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'Game of Thrones' scorecard: 'Sons of the Harpy'

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Melees and massacres make the season's fourth episode its bloodiest. We break down the body count and tally up the final score.

HBO

This "Game of Thrones" discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books, but will generally only discuss events that have happened on HBO's televised version -- not that it matters much now that the show is going its own way. Still, please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.

Episode 5.04, "Sons of the Harpy"

FINAL SCORE: Violence 46, Sex 4

(Scoring is typically one point per killing or instance of nudity, though the reviewer reserves the right to award bonus points for style.)

Violence

Totals: One fisherman punched out; one religious symbol carved into a forehead; one snake snack; three Dornishmen and one horse on the wrong side of Bronn and Jaime's blades (while there were four Dornishmen killed in the scene, only three were dispatched on-screen); one spear thrown through an unfortunate ship captain's head; one dwarf knocked unconscious; and the Meereen Melee, which began with the murder of three bystanders and showed the deaths of approximately 39 Unsullied and Sons of the Harpy.

Notes: It's a shame that the sheer volume of human death in this episode overshadowed the return of something the show quietly excels at: horse murder! And on the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, no less! Can you imagine what "Game of Thrones" could do with the Derby? It'd be like this, but with horses:

Meereen Melee

RIP, Barristan Selmy and (maybe?) Grey Worm. These are the first big deaths in the show's divergence from the books, and I DO NOT LIKE IT.

Sex

Totals: One Melisandre breast fondled and subsequently spurned; one case of reverse cowgirl interruptus; and one tiny penis. As the show's official scorekeeper, I hereby award one bonus point for the male frontal nudity. Let's see if positive reinforcement works. #NudityEquality

Notes: "Oh hey, Melisandre. Good to see you. Oh wow, that dress is really more of a robe, huh? Just opens up really easily. Girlfriend? No. I mean, I had one, but she's been dead for, like, ever. What's that? You just need my seed so you can birth a shadow monster to murder the Boltons? No need to explain, you had me at boobs."

That's how I'm different from Jon Snow.

A Note on Military Tactics

I'm disappointed with both the Unsullied and the Sons of the Harpy for their tactics in the Meereen Melee. The Sons of the Harpy, despite having the initiative and a numerical advantage, failed to close off the egress route; the Unsullied could have simply gone back down the passageway and gotten reinforcements. The greenest lieutenant in the world can draw up a more effective ambush. Additionally, the rear guard failed to alert the main effort of the arrival of Barristan Selmy, resulting in catastrophic losses.

Even more alarming, the Unsullied abandoned the very tactics that supposedly make them the best fighting unit in the known world. As heavy infantry with spears and shields, they should have fought shoulder-to-shoulder against the Sons, who were armed only with daggers. A simple infantry square would have protected them on all sides and allowed them to use their armor and weapons' range to their advantage. The tactical failings of unit leader Grey Worm cost them their lives.

Please tune in next week, when I discuss ground-to-dragon communication when calling for close air support.

Father of the Year

"Anyway, that's the story of how I didn't let my only child die-- what's this? Why are your arms wrapped around me?"

Thanks, Obara!

Obara Sand

In this episode we met the Sand Snakes, the daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell (RIP, smashed head). There's the Pretty One with Long Hair, the Pretty One with Short Hair, and Obara Sand, who dresses just like dear ol' dad and displays similar aptitude with a spear. You get the feeling she prefers action to careful planning. The feeling of a spear through your head.

Sand Snakes

BTW, that's Keisha Castle-Hughes burying guys in the sand and spearing their heads, previously known for riding whales in Whale Rider, which earned her an Oscar nomination. She controversially chose not to reprise her role in the sequel, Whale Rider 2: Tokyo Drift.

The Drunk of Casterly Rock

Cersei Wine

Tyrion goes wineless the entire episode, which gives him enough clarity to identify Jorah Mormont as his captor -- and get punched unconscious for the trouble. Cersei, meanwhile, enjoys glasses of wine in two scenes, resulting in a brothel raid, Loras Tyrell's arrest, and discord between Tommen and Margaery. Look at her eyebrow in the screencap above. That is ELITE eyebrow arch.

Winner: CERSEI

Tommen's Episode in 3 Pictures

How's Tommen doing as king? NOT GREAT, BOB.

God I love his stupid face. I love his stupid face almost as much as I hated Joffrey's stupid face.

Burn Notice

The Man with the Golden Hand

"You know I want to help row the boat, buuuut..."

(GIF via)

"We really need to bury these bodies. Shame that my hand makes it impossible for me to dig."

"No, I don't think I can drive the next couple hours. Or at all." [holds up hand]

"Can you cover this? I forgot my wallet." [holds up hand]

Jaime is slowly turning into the worst person to have on a road trip.

Miscellaneous

  • Jorah Mormont one-punch knockouts: 2
  • Compensation for a hijacked boat: 2 gold coins
  • Gay men arrested by religious zealots: 1 ("It's a start." -- Bobby Jindal)
  • Barrels of beer smashed: 3
  • Stories about Rhaegar Targaryen: 2
  • Scorpions in the bag over your head: at least 4, and not at all the price of the information you were looking to sell

DNP, Coach's Decision

Arya; the Faceless Men; dragons; direwolves; Doran Martell; Tommen's sex life; Brienne and Podrick; Ramsay Bolton and the Skinless Tax Evaders; sound military tactics.