Game of Thrones: Sons of the Harpy   Show Only 
May 3, 2015 10:04 PM - Season 5, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Things get hotter with the sparrows, war in the North looks more inevitable and Sansa ponders her role in it. Down south Jamie reveals some of his motivation and learns a new fighting tactic. Across the narrow sea the Harpy's are starting to turn up the heat.
posted by skewed (96 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
learns a new fighting tactic

Weaknesses into strengths, Jamie. I'm surprised Bronn didn't point it out earlier.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:41 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


At this rate, by the time Stannis gets to King's Landing, Cersei will have already destroyed Tommen's rule. She's become completely pathological. And after the scene on the steps I assume all the Sparrows know that Tommen isn't the legitimate heir, so they'll probably welcome Stannis, but won't they be surprised when he sets them all on fire.
posted by homunculus at 10:55 PM on May 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm going to miss Ser Barristan.

Game of Thrones actor explains his surprisingly early exit (minor book spoiler.)
posted by homunculus at 10:57 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


WAAAH SER BARRISTAN NOOOOOO
posted by KathrynT at 11:21 PM on May 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


And Stannis Baratheon's heart grew three sizes that day!

i joke but it's only to clear the dust from my eyes
posted by kokaku at 11:23 PM on May 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Turning a bunch of religious fanatics with weapons loose seems like an extremely short sighted strategy.
posted by rdr at 11:58 PM on May 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I love Lena Headey, but I don't think they give her much to work with. Cersei just makes really bad decisions that don't end up furthering her own agenda, and seem like obviously bad ideas. Also, she is shockingly callous about the suffering of others (go ahead, keep killing dwarves till we find one that's Tyrion), so it's hard to see her as anything but a cartoony villain, which I don't think her character really should/is supposed to be.
posted by skewed at 12:16 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just finished watching it and: that was fantastic. Great writing by Dave Hill (his first for Game of Thrones) and I'm really impressed by director Mark Mylod, who also did last week's High Sparrow episode. I was a little worried about this season because I felt the first two episodes weren't quite up to par, but Sons of the Harpy and last week's episode were so well done.
posted by Auden at 2:48 AM on May 4, 2015


One other thing. When the Unsullied realized it was a trap the smart thing to do would have been to retreat to the entrance and defend the door way.
posted by rdr at 3:08 AM on May 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I note that Stannis never really answered his daughter's question.

"And, yes, also I'm ashamed of you."
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:14 AM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Turning a bunch of religious fanatics with weapons loose seems like an extremely short sighted strategy.

Yeah, pretty much my immediate reaction to that move was "... ok, that's going to come back and bite her on the ass".

Not only is she undermining Tommen, she's also just legitimized the use of force by religious fanatics against members of the royal household who fail to follow the rules of the faith. Hey Cersei, maybe you haven't noticed, but that's an awfully glass house you're in ...
posted by tocts at 3:24 AM on May 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was annoyed how fast the High Sparrow seemed to embrace arming the Faith Militant. One minute he's all "I don't like the taste of wine, and all sins are equal under the eyes of the gods," but then when given the option to bring back the armed religious fanatics, he seems to support it in a heartbeat, given the quick (visual) transition to the willingly mutilated thugs who clearly take glee in bashing people as much as they like bashing in wine caskets. I know, only 10 episodes to convey hundreds of pages of a story, but the fact we didn't see the High Sparrow feel even a little bit conflicted about making the will of the gods manifest in the form of "holy" street thugs.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:14 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're assuming that the High Sparrow is an innocent. Winter is coming. People are going to be getting crazier and crazier, i.e., more religious. Some unpopular bozo who everybody suspects spends her spare time drinking and fucking her brother hands him an independent power base. Thank the seven gods. Didn't Lenin say something about capitalists selling you the rope to hang themselves? You're right though. Cersai should have noticed how quickly he agreed.
posted by rdr at 5:27 AM on May 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Capturing Ser Loras, though. I'm afraid for him. (We're beyond the point in the books where I stopped reading so this is kind of the first time I really don't know what's going to happen.)
posted by dnash at 5:37 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


They killed off two of the few characters in Dany's storyline that we care about..? I mean, something vaguely interesting is finally happening in it again so hurrah, but SER BARRISTAN. HOW DARE THEY. I whisper-shrieked the entire rest of the scene after they cut to him in the alley.

Now we have only Dario the Lesser (I am a firm Dario 1.0 supporter, as nice as Michael Huisman seems to be) for her to pal around with? I had such high hopes for Varys and Tyrion rocking up to inject some interest back in, please let something like that still happen.

Or some dragons. Something!
posted by pseudonymph at 5:41 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Oh. I googled to find pictures of Version 1.0's killer hair and think longingly of what could have been, and apparently it's spelt Daario?)
posted by pseudonymph at 5:43 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


rdr, good point. He plays the humble man quite well, but we've seen very little of him so far.

I call him Daario Naharis, Second of his name. (You have to throw a few extra vowels in names, to make it clear that this is a Fantasy World, not just some rural part of our world.) On the Sons of the Harpy, did it seem like before this episode, there was only the one Son of the Harpy? Did Dany inadvertently create more in how she handled the capture of the first one?
posted by filthy light thief at 5:45 AM on May 4, 2015


Weaknesses into strengths, Jamie. I'm surprised Bronn didn't point it out earlier.

I know! Bronn literally beat Jamie with his own hand, but Jamie didn't pick up on that subtle hint of the benefits of having a metal hand. In fact, I feel like Jamie is a showboat of a fighter, one who was decent in battle, and better on the tourney field, but likely to trumpet his own accolades. This shouldn't be surprising as the literal golden child of Tywin Lannister, but he sucks at fighting in this episode. OK, back away from the stronger opponent, but backing down a sandy hill? Of course you're going to get beaten, until your metal hand surprises your attacker (and you!) and you finally have the upper hand (heh).
posted by filthy light thief at 5:53 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I was annoyed how fast the High Sparrow seemed to embrace arming the Faith Militant."

