Game of Thrones, S5E4 Review

Now, ladies and gentlemen, things are starting to happen. This episode, a very good one, is best defined by the dramatic montages at the end and a bit after the beginning. I liked them both but only expected one of them, Barristan and Gray Worm ending the episode in puddles of their own blood did surprise me. But we will get to that later, I want to start this review by discussing the events in King’s Landing.

Cersei of course opens up Pandora’s Box in this episode by re-arming the Faith Militant to get Loras arrested, and thus, by extension, fuck over Margery for no other reason than the former simply being Cersei. After Cersei gives the High Septon the go-ahead, we are treated to a dramatic and very well made montage of the zealots running amok in the capital, mixed in with scenes of Lancel being “tattooed”, if that is the right word, with the seven-pointed star all while dramatic music plays in the background.

All these scenes really manage to capture the feeling of horrible fanaticism among the sparrows. The way they act shows of a sort of combination of both collective blind devotion to their cause and hints of some individuals relishing in it rather than just seeing it as duty, like that bald guy who smiles while he brandishes his whip in the brothel. The way they hiss “sinner” here and there helps a lot, I hope that the show keeps it up and that hisses of “sinner” will be heard in the background whenever large groups of sparrows convene in one spot. The whole thing was of course very disturbing, which I assume was the directors intent, and the prospects for the rest of this story-line look good, in the sense that there will be lots of suspense and emotion and so on.

There were to be fair some things in King’s Landing that didn’t work. One of them was the aftermath with Tommen and Margery quarreling about it, but then again I don’t think I will like the way any interaction between Margery and Tommen is handled this season, so I will leave that be. The other one was the arrest of Loras. Maybe there was no other way it could be portrayed, but this is Loras like-Jamie-but-popular Tyrell, even is he handed his sword to his squire before he saw them coming for him , the character I remember from the books would not have let himself be taken before pulling out a dagger and killing five men. Loras in the show is in no way Loras from the books however and with all the original personality gone him just surrendering without a fight is less of a problem if one wiews the show as a completely separate entity.

In King’s landing we saw one interesting thing not related to the sparrows that is worth pointing out. Cersei sends Meryn Trant with Mace Tyrell to Bravos, where Arya is, and having read Arya’s sample chapter from the sixth book (SPOLIER WARNING!) I expect Trant to take the place of Ralf the Sweetling and die in a few episodes, so that Arya can scratch one name from her lsit. Trant hasn’t really be shown as being on the list in the show to the extent that everyone will get it, which is a failure in planning on the part of the directors, but anyway, give it an episode or three and Trant will get on the boat across the Styx.

There was another foreshadowing made in this episode that is worth mentioning, though a much less subtle one. The show has finally picked up on the Lyanna, Rhaegar story, the proverbial song of ice and fire or, as annoying people sometimes state it, the fact that R+L=J.

There were two references made to this by different characters in this episode. The most obvious one was when Sansa and Littlefinger spoke about it in the crypts of Winterfell, telling the in-world official version of the story. But a slightly more subtle hint that the show would take this rout with regards to Jon’s parentage came when Stannis in response to Selysse saying that Jon was “a bastard by some tavern slut” answered that “Perhaps, but that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way”. I don’t think either of these two exchanges are random small-talk, they are there because the writers have decided to not let that part of the story go. They could have had them further apart thought, making it perhaps a bit less obvious, the folks over at What the Flick, who haven’t read the books figured it out at once. Maybe they should have had Sansa tell the story now and Stannis say his thing next episode.

The episode ends with the most peculiar little skirmish in Mereen. A group of Unsullied were lured into an ambush, almost wiped out before Barristan intervened, the whole thing then ending with Barristan and Gray Worm cutting down their attackers before apparently succumbing to their own wounds.

There is a certain serpent-like quality to the way the Sons of the Harpy, with masks and all, move around in this episode, and indeed whenever else they have been presented in this season. Their blank and expression-less masks are kinda creepy, and the way that some of them stare at their targets with slightly inclined heads while others slither around in the background like lizards is menacing, when I first saw a picture of the masks they would be wearing I thought it would just be ludicrous, but somehow it works.

It was clear in this scene that the harpies outnumbered the Unsullied, but considering that the harpies are mainly young noblemen without any particular military experience and the Unsullied are probably the best trained infantry in the world, it didn’t quite feel like it while watching the fight. Overall it makes little sense that the harpies should gather in the dozens to do their deeds, since they are supposed to sneak around in the night, preferably undetected.

I’ll take my leave with two final observations. First of all, just why in the hell are there church-bells ringing in Mereen? There are as far as I know no classical churches in Mereen. Finally, didn’t Barristan, as he made his last stand and that music was playing, remind you of Sean Connery’s death at the end of this clip ? I mean just a little, the costume, the beard and so on. You know I’m right…

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