In “Sons of the Harpy,” Game of Thrones reminds us that power can be attained, or lost, in different ways. Cersei Lannister builds alliances, Melisandre tries to use persuasion, and Jorah Mormont uses brute force. Characters like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are still struggling with how to consolidate power in order to meet the diverse and oppositional forces at work in their domains. “Sons of the Harpy” shows us some interesting personal connections at work, but emphasizes the role of political influence.
[For the recap, continue reading—but if you want to go straight to the review analysis of this episode, click here.]
Bronn and Jaime Lannister are continuing their boat trip to Dorne via Sunspear. Bronne knows all about Dorne. He seems to know all about Jaime too. Bronn asks Jaime why they are attempting to rescue “Your niece?” without more men. Jaime says it has to be him. Bronn suggests he’s trying to get back in Cersei’s good graces after setting his brother Tyrion free, which Jaime denies, adding, “He murdered my father. If I ever see him, I’ll split him in two.”
Having arrived off the coast of Dorne, Bronn rows Jaime to the shore under the cover of darkness. Too bad Jaime can’t help. As they sit enjoying their breakfast they talk about how they’d like to die. Bronn wants a boring death at home, while Jaime wants to die in the arms of the woman he loves. Bronn astutely asks, “She want the same thing?”
They are found by Dornish soldiers, but Bronn is one kick-ass fighter. He leaves one for Jaime, telling him, “That one should be slow enough.” Jaime’s gold hand comes in handy, and he manages to kill the soldier.
Bronn: “Nice move.”
Bronn: “You had a wonderful teacher.”
Jaime insists they bury the bodies because he wants to prevent a war, adding, “I can’t dig very well with one hand. Not at all, really.” These guys are fantastic together.
Despite Jaime’s assurances to Bronn that the captain would not betray them, the captain has gone to one of the Sand Snakes, Prince Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters. Obara, Tyene, Nymeria, and Oberyn’s lover Ellaria Sand all agree they must capture Myrcella before Jaime Lannister does.
Cersei is sending Lord Tyrell to Braavos to negotiate better terms with the Iron Bank. Lord Tyrell seems surprised, particularly that Cersei wants him to leave immediately, but he is ever accommodating and departs with Ser Meryn Trent and his Kingsguard escort. When Grand Maester Pycelle comments, “The Small Council grows smaller and smaller,” Cersei responds, “Not small enough.”
Cersei meets with the High Sparrow, whom she has made the new High Septon after imprisoning the last one. She suggests that the Gods need a sword of their own and offers to arm the Sparrows.
Cersei: “The King himself cannot always punish those who deserve it most.”
High Sparrow: “All sinners are equal before the Gods.”
Cersei: “What would you say if I told you we have a great sinner in our own midst, shielded by gold and privilege?”
High Sparrow: “May the Father judge him justly.”
When the Sparrows arrive in Littlefinger’s brothel, they don’t seem particularly holy, but quite bloodthirsty. The Sparrows arrest Ser Loras Tyrell, accusing him of breaking the laws of God and Man.
Margaery comes to Tommen demanding he free her brother Loras. Tommen understands nothing about what’s going on. Margaery loses her composure for a moment, forgetting that she must be manipulative with Tommen. She is able to catch herself when Tommen innocently asks, “Aren’t you and Mother getting along?” She sends Tommen scurrying over to his mother to demand Ser Loras’s release. Poor Tommen is caught in a battle of wills between these two women. After Cersei tells him she didn’t arrest Ser Loras, Tommen goes to the Sept to speak to the High Sparrow himself, but is blocked. Standing on the stairs of the Sept, people in the street begin to taunt young Tommen, calling him a bastard and abomination. When he returns to Margaery, having failed his mission, she rebukes him and leaves to consult with her grandmother. Tommen seems quite out of his depth. Poor boy never asked to be king.
Selyse Baratheon sees her husband, Stannis, watching Jon Snow. She doesn’t think much of Jon Snow. Selyse bemoans never having given Stannis a son, saying, “I gave you nothing but weakness. And deformity.” She might be the meanest mother ever. Melisandre arrives, telling Selyse that Shireen’s scars mean nothing to the Lord of Light, causing Selyse to slink off. We want to do the same when Melisandre is on screen. Melisandre wants to make sure Stannis doesn’t leave her behind when he marches on Winterfell. We hope Stannis does take her, so she won’t keep making things awkward at the Wall.
Samwell Tarly has a pile of letters for Jon to sign, asking various lords to send men and supplies to the Wall. He tries to slip by a letter to Roose Bolton, but Jon sees it. He has no desire to ask for help from the man who murdered his brother, but Sam reminds Jon of their Oath and points out they need more than 50 men to watch the Wall. Melisandre comes to see Jon. That can’t be good. She tries to convince him to ride with Stannis. She is using all she has to convince him, but Jon still loves Ygritte. Her awkward seduction fails; as she leaves she says, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” smirking at him before she walks away.
Shireen comes to visit her father, Stannis. He acknowledges that Castle Black is no place for a child, but Shireen tells him she likes it. Shireen says that she knows her mother didn’t want to bring her and she asks her father if he’s ashamed of her. Stannis tells Shireen that when she got Grayscale, he refused to part with her; instead, he searched for a way to save her.
