Another week another Game of Thrones, in which we take a trip down South, meet a band of religious extremist terrorists and some murderous former slave owners. In other words, welcome to Reconstruction.
There’s another ship sailing the seas with some important figures–this one holding Jaime Lannister and everyone’s favorite sell sword Bronn, and heading for Dorne. In the ship’s hold, an irritated Bronn asks what gives? Why are they traveling in the bowels of some merchant ship and not on a Lannister ship? Jaime replies they need to get there by stealth to rescue his “neice.” Bronn gives him that look like…”uhhh…your niece huh? We still doing that? Oookaaay.” Jaime says nothing. It gets awkward.
Bronn moves on to ask why not send an army to Dorne? Jaime says because he doesn’t want to start a war–and it has to be him. After some needling Bronn puts it together that Jaime is doing this as some kind of penance, for releasing his brother. Jaime admits his involvement and Bronn says if he ever sees Tyrion (“the wee f*cker”) again to give him his regard. A cold voiced Jaime replies that Tyrion murdered his father; if he ever sees him again, he’ll split him in two. Then he’ll give him his regards. Family.
In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister is busy plotting. And she’s going big time. First she whittles down her small council to give herself more control (you next Maester Pycelle). Then she invites the High Sparrow to a private audience. Sweet talking him, she comes up with a plan to arm the fanatical Sparrows–to once more become the old Faith Militant, and dispense the justice of the gods. It will be an army in service to the gods themselves. When Cersei says such a force is needed as the king can’t dispense justice on his own, the High Sparrow doesn’t miss a beat declaring: “All sinners are equal before the gods.” Foreshadowing folks. Pay attention, because Cersei isn’t. Instead she eagerly tells the High Sparrow she knows where to find the greatest sinners in King’s Landing.
We next see the religious fanatical sparrows go all Inquisition meets ISIL on just bout e’rybody. They smash barrels of alcohol, beat and maim sex workers and their johns, and engage in all around antisocial behavior. It seems the folk in King’s Landing are a lot less nuanced in their treatment of same-sex behavior than the medieval Europeans they’re based upon, and appear to murder an accused “boy bugger.” So you don’t need to guess who they eventually capture and jail–Ser Loras Tyrell. He’s arrested by none other than a recent convert whose just gotten a nice fanatic forehead scar to boot–Cersei’s cousin young Lancel. The young Lancel she was doing sexual things with, sexually. The young Lancel she convinced to murder the former king. And now she’s feeding the religious fervor he’s gotten swept up in, rooting out “sinners.” Guess that whole proverb about motes, splinters and eyes, ain’t made it’s way into the holy scriptures of The Seven. One word Cersei should keep in mind: blowback.
A ticked of Margaery Tyrell goes to her husband, the completely clueless King Tommen–who is way over his head…because he’s like twelve. She tells him his mother is behind this and demands something be done to release her brother. King Tommen does try to confront his mother, and she straight handles him. Again, because he’s twelve. She tells him with a smile she didn’t have Loras arrested and it’s out of her hands. He’ll have to go to see the High Sparrow. King Tommen the blissfully unaware does just that, taking a troop of Kings Guard with him. They’re met at the Sept steps by Sparrows who block the way and say the High Sparrow is praying and won’t be disturbed. When the Kings Guard threaten to cut their way through, Tommen is disturbed at the possibility of violence. He’s further taken aback when Sparrow sympathizers among the denizens of King’s Landing began yelling out things like “bastard” and “abomination!” (Yeah my dude, they know! Everyone knows!) A thoroughly punked King Tommen has to go back home to see Margaery and tell her, “uhhh…couldn’t do it. uhhh… High Sparrow was…uhhh praying.” Margaery basically tells him, “you ain’t the real MVP” look and leaves. Damn bruh. Damn.
At Castle Black, the would-be-king Lord Stannis Baratheon has taken a liking to the new Lord Commander Jon Snow–especially after seeing him handily take off Ser Janos Slynt’s head (like he needed to). His wife stands by watching, and comments she should have given him a son. She looks to their daughter, and basically apologizes for giving him a deformed daughter. That’s messed up. She’s cut off by the arrival of Melisandre, who essentially says the Red God don’t make mistakes. She gives Stannis’s wife “a look,” and ol’ girl gets gone like she been dismissed.
Meanwhile as Lord Commander Jon finds himself busied with paperwork, handled by his steward Samwell Tarly. At the moment he’s signing papers asking for help and more men to guard the wall. He takes it all in stride until he sees one of those names is Roose Bolton–the guy who murdered his brother. Samwell however reminds him they need dude’s help, and at the moment Roose is the Warden of the North. A reluctant Jon agrees. In the midst of this who should show up but Melisandre. After an awkward greeting from an exiting Samwell, she and Jon are left alone. Before you can say, “hey she ain’t got no clothes on,” the Red Lady suddenly has no clothes on. She does her best to seduce the Lord Commander, telling him they’re meant to be “joined” and such. For a while it seems like it might work, until she says something against Ygitte, and Jon gets broken of the spell. An annoyed Melisandre gives up (for the moment) and before she leaves tells him, “You know nothing Jon Snow.”
Elsewhere, young Shireen goes to visit her father Stannis Baratheon. After some small talk, she asks him if he’s ashamed of her. And for a brief moment we get to see a touching side of Lord Stannis, who assures his daughter he has no shame of her at all. Because she’s his daughter. They hug–and then he even hugs her back. Awwwww.
