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The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 4, The Sons of the Harpy

The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 4, The Sons of the Harpy


A dance with #dads

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Helen Sloan/courtesy HBO

When Barristan Selmy showed up again in Season Three to pledge his allegiance to the Mother of Dragons, he was met with a resounding "who?". Never mind that he got one of the best "You can't fire me, I quit!" scenes in the history of modern television, Selmy easily melted into the background in a first season full of armored white guys we were told were once fearsome warriors — a first season where we were still getting our heads around Thrones' sprawling cast of knights, noblemen, and schemers. Even in last night's episode, folks were still reminiscing about Barristan in his prime — Littlefinger treats Sansa to a historical speech about his duel with Rhaegar Targaryen (+5). But in the Game of Game of Thrones, there are no points for history, only the damage you can do in the here and now.

In the Game of Game of Thrones, there are no points for history

Luckily, Selmy can (or — spoiler alert! This is a recap of a television show you presumably watched last night! — could) still prove he was that same "painter who only used red" that Jaime Lannister once waxed nostalgic about. When he left then-king Joffrey's service, he claimed he was a "knight, and [he] shall die a knight," and he made good on that bit of foreshadowing tonight. That he should meet his end alongside Grey Worm, a former-slave-turned-his-brother-in-arms, is evidence of how dramatically the world has changed since the heyday of Hot Young Thing Barristan Selmy. Both men died knights, but for Barristan, it was an achievement in consistency; for Grey Worm the chance to be remembered after his death — to be the kind of guy whose helmet gets knocked off mid-battle so you can identify him as a character to root for — was an unthinkable feat.

Oh, and both of them took out a shitload of Sons of the Harpy with them (+50 each). They will be missed.

Tonight's final battle (probably more of a street fight, to be honest) is a reminder of all the free points that come raining down any time blood starts to be drawn in earnest. Consider the Sons of the Harpy's performance tonight: +50 for their collective redshirt kills, +35 and +30 for relieving Selmy and Grey Worm of their Duties. Also, have we given them points yet for their incredible outfits? Now's as good a time as any (+15). (The Unsullied, for their part, picked up +50 for their efforts last night.) As we approach the halfway point this season in the Game of Game of Thrones, our focus is beginning to shift from the endlessly entertaining wars of words taking place in the halls and chambers of Westeros, toward the actual wars to come. This is both good news for those who've filled their teams with killers (hello, Sand Snakes!) and bad news (killers get killed).

Jorah is such a Charlie Brown

But first, let's catch up with Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister, two heartbroken outcasts who find themselves quite literally in the same boat. Of course the "queen" Jorah spoke of was Daenerys, and of course Jorah can't execute one badass surprise move without being undercut by the fact that, oh right, his prisoner was going to the same place anyway. I expect that was more the reason for his Tyrion (+20), and less the imp's incisive impishness. When Tyrion comes to, it would be nice of him to protest a little more, just to make perpetual Charlie Brown Jorah feel like he was actually doing something.

Meanwhile, back across the narrow sea, Jaime Lannister and Bronn finally make a case for why their one last Dornish job isn't doomed for the dreaded Lame Sideplot retroactive point-snatching. They arrive on the beautiful, sandy beaches of Dorne and promptly start stabbing dudes: first, Bronn stabs a snake (+2) and then once he's fully warmed up he takes out three random Dornians (+30) and also is a close runner-up for Line of the Week:

Dolphins, Maybe

What Jaime lacks in body count (+10) he makes up for in his newly discovered ability to STOP SWORDS WITH HIS BARE (METAL) HAND (+5). He's also smart enough to suggest burying the bodies — y'know, so as not to start a war or anything weird like that.

Ellaria Sand is basically the fiercest Dance Mom in Westeros

Unfortunately, Ellaria Sand and her daughters / posse are already onto their little rescue mission. We finally got to meet the Sand Snakes last night, and they all are bringing a strong fashion game (+15 each — I appreciate the strong pops of yellow in Tyene and Nym's matchy-matchy looks, but Obara's is the only outfit I'd trust in a battle). Their slavish loyalty to their mother is both heartwarming and kind of scary; Ellaria is basically the fiercest Dance Mom in Dorne. Obara, played by one-time Whale Rider Keisha Castle-Hughes, also finds time to plant a spear in the head of the guy whose ship Jaime and Bronn came in on (+10) — hopefully a nice little amuse bouche for the copious Sand Snake action to come.

