Published on May 4th, 2015 | by Bean0
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 4 “Sons of the Harpy”
From an excellent infographic I saw recently, it became apparent that Game of Thrones has got exponentially more violent since it’s Pilot, which opened with brutal beheading by White Walker. Games Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy” proves to be a carnage-fuelled episode, which while nothing new, does see another important cull, and a lot of pivotal power shifts.
Beginning with Jaime and Bron, who pass Qarth en route to Dorn, and give us the geographical gist of just how far south the mission to save Myrcella is taking them. Attempting a covert arrival to avoid a war seems fair enough as ploys go, but Bron has his reservations. At Jaime’s description of Myrcella as his ‘niece’, Bron pointedly questions that title; since Stannis’ outing, the secret is old news, but Jaime must still play along for the safety of all. And one must assume, denial preserves the sanity of his two remaining children, let alone the authority of Tommen’s claim to the throne.
Perhaps Jaime is starting to appreciate the insightful qualities that Tyrion enjoyed in this mercenary knight; Bron is a mouthy dissenter, and the Lannisters need such people around them, lest they crawl once and for all up their own backsides. First, he disputes the prudence of Jaime taking part in the mission, for as Tyrion learnt in the previous episode, Lannister men are recognisable and not well-liked ‘round the world. Later he questions the likelihood of the redemption Jaime seeks whilst gently inferring the love he bears for his sister may be unrequited. Jaime has little to say on either topic, but he does make his position on Tyrion clear; and it is bloody and determined, much like their arrival at Dorn.
Their rocky start looks to be soon further complicated by the involvement of the Sand Snakes; Oberyn’s illegitimate children, raised as warriors, the gnarliest of whom seems to be the spear-wielding Obara Sand. Elia Sand rallies these women to her cause; to capture and kill Myrcella and cause Cersei as much pain as possible. The Queen Regent has her hands full back in Kings Landing, and is reminded unceremoniously that the crown is broke. Already in hock to House Tyrell, Cersei’s plan to send Mace Tyrell, her new Master of Coin, to Braavos to negotiate an extension on their massive loan is ominous, particularly since the butcher Meryn Trant is accompanying him. The bass note that plays at Trant’s entrance is something of a signpost; should we expect to see Tyrell alive again? It might hurt Queen Margaery, but would ultimately be a pretty duff move since Mace is pliable and full of cash.
She has managed to shave the council down to three though; which begs the question ‘how long does Maester Pycell have left?’. As Cersei manoeuvres Pryce’s High Sparrow to a position of power and authority, one wonders if she might be over-extending. He seems too savvy to be her puppet, though he acts immediately upon her tip off that Loras Tyrell is a ‘corrupt sinner’ (i.e, gay), throwing the Queen’s brother in a dungeon. Another move against House Tyrell. This sends a message to Margaery, that Tommen’s power as King is not absolute, and throws a spanner in their newlywed bliss. 1-0 to Cersei, for now.
The Faith Militant/Sparrows are merciless in their elimination of sin, attacking ale houses, brothels and the houses of high lords alike; no-one is safe. The fervour with which the acolytes discharge their duties, hacking and slashing their way through Kings Landing, is an unnerving display, the camera positioned low and askew repeatedly throughout the marauding mass. The Queen Regent builds herself a righteous army, but how does she imagine she will control it? And should they choose to believe the rumours hurled at the King about his ‘abominable’ provenance, what then? A risky business, this game of thrones.
From one bastard to another, as we watch Jon Snow instruct the brothers at The Wall. More talk of Jon’s mysterious maternal parentage; a hint perhaps, as Selyse calls him a “bastard by some tavern slut” and Stannis comments, “Perhaps, but that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way”; might there be a revelation in the offing? Selyse’s appalling rejection of her own daughter Shireen as “weakness and deformity” is countered by the Red Woman, who encourages the natural father/daughter bond. Melisandre’s is not content with control over the Baratheon’s, and she extends her powers of persuasion in Snow’s direction. His rebuff surprises her, but she leaves with the upper hand, stunning Jon with her parting shot; “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.
Another historical point arrises with Littlefinger’s take on the moment that set off the last generation’s Baratheon uprising; Rhaegar Targaryen’s public scorning of his wife to favour Sansa’s aunt Lyanna Stark at the fateful tournament. Moments like these enrich the tapestry of Game of Thrones, bestowing a sense of context so vital when the innumerable characters, families, plots and motives churn ever onwards. Baelish explains how Stannis’ drive South should make possible her elevation to Wardeness of the North. If his machinations prove successful, Sansa may at least be free of the Boltons, though forever in debt to Baelish. Better the devil, I presume, but…it gives me pause. Too tidy.
Her erstwhile husband is in nearly as tight a spot as she, gagged and bound, abducted by Ser Jorah. Over the course of five seasons, Tyrion has been captive more often than at liberty. Perhaps it is this that makes him so damn gobby once the gag comes off. Once he determines their course – to Queen Daenerys and not in fact to his sister – Tyrion can’t help but Sherlock the situation. Were the following monologue not delivered by the incomparable Peter Dinklage, that much exposition might seem clunky. He lays it out accurately though, and helps bring up to speed any less astute viewers. Mormont wishes to earn back his Queen’s trust with a Tyrion-shaped gift, a scheme as hazardous as it is futile. His perception earns him a smack in the mouth, but though Jorah has gone rogue, he continues to be a conflicted antagonist, leaving the man whose boat he stole gold in recompense.
In Mereen, we hear more stories of Rhaegar, this time told by Barriston Selmy, and it occurs that rather these are tales of this noble knight too; a man oft spoken of in legend. Daenerys enjoys the story, having so few cheery anecdotes of her forebears, and sends her good champion out for a night off. If only these moments didn’t foreshadow so obviously; the next scene begins “All men must die, but not all can die in glory”; oh, Ser Barriston, it’s the end of your saga. As the Sons of the Harpy storm through Mereen, much like the Faith Militant in Kings Landing, the episode culminates in a ferocious battle, at the last pitting just Grey Worm and Selmy against too many masked foes. A s the bells toll, so pass the last of Daenerys’ closest allies, their ‘glorious’ deaths a fierce blow to The Mother of Dragons.
Review by Nina Clark
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