[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 4, "Sons of the Harpy"

Courtesy of HBO
I'm conflicted about this episode. On the one hand, it was mostly original stories, and that is good. On the other hand, it was an awful lot of exposition and even more soliloquizing, which is bad. Generally, I'm in favour of using ten words when three will do, but by the time the third character opted to answer a question with a tale, I was screaming for brevity. Character should be revealed through action and interaction, not through explanation. That is one of the basic rules of character building. And while it is occasionally nice to have a character go off on a bad-ass boast, or wax poetic about their methods and skills, there is a limit. And that limit was reached, exceeded and set on fire in this episode.

And to make matters worse, a solid half of those reminiscences were little more than recaps of information we already learned, back in season 1. So this episode was the Westeros Learning Annex, a refresher course to jog our memories (should have known they'd be reaching way back when Robert appeared in the "previously on" segment) of information that might be relevant in the next few weeks.

Hit the jump for the exciting review, which want their spoilers to be boring.

So... Tyrion and Jorah. I didn't mention it last week, out of respect for non book readers, but maintaining this aspect of the book plot while excising Griff and Connington makes this subplot superfluous. As Tyrion himself mentions, he was already headed towards Dany. And with Varys' connections, would have likely been openly welcomed. In the books, Tyrion's involvement with Griff wouldn't have resulted in his intersection with Danys. Bringing in Jorah rerouted that plot line. Shunting the series back onto the novel's tangent doesn't accomplish anything they weren't already in the process of accomplishing. Other than getting Jorah involved in the narrative. The character is in bad need of a redemption arc, and the writers seem to want to stick with what the novels laid down.

Of course, given the events of the end of the episode, he may not be in need of redemption as much as the recipient of desperation. Potentially killing Grey Worm and/or Selmy is a bold choice for the series to head in. Far bolder than the various merging of storylines or blending or rearranging of plots they are doing elsewhere. Eliminating Dany's personal security, her support structure and her friends weakens her power base. Not as ruler of Mereen, she has a tenuous hold on that as it is. But this season for her the theme is "winning is easy, ruling is hard" and the absence of Jorah and Selmy essentially means that she has no angel sitting on her shoulder. Only demons, whispering for death. Dany will now be pushed into a corner. Either she can lash out, melt the sky and move on, in which case she proves she's not much of a leader, or she can cow to the demands of the Sons of the Harpy, in which case she proves she's not much of a leader.

Elsewhere, it was fresh, new story lines pretty much all around. Cersei focused on attempting to consolidate her power by eliminating her greatest challenges. First, she got Lord Tyrell out of the way, then she empowered the Sparrows into a Holy Army, who preceded to arrest Loras, which enraged Margaery, which provided the opportunity to show that Tommen is not well liked or respected as King. The luster has went off the Lannister gold, and the people see Cersei's bastards for what they are now. Cersei is a puppet master now, ruling without challenge, but the crutch of that power is inertia. Nothing is doing Dany's job more than the Lannisters pissing everyone else off. The people would not regret losing their king, or starting fresh with a new dynasty. So, it's not so much that power has corrupted Cersei, its that the power she has is rotten and diseased, and no one else really wants to touch it.

Littlefinger is betting that Cersei drives the Lannister rule into the ground, hedging his bets in a masterful way. Either Stannis rallies the north behind the Wardeness of Winterfell and seizes the Iron Throne, or Stannis is squashed, and Littlefinger is still loyal to the Boltons and Lannisters. Whomever wins, so does he. Of course, on this series the best laid plans usually end up with a sword through an unexpected neck, so expect everything to go wrong with Littlefinger's plan just as soon as it can. Sansa herself might be the variable he failed to consider. She's wiser and more cunning now, having apprenticed under Cersei, Margaery and Littlefinger, and might feel herself up to setting her own rules. Starks have a tendency to chokc biting off more than they can chew.

The best stuff of the episode was Jamie and Bronn, and is likely no surprise. In fact, the best scene of the season thus far was Bronn rowing against the Dornish sea, exhausted. Looking wordless and breathlessly at Jaime, who raises his golden hand and shrugs. It was perfect, and is an excellent in-brief for both characters. But these two men, a high noble and a sell sword, are better matched than most of the pairs this series has created. They are like minded men, defined by the sword, but burdened with greater aspirations. While Bronn might not be an ethical man, he's a moral one, and all he wants is to die comfortable, with is a laudable goal, even Jamie has to admit that. Jamie meanwhile is increasingly burden with guilt and self reflection. He can't afford to be the uncaring man he was, but finds so salvation in the too-caring man he is now. They are each going to Dorne to seek their glory, in satisfaction or redemption. And that a nobler intent than most motivations.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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