’s a multitude of secondary and tertiary characters involved in King’s Landing politics, including the Kettleblack brothers, currently at Cersei’s service, but maybe we’ll talk about them in later weeks when someone steps in their shoes. For now, it is worth noting that the crown’s concerns are dispersed. Riverrun is still defending from the siege, Ironborn are still raiding western shores, Dorne is boiling with anger, and left out from the show is the tiny little fact that a good part of the Stormlands and numerous islands along with Dragonstone are still loyal to Stannis Baratheon, even though he left for the Wall.

Even though High Sparrow was the titular character of this episode, the analysis of his book counterpart treads onto spoiler territory, so we’ll revisit his alternate rise to power next week. The differences pile on, and it’s difficult to explain them all without telling too much in advance. Right now it’s just worth pointing out that soup kitchens aren’t anything new or specific to Sparrows; they’ve existed as long as Flea Bottom has and are just as shady as the district. There are elaborate death threats implying that someone might end up in those soup kitchens, in the pot. And that was as early as A Clash of Kings (Season 2).

Oh, and that twitching corpse was nobody else than Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, in case you forgot season 4. The show makes this less vague and read-between-the-lines than the book did. One way or another, Qyburn is proven to be a… curious and resourceful man. One of the ways for Cersei to dispose of people is to put them in Qyburn’s care. What will come of it is yet to be revealed.

Being Sansa is Suffering

"I won't force you to do anything. I'll just hold you in my arms and exert my psychological power over you"

I know very little about you, which makes you quite a rare thing
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, pathetically fallen from grace of the criminal mastermind who orchestrated the whole intrigue

Weekly reminder that none of this happens in the books so the only things I can help you guys with are the location details, character backstory and alternative storylines. In the game of “guess what part of the book will get adapted” we readers don’t really have that much of an advantage.

Most of the other plotlines have been making their first steps onto the ADWD territory. In case of the Boltons, ADWD is an unrepeatable experience of discovering the shocking truth about Theon’s fate with no news of him since ACOK (13 years if you read the books as soon as they came out), where he disappears during the siege of Winterfell (or what was supposed to be a rescue mission by Ramsay Snow when the Ironborn took the castle). The man providing the viewpoint for the ADWD characters, Reek, is broken beyond recognition – and numerous viewers didn’t even realize whose chapters they’re reading until two, three chapters in. The show has revealed the whole extent of Theon’s torment during seasons 3 and 4, previously unknown even to the readers.

The book Winterfell is occupied by different characters than Sansa and Littlefinger, and I’m not exactly sure when I am supposed to reveal that story, since there is no common point to book Sansa and show Sansa in sight. We’re treading onto very shaky ground here. Right now it’s all “sit back and enjoy the ride”, I guess. Although “enjoy” might be highly inappropriate here. Nevertheless, even though we’ve lost a whole book worth of character development for Sansa at Eyrie, I’m not ruling out this “harder, better, faster, stronger” version of it.

As for Brienne, her fate right now is as impossible to predict as Sansa’s. There are quite a few routes she can take, but considering that Jaime is heading south and Lady Stoneheart seems to be completely cut from the show, Riverlands are written out indefinitely. This makes Brienne most likely to follow Sansa to Winterfell to save on locations. If anything else happens, I’ll be positively surprised.

Edd, Fetch Me a Block

Beheading is a Stark sport

Whoever said [“keep your enemies close”], didn’t have many enemies
Stannis Baratheon, who has evacuated from King’s Landing the very minute their research of Joffrey’s parentage had resulted in Jon Arryn’s death

TV Stannis lost a significant part of his appeal by being more about power and less about saving. Quotes like “In the North is the real enemy I was born to fight”, “I will have no burnings. Pray harder,” and “Demons made of snow and ice and cold. The ancient enemy. The only enemy that matters” are sadly missing from the show adaptation.

Despite differences in the specific events, this is yet another sort-of-faithful adaptation of a book scene. Changes are understandable and required by the change of medium – the show cannot portray Jon’s inner thoughts, as he considers if disciplining Janos Slynt with imprisonment or degradation will bring any effect. Soon he realizes such punishment would bring only revenge and desertion, and commanded the brothers to take Lord Slynt outside, and hang him.

Now a slight digression. Janos Slynt was the commander of the City Watch. While your eyes were on Littlefinger putting his knife by Ned’s throat, it was Lord Janos Slynt who decided to subdue the gold cloaks to the Lannisters against Hand of the King. His easily bought loyalty was what made Tyrion send him to the Wall right at the start of season 2 when he began his office as acting Hand.

Back at his last day, outraged, Janos Slynt goes on with his rant as in the show, eventually cut off by Jon.

“I will not hang him”, said Jon. “Bring him here”.

“Oh, Seven save us”, he heard Bowen Marsh cry out loud.

The smile that lord Janos Slynt smiled had all the sweetness of rancid butter. Until Jon said “Edd, fetch me a block” and unsheathed Longclaw.

A Dwarf, a Eunuch and a Spy Walk into a Brothel

Yeah, totally not remarkable.

I need to speak to someone with hair
Tyrion Lannister, overlooking the possibility of his beard slowly becoming a worthy discussion partner

As with Brienne’s storyline, I’m torn. Do I tell you the entire story right now, or do I wait to check if the show incorporates any of its elements later on?

With Jorah Mormont AKA Lord Friendzone capturing Tyrion, we’ve hit a common node with his story in ADWD, but there are still some major questions unanswered. The Griff thread seems to be written out completely, but its elements might resurface with characters who can carry on their story. Pointing out what these key elements were would be spoiling the future developments of the show, putting you non-readers in anticipation “I wonder who will do this now that these guys are out”.

Concerning cultures and languages, Tyrion is a well-read man and Valyrian was the language of the royalty at the time he was a teenager. The people who spoke High Valyrian on the show so far are Missandei, Daenerys, Melisandre, Thoros of Myr and the new priestess. Speaking of which, she’s a show-only character out in place of some random male red priest praising Daenerys, so another milestone checks out. It is not impossible, though, to see her again. Keep in mind we haven’t seen Quaithe yet (the masked woman from Qarth), and while she appears in ADWD for a while, her prophecies bring no answers and dozen new questions- for Dany, at least. For an avid reader, her predictions come true in full extent.

I’d write something more about Volantis but ASoIaF Wiki keeps raising 500 or 503 error, and my memory isn’t that good. You might remember that Talisa, Robb’s wife, was from Volantis, and that’s about it.


That concludes this week’s followup post. As usual, feel free to send me any feedback about its contents or forms. See you guys next week!

This is my first real post using WordPress, so please be understanding if possible. Other than that, I hope you’re still enjoying this as much as I am.

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