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Wiki of Westeros

"High Sparrow"[3] is the third episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. It is the forty-third episode of the series overall. It premiered on April 26, 2015 on HBO. It was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by Mark Mylod.


Cersei does justice; Arya see[sic] the Many-Faced God; Tyrion walks the Long Bridge of Volantis.[5]


In King's Landing[]


Tommen and Margaery are wed.

As Cersei Lannister passes a large crowd on her way to the Great Sept of Baelor, she is increasingly annoyed as people cheer on Margaery, completely ignoring her. Tommen Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell are wed, much to the dismay of Cersei. That night, they consummate their marriage. They are elated and discuss their future together. Tommen thinks that his mother is unhappy in King's Landing. Seeing an opportunity, Margaery manipulates Tommen into thinking that as long as Cersei stays in King’s Landing, she will continue to treat him like a child, watching over him. The next morning, Tommen and Cersei are out for a walk. Tommen tells his mother that he thinks she should return to Casterly Rock if it will make her happy, since she used to talk so fondly of it, but Cersei declines. Deducing that this is Margaery’s doing, Cersei pays her a visit, to find Margaery busy gloating about her “exhausting” night with the King. Greeting her mother-in-law, Margaery is now more confident than ever and subtly rubs her queenship in Cersei’s face. Seeing herself losing, Cersei walks away.

In Littlefinger's brothel, the Sparrows attack the High Septon as he engages the services of prostitutes dressed as the Seven. He is forced to walk naked through the streets while the Sparrows proclaim him a sinner. Angered by the humiliation, he wants the Small Council to arrest the Sparrows and execute their leader, the High Sparrow. Although unsympathetic, Cersei decides to meet with the High Sparrow, who turns out to be a humble man serving food to the poor, barefoot. The High Sparrow makes no efforts to hide the actions of the other Sparrows. Cersei tells him that he will not be arrested or executed, and that the High Septon has been imprisoned instead, which surprises the High Sparrow. Returning to the Red Keep, Cersei has Qyburn send a message to Petyr Baelish. As Qyburn writes, behind him, the body of Gregor Clegane begins shaking under the sheet, but Qyburn shushes him calmly.

In the North[]

While being served lunch by Reek, Roose Bolton scolds Ramsay on his recent flaying of Lord Cerwyn and his family on what was supposed to be a routine tax collection. Ramsay points out that he eventually got the taxes, but Roose reminds his son that terror cannot sustain their hold on the North and that they are outnumbered if the other houses rise up in rebellion. With Tywin Lannister's death, the pact between the Lannisters and the Boltons is effectively dead. Roose then declares that the best way to cement Bolton control of the North is through marriage.

Sansa Stark is horrified to see Moat Cailin. There is only one reason Baelish could be taking her there - he means to return her to Winterfell, straight into the arms of the Boltons. Recalling their earlier discussion of a marriage proposal, Sansa realizes that the proposal is not for him, but for her, and furiously declares that she would rather die than marry Roose Bolton. Littlefinger corrects her and clarifies that she will be marrying Ramsay Bolton, then calms her down by convincing her that nobody will look for her there, and suggests that this is her best opportunity for revenge. Sansa reluctantly agrees.

From afar, Brienne and Podrick witness Petyr and Sansa approach Moat Cailin. Realizing that following them through the castle would be futile, she decides to bypass Moat Cailin by going around. Although Podrick is worried about losing sight of them, Brienne tells him that they don't need to follow them so closely because she knows where they are going.

Making camp, Brienne learns how Podrick became Tyrion's squire. Podrick praises Brienne's martial prowess and is quite proud to be her squire, despite her behavior towards him. Brienne apologizes for her rude behavior towards Podrick and offers to teach him how to wield a sword and ride a horse properly. Podrick then questions Brienne about her past with Renly. She reveals that as a young girl, her father held a ball and invited dozens of young lords in order to find a good match for her. Brienne was captivated by all the attention she was getting, but her happiness turned to embarrassment when Brienne realized they were all just toying with her. Before she could run away, Renly took Brienne into his arms and told her that those "nasty little shits aren't worth crying over" and danced with her.

Brienne also acknowledges that Renly was only interested in men, but it didn't stop her from loving him. She says that there is nothing more hateful than failing to protect the ones you love, and intends to avenge Renly by killing Stannis, whom she believes played a role in Renly's murder due to Melisandre's shadow resembling Stannis.

House Bolton Season 5 promo pic

The Boltons greet Sansa and Baelish

At Winterfell itself, the Boltons and their households greet Sansa and Littlefinger. After a tense moment, Sansa graciously accepts Roose's welcome, putting on an air of politeness that protected her in King's Landing, while from afar, Ramsay's bedwarmer and secret lover, Myranda, observes with jealousy and anger. Sansa is later shown to her old room, seemingly foreign to her after all this time. To her surprise, the servant attending her welcomes her back and quietly assures her that, "the North remembers." Later, as Sansa explores the castle, Reek hides his face from her, but seems to have difficulty forcing himself not to call out to her.

Elsewhere in the castle, Baelish subtly warns Ramsay against inflicting any harm on Sansa, and discusses the situation with Roose, who is suspicious of Littlefinger's motives in betraying the Lannisters. Baelish points out that Tywin is dead, Jaime is one-handed and politically useless, and that Cersei is about to be forced into the background by Margaery, who is quite fond of Sansa. Bolton, nevertheless, demands to read any messages Littlefinger might send off back to the Capital.

At the Wall[]

King Stannis Baratheon tries unsuccessfully to convince the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow, to accept his offer of legitimization. Jon declines Stannis's offer and reiterates that his place is with the Night's Watch. Jon also reiterates the Night's Watch's neutrality in the affairs of the Seven Kingdoms and asks Stannis when he plans to leave; Castle Black's stores are insufficient to feed the Night's Watch, Stannis's army, and the wildling prisoners indefinitely. Stannis confirms that his army will leave soon enough to confront the Boltons at Winterfell before the winter snows trap them at the Wall. He leaves the fate of the wildling prisoners in Jon's hands, allowing Jon to decide whether to execute them or to see if Tormund is more willing to negotiate than Mance. When Stannis suggests appointing Alliser Thorne as the new commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Jon retorts that "it is better to have your enemies close by than far away." As Davos prepares to leave with his liege, he invites Jon to ponder on the second-to-last stanza on the Night's Watch oath: "I am the shield that guards the realms of men." He also assures Jon that Stannis's leadership advice is offered because the king has taken a liking to him.

Later, at the mess hall, Jon asks Sam about Maester Aemon and it is learned his health is waning and entrusts his care in Sam's hands. Jon begins assigning roles to members of the Watch. He assigns one black brother to oversee the digging of a new latrine pit to accommodate the wildling prisoners; he jokes that it 'seems like a good job for a ginger,' which the brother takes with a grin and laughs with the others. Snow also shows respect to Ser Alliser Thorne by appointing him as the new First Ranger, commending his experience. Finally, Lord Commander Snow assigns Janos Slynt with the task of restoring and manning the abandoned castle Greyguard. Slynt refuses Jon not once, but three times. Even after it's clarified to be an order, not an offer, and being warned that he is disobeying a direct order, he flippantly tells Jon that he can take his order and 'shove it up his bastard arse.' Having been publicly disobeyed and insulted by him, the Lord Commander orders Janos taken outside, and calls for Olly to fetch him his sword. Ser Alliser briefly hesitates but then moves out of the way to let Dolorous Edd and others grab Slynt, who angrily protests that he has important friends at court and dismisses the matter as a scare tactic.