My sense is that he may be humble, but he's genuinely a fundamentalist radical. A holy army is exactly what he wants because it's exactly what he thinks Westeros needs. Cersei seems to be assuming that he's like her, he's an opportunist and a self-interested pragmatist. But maybe he's an idealistic, fanatical opportunist.

"I feel like Jamie is a showboat of a fighter, one who was decent in battle, and better on the tourney field, but likely to trumpet his own accolades."

Seems to me that the show's strongly established Jaime's extreme martial skill many times -- his problem, though, is that he was so good with his right hand that he built all his skills around it. Anyone with that much natural ability would surely be able to retrain himself to use his left hand and to find other ways to compensate, but Jaime has always been so talented, and vain, that I don't think he has any notion that he would actually have to work really hard to recover his prowess. And so he doesn't.

Bronn really wasn't a good teacher for him. Jaime needed to learn how much he's lost, but then he needed to be shown what he could do to regain it. Bronn didn't show him that because, frankly, Bronn didn't much care. Bronn probably didn't have much more than above-average innate skill, but he's used his cunning and just worked hard at making everything he has available to him to ensure that he's the last one standing. Bronn probably resents Jaime's freakish gift and is happy that he's been humbled. Why clue him into the fact that a lot of what made him such a born swordsman is still there, waiting to manifest differently? And Jaime just took his skill for granted and is also feeling sorry for himself.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:23 AM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Weaknesses into strengths, Jamie. I'm surprised Bronn didn't point it out earlier.

I'm not. Bronn probably figured out that the iron hand could make Jamie stronger and he's not gonna give that away to someone he might face in combat. Bronn's an older sellsword, meaning he's not only a good fighter, but smart.

However, he will slap him with it and have a good private laugh, no doubt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Loved the return of "You know nothing, Jon Snow" but it didn't look like he did.
posted by octothorpe at 7:44 AM on May 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


At this rate, the series finale will be a monologue on a bare stage.

One follow spot, with a little extra mic hum in the audio.

Post credit scene: Gentry finally lands the rowboat.

"Hello. I miss anything important?"
posted by jquinby at 8:39 AM on May 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


They killed off two of the few characters in Dany's storyline that we care about..? I mean, something vaguely interesting is finally happening in it again so hurrah, but SER BARRISTAN. HOW DARE THEY.

Aw, Ser Barristan.

Is Grey Worm definitely dead? Seemed ambiguous to me whether that was last-act-before-dying or last-act-before-passing-out -- and last time we saw "two fighters seemingly dead side-by-side" one of them was The Mountain.

Mace Tyrell's probably not going to survive that journey to Braavos, right? "My very own King's Guard!"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:43 AM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mace Tyrell's probably not going to survive that journey to Braavos, right? "My very own King's Guard!"

Cersei, do you REALLY want to battle Margaery AND Grandma Tyrell?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yesss
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 AM on May 4, 2015


Cersei, do you REALLY want to battle Margaery AND Grandma Tyrell?

I think that ultimately, Cersei doesn't really think in those terms.

For as much as it is true that Cersei (like all Westerosi women) has been placed in a subservient role by society, that doesn't mean that she's automatically a political genius who just needed to come into her own power to achieve her goals. No, it's instead pretty clear that while Margaery Tyrell and Olenna Tyrell actually fit that bill (marginalized by society, but working within those confines to demonstrate great political acumen and power), Cersei just ... isn't very smart. She's impulsive, and rash, and overbearing, and overall a terrible leader.

She think she's being smart, sending Mace Tyrell off to his death (and really, does anyone aside from Mace think he's coming back from that trip -- or even making it to Braavos?). In reality, though, she's weakening the small council (which should be the source of her son's power), while raising into supreme power a religious fanatic that she didn't just lose control of, but in fact never had control of.

My assumption at this point is that this ends badly for Tommen, and probably Cersei, with Margaery and Olenna perhaps salvaging their own position via a royal baby.

Margaery as Queen Regent is something I could actually believe working, in all the ways that Cersei as Queen Regent has failed.
posted by tocts at 9:22 AM on May 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bronn really wasn't a good teacher for him. Jaime needed to learn how much he's lost, but then he needed to be shown what he could do to regain it.

Back when Jamie and Brienne got back to King's Landing, I was hoping we'd find out that Syrio Forel was alive in the Black Cells and would be given his freedom in exchange for tutoring Jamie. The Water Dance would be a good style for a one-handed man. We never saw a body, so it could still happen, dammit!
posted by homunculus at 9:50 AM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Loved the return of "You know nothing, Jon Snow" but it didn't look like he did.

I'm wondering if that was supposed to imply that she's been fire-watching scenes of him and Ygritte?
posted by corb at 10:04 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


My assumption at this point is that this ends badly for Tommen, and probably Cersei, with Margaery and Olenna perhaps salvaging their own position via a royal baby.

At this point I think many people won't accept Tommen's child as a royal baby. And if Stannis takes the throne, a child will be even less helpful.

Littlefinger's bet on Stannis seems like a good one. Without Tywin to keep everybody in line, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the Houses just surrender to him once he gets past the Neck. At this point I think it's quite likely that he could take the throne by the end of the season, unless he runs into Brienne or a random GoT twist, that is. I think the remaining Lannisters are fucked. Ser Pounce should get out of there while he can.

Littlefinger may be a betting man, but he didn't bet on the Sparrows. He's in for a shock when he gets back to his brothel and the Sparrows aren't going to be gentle with him. Justice for Ros at last?
posted by homunculus at 10:20 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


she's weakening the small council

*side-eyes Pycelle* "Not small enough."

