The fourth episode of Game of Thrones' fifth season aired last night, and as has been the case with many of its earlier counterparts ("Oathkeeper," "And Now His Watch Had Ended"), there was a good deal of table setting in "The Sons of the Harpy:" Tyrion gets to know his new traveling companion, while Jaime and Bronn arrive to a less than friendly reception in Dorne.
Although one can't overlook the significance of the actions of two groups of fanatics, leading to what will likely be an unpleasant confrontation between the Sparrows and the Lannisters in King's Landing, and the somewhat surprising death of a loyal knight in Meereen.
"The Sons of the Harpy" is also the last of the previously leaked episodes that came out before the beginning of the season, so your pirate friends will no longer be able to taunt you anymore. Anything can happen, people!
Locations (* = new) King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen, Dorne
Sers Not Appearing In This Episode: Arya Stark, Jaqen H'ghar (though now that I think about it, it's just as likely this is some dude impersonating Jaqen, it's not like we'd know), Ramsay Bolton, Roose Bolton, Theon/Reek
Elvis needs boats, and so does Jorah (Iain Glen), who appropriates one to ferry Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) back to Essos. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn are also sailing for Dorne (past Tarth, giving the newly introspective Kingslayer A Moment). Bronn (Jerome Flynn) laments they'll be doing more fighting than the other f-word while rescuing/kidnapping (rescnapping?) Jaime's "niece." And lest we think Jaime is harboring any sympathetic feelings for Tyrion, he promises the net time he sees the man who murdered his father, he'll "split him in two." What's the nickname for a bisected Halfman? Quarterman, I guess.
Tyrion susses out Jorah's motives pretty quick, opining that his "desperate" scheme might backfire spectacularly. Jorah, a man of few words and fewer rationally thought-out decisions, backhands him into unconsciousness. This little pairing probably won't be as enjoyable as Jaime/Bronn.
Cersei (Lena Headey) sends Master of Coin Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) to Braavos to negotiate better terms with the Iron Bank, who are calling in their debts. She assigns Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) of the Kingsguard to accompany him. Clearly they're setting up a reunion between Arya and Trant, who led the group assigned to capture her in the first season. Maybe we'll also see the long-awaited return of Syrio Forel.
Oh shut up.
Cersei's not done, either. In a meeting with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), she agrees to arm the Sparrows, reinstating the fanatically violent Faith Militant. Before long they're destroying casks of wine, raiding Littlefinger's brothel (paying special attention to those with affinity for the same sex), and carving the symbol of the Seven in their foreheads, Manson style. Oh, and arresting Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones).
Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) takes understandable umbrage at this. Unfortunately, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) isn't exactly a forceful monarch, and ends up outmaneuvered by Cersei and intimidated by the members of the Faith. Joffrey would have had his Kingsguard set fire to the Sept while he shot their burning bodies full of crossbow bolts, but Tommen backs down, amid screams of "Bastard" and "Abomination." There won't be any sweet, sweet loving for the King any time soon.
At the Wall, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) throws shade at Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) for speaking ill of her daughter, while Jon Snow (Kit Harington) experiences the first foul taste of leadership (asking the Boltons for recruits), as well as one of the "perks," if that's what you want to call Melisandre getting her tits out again (I do). What is it with this guy and redheads?
I will say this, the exchange between the normally, uh, "reticent" Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and Shireen (Kerry Ingram) about her condition -- from the smallpox blanket way the Dornish infected her to his refusal to condemn her to death -- was one of the best and most powerful moments of this show. This is possibly because I have three daughters and am therefore a huge sap.
Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) have reached Winterfell, where they consider the implications of Rhaegar Targaryen "abducting" Lyanna Stark. Returning to current events, he has to ride for King's Landing, but he tells Sansa the North will be hers, whether thanks to Stannis' impending attack or outmaneuvering Roose Bolton. Small comfort for someone about to wed Ramsay the Uber Creep.
Jaime and Bronn land in Sunspear and are immediately discovered by a Dornish patrol. They dispatch them readily enough (Jaime handles the slow one), but I'm not sure what the point was, except to give us more examples of the pair's hilarious chemistry.
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Dorne is also where we're introduced to the Sand Snakes, the daughters of Prince Oberyn (RIP) and occasionally Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). Ellaria, recall, wants war with the Lannisters for Oberyn's death and was officially rebuffed by Prince Doran. Her daughters, including Obara (Keshia Castle-Hughes) are with her, the latter emphatically so, spearing the ship's captain Bronn predicted would rat them out through his face.
Our episode climaxes in Meereen, where -- after a portentous soliloquy from Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney) about Rhaegar's secret busking habist -- the Sons of the Harpy make a daring daylight attack on the Unsullied. In the end, the last men standing are Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Barristan, though both might be dead (my money's on the latter only, however).
Stuff That Will Piss Off Book Purists: We've already established how far afield the Jaime/Bronn, Brienne/Pod, and Sansa/Littlefinger storylines are, so let's move on; Loras was never arrested, or betrothed to Cersei for that matter -- he joined the Kingsguard and was later critically wounded in an assault on Dragonstone; Barristan is still alive in the books, leading the defenses of Meereen; Prince Doran imprisons the Sand Snakes pretty quickly after Oberyn's death, and it looks like the Arianne/Quentyn Martell scheme to crown Myrcella has either been dropped or will be incorporated using other characters; Melisandre in the books is a little more subtle in her influencing Jon Snow.
Next Week: Yep, Barristan's dead. Dragons! Ramsay and Sansa, hopefully just sitting in a tree and not losing any skin. Dragons!