Episode 6 of Season 3 of ‘Game of Thrones’ will be remembered, that much is certain. Lots of things going on, lots of character development, and arguably one of the darkest endings of an episode the show has ever produced.
Jumping in, let’s start at the House of Black and White, where Arya continues to clean the dead bodies, including their hair, though she remains ever curious about what happens to the bodies once they are taken past the door in the cleaning room. We see her demand to play the “Game of Faces’ with her fellow corpse scrubber, and the other girl manages to spin a whole web of lies about her backstory, which at first Arya takes for the truth. It seems the Game of Faces is about telling good enough lies that other Faceless Men (and women?) cannot tell you’re lying, something Arya fails miserably at when she attempts the game with Jaqen that night, with the man smacking her with a stick for every lie she inserted into her story (including her “lie” about hating the Hound, which she insists was the truth). Later, while sweeping the Black Hall (which is what I’ve taken to calling the abysmally dark main room with the water in the House of Black and White), a man enters with his sick daughter, imploring Arya’s help to end her suffering. Arya speaks to the girl, lying well enough to her about the “magical” powers of the water, and claiming that drinking the water will take away her pain. The girl drinks, and Jaqen is impressed at Arya’s lies, enough so that he allows her to move past the cleaning room, and follow him down to the Hall of Faces, where it seems the Faceless Men collect the identities and literal faces of everyone that pass through, allowing them to magically assume those identities (I think). Jaqen tells Arya that it is clear she is not ready to become “no one,” but she is ready to become someone else. (Which makes sense when you think about it, because if she completely gives up being Arya Stark she would lose her whole motivation for going to the House of Black and White, which is to avenge her family and kill those people on her list).
Meanwhile Tyrion and Jorah continue their walking journey to Meereen, with Tyrion speaking to Mormont about his reasons for leaving King’s Landing (killing his father and former lover), and also lets slip that Jorah’s father, Jeor Mormont, had died. It’s easy to forget about the connections across this show including this one linking Jorah to the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but Jorah still takes the news hard, demanding to know how his father died. Tyrion tells him he has only heard rumors, but says he heard his own men turned on him (for those unable to recall what happened, Commander Mormont was killed after fleeing from the White Walker’s and taking refuge at Crastor’s Keep in Season 3, where numerous traumatized Crows mutinied and killed him). Jorah is having a rough season, as he now gets to mourn to father even while watching the Grey Scale claim his arm. Fortunately (or not) he soon finds himself pre-occupied with survival, as he and Tyrion are spotted by slavers, who want to kill Tyrion and sell his genitalia (apparently “a Dwarf’s cock has magic powers”), while simply selling Jorah into slavery. Tyrion’s survival instincts kick in, and he convinces them that they need to keep him alive to prove to whoever they end up selling his member to that it actually came from a Dwarf. When the Slavers mention that Daenerys has re-opened the fighting arenas, Tyrion also points out Jorah’s prowess in fighting, with Jorah agreeing as he is a skilled combatant. The slavers concur, and plan on taking Jorah to the fighting arena (apparently they don’t realize how serious Daenerys is about slaves not fighting). Bad news is that they are prisoners, but the good news is that Tyrion and Jorah are on their way to Meereen once more.
In King’s Landing, things are starting to get even more interesting, as the Queen of Thorns herself returns to the capital, exasperated by the pettiness of Cersei, unable to fathom how the woman could be so destructive. They have an excellent scene together, with both Queens throwing jabs back and forth, with Cersei clearly gleeful that her plan appears to be working, as she can hide behind the faith’s arrests while claiming she had nothing to do with it. In the midst of the Tyrell trials, Littlefinger returns to the capital, getting a warning from the Sparrows who are all too aware of his elicit activities and “flesh peddling.” Littlefinger seems completely unfazed by the militant faith, as he’s got more important things to deal with, and heads inside for his meeting with Cersei. He spins the situation in the North to his advantage (as is his superpower), telling Cersei that Ramsey Bolton is about to wed Sansa Stark (leaving out his own role in the matter), and that Stannis Baratheon is marching down to Winterfell to battle the Bolton army, leaving whichever army emerges victorious ready for a new army to easily overtake them. Littlefinger volunteers his troops from the Eyrie to do just that, but Cersei is wary, and asks what Baelish wants in return. As he clearly cannot say “Sansa Stark,” Littlefinger does the next best thing, asking Cersei to make him Warden of the North should he win. Cersei agrees, and we are left to marvel at the schemes Littlefingers manages to pull off.
