HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy”

Damn you, leaked episodes, for having no leaked previews to go with you after that evil cliffhanger ending. The spoiled among us have had to pay for our sneak peeks with nearly four long weeks before any new episodes. Everything has a price.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

Barristan Selmy?! Noooooooo! He was one of my favorites and I loved his chapter “The Queensguard” in A Dance with Dragons and he only just got to tell Dany a little bit of sweet Targaeryn history and then you just knew he was doomed, like a damned Joss Whedon cliché.

Do. Not. Approve.

Okay, so we don’t know for sure that Selmy is dead, but I think it’s a safe bet. There was a lot of blood and telegraphing (see above re: telling Dany a nice Rhaeger story.) I can understand why D&D might’ve wanted to deviate from the books here — with no war to deal with in Yunkai, Selmy’s got no official purpose on the show. And his death at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy arguably gives that story more weight and opens up a spot on Dany’s council for a certain little drunken advisor. Whom Selmy probably would warn Dany against if he were alive, being that he’s dealt with Lannisters firsthand his whole life.

But it still sucks to see Selmy go.

Grey Worm, I think, is safe. He still has to have awkward eunuch sex with Missandei. Again: damn you, leaked episodes, for having no leaked previews to go with you! I’ve had 3 weeks to ponder what’s next after that ending.

This will surely speed up Dany’s ultimate decision on re-opening the fighting pits in a bid to calm the tension overrunning Meereen. In a way, I kind of agree that Hizdahr zo Loraq is right about the fighting pits having a purpose. But, then I think about all the Spartacus I watched and, no, gladiators are still slaves and Dany shouldn’t endorse that. I guess if the fighters were really, unequivocally free, it’d be okay. But how many people in this world (or any) are?

The big fight with the Sons of the Harpy wasn’t the only thing that happened tonight, but it was the most exciting.

A lot of stuff happened by cover of night, with little boats and murky blue cinematography. Ser Jorah and Tyrion aren’t the road trip buddies that Jaime and Bronn are, and their scene was, like Jorah himself, treading water. Ho-hum. Trying not to be impatient. But four episodes in and it’s taking too long to get Tyrion to Dany. Still less time than in the books though, so I can’t complain, really.

Bronn talks up how fuck-mad and fight-happy Dornish people are — we have met Prince Pantydropper Oberyn and Ellaria in happier times — but I am sad to report that these aren’t the Dornish people we’re meeting this episode.

Sand Snakes. Big meh.

That intro scene was… just not good. It felt really shoehorned in and the three newcomers seemed really out of sync, which is tremendously bad for a group of women who are famed for fighting as one. They all had totally different accents, for starters. Most egregious was Kiesha Castle-Hughes’ Obara, whom I was most excited for. Maybe it’s because I know she was the star of Whale Rider, but I still hear distinct Kiwi under her “Dornish” accent, mixed with some… Michelle Rodriguez? Hope I warm up to them since they’ll be gunning for Jaime this season and thus they’ll be around a fair bit.

I’m okay with Ellaria not being Book-Ellaria, but she’s so focused on revenge right now, I’m finding her really flat. She should’ve saved some of her chopped hair to glue under her nose and twirl.

The other, more understandably off-putting scene in tonight’s episode was the continued weirdness of Sansa back at Winterfell. I’m okay with Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay, terrible as he is, but it’s so not right that Littlefinger is already leaving his prized possession in a nest of Boltons as Stannis approaches. As Littlefinger says, Stannis needs Sansa, too, so as long as she’s not, I dunno, raped and murdered by some soldiers in the siege (we remember what Cersei said happens to women in a siege in season two’s “Blackwater;” also this is GRRM we’re talking about here) she should be safe.

But what’s to keep Sansa from getting raped and tortured by her new husband? Or harmed by her father-in-law, who’s busy preparing for Stannis’ army and is dangerous in a different way? I am still not buying Sansa as “strong” now. Littlefinger keeps telling us she is, but we’re not seeing it. I’ll believe Sansa is maneuverable when she pushes Ramsay’s nasty girlfriend down a flight of stairs Showgirls-style before What’s-Her-Name can do it to Sansa first. It’d be a start.

Let’s not even get into that kiss or the way Sansa’s kind of looking at Littlefinger as if she’s got a crush.

In other Bad Ideas, we got more time with the High Sparrow and his followers that Cersei has so, so stupidly given free reign to in King’s Landing. That was a great montage of buzzkilling. A slow clap for Cersei, really, who has validated this religious fringe group so much that they won’t even listen to King Tommen. It’s not like he’s Joffrey; he can’t just execute a bunch of priests in the streets. But if his case of royal blue balls continues for much longer, who knows?

Free Loras! Free Loras! Though, really, even in prison he’s still ahead of where he was in the books. For now at least. Maybe Margaery’s regretting some of last week’s hubris?

The only warm n’ fuzzy scene in tonight’s episode was from a very surprising corner: Stannis really does love his daughter Shireen. I think this was the first time I’ve ever liked Stannis. So the doll he gave his daughter in turn gave her grayscale? His guilt must be immense.

However, being Game of Thrones, I wonder if this scene is doing double-duty to point out that 1) Shireen has king’s blood as good as any son and 2) Stannis does value his daughter’s life. Might we get to see Sam, Gilly and the ailing Maester Aemon on a southbound journey with Shireen, to keep her safe from Melisandre’s Red God? Having gotten a taste of this pairing in the second episode of this season, I hope so.

 

Final Thoughts:

  • Line of the night (tie): “What a waste of a good kidnapping.” –Tyrion, or “Not small enough.” –Cersei. Ha! GTFO, Pycelle.
  • So long, Mace Tyrell. He looks like a puffed-up walrus. Love his awkward comedic timing.
  • Loved Jaime’s face when he looked at Brienne’s home, Tarth. I miss shipping them. (I know, so not canon, but the actors had good chemistry.)
  • The scene in front of Lyanna Stark’s statue was interesting, no? It seems Littlefinger might subscribe to the “R+L= J” subreddit, too.
  • It’s bizarre seeing Tyrion getting slapped for a change.
  • Oof. Jon Snow having to ask Roose Bolton for some men for the Wall was tough. I really do like this new, more dedicated Jon Snow.
  • P.S.: Get a new tactic, Melisandre. Taking your tits out and making shadow babies is your answer to everything. God.
  • P.P.S.: Your third Gendry’s blood-leech was defective. Stannis shouldn’t trust you.

Next week: No idea. But the episode is called “Kill the Boy.” Which boy?

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.

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