Game of Thrones

Speaking of slavish devotion to a cause — LOL, this is Game of Thrones; that segue works just about anywhere! — the Sparrows rocked a very new, very metal (no, not nu-metal) look and started doing some damage in the seedier corners of King's Landing. (Does it ever occur to any of the lusty patrons of Littlefinger's Pleasure House to maybe stay home any time there's a major political upheaval? It seems like the brothels are always the first stop of any marauding horde.) Anyway, none of this matters for our purposes, because nobody has the Sparrows drafted in special teams, but +10 to Cersei Lannister for orchestrating the whole thing, -10 to Tommen Baratheon for not being able to do a thing about it, and +10 to Lancel Lannister for his new forehead tat and the pure gumption to arrest Queen Margaery's brother, Loras (+5). Good gods, what has happened to this disturbed youth? One minute he's an innocent squire, bedding his older cousin and serving as an accessory to regicide, like ya do, and now you're telling me he turned out a little bit maladjusted?

Speaking of slavish devotion to a cause — you see!? — Jon Snow is still being his boring, pouty, principled self, and is still refusing to join Stannis' army and drive the Boltons out of Winterfell, because he "took a vow" or whatever. Where were your vows in that cave with Ygritte, Jon? You have the chance to avenge your family; doesn't that have a little more dramatic weight? Maybe his hesitance to rush off to battle for the Stark family has something to do with the late Cat Stark's permanent grudge against him and the daily reminder that he was a bastard and everyone's lives would be easier if he had never been born. Maybe.

Melisandre was perfect this week

Melisandre does her best to convince him to join the march, reminding him that he would be fighting on the side of "life" (aka boobs, +15), which was the best failed come-on I think I've ever seen on this show (+5). Melisandre should write a dating book called He's Just Not That Into You But Maybe He Will Be If You Take Off All Your Clothes And Tell Him He's Been Chosen To Lead His People By A Fire God You Probably Made Up. Oh, and then she dropped a "You Know Nothing, Jon Snow," which was A) true, and B) spooky as fuck (+10). Melisandre was perfect this week.

Game of Thrones

But the real winners tonight weren't the ones with the most points or the most kills or the coolest outfits — they were the ones with the most love. Shireen Baratheon may not be the most exciting player on the board right now, but she's always a welcome presence in an episode, mostly owing to the fact that, unlike so many others, her rather unfavorable lot in life hasn't turned her into a complete asshole yet. (How did she know her mom didn't want to bring her to the north? "She told me, 'I don't want to bring you.'" +5) And last night she revealed a power thought to be purely mythical up until now: the ability to make her father sympathetic.

Lots of jokes are made about Stannis Baratheon's lack of charisma or recognizable human emotions, but now we know he's just a stressed-out dad trying to do right by his little dragonface daughter. (+15 for the speech / line of the night: "You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.") We'll also throw another +5 to Shireen for getting a hug from her dad, a scoring opportunity I'm totally willing to extend to the rest of the seven kingdoms, if I thought anyone else stood a chance at it. In the Game of Game of Thrones, dads are rare; most of them are dead, and the ones that are still standing aren't exactly huggers. They are an ancient and powerful force that at any moment could bring both Westeros and Essos to their knees. Dads are the new dragons.

This week's top scoring characters (calculated from this total b.s. points guide)

  1. Sons of the Harpy (131)
  2. Barristan Selmy, Grey Worm, and the Unsullied (51)
  3. Bronn (38)
  4. Melisandre (31)
  5. Obara Sand (26)
  6. Jorah Mormont (21)
  7. Nymeria Sand, Tyene Sand, Jaime Lannister, Lancel Lannister, and Stannis Baratheon (16)

This week's league rankings

  1. Kwame Opam: 132 points (244 total)
  2. Liz Lopatto: 63 points (215 total)
  3. Chris Plante: 81 points (195 total)
  4. Casey Newton: -8 points (170 total)
  5. Bryan Bishop: 84 points (143 total)
  6. Ross Miller: 88 points (136 total)
  7. Adi Robertson: 6 points (115 total)
  8. Dieter Bohn: 34 points (110 total)
  9. Arielle Duhaime-Ross: 28 points (65 total)