In the latest Game of Thrones recap, Daenerys faces The Sons of the Harpy, Jon Snow faces another red head and the story of ‘The Last Dragon’ is told….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When George R.R. Martin began to write ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ more than 20 years ago, he imagined a fantasy world full of different lands and dozens upon dozens of families set to rule them. From Westeros across the Narrow Sea, he built an expansive universe of characters who helped narrate this long, intricate story about a constant battle for rule over the Iron Throne.
What Martin also managed to do throughout the course of his books was explain the history behind these people and how they got here in the first place. The first time we meet Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, it’s only through others telling us just how noble and worthy he’s been his entire life do we fully begin to understand the depth of his real character.
The most interesting historical event that ever happened in Martin’s books was ‘Robert’s Rebellion’ where Robert Baratheon rose up against his king, Aerys Targaryen, which eventually led to the end of the greatest dynasty Westeros has ever known. Robert’s uprising was sparked after Aerys eldest son, Rhaegar, kidnapped Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna who had been promised to Robert since she was just a girl. Robert declared war and when the battles were over and the last sword fell, the Targaryens were vanquished, both Rhaegar and Lyanna were dead, and a Baratheon sat on the Iron Throne for the first time in history.
As important as that story is to the beginning of ‘Game of Thrones’, tonight’s episode titled ‘The Sons of The Harpy’ gave a little more background on what sparked Robert’s rebellion and a historical look at the man called ‘The Last Dragon’ Rhaegar Targaryen.
For a character never before seen on screen (and chances are never to be seen in this context anyways), Rhaegar came to life for the first time really and it goes to the heart of the brilliant stories Martin created and David Benioff and Dan Weiss (co-show runners for ‘Game of Thrones’) have gotten so good at telling. Listening to Petyr Baelish explain how Rhaegar passed over his own wife in favor of laying roses down on the lap of Lyanna Stark after a day of jousting, which meant he was in love with a woman who was already betrothed to another thus sparking a serious conflict, was just awe-inspiring (remember a similar scene from season one after Robert ordered a big joust to celebrate Ned Stark arriving as the new Hand of the King).
“He rode right past his wife, Elia Martell, and all the smiles died. I’ve never seen so many people so quiet. He rode past his wife and he laid a crown of winter roses in Lyanna’s lap. Blue as frost. How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?”
~ Petyr Baelish
It turns out, however, Rhaegar may not have been such a vile monster as history paints him to be. According to Barristan Selmy, later in the same episode, Rhaegar was a man who liked to walk amongst his people and sing to them. He was a soldier by trade, a man of the people by conviction. A future king.
“Rhaegar never liked killing. He loved singing.”
~ Barristan Selmy
And yet it was the beauty of a woman he was not allowed to have that eventually led to the downfall of his entire family. The murder of his wife. The brutal killings of his children. The start of Robert’s rebellion and later, Rhaegar’s own death at his hands. Remember these stories as ‘Game of Thrones’ moves forward because those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.
With that, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ titled ‘The Sons of the Harpy’.
A Boring Death
On a boat to Dorne, Jamie and Bronn chat about the mission they are about to embark upon — taking Myrcella Baratheon away from a place they deem to be dangerous despite her being promised to Prince Trystane (read above about his whole history and war thing). Jamie has paid the captain of this ship a big bag of gold to take them close to Dorne while being rather discreet about the valuable cargo he’s dropping off.
Bronne has to explain the lay of the land to Jamie since he’s never visited Dorne before because this is a part of Westeros like no other.
“Have you ever been to Dorne? I have. The Dornish are crazy. All they want to do is fight and fuck and fuck and fight. There’s nothing like a good fight to get you in the mood for fucking, and there’s nothing like a fuck-mad Dornish girl to clear your head for the next fight. We’re going to be doing a lot of fighting I’m sure. Well, I am. But I don’t imagine we’ll get to stick around for the rest.”
Bronn shares a few knowing looks with Jamie when the ‘Kingslayer’ suggests he’s running off to Dorne to save his ‘niece’. He also quizzes Jamie on the rumors that he freed his little brother from the dungeons. Jamie answers back that it was Varys who freed Tyrion and if he ever ran into the half-man again, he’s split him in two for killing his father. A part of me wonders if he was being genuine or just putting on a good show in case Bronn is reporting back to Cersei?
Once they wash up on shore, Jamie finds out just how deadly Dorne can be when he nearly has his life ended by a poisonous snake cozying up to him while he was sleeping. Bronn also suggests that despite the bag of gold he paid the captain of the ship, they might still be in danger because the kingdom of Dorne would probably give him a lot more if he squealed about the knowledge that he just gave safe passage to Jamie Lannister to their sandy shores under the cover of night.
