Game of Thrones “Sons of the Harpy” Review

by Matthew Thompson

My favorite parts of “Sons of the Harpy” are not the big action sequences that pepper the hour, but smaller, quieter moments. I didn’t expect to be so moved by a scene featuring Stannis and Shireen, but I was. We see a loving side of the cold leader as he recounts the efforts he went through to save his daughter from her greyscale affliction. This continues the trend of strong scenes for Stannis this season. I’ve always thought he was one of the less well-adapted characters in the show, so I applaud their efforts towards righting that ship this year. He has been excellent so far in Season 5.

Game of Thrones Sons of the Harpy 1

A couple other less flashy scenes I loved this week featured stories about Rhaegar Targaryen. I am both a huge fan of Rhaegar and a sucker for the history and lore behind this series. The show doesn’t get the same opportunity to delve into either of these as the books did, so I tend to eat up any chance I can get to see the show tackle these aspects. Littlefinger recounts Rhaegar’s actions at a tourney at Harrenhal that involves Lyanna Stark and ties into the circumstances that began Robert’s Rebellion while Barristan’s recalls some of the legendary prince’s lighter moments in the tales he tells Dany. I thought it made for a good final conversation for the two as well if this episode’s final fight represents the end for Barristan the Bold.

I think the end result of that final sequence I just alluded to will work well going forward even if I didn’t love how it all played out. As it is happening, Dany is once again hearing about the desire to bring back the fighting pits from Hizdahr. I think regardless of the casualty report (I’m guessing Barristan will die and Grey Worm will live), this incident could be the catalyst for her giving in to these demands. If I’m correct, I will be sad to see Barristan go. He’s by far the most interesting member of Dany’s entourage in the books though he never really got the chance to shine in the show. His exit seems to make room for Tyrion’s impending arrival which makes sense. I didn’t much care for the way the final fight sequence between the Unsullied and Sons of the Harpy came together. The direction was messy and leaving those two characters’ fates in limbo robs people of reacting properly to their death assuming one of them does end up dying. At least Barristan got to kill a swath of Harpies before he went down, but I will miss the old guy and the link he gave Dany to his family’s history.

This wasn’t the only big action sequence this week. Cersei arms the Faith and what follows is a scary series of events that raise the stakes in the capital by adding another dangerous faction to the mix and further creating friction between Cersei and Margaery with the young King placed in an awkward spot in the middle.

Game of Thrones Sons of the Harpy 7

Elsewhere, Jaime and Bronn have arrived in Dorne and with it came a riveting battle with some Dornish riders. It even featured a good bit of humor as a blade gets stuck in Jaime’s golden hand and he is able to turn the tables on his attacker. Him trying to shake the sword free after and Bronn’s remark “You had a wonderful teacher” were both good for a laugh. This was the high point of our time spent in Dorne this week. I did like small touches like Jaime seeing Tarth from the boat, but I remain unsure of this whole mission to Dorne. I’m glad the show is at least aware of some of the issues with the plan (Bronn points them out this week), but I find the show’s depictions of the Lannister family relationships to be a little muddled which makes some of Jaime’s motivations themselves a bit murky. I hope it all comes together though. We also get our first look at the Sand Snakes, but it comes off a bit too unnatural as a way to introduce the characters to viewers and is probably the biggest dud as far as scenes go this week.

A few more things:

  • Scene of the Week: I just loved the Stannis-Shireen one so much. Not nearly as impactful as some other ones this week, but wonderful nonetheless.
  • Tyrion figuring out Jorah’s identity was pretty fun.
  • In the “This Must Be Leading to Something” category: Meryn Trant was sent to Braavos and last time we heard Arya recite her list, he was on it. Also they really keep talking about greyscale this season.
  • Hey Dorne is in the opening! The little swirling snake thing was pretty cool. It is a bit weird to just be titled Dorne as opposed to a city like other places, but I suppose there might not be a real central location down there in the show.

I wasn’t sure how to sort my feelings about “Sons of the Harpy” initially. It felt like an episode of highs and lows, but thinking on it some in the days since it aired, I feel a lot better about it. While I may not love the execution of certain scenes, they all drive the plot and characters forward in interesting ways. On top of this, they did a great job of mixing in some action while also delving into the deep history of the world. Overall, I feel like the season has picked up a lot of steam these past two episodes and am excited to see where they head with it next. What did you think of this latest episode of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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7 comments on “Game of Thrones “Sons of the Harpy” Review

  1. I’m loving Shireen this season. I honestly didn’t think much one way or another of her before, but she’s such a smart little girl. I much prefer the quiet moments to the epic battles myself.

    • Yeah she has been great this season. Every time they make a character more likable, I begin to worry about them. I hope nothing happens to Shireen! Thanks for chiming in Nicole.

  2. Good call on Meryn Trant, I didn’t think of that. He would be a great kill for Arya rather than some random person in Bravos. Missing Arya this ep, hope to see more of her next week.

    I love when characters talk about past historic events, like the Rhaegar stories. The stories are interesting on their own and I like how they also plant seeds for things to be revealed. Great post!

  3. I think you’re right that Barristan’s death will motivate her to compromise. Intertwining the Fighting Pits discussion with the Sons of the Harpy preparation I think linked those two sequences and conflicts together. It’s be a better, more emotional motivation for her compromise, I think.

    • Yeah well put. I’m enjoying seeing how they bring everything together in this storyline especially since it seemingly won’t be heading in exactly the same direction (the siege likely not happening here). Thanks for the comment!

  4. I’m finding season 5 a bit of a grind. There are aspects that have to be fleshed out and built up to establish a poignant development to characters. But I thought with the omission of Bran, one of less intriguing story arcs in the series would grant other characters a reprieve from monotony. Dany still hasn’t moved, though the cogs are finally starting to turn for her narrative. Little Fingers slanting mouth and poorly concealed Irish accent requires it’s own acting credit. Arya has greatly diminished this season, reverting to a more petulant state I’d thought she’d outgrown. That being said, Tyrian is still hilarious, Sansa is a far improved character, Cersei is still a duplicitous “word that rhymes with witch” and the sparrows introduction should cause far more friction.

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