“I was told you would die. Or worse. The grayscale would go slow—let you grow just enough to know the world before taking it away from you. Everyone advised me to send you to the ruins of Valyria to live out your short life with the Stone men, before the sickness spread through the castle. I told them all to go to hell. I called in every maester on this side of the world. Every healer, every apothecary. They stopped the disease and saved your life. Because you did not belong across the world with the bloody Stone men. You are the Princess Shireen of House Baratheon. And you are my daughter.”
Sansa lights a candle for her Aunt Lyanna, whom she never met. Petyr saw Lyanna at the famous tourney between Rhaegar Targaryen and Barristan Selmy, during which Rhaegar rode past his wife and gave a crown of winter roses to Lyanna. Lyanna was already promised to Robert Baratheon. Petyr points out that tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose Lyanna. Sansa responds, “Yes, he chose her. And then he kidnapped her and raped her.”
Petyr tells Sansa that Cersei has sent for him and he is riding to King’s Landing. He expects that Stannis will ride on Winterfell soon: “Stannis takes Winterfell, he rescues you from the most despised family in the North. Grateful for your late father’s courageous support for his claim, he names you Wardeness of the North.” If the Boltons are not defeated, he suggests that she can make Ramsay Bolton her own because he has already fallen for her. Sansa admits being frightened of Roose Bolton, and Petyr agrees that Roose is dangerous, “But even the most dangerous man can be outmaneuvered.”
The Summer Sea
It’s hard to see Tyrion tied up by Ser Jorah Mormont. Despite his escape from King’s Landing, his life doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Jorah is taking Tyrion to Queen Daenerys Targaryen. Tyrion cleverly realizes his captor is Jorah Mormont, and recalls quite a bit about Jorah’s unhappy history with Daenerys.
“And now you hope to win back her favor with a gift. A risky scheme … One might even say desperate. Do you think Daenerys would execute me, and pardon you? I’d say the reverse is just as likely.”
Tyrion Lannister is quite the talker, but Jorah Mormont is pretty strong-willed. When Jorah slaps Tryion, it makes us doubt they will be teaming up any time soon.
Ser Barrister Selmy tells Daenerys Targaryen stories about her brother Rhaegar, and how he liked to go into the streets to sing. His tale is interrupted when Daenerys is told that Hizdhar Zo Loraq is waiting to see her. He tries to convince her to reopen the fighting pits.
“Traditions are the only thing that will hold this city—your city—together. Without them, former slaves and former masters have nothing in common. Nothing but centuries of mistrust and resentment.”
The Sons of the Harpy surround a group of Unsullied and begin attacking them. Ser Barrister hears the fighting and comes to assist. When Ser Barrister arrives, he manages to slaughter the remaining Sons of the Harpy, with Gray Worm’s help. Though they have stopped the incursion, it doesn’t appear that Ser Barrister or Gray Worm have survived the attack.
“Sons of the Harpy” Review
Now that Ser Meryn Trent (Ian Beattie) is heading to Braavos, he might run into Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), giving her the opportunity to tick off a name on her death list. Though it’s not entirely clear if they will make it to Braavos. Cersei (Lena Headey) seems more interested in getting Lord Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) out of town than negotiating a better rate with the Iron Bank. Rather than trying to consolidate financial power, as her father would have done, Cersei is focused on getting revenge on her enemies by aligning herself with the Sparrows. Their religious influence has been on the rise, and now Cersei has legitimized and armed this radical group. Will Cersei’s desire for vengeance and power ultimately undermine Tommen’s rule?
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) were fantastic to watch as they manipulated Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). To his credit, Dean-Charles Chapman was very good as Tommen in those scenes as well. Tommen may be gullible because he is not conniving by nature, but we saw on the steps of the Sept that he is neither as stupid nor as brash as his brother Joffrey was.
Melisandre’s (Carice van Houten) attempted seduction casts her more firmly into the role of villain, and Jon’s (Kit Harington) rejection makes him appear more heroic. With so many complex characters who we aren’t sure whether to root for or to hate, Melisandre and Jon’s characters have a simplicity about them. The writers consistently cast Jon in a good light and give Melisandre the appearance of shadowy evil. It’s kind of refreshing.
“Sons of the Harpy” falls into the class of “Funniest Game of Thrones episode,” though it’s a pretty uncompetitive category to begin with in this serious show. Let’s hope that the road trip of Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) never ends, because they are so fun to watch. Previously we enjoyed the chemistry between Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Bronn, as well as the relationship of Jaime and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), but Bronn and Jaime together bring the buddy comedy aspect of the show to another level. The scene between Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Shireen (Kerry Ingram) had a laugh-out-loud funny quality to it with Kerry Ingram’s well delivered line: “She told me ‘I didn’t want to bring you.’” It was also one of the most touching scenes we have seen in Game of Thrones in a long time, maybe ever in this sometimes brutal show. Stephen Dillane’s delivery of the Stannis speech made the character infinitely more likeable, and Shireen’s spontaneous hug was heartwarming.
The saddest part of the episode was certainly Tyrion’s captivity at the hands of Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Both Tyrion and Jorah Mormont have tried and failed in different ways. If any characters on Game of Thrones need a redemption story, it’s these two. Jorah’s grim determination in hoping he can win back Daenerys was just as heartbreaking as seeing Tyrion tied up once again.
“Sons of the Harpy” was a strong Game of Thrones episode, filled with humor, suspense, and sadness.