Game of Thrones Review: "Sons of the Harpy"

Monday, May 04, 2015


Opening title sequence: King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen, Dorne

 I have a bit of an issue with the title sequence this week. I get that Jaime and Bronn were just kind of generally in Dorne, and hadn't actually gotten to any major landmarks yet, but I find it odd that it was included as "Dorne" in the title sequence, instead of Sunspear or the Water Gardens or something. Even when everyone was traipsing around The Vale, it still listed "The Eyrie". I just find it odd that they're listing the region instead of something more localized when they don't do that with other areas (even the Iron Islands got "Pyke").

This episode started a bit differently than most. Instead of a small chunk devoted to one area (or character), we get a brief scene where Jorah steals a boat and throws a bound and gagged Tyrion inside it.

We quickly switch gears to Jaime and Bronn, who are on their way to Dorne aboard a merchant ship. While gazing into the horizon, Jaime sees an island, and asks if it's Estermont. The captain says yes, that's the Sapphire Isle. Now here's where I have a problem with this. Tarth, Brienne's home (which is farther north, pretty much west of Storm's End) is known as the Sapphire Isle, NOT Estermont, which is a completely separate island. Now I don't remember if they had mentioned changing this in previous seasons, but it irked me. Bronn is also pretty irked, but mostly because he and Jaime are doing this alone. He (a little too quickly, if you ask me) figures out that Jaime had something to do with Tyrion escaping, and figures that Jaime is doing this mission himself as some sort of penance. Jaime says if he ever sees Tyrion again, he's going to split him in two for murdering Tywin, which had me all

because I was totally not expecting that. In the books, Tyrion leaves mad at Jaime, but on the show, they seemed cool. I understand that Tyrion killing Tywin is kind of a big deal, but it was still hard for me to believe that Jaime had jumped from affectionate, if not loving, older brother to "I will literally kill him" so suddenly.

In King's Landing, Mace Tyrell, Master of Coin, reveals that money is dwindling. Cersei, ever the schemer, is more than happy to send him to Braavos, with a member of the Kingsguard (Ser Meryn Trant), no less, to meet with representatives from the Iron Bank in person. Of course, this is mostly just to get him out of the way. During this exchange, it suddenly struck me how much Lena Headey sounds like Keira Knightley.

She begins to put the rest of her plan into action, which includes buddying up to the High Sparrow. She suggests to him that reinstating the Faith Militant would be beneficial for everyone, and wouldn't you just know it? There's a hardcore sinner in our midst in King's Landing.

Now in the books (spoiler alert, obviously), Cersei tries to have Margaery brought up on adultery charges (in the books, because Tommen is so young, he and Margaery have yet to consummate their marriage, and as she maintains that neither of her other marriages had been consummated either, she should, be a virgin, but Cersei doesn't think she is). Since Margaery and Tommen had #allthesex on their wedding night, that clearly couldn't be the case anymore. Because of this, I had wondered if it was going to be Loras that got thrown under the bus, and it turns out that it was.

The Faith Militant does get reinstated, and no one is more eager to get the symbol of the Seven burned (or was it carved? I'm not sure I can recall) into his forehead than Cersei's apologetic cousin Lancel. The Faith Militant goes barreling through King's Landing, destroying all the booze and beating all the whores like they own the place. It is even implied that they kill (or, at the very least, maim and/or torture) a man caught having sex with a young male prostitute in the brothel. When they're done ruining everyone's fun, they arrest Loras Tyrell.

Obviously, this doesn't sit too well with Margaery. She barges into see Tommen, wondering why Loras is jailed and Cersei isn't in Casterly Rock as Tommen had said she'd be. Poor, sweet Tommen naively seems to think that his wife and his mother get along (if ever there was an awful mother-in-law trope, it's Cersei Lannister). She asks him to do something about it, so he goes to Cersei, who maintains that despite the fact that she got the Faith Militant up and running, she has no control over what they do, and he's going to have to take that up with the High Sparrow.