Moments later a garrison of soldiers show up and they are fully aware of the pair they’ve just encountered. Bronn tries to talk his way out, but he finds a sword through the throat works better. Eventually, Jamie and Bronn fight off the soldiers before burying them in the sand because dead men found stabbed to death at the shore will certainly raise a lot of questions. If no one ever finds them, the inquiries never come.
Meanwhile, in another part of Dorne we find the captain of the merchant ship has been captured by Oberyn’s bastard daughters — better known as the Sand Snakes — after he offered up the information about bringing Jamie Lannister aboard his ship. Ellaria Sand figures out rather quickly that Jamie must be there to take back Myrcella and she’s the only leverage they have to get revenge on the Lannisters for killing Oberyn.
Ellaria knows that the time to strike is now so she turns to the Sand Snakes to ask if they are with her or with their uncle, Prince Doran.
“You must choose — Doran’s way and peace or my way and war”
~ Ellaria Sand
Obara, the eldest of Oberyn’s daughters, picks up a spear — the same weapon her father used — and tosses it through the head of the merchant captain. She says war is all she has ever known and exactly what she was bred for.
The Faith Militant
Following her move last week to have the High Septon tossed in jail, Cersei continues her ‘religious uprising’ of King’s Landing by giving the High Sparrow even more power while also suggesting the rebirth of ‘The Faith Militant’ — a military arm of The Faith of the Seven, disbanded over two centuries ago by the Targaryens. The Faith Militant were known for fighting back against those who committed crimes against people of faith or even going as far as rooting out the sinners and punishing them, rather harshly in most cases.
The High Sparrow accepts Cersei’s offer, although it’s clear despite his calm, pious nature, he’s playing her as much as she’s playing him.
Moments later, the Faith Militant rise up in the streets of King’s Landing, busting up the brothels owned by Petyr Baelish while taking all sorts of liberties when it comes to laws of man because in their eyes the laws of God are the only ones to follow. The main target of the Faith Militant when it comes to the sinners are the men who choose to lay with other men (a sad commentary on today’s political agenda as well). The primary person of interest is Loras Tyrell, who Cersei ‘outs’ to the High Sparrow in their meeting.
“What would you say if I told you there was a great sinner in our very midst? Shielded by gold and privilege.”
Lancel Lannister is inducted into the Faith Militant as well and eventually they capture and jail Loras for his crimes against God. To further push her agenda, Cersei sends Mace Tyrell — who is by far the man with the most power and the least amount of smarts in the Seven Kingdoms —to Braavos where he’s charged with negotiating a way to pay back the Iron Bank, who are demanding their money currently. She sends Ser Maryn Trant with him as ‘protection’ which means either Mace isn’t coming back alive or she wants eyes and ears on him at all times.
Either way once Loras is arrested, Margaery finds out and she’s incensed. Matters are only made worse when she finally gets the King off his ass to do something about it and we find out what a sniveling coward Tommen really is. He’s too stupid to realize his mother orchestrated all of this when she claims that The Faith Militant jailed Loras, not her, and then he’s too much of a coward to strike down the faithful when they refuse to allow him to pass and speak to the High Sparrow.
When he returns and tells Margaery that he basically did nothing, she storms out and says it’s time to tell her grandmother what has been going on. Hopefully this means Lady Olenna is returning soon because I’ve missed her.
You Know Nothing
As part of his new duties as Lord Commander, Jon Snow has to rebuild the Night’s Watch to a force to be reckoned with again and that means they need more men. So he signs off on promises from all over the Seven Kingdoms of lords who are willing to send him bodies to put on the Wall. He even concedes to accept men from Roose Bolton, who is now the Warden of the North, because technically he’s not supposed to take sides in any war.
As Sam leaves, Melisandre enters as she offers to counsel Lord Snow on the real battle ahead. She first asks him to accompany Stannis to Winterfell where he will kill the man responsible for butchering his entire family. When Jon declines, Melisandre then informs him that the real war comes down to two sides — living versus death. The Lord of Light celebrates living and the god of death, well you get it.
Melisandre then removes her robes before putting Jon Snow’s hands on her so he can feel someone who is alive. She’s drawn to him like a moth to a flame and even tries to explain to Jon why he’s so much more than his current station in life.
“There’s power in you. You resist it and that’s your mistake. Embrace it.”
Remember, Melisandre senses the blood of kings. Keep that in mind, kids.
Jon eventually pulls back from her and explains that he took an oath, but more importantly he’s in love with another. Her response is that the person he loves is dead and she’s very much alive. Jon still turns away before she gets dressed again and leaves the room. As she’s walking out, Melisandre leaves Jon with a chilling message, which once again speaks to the real powers she possesses.
“You know nothing Jon Snow”
As Jon is giving Melisandre royal blue balls, Stannis is preparing to march south to Winterfell where he will face Roose Bolton’s army for the North. As he goes over strategy, his daughter Shireen comes to visit him. She’s been shunned by her mother almost since birth and it’s actually Melisandre who takes up her cause when Selyse speaks out against her daughter. Shireen tells Stannis how her mother didn’t want her to come to the Wall with them. She then asks if Stannis is ashamed of her.