Surprised that Cersei hasn't sidelined Pycelle into a black cell yet: she's never liked him, has often expressed open contempt for him, and she has another pet Maester on the council now. Maybe she considers him still a useful idiot?

But then again Mace is a useful idiot -- a nodding yes-man who would happily wave through whatever Cersei wants in exchange for the illusion of a little prestige -- and she's not keeping him around.

Is Qyburn a political player, or just going along with Cersei for now because it keeps him in lab equipment and corpses to play with?

Littlefinger's bet on Stannis seems like a good one.

And the Iron Bank are doubling down that bet too, by starting to call in the Crown's enormous debts.

Littlefinger may be a betting man, but he didn't bet on the Sparrows.

In both these last two episodes Olyvar's tried to invoke Littlefinger's authority to the Sparrows -- "this is Lord Petyr Baelish's establishment!" -- to no effect. Finally a rock that Littlefinger can't find leverage upon?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:40 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, and the scene with Jorah and Tyrion in the boat. Jorah ungags Tyrion, who promptly deduces exactly who Jorah is, his situation, and the likely outcome of his plan.

Nice to see Tyrion being shown as politically astute rather than wine-swilling; and the speech itself illustrates his conclusion, which is "I would clearly be much a much more useful advisor to Dany than your puppy-eyed mooning."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:49 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


At this point I think it's quite likely that he could take the throne by the end of the season, unless he runs into Brienne or a random GoT twist, that is.

And see, for me, that's kinda the thing -- the GoT twists.

When I look at this from a meta level (as a TV show, ignoring the fictional reality for a moment), I have a hard time believing Stannis is the one who is going to end up on top. Despite the development they've given the character at the end of last season, and so far into this one, he still feels to me like a distraction. For no reason other than second-guessing the writers, I feel like it's almost inevitable that there will be a late-breaking development that sidetracks him, or outright kills him (and I'd put money on it relating to his relationship with Ms. Loves-To-Burn-People).

But, being honest about my own biases, I find Stannis somewhat unbearably boring (his daughter notwithstanding), so maybe I'm just projecting.
posted by tocts at 10:51 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


That was the worst episode of this entire series. It was uncomfortably Dr. Who bad, in the sudden loss of any sense for quite a few characters and the Sand Snakes basically stepped outside of the show to make sure you knew they were serious, cool, and bad ass.

The Wall stuff wasn't bad, thankfully.
posted by juiceCake at 10:58 AM on May 4, 2015


Tyrion being shown as politically astute rather than wine-swilling; and the speech itself illustrates his conclusion, which is "I would clearly be much a much more useful advisor to Dany than your puppy-eyed mooning.

Yeah, I constantly turn between thinking they're ultimately going to put Sansa and Tyrion back together - she's getting a lot more experience about how attractive people can be monsters, as well as becoming more politically astute, he's turning down whores and becoming more serious and thoughtful and showing his brilliance overall - and really, really hoping they don't, because much as I love Tyrion, that would be the ultimate Nice Guy-ing.
posted by corb at 11:00 AM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I look at this from a meta level (as a TV show, ignoring the fictional reality for a moment), I have a hard time believing Stannis is the one who is going to end up on top. Despite the development they've given the character at the end of last season, and so far into this one, he still feels to me like a distraction. For no reason other than second-guessing the writers, I feel like it's almost inevitable that there will be a late-breaking development that sidetracks him, or outright kills him (and I'd put money on it relating to his relationship with Ms. Loves-To-Burn-People).

Yeah, it's only in the last few episodes that the idea of Stannis actually taking the throne has started to seem like a real possibility to me. But you're right, the more the show telegraphs his victory, the more likely it becomes that he'll get Khuu!'d. But the only way I can see Melisandre stabbing him in the back is if Daenerys has to hightail it out of Mereen and shows up in Westeros.
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


In both these last two episodes Olyvar's tried to invoke Littlefinger's authority to the Sparrows -- "this is Lord Petyr Baelish's establishment!" -- to no effect. Finally a rock that Littlefinger can't find leverage upon?

This is interesting for several reasons, one of which is that it shows how the socio-political situation is changing more rapidly than the characters realize. Olyvar and even Littlefinger himself seem to have no idea how quickly or dramatically the power structure is transforming; of course, how could they? It's all happening behind closed doors, and the effects (e.g., the rampages of the faith militant) are dramatic but don't follow, say, any public, royal decrees or anything, so it's not clear to any specific observer what they mean. Shouldn't Littlefinger be rather wary about going to the capital? Does he actually know what's going on, or has his network of informants been either compromised or rendered less useful?

Littlefinger rose to power during an era characterized by rational action on the part of the big powers of the realm. I think you're right that he will have trouble dealing with the kind of power wielded by the faith militant, who are starting to look like proto-fascists. On one hand, the Crown badly needs money, and as far as Cersei knows, Littlefinger is some kind of monetary magician, so conscripting him into financial service seems like something she might do; on the other, if she knows or suspects that he's trying to distance himself from a royal family that looks like a sinking ship, she might just kill him in a fit of pique.

Obviously, LF's plan is to have the Boltons killed and then marry Sansa, but it seems like his much-vaunted calculation is starting to fail him; if the Boltons get killed and Stannis conquers the realm, who has any need for a noted manipulator and betrayer who has no real allies? Sansa especially would probably be happy to have him executed as soon as she attains real stature. He has told her more than once and in more than one way that she shouldn't trust anyone and that he will barter her if he has to.
posted by clockzero at 11:21 AM on May 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I actually don't think that Littlefinger's brothel has ever been as secure as people think it is. I was doing a rewatch of the early show, and things that I noticed: 1) Jory being killed right outside it, with no consideration for 'oh we shouldn't offend Littlefinger') but more importantly 2) killing Robert's bastard child inside the brothel itself. In the last one, they actually try the 'do you know who this belongs to?' and it again, fails to work because Cersei.

Ie, I'm not sure there really ever has been a time with stability and rational action in Westeros, though I definitely agree he will have a harder time with the Sparrows.
posted by corb at 11:24 AM on May 4, 2015


Shouldn't Littlefinger be rather wary about going to the capital? Does he actually know what's going on, or has his network of informants been either compromised or rendered less useful?

Olyvar might have sent a raven to the Eyrie and/or to Winterfell, but if Littlefinger is going straight from Winterfell to King's Landing then he probably won't have access to the info until it's too late.
posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


But the only way I can see Melisandre stabbing him in the back is if Daenerys has to hightail it out of Mereen and shows up in Westeros.

Oh, I don't think that Melisandre is going to stab him in the back. I just think that there have been remarkably few repurcussions for Stannis having allied himself with a creepy fire priest who engages in even creepier dark magic rituals. It's been largely brushed aside (outside of Brienne's mentioning of it), but it just feels like these are chickens that one day must come home to roost.
posted by tocts at 11:27 AM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Loved the return of "You know nothing, Jon Snow" but it didn't look like he did.

I'm wondering if that was supposed to imply that she's been fire-watching scenes of him and Ygritte?


I think it implied that R'hllor is a troll. The Lord of Light whispered to her "Hey, say this catchphrase to him and check out the look on his face!" Henceforth he shall be known as Tr'hollor.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on May 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


Obviously, LF's plan is to have the Boltons killed and then marry Sansa, but it seems like his much-vaunted calculation is starting to fail him; if the Boltons get killed and Stannis conquers the realm, who has any need for a noted manipulator and betrayer who has no real allies?

Littlefinger notionally controls the Vale, by dint of having become Robin's guardian. Not that the Lords of the Vale have much of a high opinion of him. But "I can bring the Vale" was his pitch to the Boltons; maybe it would be to Stannis also?

Watching the last two episodes yesterday I wondered: how much of Littlefinger's "marry Lysa, kill Lysa" plan was pre-meditated? That brief marriage, and Lysa's death, gave him guardianship of both Robin and Sansa, enabling him to broker Sansa's marriage. Deliberate? Or simply playing the hand he's holding in the moment? (Chaos is a ladder.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:54 AM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The night is dark and full of Rickrolls.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:31 PM on May 4, 2015 [7 favorites]




Thank Christ, I've been yelling DEFLECT THE SWORD WITH YOUR METAL HAND FFS at the screen for ages now.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:46 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Surprised that Cersei hasn't sidelined Pycelle into a black cell yet: she's never liked him, has often expressed open contempt for him, and she has another pet Maester on the council now. Maybe she considers him still a useful idiot?

Pycelle has to know how precarious his position is. He must be plotting something to ensure his own survival. He's also a big fan of the brothel, maybe he'll try working with Littlefinger.
posted by homunculus at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that "fan of the brothel" and "ensuring one's own survival" are incompatible at the present moment.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2015


I was thinking more along the lines of Pycelle trying to ally himself with Littlefinger on some anti-Cersei (and maybe pro-Stannis) scheme together, since they are both at risk from her and the Swallows.
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Having read the books and watching the show, I am heartbroken - HEARTBROKEN, I TELL YOU - that Barristan got whacked.

I was whimpering on the couch whilst Mrs. Thistledown said, "What the hell is wrong with you? People get killed every episode!"
posted by Thistledown at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


But the only way I can see Melisandre stabbing him in the back is if Daenerys has to hightail it out of Mereen and shows up in Westeros.

Really, the only way? After this week's revelation that she can whip up another smoke baby by boning Jon Snow? Some of the hints dropped in that plotline were subtle as a coconut mallet to the solar plexus....

In re Cersei's villany, I actually think it's pretty brilliant. I think the show's done quite a lot to show us what makes her tick --- her intense desire for power coupled with her fundamental misunderstanding of how it works has been there from the beginning. She always goes straight for the jugular, and that's her fatal flaw...keep her in the dark and you can get round her quite easily. An iron fist does have its uses (right Jamie?) but so does the velvet glove, and she's never, never been able to successfully wield that kind of soft power. That's why I thought the direction they've gone with her this season is interesting: On the basis of the past couple weeks, she looked like she was on her way out; as Queen Mother, soft power was really the only kind she had, and she was never going to beat Margery at the sweet-talking Tommen game. The fact that she's been able to put together an actual, though ragtag, army of her own shows more cleverness that I would have credited her with, I think. (And she's picked a method often chosen in real life by people in her position: the retreat into piety, which is a pretty impregnable fortress in some respects. Past a certain age, trying to wield power through a lover brings only derision, but priests have a power of their own.) Of course, it's all obviously going to spiral out of control and go straight to hell because she has little genuine control over the Sparrows and they are fucking crazy, but it's an interesting path, and she may be able to legit take a few selected enemies out with her when it all goes west. She's still dangerous, and that's how I like my Cersei. Well, dangerous and drunk.

But does anyone else feel like they are chewing through a lot of plot, very quickly? Either they have a couple huge set pieces planned for the finale, or they're so committed to getting this thing wrapped in two more seasons they're setting the record player to chipmunk mode, but as good as that Sparrow montage was it just felt too quick. They needed another episode of building menace, where you wondered how far they and Cersei would go, before they broke loose. Dany's plot could use a 5 hour energy --- it's needed a kick in the pants for the past three seasons or so --- but two of her main guys dead, Jorah and Tyrion on their way to sub in, and the dragons getting unleashed next ep? And there's half a season to go? At this rate she's going to have washed her hands of the whole Mereen mess and be halfway through conquering Westeros by episode 8.
posted by maggiepolitt at 6:43 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


But the only way I can see Melisandre stabbing him in the back is if Daenerys has to hightail it out of Mereen and shows up in Westeros.

