Season five of Game of Thrones kicks into high gear in its fourth episode, "The Sons of the Harpy." HBO's hit show based off of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels is getting more interesting and more unusual than ever before. Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss continue to develop plot lines that aren't present in the books and to create characters who will transform the show into its own story.
Daenerys is still battling the people of Meereen on the issue of the city's traditional fighting pits, but every other plot line really got a jump start in this episode, which contained some of the most exciting moments of the season so far. They're also the moments everyone will be talking about (spoilers ahead).
Jaime wins a sword fight with his fake hand
On their quest to retrieve Jaime's
niece daughter Myrcella from Dorne on orders from Cersei, Jaime and Bronn jump off their ship and swim to the shores of Dorne, where they must hide from the touring patrol. Jaime's decision to enter Dorne without announcing his arrival, as a member of the Kingsguard and the royal family, could easily be taken as an act of war — and in a way, it is. After all, he's there to break a treaty between the Lannister family and the Martell family, which rules Dorne.
In his heyday, Jaime was one of the best swordsmen in all the Seven Kingdoms, but by season five he's been through a long stint as a prisoner of war that ended with him wearing one of his own hands around his neck. When he and Bronn must fight four Dornishmen and Bronn asks how many of them Jaime can handle, he replies, "One — if he's slow." While Bronn deals with the other three, Jaime uses his golden fake hand to stop a blade headed for his face.
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes plot their revenge
In episode two, we saw that Ellaria Sand, paramour of the late Oberyn Martell, would love nothing more than to kill the young princess Myrcella as a way to exact revenge on the Lannisters. Now that Jaime has secretly entered her country — as she learns from the captain of the ship that smuggled him in — she's even more intent on avenging Oberyn's death.
But Ellaria isn't just quietly fuming inside the palace walls, and she isn't alone, because she has the Sand Snakes on her side. The Sand Snakes are Oberyn's bastard daughters, and the ones we meet in episode four are a trio of badass women who are ready to go to war with Ellaria. They are trained fighters with some pretty amazing skills, and Game of Thrones illustrates this fact when one of them throws a spear into the head of the aforementioned ship captain, who's buried up to his neck in the sand. This is the violence of the series at its best — smart, brilliantly staged, and incredibly brutal.
Tyrion and Jorah are off to see the Mother of Dragons
Episode three ended with Tyrion being kidnapped by Jorah Mormont, Daenerys’s former adviser. Jorah violently loads Tyrion into a boat to deliver him — as we'll soon learn — to Dany. This reveal is supposed to be a bit of a surprise because season four spent a good amount of time relishing in Dany's anger when she found out that Jorah had been working for the Lannisters, and when Jorah first announces that he's taking Tyrion "to the queen," we're meant to assume he's hoping to reenter Cersei's good graces by returning Tyrion to King's Landing. Episode four confirms that Jorah is still fully devoted to Daenerys (or faking it really well).
Loras is arrested as Cersei and Margaery fight for control
The Sparrows from episode three have increased their presence in King's Landing, and with the High Sparrow deep in Cersei's pocket they have become a kind of unstoppable police force within the city. Episode four opens with a Sparrows set piece that sees them carving a religious emblem into their foreheads, a sign of their brutality to come.
The most political of the Sparrows' moves, though, is their citizen's arrest of Loras Tyrell, the brother of Margaery Tyrell whom we've often seen flaunting his homosexuality and sleeping with various men. The Sparrows, who are known to be hyper-conservative (as Todd VanDerWerff wrote last week), take Loras into custody for his homosexual behavior, in keeping with their shaming of the high priest in episode three. This arrest, though, says more about Cersei and her growing fear that Margaery's manipulative abilities will soon outrank her own. Of course, their competition completely relies on which of them will best be able to boss around wimpy child king Tommen, who at this point seems to still be thinking mostly about sex.
The Sons of the Harpy send a big message
Every season of Game of Thrones has featured at least one expertly choreographed fight scene that ends in death and fear. What the Red Wedding and the Battle of Blackwater were to previous seasons, the Harpy ambush of the Unsullied is to season five. The foreshadowing of the season-five premiere, which saw a member of the Unsullied get his throat slit in a brothel, comes full circle as the Sons of the Harpy launch a full-scale attack on some of Daenerys's troops.
When Grey Worm pursues a man dressed in the trademark Harpy mask, the same prostitute from the premiere feigns panic and points Grey Worm and several of his fellow Unsullied right into a Harpy trap. The Unsullied are quickly outnumbered, and the battle is savage. Daenerys's main adviser, Barristan Selmy, arrives just in time to save an already wounded Grey Worm from certain death, but is gravely injured. As the episode concludes, it's not clear whether Ser Barristan and Grey Worm will survive their injuries, or whether they'll die and force Daenerys to reconsider her opinion of Jorah.