Though it isn’t the first time Game of Thrones has deviated from its source material, some things took a drastic turn away from the books in episode 4, “Sons of the Harpy.” As it stands, not even those who have read Martin’s work can predict what will happen next.
If you dislike spoilers, venture no further.
In the Red Keep, Cersei Lannister is weaving her own complicated webs—ones the Spider and Littlefinger would no doubt be proud of. Determined to surround herself by those who can help her maintain her dwindling power, she is slowly getting rid of those in her way. During a meeting of the Small Council, she sends Lord Tyrell (Queen Margaery’s father and the new Master of Coin) away to deal with the demands of the Iron Bank in Braavos. Ser Meryn Trant will accompany him (no doubt so that she can maintain leverage over both him and Margaery from far away). As the Small Council begins to dwindle, one must wonder how long it will be before she disposes of the Maester.
Cersei is also pulling the strings with the High Sparrow, whom she has just appointed as the new High Septon. She tells him of the raping of Silent Sisters and the pillaging and burning of septs all over Westeros. “Perhaps the gods need a sword of their own,” she says, before suggesting that they resurrect the ancient “Faith Militant,” an order that was done away with centuries before. The High Sparrow agrees, and they decide to give weapons and authority to his hand-chosen followers.
Because arming religious fanatics has always been a great idea.
In a calculated move against Margaery, Cersei outs the Knight of Flowers (Loras Tyrell, Margaery’s gay brother) to the High Sparrow as “a great sinner in our very midst.” Not long after, Loras is imprisoned when the Faith Militant go on a rampage, raiding brothels and scouring the streets for sinners. Cousin Lancel is among their number, having carved a symbol into the flesh on his forehead.
Margaery asks King Tommen to free her brother. Tommen goes to Cersei, who in turn tells him to visit the new High Septon. Because Tommen is young and innocent, he goes to the Sept himself, only to be denied entry, and called a bastard by the crowd. Although surrounded by his Kingsguard, he doesn’t want to start a riot, and goes home with his tail between his legs. Tommen is kind and just, and it bothers me that he’s simply being used as a pawn between these powerful women. I worry for his life, mostly because I’ve grown to like him, and the ones I like are always those that bite the dust.
But what will Margaery’s counterattack be? We know that she and her grandmother, the badass Lady Olenna, are dangerous when angered, and sly in their retaliation. I wouldn’t want to eat cake around them, that’s for sure.
Lord Stannis and his wife Selyse observe Jon Snow training the younger brothers of the Night’s Watch. Selyse makes it clear that she disapproves of Jon, since he’s a tavern slut’s bastard. Stannis simply shakes his head, saying “Perhaps, but that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way.” Later, after Jon has signed several letters asking noble families for men to join the Night’s Watch, he faces the temptations of the Red Woman, who likes to say hello with her boobs. He is able to resist her, admitting that he still loves another. Melisandre doesn’t press him physically, but decides to give him a bit of a mind fuck by saying “You know nothing, Jon Snow” on her way out.
Can this happen sooner rather than later?
We also observe a very sweet moment between Stannis and his daughter Shireen, the kind girl who taught the Onion Knight to read (and is currently helping Gilly learn the alphabet). Stannis has always been portrayed as a very stern man, focused on only one thing—the Iron Throne. He has tried to do away with all distractions, which is why we have never seen him show affection to his daughter. He tells her that he is not ashamed of her despite her greyscale deformity, and they share a (slightly awkward) hug. Seeing this new side of Stannis is refreshing, although I still think he’s a complete idiot for falling prey to the Red Woman.
In the crypts of Winterfell, Sansa is lighting candles at the tombs of the Starks. She lingers at the statue of Lyanna, her father’s sister who was supposed to marry Robert Baratheon, but was kidnapped (supposedly) by Rhaegar Targaryen, the son of the mad king. The retelling of this story in addition with Stannis’s comments about Ned Stark could very well be the beginning of a confirmation of the most famous fan theory (*cough*JonSnowisreallyhalfTargaryen*cough*).
Petyr tells Sansa that he must go back to King’s Landing as he was summoned by Cersei. Sansa is loathe to be left alone with the Boltons, but Littlefinger reminds her that she can manipulate people with the best of them. Although it is obvious that he is using Sansa to gain control of the North, the idea of Sansa getting revenge for her murdered family and perhaps even becoming the Wardeness of the North is a pleasant one. When she was a child at Winterfell, she wanted nothing more than to go to King’s Landing. Now that her arc has gone from fairytale to horror story, and she has managed to survive every minute, it would be incredibly satisfying to see her take her rightful place as the head of House Stark.
On the way to Dorne, Jaime spots Tarth from the ship, and becomes very pensive. Is he thinking of Brienne? I hope so, because it was only after he met her that I started having any kind of sympathy for him. Bronn interrupts his contemplative mood, wanting to know why they’re sneaking in on a merchant ship, and not sending an army instead. Jaime is insistent that they are only there to rescue his “niece”, not start a war. Bronn isn’t too happy with this plan (which could likely turn out to be a suicide mission), telling Jaime that “the Dornish are crazy. All they wanna do is fight and fuck, fuck and fight.”
Jaime mentions that if he ever sees Tyrion again, he’ll split him in two. It would appear that his affection for his brother has evaporated in the wake of patricide. Later Jaime and Bronn sneak ashore in Dorne, only to be met by guards. Though Bronn does most of the work in killing them, Jaime discovers that his fake hand comes in handy (ha!), and manages to do away with one himself.
Meanwhile, Ellaria Sand rides out to meet the three Sand Snakes: Nymeria, Tyene, and Obara. They agree to rally to her cause, and tell her that they have learned that Jaime Lannister is in Dorne. Ellaria says that they must keep Myrcella from being rescued, as she is their only leverage against the royal family.
Across the Narrow Sea
Jorah Mormont steals a fisherman’s boat in order to smuggle Tyrion away from Volantis. Tyrion makes enough of an annoying racket that Jorah eventually removes his gag. Although they’ve never met, Tyrion is able to aptly deduce who Jorah is. Jorah says that he’s taking Tyrion to Daenerys, much to Tyrion’s delight. “What a waste of a good kidnapping,” he says gleefully, informing Jorah that he was already on his way to meet Dany. When Jorah refuses to untie him, however, Tyrion realizes that Jorah believes taking him as a hostage to Dany will get him pardoned from her displeasure.
Nice try, but I get the feeling Dany is going to like the imp much better than she likes you.
In Meereen, Dany has a heartfelt conversation with Ser Barristan about her brother Rhaegar. He’s certainly being brought up a lot lately, wouldn’t you say? Barristan tells her that Rhaegar didn’t like killing, as Viserys had her believe, but instead was a very good musician who preferred to play in the streets, then donate the money he earned.
As Barristan is walking the streets of Meereen later that day, the Sons of the Harpy go on a murder spree, killing many of the Unsullied. We finally get to see Barristan break out his skills before he is mortally wounded. Grey Worm collapses next to him, also apparently dead from his wounds. *bitter tears* We know that Barristan is confirmed dead, thanks to interviews like this one. However, he is still alive and kicking in the novels. Will he make a reappearance a la Lady Stoneheart? Only time will tell. As for Grey Worm, we don’t know yet if he is dead or simply passed out. I, for one, still think his character has a lot of potential, and would love to see him and Missandei have some time together.
What comes next?
Who fucking knows? At this point, we can only base assumptions on the preview for episode 5. All we know for sure is Drogon makes another appearance, and Ramsay Bolton is a creepy motherfucker.
Winter is coming,
The Collected Mutineer
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