Small justice for Ned

Small justice for Ned Stark.

Jon has Janos dragged out into the courtyard where, obedient to the laws of his father Eddard Stark - that the man who passes the sentence must swing the sword - he prepares to publicly behead him for treason. Slynt's bluster is lost, and the man who once took a baby girl from her mother's arms and killed her starts crying and begging for mercy, saying he will do whatever Jon asks and that he has always been afraid. Jon hesitates for a moment, but then fixes his nerve and executes the cowardly former Commander of the City Watch with a single swing of Longclaw - incidentally exacting small justice on one of the men who betrayed his own father to his death and murdered Robert Baratheon's children. From across the courtyard, Stannis Baratheon sees Jon behead Janos for refusing his orders, and slightly nods in approval.

In Braavos[]


Arya is accosted by The Waif

In Braavos, Arya Stark has been put to work cleaning the main sanctuary of the House of Black and White. She watches as Jaqen H'ghar assists a supplicant in drinking from the temple's well. She protests to Jaqen that she wants to learn, but he brushes off her discontent. Later on, Arya is accosted in her room by the Waif, who repeatedly asks her who she is, hitting her when she gives the expected response of "no one." Jaqen eventually arrives and demands to know what is going on, as the Waif has overstepped her bounds. He does, however, point out that Arya cannot be 'no one', as she is wearing Arya Stark's clothes, is in possession of silver stolen by Arya Stark, and was about to attack the Waif using Arya Stark's sword. Realizing his point, Arya binds her old clothing to a rock and tosses it into the lagoon along with the stolen silver. She cannot bring herself to discard Needle so easily, and instead hides it within a seawall nearby. Back at the House, Jaqen allows Arya to progress to an inner chamber where she is to assist the Waif in stripping and washing corpses. The Waif is silent when Arya asks what happens to the bodies after they are cleaned.

In Volantis[]

Volantis-Red Priestess

The red priestess

Meanwhile, further south in the Free Cities, Tyrion Lannister and Varys finally arrive at Volantis. Sick of the carriage they've been riding in, Tyrion again dismisses the dangers and insists they leave to explore. The pair move through the Long Bridge's markets, where Varys explains the meaning of the various tattoos Volantene slaves must sport. Varys nearly loses Tyrion, but finds him observing the sermon of a red priestess. Tyrion says he is curious, since Thoros of Myr was the only red priest in King's Landing. The red priestess evangelizes in High Valyrian, telling the tale of how she was once a slave herself. Like another red priestess, she preaches of a prophesied savior, a Dragon Queen. Tyrion's interest in the scene wanes when the Priestess halts in her sermon and stares directly into his eyes.

Tyrion next leads Varys to a brothel. Catching sight of a prostitute dressed as Daenerys, Varys tells Tyrion that a woman who inspires both sermons and whores is probably worth meeting. Tyrion woos a dark-haired prostitute, but when she finally agrees to service him, he finds that he can't bring himself to patronize her. He then goes to urinate off the side of the bridge, with Varys losing sight of him. As Tyrion finishes, he is abducted by Jorah Mormont, who declares that he is taking him to "the queen."


Main page: High Sparrow (episode)/Appearances





Guest starring[]




Margaery Tyrell: "Can we bring you anything to eat or drink? I wish we had some wine for you - it's a bit early in the day for us."

Petyr Baelish: "You've been running all your life. Terrible things have happened to your family, and you weep. You sit alone in a darkened room, mourning their fates. You've been a bystander to tragedy, from the day they executed your father. There's no justice in the world, not unless we make it. You loved your family...avenge them."

Brienne of Tarth: "Nothing's more hateful than failing to protect the one you love."

Varys: "Someone who inspires priests and whores is worth taking seriously."

Jon Snow: "I heard it was best to keep your enemies close."

Stannis Baratheon: "Whoever said that didn't have many enemies."

Roose Bolton: "I have something important to tell you. Stop eating and listen. We don't have enough men to hold the North if the other Houses rise up against us. Do you understand that?"

Ramsay Bolton: "Our pact with the Lannisters protects..."
Roose: "I had a pact with Tywin Lannister, and Tywin Lannister is dead. The remaining Lannisters are a thousand miles away, dealing with that fact. They've never once, in the history of the Seven Kingdoms, sent their army this far North. If you think they will for us, you're a fool. We've become a Great House, by entering into alliance with other Houses and parlaying those alliances into greater power. The best way to forge a lasting alliance, isn't by peeling a man's skin off. The best way is marriage. Now that you're a Bolton by Royal decree, it's high time you married a suitable bride, and as it happens, I've found the perfect girl to solidify our hold on the North."

Tyrion Lannister: (growing restless) "I have to get out of this wheelhouse."

Varys: "Volantis is a large city."
Tyrion: "I have to get out of this wheelhouse."
Varys: "The likelihood of you being spotted here increases a hundredfold."
Tyrion: "Mmm. I have to get out of this wheelhouse."
Varys: (sighs) "I'm not sure how many new ways I can find of saying this..."
Tyrion: "I will not be of any use to Daenerys Targaryen if I lose my mind. I can't remember the last face I saw that wasn't yours.
Varys: "It's a perfectly good face."
Tyrion: "I am losing my mind..."

Brothel guard: "It's good luck to rub a dwarf's head."

Tyrion: "It's even better luck to suck a dwarf's cock."

Janos Slynt: "I was charged with the defense of King's Landing when you were soiling your swaddling clothes. Keep your ruin."

Jon: "You mistake me, my Lord. That was a command, not an offer. Pack your arms and armor, say your farewells, and ride for Greyguard."

Janos: "I will not go meekly off to freeze and die. Give it to one of the fools who cast a stone for you! I will not have it! Do you hear me, boy?! I will not have it!"
Jon: "Are you refusing to obey my order?"
Janos: "You can stick your order up your bastard arse!"
Jon: "Take Lord Janos outside. Olly, bring me my sword."

Jon: "If you have any last words, my lord, now's the time."

Janos: "I was wrong! You're the Lord Commander! We all serve you! I'm sorry! Not only for this, for all I've done and said! I was wrong! My lord, please, mercy! Mercy! I'll go, I will! Please.......I'm afraid........I've always been afraid......."

Behind the scenes[]


  • The episode title is a reference to the High Sparrow, a new character introduced this season.
  • Daenerys Targaryen and Meereen do not appear in this episode (though Tyrion and Varys do discuss her). Dorne and House Martell do not appear in this episode - nor do Jaime Lannister and Ser Bronn, currently en route to Dorne. House Greyjoy does not appear in this episode.
  • Margaery wearing Cersei style clothes in Season 5

    Margaery suddenly shifts to dressing in Cersei's style - taunting that she is replacing Cersei in every way.

