Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
How was that for a stressful episode of Game of Thrones? Tonight’s episode, “Sons of the Harpy,” had some seriously badass fight scenes as well as some killer small dialogue scenes. We are definitely seeing the new pairings get their time on screen now, as Jaime/Bronn, Tyrion/Jorah, Cersei/High Sparrow, and Stannis/Shireen all get great scenes with one another to help us get to know their characters better.
I think discussion of the episode needs to begin with the developments in King’s Landing. Cersei sure thinks she is every bit as clever as Tywin, doesn’t she? The abrupt switch the show made from the quiet meeting between her and the High Sparrow to the immediate, violent cacophony that is the newly armed “Faith Militant” should show just how little control Cersei truly has. Loras being arrested for his lifestyle (which we were so handily reminded of in the “Previously on…” section to start the episode) also highlighted an important aspect of the new King’s Landing: Tommen is in power. Which means the king has zero authority. Seeing Tommen shirk away from unarmored peasants who are hurling insults at him rather than stain the steps of the sept red with their blood shows the audience who is really in control. We’ll see how long Margaery puts up with this. Just last week, she seemed to be in total control. Now, with her husband a spineless child and her father being sent away, look to Margaery to really bring out the thorns. And it appears that Cersei, smirking away, is probably in way over her head.
Speaking of clueless leaders, we return to the north, and Jon Snow is hearing from another redhead that he knows nothing. Which is true, considering Melisandre basically screamed to the audience that her and Jon Snow were going to make another shadow assassin, while Jon remained completely unaware of what her true intentions were. Jon is having a lot of pressure put on him to help reclaim the north, which he surely won’t do: then the Starks would have a positive moment for once. Starks do not get positive moments, and if they do, something terrible will immediately follow.
Apparently Baratheons get positive moments once in a while, as the scene between Stannis and his daughter Shireen truly stole the episode. It was a touching moment to see the stone-hearted Stannis open up to his afflicted daughter. Shireen proves a good foil to her grumpy father; she is quick-witted (“Were you bored often too?”) and sad. Her character truly functions best to open up Stannis to us – remember when he was just a dour, depressing, angry pretender? Now he is one of the most intriguing characters on the show. Hearing him tell Shireen about how she got Greyscale (as well as making yet another mention of these mythical “stone men”) and how he used every bit of his power was an extremely touching moment and further made Stannis the du jour hero of the show. The new Ned Stark the show has been looking for. The new… Ned…
Ned’s daughter Sansa is still not faring too well, especially with Littlefinger deserting her for King’s Landing. Although we had no Ramsay this week, Petyr Baelish still dropped some serious knowledge on us: that look he gave Sansa after she mentioned Rhaegar kidnapping and raping her aunt? He knows, as most of Westeros probably does, that Robert Baratheon’s betrothed did not unwillingly go with the Prince of Dragons. However, this is the first time that the show has explicitly stated that. I trust some fireworks in the near future between Sansa and Ramsay with Littlefinger out of the picture; she has proven to be a great student to Petyr Baelish, but is she ready for the big leagues with the new wardens of the north?
We got to visit Dorne in a few different places (and it got a spot on the map in the opening credits) with mixed results. The storyline that still has not quite gelled this season is that of the Sand Snakes, Oberyn Martell’s badass bastard daughters. I cannot tell if the show is saving something big for these girls, or if it just is not sure how to handle them, but so far there has not been too much interest generated from the fiery people of Dorne. Basically, the scene with the Sand Snakes just served to show us that Bronn was right, as usual.
I love the dynamic between Bronn and Jaime. Both are very intelligent characters, although their smarts come in different areas. It is great to see Bronn testing Jaime, such as needling him when he calls Myrcella his “niece,” or forcing him to take on a fighter with his shoddy swordplay. However, Bronn also knows that the only chance he has of going anywhere in the world to live out his wish for death (“I’ve lived an exciting life; I want a boring death”) is by increasing his standing with the Lannisters. So even though Jaime is acting somewhat like a pompous prick, Bronn knows it is in his best interests to sally forth with this agreement. Especially if he gets to show what a great fighter he is like he did in tonight’s episode. He obviously did not need Jaime to fight the man that he did and barely survive. But that quick sequence showed what a devastating force Bronn can be; I would put my money on him in a one on one fight with pretty much any character on the show. He has a brutality and uncaring attitude when it comes to fighting; he will do whatever it takes to win and stay alive in any situation.
I get a bad feeling that one of these two is not going to make it out of Dorne alive. There was all sorts of ominous foreshadowing, such as Jaime glimpsing Tarth with a faraway look in his eyes, his talk in the hold of the ship that made it sound like the two were on a suicide mission, and his lack of fighting skills. And how ominous was Jaime’s line about how he wants to die? “In the arms of the woman I love.” My guess is she would have no problem arranging that.
Our other new buddy combo, Jorah and Tyrion, did not get a ton of screentime this week. Basically, Tyrion got to prove his smarts while Jorah got to solve problems the only way he knows how: the back of his hand. Tyrion has a way of drawing great conversations out of any character he is on screen with, so hopefully he can get the closed off Jorah Mormont to finally bare his soul a bit and we can better figure him out. It is intriguing that Jorah is so worried that Tyrion may be be right when he argued that the chances of Daenarys executing one and pardoning the other is a toss up between which men will receive which faith. Jorah is truly a desperate man, and he is coming back to beg Dani’s forgiveness at the wrong time.
Our final scene of the episode, and also the most tragic, caused some head turns at our viewing. Why have the Unsullied, supposedly the most frightening warriors in all of the universe, been destroyed so easily? Our titular fighters, the Sons of the Harpy, cornered a group of Unsullied, including Grey Worm, in an alleyway in their quest to overthrow Daenarys. The question this final (awesome) fight scene raised was: when are the Unsullied going to prove they can meet their advertising? The Sons of the Harpy are random nobodies off the street; even three to one they should be no match for the finest soldiers in the world. Even still, watching Grey Worm and, eventually, Barristan Selmy throw down with these masked terrorists was a great moment for the show. Both men have unique fighting styles that are still impressive, and it was an intense and brutal scene that showcased how well this show can handle elaborate battle scenes. Grey Worm’s fight was especially impressive, as Barristan’s suffered a bit from “Batman Editing.” Lots of quick cuts marred Barristan’s sheer power as he cut down man after man. Seeing both Grey Worm and Barristan the Bold collapse, with blood pouring out of them, right before the cut to black was unnerving. I hope it is not so, but from the looks of “Next Week on Game of Thrones,” Ser Barristan may have participated in his last melee.
Another week, another solid episode of Game of Thrones. What did you think of “Sons of the Harpy?” And feel free to weigh in on other topics raised in this episode. Who are the strongest fighters in Westeros? What is Littlefinger’s endgame? Melisandre’s? And when will Tommen get to Ser Pounce his wife again? Let us know in the comments below.