Welcome back to StAR’s weekly recap of Game of Thrones!
Rukma: This episode was a lot. Cersei arms the Faith Militant, Melisandre fails to seduce Jon Snow, Bronn eats a rattlesnake, the Sand Snakes finally appear, Littlefinger kisses Sansa, and I desert Jaime for Stannis Baratheon. Stannis reminds me of a straight-laced accountant from our world who is suddenly thrust into an extreme sword-and-sorcery universe, but staunchly maintains his accountant-ness in the midst of every outlandish thing to ever happen to him. His bizarre groupies–a pirate, a religious fanatic, and an honest-to-goodness monster-producing witch–only highlight how out of place he is in Westeros. Weirdly, he’s also pretty decent at his job. Of the five kings in Westeros only Stannis recognized the White Walker threat and tried to defend the Seven Kingdoms from the actual Undead. Meanwhile Robb was making eyes at Talisa, Renly and Loras were getting it on, and Joffrey was… being Joffrey. Balon Greyjoy might even be alive? Who knows? What is dead may never die. To pick up on my fan theory redux from last time, R+L=J gets a lot of screen time this episode. Stannis kicks things off by commenting to Selyse that Ned Stark wasn’t the kind of person to father a bastard. Then, Littlefinger provides some convenient Tourney-at-Harrenhal exposition complete with patented Petyr side eye in response to Sansa’s accusation of rape against Rhaegar.
Dylan: Yeah, episode four definitely lived up to its spoilers as a miniature episode nine. Daenerys and Jaime are back, Arya and Brienne are nowhere to be seen, and some very high profile characters maybe die in the last two minutes of the episode. Cersei gives Dany a run for her money as the worst politician ever, authorizing the High Sparrow to violently promulgate his anti-gay, anti-sex, anti-everything agenda and making poor Tommen look like an idiot in the process. (Meanwhile, Rukma insists that Cersei is a good mother for reasons I cannot comprehend.) Things almost get hot and heavy between Jon Snow and Melisandre, which anyone who has been paying attention for the last three episodes saw coming a mile away. Unlike every straight man I’ve ever met, however, Jon Snow resists Melisandre’s aggressive advances even after she bares it all in the name of the Lord of Light. Jaime and Bronn’s bromantic romp in Dorne is overshadowed by the long-awaited appearance of the Sand Snakes, who are about as ruthlessly badass as their name makes them sound. They’re hellbent on killing Jaime, but I doubt Benioff and Weiss would actually let that happen, despite the fact that they are certainly better warriors. Unpopular opinion, but if it weren’t for Bronn, Jaime’s entire subplot would bore the shit out of me. Littlefinger, Daenerys, and Tyrion all behave exactly as expected, and… that’s about it. But make no mistake: Rukma was right, this episode is a lot.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season Five, Episode Four, “The Sons of the Harpy.”
Before the episode even begins:
Rukma: Ever since ‘dad bod’ became a thing, I’m very into Stannis.
Dylan: Can you stop?
Rukma: Can you stop policing my choices?
Dylan: I’m not policing your choices, I’m trying to correct your bad judgment.
Rukma: I’m on my way to becoming a Stannis the Mannis fan.
Dylan: Just… no. If you’re going to be into anyone, be into Melisandre.
Rukma: Ew! She’s creepy, and produces shadow babies.
Dylan: But like, since when have personality or actions mattered to you?
Rukma: What? Of course they do!
Dylan: Jaime Lannister…?
Rukma: I’d fuck his personality.
Dylan: But he’s an awful person.
Rukma: He repented. Everyone makes mistakes.
Anyway. The episode opens with Jaime (on his “personal repentance journey,” as Rukma calls it) and Bronn on a ship to Dorne.
Dylan: Oh my god, he’s wearing nothing underneath that leather jacket.
Jaime: [looks wistfully toward some islands]
Rukma: Oh! It’s the Sapphire Isles! He’s in love with Brienne!
Bronn: It’s all fucking and fighting in Dorne.
Dylan: And also in this entire show.
Jaime: We’re going to rescue my niece.
Bronn: … your niece?
Rukma: The shade!
