Programming Note: These reviews are written from the perspective of someone who has not read books. They contain liberal speculation as to future developments, but these are based only on what has aired on the show so far (not even including the Next Week On trailers), and thus are intended to be safe for the spoiler-averse. That means NO MENTIONS OF THE BOOKS WHATSOEVER IN THE COMMENTS. DOESN’T MATTER IF IT IS THINGS THAT HAVE ALREADY OCCURRED OR CAN NO LONGER OCCUR AT THIS POINT IN THE SHOW, OR PREDICTIONS I MAKE THAT ARE DEMONSTRABLY WRONG. IF YOUR COMMENT INCLUDES THE WORDS “IN THE BOOKS”, DON’T POST IT.
Sorry this is a bit later than usual. Prior recaps can be found in here.
I think it’s time we had a thoughtful, frank and substantive discussion about Carice Van Houten’s breasts.
I think that regardless of of our respective ages, affiliations and orientations we can agree on this much.
The season’s debuted with the aptly-named episode “The Wars To Come”, and subsequent titles have now shuffled through several factions that seem poised to shape those wars, even if they aren’t themselves the headliners. The House Of Black And White will influence things through Arya, who you couldn’t keep out of the mix even if Lord Tyrell was not bringing her Meryn (Fucking!) Trant on a platter. The Sparrows are undermining the Tyrell/Lannister alliance, and Tommen’s young regime in the process. And in Mereen, the Sons Of The Harpy have struck a vicious blow to Dany’s inner circle.
I’ve often given short shrift to Dany’s end of the story in these recaps, and that’s mostly due to how I haven’t felt that she’s faced a real challenge or setback since I started writing them way back in the mists of the third season premiere. It’s tough to see the generally likable Selmy and possibly Grey Worm taken out in a single stroke, but it’s also exciting. After the takings of Mereen, and Yunkai and Astapor went off without any significant losses for Team Targaryean (the dragons are not really full characters, not to mention their exit is non-fatal and at least partially self-inflicted), we’re at a place where I celebrate the khaleesi getting legitimately bad news.
That’s because it’s a fact that angry khaleesi is the best khaleesi, and I’m way more into seeing Tyrion interact with that one than another vignette of imperious khaleesi trying to go smug for smug with her mercenary boytoy. On that front, it does feel kind of quick that the very first glimpse we get of Jorah post-banishment has him turning right back around for Mereen, particularly given the languid pace at which the Essos material has moved the past few years. But it should be able to avoid feeling like take-backsies, so long as he returns to a place that has changed significantly and a queen that is both feeling vengeful and in greater need of him than she has been in years. I’m not even that desperate to see Dany take off for Westeros, though I understand why many are; I just want her to meet some challenges that feel genuine, and getting her in contact with more of the established cast seems like the best way to do that.
The Sons of the Harpy might be the namesake of the episode, but they are not the only archconservative social movement spilling blood on the queen’s streets. In King’s Landing, Cersei is playing a dangerous, self-defeating game as she torpedoes her family’s alliance with the wealthy and popular (well, Margaery at least) Tyrells and empowers the Westerboros Baptist Church to stomp around and lock up her fiancee on the grounds that The Gods Hates F***s.
This seems monumentally short-sighted on Cersei’s part, as even though it succeeds in driving a wedge between her son and ol’ Marge, it also makes Tommen and the Lannisters look weak in the process, something that they really, really do not need with Tywin dead, the Iron Bank calling in their debts, Stannis looming in the north, and war with Dorne becoming increasingly inevitable as Oberyn’s mistress and daughters, the Sand Snakes, plot to force their passive prince’s hand by hurting Myrcella.
The Snakes’ introduction scene doesn’t end on its strongest note (the one girl’s whip-coil move was more badass than the other’s whole monologue/execution), but it is effective nonetheless at setting them up as a formidable opposition for our “protagonists” – which I’d say Jaime and Bronn are by dint of familiarity, if not because their motivations are that much more righetous. It accomplishes this by having them suss out our guys plan from the jump, putting them immediately ahead of the game. This is a stark contrast to the type of opposition Dany usually to face in Essos, where new schmucks keep underestimating her years after we have learned not to.
I’m unsure, in that great GOT way, how I really want this Dornish adventure to play out. I’m not eager to see an innocent girl get hurt, but I am DEFINITELY eager to see the Martells go to war. And I do want someone to pay for Oberyn’s death, but I don’t feel like it should be Jaime or Bronn. Particularly after this week lived up to the promise of their buddy road trip so perfectly, with swordplay and derring do and gruff heart-to-hearts over roasted poison vipers.
Things are simpler in the North, though, where I know exactly what I want. Sansa is left by Littlefinger to fend for herself, albeit with ideas for how to play either of the likely winners of the coming fracas. She probably should be old hat at this by now, as she is by my count the veteran of 5 potential/aborted marriages (to Joffrey, Loras, Tyrion, Robin, and Ramsay). But we will see how she manages with a new intended that is secretly more twisted than even Joffrey and no one actively coaching her through the intrigues. It’s not hard to root against the Boltons in this case, obviously, but I’m holding out a rather specific hope that a desperate Ramsay will be threatening Sansa to try to hold off a victorious Stannis, only for lowly Reek to pull a Wormtongue and stab him in the back, delivering the North back to the Starks. Things rarely work out that neatly on this show, I know, and I’m probably setting myself up for heartbreak by hoping for the Starks to get such a clear victory with so much story left to play out. But Sansa’s restoration has been taking on a real feeling of inevitability, and….
Wait a minute. Each odd numbered season has ended with the heads of the Stark household getting abruptly decapitated by some total shitheel, and the most evil characters on the show basking in victory. And this is season 5, and the Starks seem like they just might be getting a foot under them…Nah, even GRRM wouldn’t be such a shitheel to go to that well a third…would…?
Is it episode 9 yet? Oh…shit.