This "Game of Thrones" discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books, but will generally only discuss events that have happened on HBO's televised version -- not that it matters much now that the show is going its own way. Still, please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.
Episode 5.03 "High Sparrow"
FINAL SCORE: Sex 7, Violence 4
(The baseline for scoring is one point per dead body or nude body, with bonus points awarded as the reviewer sees fit.)
Totals: Six sacri-licious prostitutes paraded in a circle, multiple shots of old-man buttocks whipped through King's Landing, the return of Margaery's plunging necklines, postcoital glow (mostly) covered by bedsheets, one prostitute in Daenerys cosplay with inspired butt display.
Notes: While Sex earned the victory on the strength of the nudity in two brothel scenes that led to no actual sex acts, we did get the breathless aftermath of Tommen's wedding night, which provided a glimpse of Queen Margaery's exquisite back -- as well as the easy handling of her new cat's-paw.
FUN FACT: the actor who plays Tommen, Dean-Charles Chapman, is 17 years old, while Natalie Dormer turned 33 this winter. I'm sure Chapman and Dormer would tell us that this scene was awkward to film, but let me just speak for the entire world when I say that NO teenager deserves a job that good.
"What'd you do this summer?"
"I worked at a Sunglass Hut. What about you?"
"I laid in bed with a beautiful naked woman and we talked about sex. And the pay was terrific."
SCREW YOU, Dean-Charles Chapman. You take that fancy hyphen in your name and fill out the application at whatever England has instead of In-N-Out.
Totals: Two flayed bodies strung up at Winterfell, another flayed body (or bodies) below, one righteous beheading at the Wall, one severed hand hanging in the streets of Volantis, one dead body washed by sullen nobodies.
Notes: One of the show's most distinct pleasures is its ability to make the most vile characters sympathetic, and it does this in great ways and in small. For example, I don't often feel bad about a rat's fate, because rats are disgusting. But in Qyburn's hands ...
Awwww, Squeakers. You deserved better.
Stark Power Rankings*
1. Jon Snow. Chopped a guy's head off.
2. Sansa. Faced the architect of her family's slaughter and curtsied. In danger but well-positioned for revenge.
3. Arya. Not in danger, but on a very LONG track for revenge. Washing a corpse was a step up in her apprenticeship.
*This episode only. Otherwise Tony would be the #1 Stark for the fifth year running.
The House of Black and Slightly Less Black
Every scene in "Game of Thrones" is lit in the service of setting. The blue-tinted scenes at Winterfell and the Wall have the light of a dying winter sun, while scenes in the south of Westeros enjoy a bright, warm light. Even the interior sets at King's Landing are typically pierced with spears of sunshine, though nighttime and subterranean scenes surely strain the show's candle-and-sconce budget.
In short, it's not a show to shy away from literal darkness, and I respect what that can do for mood and realism. But the scenes in the House of Black and White are at another level entirely. This is what Arya looked like to me in the first scene:
Listen HBO, if I wanted poorly-lit characters mumbling things I can't understand, I'd watch "House of Cards."
Meanwhile, at the Wall...
Memo to Slynt: MAYBE don't brag to Jon Snow about being captain of the City Watch that arrested Ned Stark after feigning allegiance to him. Not a good look.
The Drunk of Casterly Rock
Tyrion and Cersei have now each rightfully earned reputations as heavy drinkers, and while Cersei spends most of this episode looking desperately like she needs a drink, she doesn't actually imbibe. Tyrion, meanwhile, exits his literal wheelhouse to enter his metaphorical one (bantering at a brothel), drinking from a skein the entire time. Does this lend to his abduction by a wayward Mormont? Yes, absolutely, but he still gets the edge over Cersei on sheer BAC this week.
TANGENTIALLY RELATED: I would happily watch an entire show built around Margaery and Cersei. Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey can do so much with just their expressions that you could probably understand 90% of their interactions with the TV muted.
Dormer in particular boosts Margaery miles beyond the empty vessel she is in the books; her face has an array of tools that clues the viewer in to her machinations: here a smirk, there an arched eyebrow, then some mischievous eyes, a meaningful tilt of her head -- it's no wonder Cersei is aging before our eyes.
Watch out, Cersei! He was a Bond villain!
WARDROBE: Okay, Mr. Pryce, as the leader of this pious religious sect, you'll need to wear a hair shirt.
JONATHAN PRYCE: That's okay, I brought my own.
- Double-braided goatees: 1
- Number of times the High Septon got whipped with a riding crop: only 2
- Latrine Captains nominated: 1 ginger
- Dragons not shown: 3
- C-bombs dropped by Arya: 1 (miss u, Hound)
- Weddings since someone died at a wedding: 1
- Screencaps I took of Margaery that went unused: approximately 10
- Side-eyein' mystery women lingered on by the camera in Winterfell: 3
WHO ARE YOU? YOU BETTER BE NICE TO SANSA.
DNP, Coach's Decision
Daenerys Targaryen, her dragons, and the poorly governed city of Meereen; Prince Doran Martell, the Sand Snakes, and everyone in the Water Gardens; the Jaime and Bronn Sass and Swashbuckle Tour; Loras Tyrell and his man-candy of the week; Daario's butt; Melisandre and Princess Scaleface; various direwolves, Ser Pounce (NOT interested in Tomman's lap).