It feels like each episode of this season of Game of Thrones features an exploration of a different theme from week to week. Unlike past season, when plot machinations were paramount, season five has been able to be a little more artful in how it sets up each episode. Maybe that has something to do with the show finally diverging from the books in significant ways — I wouldn’t know having never read the books. If anything, this episode, “Sons of the Harpy,” was about how a select few radicals can bring down a whole kingdom.

Let’s start in King’s Landing.

Tommen may be king, but everyone in Westeros knows that Cersei is the Dick Cheney of the operation. After sending Lord Tyrell off to Braavos on  a “banking mission,” the Queen Mother proceeds to dismantle those pesky Tyrells one by one. And what better way than through arming  a bunch of crazy religious fundamentalists? After meeting with the High Sparrow last week, Cersei intends to start a Holy War in the capital. But for what reason other than she really doesn’t like the in-laws? Also, like Cheney, I’m sure starting a war for no real reason won’t completely backfire and blow up in her face.

So now there’s a group called the Faith Militant — that’s not an ominous name — going around the city and straight merking any and every sinner in King’s Landing. In addition to shutting down Littlefinger’s brothel, the Militants also arrest and imprison Loras for being gay. Basically, Game of Thrones just became the GOP’s favorite show.

Meanwhile, Dany is having to deal with her own militant uprising on the streets of Mereen. The only difference between the Faith Militant and the Sons of the Harpy is that the Sons aren’t driven by religious mania. Instead, the folks in the weird Eyes Wide Shut masks are driven by a hatred for their new government and a desire to return to the good ole days when slaves knew their place. Maybe the FM and the SOTH are two sides of the same coin? The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this is Benioff and Weiss’ screed against the Tea Party? How long before we see bannermen carrying flags with a snake on it that reads “Don’t Tread on Me?”

Speaking of snakes, down south in Dorne, Prince Julian Bashir Doran Martell has his own insurgency to deal with. Ellaria pleads with the prince to seek revenge for the Red Viper and murder Myrcella — daughter of Cersei — who has been living in Dorne ever since Tyrion sent her away. Because he refuses to avenge his brother’s death — thus plunging his country into war with the Lannisters — Oberyn’s widow is left to take matters into her own hands.

Ellaria rides out to the shore to meet up with Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene Sand, aka the Sand Snakes. Led by Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes as Obara, their arrival has been one of the more hyped up appearances of season five. And though their scene was brief, it was definitely memorable. Apart from the wonky and all-over-the-place accents, these sisters demonstrated a different kind of deadliness thus far unseen on Game of Thrones.

Also, that thing she just speared in the sand? It was the head of a dude who smuggled Jaime Lannister and Bronn into Dorne. It seems their little operation to kidnap Jaime’s daughter “niece” isn’t going to be as covert as he hoped.

Before Jaime and Bronn take on a squad of Dornish horsemen, the two disgraced knights share some nice quiet moments together. And Jaime reveals that he may not be so fond of his little brother anymore. Telling Bronn that he’ll kill Tyrion for murdering their father. So much for that brotherly love between them.

A separate Jaime moment came earlier in the episode and was slotted exclusively for the Jaime/Brienne shippers. As their merchant ship sails toward Dorne, they pass by a beautiful island. When Jaime inquires about which island it is, he learns that they are sailing past Tarth and then proceeds to turn into a literal heart eyes emoji.

PS, this is how the internet reacted when we learned Brienne was going to be Captain Phasma.

Other things:

There were other things happening throughout the episode. On the Wall, Jon Snow overcomes his fetish for redheads and keeps his vow to Ygritte by rejecting Melisandre’s seduction. But not before she channels everyone’s favorite Downton-chambermaid-turned-wildling-archer:

Meanwhile, Stannis proves that there is actually a heart beneath all of that coldness and glower. In the most heartwarming scene in the history of the series, Stannis wins Westeros’ Dad of the Year award simply for being kind to his daughter.

I may or may not have teared up during this scene.

On the way to Mereen, we see the aftermath of Jorah’s kidnapping of Tyrion. We also see our favorite Lannister’s superpowers for deduction when he’s able to figure out three and a half season’s worth of Jorah’s backstory by simply looking at his breastplate.

Jorah has got to be the worst undercover cop ever. Once this road trip comedy makes its way to Mereen though, they may find the city is in a completely different state since the Sons of the Harpy prove they ain’t nothing to fuck with by taking out pretty much all of the Unsullied — who were supposed to be the baddest fighters on either side of the Narrow Sea — and Ser Barristan in one swift back alley ambush.

With her army decimated, guess now’s the time for the Mother of Dragons to call in some back up.

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4 thoughts on “NOC Recaps Game of Thrones: Enter Sand Snakes

  1. I don’t recall homosexuality being demonized quite so much by the Faith in the books, it seemed like adultery (particularly female adultery), incest and prostitution in general were their biggest sexual no-nos. It seemed like homosexuality was something most Westerosi treated as distasteful but not as an abominable sin. If a nobleman preferred to sleep with men, most people would just look the other way as long as he produced an heir to keep the family line going. I need to reread the series again in preparation the imminent release of Winds of Winder in 2027.

    My biggest item of concern: Barristan & Grey Worm. If either of them are dead I’ll probably stop watching :_(. And seriously, there goes one of our very few non-white male main characters, and the possibly of another one: wanted to see Barristan start training at least 1 squire, he’s got 3 in the book, all non-Westerosi. It would have been good to combine them all into the one that was the best, Tumco Lho of the Basilisk Isles.

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