‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 4 Recap: Sons Of The Harpy

Above: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on 'Game of Thrones'
Above: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on 'Game of Thrones'

Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 5, Episode 4 —Sons of the Harpy.

Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, we suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.

This felt like a throwback to the first couple seasons of Game of Thrones, where large numbers of people were being killed and there was plenty of scheming taking place from week-to-week. Not that folks haven’t died or plots haven’t been set in motion, but this week’s episode seemed like the bloodiest since “The Red Wedding” and the most plot-filled hour in quite some time.

That makes for a lot to recap, so let’s get to it.

Your Move, Margaery

Last week, Margaery tried to make a power move by convincing malleable King Tommen that his mother, Queen Mum Cersei, would be happier back in Casterly Rock. Not to be outdone, Cersei responded this week by indirectly taking action against House Tyrell and making it clear that she’s not to be trifled with.

First, she dispatched Mace Tyrell, Margaery’s father and the current Master of Coins, to visit The Iron Bank in Braavos, since the cofers are getting low and the current terms of their borrowing arrangement aren’t all that good. Of course, she also sent her favourite Kings Guard henchmen, Ser Meryn Trant, to watch over him, which could very well lead to an unfortunate and inexplicable accident happening to the head of House Tyrell in the future.

Then, Cersei empowered the High Sparrow’s religious fanatics, the Faith Militants, to basically storm through King’s Landing punishing sinners. Adorned in black cloaks and chains, the fanatics tore through Littlefinger’s brothel and “arrested” Loras Tyrell due to his “indiscretions.” In case you’re keeping score, enjoying the company of other men is unacceptable in the eyes of the Faith Militants, but as of yet, having an incestuous relationship that spawned several children with your brother hasn’t drawn their ire.

Margaery implores King Tommen to have her brother released, but he comes up short after encountering the Faith Militant on the steps of the sept when the High Sparrow is praying. Frustrated by his lack of results, the new Queen storms off to be with her family.

Score this round for Cersei.

Fathers and Daughters

Stannis had himself a brief touchy-feely moment with his daughter, Shireen, at Castle Black.

After looking out over the Night’s Watch, including Jon Snow, his wife, Selyse, apologizes for not giving him a son and casts one of her “our daughter is a disappointment” looks in the direction of Shireen. Later, when Stannis is in his office and Shireen enters, they have a conversation about whether she’s enjoying Castle Black and Shireen let’s slip that Selyse had said she didn’t want to bring her.

This irks Stannis, who tells a story of how Shireen became stricken with “The Greyscale” and rather than send her off to live out her years elsewhere, he brought the best healers in the world to Dragonstone to help her, saving her life. He then reminds her that she is “Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and my daughter” before they share an awkward hug.

Courting Jon Snow

Since arriving in the North, it’s been pretty clear that “The Red Woman” Melisandre has had her eye on Jon Snow. This week, she approaches the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch in his office in an attempt to entice him to join Stannis as they attack Winterfell. Jon declines once again, citing his loyalties to the Night’s Watch and duties at The Wall.

Undeterred, Melisandre tries to change his mind by offering up her body, groping at his garments as she lets him hold her left breast and feel her heartbeat, but Jon recoils. He’s pledged an oath, plus he loved another. Melisandre says the dead don’t need loving, but Jon counters that he’s still in love with Ygritte, which prompts “The Red Woman” to tie up her outfit and go, but not before telling the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch…

“You know nothing Jon Snow!”

Littlefinger’s Long Game

Down in the crypts at Winterfell, Goth Sansa is lighting candles when Littlefinger comes down to say his goodbyes and lay out his plan for how things will play out in the North. He’s heading back to King’s Landing because Cersei has requested his presence and blowing her off would be a bad idea, but before he goes, he explains things to Sansa.

The way he envisions things working is as follows: Stannis attacks Winterfell, clobbers the Boltons and makes Sansa “Wardenness of the North” because she’s the last remaining Stark (or so he thinks) and Stannis will need her father’s bannermen if he’s to march on King’s Landing. If the Boltons happen to thwart his attack, Littlefinger believes Sansa can use her feminie wile to keep weirdo Ramsey Bolton at bay and put herself in a position of power nonetheless.

When she suggests that she doesn’t know how to do that, Littlefinger suggests she’s more capable than she knows. After all, she’s learned from the best – him. He gives her a little kiss on the lips and heads off. As he’s leaving, Sansa remarks, “I expect I’ll be a married woman by the time you return,” which gets a coy nod from Littlefinger in return.

On the Shores of Dorne

After a fun little scene in the bowels of a ship where Jaime refers to Myrcella as “his niece” while Bronn raises an eyebrow, “The Lannister Rescue Party” finally arrives in Dorne, where they are promptly discovered by four members of the Dornish patrol on horseback. A fight ensues, Jaime discovers that he can catch swords with his fake hand and the duo live to fight another day.

