[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 3, "High Sparrow"

Courtesy of HBO
OK, I'll take the blame for this one. My bad. I started this season bemoaning the fact that the series is too good, and that week to week, I find it difficult to find new things to say about it other than, "oh, isn't so-and-so a talented actors, and doesn't that horse look nice." Then the season actually started and it's all been a bit dull, really. Looking back, even episode one was a big of trudge, but I chalked that up to premiere weariness, the same that every season has experienced. But these last two really haven't done anything particularly interesting. And by interesting, I don't mean dragons or fist fights. Anyone familiar with my reviews knows that those sorts of Grand Acts of Impressiveness don't impress me much (oo-oh-oh).

So, on the surface, I'm getting exactly what I wanted. Mostly original storylines, focusing primarily on well developed characters having conversations and acting according to their characters. The net result, however, has been less then impressive. It all seems a bit like a teenager working up the courage to ask the pretty girl to the dance. There is a lot of talking to one's self, and ego inflation, a lot of pacing back and forth on the topic at hand, but not a lot of forward momentum. Is it a sign that the writers are padding things out, uncertainly exactly how to continue as briskly as before without the astute guideposts of Martin's writing to lead them on? Or is it series fatigue, something that afflicts even the best of shows after they've been on a while? Or is it just me?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which need to speak to someone with hair.

The only scenes that had any real life to them, I credit the actors more than the writing of the scenes. The final extended sequence with Tyrion and Varys, and the earlier one between Jon, Stannis and particularly Davos. the show has been on long enough now, and certain characters have survived this long that there is a list of characters who are inherently more interesting then their story generally allows, because of the quality of the actor playing them. Davos is king of his particular heap (and doesn't that horse look nice). It is also nice when characters that don't traditionally interact have a scene together, and Jon and Davos certainly qualify. Davos is as loyal and honorable as Ned ever was, but with considerably more life experience that manifests as pragmatism. So, he speaks of duty and responsibility, and it's a convincing argument because he's not looking through rose coloured glasses as he says it. Times are tough, they're about to get tougher, and sometimes you need to kick yourself in the arse to get pointed in the right direction.

Tyrion's scene displayed the charm, humour, drama and intrigue that the series is usually bursting with, so part of me is wondering if the writers aren't just getting bored with some of these plot lines. they clearly aren't with Tyrion. A dwarf flirting with a whore, on any other show, is an irregularity. On this show, it is a breath of fresh and familiar air. It was nice to see Tyrion roll himself out of his funk, if only for a minute, and return to fine form as he almost effortlessly working himself into the good graces of the pouty prossie. Then he got extreme performance anxiety. Which one might expect when you're love life has been defined by falling in love with two separate prostitutes, and to have both those relationships end spectacularly badly. That he was unable to even stand up while holding her hand shows the depth of his woe, but it also felt like a bit of an easy way out for the scene. It eliminated the need for further embellishment. There was no opportunity for him to expose himself, physically or emotionally, and the revelation felt like it lacked the effect it should have had on the character. He tosses it off with a quip and a piss. Tyrion is in need of a good old fashioned emotional breakdown, as he comes to terms with the gravity of his life. This could have been it, and it wasn't, and it won't, because he got nabbed by Jorah (I'll come back to this development next week, when we see how it plans to play out a bit more).

We're also venturing into the murky depths of Martin's literary narrative where things begin to get a bit drawn out. Martin clearly had a clear idea of what was going to happen to certain characters, and in which direction certain plots were going to go, and utterly didn't in others. This has, unfortunately, also translated into the series, where the natural end of some character's storylines has come and gone, and now they are moving forward by inches in the hopes that they might later stumble upon a mile. Arya's story has reached this point, though it is a necessary one if she is to achieve what I believe to be the natural end point of the show, wherein she returns to Westeros and slaughters everyone. In the books, she sweeps, and sells clams for what seems like forever. And while this episode moves her forward a bit more than I expected, but this is also a storyline I can see disappearing for several episodes. Arya has the most potential of anyone to be the Bran of season five.

Likewise with Brienne and Pod. The writers are still clearly interested in these two characters, and want to keep them on the show and develop their relationship. But they also don't have anything for them to do. I can see where they might intend on taking them, but until they get to that point, which is likely an episode nine or ten point, the're just pacing in the shadows. The place I expect the writers are taking them is a Big Damned Hero moment. The most original of this week's storylines was the pairing of Sansa by Littlefinger to Ramsey by Roose. This is part of a power-play by both men, Roose to secure the North by claiming a Stark, and by Littlefinger to back the winning side against the Lannisters. It also bodes poorly for Sansa. Promises are birds in the hand, but birds shit in your hands too, and ramsey can promise that he'll be good and behave and not skin his new bride, but we've seen what he's like when he gets bored. So, I expect that, as Stannis moves on Winterfell, and Sansa once again finds herself promised to a raving psychopath, there will come an opportunity for Brienne and a freshly trained Pod to swoop in and fulfill their oath in protecting the daughter of Catelyn Stark, and prove that Brienne isn't completely shit at her job, as I mentioned last week. But all of that is still a ways off yet. Until then, we and they, wait.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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