Really, the only way? After this week's revelation that she can whip up another smoke baby by boning Jon Snow?


In terms of a motivation for turning on him, that was the only thing that came to mind. I assumed the shadow baby was meant to be unleashed on Roose Bolton. But now that that plan has been scrapped, I'm starting to worry about Shireen again.
posted by homunculus at 7:10 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Shireen and Stannis had a moment of tenderness that showed a different side to each of their their personalities and more fully humanized them. So yeah, I'd say they're both doomed.
posted by maggiepolitt at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


One more thing and then I'll shut up: I dunno if Cersei plans to have Mace Tyrell killed or not on this trip to Braavos, or if she just wanted him out of the capital so that she could more easily consolidate power. (Having an easily manipulated idiot as the nominal head of your vital ally/bitter rival is actually pretty useful, from Cersei's perspective. I don't think she wants to turn up at the next Small Council meeting and find Diana Rigg in his seat.)

What I took from that scene is that the dude they're sending with Mance to guard and/or maybe kill him, is what's -his-face Trant. The third guy on Arya's shortlist of people she plans to kill. Headed to Braavos. Where Arya's at. I feel a crossroads coming on, and a devil to meet here there...
posted by maggiepolitt at 7:35 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Arrested Westeros is back on it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:52 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I refuse to believe Grey Worm is dead until more confirmation. And then I'll probably continue to refuse that belief just cause.
posted by dogwalker at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Chrys watches Got: S05, Ep04
posted by homunculus at 8:14 PM on May 4, 2015


One more thing and then I'll shut up: I dunno if Cersei plans to have Mace Tyrell killed or not on this trip to Braavos, or if she just wanted him out of the capital so that she could more easily consolidate power. (Having an easily manipulated idiot as the nominal head of your vital ally/bitter rival is actually pretty useful, from Cersei's perspective. I don't think she wants to turn up at the next Small Council meeting and find Diana Rigg in his seat.)

It might be that Cersei wants to destroy the Tyrells utterly and claim Highgarden for the Crown. If she can get rid of both Mace and Loras, the Tyrell familly will have no male heirs of their own, and if she pushes Margaery far enough it might create the opportunity to drive wedge between her and Tommen, leaving Margaery at her mercy. It wouldn't be a good plan, but it would be a Cersei plan.

What I took from that scene is that the dude they're sending with Mance to guard and/or maybe kill him, is what's -his-face Trant. The third guy on Arya's shortlist of people she plans to kill. Headed to Braavos. Where Arya's at. I feel a crossroads coming on, and a devil to meet here there...

Oh, yes please!
posted by homunculus at 8:21 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


%n: "I refuse to believe Grey Worm is dead until more confirmation. And then I'll probably continue to refuse that belief just cause."

Yeah, I don't think he's dead either. They were setting it up so we'd think that, and then they switched it on us. Barristan is dead, Grey Worm isn't.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:48 PM on May 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


A few points, all made by an astute friend of mine:

1) I was disappointed that Arya truncated her hit-list so dramatically, probably a sign that the show bit off far more than it could chew with the Thoros of Myr/Beric Dondarrion storyline. But as maggiepolitt observes, it can't be an accident that one of the last people still on her list, Meryn Trant, just so happens to be headed to Braavos. Does Arya save Mace Tyrell?

2) We've heard for four-plus seasons how awesome a fighter Barristan Selmy is. He even tells Joffrey, disgustedly, that he could have taken the entire rest of the Kingsguard. And yet he dies in his very first fight? Sure, he's old, but this is some weak storytelling. Presumably he died to better pave the way for Dany to want Mormont back.

3) The emergence of the Sand Snakes is dull and ridiculous. We just concluded the War of the Five Kings, and three of them (Joffrey, Robb, Renly) are dead. Of the two remaining, we're spending a lot of time on Stannis. But Baylon Greyjoy has totally disappeared. Why should the Sand Snakes get all this screen time while the much more interesting Greyjoy vanishes?

And the Snakes really are a joke. "We want war! For the sake of war!" That's absurd, and given that Oberyn was (sorry) killed in what actually passes for the most just way possible in Westeros, the idea that people would get worked up about it is ridiculous. It's not like the Mountain cheated, or used poison. (Though he does seem to suffer from a bad case of restless leg syndrome these days.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:59 PM on May 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


And yet he dies in his very first fight?

I got the impression he killed as many SotH as the entire squad of Unsullied did. I also think that the fact he was spared the bloody "OK he's obviously dead now" throat-slitting means he survived.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:35 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


two of her main guys dead, Jorah and Tyrion on their way to sub in, and the [snip] next ep?

No "next time on" leakage, please: I deliberately don't watch the trailer to remain unsullied, but now I know that [snip] is going to happen.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:20 AM on May 5, 2015


her intense desire for power coupled with her fundamental misunderstanding of how it works has been there from the beginning

I always think some of this is because she has been denied its teaching growing up. Her father didn't teach her how to wield power or let her accompany him to things - he married her off to use a woman's power. But her mother was dead since Tyrion's birth. All she knows is what little she's been able to observe - bits and pieces. And that is frankly not enough in deathdealing Westeros.
posted by corb at 7:34 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oberyn had a late night (and day), but here's his recap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


"An iron fist does have its uses (right Jamie?) but so does the velvet glove, and she's never, never been able to successfully wield that kind of soft power."