Shortly after Bronn asks Jaime why he thinks the ship captain won’t sell them out to Prince Doran, we finally meet “The Sand Snakes,” Prince Oberyn Martell’s three lethal bastard daughters that Ellaria Sand referenced earlier in the season. When their mother arrives to share the news that Doran does not wish to harm Myrcella, The Sand Snakes reveal the ship captain, who approached one of them in the city, telling her that he smuggled Jaime Lannister into Dorne.

Ellaria is hip to his plan and knows the window to avenge Oberyn’s death by doing harm to Myrcella is closing now that her uncle/father is in town. She asks Oberyn’s daughters for their support and the first two – Tyene and Nymeria – jump on board no sweat. The eldest, Obara, gives a little soliloquay about the first time she met Oberyn, how he told her they always fight their own battles and that she picked a spear as her weapon of choice.

Then she throws the spear through the ship captain’s head to pledge her allegiance to Ellaria’s cause.

A Kidnapping Gone Kind of Wrong

Kidnapped Tyrion comes to out at see with Ser Jorah, who un-gags him and explains that he’s taking “The Imp” to “his Queen.” Tyrion, being the smart ass that he is, suggests Jorah is going in the wrong direction. Cersei is in Westeros and Westeros is to the West. When Jorah counters that he’s taking Tyrion to Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion can’t help but laugh, seeing as that’s where he was headed all along.

He quickly susses out who his captor is and what he’s trying to accomplish by bringing him to Dany, but suggests she might just as readily execute Jorah and pardon him. That comment gets him a knocked out so the frustrated Jorah can sail towards Meereen in silence.

Sons of the Harpy

Speaking of Meereen, you know things are going to go sideways when Dany is standing on her balcony with Ser Barristan Selmy and remarks, “Everything looks peaceful enough from up here” or something to that effect.

After dispatching Ser Barristan for the evening, Dany listens to Hizdahr zo Loraq once again urge her to open the fighting pits, but Dany again stands firm in her objection. Down in the city, the Sons of the Harpy are moving in the shadows and begin to strike, slitting the throats of unprepared sellswords and surrounding a group of Unsullied that rush towards the fracas.

Blood is spilled, mostly that of Unsullied, including Grey Worm, who fights valiantly, but is overmatched. Ser Barristan arrives to help, but he too is no answer for the Sons of the Harpy. The credits roll as Grey Worm and Ser Barristan lay side-by-side amidst a floor full of dead bodies, themselves on their way to the next life.

# # # # #

So much to digest.

Sansa’s “I’ll be married” line is too isolated to be a throwaway, so there are definitely future happenings that will transpire between she and Littlefinger. They’ve been dancing around an attraction and possible relationship since last season when he smuggled her out of King’s Landing and we’ll probably see them as a couple somewhere in the future. Maybe not this season, but it’ll happen.

Cersei is bat-crap crazy and weakening the royals from the inside one dumb move at a time. She’s filled the high council with idiots and quacks, dispatched Jaime on a potential suicide mission and basically thrown down the gauntlet for a “Lady Battle” with Margaery. Don’t be surprised if House Lannister crumbles from within before this show reaches its conclusion.

Jon Snow getting hit with Ygritte’s dying words/sexy time coy remark can’t be a coincidence either. Something will come out of this interaction between he and Melisandre.

The Sand Snakes look bad ass and we need more of them in every episode going forward.

Dany is in danger, but chances are between Tyrion’s eventual arrival to help her on the strategic, “Here’s how you be a ruler” side of things and the fact that she’s still “The Mother of Dragons,” early guesses are that she’ll ultimately defeat the Sons of the Harpy and move towards taking the Iron Throne.

Advanced Game Theory: So we got a lot of information about Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s elder brother, and Lyanna Stark on Sunday, with Littlefinger flinching when Sansa spoke of how Rhaegar “kidnapped and raped” her Aunt Lyanna, the story she’d been told her entire life, and Ser Barristan Selmy painting a picture of a singing, loving Rhaegar to Dany prior to his demise.

We know that Melisandre has a nose for regal bloodlines (see: Gendry) and with her taking a keen interest in Jon Snow, many have wondered if Jon might not be Ned Stark’s bastard son at all, but rather the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna, whom he agreed to protect and shelter his sister’s child.

Remember, history is written by the victors and with Robert Baratheon having defeated Rhaegar to claim the Iron Throne after he “kidnapped” Lyanna – who was previously promised to Baratheon – he would have been able to spin the tale of Robert’s Rebellion however he wanted, making his actions seem noble, rather than jealous and envious.

So could Jon Snow actually be Dany’s nephew and of royal lineage? Perhaps we’ll find out more as the season progresses.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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