    Now that she is Tommen's queen, Margaery has suddenly shifted to start dressing in the same style as Cersei does - seemingly a non-verbal threat that she is starting to replace Cersei in every way. See "Costumes/Major characters - Cersei Lannister" and "Costumes/Major characters - Margaery Tyrell".
  • A continuity error occurs in the brothel scene: in the first shot the prostitute dressed like the Smith has the sleeves of her tunic rolled down exposing her breasts, but when the camera shifts angles, her top suddenly switches to being fully on and covering her.
  • Samantha Bentley, the actress who plays the prostitute costumed as "the Stranger" in the Seven roleplay with the High Septon in King's Landing (with her hair down over her face) also plays the prostitute wearing a Daenerys Targaryen costume in Volantis. She also played a third prostitute last season, a prostitute in a bathhouse in Braavos. Costume designer Michele Clapton explained how the idea to have a prostitute in a Volantis brothel cosplaying as Daenerys, wearing an assless-cutout imitation of Daenerys's costume: she came up with the design as a joke, a good laugh was had by all, and then they decided it was so funny that they should put the joke costume into the actual TV show. As Clapton said:
"I wanted to shock [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], because they always ask me to do outrageous things. I just thought, 'Fine, I'm going to do a costume with no ass! And they were like, 'What were you thinking, Clapton?'" - but ultimately the costume made it into the show, and - "The whole essence of Dany is there...[there] are always circles cut in and bits missing in her dress, so I thought it would be really funny. Some people said, 'Well, how would they know what she looked like?' - She's this iconic woman so of course people talk and gossip and know what people look like! It was meant to be amusing."[6]
  • Clapton's original, sarcastic sketch for the prostitute's outfit actually had cutouts in both the back and the front, exposing her genitals. Benioff and Weiss thought that would be a little too much for the joke, however, which is why the final version only has the back cut out.[7]
  • At the Small Council, Pycelle briefly remarks that they shouldn't scold the High Septon for visiting a brothel, because a man's private affairs should be kept private. As seen back in Seasons 1 and 2, Pycelle himself enjoys spending time with prostitutes - despite the fact that just like a septon, as a maester he has taken a vow of celibacy. Cersei even shoots him a sidelong glance after he says this, apparently aware of his activities. Pycelle, however, was at least discreet enough to have prostitutes smuggled in to him, instead of brazenly visiting a brothel in the city.
  • This episode marks the first time that Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) has had a costume change since the end of Season 1. For over three seasons she has been wearing the same nondescript clothes of a commoner or pretending to be a boy. Maisie said in interviews that finally getting a costume change, and even having a big scene in which she symbolically throws her old costume away, was very cathartic.
  • In the scene where Arya is belittled for still wearing the same clothes she arrived in is a bit hypocritical. After not being allowed entrance when she first arrived, it seemed as though Arya was sought out and brought back to the House of Black and White. Since she was allowed in as a would-be trainee to become "No One", she should have been offered a change of clothes. The man known as Jaqen had met Arya years before and saw the clothes she wore. It seems he would have remembered that and the least he could have done was offered her a change of clothes similar to what the Waif wears. She was about to start a new way of life, in a new land with people she barely knew. Arya shouldn't have been expected to know that she should discard the only clothes she had to wear for something different to wear to prove she was ready for the training it would require to become "No One". It's hard to imagine that she would have been offered different clothes to wear and turned them down.
  • The Faceless Men are part-assassins' guild, part-mystical religious order. They worship "The Many-Faced God" - the God of Death. It is a syncretic religion that believes that there is only one god, "Death," who has revealed Himself to different cultures using many different faces, but they are all fundamentally the same. Every major religion has some aspect that worships or venerates death: polytheistic religions have a god with dominion over death ("The Stranger" of the Seven), and monotheistic religions have a god who still has powers over death. The Faceless Men believe that all of these death-gods were just one god who revealed himself in different ways to different peoples.
  • Volantis 5x03 (1)

    Volantis, largest of the Free Cities, with its famous Long Bridge across the Rhoyne River.

