High Sparrow (Game of Thrones episode)

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"High Sparrow" is the third episode of the fifth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 43rd overall. The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Mark Mylod, his directorial debut for the series.[1] It aired on April 26, 2015.[2] Prior to airing, this episode along with the other first four episodes of the season were leaked online.[3]

"High Sparrow"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 3
Directed byMark Mylod
Written byDavid Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byAnette Haellmigk
Editing byTim Porter
Original air dateApril 26, 2015 (2015-04-26)
Running time60 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The House of Black and White"
Next →
"Sons of the Harpy"
Game of Thrones (season 5)
List of Game of Thrones episodes


In King's LandingEdit

Tommen marries Margaery, who manipulates Tommen to persuade Cersei to return to Casterly Rock, but she declines. The High Septon is attacked by Sparrows and asks the Small Council to execute Sparrows’ leader the High Sparrow. Cersei visits the High Sparrow and tells him that she captured the High Septon and that he will replace him as head of the Faith. Cersei has Qyburn send a message to Baelish.

In the NorthEdit

At Winterfell, Reek overhears that the Boltons do not have enough men to hold the North. At Moat Cailin, Petyr tells Sansa that she will marry Ramsay. She agrees after Petyr tells her that this will be an opportunity to take revenge for Robb's murder. They arrive at Winterfell. Petyr tells Roose that with Tywin dead they have no reason to fear the Lannisters. Roose shows him the letter sent for Petyr from Cersei. Petyr reassures him of their alliance, but Roose requests to read his reply. Petyr and Sansa have been secretly followed by Brienne and Podrick.

At the WallEdit

Jon refuses Stannis’ offer, makes Alliser First Ranger and Slynt the commander of Greyguard. Slynt refuses and insults Jon, who executes him.

In BraavosEdit

Door-keeper, now transformed into Jaqen, helps a man drink from a pool of water. The man dies and Arya realizes that the pool of water is poison for those who seek a quick death. Jaqen asks Arya how she came to be surrounded by things owned by Arya Stark if she is no one. She throws her possessions into water and hides Needle. Jaqen takes her to a room where she and the Waif wash a dead man's body.

In VolantisEdit

Tyrion and Varys arrive in Volantis, where red priestess tells slaves about the savior, Daenerys Targaryen. Tyrion is kidnapped by Jorah.



The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.

This episode was written by executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and contains content from two of George R. R. Martin's novels, A Feast for Crows, Arya I, Cersei III, Arya II, Cersei V, Cersei VI, Alayne III and elements of Brienne III and Brienne IV, and A Dance with Dragons, chapters Jon II, Reek III, Tyrion VI and the Blind Girl.[4]

Like other episodes this season, "High Sparrow" deviated from Martin's books in several places. For example, Tyrion's storyline has been sped up,[5] and Tommen is old enough to consummate his marriage with Margaery.[6] In what Forbes called "the biggest surprise in Sunday night's episode," Sansa Stark goes to Winterfell to marry Ramsay Bolton, a role that is played in the book by a minor character impersonating Arya.[7] Busis describes mixed feelings regarding these changes but stated "at the very least, this is going to give Sophie Turner some real meaty material."[6] In an interview, show writer David Benioff explains that Sophie Turner's strength as an actress was one of the reasons that they decided to give her character more dramatic scenes and Bryan Cogman added that it made more sense to give the Winterfell storyline to a proven actress who was already popular with viewers than to bring in a new character.[8]


With this episode, Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton) is promoted to series regular. The episode has the introduction of new recurring cast members Jonathan Pryce, who plays the High Sparrow, and Faye Marsay, who plays the Waif.



"High Sparrow" was watched by an estimated 6.71 million American viewers during its first airing, and received a 3.5 rating among adults 18–49.[9] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 2.196 million viewers, making it the highest-rated non-terrestrial broadcast that week. It also received 0.174 million timeshift viewers.[10]

Critical reviewsEdit

The episode received positive reviews, with critics highlighting Jon's storyline and the High Sparrow's introduction. Based on 30 critic reviews, the episode received a 100% rating score approbation in Rotten Tomatoes from 30 reviews with an average score of 8.1 out of 10 and with the consensus "'High Sparrow' expertly weaves together characters from Game of Thrones' sprawling stories, though the episode ultimately belongs to Jon Snow, whose new position highlights unexpected qualities."[11]

Critical response to changes from the books and to original material written specifically for the episode were mixed. Critics seemed to be reserving judgment on the decision to bring Sansa to Winterfell, but Entertainment Weekly commentator Hilary Busis described this as "massively gross to watch [Tommen's] TV counterpart sleep with Margaery knowing that in A Feast for Crows, he’s still playing pretend with his beloved kitty,"[6] but Myles McNutt of A.V. Club found that the character's age gave him more agency.[5] Both Busis and McNutt noted that the changes may make the story less cluttered, with Busis saying, "combining Sansa and [the Arya impostor]'s storylines allow Benioff and Weiss to trim a good bit of fat from ASOIAF and give already-introduced characters more stuff to do."[6]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2015 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Deborah Riley, Paul Ghirardani, Rob Cameron Won [12]
2016 ADG Excellence in Production Design Award One-Hour Single Camera Fantasy Television Series Deborah Riley Won [13]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project Dominic Piche, Christine Leclerc, Patrice Poissant, Thomas Montminy-Brodeur Won [14]


  1. ^ Hibberd, James (July 15, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' season 5 directors chosen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  2. ^ "Shows A-Z – game of thrones on HBO". The Futon Critic. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Goldman, David (April 12, 2015). "'Game of Thrones': First four episodes leaked before premiere". CNN. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (April 27, 2015). "EP503: HIGH SPARROW". Westeros.org. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  5. ^ a b McNutt, Myles (April 26, 2015). "Game Of Thrones (experts): 'High Sparrow' A changed return to Winterfell charts a new course for Sansa". A.V. Club. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Busis, Hilary; Francich, Darren (April 27, 2015). "Game of Thrones TV Book Club Sansa! Ramsay! Talking the Big Changes in 'High Sparrow'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  7. ^ Kain, Eric (April 26, 2015). "'Game Of Thrones' Season 5, Episode 3 Review: High Sparrow, Bye Sparrow". Forbes. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  8. ^ Hibberd, James (April 26, 2015). "Game of Thrones producers explain changing Sansa's storyline". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  9. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 28, 2015). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, NBA Playoffs, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Silicon Valley', 'Mad Men' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (27 April-3 May 2015)". BARB. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "High Sparrow – Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  12. ^ "Game of Thrones". Emmys.com. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  13. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 31, 2016). "Art Directors Guild Award Winners". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  14. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (February 2, 2016). "VES Awards Winners: 'Star Wars' Takes Top Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 9, 2017.

External linksEdit