For the first time basically ever, Tommen does the kingly thing and does, in fact, go to see the High Sparrow (and following the kingly tradition of his brother and fake father, he totally ignores the poors). He is not allowed to see him (he's praying), so Tommen's guards immediately offer to kill the Faith Militant standing guard. While you can visibly see any confidence he felt draining from his body, the people of Flea Bottom start shouting things like "BASTARD!" and "ABOMINATION!" at him, so he runs home. His wife is not pleased that nothing got accomplished, so like any stereotypical woman, she decides to punish her husband by withholding sex.

At Castle Black, Queen Selyse Baratheon (who, in a show full of characters who seem to be villains ripped straight out of the pages of a Stephen King novel, comes off as an especially awful human being) is annoyed that Stannis seems to have a soft spot for Jon, and laments that instead of a son, all she was able to give him was "weakness and deformity" in the form of Shireen. In one of her more likable moments, Melisandre, who has a habit for popping in at the most awkward times, comes to Shireen's defense before practically demanding that Stannis take her to Winterfell with him.

As Lord Commander, one of Jon's duties is to sign a lot of papers, in this case, letters to the lords of Westeros begging for men for the Night's Watch. When he sees Roose Bolton's name all over the last one (after a string of lesser lords he had never even heard of), he refuses to sign. Sam, ever the voice of reason, explains that since Roose controls the North, it would benefit them to contact him for men. Jon eventually gives in since he feels he has no choice, but he definitely pouts about it for a minute.

Melisandre comes in, which almost makes Sam pee himself. When Sam is gone, she tries to get Jon to agree to come to Winterfell, but he insists that he cannot leave his duties. So in a typical Melisandre move, in order to show him "what he's fighting for", she starts taking off her clothes so he can feel her heartbeat. Would it really be that hard to just place his hand on her chest? I mean, have you seen how low-cut her outfits are? You can totally feel her heart without her removing a stitch of clothing. She really wants him to have sex with her, but Jon maintains that his vows, his respect for Stannis (who Mel insisted wouldn't need to know about the rendezvous), and his continuing love for Ygritte prevent him from having sex with her. As she leaves, she says, "You know nothing, Jon Snow", and then smiles as all the color leaves his face.

Shireen goes into see Stannis. She's bored, but she likes being at Castle Black. Selyse had told her that she hadn't wanted her to come (because she's an awful parent who reminds me a lot of someone who used to be in my life), and Stannis (rightly) tells her that Selyse should not have told her that. Shireen flat-out asks Stannis if he's ashamed of her, and we get to hear the story about how Shireen contracted greyscale. When she was a baby, a trader had come to Dragonstone, and Stannis had gotten a doll for Shireen dressed in Baratheon colors. Shireen had loved the doll, and had pressed it to her cheek often, but it turned out that the doll had been contaminated with whatever causes greyscale. Everyone thought Shireen would die, and that Stannis should send her off to Valyria to live with the Stone Men (and prevent her illness from spreading throughout the castle), but Stannis refused. Instead, he called in anyone he thought could heal her, and somehow, they stopped her greyscale from spreading any more. He tells her that she didn't belong in Valyria, because she is Princess Shireen of House Baratheon, and she is his daughter. Shireen is thrilled to hear him say that, and they hug. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I freaking love Shireen. I think she's one character who has translated so much better on the show.

In the crypts of Winterfell, Sansa is lighting candles for her dead relatives, and Baelish, creepy as always, interrupts her; however, this does serve a very important purpose. In the books, Meera Reed is the one who tells the tale of the tourney at Harrenhal that set into motion the events that would change the course of the history of Westeros forever. When Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had won the tournament, instead of crowning his wife, Elia Martell, the Queen of Love and Beauty, he chose Lyanna Stark instead. There are way too many theories concerning the tourney (which is really better explained -- and in much greater detail -- in the books), but it was very important that it be mentioned, because of how it relates to the R + L = J theory. However, after telling his tale, Baelish does pretty much blame everything that has happened since Robert's Rebellion on Lyanna Stark, which doesn't sit well with me, but neither does much of what he does (I do find him attractive though, so it's all very conflicting for me).

