With a name like “Sons of the Harpy”, I expected much of the episode would focus on Daenarys’ storyline, but just like the episode “Breaker of Chains”, we don’t see her until the last few minutes. We don’t even see a golden mask until the concluding scene of the episode, but it was exciting show well before then. After all, this is not the Daenarys Targaryen Show. This is Game of Thrones.
Jorah and Tyrion
This episode starts off where the last one left off. We see an aggressive and desperate side of Jorah Mormont we have not seen before. He knocks out a fisherman, drags his body to dry land and tosses a few coins on his body for the boat he was about to take.
He was less compassionate with Tyrion, handling him like a sack of potatoes like he hates potatoes.
Later on Tyrion, bound and gagged, hums or sings a muffled version of Rains of Castamere. At least it sounded a verse of it. His whistled version of it in Season 2 was better, of course. This is may not have been the moment that fans were waiting for (Tyrion and Daenarys finally crossing paths), but it was entertaining to see these two characters finally interact. They’re both exiles and both in dark places. The drunk Tyrion that we’ve seen for the first three episodes of the season became the smart Tyrion again as he was clued in on who his captor was and his motivation. Unfortunately for him, Jorah is in the darkest moment we’ve seen him in and was a brick wall to Tyrion’s attempts to reason with him.
Jaime and Bronn
Jaime is accompanied by Bronn on his voyage south to rescue Marcella from Dorne. It comes across that Jaime may be regretting his decision of going to Bronn for help, as much as it was needed. For a sellsword, Bronn asks a lot of questions that Jaime is not comfortable answering. The subtle note about Jaime referring to Marcella as his “niece” proved that Bronn is more informed that he lets on. The even more subtle shots that Jaime is doing what Cersei wants and that perhaps the one he loves does not want what he wants are two more examples that Bronn can say so much in so few words.
When Bronn asked Jaime to send Tyrion his regards, I couldn’t help thinking back to Season 3 when Jaime said similar words to Roose Bolton. The quiet tune of Rains of Castamere was a nice touch, not only because it was the Lannister song, but reminiscent of Robb Stark’s death as Jaime described how he would kill his own brother.
The crown is still in a huge debt and the Iron Bank is looking to collect. The awkward silence that follows Mace Tyrell’s joke hinted that not only was the joke not funny, but the Tyrells and the Lannisters are not the allies they once were after the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Cersei makes no hesitation to send Mace away so she can isolate the remaining Tyrells: Margaery and Loras. As much as I love to hate Cersei, I enjoy any moment that includes her talking ill about or towards Maester Pycell. The small council scene had one of those moments.
The events that followed quickly proved that Cersei is not as powerless as she seemed in the previous episode. She explains to the High Sparrow how justice does not seem to reach those that are protected by wealth and nobility. Her solution: arm the Sparrows and name them the Faith Militant. We finally get to see the reasons why she suddenly takes an interest in religion after she previously said that the Gods don’t care. “That’s why they’re gods” she stated before. Her intentions are played out as the Faith Militant take a fanatical approach to their new role, carving the seven-pointed star into their foreheads and striking down whoever they see as a sinner. The City Watch turned their backs to the violence. This leads Lancel to be indirectly manipulated by Cersei. Loras is imprisoned. King’s Landing is no safer under King Tommen’s rule than Joffrey’s.
Tommen finds himself confronted by his new wife, Margaery, about the imprisonment of her brother. This is the first real test of Tommen’s leadership since his coronation. He confronts his mother, but her position of “I haven’t done anything and I can’t help you” leads him to the Sept with his Kingsguard out of desperation. Once again, he seems helpless as the Sparrows deny him entrance to the Sept and he refuses to assert authority because he only sees two options: fight or leave. Tommen failed his test and he returns to Margaery, who expresses her disappointment. The sequences involving Tommen were really well done because they made the shortest character seem even shorter by making use of power positions and height. Lena Headey (Cersei) is no stranger to making use of these subtle cues and Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen) is consistent with his stiff, but slouched posture. It’s never been clearer how different Tommen and Joffery are.
Selyse Baratheon reminds us that Jon Snow is a bastard in her conversation with Stannis Baratheon, just in case we forgot. Stannis states that bedding a whore was not Ned Stark’s way. That’s another clue to one of the strongest theories to the question “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?” It’s not the only time one of these hints is brought up this episode.
Stannis and Millesandre question each other’s loyalties before Jon Snow is faced with one of the dilemmas that his new found leadership brings. The Night’s Watch needs more men. Not only has he made a vow to the Night’s Watch, but he’s now responsible for its survival. Among the names of Lords and Ladies that he’s never heard of, Roose Bolton’s name comes up as someone that could provide men. How can you ask for help from someone that has betrayed you?
