It's been almost 24 hours since 'Game of Thrones' and I am still mulling over the episode. 'High Sparrow' was one I was nervous about seeing, due in large part to a friend spilling the beans on Sansa Stark's engagement after the season premiere. I had this deep seated fear that Sansa was going to be married off to Ramsay Bolton, and low-and-behold! She's back in Winterfell, about to be wed to the most terrifying character in the show. Just when you think you get a break, amirite?
I had been thinking a lot about Sansa and her impending marriage, mainly because it seemed initially like a typical 'Game of Thrones' move to save Sansa from King's Landing only to give her to the nightmare-factory that is Ramsay. The show can be so horrible about putting women into positions like that just for the shock value, and this seemed especially underhanded given that Sansa's entire character arc was about overcoming the emotional and sometimes physical torment she endured under Joffrey. Giving her to Ramsay, who viciously tortures his bride in the books, was just too much.
But I was surprised by the way the show handled it. Sansa doesn't seem like a victim here, especially after Littlefinger gives her a pep talk about avenging her family. The way she served Roose Bolton dagger eyes before smiling and offering her hand was masterful, and a reminder that Sansa ain't here to deal with nonsense anymore. In that moment I realized that I had been giving Sansa zero credit, assuming she was just someone who could be handed off from husband to husband without any agency. Sansa may have once been that person, but I doubt she is anymore.
And then there's Ramsay, who seemed pretty earnest when he swore never to hurt her. I want to believe he will keep his word, given his desire to get Roose's approval and the importance they both tie to Sansa's Stark blood. I also want to believe that Littlefinger would legitimately eat Ramsay alive if he ever touched a hair on Sansa's head, although Littlefinger's loyalties are never easy to read.
The episode was so, so strong. Margaery and Cersei's barbed banter was beyond on point. My partner and I actually cheered when Margaery landed her zinger about it being too early for wine. The change in Tommen's age and subsequent consummation of their marriage is also an interesting play for the show, and I'm more interested than peeved to see how that change plays out. Tommen is the sweetest, and his gentle approach to urging Cersei back to Casterly Rock was simultaneously heartwarming and terrifying. Cersei is increasingly backed into a corner -- what's she gonna do?!
I'd been so nervous about the changes the show was making, but so far they aren't as bad as I expected. In fact, it's really neat being able to be surprised by the show and still be excited about it. Recently it's seemed like the changes have been blatant sexual violence and gratuitous fight scenes, and it's nice seeing the story adapted for substance rather than shock. Rather than being terrified by the developments so far, I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. Assuming, of course, that Ramsay behaves.
What was your favorite part of the episode? Any guesses on what's next?
Bridey is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
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