    This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of Volantis, making it the third of the Free Cities to appear on-screen after Pentos and Braavos. Volantis was the first of the Free Cities, founded as colonies by the Valyrian Freehold. Volantis is by far the most populous, though it also has disproportionately the largest slave population compared to any of the other Free Cities.
    • Volantis and Braavos are complete opposites: Volantis was the first colony built by the dragonlords of Valyria, while Braavos was actually founded by escaped slaves fleeing from the Valyrians (making it unique among the Free Cities, as the others were all Valyrian colonies). Braavos is the northernmost of the Free Cities, while Volantis is the southernmost. Braavos is a city of canals whose strength is at sea, while Volantis's vast population makes its greatest strength on land. Volantis and Braavos are bitter rivals: in the generations right after the Doom of Valyria, Volantis tried to rebuild the empire by conquering the other Free Cities in a series of conflicts known as the Century of Blood - but Volantis was eventually defeated by an alliance of the other Free Cities, and over time its position as the most powerful Free City was taken by Braavos, although Volantis is still one of the more formidable Free Cities.
    • The reason that Tyrion is going to take a ship from Volantis to Meereen instead of going by land is explained more fully in the novels: the overland route is widely considered to be unsafe because it passes through the ruins of the Valyrian peninsula, and it is little used. The "Demon Road" between the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay passes through the city Mantarys, and is considered extremely perilous (it is not specified in the novel exactly what kind of danger lurks there). Therefore most west-east travel is regularly done by ship, making a long voyage around the shattered Valyrian peninsula - making sure to put a large distance between their sea route and the smoking ruins of Old Valyria, still burning on the horizon. Ships making the journey therefore spend a long time at sea without taking on new provisions from the coast, and because Volantis is the closest of the Free Cities to Slaver's Bay, any ships that are going to make the voyage east launch from Volantis, to make the journey as short as possible with as many provisions as they can carry. Incidentally, this is also one of the reasons that Volantis has such a large slave population - it is the main hub for slave-traders traveling west from Slaver's Bay itself, who then sell slaves in Volantis's markets to slave-masters from the other Free Cities.
    • The wide shots of the Long Bridge of Volantis were filmed at the famous Roman Bridge of Cordoba, Spain - which then had the multiple stories of buildings digitally added on top of the real bridge.
    • Talisa Maegyr was from Volantis, and back in Season 2 she mentioned that slaves in the city are given facial tattoos to indicate their assigned profession. Varys gives a quick rundown of some of the tattoos as he and Tyrion pass.
    • The hands of dead criminals are hung on display along the Long Bridge in Volantis, with signs under them stating their crimes, such as "Marauder", "Betrayer", etc. which is a detail from the novels. One of the street signs visible in the episode reads "Qringaomio", which was confirmed to mean "evildoer" in High Valyrian. A few other signs are visible on-screen written in various foreign-looking scripts. The show's linguist David J. Peterson, however, confirmed that they're not Valyrian script or even a real writing system, just "gobbledygook" that the art department came up with which has no actual meaning. In-universe they might be scripts from other far-away lands, or even purely decorative (Peterson said they weren't worth scrutinizing).[8]
  • There were so many new sets in Season 5 that the production team physically didn't have the time or resources to develop new sets and costumes for Volantis (particularly because it only appears in one episode). The production team got around this by artfully re-using sets and props from other parts of the TV series. The main set was previously used for Moat Cailin and Harrenhal, while every single door, window, and shutter was re-used from something else. The interior of the brothel that Tyrion enters is simply a re-use of the Mole's Town brothel seen in Season 4. The costumes worn by the background extras are a mixture of outfits from Meereen and the Vale of Arryn, with a few alterations to make them look slightly different.[9]
  • The red priestess of the Lord of Light that Tyrion and Varys see preaching to a crowd of slaves is wearing a necklace with an elongated hexagon decoration. This hexagon design is the motif developed for the costumes for characters from Asshai in the TV series. Melisandre and Quaithe also have clothing with this hexagon pattern, to indicate their shared origin. See "Costumes/Essos - Asshai".
    • While many different religions are worshiped in the Free Cities, the Lord of Light religion is by far the largest religion in Volantis.
    • The red priestess in Volantis is the first East Asian actor to appear with speaking lines in the TV series. There are people in the known world of the novels who are ethnically East Asian in appearance, but they live in the far east of Essos, far east of Qarth and the Dothraki Sea, in the great empire of Yi Ti (the narrative's analogue to ancient China). Through the slave trade (and this priestess says she was a slave), sometimes Yi Tish slaves do end up in other lands - though this priestess may have been sent to Volantis much as Melisandre (also a former slave) was sent to Westeros.
    • Tyrion recalls that Thoros of Myr was the only red priest in King's Landing for years: he was sent as a missionary but it didn't really work out, so instead he mostly hung around King Robert's court as one of his drinking buddies and tournament companions. Thoros was introduced and last appeared back in Season 3.
    • Notice that when Tyrion and Varys stop to listen to the red priestess's sermon, Tyrion clearly understands what she is saying, and makes sarcastic commentary about her statements - indicating that Tyrion speaks High Valyrian. Similar to Latin in the real-life Middle Ages, High Valyrian is the language of a once-mighty empire, and after its fall it became the language of well-educated people across much of the world. Many well-educated lords in Westeros are given lessons in High Valyrian as they grow up, though their skill with it varies with how much they apply themselves to it (i.e., a lord like Robert Baratheon would ignore such lessons and devote more time to sparring practice). In the novels, Arya Stark was given some basic lessons in High Valyrian by Maester Luwin, though not enough to really understand it yet. Samwell Tarly knows High Valyrian reasonably well (as a boy who loved books more than fighting), but modestly says that he knows relatively little. Tyrion, however, is very intelligent, and knows High Valyrian on a near-fluent level.
  • Tyrion explains that "Stone Men" is what people infected with Greyscale are often called. Greyscale is the disease that Shireen Baratheon had that marred her face - though she was cured of the disease and no longer has it.
  • Back in Season 2, Brienne of Tarth had dismissed Jaime Lannister's statement that Renly Baratheon was homosexual as lies. In this episode, she outright states that Renly was interested in men. It isn't clear if she always knew but simply refused to admit it to Jaime back then, or if she was originally in denial but Jaime's blunt statement about it made her finally accept the truth. Either way, Brienne should have known that any fantasies she had about being with Renly were unrealistic after he married Margaery Tyrell.
    • The backstory that Podrick gives now about Ser Lorimer stealing a ham and sharing it with him indeed happened in the first novel, before the battle on the Green Fork, but this was not included in Season 1 of the TV series because Podrick was not introduced until the beginning of Season 2. Therefore Podrick finally explains in this episode what he was doing "off screen" during Season 1.
    • Similarly, the backstory that Brienne gives in this episode about herself and how she came into Renly's service were given when she first appeared in the second novel, but were not included in Season 2 due to time constraints.
    • Brienne specifically says that she was her father's only "living child." In the novels, Brienne did have two younger sisters but they both died in the cradle. She also had an older brother named Galladon, but he drowned when she was eight years old, leaving her as Selwyn's only surviving child and heir.
  • Brienne says that she can't make Podrick a knight, though she can train him to fight. Only a knight can dub another man with the rank and status of Knighthood, but Brienne isn't a knight, because women cannot be knights. She can still teach him to fight as well as a knight, though.
  • The first time on the show that the phrase "The North Remembers" is said.
  • Kit Harington (Jon Snow) explained in the In-Episode Guide that Jon's initial hesitation to behead Janos Slynt is meant to be a direct parallel to when Qhorin wanted him to behead Ygritte back in Season 2. Jon couldn't execute Ygritte then because he felt it was dishonorable to kill an unarmed opponent in cold blood (particularly in that situation because he didn't think letting her go would endanger the scouting party). Now, as a sign of Jon's growth and how he must harden himself to command, he overcomes his hesitation and is able to execute Janos, even though Janos is currently unarmed and pleading for mercy, as Jon knows that if Janos lives, he will continue to subvert and damage his command. Harington also said that he based much of how he played the scene on how Richard Madden played the scene in Season 3's "Kissed by Fire" when Robb Stark executes Rickard Karstark: in both cases, it was something that Jon and Robb realized they had to do to maintain control and punish subordinates who had defied them, but at the same time they were both clearly dismayed by what they were doing.[10]
    • This is in contrast with the Lannisters and Boltons, who will have subordinates executed at slight provocation and feel no guilt about it. Contrast with how in this same episode, Ramsay flippantly punished Lord Cerwyn for refusing his orders by flaying him alive - but subsequently, Ramsay is casually feasting and shows no remorse, and is even wryly proud that his actions made the new Lord Cerwyn submit to him.
    • Harington said that he wasn't sure if Jon Snow was aware just how personally involved Janos Slynt was in betraying his father Eddard Stark at the end of Season 1 (though he is aware from Janos's frequent boasts that he is an ally of the Lannisters). In the novels, this scene is told from Jon's inner POV: when Jon gives Slynt the order for the first time at his quarters, he muses, "There is blood between us. This man helped slay my father and did his best to have me killed as well" - hence Jon heard from someone about Slynt's part in Eddard's death, although it is not mentioned by whom and when in the previous novels. Jon suppresses his personal feelings, however, accepting the fact that when a man joins the Watch, his past deeds are erased clean, no matter what crimes he committed. Jon decides to execute Slynt not out of revenge but because Janos defied his orders - both in private and in public, and very obnoxiously and disrespectfully - because if one man publicly refuses his orders he won't be able to command any of the others, and the punishment for treason is officially death. Even so, just before the beheading, as Janos pleads for mercy Jon in his inner thought monologue notes that it is too late for that: he could have executed him for one refusal of his orders, and Jon was generous to give him three chances before asking for his sword - which as Jon thinks to himself, is more chances than Janos gave his father.
    • Harington said that he was somewhat disturbed to behead someone on-screen like this, given the current wave of violence in the Middle-east involving frequent beheadings, even though the third novel in which Jon beheads Janos was published years ago, back in 2000, and the series had already established since the first episode that beheading was a common form of execution used in Westeros. Even so, he said he thought it would have been wrong and detracted from the integrity of the drama if the episode avoided it.[11]
    • As Janos is being dragged out to the chopping block, he insists that if Jon is trying to scare him, he has "powerful friends" in the capital. Back at the beginning of Season 2 (in "The Night Lands") when Tyrion had Janos exiled to the Wall, he similarly declared that he had "powerful friends" in the capital even as the guards were dragging him off. Tyrion pointed out then that if he meant how Cersei rewarded him with a lordship for betraying Eddard Stark, he was a fool to think that Cersei considered him a "friend" - and indeed, while Cersei was annoyed at Tyrion, Janos wasn't worth contradicting the Hand of the King's orders over. If Janos really had "powerful friends" in the capital he wouldn't have ended up at the Wall in the first place.
    • Slynt's death has been foreshadowed in the first novel, in a way that the TV show couldn't easily do: in Sansa's inner thought monologue, she remembers how Janos threw her father down on his knees for Ser Ilyn to behead, and hatefully wishes that if this were like one of her romantic songs, some "hero" would come along to throw Slynt down on his knees and behead him in punishment for his betrayal. Then a voice inside her head reminds her the bitter lesson she has learned shortly before: this is Westeros, where there are no heroes, and evil people like Joffrey, Janos, and Cersei always triumph. It takes four novels, but eventually the narrative starts proving wrong her thoughts from that moment, as the Lannisters unravel. The TV series didn't include this because Sansa couldn't say it out loud while Joffrey's prisoner.
  • In the Winterfell scenes, look closely and it can be seen that the Boltons smashed all of the Stark direwolf statues and frescoes in the castle. As with how Daenerys's forces in Meereen this season have smashed the faces of all the harpy statues (symbol of the former slave-masters), the Boltons couldn't physically remove all of the direwolf statues - though in this case it wasn't so much because they were load-bearing but because they were busy making basic repairs to the castle and didn't have time for the extra work. Still, the Boltons make a quick pass through the castle smashing out the faces of all the direwolf stonework.
  • Ramsay Bolton's initial scene with his father is longer in the novels and gives some added details. Notice that Ramsay is feasting on heaping platters of meat - even though other characters have been warning that "winter is coming" very soon now. In this episode itself, Jon Snow points out that the Night's Watch can't feed Stannis Baratheon's army at the Wall indefinitely without depleting their own food stores for the long winter ahead. Stannis also realizes this, and says he wants to march towards Winterfell within two weeks, to get there before winter snows trap him at the Wall. In the novels, as Ramsay makes his way back North, he stops at Barrowton and commands the local lord of House Stout (bannermen of House Dustin) to hold a feast for him. Lord Stout pleads with Ramsay that they have already slaughtered all of their livestock in anticipation of the coming winter, except for their small breeding stock: if Ramsay forces him to slaughter their remaining breeding stock, he will have no way of rebuilding his herds afterwards, meaning that a year from now he won't be able to supply himself or Ramsay with new livestock to eat. Ramsay forces him to slaughter his breeding stock anyway to provide a feast, then greedily eats it. This moment epitomizes a major point about Ramsay: he gives absolutely no thought to the future consequences of his actions, and never plans for tomorrow. Similarly, Ramsay tortured Lord Cerwyn to death for refusing him - publicly flaying him alive along with his wife and brother - relying on the short-term gain that this would terrify the other Cerwyns into submission. As Roose angrily points out, this was detrimental in the long-term, because it angered the Cerwyns against him. Ramsay also flayed his enemies alive at the sack of Winterfell and siege of Moat Cailin, even though they had surrendered in good faith and he had promised them safe passage - not really caring that if he breaks his word often enough, no one will ever trust him again in the future.
  • It is the first episode which is adapted (rather loosely though) from a sample chapter of the unpublished sixth novel "The Winds of Winter".

