If last week was a game of negotiation, then ‘The Sons Of The Harpy’ is all about power plays.
Let’s bitch it out…
Let’s break down the top three power players in this week’s episode:
1) Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) doesn’t quite have his mojo down yet
Thus far, the S5 action in King’s Landing has been very Cersei (Lena Headey) focused, which makes sense given that she’s trying to fill the power vacuum that her father’s death left. With the Small Council more or less wrapped around her finger, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) is her chief antagonist, particularly now that she’s the Queen and she’s using the magic of sex to control Tommen. The war between the two women escalates quickly this week when Cersei grants the Sparrows authority to act like their own private army to clean up the capital. This means that any behaviour the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his followers deem unseemly, like homosexuality, are punishable by death and imprisonment. Needless to say Loras (Finn Jones) doesn’t last long – something that riles Margaery up and puts Tommen squarely in her battle of wills with Cersei.
It’s amusing watching the boy King puff his chest to try and get a word with the High Sparrow, but there’s a deeply disturbing undercurrent to these proceedings, particularly when the crowd turns against Tommen. Cersei is clearly playing with fire: considering some of the acts that she’s been involved in, giving religious fanatics who burn insignias into their foreheads the ability to act completely without regulation, I think Cersei has bitten off more than she can chew.
2) Melisandre (Carice van Houten) is getting hands-on…and handsy
It’s a big week for Melisandre after a fairly quiet start to the season. We know that Stannis (Stephen Dillane) plans to leave The Wall to march on Winterfell in a few weeks, so Melisandre takes care to remind him what happened the last time he left her behind (a little strategic nightmare oft referred to as The Battle of Blackwater).
The other scene of note is Melisandre’s “chat” with Jon Snow (Kit Harrington). The Red Lady is eerily similar to Cersei in the way she goes about shoring up support (minus the desperation and the reliance on wine). When asking Jon to reconsider traveling with her and Stannis to Winterfell, she resorts to disrobing and straddling him. Interestingly for a moment it almost appears as though Jon will succumb to her charms, but he ultimately forces her off in an effort to honour his vows (and Ygritte, whom he admits he loved and hasn’t recovered from). Melisandre’s final creepy reference of the fiery wildling’s catchphrase is genuinely unsettling.
3) The fighting pits are open for business
The traditional opening date for the fighting pits arrives, but Daeny (Emilia Clarke) refuses to change her tune. Her firm stance is the latest in a series of moral/judgmental decisions that have unintended consequences; here the Sons of the Harpy unofficially open the fighting pits against the Unsullied in a brutal attack that ends the episode. Felled in the attack after an incredibly heroic effort is Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) whose fate is sealed the moment that he and Daeny share a tender moment. Also on the chopping block: Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) who is gravely wounded and may or may not die as a result of his injuries.
This is just the latest in a series of setbacks for Daeny. As Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) make their way to the Mother of Dragons, it will be interesting to see how she handles this substantial blow. Does the loss of Selmy mean that Mormont will be welcomed back to her inner circle? Or is this, like Cersei’s stormy story line, a taste of things to come? As we approach the mid-way point of the season, the women are very much in charge of the narrative, but there’s plenty of blood on their hands…and seemingly much more to come.
- The other defining aspect of ‘The Sons Of The Harpy’ is its propensity for storytelling. Stannis tells his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) about how he saved her from the Greyscale that threatened her life and Baelish (Aidan Gillen) tells Sansa (Sophie Turner) a slice of history about her aunt Lyanna and her Troy-like role that prompted war in Westeros and ultimately led to Mad King Rhaegar’s death. These fascinating glimpses help to peel back the rich history and mythology of the world of the series. Love ’em.
- I also love Sansa’s retort to Baelish that her aunt was kidnapped and raped when he tries to pin responsibility for the deaths of thousands on Lyanna. The eldest Stark has come such a long way since her naive, idealistic days in S1.
- Oh wait…never mind. She’s still trusting Baelish when he says that she can expect Stannis to save her from the Boltons or she will have to make Ramsay hers. I fear it will end up being the latter, which is terrifying when you consider how Ramsay has acted in the past.
- Jon is uninterested in asking for supplies and support from Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), the man who helped orchestrate the deaths of his half-brother and step-mother (at a little wedding we refer to as the Red Wedding), but Sam (John Bradley) is adamant.
- After sitting off for a week, Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jeromy Flynn) receive arguably the majority of the episode’s screen time as they reach the shores of Dorne. The trip is not without peril: their efforts to keep a low profile don’t exactly pan out when the ship’s captain falls pray to the Sand Sisters and their cover as shipwrecked survivors is met with swords and death by a Dornish patrol. Still, the pair make for excellent television.
- Also excellent TV: the introduction of the Sand Sisters. Those ladies are appropriately daunting and awesome. Can’t wait to see them go head to head with Jamie and Bronn.
- Melisandre (when Jon refuses her because he still loves Ygritte): “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
- Shireen (when Stannis asks how she knows her mother didn’t want her to come): “She told me ‘I don’t want you to come’”
Your turn: has Cersei set a dangerous precedent? Is Tommen a sad patsy? What is your impression of the Sand Snakes? Are Jamie and Bronn tons of fun? Is Jon wrong to deny Stannis and Melisandre? Is Daeny making bad decisions? Will Mormont and Tyrion be welcomed if/when they ever make it to Meereen? Sound off below.
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO