In a slowdown before the second half of the season, “Sons of the Harpy” is light on plot and heavy on setup. Its explosive conclusion—Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Ser Barristan’s (Ian McElhinney) showdown with their eponymous adversaries of the episode—is preceded by more conversation and character work than action. But is that such a bad thing for a show as complex as Game of Thrones?
Nothing demonstrates this shift in tone from last week better than the opening scene, wherein a dull small council meeting ends with Cersei (Lena Headey) sending Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) to the Iron Bank with Ser Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie). Fortunately, things pick up soon after as Cersei reinstates the Faith Militant by giving the Sparrows weapons. This choice has already caused friction with the Tyrells as Ser Loras is the first target of their aggression. Josh and I delve into this moment with particular emphasis on Loras and why it’s not alright to reduce a character’s definition to something like their sexuality.
For fans of the books and TV show alike, this episode also alludes to a major theory regarding Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parents in three different plot lines. At the Wall, Stannis makes an offhand comment that implies Snow’s mother is of some import. In the crypts at Winterfell, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) discuss Lyanna Stark and her ambiguous relationship with Rhaegar Targaryen. And in Meereen, Ser Barristan regales Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) with tales of Rhaegar’s ineffable courage and kindness.
Is there a connection between these conversations? Does the structure of the episode lend legitimacy to the fan theory?
Finally, we move on to Essos where Danaerys continues to struggle as queen of Meereen. And, as a result of her disregard for the traditions of the city, both her Kingsguard and the leader of the Unsullied are—perhaps mortally. We speculate whether Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) arrival might help right this sinking ship.
Note that this podcast contains spoilers for Game of Thrones up to and including “Sons of the Harpy.” As always, you can subscribe to Stark Contrast using iTunes. Alternatively, you can check out the episode online or download it here. Happy listening!
What do you think of the Jon Snow theory? It’d certainly explain a lot!
And remember to tune in next week for another installment of Stark Contrast where we’ll be discussing Episode 4, “Kill the Boy.”