- This article is about the episode, for the organization see Sons of the Harpy.
"Sons of the Harpy" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. It is the forty-fourth episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 3, 2015. It was written by Dave Hill and directed by Mark Mylod.
In King's Landing
At a Small Council meeting, Master of Coin Mace Tyrell brings bad news that the Iron Bank of Braavos is starting to call in its debts from Westeros. They have started by calling in a tenth of the Iron Throne's current debts to the bank, which it can only afford half of as rebuilding the Royal Fleet was also a massive expense. Mace offers that House Tyrell could front the money for the time being, but Cersei clearly does not want to give the Tyrells more power over the crown. Instead, she says that they will send Mace himself to Braavos to negotiate for more time, because sending such a high-ranking official will show the bank how seriously they take their large debts. Mace is oblivious that this is also Cersei's way of removing him from the capital, and takes it as a high honor - as well as that Cersei will send Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard along to "guard" him. After he leaves, Pycelle bitterly points out that the Small Council is growing even smaller (the only three members left in the capital are Pycelle, Cersei, and her lackey Qyburn), but she says it hasn't quite grown small enough yet.
Cersei then meets with the High Sparrow, who by her influence, has been elected as the new High Septon of the Faith of the Seven. Cersei is trying to build up a new alliance between the Crown and the Faith, as a counterweight against the large political influence the Tyrells now possess. Cersei points out to the High Sparrow that the War of the Five Kings has devastated much of the countryside, resulting in septs being burned, clergymen attacked, and even Silent Sisters raped. Bodies of holy men are piling up in the streets. The High Sparrow admits that wars make men obey the sword more than the gods. Cersei points out that before the Targaryens, the military order known as the Faith Militant dispensed the justice of the Seven. The High Septon is confused, as the Targaryens disbanded the Faith Militant over two centuries ago. Cersei explains that, as part of the new alliance she hopes to build between the Crown and the Faith, she will tell her son to repeal the law and allow the Faith Militant to be reestablished and re-armed: an army whose purpose is to defend the Faith, holy men, and the smallfolk - and which will incidentally be turned against the Crown's enemies. She then advises him that there is a great sinner in their midst who has been shielded by gold and power. The High Sparrow replies with a wish for The Father to judge him justly.
The new Faith Militant storm the streets of King's Landing, attacking taverns, brothels, and street vendors selling idols from other religions. The City Watch look on, helpless, and do not intervene. They ransack Littlefinger's brothel, dragging prostitutes like Marei out into the street by their hair. Olyvar is struck and ignored as they barge in. Olyvar hears screams coming from another room which he approaches to see the Sparrows have singled out a man having sex with one of the male prostitutes. The Sparrows had assaulted the customer and prostitute with knifes and hurled homophobic slurs against them. One Sparrow approaches one of the men with a knife. Olyvar flees as one of the men screens off screen. (it is heavily implied he was either castrated or had his penis removed)
As a sign of their zealotry, the Faith Militant have the Seven-Pointed Star symbol of the Faith carved into their foreheads - including Lancel, who leads a squad of the Faith Militant to apprehend Loras Tyrell while he is sparring in the practice yard. Lancel proclaims that Loras' sexual perversions are sins against the laws of gods and men, and Loras is dragged off. Margaery Tyrell is furious at Tommen for her brother's arrest, then tries to manipulate him by weeping at how hurt she is that he let this happen to Loras. Tommen then goes to his mother and, briefly standing up to her, demands that Loras be released at once. Cersei calmly points out that she didn't arrest Loras, the Faith Militant simply dragged him off and imprisoned him, so he should ask the High Sparrow to release him. Tommen naively thinks the High Sparrow will simply do as he requests, so he heads to the Great Sept of Baelor with five Kingsguard and several Lannister guards. The path to the Great Sept is blocked by the Faith Militant, who say that the High Sparrow is praying and does not wish to be disturbed. The Kingsguard request that Tommen let them kill the Faith Militant to pass. Tommen is surprised at this and does not want to risk bloodshed escalating matters - particularly, shedding blood on holy ground. Unsure of what to do, the mob of commoners behind him starts shouting that he is really a bastard and an abomination of incest. Realizing this is not going to end well, Tommen meekly withdraws back to the Red Keep. Margaery is even more upset at how ineffectual young Tommen was, so she leaves saying that she is going to bring her grandmother Olenna back to the capital to deal with this.