Dylan: LOL, Bronn 1, Jaime 0.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei kicks Mace Tyrell out of the small council before meeting with the High Sparrow, who she has also named the new High Septon. Cersei reinstates the Faith Militant by arming the High Sparrow’s insane followers, who then murder and imprison a bunch of “sinners” all over the city.
Rukma: Never give religious fanatics political power, Cersei.
Lancel Lannister (the “not so hot anymore because he’s a terrible person” monk) throws Loras Tyrell in jail, which pisses Margaery off. Meanwhile, Tommen does nothing about this, but we feel bad for him because he’s only like, nine years old.
Rukma: This is the first wrong political decision Cersei has made and I’m not here for it at all.
North at the Wall, Stannis is talking to his wife, who sucks.
Stannis’s wife, who sucks: I should have given you a son.
Rukma: Your daughter is one of the smartest, most interesting characters on the show.
Stannis’s wife, who sucks: Our daughter is a deformity.
Rukma: You’re a deformity!
Rukma and Dylan wonder: who’s the Worst Mom in Westeros?
- Lysa Arryn, who breastfed her son until he was like, thirteen!
- Stannis’s wife, who sucks! (a.k.a. Selyse)
- Cersei, who gave birth to Joffrey Baratheon! (Rukma still thinks she tried)
- Daenerys, who locked two of her dragons up after the third ran away!
Dylan: Literally Catelyn Stark was the only good mom in Westeros and she’s dead.
Also, Jon Snow has his own office now, and Sam is apparently his secretary? Sam brings Jon Snow a bunch of letters (fan mail?) for him to answer.
Jon Snow: I’ve never even heard of these people.
Sam: They haven’t heard of you either.
Dylan: YES SAM. YES. Who is Jon Snow writing to?
Rukma: He’s asking the Northern lords for help.
Dylan: Oh. Wait, what does he need help with?
Rukma: …the zombies on the other side of the wall.
Then, Melisandre comes into Jon Snow’s office, presumably to seduce him.
Rukma: She’s gonna show him her boobs.
Melisandre: [shows Jon Snow her boobs]
Rukma: Just like I said.
Dylan: She has great boobs though.
Melisandre: Can you feel my heartbeat?
Dylan: Is that a thing? Can you actually feel your heartbeat through your boobs?
Rukma: …let me check!
Melisandre: The Lord of Light created male and female, two parts of the same whole.
Rukma: Ew, so heteronormative.
Jon Snow: I swore a vow.
Dylan: What about Ygritte? Like, yes you swore not to have sex but then you did, so…
Jon Snow: I loved another.
Dylan: Yeah, and now she’s dead…
Melisandre: You know nothing, Jon Snow.
Rukma and Dylan: [both gasp] [both die]
Sansa is eerily lighting candles in a crypt under Winterfell. Littlefinger talks to her about Lyanna Stark, her aunt, and the Tourney at Harrenhal, when Rhaegar (son of the Mad King) first declared his love for Lyanna. This is basically the reason for Robert’s Rebellion, which is the reason for every bad thing that has EVER happened in Game of Thrones, including Jon Snow. Especially Jon Snow.
Littlefinger reveals he’s double-crossing the Boltons while secretly chilling with Stannis in order to get Sansa named Wardeness of the North. Then, he kisses Sansa.
Rukma and Dylan: [both vom everywhere]
Jaime and Bronn land in Dorne. Bronn casually beheads a snake that was about to kill Jaime. They bond, then slaughter a bunch of Dornishmen.
Rukma: I’m about it. I want this fight.
Dornishman: Who are you?
Bronn: I’m Cooper.
Rukma: COOPER? Why Cooper?!
Jaime blows their ruse the fuck open, then barely avoids getting killed by one guy while Bronn single-handedly slays the rest of them. Then, the Sand Snakes finally appear!
Rukma: [has a moment]
These badass women warriors (all daughters of Oberyn Martell) have figured out that Jaime is in Dorne to recuse Myrcella. War is declared; a man buried in the sand is lanced through the face, ouch.
Meanwhile, in Essos, Tyrion and Jorah are in a boat headed to Daenerys. Tyrion mouths off to Jorah, who slaps him. Daenerys and Barristan Selmy bond over how lovely her brother Rhaegar was before Dany bans the fighting pits from reopening even though apparently everyone wants them.
Rukma: Dany sucks at politics, part twenty-seven.