Tommen's age in the TV continuity[]

  • Tommen Baratheon is actually 7 years old at the beginning of the novels, and only 9 years old at this point in the narrative, when he marries Margaery - the same age as Bran Stark. Most child characters such as Arya or Sansa were aged up by 2 years in the TV continuity, though others were not: Bran states that he is 10 years old in Season 1, and Joffrey is four years older than his book counterpart.
  • Back in Season 1, Loras stated on-screen that Tommen is only eight years old. Four years pass by Season 5, which by this original number would make him only 12 on his wedding night - but when Tommen was recast for Season 4 with an older actor, his age was apparently retconned so that he is around 18 years old in Season 5. Other than retconning this one specific line from Season 1, however, it was indeed possible to increase Tommen's age to around 18 without violating internal story logic (Tommen can't be older than Joffrey would have been).
  • Tommen's older brother Joffrey was aged-up in the TV series by 4 years, not only 2 years, to make him 16 years old in Season 1, instead of 12 years old as in the first novel (actor Jack Gleeson was actually 18 years old in Season 1; they cast an older and more experienced actor due to the narrative weight the role needed to carry). Four years have passed in-universe since Season 1, meaning Joffrey would have been around 20 years old this season.
  • Tommen is the third of Cersei's children, meaning she had to have two nine month long pregnancies after giving birth to Joffrey - one for Myrcella, then one for Tommen. Therefore, Tommen can be physically no more than 18 years old in Season 5, without the TV series contradicting its own internal chronology.
  • Tommen was originally played by Callum Wharry in Seasons 1 and 2, an actor around the same age as Bran's actor, in the range of 9 to 10 years old. However, the role of Tommen was recast in Season 4 with Dean-Charles Chapman, who was about three years older than then previous actor. Chapman turned 17 during filming on Season 5, but that doesn't necessarily reflect the age of the character he is portraying (within a year or so). Therefore when the role was recast with the older Chapman playing Tommen, the character's age was increased to around 17-18 years old. By placing his birth as early as physically possible, Tommen's age could indeed be increased to about 18 in Season 5 without outright contradicting the established chronology. It is to be retroactively understood that he was closer to 14 years old back in Season 1, as if the older actor Chapman had been playing him at the time (though Tommen did not appear very prominently in the first two seasons anyway - to the point that he did not have a single speaking line in Season 1).
  • There have been a few instances in which a child from the books was made a young adult in the TV series: Missandei is only 10 years old in the novels, and Podrick Payne is roughly the same age as Sansa Stark, making him only about 13 years old during the third novel (meaning he wasn't old enough to have sex with prostitutes as his TV counterpart did in Season 3).
  • The legal age of adulthood in Westeros is 16 - in the novels, though Samwell Tarly's comments in Season 1 implied that in the TV version it was changed to 18. Also consider that Robb Stark was around 16-18 years old in Season 1 (14 in the novels), but married Talisa at the end of Season 2 when he was himself also only around 17-19 (16 in the novels). In the TV version, Tommen might actually be a few months older at this point than Robb Stark was when he married Talisa.
  • As a result of all of this, the nine-year-old Tommen in the books has not yet consummated his marriage to Margaery Tyrell - though as with when Podrick had sex in Season 3, the Tommen in the TV continuity is simply older than his book counterpart.
  • In a subsequent interview with, Dean-Charles Chapman revealed that the writers never told him how old Tommen is, and he assumed he was still 12 years old, based on that Tommen was said to be eight-years-old four years prior in Season 1. He even tries to play him younger by utilizing a higher pitched voice than his normal speaking voice. Chapman said: "It's kind of hard to get in the mind of a 12-year-old, because I can't even remember being 12. And Tommen is so young, he's like a baby." The same interview, however, postulated that the character might have been aged-up when he was recast, and that Chapman assumed he is twelve-years-old because the writers did not specify how old Tommen is.[12]
  • A further point of evidence that Tommen is not 12 in Season 5, but closer to 17-18, is that he doesn't have a Regent. If Tommen was under the legal age of majority in Westeros (16 in the novels, but possibly increased to 18 in the TV continuity) he would by definition need to have a regent to rule in his name. In the novels, following the deaths in rapid succession of Joffrey and then Tywin, Cersei becomes the Queen Regent for Tommen, as she was regent for Joffrey, because both of them were underaged when they came to the throne. In contrast, during Season 5 it is repeatedly said that Cersei is only the Queen Mother, not the Queen Regent. Kevan explicitly points this out at the Small Council meeting in "The House of Black and White", when he said that Cersei is the Queen Mother, nothing more, and in this context he surely would have mentioned if she was regent again for an underaged son. A regent would have the right to appoint new Small Council members. After her wedding night, Margaery mockingly asks what title to refer to Cersei by, suggesting Queen Mother - not "Queen Regent".

