Sunday night, nine o’clock, time to settle in for Game of Thrones season five episode four: “The Sons of the Harpy.” Has it been a week already? Welcome back to “Days of Our Seven Kingdoms!” Seriously, this is an action-packed episode. Bashing, smashing, beating, and stabbing galore – and none of it done by anyone named Bolton or Baratheon.
When last we saw Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), he was being dwarf-napped by Ser Jorah Mormant (Iain Glen). We open with the latter stealing a boat and tossing Tyrion aboard…but where’s it going? (I posited that Jorah was taking him to Dany as a “please forgive me, I’ll always love you Khaleesi” present. My brother opined that he was taking him to Cersei for the bounty. Both are pretty good guesses. I’m sticking with The Mother of Dragons.)
Meanwhile, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) are also on a boat – a merchant ship. Theirs, we know, is headed to Dorne. Bronn is rhapsodizing about Dorne, the women and their propensity for er…fighting. I’ve missed these two characters. Bronn misses Tyrion. Jaime is regretting his decision to set Tyrion free. He goes so far as to deny the deed. Killing Dad obviously wasn’t part of the plan.
The Small Council is fretting over money. The Iron Bank of Braavos has called the Crown’s note. They want at least 10 percent of the outstanding debt, which we know the Lannisters don’t have (because Tywin told us in season 3…or was it 4?). Cersei sends her Master of Coin, who happens to be her father-in-law Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton Griffiths) to negotiate better terms with the bank. She also sends Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) to “guard” him. Might be the last we see of ole Mace.
Anyway, Cersei (Lena Headey), who last week was behaving in an un-Cersei-like manner, has apparently gotten her Cersei-ness back. Her next mission is to go and see the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) again. She starts going on about “justice” (I do not think that word means what she thinks it means) and tells him she wants him to bring back the “Faith Militant,” the military arm of the Faith of the Seven.
Religion has come to Westeros in a big way and it looks a lot like the Spanish Inquisition. The Sparrows rampage through the streets and smash all of the vestiges of sin that they can find e.g. the beer and wine casks, Littlefinger’s brothel (that’s what he gets for leaving the country), and then grab Loras (Finn Jones) because of the love that dare not speak its name. So Cersei’s plan kills two birds (not sparrows) with one stone: Littlefinger and Margaery – by way of Loras. Before they even find him, they went for the homosexuals, so we knew he was next. If he weren’t the Queen’s brother, he’d be dead, but he’s just been taken prisoner by weird cousin Lancel (Eugene Simon) who’s just voluntarily had the Sign of the Sparrow (which looks overtly Satanic, IMHO) carved into his forehead.
Boy-King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) tries to get his new brother-in-law back, but of course his mother, as well as the Sparrows at the Sept, aren’t letting go. His new bride Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is not happy. Poor Tommen. He’s so badly outmatched by everyone around him.
On to the Wall to catch up with the folks at Castle Black. Queen Selyse the Dour (Tara Fitzgerald), again bemoaning the fact that she didn’t give Stannis a son, dismisses Jon Snow (Kit Harington) as “a bastard by some tavern slut.” Stannis the Wise (Stephen Dillane) mysteriously intones, “Perhaps, but that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way.” (Dude, the internet has been discussing this conundrum for four seasons. Where have you been?) Then Melisandre (Carice van Houten) gets into a staring contest with Queen Sourpuss. Guess who blinks first.
Sam (John Bradley) is acting as Jon’s secretary and he seems to be walking on eggshells. The reason? Other than last week’s unpleasantness, Sam tells him they need to ask The Warden of the North for reinforcements. That’s Roose “MC at the Red Wedding” Bolton. Even Melisandre is trying to convince him to ride out to Winterfell, which is really a pretext before trying to get into his knickers. Jon Snow knows enough to resist because this woman is dangerous, but more importantly he wants to try to stay on the high road now that he’s found his way again. (More shades of Ned.) He says it’s because he’s sworn to celibacy (and also because he still loves Ygritte). Melisandre actually quotes Ygritte as she leaves! Jon probably felt an icy finger up his spine.
Stannis the Grumpy has a lovely moment with his sweet little dragon girl, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), who asks if he’s ashamed of her. He tells her a convoluted story about a cursed doll that caused her “Greyscale” sickness and how he saved her life. Touched, she wraps her arms around him. We know that was his way of telling her he loves her, but King Warm and Fuzzy still won’t return the hug.
