Those who were appalled (and judging by the reception there were quite a few) by Sansa’s treatment in last week’s episode won’t be placated by the opening revelation that she has repeatedly been assaulted since.
Still, as evidenced by her exchange with Ramsay later on, she shoes herself to still be capable of plotting a way to further her own fortunes – even if this particular attempt fails.
Some theorised that last week’s events were geared towards setting Theon up for redemption – considering what happens here, no such plan is in the offing. There’s not even much point in referring to the books at this stage, considering how differently events are unfolding.
As if to underline this, we get the event that readers of the books have waited – and continued to do so – for: the meeting of two of the show’s most iconic characters, Tyrion and Daenerys.
In any other episode this would be the final payoff, but instead this ‘honour’ goes to Cersei, who finds herself jailed by the High Sparrow, her past transgressions having come back to haunt her. It’s hard to feel any real sympathy for her, especially considering that her actions are motivated almost entirely by greed and petty jealousy, but it does beg the question: what now? With her and Margaery locked up and Tommen clearly at risk, King’s Landing looks like a big, fragile house of cards.
Indeed, things don’t look much better at Castle Black. With Jon departing and Maester Aemon now deceased, Sam is running low on allies, a point hammered home when he and Gilly are attacked, saved only by the timely intervention of Ghost.
By this point, the entire show seems like one big tinderbox waiting to blow: things will clearly come to a head at some point, but with George RR Martin absent from the writing team this season, it does seem like his absence is all too apparent. The pacing of previous seasons has been shattered, and there are noticeably less fan-pleasing moments this year.
Admittedly, the last few seasons arguably had a greater wellspring of material to choose from, but as a show Game Of Thrones needs to start standing up on its own merits.
We’re sure it’s just a hiccup that the show will overcome (as long as it’s got the likes of Diana Rigg, Peter Dinklage and Jerome Flynn stealing scenes, it’ll remain watchable at the very least), but in the present, Game Of Thrones faces its biggest test since the show’s inception.