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Does this count as a spoiler?

With all that happens over the course of a season of ‘Game of Thrones’, we’ve all become used to the less involved episodes every now and again. While season five, episode three (‘High Sparrow’), has a fair amount going on, it still comes across as a smaller, filler episode. That said, it was still thoroughly entertaining.

We only get a few points of view this episode, and thankfully Dany wasn’t one of them. While she’ll no doubt be refusing to own up to her continued mistakes next episode, it was still nice to have a little reprieve.

There is hope for her, though, after Brienne and Podrick regained their greatness once again in a small, character-building scene. They have a chance to do what they’re good at – a funny back and forth with Dan and Dave bringing back some great dialogue for them. It proves that the last episode was a slight misstep, and they aren’t turning into a walking cliché with terrible writing. Once more, I’m invested in their quest, and Brienne’s exposition heavy speech – in which she discusses her childhood and explains how she came to support Renly Baratheon in the first place, is heart-warming and moving.

Arya has perhaps the least to do this episode, as she continues to train under Jaqen H’ghar, with the hopes of becoming a Faceless Man. Her scenes are primarily based around the colossal strangeness of the House of Black and White, and highlighting just what it is that they do there. It’s interesting enough, but the stand-out moment comes when she’s forced to throw away all of her possessions, and change out of the outfit she’s been wearing since the second season, which, if you think about it, is great from a hygienic perspective.

Cersei’s story is a great step in the general plot of instigating her own downfall, as she steadily becomes more and more dissatisfied with her inner circle, and choses to arrest the High Septon after he is found in a brothel by Lancel and the devout Sparrows. When he is accused of sinning and publicly shamed by the Sparrows, he runs to Cersei and demands justice. Enter Johnathon Pryce as The High Sparrow. In keeping with ‘Game of Thrones’ tradition, he serves as the one character that is goodness through-and-through, so you can expect him to die or fall from grace or hide a terrible secret in the coming story – that’s not a spoiler, it’s just a trope.

On the flip side, Qyburn continues to be cartoonish brilliant as ever. The final episode of season four gave him a comically oversized syringe and asked him to do his best Dr. Frankenstein impression, last episode had him casually asking to keep a severed head, and this episode has him talking to Sir Gregor’s corpse as it writhes around under a sheet. Don’t ever change, Qyburn.

And on the subject of comically evil, this episode serves as a triumphant return of my boy, RB! Ramsey is always an utter joy to watch, even when he is doing something utterly deplorable. Whether he’s skinning someone alive, hunting people in the forest, or simply asking Reek to shave him as a power play, Iwan Rheon has such fun with the role that you almost forget how utterly despicable he is. Ramsey has always had more appeal for me in the series over someone like Joffrey, as he had a continuous monstrous presence about him, and came across as someone who wanted to be liked and loved by the people who despised him. Ramsey doesn’t. Instead, he has taken the villain role to heart, and properly run with it.

Roose gets to be the grand negotiator once again, as he is still the Warden of The North, and despite his son being legitimised, the Northerners rightly hate him. Roose’s plan to have people look past their illegitimacy is largely intact with the story from the book, however there is one major change: while in the books, Littlefinger has arranged to send Jeyne Poole to Winterfell and pretend it is Arya (to legitimise the Bolton’s claim to the North), this time he sends the real Sansa.

Yes, it is finally revealed where Sansa and Littlefinger have been traveling all this time, and it is back home. Winterfell is being rebuilt, and while there wasn’t as much time devoted to reminding us how we haven’t really seen it since season two, it was beautiful to be back – despite all the flayed bodies. It’ll be fun to see how the new Sansa storyline plays out, especially as she’s a far more important character than Poole, and she has a motivation for going there. Revenge.

Now, she has the man who stabbed her brother in the heart and the man who burnt down her home in the same castle as her. I’m beginning to feel that she isn’t trapped in there with them, but they’re trapped in there with her…

Jon’s storyline is relatively brief, and serves as him both solidifying his position as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and gaining the respect of Stannis. Davos gets a chance to deliver a fairly compelling speech in their time together, which was nice, as we haven’t really seen enough of him recently. And while Jon’s defining moment in the episode was still a fist-pump occasion, it seemed a little too much like a fan’s interpretation of the books, as the majority of the cold, hard badassery was taken away, in favour of reducing a much hated character into a sobbing mess.

Tyrion has a very short section, based around the fact he is tired of sitting in his wheelhouse, and wants to get out and visit a brothel. From there, we see the greatest triumph of this season so far – showing off the diversity of Westeros and, mainly, Essos. Like with Braavos, Volantis appears as an entirely new place with a different culture and a totally different feel. It’s utterly refreshing and reminds you that Dany has been specifically seeking out the worst and most dysfunctional cities to visit. Until a familiar face arrives to throw a spanner in the works…

‘High Sparrow’ truly works as a great episode, delivering just enough story to keep up  the pace, while focussing on the interactions of the characters and making them all more human once again.
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