This week’s episode, features the introduction of the Sand Snakes in Dorne, as well as setting up multiple conflicts in King’s Landing, Dorne, and Winterfell.
CERSEI LANNISTER AND MARGAERY TYRELL
The Iron Bank has chosen to call in the crown’s debt. Seeing as how the crown was already in dept during Robert’s reign as king, the following wars have done nothing but add further expense. Mace offers for Highgarden to foot the bill, but Cersei fears granting the Tyrells even more power. Seeking instead to weaken the Tyrells, Cersei sends Mace and Meryn Trant to Braavos in order to negotiate with the Iron Bank. While he is initially hesitant, the honor of such an important post winds him over, and he is curtly dismissed.
In an attempt to further weaken the Tyrells now that Mace is out of the picture, Cersei authorizes the re-institution of the Faith Militant. The High Sparrow, and newly appointed High Septon, is appears initially suspicious of Cersei’s motives, but she makes a big show of aligning the faith and the crown under the same cause. Cersei then tells the High Sparrow that she knows of a great sinner hidden in their very midst.
The Faith Militant carve seven pointed stars into their foreheads as a sign of their faith. Lancel Lannister becomes one of the first members of the organization, and the camera shows his comrades marking him as their own. The fanatics pour through the streets, beating sinners and dragging them into the streets. After stumbling into one of Littlefinger’s brothels, the sparrows begin dragging out prostitutes and killing the homosexual patrons. Olyvar protests, and is struck by the militants. When he realizes how the homosexuals are being treated by the sparrows, he flees in fear. Afterwards, Lancel and other members of the faith go to the training yard and apprehend Loras Tyrell, arresting him for homosexuality.
When news of his arrest reaches his family in the Red Keep, Margaery immediately suspects Cersei is behind it. She pleas for Tommen to order her brother’s release, but becomes angered when Tommen insists on speaking to his mother first. When confronted by her son, Cersei denies involvement and states that he will have to speak with the High Sparrow. An unsure Tommen takes the Kingsguard and marches on the Sept of Baelor to confront the High Sparrow. Unfortunately, his path is blocked by the Faith Militant who deny him entrance. The Kingsguard offer to fight their way into the sept, but the crowd turns against them. Realizing Tommen they are outnumbered and not wanting to escalate the situation, Tommen and the Kingsguard retreat. Margaery’s frustration with Tommen grows as she continues to believe that Cersei is plotting against her family and manipulating Tommen.
Cersei has begun a dangerous game by allowing the faith to militarize. Considering her relationships with both her brother, Jaime, and her cousin, Lancel, and well as her involvements in the death of King Robert. Lancel, now a member of the Faith Militant, knows of at least two of these things, and feels badly enough about them to have sough the faith. We suspect that Lancel will confess these sins to the High Sparrow, leading to the downfall of Cersei Lannister.
Margaery, frustrated with Tommen’s inaction, may attempt to utilize High Garden’s influence to free her brother. This may make her an enemy of the faith as well. This will put Tommen in the unfortunate position of trying to free both his mother and his wife.
JAIME, BRONN, AND THE SAND SNAKES
Jaime and Bronn sail past Tarth and Jaime reminisces about his time with Brienne. It is revealed that Jaime still feels guilty about his part in his father’s death, and even tells Bronn that if he sees his brother again he will kill him. The shit they are on takes them close enough to Dorne to allow them to row ashore. They do so under the cover of duck in order to avoid detection. They are soon discovered by a patrol of Dornish soldiers. After a scuffled, Bronn and Jaime steal their clothes in order to blend in and then Bronn disposes of the bodies.
Shortly afterwards, Ellaria meets with her and Oberyn’s daughters: the sand snakes. With Prince Doran refusing the raise the Dornish armies against King’s Landing, they plot to murder Princess Myrcella. It is revealed that the Sand Snakes have captured the captain of the ship Jaime and Bronn traveled on, and have been torturing him for information. With Jaime Lannister in Dorne, the women realize that they are short on time to execute their plan.
This episode finally shows us a bit more of what is going on in Dorne, and, to be honest it leaves a lot to be desired. The acting of the Sand Snakes left a lot to be desired, and the combat seemed like something one would see an an amateur renaissance faire. Compared to the normally quite polished quality of each episode, this scene felt like something from the B-reel.
Jaime, Bronn, and the Sand Snakes will cross paths at some point. The real question is whether it will be in time to save Myrcella. With the season opening on Cersei’s childhood prophecy concerning the deaths of her children, it is reasonable to assume we will be seeing the death of at least one of her children by the end of the season. Our money is on Myrcella’s death within the last two episodes of this season.
JON SNOW AND STANNIS BARATHEON
On the wall, Stannis continues to try to gain Jon’s support for his cause, while Jon tries to gain men for The Watch from the Northern houses. Sam points out that Jon still needs to send a request to Roose Bolton. Jon recoils at the idea, disgusted at asking help from the man who betrayed his family and usurped his ancestral home. Eventually, however, he agrees, noting that his duty is to The Watch now.
Selyse grows concerned about Stannis’s fascination with Jon, worried that he prefers Jon over their own daughter. She apologizes for not being able to grant him a son, just Stannis reaffirms that he loves his daughter. Melisandre points out that Shireen has her place in the Lord of Light’s plan, noting that regardless of her disfigurement she still holds her father’s blood. We also find out in a small interaction between Stannis and Shireen that she contracted greyscale as an infant from a doll they had received from a Dornish trader.
Melisandre then goes on to attempt to seduce Jon. She asks him to reconsider joining Stannis, and as she does so she strips and climbs in his lap. Jon refuses her, stating that he will not break his vows and Stannis would be upset with her. She responds by saying that Stannis does not have to know, and hints that she knows about his past lover, Ygritte. Jon acknowledges that he broke his vows before, stating that he is still not over his diseased lover. Melisandre then gets up, clearly annoyed, and gets dressed. As she leaves, Melisandre looks back and taunts him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
No… no no. Bad Melisandre. It is clear from this episode that Shireen is being considered for a sacrifice to the Lord of Light, but it is likely that Stannis does not realize. It is interesting for a hinted plot against Princess Shireen Baratheon’s life to come up in the same episode as the plot against Princess Myrcella Baratheon. This just seems to reaffirm that one of these poor girls will likely bit the dust by the end of the season, if not both. Our money is on both.
With Jon Snow agreeing to ask the Boltons for help, it seems unlikely the Jon will change his mind and help Stannis. Furthermore, without Jon, it is unlikely that Stannis can rally the North or gain assistance from Wildlings, especially after the death of Mance. This might leave Stannis with no other option than to offer his daughter to the Lord of the Light and pray for his favor. Stannis, however, is quite fond of his daughter, so it is much more likely that Selyse and Melisandre will perform the ceremony on his behalf without his knowledge. If that happens, we expect to see Stannis lash out at both women, possibly killing them.
SANSA AND LITTLEFINGER
Back inside her home of Winterfell for the first time in years, Sansa hides from her betrothed in the family crypt under the pretense of visiting her dead family members. Petyr finds her lingering in front of the statue of Lyanna. She tells him that she never met her aunt, as she died before Sansa was born. Littlefinger recounts that he witnessed Rhaegar name Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty at the tournament at Harrenhal before he ran off with her. Sansa replies the Lyanna was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar. Littlefinger only replied with a curt nod.
He informs Sansa that he will be leaving for King’s Landing, having been requested to return by Queen Cersei. She protests, but he explains that Stannis will be attacking Winterfell soon and will have the support of the North. When Stannis gets to Winterfell, Petyr promises he will give Sansa back Winterfell. In the meantime, Sansa is to marry Ramsey and help to destroy the Boltons from within.
Without Littlefinger to protect her, Sansa is likely to receive a substantial amount of abuse at the hands of Ramsey. It is possible that Roose’s presence will protect her, but we cannot image that protection will extend far. If Ramsey takes it too far, it is unknown if she will have the capacity to fight back. We may end up seeing a dead Ramsey by the end of the season. Theon could attack him for harming Sansa, Roose could kill him after he abuses Sansa horribly, or Sansa could end up stabbing him to end the abuse. Theon may end up helping her escape after one of them finishes off Ramsey, but it is unknown if Theon has recovered enough to betray Ramsey or if Sansa would betray Littlefinger. It is doubtful that Brienne will be the one to rescue Sansa, as she would not be able to get into Winterfell without assistance. While she may help with her escape, she will probably not be the one to land the killing blow on our little northern psychopath.
