Pivotal moves were made in the GAME OF THRONES, as several characters acted on their secret agendas this episode, sliding their pieces across the metaphorical game-board.

First up… Arya is hard at work trying to become a nobody – the anti-thesis of most hero quests. In order to be accepted for training into this secret ASSASSIN’S CREED cult, Arya Stark must forget her past. She must become a blank slate.

Jaqen finally tests her in a hard-to-watch scene. He whips her with a reed every time he senses a lie. He’s programming her, and testing her faith… in revenge.

The most touching moment, and perhaps the real test, is when Arya encounters a temple visitor. He pleads with Arya to help him with his sister who’s living in constant unbareable pain.

Arya talks with the young girl and spins the best kind of lie. Jaqen watches on from the shadows, as Arya tells her used to be sick too, until she drank from this sacred pool and was cured. The young Stark promises everything will be better after she drinks. There was a dark and twisted beauty to this moment.

Arya earns enrollment in the Secret Assassin Guild. Jaqen tells her, “You’re ready to be someone else.”

Jaqen reveals the majestic inner temple to the young Stark. Tall columns are filled with the faces of the deceased. 1000s of them. All of those visitors seeking solace in death provide the many faces the assassins disguise themselves with.

This is a way creepier technique than Tom Cruise uses in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

Next up… Tyrion and Jorah travel the shores of the LOST land of Valaryia, recovering from last episode’s attack by the Stone Men.

It isn’t long before our wandering heroes are attacked again. This time it’s MR.ECKO from LOST and his tribe of Others. Turns out they’re headed for Mareen too. Holy convenient plot-line, Batman.

TYRION… from an earlier episode, once again saved by his wits

Tyrion uses his wits to convince the traders that Jorah is a great warrior who can earn a lot of money at Pit Fighting – which Daenerys conveniently reinstated last episode.

Perhaps, next episode Jorah will have to earn back the Khaleesi’s trust in a tournament? Or perhaps he’ll have to win to earn freedom or his life back?

Meanwhile… Littlefinger continues his lecherous quest to a throne of his own. He heads to Cersei-Land a.k.a. King’s Landing. In an interesting interaction, ‘Finger is confronted by lead Sparrow Manson cultist guy (Cersei’s wine bringing co-conspirator). You know the guy that is blindly driven to remove sin from the world. Turns out this crazed dude doesn’t dig on the man who peddles whores.

Littlefinger aims a wise retort when cautioned, “We both peddle fantasies. Mine just happen to be entertaining.”

LITTLEFINGER… scheming during last season

Littlefinger and Cersei have a revealing sit and chat. Lord Baelish advises the Queen Mother to wait for the warring factions to wipe themselves out during the battle for Winterfell.

His plan involves swooping in after the armies are decimated and claiming Winterfell under Lannister rule.

The best question to ask in any situation, really applies here: Who Benefits? Cersei asks what ‘Finger wants – “Name me Warden of the North.” 

Cersei is hesitant, perhaps uncertain of ‘Finger’s honest intentions. She says, “I’ll believe it when I see Sansa Stark’s head on a stake.” Finger replies with a cold immediacy, “I live to serve.” 

Big moves are made. The game is most definitely afoot.

Meanwhile, in Dorne… Jaime and Bronn traverse the arid countryside, although Dorne has areas that remind me of Ancient Babylon and the Hanging Gardens. Jaime and Bronn are dressed in stolen garbs to blend in. They’re on their way to rescue the kidnapped Lannister niece.

They argue and crack jokes at one another along the way like they’re RIGGS & MURTAUGH, until they are interrupted by another welcoming committee — I’ve been waiting for this moment —

The mother flickin’ SAND SNAKES. Bronn wasn’t nearly as excited to see them in action. He quips like Gibson in LETHAL WEAPON, “Oh fer f**k’s sake.” 

This fight against the Snakes will be a lot more challenging than Jamie & Bronn’s first enemy encounter near the shores of Dorne.

The fight showcases a variety of skills amongst these three lethal dueling sisters.

It was just a taste of things to come, but these Sand Snakes are more than adequately skilled with their weapons and fighting techniques.

Like father, like daughters.

