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

Last night’s episode of Game Of Thrones served up a teeming cauldron of fresh intrigue, plot twists and characters; all spiced with enough sex and violence to keep the most ardent HBO fan happy. In other words, it contained everything addicts of the show have come to crave – including a trademark shock death or two. (Noooo!) Read on for our full recap.

Warning: Spoilers within!

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To date, Season 5 of Game Of Thrones has been moving at a slow burn which suits us just fine. Each episode has devoted more screen time to fewer characters; giving individual stories room to breathe as the overarching plot gradually snaps into place. Episode 4 stuck to the same formula, although we suspect the glacial build-up has finally reached its peak – from next week onward, expect things to start moving at a breakneck speed. The Dance is nearly upon us!

At the end of last week’s episode, Tyrion got himself dwarf-napped by the disgraced Jorah Mormont who casual viewers may know as “Ser Friendzone”. After presumably spending the previous season skulking in a brothel, Jorah is hoping to get back in his queen’s good books by delivering the captive Lannister in a stolen rowing boat. In an amusing nod to the knight’s warped code of honour, Mormont knocks the boat’s owner out cold and then carefully deposits some coins on his chest to pay for the hijacked vessel. That's chivalry, Westerosi style.

Ironically, Tyrion was already on his way to Meereen to pledge his service to the queen when Jorah nabbed him. As the Imp cheekily points out, Daenerys is just as likely to pardon him and execute Jorah as the other way around -- seems like a poor gamble to us. As always, Peter Dinklage and Iain Glen’s acting was exemplary: we could have happily spent the entire episode in that tiny boat, watching them trade cuffs and insults. We can’t wait to see where their rowing adventures take them next (perhaps they’ll run into Gendry, eh?)

We then move across the Narrow Sea to this season’s star location; the sun-scorched kingdom of Dorne. The local populace is understandably a bit peeved about the eye-popping skull explosion that befell their prince during last season’s trial by combat. As a vengeful old Northerner once said, only blood can pay for blood – and the knives of Dorne have already been sharpened. We subsequently join Jaime Lannister on his secret mission to rescue his “niece”/incestual daughter from the clutches of the Dornish aristocracy.

Along for the ride is the roguish sellsword Bronn who appears to have traded one Lannister bromance for another. If yesterday’s episode is any indication, the quip-happy duo are poised to be the show’s best team-up since Arya and the Hound. With that said, they didn’t do a whole lot this episode other than arrive in Dorne and fight a random troop of soldiers. On the plus side, the action was both exciting and funny thanks to some inept swordplay from the one-handed Jaime.

Next up, we finally meet the Sand Snakes of Dorne: three bastard warrior daughters of the late Prince Oberyn Martell. After being hyped by the showrunners for the better part of a year, the introduction of Obara, Nymeria and Tyene was a bit underwhelming. They basically rattled their sabres and vowed to avenge their father before promptly vanishing from the screen. Based on their physiques, I’m not altogether convinced of their martial prowess either – Brienne could snap all three of them over her knee like bundled kindling. Still, I’ll reserve judgement until we see more of them in action.

Meanwhile, the religious army known as the Sparrows continue to amass power in King’s Landing thanks to Cersei’s unhinged scheming. In a bid to weaken House Tyrell’s influence at court, the dowager queen ships the family’s patriarch off to Bravos and arranges to have his son Ser Loras arrested for the crime of homosexuality. This creates a wedge between Cersei’s son King Tommen and his new wife Margaery Tyrell, which was precisely her intention all along. Presently, the so-called Faith Militant are being wielded by Cersei with the effectiveness of a war hammer – but no good can come from arming religious fanatics. Expect this to bite her in the bum in episodes to come.

Over in the North, the freshly-minted Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow, is busy wrestling with the responsibility of ruling -- along with a certain Red Woman who clearly wants to jump his gloomy bones. Melisandre makes her most overt pass at Jon yet, complete with saucy disrobing and forced ta-ta fondling. To his credit, Jon remains true to the memory of his wilding love and resists her amorous advances. Looks like she’ll need to find her shadow baby daddy elsewhere.

Otherwise, nothing particularly important happened in the North this episode: we got some insights into Littlefinger’s plans for Sansa and a touching scene between Stannis and his daughter Shireen – so touching, in fact, that my prediction about her impending death seems completely on the money. Sniff.