Sansa (Sophie Turner) is roaming the crypt at Winterfell, probably the only place she feels both at home and safe from the psychopaths upstairs. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) shows up to tell her he’s going back to King’s Landing and leaving her there. But first he gives Sansa a family history lesson about Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King, and his love for Sansa’s aunt Lyanna, which led to Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. Littlefinger seems to be romanticizing the facts (leaving all of us to wonder where this will fit in and when. We know it will, eventually, but the GoT writers are tricksy and it could be next season), but Sansa deadpans, “Yes, he chose her. And then he kidnapped her and raped her.” Anyway, Sansa is naturally a tad freaked out by Littlefinger’s news so he reveals his elaborate scheme, which hinges on the idea that Stannis will “probably” show up soon, since “winter is coming” and he’ll need to leave before the snow flies. So, since either Stannis will kill the Boltons, in which case she won’t have to marry Ramsey, or he won’t, in which case she’ll marry Ramsey but she’ll still be okay because she’s a Stark, plus she learned her tricks from the best. Sansa is not comforted.
Jaime and Bronn are camping on the Dornish coast when Bronn kills a snake before it can kill Jaime. More foreshadowing?! Then some Dornish soldiers show up. Bronn gives them fake names, but the Dornish are a suspicious lot. Of course a battle ensues. Left-handed Jaime is getting his ass kicked – until his “useless” fake right hand saves him.
While Bronn and Jaime are burying bodies, Ellaria (Indira Varma) meets up with the badass Sand Snakes – and we finally meet Oberyn’s daughters, Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes), Nymeria (Jessica Henwick) and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), at least one of whom is also Elleria’s (Tyene I think) and they decide that not only will they avenge Oberyn, they’re going start a war… by killing Myrcella Lannister. The Prince of Dorne is probably not going to like this.
Tyrion and Jorah are sailing on their stolen boat, (and I win!) heading east toward Meereen; Tyrion deduces Jorah’s identity and the nature of his plan. He’s a little surprised. He figured Jorah would sell him to Cersei. When Tyrion asks why the Khaleesi wouldn’t just execute Jorah and welcome the guy who killed her enemies to court rather than the other way around, even Jorah appears to admit he has a point. Jorah’s response is to whack Tyrion upside the head. That seemed a little out of character. I expected Jorah to use his words, but maybe he’s intimidated by Tyrion. He’s probably been through hell the past however many months.
Up in her pyramid, Dany (Emilia Clarke), Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman), and Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McEhinney) are listening as Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry) is telling her, yet again, that the key to stopping the insurgency is to allow him to promote his to-the-death Gladiator fights.
In yet another story about a character who’s here-to-fore barely been a blip in a historical flashback, Ser Barristan tells Dany that her eldest brother Rhaegar was a fun-loving and generous man who sang for money and then donated it to charity (usually). Charmed, Dany sends Ser Barristan out to sing.
Well that was a nice image, which should tell us that the next thing we see will be horrible. And it was.
The episode ends in a protracted battle between The Sons of the Harpy and the Unsullied. The Unsullied are massacred and soon only Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) is left standing (barely). As the Harpys close in, Ser Barristan shows up. The two of them put up a good fight, but there are just too many of them. It’s a blood bath, with the walls of the alley literally painted with the stuff. Ser Barristan falls and appears dead. Grey Worm falls next to him, but he was breathing at the last fade out.
Memorable lines from “The Sons of the Harpy”:
“Wars teach people to obey the sword, not the gods.” – High Sparrow
“We can’t watch the wall with 50 men.” – Samwell Tarley
“You know nothing Jon Snow.” – Melisandre
“You are the Princess Shireen of House Baratheon…and you are my daughter.” – Stannis Baratheon
“Let’s speak somewhere the dead can’t hear us.” – Littlefinger
“Even the most dangerous men can be outmaneuvered and you’ve learned from the very best.” – Littlefinger
“Everyone looks happy from up here.” – Danaerys
“All men must die. Not all men die in glory.” – Hizdhar zo Loraq
Okay, now that I’ve caught my breath, here’s a preview of what we can expect next week in season 5 episode 5, “Kill the Boy:”
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