Son of a Harpy what's with all the zealots?
Hey, Melisandre, are you looking for a scrag fight? I'm happy to give you one if you ever try a trick like that again. Don't give me that paltry attempt at an innocent expression, you KNOW what you did. You can tap all the Baratheon butt you like but Jon Snow is mine. Well, technically Ygritte's. But still, if anyone is going to comfort him with their capacious chesticles it is going to be me. He's riding in my motorboat.
Don't think you're off the hook in this scenario, Snow-boy. You sure took your sweet time lingering on those lovely lady lumps. You'd think, given the red priestess' internal combustion engine, she'd be too hot to touch. A burning Kate Bush, even. Next time perhaps flinch a little faster, mmm-kay?
Sorry for the house-keeping, beloved Throners, but sometimes boundaries need to be reinforced.
Let's get out our maps and and track a route through Raven On, the only Game of Thrones recap to featuring worrying levels of stalker-ish behaviour. Remember, we're discovering the storyline through the TV series, so keep your chit-chat down, book readers, or we'll feed you to non-existed Dornish dolphin sharks.
In a way, this episode was all about boundaries - being drawn, breached, broken and in some fabulous instances, totally Bronned.
Jaime Lannister certainly ponders boundaries never crossed as his ship sails past Tarth, home of his old sparring partner Brienne.
Below decks, Bronn - comfy lord clothes ditched for battle leathers - is going a little cabin crazy, spearing some oats and wondering why the need for such a James Bond off-the-books mission when the Lannisters could just send an army. Jaime says he has to be the one to rescue his niece.
"Your niece?" asks Bronn, prompting a pause and a look that positively screamed "Seriously bro, we all know you and Cersei did the nasty in the past-y."
Bronn is more amenable to Jaime's other sibling, Tyrion, but it seems the line of brotherly love has definitely been crossed for Jaime.
"He murdered my father - if I ever see him, I'll split him in two," he pledges, as the menacing tones of The Rains of Castamere play on the ship's inbuilt sound system. Clearly Cersei's little pep talk in the sept about their brother's wickedness has rubbed off on him, although it's probably not the only thing yes you get where I'm going with that joke.
Cersei herself is getting ever more plotty back in King's Landing, sending Mace Tyrell off to Braavos to negotiate with the Iron Bank about reducing the Seven Kingdom's debt repayments.
Poor Mace. He is such a Dad, cracking wise about having "words" with his daughter. I'm so sad now we didn't get to see his speech at Tommen and Margaery's wedding. Think of all the cringeworthy gags: "We all cried - even the hot bird pie was in tiers."
With Ser Meryn Trant, basically the Crabbe and Goyle to Cersei's Draco Malfoy, keeping a close eye on Cersei, she can tighten her grip on power once more.
She encourages the High Sparrow to head up a reborn Faith Militant, a long-dead rabble of fanatical religious types intent on punishing anyone who sins against the Seven.
Ohhhh, goodie. Government-sanctioned hit squads are always so useful to society. Hold the brown shirts and jack boots, fellas, we've got some shabby grey robes and swish forehead brands for you to show your loyalty to your crypto-fascist overlords (hey, I just turned into John Birmingham!).
We even get our long-awaited action montage, with illegal moonshine running through the streets, blood spilled in the brothels, regular city watchmen turning their backs, and everything going way too pink-triangle-badges for my liking.
Slow Lorus is rounded up by Lancel Lannister, who describes himself as "Justice" because he's clearly been reading Judge Dredd comics in between being pious and getting his head tattooed.
Now we know Cersei doesn't have a religious bone in her body (unless Jaime's more observant?), so it's all just a power play to her. She even tells young Tommen that it's not her fault they took Slow Lorus, and mumbles all sorts of platitudes about fanatics not being allowed to arrest the Queen's brother. Seriously, Cersei doesn't so much have cold blood running through her veins as ice cold concrete.
Tommen of course has no idea what's going on, only that he has one pretty peeved new bride. Bravely, he turns up at the Sept to talk to the High Sparrow and demand the release of Slow Lorus, but the Faith Militant refuse to let him in, saying Big Bird is at prayer. Tommen's guards offer to send the fanatics to meet the gods they love, but Tommen backs down. Thrown by calls of "Filthy bastard! Abomination!" from the crowd, he pledges to find a better way.
Kate Middleton is not impressed, and makes it clear to the king that he has just undermined his all-powerful status by backing down in front of the Faith Militant. By not crossing the line, Tommen has made himself weak; what lion would run away from a sparrow? (Mind you, the Sparrows are hardly meek; their brutal slicing open of multiple victims and notable head adornments brings more to mind the image of a cassowary.)
Margaery leaves Tommen to write to her grandmother - oh, please, pretty please bring Olenna back for more! I've missed her biting tongue and biting cheese - and her prioritising of her family above her new husband would indicate the honeymoon is definitely over.
One teensy thing about this storyline that's been bugging me - we still haven't seen the High Sparrow WITH the crazy zealots of his flock. We assume they're doing Big Bird's bidding, particularly once Cersei puts him in official charge, but we haven't seen him give orders. He doesn't seem like the absurdly fanatical violent type, but then I'm sure somebody probably said that about David Koresh once. Still, I'd like to see how big the Sparrow's Nest grows.
Meanwhile up north, Stannis continues to admire Jon Snow, who's still very hands-on when it comes to training his men (and when being seduced, it seems, harrumph).
Jon is more reluctant to sign letters entreating nearby lords to send men to bolster the Night's Watch, particularly when Sam reveals one is Roose Bolton, the new Lord of Winterfell.
