Pictured: Finn Jones in “Game of Thrones” season 5, episode 4. Photo: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO.

Pictured: Finn Jones in “Game of Thrones” season 5, episode 4. Photo: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO.

“There is only one war: life versus death” – Melisandre

Though in the minds of Ellaria Sand (played by Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes, the only war that exists is the one they plan to wage to avenge Prince Oberyn Martell’s death — after being brutally slain in a trial by combat against Gregor Clegane aka “The Mountain.” The true emotional and brash behavior of the Dornish people is highlighted when Prince Oberyn’s paramour and his bastard daughters band together and vow vengeance behind Prince Doran’s (Alexander Siddig) back. With the crack of a whip and throw of a spear — not to mention a badass attitude — the Sand Snakes establish themselves as a force not to be reckoned with.

Little does King’s Landing know of the wicked plotting going on farther south in Dorne, as it is dealing with a war on its own home front. The religious group known as the Sparrows grows more and more powerful, taking it upon itself to serve justice in the kingdom through violence and fear — thanks to Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) who calculatingly armed them. Men of the High Septon are being stripped, bloodied and beaten — mostly in Littlefinger’s brothel — and giving way to the new priests in town. And in a scene that quite resembles the ending of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009), Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) is branded with the sign of the Seven on his forehead to show his dedication to the cause. His character development has proven to be quite intriguing so far this season, going from one extreme to the other — that is, from a shy, weak boy to a stronger, more determined man who seems to be a wild card.

So with Lancel and the rest of the Sparrows wreaking havoc on the city, what is the brave King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) doing about it? Nothing, of course; the boy-king’s innocence and inability to lead is showcased when he fails to demand the release of Margaery Tyrell’s brother, Ser Loras (Finn Jones) — who was thrown in a cell for his renowned pillow-biting ways, an abomination in the light of the Seven. Even with Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) in the picture doing her best to manipulate King Tommen, Cersei still has her claws in all the right people, and is finally living her dream of ruling Westeros single-handedly.

Though that’s not to stop her from wiping out all her enemies first, plotting with the High Sparrow to deal with a “great sinner in their midst who has been shielded by gold and power.”

Peter Dinklage stars in “Game of Thrones” season 5, episode 4. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

Peter Dinklage stars in “Game of Thrones” season 5, episode 4. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

Thank goodness Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) are both out of her evil clutches — although Sansa is surrounded by entirely new enemies, now without the protective embrace of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) who’s returning to King’s Landing to “keep up appearances” with Cersei. And Tyrion may be worlds away from his conniving sister — who’s beheading just about every dwarf in Westeros — but that doesn’t mean he’s living it up. Though even as Ser Jorah Mormont’s (Iain Glen) hostage, he still manages to maintain his likeable wit.

Perhaps Meereen should welcome Tyrion with open arms, for the city could use a good laugh. Things are more tense now than ever after Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) abolishment of slavery. Just when you think things have cooled down, the producers throw in an unexpected (and unwelcomed) plot twist, as well as Season 5’s second casualty (the first being Mance Rayder, and a possible third with Grey Worm). Deviating from the books seems to be pretty common this season, and while until now I’ve had no complaints, it’s safe to say I’m not alone in my disappointment that Ser Barristan Selmy (guest star Ian McElhinney) was killed off, if for no other reason than to break our hearts… It’s amazing that the Sons of the Harpy, a mere band of former slave masters, somehow beat an expert swordsman as well as a group of Unsullied, supposedly the best fighters in the world.

Now without an adviser, Dany needs her “Bear” more than ever. Perhaps his return with the Imp in tow has come at the opportune moment. And Ser Jorah’s desperation is clear as Tyrion recaps all his dealings that got him to this point. Seems his betrayal of Queen Daenerys is still a sore subject, as made evident by his swift, comical punch to Tyrion’s face.

But it’s a nice balance of intense scenes and comic relief when you throw Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Ser Bronn (Jerome Flynn) into the picture. As the male duo arrives in Dorne, closer to freeing Princess Myrcella, Jaime amusingly exploits his one-handedness by feigning an inability to row, fight, or bury bodies after the predictable brief brawl with Dornish cavalry. One laugh-inducing moment that stands out in particular is when Jaime is clumsily fighting (using his left hand, mind you) with a Dornish swordsman and stops a killer blow with his metal hand — something that surprised both fighters and gave the Kingslayer just the luck he needed.

Oh, and let’s not forget Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who’s fending off the seductive Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and quickly learning that being Lord Commander means putting your brothers and the Wall before your own heart — a problem he had to face with Ygritte (Rose Leslie), who we are reminded of in a surprising way. He does have a thing for redheads…

In true Game of Thrones fashion, the episode frustratingly consists of all talk and then a cliffhanger at the end, with Ser Barristan and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) left bleeding on the ground — except that just makes the anticipation for this Sunday’s episode even better.

Throne Room Notes:

  • I was surprised that Jamie no longer had any love for his brother, Tyrion, just for killing their father. Not even Tywin’s own kids ever liked him.
  • But I did love the love shown between Shireen and Stannis.
  • Littlefinger takes any opportunity he can to kiss Sansa. Doesn’t she find it creepy?
  • Ser Barristan, you were one of the few good ones left. We will miss you.

Video courtesy of Game of Thrones.

Video courtesy of Game of Thrones.

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