Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Everyone's GOT A Story

A lot of characters were looking back on the latest Game Of Thrones episode "Sons Of The Harpy."  This can be tricky, dramatically--when a character starts waxing rhapsodically about the old days, the action tends to stop dead.  But GOT is good at monologues, and has a lot of backstory to get through, so it's not always a bad thing.

We start with a small boat docking before the sun is up. The boatman is knocked out by Ser Jorah, who throws a few coins on the body as a toll.  He takes the tied-up Tyrion and tosses him (or his stunt double) onto the boat before taking off.

Another boat--Jaime has bought passage on this one. They're passing the Sapphire Islands--where his old pal Brienne comes from.  Those were the days, when he could still fight.  Now he has to bring along Bronn, tough guy, to help him out.  Down below, Bronn questions him as to why it's just two guys, and not an army, to rescue Myrcella.  Jaime explains it's got to be a quiet job to avoid a war, but we (and Bronn) know it's more--his sister/lover isn't happy, and he needs to make this right.  Still, is this much of a plan?  Dorne's a whole kingdom (at least I think it's a kingdom--in the credits, they made it look like a city), so what can two guys with three hands do?

In King's Landing, Cersei notes they owe money they can't afford to the Iron Bank. (Does the Iron Bank still care--I thought they were backing Stannis.) She sends Uncle Tyrell off to Braavos, with Meryn Trant as bodyguard--bye-bye Uncle, it was nice knowing you.  Pycelle notes the Small Council keeps getting smaller. With Qyburn there, is Pycelle really in any position to be saying these sorts of things.

Meanwhile, Cersei has got the Faithful Militant up and running again. It's a chance to use their power to get rid of enemies--such as sinner Loras Tyrell.  But certainly Cersei can understand why you don't want to unleash this power--she's the head sinner, after all.  (It's disconcerting to see religious fanatics rounding up homosexuals when that's still happening today.  GOT comments on our world, but we don't want it to be too on the nose.)  The Sparrows once again attack Peter Baelish's establishment, yet Cersei has called him back to King's Landing.  Just what is her plan?

Anyway, Margaery isn't happy her brother's in a cell, and complain to poor, naive Tommen.  Tommen goes to his mom, who blames the religious group. He goes to see the High Sparrow, who's busy praying, and can't be disturbed.  Tommen backs down (maybe a wise move), but Margaery is not happy.  She's going to see her grandmother.  Maybe Olenna can help, but really, I'd think Margaery could still play the young king better than this.

Up at Castle Black, Stannis still waits.  He's been worrying about getting stuck in the snow for a while--isn't it time for him to get a move on?  Anyway, he watches Jon Snow.  His wife doesn't think much of the bastard, but Stannis says something interesting--it's not really noble Ned Stark's style to have a bastard.  And Melisandre notes the Lord Of Light doesn't care.  They both see something in him, but how do they plan to use him.  Are they going to stick around longer to find out?  In any case, the Lady in Red demands she not be left behind in this war march.  (Are you going to keep bringing up that battle?  Don't nag a king.)

Jon is doing administrative work, begging families to send men to the Wall--even Roose Bolton, as Samwell insists.  (Snow and Tarly actually make a good team.)  But are there bigger things ahead for Jon?  The Red Lady comes in, telling him he should go to Winterfell.  She claims he needs to take a bigger view of things, and proceeds to show him her breasts.  Good argument.  Last season we saw she saw something in him, but I'm not clear where she thinks this is going--has he got more "power" than Stannis, and if so, what would she do about it?  He decides to resist her advances, but she's got a great line upon exit: "You know nothing, Jon Snow." It works so well it almost makes up for all the times Ygritte overused it.

Meanwhile, Stannis and Shireen have an odd scene.  He tells her how her disease was an attempt at assassination, and rather than send his baby to the Stone Men, he did everything he could to save her. They have an awkward embrace, though why he hasn't told her this story already I don't know.  Anyway, Stannis at the Wall is acting more human every day.

And we cut to the Crypt at Winterfell, where Sansa is lighting candles. (If there was any question last week about Moat Cailin, we now know where we are.)  Littlefinger comes in and tells her an old story--about how Rhaegar Targaryen went after beautiful Lyanna Stark (thus creating a war).  Sansa says it was a kidnaping and a rape, though Petyr doesn't reply. Anyway, coming upon a bunch of Jon Snow stuff, I think this pretty much confirms the real story--these two had a baby and Ned had to take it and pretend it was his bastard.  Why bother to go on about this otherwise?  If true, it certainly means Snow has quite a destiny, if he chooses to take it.

