TV Review: “Game of Thrones” – “Sons of the Harpy”

Written by Jesse Gelinas May 07, 2015

The Sand Snakes are introduced in Sons of the Harpy

Ellaria meets with the Sand Snakes

Now this is what we have come to expect from “Game of Thrones.” “Sons of the Harpy” reminds HBO’s loyal audience why watching this show is a bit of a masochistic exercise. Blood, conflict, and death have become synonymous with Westeros over the past four years. Season 5’s fourth episode is by far the bloodiest so far, and will leave viewers hanging by a thread with its intense, and jaw-dropping finish.

Jaime and Bronn continue their secret mission to Dorne, killing four soldiers and stealing their horses. Meanwhile, Ellaria meets with Oberyn’s daughters, the Sand Snakes, who agree to avenge their father’s death even if it means war. In the North, Littlefinger leaves Sansa with the Boltons, but assures her that Stannis will soon attack and rescue her. At the Wall, Melisandre tries to seduce Jon Snow for “unknown reasons.” In Kings Landing, Cersei arms the Sparrows and gives them free reign to dole out their own brand of justice, leading to Loras Tyrell’s imprisonment. King Tommen fails to rise to the occasion, much to his wife’s disapproval. Across the sea, Jorah is transporting his prisoner, Tyrion to Meereen to buy Dany’s forgiveness. Meanwhile, the Sons of the Harpy stage a coup in Meereen, killing many of Dany’s soldiers, and leaving Barristan and Grey Worm critically wounded, possibly dying.

“I’ve had an exciting life. I want my death to be boring.”

I counted no less than twenty on-screen deaths this week. Bronn himself kills three Dornish soldiers, and the Sons of the Harpy murder a large number of Unsullied. It’s the bloodiest massacre since the Red Wedding. While it’s mostly faceless soldiers, it still hits home pretty hard when we see Grey Worm making his last stand, wounded and alone. The cliffhanger ending, with Grey Worm and Barristan both bloodied and battered is a real sucker punch to the audience. Both men, loyal to a fault, now possibly dead for their Queen’s ideals.

Jaime battles a Dornish soldier in Sons of the Harpy

“Sons of the Harpy” is a relatively combat-heavy episode. And the fight choreography is on point. Watching Jaime attempt to fight with his left hand, and making an amusing maneuver with his fake hand was both exciting and entertaining. The ambush combat in Meereen was less so, but still incredibly well done. Watching the Unsullied attempt to keep their disciplined style in cramped quarters was heartbreaking. The best part of the episode for me was finally seeing Barristan Selmy in action. The former Kingsguard has been hyped as the best swordsman in the Seven Kingdoms since Season 1, and it was nice to finally see why. I have to commend the writers of the show for always giving us new insights into various forms of combat and different kinds of warriors.

“Boy or girl, we fight our battles. But the gods let us choose our weapons.”

Sadly, this week did fumble a rather crucial scene for book fans and watchers alike. The introduction of the Sand Snakes was quite cringe-worthy. While Indira Varma (Ellaria) is a terrific actress, her dialogue is cliché-ridden and hokey to boot. Worse is Obara’s (Keisha Castle-Hughes) ridiculous and unnecessary monologue about meeting her father. She is surrounded by her sisters and (sort of) stepmother; there’s no need for her to tell a story they’ve likely heard before. It’s the worst kind of exposition, and ruins what should have been a purely badass scene for three badass characters.

Tommen in Sons of the Harpy

King Tommen and his entourage

Aside from the bloody climax, the high point of “Sons of the Harpy” is Stannis sharing a rather unexpected tender moment with his daughter. When asked if he is ashamed of her, Stannis, not answering right away (not a good sign), dives right into a story about the origin of her disease. Explaining that everyone around him wanted her exiled or killed, the One True King told them all to go to hell, found a cure, and saved her life. Because she is his daughter. It’s a rare human moment for the stone-faced Stannis, and a welcome reprieve from his usual gruff self.

“You did not belong across th worldwith the bloody stone men. You were the Princess Shereen of House Baratheon. And you are my daughter.”

Overall, one eye-rolling scene aside, “Sons of the Harpy” is a terrific episode. Hopefully we can take the Sand Snakes’ intro as a write-off, and expect some awesome scenes to come. The Dornish storyline is one of the more intriguing plots right now, and deserves as much. With two characters’ lives hanging in the balance, the cruelty of the Old Gods and the New (and even the Lord of Light) tells us at least one of them is getting the axe. We’ll just have to wait and see, and I imagine everyone watching is chomping at the bit for Sunday to get here sooner.

My Rating: 9/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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