The Sons of the Harpy kill a bunch of people. Grey Worm and his Unsullied are promptly beaten by these men in masks and robes, totally not living up to their reputation as the greatest warriors in the world.
Dylan: Grey Worm is not going to die. He can’t die. Does he die in the books?
Rukma: Well, none of this is in the books, so…
Dylan: You said that with such disdain.
Barristan Selmy joins the fray, killing like six men at once while Grey Worm flounders.
Rukma: They have short swords, why are they using spears in such close quarters!
Dylan: Yeah, why is this fictional fantasy series so inaccurate?
Barristan Selmy definitely dies, and Grey Worm might also. FUCK YOU, Benioff and Weiss. No one likes you.
Rukma: This episode is incredibly dark, and I’m not about that so I’m going to focus on the less awful parts. Thrones is amping up the shock value, and this season it seems to derive entirely from canon divergence, or rather book divergence. Dark Sansa, Ser Barristan, Cersei targeting Loras instead of Margaery, and Jaime-n-Bronn going to Dorne. The Water Gardens are finally in the title song, although they’re just called Dorne in the sequence. It’s alright, brown-people lands are hard to distinguish. Jaime and Bronn talk a lot on a boat. Apparently, Jaime hates Tyrion now? Tywin was awful, so it’s unclear why. They land in Dorne, some more Bronn bantering commences and the two defeat some prettily-attired Dornish soldiers. But not before they’re sold out to the Sand Snakes by their ship’s captain. Oberyn’s daughters, numbering six in the books, have been consolidated to three distinct women on the show–Obara (the spear), Nym (the bullwhip), and Tyene, Ellaria’s true daughter. Arianne Martell, Doran’s daughter, and heir to Sunspear, has been heartlessly excised from the show. As a POV character, and a major carrier of the plot, Arianne is not an easy character to erase. Presumably, her story will be given to the Sand Snakes. We shall see. Meanwhile, House Martell plots. Really, they come in pretty close after the Starks in which house has the worst luck in Westeros. Far, far north of the white shores of Dorne, Melisandre tries to seduce Jon Snow, everyone’s favourite oathbreaker. Her naked form literally paralyzes the Lord Commander, which is not that surprising if you consider that Jon Snow is like fourteen in the books. But being Jon Snow, he refuses the Red Woman’s magic. Bad move, Jon. Some guy in our world once said something about women scorned, and Mel proves him right, targeting Jon Snow’s sad little heart with the episode’s greatest line. Oh Jon Snow. But we are left with many mysteries. How did Mel know what Ygritte liked to say when Jon kissed her there? Is Melisandre actually Ygritte? Why is Thrones projecting such a sympathetic Shireen Baratheon? Are they going to brutally murder her? Why do I even care any more? Did these people really just kill Ser Barristan and Grey Worm? Where is Arya? Where is Brienne? Did Bran just die? Jk, no one needs that answered.
Dylan: Wow, I actually do hope Bran just died. He’s the one universally disliked character, by which I mean both Rukma and I dislike him (who else is there?). But no, instead Barristan Selmy is probably dead, which sucks because he was nice and now Daenerys has nobody to stop her from oppressing the people she thinks she’s liberating (lol, as if anyone could have anyway). On a positive note, shit is almost certainly going down in Mereen, so Dany’s next few segments should at least be interesting. Sansa continues to be mistreated by literally everyone, but unlike in previous seasons, she seems to be biding her time in anticipation of eventual revenge, which will undoubtedly be glorious; think Arya’s kill list, but Sansa won’t actually be killing them. In my opinion, though, the most upsetting action this episode happened in King’s Landing, because I have an awful feeling that this whole High Sparrow fiasco is going to be Cersei’s undoing. She allied herself with this insane and dangerous religious dude, made an actual enemy of Margaery by imprisoning her hot brother Loras, and alienated her son Tommen, a.k.a. the only person in the world who still liked her at all. Even Jaime hates her now. Think about that. She probably won’t be offed (then again, you never know), but I predict the next few episodes will only get worse and worse for poor Cersei. Poor Cersei? Who am I fucking kidding, I love her but she is the worst and definitely deserves whatever she has coming.
Photos courtesy of here, here, here, here, here, and here