"He murdered my brother!" Jon protests, broodily. Sam knows, but they have little choice. It's a brave new world for Jon, and the boundary between black and white is getting murky. Melisandre doesn't help with her spooky witchy promises of power and boobs (still peeved, bitch), but at least Jon is able to retain some dignity (and pants).
However he does look more than a little terrified when Kate Bush flounces out of the room with a jaunty "You know nothing, Jon Snow." That was Ygritte's private joke. How did Melisandre know? Does she have magic eight boobs now?
Back in Dorne, Jaime and Bronn have finally landed, had a night's sleep and a sizzling snake breakfast. But Bronn's prediction that the ship's captain has probably already sold them out comes true when they encounter four mounted Dornish soldiers. Jaime's attempt at passing them off as stranded sailors fails mightily over a mix-up regarding sharks, and soon it's on for one and all.
After another display of Bronn's close-hand fighting genius, Jaime realises his golden hand can function as a quasi-defensive mechanism as well as a metaphor and he actually manages to kill one of them. But to get a final dig in at Bronn, the lame Lannister forces him to bury the bodies to avoid suspicion.
Elsewhere in sun-drenched land of plenty, Ellaria Sand and her amazing haircut are still angry about Prince Doran's refusal to go to war with the Lannisters.
Ellaria pleads with three of the Sand Snakes - Tyene, Nymeria and Obama, sorry, Obara - to join her cause. When Obama, sorry, Obara, reveals the ship's captain buried up to his neck in sand and providing a handy feast for some scorpions, Ellaria insists they get to Myrcella Lannister before Jaime Lannister.
The girls all pledge their allegiance, with Obara, sorry Obama, sorry, Obara telling how she chose war over peace a long time ago before spearing the ship's captain in the head. I think I love her. In fact, I think I will love all the Sand Snakes because they are all like Xena, Warrior Princess, and I still want to be Xena when I grow up.
For once in his life, Tyrion is lost for words, with Jorah having gagged the little guy during his imp-napping. Upon removal of his muzzle though, Tyrion is delighted to discover Jorah Mormont is taking him exactly where he was planning to go in the first place, albeit by sea, not land.
In a convenient bit of exposition for the folks at home, Tyrion works out who Jorah is and explains his backstory and motivational drive, like he was James Bond confronting Goldfinger in Fort Knox. He finishes with a cocky "You think Daenerys will execute me and pardon you? I'd say the reverse is just as likely." But Tyrion's crowded Jorah's personal space a bit too much now, and the exiled knight slugs him one and retakes the tiller, Meereen-bound.
The object of his desire, Daenerys herself, is busy pondering the stretchy lycra ensemble she put together that morning. I envy her - if I tried a halter-top like that with my bazoongas I'd wind up in ER with my face crushed into my own chest.
Ser Barristan Selmy takes Dany on a trip down memory lane, telling her about her big brother Rhaegar's fancy for playing busker on the streets of King's Landing. Their personal reverie is interrupted by another visit from that whiny guy, whose love of the fighting pits is bordering on the sexual. Seriously, there must be some kind of fetish involved here. Why else would you want to watch sweaty, half-naked muscly men pummel each… OK, wait, I get it. Bring back the fighting pits!
It's a filler scene put in pretty much to put Ser Barristan out on the street just in time for the Sons of the Harpy to mark the first day of the fighting season with a surprise attack on the Second Suns and the Unsullied who respond.
Now Ser Barristan has always been revered as one of the best knights the Seven Kingdoms ever produced, and finally we get to see why. Old bro is a whiz with the sword, carving up masked Harpy dudes like a knife through hot butter. It was a sensational fight sequence, and Ser Barristan battled hard like the true Kingsguard he is. Or was - both he and Grey Worm, who also put up a hell of a fight, were both badly injured and finished the episode unconscious on the ground.
The attack will have to be a turning point for Dany in terms of how she deals with her own local brand of armed fanatics, intent on restoring slavery, or at the very least, dethroneing her. A line has been crossed; two of her nearest and dearest have suffered. The justice she dispensed in Episode 2 clearly hasn't convinced the Harpys to unmask themselves: can Dany summon the leadership mettle required to redraw the map once more?
Yay! Best Moments
Vote one Stannis Baratheon for Father of the Freaking Year. How good was that? Revealing Shireen's greyscale was the result of a murder attempt, then how much he did to save her. "You are the Princess Shireen of House Baratheon, and you are my daughter." And then she gave him a hug, and when he hugged her back… oh, I am really starting to grow fond of Stannis. This probably means he will be killed off soon because HBO hates me.
Zing! Best Lines
Tyrion better watch out, because Bronn is back in a big way.
When Jaime is confident he paid the ship's captain enough for his silence:
"I'm not sure you understand how much people hate your family in this part of the world."
And when Jaime admits he would only be able to kill one Dornish soldier, provided he was slow, Bronn happily obliges by de-seating one from his horse and punching him up a bit first.
"That one should be slow enough." Suck it, Lannister!
Littlefinger is still crossing all sorts of creepy boundaries with Sansa, who's been spending time in the Stark crypt, the world between the living and the dead. Sure, he gives her fairly sensible advice - either wait for Stannis to kill the Boltons, or manipulate Ramsay Bolton into doing your bidding - but then he has to go and snog her again. Sansa herself doesn't seem confident Stannis will beat the Boltons: she's preparing to be a married woman. The prospect of that wedding night makes me throw up in my mouth, so god knows how super Sansa feels.
I don't want Ser Barristan and Grey Worm to be dead! Ser Barristan feels like my Grandad, who was a total badass Polish sailor in the war, and Grey Worm reminds me of my brother, strong, honourable and kind. Although my brother's on his honeymoon right now, so I assume all is well in his junk department. Oh gross, did I just refer to my brother's junk in a public recap? This job is sending me to strange places.