Game of Thrones 5.3: “Avenge them”
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Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 recap
At the beginning of Game of Thrones there were a lot of characters spread across a vast land, all with different motivations. Now, five seasons into the story, there are still a lot of characters and the land is even vaster, but the motivations have narrowed down to one thing: Vengeance. Arya is in the House of Black and White, learning to be A Girl. She has to give up the trappings of Arya Stark because she must become no one, but she can’t quite let go of Needle, her sword. Of course this will be significant at some point, but who knows when. Arya’s path to avenging her family is one of violence, but more importantly, it’s one of anonymity. Can she maintain Arya Stark’s List when she’s expected to give up Arya Stark? She hid her sword, so no, but she will never really be able to be a Stark again. Whatever A Man teaches her, whatever she does from here on out, while she may keep Arya Stark’s List, she’s taking a big step away from her family.
Meanwhile, Sansa is embracing her name and title and position for the first time since fleeing King’s Landing. I gather this is a big departure from the book, and I’m desperately worried for Sansa because CLEARLY nothing good is going to happen at Winterfell. It was always a dingy place, but it’s especially dark and gross under Bolton command, not least because they’re displaying flayed bodies in the courtyard. But they have Littlefinger snowed—he obviously does not truly comprehend the horror he’s pushing Sansa into. He admits he doesn’t know anything about Ramsay, and Ramsay is on his best behavior to ensure that continues to be the case.
This is a terrible miscalculation on Littlefinger’s part—Sansa is going to suffer much more than he presumes—but Sansa’s path is the one of politics. She’s marrying Ramsay to secure the Boltons’ hold on the North, but as the servant in the castle tells her, the North remembers. Sansa will undoubtedly become a rallying point. Personally I’d love it if she poisons everyone at Winterfell, but Littlefinger counsels her to use her position to exact her revenge from the inside. The only question is whether or not Sansa is tough enough to survive the Boltons.
Up at the Wall, Jon Snow actually does something by executing Janos Slynt for being a dick, basically. Jon makes some politically savvy moves, making an effort to smooth things over with Alliser Thorne by appointing him Head Ranger, and he manages to decline to fight with Stannis Baratheon without pissing Stannis off (I think, he’s hard to read). In turning down the chance to seek revenge by joining forces with Stannis, Jon, unlike Arya, is, so far, managing to let go his Stark past in favor of his present pledge to the Night’s Watch. He may be boring, but Jon has an incredible will to hold to that pledge in the face of everything his family has suffered.
Similarly, we finally find out what Renly Baratheon did to earn Brienne’s loyalty, and the short answer is that he was nice to Carrie. And now she’s determined to avenge him because he once stood up for her. This is a wonderful look into Brienne, and also the resolve and will that may make her one of the most dangerous players on the board. I think if Jon Snow and Brienne of Tarth met each other and spent, like, five minutes in casual conversation, they’d form an alliance that could face down just about anyone. Brienne is an incredible fighter, and better, because she’s a woman, even a tall, strong one, she’s always underestimated. She has surprise on her side, and her loyalty is not to crown or country, it’s to the dead. We’re starting to see that in Westeros, the dead make better masters.
I like to imagine that every aerial shot of Essos is from Drogon’s point of view. This show really would be better if it was just about the dragons, but that ongoing criticism aside, we get another nudge toward Tyrion and Daenerys meeting when Jorah Mormont kidnaps him to take him to the queen. Tyrion really doesn’t have anything to avenge, unless he can be motivated to go after Cersei for generally being a c*nt, but he can certainly help Daenerys with her quest. Similarly, Cersei has nothing to avenge, so she’s getting mixed up with religious leaders, meeting with the “High Sparrow”, a Jesus-like figure serving the poor and preaching a message of equality. She’s obviously up to something, plotting with him against the High Septon, but this week this is the least interesting subplot. At this point, if you’re not seeking vengeance you’re kind of wasting my time.
Next week: Rebellion!
Attached -Sophie Turner and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday.