‘Game of Thrones’ 5.04 Recap: “All Sinners Are Equal Before the Gods”

Did the Daenerys Targaryen storyline on ‘Game of Thrones’ finally get interesting again? It’s been a while.

I’ve probably been unfair to this aspect of the show (which I assume also stems from the original George R.R. Martin books) in my complaining about it recently. I get what the writers are going for, which is to add some depth and complexity to the typical “pillage and conquer” story by showing us that, once all that pillaging and conquering is done, being a ruler is a much harder job that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. However, over the past season and a half, the show has gotten pretty repetitive in hammering this lesson home with little forward momentum, and I think it’s time to move on.

While episode ‘Sons of the Harpy’ doesn’t necessarily move on yet, it at the very least provides a major plot development that may disrupt Daenerys’ bid for the throne of Westeros, or perhaps push her to become the type of queen she never wanted to be.

We’ll get to that in a minute. First, we start in…


Secretly taking passage in a merchant ship, Jaime and Bronn depart in a rowboat and make their way to shore. They encounter four Dornish soldiers who don’t believe their story that their ship capsized nearby. This leads to a skirmish where, naturally, Bronn has to do most of the fighting. He takes out three soldiers but leaves one for Jaime, who has great difficulty defending himself with just his left hand. Things don’t look so great for Jaime until he desperately blocks the soldier’s sword with his metal right hand. The sword gets stuck in the hand, which gives Jaime enough opportunity to strike a deadly blow.

The best part of these scenes is the very fun repartee between Jaime and Bronn. Citing the uselessness of being one-handed, Jaime makes Bronn do all the rowing in the boat, and makes him dig graves so that the soldiers’ bodies won’t be found. Bronn busts Jaime’s chops about setting Tyrion free (Jaime claims that it was Varys who did that, but Bronn isn’t buying it) and about his relationship with Cersei.

Elsewhere in the kingdom, Oberyn’s widow Ellaria has kidnapped the captain of the boat Jaime came in on, and is already aware that he’s in Dorne planning to kidnap his “niece” (really daughter) Myrcella back. Ellaria conspires with some warrior women to use this knowledge to instigate a war between Dorne and King’s Landing.

At Sea

Jorah Mormont steals a small boat and sets sail to Meereen. Tyrion annoys him into removing his gag. When he learns where they’re going, Tyrion declares, “What a waste of a good kidnapping!” He quickly uses clues around him to ascertain Jorah’s identity and current situation, re: being on the outs with Daenerys and hoping she’ll forgive him. Tired of his smart mouth, Jorah punches him in the face to shut him up.

King’s Landing

Cersei does quite a lot of scheming and maneuvering for power in this episode. She starts by sending the new Master of Coin Mace Tyrell (the king’s new uncle) on a trip to Braavos to negotiate terms of their debt to the Iron Bank. She also sends along a knight of the Kingsguard to protect him, and I’m sure he won’t take the very first opportunity to murder Tyrell. Not at all.

Maester Pycelle grumbles that the Small Council grows smaller every day, to which she replies, “Not small enough.” Obviously, Cersei is systematically removing any obstacles in her way.

Having imprisoned the former High Septon (head of the faith in Westeros), Cersei arranges for the cult leader High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) to be elected to that position. She also grants him a small army of the faith to purge King’s Landing of sin. His men storm through the city, raiding Baelish’s brothel and arresting anyone accused of perversion – mostly gays, including Margaery’s brother Ser Loras (Cersei’s intended fiancé).

Margaery is furious when she learns that her brother has been arrested. Oblivious Tommen had no idea that happened, or even any inkling that Cersei and Margaery didn’t like each other. When he demands that his mother release Loras, she plays dumb and pretends that she had nothing to do with it. She tells Tommen that he’ll need to take it up with the High Sparrow.

Tommen attempts to do just that, but is rebuffed at the gates to the Sparrows’ temple. His Kingsguard are eager to hack and slash their way inside, but Tommen exposes his weakness and is afraid to start a conflict while crowds curse him as a “bastard” and “abomination.” He cowers away.

Castle Black

Jon Snow is forced to beg the heads of the kingdoms of Westeros for men to bulk up the Night’s Watch army in preparation for the coming threat from the north. Much to his disgust, this includes Roose Bolton. Doing so would appear to conflict with Stannis’ preparations to march on Winterfell and kick the Boltons out.

Still eager for Jon Snow to join their cause and claim his rightful position as heir to Winterfell, Melisandre makes a none-too-subtle play to seduce him – by stripping naked and putting his hand on her boob. Acting like a virgin again, Snow is tempted, but resists. Melisandre teases him about his love for the dead Wildling Ygritte, and appears to channel her when she tells him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Stannis has a very nice moment with his disfigured daughter Shireen, in which he tells her about the extraordinary lengths he took to save her life from the “Greyscale” disease and insists that he could never be ashamed of her. Too bad the girl’s crazy mother doesn’t feel the same way.