That being said, Littlefinger shows an uncanny understanding of political relations, so it is surprising just how much he misunderstands the North. Stannis’s army is greatly diminished after Blackwater Bay, and he has not managed to gain the support of any Northern houses. Littlefinger should know that Stannis is at a disadvantage and that, other than the Boltons, the Northern armies are weak after the Red Wedding. There is no reason to assume that Stannis will gain Northern support or be able to rescue Sansa.
Considering how crucial of a piece Sansa is in his games, it is insane to place her in such a precarious situation and then abandon her. There is, of course, the possibility that he plans to betray her to the Lannisters in order to have the crown attack the Boltons. Neither course of action seems to make much sense unless you consider the possibility that Sansa is not nearly as personally important to him as people assume and he is actually willing to sacrifice her. Even so, allowing her to be killed by the Boltons, Lannisters, or just war, seems like a giant waste of a very useful pawn.
DAENERYS, TYRION, AND JORAH
Jorah steals a boat to transport him and Tyrion to Meereen, admitting that they are traveling to Daenerys, not Cersei. Tyrion laughs, stating that he was already headed that way. He also reminds Jorah that he once spied on Daenerys for the Lannisters and Baratheons and she may not be willing to take him back, even with Tyrion.
In Meereen, Ser Barristan Selmy talks to Daenerys about her eldest brother. He tells her that Rhaegar was always more of a lover than a fighter, spending much of his time performing music. When Daario interrupts to tell her the court is in session, she tells Barristan to go into the city and make some music.
In the throne room, Hizdahr zo Loraq waits to ask her to reopen the fighting pits. She denies his request, but he argues that it is a part of their heritage and would go a long way to mending the fences between her and her people. While they speak, Grey Worm is ambushed by the Sons of the Harpy. With Grey Worm grievously injured and surrounded, he expects death will come quickly. Suddenly, Ser Barristan suddenly makes his way through the attackers. He cuts them all down one by one, before being stabbed in the gut by the last Harpy before he runs off. Grey Worm and Barristan both collapse from their wounds, their fates unknown.
We still don’t trust Daario, and this attack on Barristan and Grey Worm does not serve to stifle that suspicion. It is doubtful that both Grey Worm and Barristan will die. There has been a lot of hints about a Missandei/Grey World romance, and Grey Worm does serve as captain of the unsullied, but there is little other purpose to his character currently other than to emphasize class relations and Missandei on her own serves this purpose well. On the other hand, Barristan provides some much needed information about the Targaryens that no one else can provide Daenerys, especially now that Jorah is gone. Even if Jorah manages to make a return to Daenerys inner circle, he had a better understanding of the North than of King’s Landing, and was never as close to Rhaegar or Aerys as Ser Barristan Selmy was. In the same vein, Tyrion was not old enough to remember much if anything of Rhaegar and Aerys. If we had to guess which one of the two (Barristan or Grey Worm) will bite it, we think it will be Grey Worm, though we hope they both pull through.
This episode’s writing felt sloppier than most. Littlefinger felt out of character and his normal well-thought out strategies and understanding of people’s strengths and weaknesses was missing from this episode. The Sand Snakes were a weak addition to the cast, and it is out hope that they will do better as the season continues.
Stannis’s, Cersei’s, and Daenery’s scenes, by contrast, were quite enjoyable and set the stage for a lot of conflict later in the series. So far, this season seems to be setting up to kill off a lot of secondary characters. Of course, given the show that isn’t much of a surprise.
As always, keep in mind that our speculations involve what has been shown in the show with as little involvement from the books as possible. With so many changes being made between the books and the shows, we feel that it is unfair to make predictions on one based on the other at this point… especially after last season.
With that in mind…
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