"Game of Thrones" Season 5, episode 4, "The Sons of the Harpy," is preoccupied with history. Sure, the show has always been concerned with the past and the consequences of previous grievances or transgressions, but "The Sons of the Harpy" laid it out explicitly as a call to action for these characters. The stakes have been raised, and viewers were left with a cliffhanger worthy of a season finale.
Warning: "Game of Thrones" Season 5 spoilers and "A Song of Ice and Fire" discussion ahead.
What Just Happened In Meereen
There's no point in ignoring how "The Sons of the Harpy" ended. It starts off serenely enough -- Daenerys surveying the city from high above, where the illusion of peace obscures the conflict that's destroying the city. Ser Barristan shares a fun story of how her brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, would sing on the streets of King's Landing. How sweet, how nice, how wonderful all of that sounds. Too bad that won't be happening anytime soon for Daenerys.
Another plea for the fighting pits from Hizdahr zo Loraq is the last normal thing to happen in Meereen. The Sons of the Harpy are waging a war in the streets of the city, and it's unlikely there will be peace anytime soon. The Unsullied are outnumbered and are being picked off as the Sons fight in the shadows. As more of Daenerys' men are killed, it's almost assumed they will come out ahead. A bit more vulnerable and a step closer to Daenerys having to compromise, but relatively safe.
Of course, this is "Game of Thrones," and viewers should never be lulled into a false sense of comfort. This is the show that brought fans the death of Ned Stark in Season 1 and the Red Wedding in Season 3. As a wounded Grey Worm is surrounded by the Sons, there's a glimmer of hope when Ser Barristan shows off his skills. The old man may seem unassuming, but he was quite the skilled swordsman. It looks like he's about to restore order, but the numbers are too much to overcome. Luckily, Grey Worm has enough energy to kill the last Son, but is it too late? The episode ends with the two men on the ground among the dead.
"The Sons of the Harpy" was the last of the advance episodes distributed to reviewers and leaked online, which means everyone is in the dark about what to expect from the storyline. In "ASOIAF," Ser Barristan and Grey Worm are busy waging a war, but will that hold true for "Game of Thrones?"
While things were falling apart in Meereen, Jorah and Tyrion were on their way to meet Daenerys. Unlike the other odd couples on the road, this one is not a pairing of choice. I bet Tyrion would rather be in that box with Varys, right? Tyrion is once again crossing a sea, but he has no wine to help him get through the voyage.
Trouble In Dorne
Jaime and Bronn are traveling to Dorne, and there are two things on the latter's mind. There's a nice nod to Brienne and the Sapphire Isle during the voyage south. Bronn is an opportunist and a sellsword, but he's also very intelligent. He immediately raises an eyebrow to Jaime and figures out the plot behind Tywin's death.
Ways to die and Jaime's words are loaded with meaning. There's trouble afoot, and Jaime proves he has a few tricks up his sleeve. That gold hand will serve him well as a shield, but he's not quite the swordsman he once was. For Bronn and Jaime, it's just a minor bump in the road on their way to Myrcella.
The Sand Snakes make their debut in "Game of Thrones" Season 5. Ellaria wants to start a war and knows the quickest way to do that is by capturing Myrcella Baratheon. As Bronn predicted, gold does not buy loyalty, and the ship's captain finds himself buried up to his neck, covered in snakes and scorpions. Much like Bronn and Jaime, their target is Myrcella.
Don't Forget About King's Landing
By the end of "Game of Thrones" Season 5, episode 4, it's easy to forget that a lot happened in King's Landing. Cersei sends Lord Tyrell off to Braavos to deal with the Iron Bank. He's foolish enough to accept the task without any hesitation. She's quickly seizing power, but her scheming will cost her.
The new High Septon -- the High Sparrow -- now has an army. Cersei restores the Faith Militant, and what can go wrong with arming a fanatical group? She may have also overstepped just slightly in this episode. Sending Lord Tyrell on some foolish errand is one thing, but having Ser Loras arrested? Margaery is furious, and while she was fine with throwing jabs at Cersei -- last week's quips about her penchant for wine -- locking her brother away in a cell could be the spark that sets off an all-out war between the two women.
Tommen is learning what it means to be king in King's Landing. After being turned away by the Sparrows and jeered at, the king is unsure and remains a child in all manners. He won't be protected by the two women in his life anymore, but there's always the royal kitten -- Ser Pounce.
Life In The North
This is probably the only storyline that didn't have a lot of forward momentum but added some much needed character development. Stannis remains at the Wall and proves himself capable of human emotion with his heart-to-heart moment with his daughter Shireen. Melisandre is preparing to join Stannis in battle and is looking to recruit Jon Snow. He's also busy doing the same thing, even if it means asking Roose Bolton for men to join the Night's Watch.
Melisandre is using some advanced sorcery to persuade Jon, but to no avail. He proves to be as stubborn as Stannis -- or as honest and noble as Ned Stark -- and refuses to be entranced by the Red Woman's calls to bring life to this world. She leaves with a "You know nothing," which cuts deep as Jon is not over the death of Ygritte.
Sansa Stark is in the crypts of Winterfell and is soon joined by Littlefinger. He has to go to King's Landing, but not before he provides some backstory about Lyanna and how Robert's Rebellion began. Littlefinger is a schemer and one of the best players in Westeros, but how much of what he told Sansa is true? In some ways, he's the audience surrogate -- laying out Stannis heading to war with the Boltons -- but it seems unlikely he would place all his faith in this outcome or Sansa's knowing how to handle Ramsay and winning back the North on her own.
-- "Game of Thrones" continues to forge its own path. Changes to the storylines of Sansa and Daenerys have readers and viewers wondering what's next. I think the show can still follow the same beats as the novels -- Daenerys marrying Hizdahr, the fighting pits being reopened, a war with Yunkai and her departure on the back of Drogon -- but Sansa's storyline has more questions to be answered. There will be a wedding with Ramsay, and the released episode details give us some understanding of what's next for her and Reek.
-- With everything that happened in this episode, it was easy to forget that Arya did not make an appearance. She'll be back, and readers can take comfort in knowing that her storyline will not have as many departures in "Game of Thrones."