Baelish and Sansa visit the crypt of her (never seen) aunt Lyanna Stark. You’ll recall that Ned and King Robert spent some time here in the first season, in which they explained that Lyanna had been engaged to Robert until she was abducted by Targaryen prince Rhaegar, thus instigating Robert’s Rebellion which overthrew the Targaryen rule. (Although not yet officially confirmed, it’s widely speculated that Lyanna and Rhaegar were Jon Snow’s real parents, not Ned.)

Baelish informs Sansa that he’s leaving her behind while he returns to King’s Landing, in order to divert Cersei’s suspicions that he might be plotting against her. Baelish knows that Stannis is coming to Winterfell. He expects that if Stannis wins against the Boltons, he’ll recognize Sansa as heir to Winterfell and name her Wardeness of the North. And if the Boltons win, Sansa is still engaged to Ramsay, so it should be win-win for her in either case – except, of course, for the little detail that Ramsay is a depraved psycho.


Finally, we come back to Daenerys. Once again, she is begged to reopen the traditional fighting pit, which might help to allay some of the public unrest against her. Still, Dany refuses.

The rebel faction Sons of the Harpy create a major disturbance by tearing through the city, murdering a bunch of people. Several squads of Unsullied chase after them, only to be led into ambushes. Battles erupt, and many Unsullied are killed. Grey Worm is stabbed in the side and nearly taken out, until Ser Barristan comes to his rescue. They fend off the Harpies, but Barristan is killed and Grey Worm passes out from his injuries.

I’m sure that Grey Worm will survive, but the death of Barristan will leave a convenient open position in Daenerys’ advisory staff when Jorah returns with Tyrion.

Until the big eruption of violence at the end, this is mostly a character building episode. As far as the last part goes, I’m a little disappointed that so many Unsullied were taken out so easily. I thought they were supposed to be much more fearsome fighters than that. I understand that Daenerys needs to be shown as vulnerable, but I’m not entirely sold on the way it actually plays out. That disappointment aside, I’m back on board with the Daenerys storyline, and that’s a welcome improvement.


  1. TJ Kats

    In case anyone missed it the warrior women “Sand Snakes” are daughters of Oberyn.

    I really liked the Baelish and Sansa scene and were happy although a little surprised that they through the R+L=J so out into the open. It has been theorized as the case in the books forever but no where is it as “obvious” as the conversation that takes place in this scene.

    Also I had the same reaction to the Unsullied at first but I think the way that would be explained is that wars were typically fought in the style of we start here you start there and we rush at each other. In a case like that they probably destroy the Sons of the Harpy but since it is a close quarters sneak attack (also heavily out numbered in the scenes shown) that is the reason that they were taken out.

    • Josh Zyber

      Between the scene where Barristan tells Daenerys about what a great guy Rhaegar was, and Littlefinger’s conversation with Sansa, what I take from it is that Rhaegar never kidnapped Lyanna at all. They were in love and ran off together. The start of Robert’s Rebellion was not based on an injustice, but on Robert’s jealousy that his fiancee ditched him. Robert probably killed both Rhaegar and Lyanna himself, while Ned snuck their love child away to safety in Winterfell and raised him as his own bastard.

      If Rhaegar and Lyanna also secretly married during this time, that would make Jon Snow a legitimate heir to both the Stark and Targaryen families. I suspect that Melisandre senses this, which is why she’s so interested in Jon Snow. His royal blood would be very useful in her magic.

      • Timcharger

        While I agree with the names and their relations
        to each other in your hypothesis, Josh. I’m not
        too sure how “in love” Rhaegar and Lyanna were.

        By what we learned so far, Rhaegar’s wife Elia
        Martell was a good wife/mother/princess. And
        when Elia was murdered, she had an infant son
        that was also butchered by the Mountain.

        So this would suggest that Rhaegar fathered
        Lyanna’s love child and his legitimate child at/
        near the same time.

        So maybe Rhaegar was just a horny player?
        And Lyanna was his victim? She clearly knew
        that the Prince is married with children, so
        maybe she was a slutty golddigger? Rhaegar
        had more gold than Robert? I’m just not sure
        how “in love” they were with each other.

      • Timcharger

        As for the “secretly married” theory, I don’t
        think even in Westeros, one can be married
        again without ending the current marriage
        first. Rhaegar didn’t serve divorce papers to
        Elia Martell, right?

        This is Westeros. This aint Utah. 🙂
        I kid, I kid.

