Play with fire, and you’ll get burnt. This a lesson that Cersei learns this week, with her decision to arm the High Sparrow and his Faith Militant proving to have consequences.
Having had Loras arrested the previous week, things appear to spiral out of control when Margaery is also locked away – putting the Lannister/Tyrell alliance in jeopardy.
It all ties into a point that her brother Tyrion makes to his captor Jorah about Daenerys – when she actually obtains the power she craves, how will she get on? Not very well appears to be the short answer, and Cersei appears to be managing worse if anything.
Adding to this poor judgement is the manner in which she allows Littlefinger to get exactly what he wants. In this, we see his masterplan all the long: let Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton decimate each other, while he can swoop in with the Vale’s troops and wipe out the exhausted survivors, in the process claiming the North for himself. Presumably he’ll then be strong enough to challenge the might of King’s Landing.
Again, some of Game Of Thrones’ foreshadowing proves to have a basis. Back in Season Three, Varys said of Littlefinger, “He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes,” and it looks like his chickens could finally be coming home to roost – he’ll trample over anyone and everyone to get what he wants.
Which brings us onto Sansa. In the books, she has had a bad time thus far, but herself has come out relatively unscathed. Her rape at the hands of Ramsay once again reinforces that absolutely no one is safe – even in what was once her own home she has no shelter, with only bad memories like the lingering Theon to remind her of her past life.
As well as being a truly horrible scene for the brief moment it’s on screen (sold to us perfectly by Alfie Allen’s horrified reaction as Theon), it once again highlights the show’s propensity for pulling the rug out from under us. The last two seasons had seen Sansa become a player of the game – here, all of that is undercut. It’s very uncomfortable viewing, and the debate will rage on about whether it was necessary (drawing close parallels with the infamous Cersei/Jaime coupling from Season Four), but whatever else it was, it underlines how horrible a world this place is.
Characters like Littlefinger and Ramsay steal the screen with their one-liners, but after this scene it’ll be hard for anyone to take their side – especially Ramsay, who has stepped beyond even Joffrey territory now.
In the light of this, scenes elsewhere seem to fade into insignificance: Arya continues on her quest to become an assassin; Tyrion and Jorah are captured, as are Jaime and Bronn. Thinking back on the episode, everything seems to linger on that one scene: the moment Game Of Thrones changed; the moment it may well have gone too far.