Speaking of character deaths, the show offered up a doozy this episode that book readers are still reeling from – Deanery’s chief advisor Barristan “the Bold” Selmy fell beneath the knives of Mereen’s blood-thirsty slavers. (His book counterpart is currently alive and well, proving once again that no one is safe in HBO’s fast-and-loose adaptation.)

In addition to Selmy, there’s a strong chance that Grey Worm also bought the farm which essentially leaves Daenerys with no military advisors. We can only assume the show is making room for Tyrion and Jorah to join her entourage. Nevertheless, it’s a bitter pill to swallow for fans of these characters.

All in all, Sons Of The Harpy was a solid episode with the exception of the climactic battle in Mereen. The fight chorography wasn’t great and the music was distractingly terrible – it reminded me of the pseudo-orchestra synthesiser muzak commonly found in cheap soap operas and direct-to-DVD actioners. Selmy deserved better.

What did you guys think of this week’s episode? Did anyone see Barristan’s death coming? Share your views in the comments section below.

Note: Please, no spoilers from the books in the comments below!


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Comments

    I'd like to spear Nymeria, if you know what I mean. God she's hot

    Such a lame-o episode. End fight was terrible, sand snakes intro was terrible. Clunky dialogue, like the reminder of Lyanna. Shame since last week's ep was so good :/

    Last edited 05/05/15 9:19 am

      I thought it was pretty damn good! Agreed about the sand snake intro, but there were plenty of great moments - Jaime and Bronn's stoush with the Dornish was the best action sequence of the season thus far and the moment between Stannish and his daughter was very sweet. Also, Carice van Houten took her clothes off which is always a highlight.

        Yeah fair points about the Bronn/Jaime fight and Stannis scene, they were really quite good. But, ehhh the bad outweighed the good. Really, that Melisandre scene was kind of pretty clunky and forced too.

      Yeah that final fight scene was appalling. Started off bad, the traditional bad guys waiting to kill when they have a clear shot, then the music ramped up, and that was like it was from a D grade action flick. To top it off, a procession of bad guys getting behind Selmy, walking up against the wall to get in front of him, and then still wait some more to try and kill. It was terrible choreography.

        The poor filming of it made it so much worse too. I felt like I was watching a home video of some medieval society fight club.

        The choreography was also hamstrung by the how the scene was implemented - actors, numbers, weapons and lore. The actor playing Selmy couldn't show half the skill that the character is supposed to have, and so we end up with the queue-to-get-cut-down; six master spearmen (if the lore is to be believed) in a 5-6m wide corridor against 20-odd probably not well trained thugs with daggers is not good odds (for the sons of the harpy). Where were the crossbows? It could've all made more sense with fewer Sons and more crossbows.

          Crossbows sound good on paper but would have created their own problems for the scene. For instance, all of the Unsullied were carrying shields -- it would have made them look laughably inept at blocking projectiles.

            Good point Chris. What if they had been anywhere other than a corridor/alley? Maybe some kind of arena... if only it was in a city that had some kind of organised fighting system that was currently not operational.

    Can someone fill me in with what happened to Bran and Hodor? Are they dead? If so, why cant I remember.... eh stupid brain

      The Bran storyline is on hiatus this season - they'll be back in 2016. He's currently learning magical stuff north of the Wall.

        Thank god, I find Bran's story line to be incredibly dull. I have very little interest in the magic stuff.

    I wonder if the fight choreography was limited by the age of the actor playing Barristan (he's 67). I know they can use a double, but that's limiting as well. He was swinging his sword like a guy whose almost 70, leading to the "one guy attack at time" routine we ended up with

    I was in disbelief that what is supposed to be lethal soliders in the form of the Unsullied could be so easily jumped and have their throats cut. Really undercut their performance and lore by having it done this way instead of with crossbows - like spadge said. This would at least make narrative sense, no way would the Sons of the Harpy want to get close to the Unsullied (who I previously assumed would've been fairly lethal with their hands as well as the spears). Placing the fight in the corridor was a good way to say "Hey, these Unsullied can't use their weapons now!" but it was a lame way to limit them.

    Yet more clues to the fact that Jon Snow is a Targaryen

    Sansa stating that Lyanna Stark was raped and murdered by Rhaegar Targaryen and Stannis Baratheon doubting his wife's comments that Jon is just a son of some brothel whore.

    Last edited 05/05/15 11:44 am

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