Sansa Stark's storyline[]

  • Littlefinger makes no attempt in the novels to make a marriage-alliance between Sansa and Ramsay, this is a massive departure from the book narrative.
    • It also appears that this will affect Brienne's storyline: she saw that Sansa was heading back into the North past Moat Cailin and accurately deduces they must be heading to Winterfell. In the novels, Brienne never tried to find Sansa in the Eyrie, and never encountered Arya on the road there, but instead had lengthy adventures fruitlessly searching the devastated Riverlands for Sansa, and having several run-ins with the "Brave Companions" who had turned brigand - the mercenaries working for the Lannisters who cut off Jaime's sword-hand (simplified into just a particularly ruthless group of Bolton soldiers led by Locke in the TV version).
  • In the novels, Sansa remains at Littlefinger's side in the Vale, becoming his protege of sorts as he engages in various subplots to tighten his initially weak hold over the major Vale lords. Sansa has become so hardened at this point that she is willing to stand by and do nothing even as she knows Littlefinger is plotting to kill innocent Vale lords to make way for his own allies, but she has learned to play the game of politics and that she must bide her time. Eventually, at the end of the most current novels, Littlefinger explains that his plan for Sansa is indeed to enter her into a marriage alliance - to Harrold Hardyng, the closest living relative of Robin Arryn (his first cousin once removed). Unlike the sickly runt Sweetrobin, whose presence crippled the Vale during the War of the Five Kings, "Harry the Heir" is every inch a handsome and honorable young lord and warrior. Littlefinger's plan was to trick the Starks and Lannisters into fighting each other, until both sides were either dead or nearly exhausted, while keeping the Vale itself out of the war and its armies at full strength. Littlefinger explains to Sansa that since Robin's health is so poor, his death is only a matter of time, at which Harry will be the new Lord of the Vale and she will marry him. At the wedding ceremony, he plans for her to finally reveal herself as not his own bastard daughter "Alayne", but as Sansa Stark, by wearing a stunning gown emblazoned with a Stark direwolf and making an emotional plea to the honorable knights of the Vale to lead their armies to retake the North; Littlefinger does not specify against whom the Vale armies will fight, since it is premature to predict who will rule the North when his plan comes to fruition. Littlefinger does not say if he intends to "help" Robin die, but his actions strongly imply he does: he orders Maester Colemon to give Robin Sweetsleep, a drug used in small doses to treat his epileptic fits, but an overdose of it can be deadly.
  • The fact that Sansa is still married to Tyrion raises a legal issue: if she gets married again, will the second marriage be legal? In the show, Littlefinger tells the Boltons "Tyrion never consummated the marriage. By the law of the land, she's no man's wife". In the novels it is not that simple, though: Tywin tells Tyrion "Do I need to remind you that a marriage that has not been consummated can be set aside?", and Tyrion answers "By the High Septon or a Council of Faith" (A Storm of Swords, Tyrion IV) - namely a marriage is not annulled automatically on the ground of non-consummation, there has to be an official ceremony conducted by clergymen (it is unclear if both husband and wife must be present, or one is sufficient). In A Feast for Crows, Sansa discusses this problem with Littlefinger when he informs her he has made a marriage contract for her with Harrold Hardyng. Littlefinger does not mention the issue of annulment, but instead explains how he intends to bypass that legal obstacle: "The dwarf wed Ned Stark's daughter, not mine. Be that as it may. This is only a betrothal. The marriage must needs wait until Cersei is done and Sansa's safely widowed". He does not explain further how and when Cersei will be "done" and Tyrion will die.
    • Thus it is possible that in the future, Sansa can have her marriage to Ramsay annulled on the grounds that it was bigamous, because she was already technically married to Tyrion (regardless of the fact that Tyrion never consummated it), and then have her marriage to Tyrion also annulled for being unconsummated (divorce does not exist in Westeros, only annulment).
  • The Boltons' storyline also involves a wedding: to secure their claim over the North, Tywin granted them a marriage-alliance between Ramsay and the captive Arya - except that Arya was never the Lannisters' captive. Both the Lannisters and the Boltons think Arya is dead, but they plan to publicly pretend that the Lannisters captured her when Sansa was captured, and just pass off a servant girl claiming to be Arya. After all, everyone who was close to Arya, except her sister, is now dead, so who is going say the impostor isn't Arya? Jaime briefly speaks with the girl before she is sent to the north, and is certain she is not Arya. Fearing that Brienne may hear about this "Arya" and risk her life in a futile attempt to save her, Jaime reveals to her that the girl in question is an impostor.
  • In the fifth and current novel, it is revealed that "Fake Arya" is none other than Jeyne Poole - Sansa's best friend from Winterfell. Jeyne actually does exist in the TV continuity but only appeared in the feast scene at Winterfell in the first episode of the TV series. Sansa assumed Jeyne was dead after the massacre of Eddard Stark's household servants when Joffrey seized power, during which Jeyne's father Vayon Poole (Eddard's household steward) was killed (Vayon actually did appear in the TV series and had a few speaking lines before he was killed). Jeyne is the best replacement for Arya, because she grew up alongside the Stark girls and can easily pass off as one of them due to her knowledge of the castle - enough time has passed that she could plausibly be an older Arya, and when Northern lords quiz her knowledge on things like who the Starks' blacksmith was, she knows (but it takes her almost too long to remember) the answer is "Mikken" because she grew up in Winterfell alongside the Stark girls. Had anyone looked at her closely, the truth would have been immediately revealed - because Jeyne's eyes are brown, not grey. Theon wonders how can anyone miss such a conspicuous detail. He assumes that if anyone noticed that - they'd be wise enough to keep their private doubts to themselves, knowing well how the Boltons deal with their enemies.
  • The fifth novel not only revealed that Jeyne Poole was alive, but where she had been for the past three years. After the massacre of Eddard's household servants and Sansa's capture, the Lannisters secretly handed Jeyne over to Littlefinger to keep prisoner. For no apparent reason other than abject cruelty, Littlefinger then had the eleven year old Jeyne sexually enslaved in one of his brothels. She spent the next three years being repeatedly beaten and raped (she was more valuable if her virginity was intact, but they forced her to please men with oral sex, etc.) It isn't even clear if Littlefinger ever had future plans for Jeyne, or simply did this because he could; in any case, he is the one who comes up with the idea to have Jeyne impersonate Arya. Much later on, Jeyne arrives back in Winterfell along with Roose Bolton, where she is forced to marry Ramsay. "Reek" (the broken thing formerly known as Theon Greyjoy) is made to walk her down the aisle, to "prove" that she is the real Arya, because as a ward of the Starks he grew up alongside Eddard's children and would presumably recognize her. Reek realizes that she is actually Jeyne Poole but dares not help her - as fake Arya, she has value to the Boltons, but if she is exposed as a fraud she is useless to them and will kill her without a moment's hesitation.
  • Once Jeyne is married to Ramsay, her suffering truly begins. He tortures her in several violent and sadistic ways, bizarre even by his own standards. Even as the wedding guests remain in the castle, her crying and wails of terror echo through the castle halls - Ramsay simply doesn't care that the assembled lords of the North can hear what he is doing, though his indiscretion in this regard angers his father. At one point Ramsay apparently forced Reek to "warm up" Jeyne by performing oral sex on her, for his own enjoyment at their suffering (Reek complied because he knew Ramsay would severely torture both of them further if he resisted). Jeyne also heavily implied that at one point Ramsay forced her to have sex with one of his hunting dogs for his own sadistic amusement, seriously threatening to cut off her feet one at a time until she gave in.