  2. Me and my wife have always been a tad unimpressed with the Unsullied. They are supposed to be the greatest warriors in the world. Granted it mat be they are more effective as a unit, they still seem kinda wimpy. With a life dedicated to training as warriors you’d think they’d be at least a little bigger. Grey Worm looks like a little wimpy kid. Also, there is no way that Barristan the Bold could be taken out by the Sons of the Harpy. He is the single greatest fighter in the world and as he admitted could have taken five out the kingsguard if he wanted to single-handedly. Yes he’s old, but his skill is still unmatched. I know he went up against a lot of men, but if he can take out five kingsguard surely he could handle a few more fighters that aren’t possibly as skilled as them. Ok, end of nerd rant.

    I also noticed this episode spending time on what seemed like setting up the whole Jon Snow parent reveal. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but in a brief dialogue between Stannis and his wife Stannis mentioned something along the lines of it being very uncharacteristic of Ned Stark to have had a bastard. It will definitely be nice to have this revealed finally so we can put all speculation aside. I wasn’t entirely sold on Rhaegar as the father until this episode. I always thought it could still be that Robert Baratheon was the father. My wife has her own theory that Jon Snow is actually Azor Ahai reborn, which is very intriguing. She pointed out specific instances that point to it, and it makes sense, but I don’t think it’s the case at all.

  3. Matt

    The “warrior women” Ellaria Sand was speaking to are the Sand Snakes, all bastard daughters of Oberyn Martel. I think there are like 7 in all, but the TV show may have reduced the number to 3. One of them, I believe, is actually Ellaria’s daughter. My memory is a little fuzzy here.

    I was a little bummed the opening credits referred to the locations in Dorne as simply “Dorne” instead of Sunspear or the Water Gardens. Dorne is a big place.

    • I thought the same thing about Dorne being in the opening credits. It’s like showing Winterfell and calling it ‘The North.’ I suppose this means the only location we will ever get in Dorne is Sunspear.
      I’m fine with the sand snakes being cut down, but I’m kinda missing Victarion’s storyline. Also the other characters heading to Daenerys are sorely missed as well. Oh well! We still have the books to look forward to 🙂

  4. Timcharger

    Josh: “I’m a little disappointed that so many Unsullied were taken out so easily. I thought they were supposed to be much more fearsome fighters than that.”

    My understanding is that the Sons of the Harpy,
    while scary looking in those masks, they are an
    underground, startup militia. It’s a reactionary,
    makeshift resistance group. While guerrilla
    tactics can certainly be effective, I too am
    disappointed at how the Unsullied are easily
    killed off by the Harpys.

    Maybe it’s just the GoT showrunners making a
    point about weapon technology. The long
    spears that the Unsullied fight with are great
    at military battles. But in corridors, inside
    houses, they are unwieldy and slow.

    I recall Oberyn Martell making a comment
    while indoors about how he can easily kill
    Lannister soldiers using their heavy
    broadswords with his light Dornish weapons.

  5. Timcharger

    Speaking of being disappointed at the
    fighting prowess of the Unsullied versus the Sons
    of the Harpy. I don’t quite buy the intimidation of
    the armed Sparrows (really just lightly armed)
    versus the Kingsguard and the Lannister soldiers.

    I get that the scene is to show Tommen is too
    gentle of a person, but he is a hormonal teenager
    who just discovered the joys of having Margaery
    in bed. And I’m quite sure that Margaery has
    been getting a lot of headaches while her brother
    Loras is in church jail.

  6. Timcharger

    Josh: “Melisandre teases him about his love for the dead Wildling Ygritte, and appears to channel her when she tells him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

    I think that line was pure fan service. That
    can’t possibly be from the books, right?
    There’s no connection with the Red Priestess
    and the Wildling girl. There can’t be. I’m
    taking this line as just a funny bone thrown
    to the fans.

    • Timcharger

      This Melisandre Red Priestess has a
      thing for Westeros Kings’ blood/bodily fluids. And
      we just met in the last episode another Red
      Priestess in Volantis praising Daenerys Targaryen.
      So I guess we can look forward to some of that
      action when Red Priestess 2 tries to get into
      Dany’s pants?

  7. Timcharger

    Josh: “Stannis has a very nice moment with his disfigured daughter Shireen, in which he tells her about the extraordinary lengths he took to save her life from the “Greyscale” disease and insists that he could never be ashamed of her.”

    No, no, no. Not good at all. This portends
    to a very bad scenario. You’ve trained us
    too well GoT. Showing us how good a
    father Stannis is… yeah, I know what you’re

  8. Timcharger

    Josh: “(Although not yet officially confirmed, it’s widely speculated that Lyanna and Rhaegar were Jon Snow’s real parents, not Ned.)”

    While I understand the need for secrecy on this.
    Ned Stark obviously trusts his wife Catelyn. So it
    was a pretty dick move on his part. Not telling
    Catelyn meant Jon Snow grows up in that
    household with daily scorn from his stepmom.
    Common on, Ned. You didn’t tell your wife?!
    Every Mother’s Day, Jon’s card is unopened,
    unread. All the brothers and sisters’ lunch bags
    are packed. Except Jon Snow has to make his
    own lunch. Dude!

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