The fight is busted up by the authorities of Dorne. Bronn and Jamie drop their swords. Captives. But at least they found Myrcella Lannister. Their quest was a success.

Now… about that ticket home? The return will be a little more difficult than Jamie and Bronn’s arrival.

Back in King’s Landing… Grandmother Tyrell arrives by carriage with a great introduction, “I can smell the shit from five miles away.”

She means bullshit, right? Margaery’s Elder could be her saving grace with her ability to read people and understand their motives unspoken.

By the end of the episode, this is much more clear.

But first, Sir Lorras (Margaery’s gay brother) is on trial lead by the High Septon. This highly religious society, obsessed with devotion to the Seven Gods and the removal of Sin, are quite serious about these accusations.

If Loras is found to be homosexual, his life is in danger.

Of course, Margaery lies when she is confronted. Her perjury leads to her imprisonment. The King is helpless to free her. He doesn’t know what to do. If he asks his Mother for advice, I’m sure Cersei will fulfill her own agenda.

There are so many storylines brewing in King’s Landing alone. Margaery’s imprisonment was an unexpected development with ramifications that will sweep across the Seven Kingdoms.

The King’s mother, Cersei, has made the biggest move on the GAME OF THRONES this episode. She regains control of the Kingdom with a subtle maneuver, hidden by her defense of Margaery during the trial proceedings.

Cersei also hides behind the Septon’s power and greatly influences the High Sparrow. Now she will be able to control the Kingdom with her guidance over her son, the King.

Let’s hope Grandma Tyrell really can smell bullshit from five miles away.

In closing… Back to WINTERFELL. Ramsey Bolton is set to marry Sansa Stark. I’m thinking his girl on the side (Myranda, the kennel master’s daughter) wants to boil Sansa’s bunny. This FATAL ATTRACTION-type scenario freaks me out. I’m worried for Sansa’s safety… either way (from Myranda or Ramsey).

Afterall, weddings don’t turn out so well on GAME OF THRONES.

Before they tie the knots, Myranda subtly threatens Sansa. But she isn’t phased. She had a great counter…

“I’m Sansa Stark from Winterfell. This is my home. And you don’t frighten me.”

The Godswood was beautiful. I’ve always liked seeing them on screen. There’s something about the ancient tradition, mythical qualities, and the simplicity of striking colours – the vibrant red on the muted greys.

Lanterns light the path towards the marriage ceremony stationed at the base of the great and mighty tree. Theon (in another act of cruelty) is forced by Ramsey to give away Sansa at the wedding.

I’m not saying if anyone dies during this wedding… but I will say the result was shocking none-the-less.

THEON… forced to watch… the episode’s best performance

The most emotional sequence this episode sprung from a surprising source: Theon Greyjoy. I’m started to feel more and more empathy for the complex and damaged character. His character arc is insanely unique, bold, and daring.

Just think back at all he’s done. Sure, the audience may have had a more visceral empathy during those episodes Theon was tortured by Ramsey, but this is on a more emotional level.

Theon is forced to watch Ramsey consumate the wedding with Sansa. And Ramsey takes way too much perverse sadistic delight from this scenario.

This scene was so hard to watch for a variety of morally complex reasons. Ramsey twists the proverbial blade in Theon’s wound, saying…

“You’ve know her since she was a girl… Now watch her become a woman.”

RAMSEY… from an earlier episode – this is what this guy looks like when he’s happy

Ramsey rips apart the back of Sansa’s gown. We are spared what comes next, but the camera focuses on a close-up of Sansa’s face. We are locked into her emotions. We experience this wedding through her point of view.

This creative decision was hauntingly effective.

Coming soon… I’m thinking Theon will protect Sansa, if not this time, than perhaps the next. He will defend Sansa and attack Ramsey. He didn’t do this for his own sake earlier. He might feel like he deserved the torture. Or he learned to accept it, reprogrammed as Reek. But with Sansa there’s a chance for Theon to repent.

I think Theon and Sansa will escape Winterfell, coinciding with the arrival of Stannis’ army.

If Jon Snow somehow times his return with Stannis’ attack he could miss a reunion with his sister. That would be emotional too.

What do you think?

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The GODSWOOD from season one… with Caitlyn & Ned Stark

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