Which is not to say Cersei is a slouch either in the scheming department. She attends the inquisition into the Ser Loras matter alongside Tommen, Margaery and her grandmother, watching as Ser Loras deny all claims of homosexuality (including his time with Renly Baratheon), which is what Cersei claimed was all that was needed for Ser Loras to walk free. But then the High Sparrow calls Margaery to testify, and she loyally claims she has never seen her brother involved in any of the elicit activities mentioned, which we all know is a lie, including Cersei. Right before everyone is dismissed, the High Sparrow calls one last witness, and we realize the mistake Margaery and her brother have made. The faith brings out Olyvar, Loras’s latest sexual partner, who confirms Ser Loras’s sexuality, and states that Margaery was well aware, even having walked in on them once. The High Sparrow says perjury is just as high a crime, and has Margaery arrested as well. Margaery screams for Tommen to do something, but the youth is too caught up in events, too cowardly to stand against the faith militant, and Margaery is led away without incident, leaving the Queen of Thornes to angrily glare at Cersei, aware of how well she has managed to trap her grandchildren.
In Dorne, we see Myrcella and Prince Trystane Martell walk through the Water Gardens, clearly in love, an oddity for an arranged couple in ‘Game of Thrones.’ They are met by Jaime and Bronn, disguised as Dornish guards, who claim to be there to rescue the princess, much to the confusion of Myrcella. At that moment, the Sand Snakes arrive, ready to kill Myrcella, who should by now realize what her “uncle” is saving her from. Bronn and Jaime engage the teenage assassins (Bronn has a great line where he sees them and utters “oh for f#%k’s sake”) and I cannot be the only one who saw the whip and the crazy set-up, and wished Bronn had a gun (a la ‘Indiana Jones’) that he could simply end the fight with. The duel comes to a standstill when the real Dornish guards arrive, arresting all the intruders.
Finally, in Winterfell, Sansa is visited by Miranda, who says Ramsey sent her to draw a bath for his bride-to-be, as it is their wedding day. As Miranda washes Sansa, cleaning her hair in much the same manner as Arya was doing to the dead bodies earlier in the episode (our first visual hints of how bad things are about to get for Sansa), Miranda attempts to scare Sansa with tales of Ramsey’s previous lovers and how he abused them. Sansa though, is getting too old to be bullied, and asks Miranda how long she has been in love with Ramsey, and explains that “I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home and you can’t frighten me.” She then orders Miranda to leave, and finishes her bath alone. Hurray for Sansa for growing a back-bone, as she’s going to need that strength to survive her next ordeal. We see the wedding ceremony in the snow filled Godswood, where Theon escorts (though she doesn’t allow him to touch her) Sansa to Ramsey, “giving her away.” Sansa and Ramsey perform the ritual, and are now married, finally retiring back to Ramsey’s quarters, being led inside by Theon. As Theon turns to leave, Ramsey orders him to stay and watch. He confirms with Sansa that she is a virgin, and then tells her to take off her clothes. He comments to Theon “You’ve known Sansa since she was girl. Now watch her become a woman.” The camera cuts to Theon’s horrified face, with tears streaming down as we hear Sansa crying. While we hope that Reek will finally rebel against his master and become Theon once more, at the very least to save Sansa who’s family he betrayed and helped destroy, Theon/ Reek is still the same coward he always was, and does nothing. Cut to black, end of episode.
GAME OF THEORIES:
– Cersei beware, you’ve proven that no one is above the laws of the Faith Militant, and with everyone guessing as to incestuous nature of your children’s birth, you might be setting the stage for your own arrest…
– Even if Theon was too cowardly to save Sansa from Ramsey tonight, I do think he will come around eventually.
– Can Arya have the power to change faces even if she doesn’t fully commit to the Faceless Men?
Solid episode, even with the bleak ending, and I feel the season is finally gaining some momentum, as well as setting up Ramsey (even more so) to be the villain we all want to see get a horrible death (I’m personally hoping Sansa kills him herself, though I’d be ok if she called in Brienne to do it). Here’s looking forward to next week!