  • The general point is held in the TV version that "Littlefinger wants Sansa to enter into a marriage-alliance which will directly lead to her retaking the North from the Boltons". The TV show didn't entirely invent this storyline whole-cloth - it drastically condensed together two subplots which were related to each other in the novels. In the book version, it was to marry the handsome heir to the Vale, to lead an army of Vale lords to retake the North; Littlefinger does not mention the Boltons, and it is unclear in what stage the battle between Stannis and the Boltons is, and who holds Winterfell (if at all) at that point. In the TV version, this was heavily condensed so that Sansa's marriage-alliance is instead to Ramsay Bolton himself, in order to destroy the Boltons from within (much as Margaery Tyrell is doing to the Lannisters). The general point also stands that "Ramsay marries a Stark girl" to secure his hold on the North - but instead of Jeyne Poole posing as Arya as in the novels, he is actually marrying the real Stark daughter Sansa.
  • Littlefinger's reasoning is slightly different in the TV version: in the novels, he actually didn't know that Stannis and his remaining army were at the Wall (or thought they were nearly defeated), while in the TV version, Littlefinger is quite aware that Stannis is at the Wall, and this has altered his plans. Littlefinger goes on to explain (as revealed in previews from next episode) that he thinks that Stannis will ultimately defeat the Boltons: Stannis is one of the best military commanders in all of Westeros, and his core army might be small but if he rallies the remnants of the other Northern Houses the Boltons will be unable to hold Winterfell against all of them. However, on the off-chance that Stannis randomly dies in battle, he had to have a contingency plan. The Boltons are wary of marrying the Sansa Stark, because when Cersei realizes Sansa escaped to them she will be enraged - but Stannis's presence has made them desperate. If Littlefinger waited until after the assault on Winterfell, and if Stannis happened to die in the attempt, the Boltons wouldn't be open to making such a marriage alliance anymore. Therefore it only made sense to marry Sansa to Ramsay Bolton before Stannis arrived: she can help undermine the Boltons from within to aid Stannis, if Stannis wins (as Baelish thinks he probably will) she will be made ruler of the North (as Littlefinger's puppet, he hopes), and if Stannis dies, Ramsay will have already married Sansa, at least leaving her in a position to undermine them from within in future plots.
  • While this internal logic generally holds in the TV version, it raises two questions:
    • In the novels, Stannis Baratheon hates Littlefinger, and by this point in the novels it seems probable that he would execute him if he encounters him again. Stannis and Littlefinger were both on Robert's Small Council, and a lawful man like Stannis loathed a corrupt whore-monger like Littlefinger who kept bribing all of the court officials. Stannis is no fool, and accurately deduces that Littlefinger must have played a major role in helping the Lannisters seize his throne after Robert died. In the TV version, Littlefinger might just hope that Stannis's situation is desperate enough that he cannot afford to oppose Littlefinger's rule in the Vale (given that he doesn't even have the North yet).
      • This was actually answered later in Season 5: Littlefinger really plans to wait until after Stannis and the Boltons fight, then use the Vale's fresh armies to finish off the weakened survivor - either way Sansa is left as ruler in the North, as his agent, and Littlefinger actually has no intention of working with Stannis.
    • It isn't clear how this will fit with Sansa Stark's character arc across the entire TV series, in which she grew from an innocent girl-turned-victim, to a hardened and cunning player of the political game.
  • Basically, Sansa's storyline has finally reached the long-dreaded point where it has officially surpassed the current novels: it is condensing Ramsay Bolton's subplot from the fifth and most current novel, with what Sansa's storyline was apparently going to be in the unpublished sixth novel. Therefore it is hard to judge how well Sansa's storyline is being condensed - Sansa is apparently going to return to Winterfell at some point in the sixth novel, and for all anyone knows, there might be similar dramatic moments in it such as Sansa being stunned to be standing in Winterfell again.
  • The TV writers subsequently gave a lengthy interview with Entertainment Weekly, in which they said that they have been planning to condense the Sansa and Bolton storylines like this since back during the writing stages of Season 2.[13] That was before Ramsay was even cast or mentioned by name (though his father Roose had made brief mention of sending his "bastard" to retake Winterfell from Theon). Therefore, this was not a snap decision made for Season 5: instead they had three years to devote time to thinking out how to adequately condense the two storylines together. As they explained, Sansa's storyline in the Vale from the novels removes her from interacting with the rest of the established cast (except Littlefinger) for an entire book. Additionally, the various subplots about Littlefinger consolidating his hold over Vale lords that have never appeared prominently before would have made it extremely difficult to introduce them all, and even then, Sansa's subplot in the Vale simply doesn't have that many chapters.
    • David Benioff: "We really wanted Sansa to play a major part this season. If we were going to stay absolutely faithful to the book, it was going to be very hard to do that. There was as subplot we loved from the books, but it used a character (Jeyne Poole) that's not in the show."
    • Bryan Cogman: "The seeds were planted early on in our minds. In the books, Sansa has very few chapters in the Vale once she's up there. That was not going to be an option for one of our lead characters. While this is a very bold departure, [we liked] the power of bringing a Stark back to Winterfell and having her reunite with Theon under these circumstances...You have this storyline with Ramsay. Do you have one of your leading ladies — who is an incredibly talented actor who we've followed for five years and viewers love and adore — do it? Or do you bring in a new character to do it? To me, the question answers itself: You use the character the audience is invested in."[14]
  • When David Benioff was asked in the Entertainment Weekly interview if it was contradictory that Littlefinger is so obsessed with Sansa, but would nonetheless hand her over to the Boltons, he pointed out that Littlefinger truly cares about no one - he has a stalker-crush on Sansa but doesn't truly "care" about her, and his obsession with power is ultimately greater than his obsession with Sansa:
    • Benioff: "That's the thing about Littlefinger — as much as he might care for Sansa, he cares for nothing more than power. And now he sees an opportunity to gain more power for himself."[15]
  • Elio and Linda of, co-authors with George R.R. Martin of The World of Ice and Fire sourcebook, made a special ten minute long video separate from their regular episode reviews (after episode 6), specifically devoted to discussing the major condensations of Sansa's plotline. While they had some misgivings they stressed a nuanced approach to this condensation, pointing out that fundamentally, no one really knows what is going to happen to Sansa in the next novel. Indeed, there has been considerable speculation that Littlefinger himself might try to rape Sansa at some point (as in the TV show, he's kissing her on the mouth now and his stalker-crush with her may soon advance further). For that matter, her dashing new betrothed Harrold Hardyng might turn out to be very violent and domineering in private, and force himself on her. As for criticisms that this damaged Sansa's story arc, in which she seemed to be growing as a political player in her own right in the Vale, they pointed out that character arcs are rarely predictable in the story, i.e. based purely on Seasons 1 and 2, it would seem that Robb Stark's "character arc" was to become a powerful young boy-king ruling an independent North - only to suddenly have this subverted in Season 3 when he is killed at the Red Wedding. Therefore, they cautioned, it is difficult to tell how drastic of a change this was without actually being able to compare it to Sansa's unpublished storyline in the next novel.[16]

