Saturday, May 23, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.04: "Sons of the Harpy"

“He’s a dangerous man. But even the most dangerous men can be outmaneuvered. And you’ve learned to maneuver from the very best.”

I didn’t really see anything tying together the many plots of “Sons of the Harpy” thematically, but they were all interesting vignettes that suggest more drama in the coming weeks. We spent time with Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, and Cersei as all the machinations towards control of Westeros continued, albeit incrementally. We also got to know a little more about Dorne, particularly the Sand Snakes, the female warriors who considered themselves “daughters” of Oberyn, who was killed in Tyrion’s trial by combat last season. I do always enjoy spending time in Westeros, and this episode contained some excellent character work, but other than a very significant fight at the end of the episode, there wasn’t a lot of action in this one. I’d like to see the action pick up soon. Then again, a good friend once described reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” as reading thousands of pages and then realizing that not much actually happened (he’s still a fan of the books, for the record).

Let’s start with the requisite King’s Landing drama and machinations this time. Cersei is still feeling mighty threatened by Margaery, so when the need arises to negotiate with the Iron Bank of Braavos over some money the Crown owes, Cersei decides to send Margaery’s father, Mace Tyrell, to conduct the negotiations. She also sends Ser Meryn, her Kingsguard minion, along for the ride, presumably to keep Tyrell in line. This gets at least one Tyrell out of Cersei’s hair. Then, Cersei takes a meeting with the High Sparrow and agrees to provide weapons to the Sparows. Because arming religious fundamentalists (of any religion) always ends well. The Sparrows raid one of Littlefinger’s brothels and arrest Loras for being gay. Queen Margaery, understandably, is pissed off that her brother has been arrested, but her teenage King, as much as he wants in Margaery’s pants, can’t really do much about the situation. If he tried to have his Kingsguard attack the Sparrows, it could start a riot. Margaery decides she needs to go spend some time with her grandmother.

We also pay another visit to Castle Black in this episode, where Jon is still settling into his role as Lord Commander, and Stannis and Melisandre are still desperately trying to win him (and the Night’s Watch) to their cause. Jon is signing requests to the noble Houses for more Night’s Watch recruits when Melisandre interrupts. She tries to seduce Jon into joining the cause, going so far as to disrobe in front of him. Jon protests that he took a vow, but Melisandre sees through that immediately. His next protest is that he loves someone else, but Melisandre points out that someone else is dead. Jon continues to refuse, and Melisandre finally gives up. She says “you know nothing, Jon Snow,” (Ygritte’s old catch phrase) as a parting shot as she leaves the room. Also of note, there’s an interesting conversation at Castle Black where Stannis basically says it wasn’t Ned Stark’s style to impregnate a tavern wench (the most common Jon Snow origin story circulating around Westeros). There’s a popular theory among fans that Jon’s Stark parentage actually comes from Ned’s sister, Lyanna, not Ned himself, and this comment could potentially set that up.

At Winterfell, Sansa and Littlefinger have a conversation in the Stark family crypt that reveals a little history of Rhaegar, Daenerys’ older brother and also reveals a bit about what Littlefinger hopes for Sansa. Littlefinger is leaving for King’s Landing at Cersei’s summons, but before he goes, he lets Sansa in on his grand plan. He is hoping that Stannis will sack Winterfell, kick out the Boltons, and make Sansa Wardeness of the North. I wonder why he thinks Stannis would necessarily leave Ramsey Bolton’s wife (presuming the wedding happens before Stannis arrives) in charge? He gives Sansa some encouragement, basically telling her that she learned to manipulate from the best. Sansa speculates that when Littlefinger returns to Winterfell, she will be a married woman. Littlefinger tries to kiss Sansa, but she doesn’t really respond to it. Which is understandable considering he’s a creep.

We next venture to Dorne. Well, the sea on the way to Dorne, at least. Jaime and Bronn are trading verbal barbs. Jaime isn’t being completely honest with Bronn, and Bronn doesn’t appreciate it. Jaime tries to say that Myrcella is his niece, for instance, and he also insists that Varys set Tyrion free. Bronn knows both of these things are false. Jaime does insist, however, that if he ever sees Tyrion again, he will kill him. That Bronn believes. When Bronn and Jaime arrive on a beach in Dorne, they are eventually spotted and confronted by Dornish soldiers. In the ensuing attack, Jaime fights one soldier while Bronn fights three. Jaime ends up with a sword in his prosthetic arm for his trouble, which is kind of impressive in a way.

Also in Dorne (presumably), we meet the Sand Snakes, who are half-sisters that are all daughters of Oberyn, as I mentioned in the introduction. They are badass lady warriors, which is cool except for the fact that in this scene, they unite to kill a little girl. Tyene, the youngest of the Sand Snakes is the daughter of Ellaria, Oberyn’s lover who was really pissy with Prince Doran a few episodes ago. Ellaria convinces the Sand Snakes to help her in her quest to murder Myrcella. The Sand Snakes also manage to capture the captain of the ship that brought Jaime and Bronn to Dorne. They burry him in sand and put scorpions and a bucket on his head. The Sand Snake ladies don’t play.

In yet another boat, we see a conversation between Jorah and Tyrion. Jorah explains that they are going to see Daenerys, and Tyrion tries to explain that in that case, they are on the same side. He also manages to deduce exactly who Jorah is, and he knows Jorah’s troubled past. Jorah rewards Tyrion’s deduction with a slap. Meenwhile in Meereen, Dany once again refuses to reopen the fighting pits. More importantly, though, the prostitute who is working with the Sons of the Harpy is planning an even bigger attack. She ambushes a group of Unsullied, and Grey Worm is one of the injured. Ser Barristan arrives on the scene, and we finally see why he was so legendary in Westeros. He takes down many, many Sons of the Harpy before he finally succumbs. It’s a shame to lose such an interesting character at this point in the story. I feel like there’s a lot more we could have learned from him.

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