No one is ever going to accuse Stannis of being a warm, cuddly bear but he does manage to tell a heartwarming story about Shireen’s birth and how he gave her a wooden doll when she was just a baby. What he didn’t know at the time was the wood was infected with Greyscale and quickly enough his daughter was infected. All of his advisors said that she would be dead soon and he should send her away to live out her days among the Stone Men. Stannis told them all to go to hell.
Eventually the maesters and wise men found a way to stop the Greyscale from advancing and Shireen was saved. Stannis isn’t ashamed of his daughter — he loves her and has fought for her since the day she was born.
A very sweet moment if I do say so myself.
Return to Winterfell
In the days since she was brought back to the North to be married to Ramsay Bolton, Sansa has started to get reacquainted with the home she left so many years ago when she moved to King’s Landing with her father under the promise that she was going to marry future king Joffrey. She spends time in the crypts lighting candles for all her dead relatives and even finds the feather that was once left by Robert Baratheon in the hand of the statue of her aunt Lyanna.
Petyr Baelish comes along and tells her the story about Lyanna, Rhaegar and Robert before informing her that he’s been summoned to King’s Landing and has to go for now. Cersei has sent for him and he can’t decline or he’ll raises suspicions. He promises that he will return and in his absence he’s quite sure that Sansa can handle Ramsay and Roose in her own way. Baelish also mentions that Stannis is about to march on the North and when he arrives and kills the Boltons, she’ll be left as the only ruler of the North as the last surviving Stark. Littlefinger gives her a kiss and reminds her that while Roose Bolton is certainly a worth adversary, he’s nothing she can’t handle.
“He’s a dangerous man, but even dangerous men can be outmaneuvered. And you’ve learned to maneuver from the very best.”
~ Petyr Baelish
Yes, she has.
A Trip Around the World
In a small boat bound for Meereen, Tyrion figures out his captor is actually Jorah Mormont — the man who once spied on Daenerys Targaryen for the crown on behalf of Varys. When he informs Tyrion that he’s taking him back to the Queen, it doesn’t take his prisoner long to figure out it’s not a gift he’s giving — it’s an offering.
Tyrion needs all of about 45 seconds to explain exactly why Jorah is driven to do what he’s currently doing — Daenerys found out about his spying, cast him out and now he’s trying to earn his way back by giving her a Lannister prize. As Tyrion explains, however, she’s just as likely to reward him as kill him for coming back at all.
Jorah’s heard enough and slugs Tyrion to shut him up.
The truth hurts sometimes.
A Death in the Family
Our story closes out this week with Barristan telling Daenerys about her brother Rhaegar and their days spent together walking amongst the people while he would sing to them like a minstrel. It was one of Rhaegar’s greatest joys to actually see and touch the people who would one day call him king. Barristan still enjoys the practice and decides today would be a good time to do that again.
While Barristan goes for a walk, Daenerys once again shuts down Hizdahr zo Loraq, who is still requesting for the fighting pits to be reopened. He believes this is the only way to build a bridge between her rule and the existing people of Meereen. It seems to be the only thing both the masters and former slaves want, but she refuses to watch free men die all for the sake of entertainment.
She might be rethinking that decision after what happens next.
The Sons of the Harpy strike in several spots throughout Meereen. First they take out several members of the Second Sons, who are enjoying some ale and women. Then they corner a garrison of the Unsullied, who are deadly in the field of battle, but not nearly as dangerous when cornered in tight alleyways with barely enough room to operate a spear.
The Unsullied are out numbered and the last man standing is their leader, Grey Worm. He fights off as many as he can, but takes a knife to the ribs for his trouble. Before they can finish him, Barristan hears the screams and runs to help. The old warrior takes out several members of the Sons of the Harpy before they finally overwhelm him. He’s stabbed through the chest just as Grey Worm rises to finish off the last couple of conspirators.
Barristan lays dead in the streets of Meereen while Grey Worm falls by his side, bleeding from his wound. Before long, Daenerys will receive word that at least one of her commanders and most prized protectors is dead and another may soon follow.
Earlier in the episode, Jamie and Bronn talk about the way they want to die. Bronn says he’s lived an exciting life so he wants to die a boring death. Jamie says he wants to expire while lying in the arms of the woman he loves. Ser Barristan — as sad and tragic as his death may be — was a soldier and all he ever wanted was to protect the king and/or queen. Joffrey tried to take that away from him, but Daenerys granted him the gift of leading her Queensguard in his final days. Barristan is gone, but he went out the way that he always wanted — as a warrior.
Tune into the new episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ next week as Tyrion spots his first dragon since crossing the Narrow Sea and getting that much closer to Daenerys Targaryen.