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/Game of Thrones: Season 5#"High Sparrow"
  • The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
    • Chapter 4, Brienne I: Brienne recalls that she first met Renly when he visited Tarth. He was the only man ever to treat her courteously. She also recalls how her father tried to arrange her a marriage.
    • Chapter 6, Arya I: Arya meets the Waif.
    • Chapter 7, Cersei II: In the dungeons below the Red Keep, Qyburn experiments with the Mountain.
    • Chapter 12, Cersei III: Cersei bitterly observes as King Tommen and Margaery Tyrell wed at the Great Sept. At the insistence of the Tyrells, the newlyweds sleep in the same bed on their wedding night.
    • Chapter 14, Brienne III: Podrick tells Brienne how he came to be Tyrion's squire: during the War of the Five Kings, Pod attached himself to Ser Lorimer, who stole a ham from Lord Tywin's personal stores and shared it with Pod. The knight was hanged, but Podrick was spared due to his family's name.
    • Chapter 15, Samwell II: Maester Aemon's health is deteriorating, and Sam takes care of him.
    • Chapter 17, Cersei IV: Cersei gets rid of the High Septon.
    • Chapter 20, Brienne IV: Brienne recalls how some noblemen played with her by pretending to seduce her, and mockingly dubbed her "Brienne the Beauty."
    • Chapter 22, Arya II: In the House of Black and White, Arya is frustrated that she is only given menial tasks. She witnesses people entering the temple to drink from the pool and die before the statues. Her instructor chastises her for seeking to use their training for her own purposes, instead of to serve the Many-Faced God. Arya asks which of the statutes is Him, and he says all of them are. He orders her to dispose of Arya’s possessions to truly become “no one”, and in a pier, he throws most of her possessions into the water, except for Needle, which reminds Arya too much of home, so she hides it under a stone near the temple. The Waif is assigned to guide her. Arya asks her instructor to teach her how to become a Faceless Man.
    • Chapter 24, Cersei V: Margaery manipulates Tommen to resist Cersei's commands, angering Cersei. A prominent septon is dragged naked from a brothel into the streets by the Sparrows.
    • Chapter 28, Cersei VI: Cersei meets the High Sparrow.
    • Chapter 41, Alayne II: Littlefinger arranges a marriage for Sansa with the unlikely heir of a Lord and Warden, in order to eventually help her win Winterfell back. Sansa reminds Littlefinger she is still married to Tyrion, and he assures her it is not a problem.
  • The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
    • Chapter 3, Jon I: After being chosen Lord Commander, Jon Snow definitively refuses Stannis's offer to be legitimized and become Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.
    • Chapter 7, Jon II: When Jon gives Janos Slynt command of Greyguard, Slynt refuses. Jon leaves Slynt to reconsider his refusal overnight and the next morning, gives Slynt one last chance. However, Slynt refuses him again and tells Jon to "stick his order up his bastard's arse." Jon instructs Edd to take Janos outside. Ser Alliser Thorne reaches for his sword hilt, but he reconsiders and steps aside to let Edd take Janos. Jon decides to behead Slynt himself, with Longclaw. With his head on the block, Slynt begs for mercy, but Jon executes him anyway. Jon meets Stannis's eyes, and the king nods in approval.
    • Chapter 17, Jon IV: Jon realizes there is not enough in Castle Black to feed the Night's Watch, the wildlings, and Stannis' men through the winter. Stannis decides he will leave the wildling prisoners in Jon's care when he marches to Winterfell.
    • Chapter 20, Reek II: Ramsay meets his soon-to-be wife - a "Stark" procured by Littlefinger.
    • Chapter 22, Tyrion VI: Just after arriving in a city under Volantene rule, a guard rubs Tyrion's head, claiming it's good luck to do so to a dwarf, to which Tyrion replies it's even better luck to suck on a dwarf's cock. Tyrion and his companion listen to a red priest preaching of Daenerys Targaryen, who is believed to be a prophesied savior, which reminds him of the only red priest he ever knew, Thoros of Myr. Tyrion convinces his companion to let him go to a brothel, where he selects a whore. Tyrion stumbles into Jorah Mormont, who takes him prisoner to be "delivered to the queen".
    • Chapter 27, Tyrion VII: Tyrion and his companion arrive at Volantis and cross the Long Bridge, in order to look for a ship to take them to Meereen.
    • Chapter 32, Reek III: Roose Bolton berates his son Ramsay for being so openly cruel, since the northmen already despise House Bolton. In order to ensure their hold over the North, Ramsay is to wed a "Stark".
    • Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell: At Winterfell, Ramsay meets his intended, who Reek recognizes from Theon’s life as a ward of the Starks in the castle.
    • Chapter 45, The Blind Girl: Arya is made to disrobe and wash the bodies of those who seek death at the temple. Though she is curious, the Faceless Men don't tell her what they do with the bodies.
  • The sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, remains unpublished, so there are some events brought forward from it that may occur in the story, yet the specific chapters are unknown. This may include Sansa's wedding and her return to Winterfell, both of which are also part of Littlefinger's plan in the books but have not happened yet. The episode is adapted from the following chapters of The Winds of Winter:
    • Chapter unknown, Alayne I: Sansa meets her intended. Myranda is envious of Sansa, as she is in love with him.





  1. GAME OF THRONES (HBO). The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3: "High Sparrow" (2015).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 High Sparrow. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Game of Thrones. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Game of Thrones: Season 5. HBO. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  6. Michele Clapton Fashionista interview, June 2015.
  7. Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
  8. Peterson's Twitter.
  9. Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
  10. [1]
  11. [2]
  12. [3]
  13. [4]
  14. [5]
  15. [6]
  16. [7]


  1. In "Winter Is Coming," which takes place in 298 AC, Sansa Stark tells Cersei Lannister that she is 13 years old and Bran Stark tells Jaime Lannister that he is 10 years old. Arya Stark was born between Sansa and Bran, making her either 11 or 12 in Season 1. The rest of the Stark children have been aged up by 2 years from their book ages, so it can be assumed that she is 11 in Season 1. Arya is 18 in Season 8 according to HBO, which means at least 7 years occur in the span of the series; therefore, each season of Game of Thrones must roughly correspond to a year in-universe, placing the events of Season 5 in 302 AC.

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