Despite a few big reveals, this felt like the most low key episode of Game of Thrones this season. I really liked a few things, a few other events kind of deflated the story for me.
Spoilers after the screenshot.
Arya has left behind her life as an incompetent assassin to be totally incompetent at taking precautions against an average contract killing, let alone the greatest assassin guild in the world. I really liked Arya when she was in Westeros but her complete resistance to learning anything the past couple years has been exasperating. It's clearer now how much the Hound contributed to their great double act. Speaking of whom . . .
Yes, he's back, raising a church with Ian McShane who guest stars as Ian McShane if Ian McShane were a priest, or septon. I wonder if a renegade septon is called a "deviated septon". With the community of folks trying to peacefully work the land without respect to traditional landowners, it seems like the show might be referencing the Diggers or one of the other radical groups from the 1650s who did pretty much the same thing. They're kind of Diggers crossed with Anabaptists. Hardcore Protestants, anyway. Knowing McShane agreed to appear in only one episode, I'm not sure if this plot felt lacklustre because it didn't have the planned time to breathe or if McShane agreed to only one episode because it was a lacklustre subplot. Either way, it's nice to see the Hound moving on quickly from it, hopefully he doesn't become just another popular character who was saved from death only to stand around somewhere.
McShane's character doesn't have the skill or perhaps taste for manipulation the High Sparrow has and Jonathan Pryce continues to be one of my favourite aspects of this season as he mixes genuine insight and warmth with subtle threats. I liked this: "The poor disgust us because they are us, shorn of our illusions. They show us what we'd look like without our fine clothes. How we'd smell without perfume." Exchange "poor" for "walkers" and you'd have my take on the subtext of The Walking Dead. In any case, he's quite right, it's only a shame the show can't or won't show us the poor he's talking about. I was watching Mad Max: Fury Road again a few days ago and I marvelled again how quickly and solidly George Miller establishes a fantasy community, from the miscellaneous people waiting for the water to flow out of the mountain to the warlust culture of the the warboys. That was brilliant filmmaking and maybe that's too much to expect from Game of Thrones but still it would be nice if they tried. We don't even get to know any of McShane's followers.
But I really love the subtle power play going on between the High Sparrow and Margaery and I loved Diana Rigg in this episode.
I had to pinch myself in the siege scene--I had this moment where I was just so happy to be watching a mediaeval fantasy television series with high production values. This is something I've wanted to see all my life. It's nice to see Bronn again, too, hopefully he'll have something interesting to do.
I thought the scene where Jon, Sansa, and Davos had to negotiate with the pint sized liege of the Mormonts was a bit silly. It's true this is the same world that has the Lannister kids continually on the throne but realistically a child ruler actually running things would be rare, the Starks would more likely have met with a steward like John of Gaunt. But once again, I find myself having to note this is becoming a much more conventional wish-fulfilment fantasy series this season. I guess women taking over all over the place isn't so amazing when there's a little girl in charge of an Earldom or whatever they call it on Game of Thrones.
But this is my favourite lady in charge now:
Have I mentioned I like Yara? I really like Yara.