The Many-Faced God, the Faith of the Seven, the Lord of Light; so many deities it’s no wonder anything gets done in Westeros without someone shouting blasphemy. Episode 3, titled “High Sparrow,” cites the many religions and their highly devoted followers. Now, much has been said about the will of the gods, but we’ve never seen their wrath firsthand. It seems we have a conduit with a cold yet compelling Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow himself. Cersei, you have no idea what you’ve just done.
In Braavos, Arya learns she has to faithfully serve the Many-Faced God in order to become no one. Unfortunately, she also has to abandon Arya completely. The name alone is the source of so much joy and pain in her life, and it’s part of her whether she likes it or not. It seems she cannot let go of it quite yet as she stows away her beloved Needle, a gift she received from Jon Snow so many years ago. She has come a long way since then, but she’ll never forget where she came from.
In the North we finally learn of a new ploy at hand, one that is undoubtedly the root of all the controversy this season. Roose Bolton informs Ramsay that he is to be married soon in order to keep the faith of the Northern lords. Cut to Sansa and Littlefinger, on the long road to Winterfell. You can almost feel the uneasiness with this subtle transition. We don’t even have to be told the scheme upfront. We just know. Most of all, we know the torment that awaits Sansa (as if she hasn’t been through enough already).
This crucial plot point is one of the major liberties that the show has taken for itself. In the books, Ramsay weds the believed-to-be-Arya, who is actually Jeyne Poole – one of Sansa’s friends who accompanied her on the way to King’s Landing. As Ramsay’s bride, Jeyne endures all kinds of cruelty as she is reduced to nothing more than a tavern wench, which would’ve been a much kinder fate for her. The showrunners, apparently, have decided to cut Jeyne Poole. Unfortunately, that meant someone had to take her place.
This only means bad things for Sansa, and it really shouldn’t have surprised us as much as it did. One can only wonder if Littlefinger knew all along. Perhaps his brief scene with Ramsay may indeed be the truth, that he had no idea who Ramsay was or is capable of doing. Then again, he forged an alliance with the Boltons of all people. Littlefinger has never been one to underestimate his enemies. Nevertheless, Petyr, you’ll have to explain yourself soon. Personally, I don’t exactly know what the point is for Sansa to fulfill Jeyne’s role, whether it’s to awaken Reek/Theon from his torture spell, or to bring forth the arrival of Lady Stoneheart (Gods be good), but it appears we’ll have to wait for the payoff. And it better be worth it…
On the Wall, Jon Snow did what we were all waiting for. He beheaded Janos Slynt. I’ve hated him ever since the second season so I’m glad we’re done with him. But this brings us back to a major staple in the show – execution. At the beginning of season one, Ned Stark beheaded a deserter of the Night’s Watch, which foreshadowed his own demise. Ned Stark was subsequently executed himself, an act that gradually brought down House Lannister. Just last episode, Khaleesi ordered the execution of one of her own children, which was met with outrage. And here we have Jon Snow, who executed a man to uphold his status as Lord Commander. But is it also foreshadowing something darker?
In King’s Landing we are reintroduced to King Tommen, now a grown man after doing the deed with Queen Margaery. He made it further than his brother ever did! “This is all I want to do, all day, every day, for the rest of my life.” Welcome to the club, buddy. Margaery now has her claws in him, though I’m sure it didn’t take much effort.
None of this makes Cersei particularly happy. With her son’s marriage secured, her grasp of the throne continues to wane, as Margaery cleverly reminds her. But that doesn’t stop Cersei from extending her reach. With the High Sparrow, she believes she’s found a friend, someone quite ruthless and with far more influence. Her mistake is believing they are on the same side – yet another trope in Game of Thrones where desperate characters turn to the wrong people, and end up paying the price dearly. It’s taken a long time for this to happen, but winter is coming for Cersei in the unlikeliest of forms.