Littlefinger has his own plan, of course, but first he needs to return to King's Landing at Cersei's command. Is this a good idea?  He seems ready to back Stannis, why return to a possible trap? (Or even if not a trap, who can count on Cersei?) Meanwhile, he'll leave dark Sansa at her true home, but he explains it's a good place to be. Stannis will attack, and if he wins, he'll support any Starks and put her in charge.  If Bolton can hold out, she can become Ramsay's wife and control things that way. (There's one item he hasn't taken into account--Brienne, who plans to kill Stannis.  If she does, and why shouldn't she, what would that mean?)

Jaime and Bronn sneak ashore in Dorne (another dark scenes near the shore), ready to work their way down the coast to the Water Gardens.  This is a fun, if not odd, couple.  One high born, the other low, but aside from that they're quite similar. Both are (or were) great warriors, and both have a cynical view of the world.  They come across four horseman and manage to defeat them.  Bronn does the heavy lifting, of course, but Jaime stops a sword with his golden hand--a nice touch, and one of the few tricks he can count on.

Meanwhile, we're finally introduced to the Sand Snakes (who I still can't tell apart).  They already know about Jaime's incursion--the ship's captain told them.  Jaime bribed him not to, but, as Bronn noted, who's gonna stop him? (Though he pays with his life, which may be a preferred payment style of the Snakes.) They want vengeance against the Lannisters for Oberyn, but Doran has the army. They figure if they can get Myrcella before Jaime takes her away, this will get them the war they want.  Sounds like a plan.

Back on the boat with Tyrion and Mormont, another great (and new) couple.  Tyrion can't help but notice they're traveling east, not west.  Jorah is going to Dany, as we always knew. Tyrion can't help but laugh--he's going there anyway.  No matter to Jorah, he's still a prisoner. Jorah won't talk much, but Tyrion knows enough to figure out who he is and what happened to him. He notes that Jorah's plan might not work--Dany might just accept Tyrion and execute Mormont.  Jorah slaps him--Jorah was tough, but used to be calm. Being in exile can drive a man nuts.

And finally we cut to Dany. Considering the title of the show, it's about time.  Ser Barristan tells her a charming story about the old days, and her brother Rhaegar. (Again?) More on the meaning of this story later. For now, she's got to talk more to people demanding the return of the fighting pits. (Again?)

On the streets, though, the Sons of the Harpy make their attack. As far as I could tell, some ladies of easy virtue were pleasuring some Second Sons just before they're slaughtered.  The Unsullied rush in, and the prostitute points them toward the terrorists (and into a trap).  A big fight starts, and the odds aren't good for the Unsullied, led by Grey Worm.  Selmy hears trouble and soon joins in.  When he gave up his sword to Joffrey, he said he could have cut through the guards like butter, and makes good on that claim here.  But there are still too many, and he gets stabbed.  Same happens to Grey Worm.  What's going on here?

Just before Barristan is going to get his throat slit, the barely alive Worm saves him, but they both collapse in a pile of Unsullied corpses.  And that's the end.

So what just happened? They can't both be dead.  I'm pretty sure Grey Worm isn't, since he was strong enough to save Barristan--also, his story (especially regarding Missandei) has plenty to go.  So is Barristan done for?  Dany's oldest and wisest advisor?  Let's go back to the story he told Dany--that's the kind of happy moment you give a character about to buy it.  No tension in that scene, just a sweet, shared moment.  Then, rather than have him come to her next meeting with the public, she sends him on a pleasant walk.  On top of that, Jorah is returning--did they need to clear up space for her longest-serving advisor?  The best evidence he's alive is the Sons didn't get to slit his throat.  Why bother with that if he's dead. Will he get a few good words out to Dany before he dies (like who Rhaegar's real son is)?

So a decent episode, but not a great ending. I won't like seeing Barristan die, he was a cool guy. But, drama-wise, he was expendable.  And maybe his death will force Dany to get off her ass and fly those dragons to Westeros already.

MIA were the Boltons (not that anyone misses them). No Theon, either. No Brienne and Pod, though we can assume right now they're making camp not far outside Winterfell. (She wants to kill Stannis, but she can't be a fan of the Boltons, that's for sure.  In fact, shouldn't she also have sworn to kill Roose?) No Varys.  In fact, what's he going to do now?  He can't go back to King's Landing, but can he go on ahead to Meereen? Worst of all, no Arya, whose story seems the most separate of all. On the other hand, has Cersei sent her a gift named Meryn Trant?


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