He lets Sansa know that he has to go back to King's Landing (temporarily), and she understandably freaks out at the idea of being left alone in a nest of Boltons. Baelish assures her that Stannis will come for Winterfell soon, because if he can get the North, he can get the Iron Throne (and then make Sansa Wardeness of the North, a thought which seems to greatly overwhelm her) but just in case he doesn't come, she should take all the teachings she's learned from Baelish and play Ramsay (and Roose) the best she can. He then kisses her full on the mouth, and it's creepy.

Bronn and Jaime row through the night, because being a Lannister in Dorne is dangerous, and later end up discussing how they want to die. Bronn wants to die drinking wine (which might not be a terrible way to go, now that I think about it); Jaime wants to die in the arms of the woman he loves. I had to wonder whether he meant Brienne or Cersei (probably the latter, but I'd really like it to be the former). This conversation just made me think of my high school history teacher, who insisted that he wanted to die in "a naked lady avalanche". Some Dornish guard/soldier types come riding up, and the guys try to duck down and create a game plan. Unfortunately, Jaime thinks he could maybe take one, if the guy moves slow enough. Bronn, quick on his feet, makes up a believable lie about how they swam ashore when their boat sank. The Dornish guys insist they throw down their swords, and Bronn just can't deal with that, so they end up having to kill the Dornish guys (and Bronn killed a horse, to my horror, which then made me wonder why I usually don't blink an eye when people die on this show, but whenever anyone kills an animal, I'm near tears).

Ellaria joins up with the three oldest Sand Snakes, Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene (who is actually supposed to be the blonde daughter of a septa, but for the show's purposes, she's Ellaria's brunette daughter; in the books, there are eight Sand Snakes, but only the four youngest belong to Ellaria). Ellaria plans on using Myrcella to start a war with the Lannisters, and that they need to make their move ASAP since the Sand Snakes found out from the merchant ship's captain that Jaime Lannister is in town (the captain, by the way, is buried up to his neck in sand while a scorpion crawls on his head, and ends up on the wrong end of Obara's spear).

Somewhere in Essos, Tyrion is trying his hardest to drive Jorah insane so he'll remove the gag (which he eventually does). Tyrion thought he was taking him to Cersei, and finds it immensely amusing that he's actually taking him to Dany when he was going there to begin with. Always the quick one, Tyrion realizes who Jorah is, and that he had been exiled for spying on Dany. He tells Jorah that his plan might backfire, and that Dany might pardon him and kill Jorah.

Dany is delighted to hear from Ser Barristan that Rhaegar had enjoyed going out into King's Landing and playing music for the people. Inspired by her brother, she encourages Ser Barristan to go out into the streets to bring some cheer to her people while she receives the line of people who wish to speak with her (she will come to regret this decision, I'm sure). Hizdahr, once again, implores Dany to open up the fighting pits, thinking that it will put an end to the violence in the city.

And oh, what violence there is.

The Sons of the Harpy start killing people on the street, and the Unsullied, hearing a commotion, run straight into an ambush. Thankfully, Grey Worm is there, and the man can FIGHT. Despite the fact that the Unsullied are surrounded and outnumbered, they put up a strong showing going in to the fight, though as time goes by, they are cut down one by one until only Grey Worm (who was stabbed, and still killed like five dudes in rapid succession) is the only one left. Ser Barristan heard the clamor and saw people fleeing, and, of course, rushes to Grey Worm's aid, proving that Cersei was entirely wrong about him. Unfortunately, Ser Barristan ends up being killed, and after Grey Worm kills the last Son, he collapses next to Barristan's body. Losing Ser Barristan was awful, but GREY WORM HAD BETTER BE OKAY. DO YOU HEAR ME, GAME OF THRONES?!?!

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