Game of Thrones 5.04: “The Sons of the Harpy”

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) should keep Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in front of him. / Photographer: Helen Sloan, courtesy HBO
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) should keep Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in front of him. / Photographer: Helen Sloan, courtesy HBO

It was Game of Thrones' Melisandre (Carice van Houten) who said everything boils down to the war between life and death. That best sums up “The Sons of the Harpy.” As Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) prove, when one’s life is so constantly surrounded by violence, thinking about death is only natural. Sure, everyone might have different plans about how their flame will get snuffed, but when the destination is the same regardless of the path, it really places importance on what you do before you get there.

The Faith Militant have been reinstated by Cersei (Lena Headey), and they waste no time in turning King’s Landing on its head. In a scene eerily similar to Cersei’s mandated bastard killings in Season 1, Littlefinger’s brothel once again finds its floors painted red. But the violence doesn’t stop there…

Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) is arrested by Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), a newly-marked member of the Faith Militant. When King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is unable to order Loras’s release, Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) undermines him, demanding that he wield the power he possesses as king. This rift between the newlyweds is exactly what Cersei hoped for when she raised the Faith Militant and tipped them off to Loras.

Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) can thank his former fiancee.  /  Photographer: Macall B. Polay, courtesy HBO
Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) can thank his former fiancee. / Photographer: Macall B. Polay, courtesy HBO

Elsewhere, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) proves to both Shireen (Kerry Ingram) and viewers that there’s a soft side between the stoic façade. Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) learns he may have a thing for redheads. Sansa (Sophie Turner) will soon be on her own in Winterfell, now that Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) is headed back to King’s Landing. Jorah (Iain Glen) learns that abducting Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) might not yield the favor he’d hoped for from Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), especially considering Tyrion was already on his way there. And in Meereen, Daenerys learns of her brother Rhaegar’s penchant for the harp (not his penchant for abducting and raping Starks), while Barristan (Ian McElhinney) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) experience firsthand the dangers of living in a city that despises you.

Now onto the Riser of the Week:

Riser of the Week: The High Sparrow

The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) is a fanatic with a plan / courtesy HBO
The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) is a fanatic with a plan / courtesy HBO
Sometimes, a gift will materialize in front of you, as if sent from some divine entity who wants to make sure you succeed. And other times, it comes from Cersei Lannister. When The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) is told that the gods need a sword of their own, he makes sure to outstretch his hand and grab hold of the hilt. While he may not have anticipated this extreme gift of power from Cersei, he had already put in motion a slow-building act of deception. Cersei, by default, comes preinstalled with paranoia, and she refuses to believe that anyone will sincerely help her out, but somehow, upon their first meeting in Flea Bottom, The High Sparrow was able to easily disarm Cersei of her mistrust.

Ominously, when The High Sparrow tells Cersei that “all sinners are equal before the Gods,” it’s clear that King’s Landing is in for a rude awakening and a thorough cleansing. Cersei planned on this, and suggests that the Faith Militant set their sights on Loras Tyrell. Now that that’s done, who will the Faith Militant target next? Clearly, no one is safe.

Honorable Mention: Stannis, who is officially the Mannis after his heartfelt speech to Shireen and his refusal to let his daughter succumb to greyscale.

Faller of the Week: Daenerys Targaryen

Who's still behind Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)? / Photographer: Screengrab, courtesy HBO
Who’s still behind Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)? / Photographer: Screengrab, courtesy HBO
While Daenerys herself wasn’t physically harmed, the same can’t be said for two of her closest allies and best fighters. I can’t confirm whether or not both Barristan and Grey Worm died at the end of this episode, but even if either of them is still alive, neither will be much help in the growing war against the Sons of the Harpy. This war has been brewing since Daenerys took over Meereen and put the slavers out of work and to the sword, and it’s unlikely to stop. Daenerys will be forced to make some difficult decisions and forge some even more difficult alliances if she means to return Meereen to safety while upholding her ban on slavery. She should start by reopening the fighting pits. Or better yet, she should have listened to Barristan when he urged her to leave Meereen and set sail for Westeros. It is known.

Backstory of the Week: Greyscale

The world can be cold and lonely for Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) / Photographer: Helen Sloan, courtesy HBO
The world can be cold and lonely for Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) / Photographer: Helen Sloan, courtesy HBO
It’s been mentioned now a few times this season, so before some surprising plot twist emerges, let’s all get on the same page when it comes to greyscale. Greyscale is a disease that leaves the flesh stiff, dead, cracked, flaked, and stone-like to the touch. As it progresses, the victim’s internal organs also turn to stone, resulting in immense pain and eventual death. If left untreated, the victim will eventually turn completely rigid. These people are commonly referred to as Stone Men, and they reside in large numbers overseas in Volantis. Many years ago, when Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) was just a boy, a vicious plague of greyscale emerged in Oldtown, wiping out half of the city. Greyscale is highly contagious, and extreme caution must be taken when dealing with a victim. This should prove how courageous it was for Stannis keep Shireen around and work towards saving her life, despite the legitimate chances that the disease could have spread throughout his castle. So far, we’ve only heard rumors of the Stone Men, and Shireen is the only character to appear on screen with the disease, but with air time at a premium, the continued presence of greyscale discussions surely means it will be an important factor in the war to come.

Item of the Week: Jaime’s Golden Hand      

Jaime Lannister's golden hand is currently more form than function. / courtesy HBO
Jaime Lannister’s golden hand is currently more form than function. / courtesy HBO

In his first true battle since dismemberment, Jaime fared exactly the way we expected—poorly. While there were traces of a once-great warrior, his timing was off. Had it not been for his metallic golden hand (and his opponent’s lack of knowledge about it), Jaime would have had his answer about how he’ll die. Between his recognizable looks, his severed hand, and the Sand Snakes’ knowledge of his arrival, Jaime is due for some trying times in Dorne.

Maester’s Musings

  • I almost gave Tommen this week’s honorable mention for Riser of the Week after he opted to forego the violent route and not have blood spilt on the stairs of the holy sept. What a far cry he is from Joffrey, who beheaded Ned at that very sept.
  • Shireen might be the one with greyscale, but Stannis’s wife, Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald), is the one made of stone. She makes Stannis look rosy by comparison.
  • In his everlong quest to prove he does in fact know some things, Jon Snow learned that in order to properly rule, you sometimes have to do things you don’t want to. Sending note to the Boltons for help in manning The Wall might not be ideal, but it’s what a ruler needs to do.
  • I loved seeing Sansa in the Winterfell crypts! And Lyanna backstory too?! More please!

Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.

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