When Millesandre asks for his help, he quickly stands by his vow. The exchange between her and Jon Snow was a bit eerie because, while it’s clear she’s trying to seduce him, it’s not clear what her true intentions are yet. He stays true to the other vow he’s made: to Ygritte. This scene is made even more eerie when the Red Woman speaks the words that only Ygritte said, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Millesandre is still not out of mysteries.
Perhaps the most compassionate we’ve seen Stannis happened in the following scene with his daughter, Shireen. After explaining how she got the grayscale that marks her face, Stannis tells the story of how he did everything possible to save her life when he was told to send her away. This is the most affectionate he’s been to anyone and a contrast to how his wife feels about their daughter. While it was not a complete “I love you” and he said that his reason for caring for her is because she’s family and a princess, it still was more heart-felt that Tywin’s talk with Tyrion where he explains how he could have let his youngest son die. Stannis is slowly becoming a more likeable character compared to when he was introduced in Season Two. Regardless, I’m not in the Stannis camp yet.
This is the first time that we’ve seen Winterfell since it was burnt to the ground after Theon’s short reign over it. It may have been only the crypts below, but Sansa is the first Stark to step foot inside for a long time. While standing by Lyanna Stark’s resting place, another hint to a strong theory is placed as Petyr Baelish tells the story how Rhaegar Targaryen ignored his wife Elia Martell to give winter roses to Lyanna. He says how many died because he chose Lyanna and promptly end the conversation after Sansa adds that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped her aunt. In true Littlefinger fashion, he doesn’t confirm or deny this as fact. He is a master of controlling information. He’s not showing all his cards and has never stopped playing his game as he states that he’s returning to King’s Landing while Sansa has her part to play in the pending battle for Winterfell. The “Ultimate Pawn of Westros” may become a Wardeness.
This is the first time we see Jaime really fight with just one hand. While Bronn takes down the Dornish men with ease, Jaime struggles to defend himself and finds that his golden hand actually may have saved his life. It’s clear how much of a difference his lost hand made compared to his fight with Ned Stark in Season One.
The wait is over. We finally meet the other Sand Snakes that were mentioned previously: Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria (not to be confused with Arya’s missing direwolf). With the absence of the physically strong Brienne or growingly fierce Arya in this episode, the Sand Snakes are a welcome addition of strong females to the cast. They rally together with Ellaria to plot revenge on the Lannisters. Killing the merchant that smuggled Jaime and Bronn, they showed they are a force to be reckoned with. With their plans to use innocent Marcella as revenge, I couldn’t help feeling worried for the Lannisters.
Rhaegar may not be the vicious brute that we have been led to believe. Not only did Littlefinger’s story seem to cast doubt to how Robert’s rebellion really got started, but Barristan Selmy tells Daenarys how he used to accompany Rhaegar to the streets of King’s Landing to sing to the people. Daenarys’ late brother sounded more gentle and caring than in previous stories. She never knew her brother so it’s fortunate for her that she has someone who knew him to share his memories.
“All men must die.” Hizdahr zo Loraq reminds Daenarys as he pleads once again for her open the fighting pits. We don’t get to see if she refuses again or finally gives in as the scene transitions to the streets of Meereen where the Sons of the Harpy orchestrate an ambush on the Unsullied. It’s a battle between the superb training of the Unsullied and cunning of the Sons of the Harpy. The fight seemed more balanced than you would expect if the trap wasn’t set. Both sides suffered heavy losses, but it wasn’t until an Unsullied’s helmet was knocked off, revealing Grey Worm, that things felt tense.
Mere moments ago, we were reminded “all men must die” and the phrase could include eunuchs. Nobody is safe in Game of Thrones. Barristan soon joins the fray. After dropping so many bodies, both Grey Worm and Barriston soon join them in their own puddles of blood. I enjoyed both these characters and it’s sad to see them go. Grey Worm has not been officially confirmed as dead and we may not find out until next episode. Who will lead the Unsullied if he is?
Ian McElhinney (Ser Barristan Selmy) has confirmed that his character is dead. This is a change from A Song of Ice and Fire as he is still alive in the existing five books of the series. We were warned that some characters were going to die that didn’t in the books.
Overall, this episode was packed with the usual sex, violence, and power struggles that we’ve come to expect from Game of Thrones, sprinkled with some Westros history and topped off with a surprise that book readers did not already know about.
Check out the preview for next weeks episode below and read our review of last week’s episode here.