Rate S5E04 “The Sons of the Harpy”

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  1. #1 by Charles the Geometer on May 4, 2015 - 3:59 pm

    Three Words: Lost Loves Remembered

    Explanation: A lot of people seem to be focused on loves (not necessarily romantic) that they have lost in their lives:
    – Jaime’s thinking about dying in the arms of the woman he loves.
    – Jaime’s also thinking about his dead father and the brotherly love that seems to have been lost between him and Tyrion.
    – Jorah is thinking about doing anything to get back in the good graces of Daenyrs. He’s got it bad.
    – Jon Snow is thinking about Ygritte, and allowing that love to guide his actions.
    – Stannis is remembering (finally) that he actually loves his daughter Shireen.
    – Sansa is remembering the love that both Robert and Prince Rhaegar had for Lyanna Stark.
    – The Sand Snakes (and Ellaria) are all thinking about the lost love of Oberyn.
    – Barristan Selmy is thinking about his obvious love of Prince Rhaegar .

    Brothel Mates: Plausible Deniability (Cersie) and Pandora’s Box (The Faith Militant)

    This was mostly a fantastic episode that had my undivided attention several times, especially in the more quiet moments. The conversation between Stannis & Shireen was extremely powerful and gave us perhaps the most tender moment in 4+ seasons of a show that is sometimes sorely lacking in tenderness. Contrast Stannis’s tale of his reaction to Shireen’s disfigurement with Tywin’s tale of his reaction to Tyrion’s birth. I know it’s not exactly apples and apples, especially given the death of Tyrion’s mother, but it still shows a powerful contrast between the two men.

    One my favorite exchanges of the conversation (before the really powerful stuff started flowing) was both funny and sad at the same time:
    Shireen: I know mother didn’t want to bring me.
    Stannis: Why do you say that?
    Shireen: She told me “I don’t want to bring you.”

    Actually, the entire conversation is study in contrasts. While I loved Stannis’s speech to Shireen and Shireen’s reaction to it (where do they find this child actors who are so natural? Kerry Ingram has been wonderful as Shireen), it also was also broke my heart that Shireen even had to ask her father whether he was ashamed of her.

    I also loved some of the other quiet moments, such as those between Jaime & Bronn (I’ve almost convinced myself that Jaimie was thinking about Brienne when he referred to “the womain I love” and that when he saw Bronn looking at him, he knew that Bronn thought he was thinking about Cersei, and that Jaime was then shocked to realize that he *wasn’t* thinking about Cersei) between Barristan & Daenyrs (I loooooove all the backstory and history), and between Sansa & Petyr (although I’m incredibly worried about where Sans’s story is going. I really hope it doesn’t go exactly parallel to Jeyne Poole’s story line in the books).

    The action scenes (for the most part) were strong as well. I love the little touches like having Jaime struggle to get the sword unstuck from his golden hand following the fight. Made me think of the scene in TRAINS, PLANES, AND AUTOMOBILES where John Candy and Steve Martin have to pry their hands out of the steering wheel and dashboard. Ha!

    I was really grateful we that we got to see Ser Barristan in action at least once before his death, and that we’re starting to see how Margery reacts when she’s not playing the super suave, always-in-control puppet master. She’s really, really good. Loved her scenes.

    The only thing about this episode that I really didn’t care for was the whole “Faith Militant” thing. That aspect felt incredibly rushed to me, and it felt sort-of like the whole thing almost sprang out of thin air. We haven’t seen ANYTHING in the show thus far to indicate that the followers of The Seven are in any way violently opposed to . . . everything that they suddenly seem to be violently opposed to. (Wine? Really? In a medieval-type world, where wine is one of the primary ways of combatting harmful bacteria in the water?) Even last week, when we were introduced to the High Sparrow, and he was so very meek and humble, almost Christ-like in his depiction, there was NOTHING there to point toward the kind of skin-carving, murderous fanaticism exhibited in this week’s show. I just don’t think the show runners have earned, or properly laid the groundwork for, what we saw in this part of the story. Now, there are things about this story arc that I very much like: namely, that Cersei is releasing a force upon the world that she thinks she can control but that she doesn’t even come close to understanding. That part makes sense to me, and fits in perfectly with what we know of the self-centeredness and short-sightedness of Cersei’s character. But to go in so short a time from the High Sparrow serving soup to the poor and destitute one week to having him apparently in control of marauding hordes violently destroying two huge pillars of the economy of King’s Landing (alcohol and whorehouses), all with Cersei’s tacit approval — I just don’t buy it. It doesn’t ring emotionally true in any way, shape, or form. It might have worked if D & D had taken the time to set all of this up by dropping in hints here and there, but they simply haven’t done that. This is one of the only things I can think of about GAME OF THRONES that I believe to have been genuinely badly done.

    Charles the Geometer

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