Review: Game of Thrones ‘Sons of the Harpy’

The most recent outing of Game of Thrones, titled “Sons of the Harpy,” has one thing and one thing only on its mind – bloodshed. Finally realizing some of the dramatic build up over the first third of Season Five, this episode features extensive bloodletting, not of a massive battle type but of individual skirmishes that spill crimson rivers across the series’ world. While I’ve loved the political and storytelling intrigue of the past three episodes, it’s a nice turn to finally see some expertly choreographed fight sequences. After all, what’s a sword and sandal epic without its swords?

We kick off immediately following the previous episode, with Sir Jorah Mormont tossing a bound-and-gagged Tyrion Lannister into a stolen boat. Apparently, people were undecided after last week’s “I’m going to take you to the Queen” kidnapping, hypothesizing that Mormont was hauling Tyrion back to Cersei. As I immediately assumed, he’s taking him (conveniently) to Daenerys, presumably to curry favor with the Dragon Queen. More on this later…

Jaime Lannister arrives in Dorne – home of fighting and fucking, according to traveling companion Bronn – to rescue “his niece,” Myrcella. Even Bronn has a hard time buying that one. After arriving in Dorne toward the end of the episode, they are immediately accosted by a group of Dorne guards, and the first fight of the episode breaks out with Jaime and (mostly) Bronn hacking into the guards. It’s a little hard for Jaime, though, given his missing fighting hand. Also in Dorne, we are introduced to three of the daughters of the deceased Oberyn Martell, the Sand Snakes, a ruthless group of girls bent on revenge against the Lannisters for the death of their father. They are alerted to Jaime’s presence in Dorne by capturing, torturing, and killing the sea caption who brought him there.

In King’s Landing, Cersei continues to whittle down the advisors to the King, centering the power on her and those extremely loyal to her. She sends Lord Tyrell, Master of Coin, to Bravos to arrange for a more favorable loan payment plan since the kingdom is clearly running out of money. That’s just the appetizer for her real plan, to employ and arm the Sparrows to work in her favor. After enticing the High Sparrow with her false piety, she effectively has him send the armed Sparrow faithful to hack into anyone she wishes. There is a particularly gruesome and intense scene involving the Sparrow’s attack on Petyr Baelish’s brothel during which they (offscreen) castrate a homosexual man.

The next target is Queen Margaery’s brother, Sir Loras, which inflames Margaery. It also effectively cuts off yet another of Margaery’s family members, making her even more of an unprotected target for Cersei’s wrath. When King Tommen tries to free Loras at the High Sparrow’s temple, he is blocked by the armed guards and is taunted by onlookers as “an abomination,” referencing his controversial parentage. When he returns empty-handed, Margaery is furious and effectively cuts off the sex he so recently obtained.

The most intriguing scene in the episode involves no blood at all. After a scene at the wall with Jon Snow and Melisandre (and her naked body), we journey to Winterfell where Sansa and Petyr Baelish share the story of Sansa’s Aunt Lyanna who was allegedly kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar Targaryen. This is an important moment because it’s the first time they’ve referenced the event that started the major wars leading up to the events in the entire Game of Thrones series. Also, as I’ve referenced before, there are several intriguing and well thought out theories inferring that Jon Snow is the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, which would make him the closest person in the kingdom with a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. I just had a geekgasm right now.

Finally, closing the episode, Tyrion may want to wait it out a bit before meeting with Daenerys as she has a huge problem on her hands in Meereen with the Sons of the Harpy. They orchestrate a series of brutal attacks that lure Daenerys’s chief protectors and members of the Unsullied army. Everyone starts hacking into each other, throats are cut, men are impaled, and much blood is spilled. By the end of the fight, Daenerys’s right-hand man Ser Barristan Selmy (the old guy who took over after Jonah Mormont was outed as a spy) appears dead, and the Unsullied leader Grey Worm doesn’t look much better. It was a thrilling way to close what unexpectedly turned out to be a fairly violence-filled episode.

And I loved every minute of it.

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