Elaborating on what corb wrote, I think Cersei's problem is that she's modeling her father's behavior without knowing its full scope and from a very different psychological space. Specifically, Tywin was profoundly secure in his own agency and this is why he was willing and able to wield power directly when he did so. Cersei is very insecure in her own agency and so she misinterprets Tywin's direct exercise of power as his establishment and guarantee of his power, when it very much wasn't. It was the product of his power and he secured his power on a continuing basis by the soft power he used, not the hard. Cersei has it backwards and her motivations are the opposite of Tywin's. Cersei is an insecure bully, while Tywin was a secure Bully. And those are two very different kinds of people. The first tend to self-destruct, the second don't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:28 AM on May 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I got the impression he killed as many SotH as the entire squad of Unsullied did. I also think that the fact he was spared the bloody "OK he's obviously dead now" throat-slitting means he survived.

I think he's rather dead, unfortunately. He was a good character.

2) We've heard for four-plus seasons how awesome a fighter Barristan Selmy is. He even tells Joffrey, disgustedly, that he could have taken the entire rest of the Kingsguard. And yet he dies in his very first fight? Sure, he's old, but this is some weak storytelling.

I think this is a good point, although I think one can also infer that when he was in his prime, he was the best there was, but that age and circumstantial bad luck were working against him here. I agree, though, that it would have been neat to see a few fight scenes where he lived up to his reputation and didn't get killed.

Also, though, I think people have noticed that this whole scene was designed and shot in a way that seemed at odds with what we know about the characters involved. On the other hand, though, maybe the viewer is meant to see that reputations of martial prowess shouldn't be mistaken for immutable laws.
posted by clockzero at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2015


I think it's kind of on line with what we've seen and heard from showrunners and their interviews about previous scenes, why they did certain things the way they did. And they've been really clear that sometimes, the need for edge-of-your-seat thrills outweighs other considerations.

Barristan Selmy should not have gone down like a punk, for many reasons - including, from a dramatic perspective, that it makes Cersei right to remove him from the Kingsguard, and that was very much not how that scene was played. If Selmy is too old to defend his ruler adequately, then she was right to remove him, and it wasn't an example of her unhealthy approach to power upon seizing it.
posted by corb at 10:30 AM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think age was Ser Barristan's problem there so much as fighting in his pajamas was.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:09 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


this whole scene was designed and shot in a way that seemed at odds with what we know about the characters involved

Along similar lines: the Unsullied do seem to flip-flop between Elite Fighting Force and Bunch of Red-Shirts as the show requires. And Grey Worm being so extraordinarily better at combat than the rest of the Unsullied seems a little at odds with the original selling point of the Unsullied as "here's an army of highly-trained indistinguishable human killing machines."

(The A Cast of Kings podcast notes also that Loras in previous seasons was positioned as the most skilled knight at King's Landing -- at least in tournaments -- but that's been downplayed for quite a while now. Loras doesn't fight the Sparrows when they take him.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kyle: "No "next time on" leakage, please: I deliberately don't watch the trailer to remain unsullied"

As someone who is fanatically anti-spoiler, I understand this sentiment, but I think it's going to be a hard one to enforce. (Even I watch the "next time on" previews, though I admit I don't like it when they give away real information.)

But we should probably try to formulate a FanFare policy for this kind of thing.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I also agree with the various points made about the prowess of the Unsullied. The idea that these ragtag Sons of the Harpy could take them in a fair fight seems absurd.

Plus, the whole, "let's make sure we knock off Grey Worm's helmet so that the audience knows it's him!" thing was... bleh.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:36 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


But we should probably try to formulate a FanFare policy for this kind of thing.

Unless something has changed since the FanFare beta (in which GoT was basically the testbed), "no discussing the Next Time On" is, in fact, the policy that was decided upon.
posted by tocts at 11:39 AM on May 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


"And Grey Worm being so extraordinarily better at combat than the rest of the Unsullied seems a little at odds with the original selling point of the Unsullied as "here's an army of highly-trained indistinguishable human killing machines.""

Not really. There's a reason that the other elite fighters elected him to be their commader.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:42 AM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


tocts: "Unless something has changed since the FanFare beta (in which GoT was basically the testbed), "no discussing the Next Time On" is, in fact, the policy that was decided upon."

Oh, yes? Ah, so it is. From the FAQ:
Inside threads, feel free to discuss any plot point in that episode or past episodes, but please refrain from discussing events that take place in future episodes.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:49 AM on May 5, 2015


It's reached the point where I need to read the recaps, wiki, and fanfare to understand what happened in any given episode. The main plot points are easy enough to follow. The back story is almost impossible for a casual fan (I gave up reading the series after the third book).

I thought this was another bad episode. The accents on the sand snakes were horrible, the religious fanatics seemed to come out of nowhere, the famous unsullied got their asses kicked by men in masks (how did they even see?), and the only interesting conflict happening is Cersei versus the world. Everyone else just seems to be jumping around from castle to castle. Five years on and winter still hasn't come, while the fire monster babies, ice zombies, wargs, dire wolves, and walking dead have all been conveniently put aside.

But the online reviews were talking about the great reveals in this episode. Something about the mad king having an heir who liked to sing and help the poor, who didn't really rape Sansa's aunt, and it somehow all involves the sister of the people with the bad accents and the king slayer. So maybe the bad people were the good people and the good people were the bad people, and I'm sure it's all horribly clever - but it would be nice if the show remembered that a lot of us don't have everyone's genealogy memorized & generally have no idea what the fuck is going on in the show any more.

My free month of HBO Now expires soon. I don't think I'll renew - GoT is the only HBO show that interests me. I think I'll take a pause from this season, and catch up with you all when it comes out on disc. I just don't find it as compelling as I did the first three seasons. I don't hate it, mind you ... but it's not worth paying for.
posted by kanewai at 11:54 AM on May 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I also agree with the various points made about the prowess of the Unsullied. The idea that these ragtag Sons of the Harpy could take them in a fair fight seems absurd.