At Winterfell (been a while huh?) Littlefinger finds Sansa Stark in the crypts, lighting a candle at the grave of her aunt Lyanna. We’re treated to an important back story by Littlefinger from the book–in which Ser Barristan Selmy and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen have a joust, after which Rhaegar spurns his Dornish wife to show out for Lyanna Stark. Sansa replies back, yeah sure, but then Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and raped her–the reputed cause for Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. There’s this look on Litltefinger’s face like, “don’t believe everything you been told kid,” but he keeps it quiet. Instead he tells her he’s leaving to return to King’s Landing. When Sansa balks, he tells her she’s been a Sith apprentice long enough. Lord Stannis is probably going to take back Winterfell sooner or later, and she’s the rightful Stark heir. If not that, she’ll end up married to Ramsay Bolton and get Winterfell. Either way, she needs to get her scheme on. This is the big time. Then he gives her a creepy old guy kiss on the lips. Cuz he’s creepy.
Somewhere in Dorne, Bronn and Jaime finally arrive. After rowing to shore and killing a snake for breakfast, the two sit around shooting the breeze about the best way to die. Bronn wants to die peacefully and quite boringly watching his sons fight over his fortune. Jaime says he wants to die in the arms of the woman he loves. Bronn asks if “she” wants the same thing. More silence and another awkward look. Because dude, that’s your sister.
Things turn exciting however when several Moorish-dressed Dornishmen on horseback show up. It seems Bronn and Jaime might find a way to talk their way out of a melee–until the sell sword puts a knife through one of the Dornishmen’s neck. A harrowing battle takes place, in which men die, a horse gets a really bad belly wound and a battered Jaime finally realizes that golden hand comes in damn handy (all puns intended) for parrying. Welcome to Dorne fellas.
And then–Sand Snakes.
Finally! Took long enough!
We see three women at a tent somewhere near a sand dune–the Sand Snakes, all daughters of the late Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne. They’re there to meet with a still seething Ellaria Sand (Cut her some slack yall. She saw dude’s head go pop) who is ready to go to war for vengeance–even if the current occupant of the Dornish throne is not. She points out that they have an important ace up their sleeves—Myrcella Baratheon. One of the Sand Snakes however says there might be a problem. With the flick of a whip she undoes a bucket on the ground that reveals a bald-headed man buried up to his neck, gagged and crawling with giant black scorpions. The Sand Snake reveals he’s a ship’s captain (same one who ferried Jaime and Bronn) who told her he had some information to sell–namely that Jaime’s come to Dorne for Myrcella. Ellaria tells them they have to act quickly, and that they must choose either their uncle’s way and peace or her way and war. The three give their assent–and the ship captain ends up with a spear through his melon. This is gonna be fun!
Somewhere in Essos, a ship carrying Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister is making its way. After convincing him to have his gag removed, Tyrion quickly learns the queen he’s being taken to is not his sister–it’s Daenerys. He laughs at this, telling Jorah that’s where he was heading all along. When Jorah asks what the queen would possibly want with him, Tyrion begins to deduce who he is, that he’s fallen out of favor with Daenerys and that he’s hoping delivering Tyrion will put him back in her favor. Damn good deduction skills half-man. Jorah responds by knocking the shi*t of out of him. Yeah. Saw that coming.
In Meereen, we see Daenerys herself staring out at her conquered and troubled city. Ser Barristan Selmy, noting her troubles, tells her a lighthearted story of how her brother Rhaegar used to actually go down to the streets of King’s Landing and sing for the people. This is interrupted by new-faced Daario Naharis who shows up to remind her she has an audience with the Ghiscari noble Hizdahr zo Loraq. Dany gives that “work sucks” look and bids goodbye to Ser Barristan who’s going down into Meereen. She herself heads back to the audience chamber to once again haggle with Hizdahr about re-opening the fighting pits. He warns that today is the usual first day of the fighting season. When Dany brings up that the sports were barbaric, Hizdahr counters they are tradition. And without tradition he says, the former masters and former slaves of Meereen will turn on each other.
Out in dem streets, we see an army of golden-masked Sons of the Harpy massing underground. Harpies gonna Harpy. They make their way to what looks like a local outdoor brothel and with those little knives (and a little help from a certain sex worker) start slitting the throats of Daario’s mercenaries. When a troop of Unsullied hear the screams they show up only to have that certain sex worker send them off–into a trap. They enter a narrow passageway only to find themselves surrounded by golden masked Harpies, waiting for an ambush.
It’s a brutal battle–small knives against long spears in close quarters. The Unsullied are good–they’re the frackin’ Unsullied after all–but there’s too many Harpies. It quickly turns to a slaughter as no matter how many Harpies they kill, there’s more to show up with those deadly knives. In moments the number of Unsullied dwindle, and when one of them loses his helmet we realize it’s Grey Worm. Awww hell. Not Grey Worm!
The Unsullied leader has to mostly fend for himself, taking out Harpies as he can. But they keep crowding, and eventually one of them manages to put a knife in his side. Damn! Not Grey Worm! But he’s not down! He’s still fighting, hand to hand, with the knife. Only now he’s encircled, wielding his spear again clumsily–dazed and bleeding from the wound. Not Grey Worm! The Harpies circle in for the kill and…
It’s Ser Barristan Selmy! Hell Yes! Never been happier to see an old white man in my life! He’d been out in the streets of Meereen and after seeing people running, followed the mayhem until he arrived in the nick of time. And then the old man shows us why he was once one of the best swordsmen in Westeros. He puts his sword to use, cutting down Harpies, taking off heads. But again, there’s so many. They score some slashes against him, manage to stab him and one of them is ready to slit his throat–until Grey Worm puts a knife through him and ends it.
Wounded, perhaps mortally, the two collapse. And we’re greeted with a final scene of strewn dead bodies and stark silence.
The final bloodbath was so intense, the writers fainted from exhaustion and ended the episode a whole 8 minutes early. So that’s all folks. Till next time, where Tyrion might spy a dragon.