Plus, the whole, "let's make sure we knock off Grey Worm's helmet so that the audience knows it's him!" thing was... bleh.


That seem harsh to the point of silliness. Think like a writer for a minute. You're (probably) killing off, if not a main, at least a secondary character that the audience has spent some time with and has some affection for. Would you have preferred

A) helmet stays on, audience doesn't know it's Grey Worm, and are told of his death after the fact
B) helmet stay on through fight, rolls off when he collapses, revealing identity
C) helmet comes off during fight
D) alone among unsullied, grey worm not wearing helmet in first place, so we see it's him from the start

Of those options, (c) strikes me as the least contrived and most satisfying. You want the audience to understand the stakes during the fight, not be told "oh this was someone you care about" afterward. And if the character is to be in his appropriate place as leader of the patrol, it's hard to have a good reason for him to be out of uniform --- Dario might be lackadaisical enough to be wandering around dangerous places without important bits of his kit in place, but that doesn't fit Grey Worm's personality.

Also, what about that situation said "fair fight" to you? They were literally lured into an alleyway and ambushed by a larger force. I'm no expert on ancient weapons, but I gotta think a six foot long spear is maybe not the optimum tool with which to be fighting in a three foot wide alleyway, and the camera gives you a deliberate shot of the unsullied being outnumbered and crammed together in order to communicate this.
posted by maggiepolitt at 11:55 AM on May 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Navelgazer "Ser Barristan's problem there so much as fighting in his pajamas was."

This.

All throughout the show we learn about how swell armour is. Jorah dueling a Dothraki, Syrio falling to Meryn Trant (of all people), Arya not being able to run Sandor through.

Essos is friggen hot so, like historical North Africa and the Middle East, armour is a lot lighter and breathier. Ser Selmy was raised in the Westerosi martial tradition and was used to wearing heavy armour. For practical purposes, he's much more lightly armoured than his wont and was overwhelmed by sheer numbers in very close quarters combat. Ultimately, lots of stab wounds did him in, which he normally would have shrugged off if wearing the armour of his choice.

But yeah, the Unsullied should have put up a far better show and switched to short swords or formed up in phalanx in a doorway/corridor.
posted by porpoise at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ask the Maester: The Tale of Brave Ser Barristan, the Faith Militant, and the Fighting Harpies (Note: the Maester uses information from the books to answer people's questions.)
posted by homunculus at 3:22 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah the battle at the end didn't seem too contrived. I imagine the Unsullied would be most effective fighting as an army, in ranks, with shields locked, etc. Ambushed in a confined space, with their ranks falling apart before they could form, that would be a bad situation for even the most elite infantry unit.

And, I mean, come on, how many opponents did Grey Worm and Barristan kill before they were done in? Killing more than one enemy when you are ambushed and outnumbered, that's pretty amazing.

They're skilled fighters, not superheros.

As for the sons of the Harpy's fighting skills - I bet some of them are hired gladiators who are out of work since Danaerys outlawed their sport, so they would be very skilled at one on one combat.
posted by natteringnabob at 4:35 AM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Er, well, what homunculus said.
posted by natteringnabob at 4:38 AM on May 6, 2015


Ambushed in a confined space, with their ranks falling apart before they could form, that would be a bad situation for even the most elite infantry unit.

I don't disagree, but I do think that the director did a pretty bad job with the visual storytelling in actually conveying that that's what happened.

Basically from the start of the fight that Grey Worm was a part of, it seemed tremendously stupid of the Unsullied to not have just gone back the way they came; unless I completely missed something, there was no indication that the passage they'd just entered from was not a viable exit, through which they might have found more favorable grounds for the fight. Also, the cutaways to other Unsullied being taken out all seemed to show the elite troops being roughly as effective as stormtroopers.

So, I'm fine with the concept, but the execution felt like a pretty big miss.
posted by tocts at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, the cutaways to other Unsullied being taken out all seemed to show the elite troops being roughly as effective as stormtroopers.

I think it's been mentioned more than once this season that the Unsullied are not particularly effective at being a police force in an urban environment, so I'm not sure that it's fair to say that it was surprising that the Unsullied were getting chopped up, but it was still kind of disappointing to see.

I mean yeah, it was dumb to let themselves get boxed in like that -- but have they really had any training that involves guerrilla-style combat where they'd have to be worried about being boxed in?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:34 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


maggie: "Plus, the whole, "let's make sure we knock off Grey Worm's helmet so that the audience knows it's him!" thing was... bleh.

That seem harsh to the point of silliness. Think like a writer for a minute.


I didn't care for it. I'm certainly capable of thinking like a writer, and I understood exactly why they did it—why they even had to do it. But it just means that every time Grey Worm is in a fight that involves more than one member of the Unsullied, the writers will have to come up with some way to get his helmet off, like Moe's Little Rascals character finding excuses to get a faceful of soot. Yes, I get that the Unsullied wear helmets so that they look more "same" (and because it's smart if you're a soldier). But at the same time, that's in tension with the idea of making Grey Worm a distinct individual, and the (yes, admittedly necessary!) means by which that was achieved felt shticky to me. It's not the writers' fault—they're boxed in by the fact that GRRM's vision can sometimes be hard to translate to TV.

As for a "fair" fight, I wouldn't get hung up on that word. My sentiment that the supposedly super-awesome Unsullied got their asses inexplicably kicked by a fighting force that couldn't possibly be as well-trained as the Unsullied seems far from uncommon in this thread. Also, haven't the Unsullied done plenty of fighting inside cities under Dany's stewardship?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:05 PM on May 6, 2015


Not really. In Mereen Dany encouraged the slaves to revolt against their masters. A good chunk of the sons of the harpys are probably experienced pit fighters. The only other group that has a substantial enough grievance against Dany are the former slaveholders and I doubt that they'd put their own lives on the line.
posted by rdr at 4:00 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was the worst episode of this entire series. It was uncomfortably Dr. Who bad, in the sudden loss of any sense for quite a few characters and the Sand Snakes basically stepped outside of the show to make sure you knew they were serious, cool, and bad ass.

I... uncomfortably agree?

This entire season has had issues with pacing and cheese. I leveled similar complaints at some parts of the previous season, but the first 3 episodes of this season were just plodding almost entirely boring(but visually beautiful, obviously expensive as fuck) just... obligatory story, or something.

I'm not saying i expect it all to be dudes chopping eachothers heads off at all. I just feel like the show usually TL;DRs stuff and moves things along, and that it's weird how sometimes it feels like it fastforwards through and waves by stuff(the entire creation of the religious zealot army) and then just slowly plods through other stuff.

And this episode was the worst example of shifting from compound low even though we weren't going uphill, and just grinding the gearbox to shift straight in to 4-hi and inexplicably lug up to 50mph.

I wanted to love the sand snakes intro, but it felt like an extended cutscene in some japanese RPG or soul caliber type game, complete with the "lol look at how cool i am with this spear i'll spear this guy all dramatically ohhh!".

And that would have been forgivable if it wasn't for the loss of sense you mentioned, and the complete lack of impact of the rushed tacked on at the end OMG PEOPLE DIE battle scene. I kept expecting it to go in to jerky 80s tv show slow motion with dramatic music and drawn out screams. It was like, highlander levels of cheese and bullshit.


I don't even know what to say, but this entire season hasn't felt like game of thrones. I was willing to accept the first 3 episodes being mostly foreplay, but this felt like an episode of another show that happened to use the same actors and similar visual style/FX/budget. I'm just really weirded out.

there was no indication that the passage they'd just entered from was not a viable exit

I need to rewatch that scene, but i distinctly remember it almost immediately showing them getting boxed in right after the fake-crying lady stares them down as they run away.

What really annoys me is other than that "general alarm" bell, they really don't have some kind of whistle or signal they can give that "hey shit is going down in this sector, we need backup"? Like, seriously? I was fine with the concept of them getting outnumbered and cut down, but them just going in with 8-10 guys and not even signaling that something was going on seems weird. Especially as the fight drug on and no one but Ser Barristan shows up.
posted by emptythought at 3:42 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


What really annoys me is other than that "general alarm" bell, they really don't have some kind of whistle or signal they can give that "hey shit is going down in this sector, we need backup"? Like, seriously?

It wouldn't have mattered if Unsullied are being attacked all over the city.

"Bro, we need backup!"
"Bro, we need backup too!"

The walkway they came out of was very narrow and thin, they could only proceed single file. Which makes a good defensive position, but these are Unsullied, facing the enemy that is harming their liberator. Of course they're not going to hunker down, they're going to attack.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where's Bran?? I'm surprised he has not made an appearance yet this season.
posted by hush at 6:47 AM on May 8, 2015


Bran's off training with the Three-Eyed, in how to use his powers. Pretty sure when he comes back, which probably won't be until next season, he'll be a more powerful Warg, which may help with controlling dragons. Or White Walkers
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 AM on May 8, 2015






I made my choice long ago
posted by homunculus at 10:33 AM on May 8, 2015


Cersei is very insecure in her own agency and so she misinterprets Tywin's direct exercise of power as his establishment and guarantee of his power, when it very much wasn't. It was the product of his power and he secured his power on a continuing basis by the soft power he used, not the hard. Cersei has it backwards and her motivations are the opposite of Tywin's. Cersei is an insecure bully, while Tywin was a secure Bully. And those are two very different kinds of people. The first tend to self-destruct, the second don't.


And her twin is a casual unthinking disinterested bully. Jamie completely ignores that the sell-sword just expressed actual affection for his brother and says he will kill Tyrion rather than give him Bron's kind regards. This while being pretty much dependent on Bron for almost everything.

This one wonders if a significant part of Game of Thrones is a meditation on the consequences of different child rearing strategies.
posted by srboisvert at 12:30 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Huh. I really thought Beautiful Death would go with "Sing a Song for Me."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:33 PM on May 8, 2015


The walkway they came out of was very narrow and thin, they could only proceed single file. Which makes a good defensive position, but these are Unsullied, facing the enemy that is harming their liberator. Of course they're not going to hunker down, they're going to attack

They have spears and are well trained disciplined infantry. They would have stood side by side and used their greater reach to stab and advance. They had enough room to swing spears so they could have been at least 3 or 4 abreast in each direction. Instead they went one on one using spears like really shitty swords. They died implausibly because the shows writers at this moment knew less than John Snow.
posted by srboisvert at 12:49 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Has HBO ever said that they are planning to do exactly 7 season? For the first 2-3 season I assumed that to be the case, but haven't heard one way or the other, and with how the books are likely not be published before season 6 or season 7 respectively, it seems likely that they'll do however many seasons works for them. Seven seasons is a good run for any show, it seems like a good stopping point, but does anyone really know?
posted by skewed at 5:10 PM on May 8, 2015




Okay, thanks. I see people kind of authoritatively state that it's going to be 7 seasons, and I always doubted that was anything close to a sure thing. So I guess the answer is that it's not set in stone either way.
posted by skewed at 7:38 PM on May 8, 2015


Rewatching this one: Qyburn is really quite good at veiled "oh boy Mace really doesn't get it" eyerolling.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:01 PM on May 10, 2015


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