Jaime Lannister and Ser Bronn are on a Pentoshi merchant ship, which is headed to Oldtown in the Reach. They sail past Tarth, off the coast of the Stormlands, which Jaime mistakenly identifies as Estermont. The captain corrects him, stating that they are sailing through the Sapphire Isle, which reminds him of Brienne. Jaime explains to Bronn that he bribed the captain to let them take a small boat to shore as they pass Dorne, and they will land just outside of Sunspear and the adjacent Water Gardens. Below decks, Bronn remarks on why Jaime must want to go and protect Princess Myrcella for himself: he's the one who let Tyrion escape, and he hopes this will make up for that. Jaime curtly says that Varys did (when in fact, Jaime forced Varys to help him free Tyrion). Bronn says that if Jaime ever sees Tyrion again Jaime should give him his regards; Jaime angrily says that if he sees his brother again, he's going to split him in two for murdering their father Tywin.
Bronn rows the pair ashore at dusk, though Jaime can't help row with his one hand. When they awake the next morning Bronn kills a snake that was near Jaime's head and roasts it up for breakfast. Bronn is worried that the ship's captain will subsequently spread word that a Lannister is in Dorne; Jaime says he bribed him with a large bag of gold, but Bronn still worries. A mounted patrol soon comes by, however, and sees their tracks in the sand. Jaime and Bronn present themselves and try to pass off that they are simple travelers and their boat capsized in the night, but the ruse doesn't work, and the sentries demand that they drop their weapons so they can be taken prisoner and their identities confirmed. Bronn plants his sword in the sand - then quickly throws his dagger in the lead sentry's throat. Jaime and Bronn draw their swords and fight the rest. Jaime can't fight very well left-handed so Bronn kills one sentry's horse in order for Jaime to fight him on foot. Jaime is being overpowered but catches the sentry's sword with his metal hand at the last moment. He then uses the distraction to land a killing blow to the sentry with his left hand. Bronn, having finished off the other sentries, notes that they now have their horses: fine Dornish sand steeds, capable of running a day and a night without tiring. Jaime says the bodies need to be buried so they won't raise more questions. Bronn says it will take a lot of time to dig holes for them all, though Jaime again points out that he can't really do much digging with one hand. Annoyed, Bronn then drags off the bodies to bury.
Meanwhile, elsewhere outside of Sunspear, Ellaria Sand meets with three of the eight Sand Snakes, her lover Oberyn Martell's bastard daughters. Obara Sand, the eldest, is the daughter of a peasant; Nymeria Sand (commonly called "Nym") is the daughter of an eastern noblewoman; the youngest of the three, Tyene Sand, is Ellaria's own daughter. She informs them that Prince Doran Martell will not raise Dorne's armies to avenge his brother's death. They worry that they have no army to march against the Lannisters, but Ellaria tells them that they don't need one: to start a war, all they need to do is kill Cersei's daughter Myrcella, currently in Doran's possession.
Obara then points out that they may have a problem. The Pentoshi ship captain found her in Planky Town, and as Bronn feared, he indeed tried to sell her information about Jaime Lannister's arrival in Dorne. The Sand Snakes, however, were insulted that he wanted to be paid for such vital information instead of offering it freely, so they took him prisoner and tortured it out of him. Nymeria uses her whip to knock a bucket over, and reveals underneath that they buried the ship's captain neck-deep in the sand, with his head under a bucket full of poisonous scorpions. They realize that they are now in a race against time to see who can take Myrcella from Doran first: Jaime Lannister or themselves. Ellaria asks if the three girls are with her, knowing this will bring Dorne into war. Nymeria and Tyene say yes. Obara notes that when she first met Oberyn, he was a man whom she had never met who one day appeared, said he was her father, and that he was taking her away from her mother. Her mother wept, but Oberyn said that, "we all must choose our battles and the gods let us choose our weapons." He threw his spear at her feet, pointed to her mother's tears, then to his spear, and told her to choose. She chose the spear - and answers Ellaria that she is with her, as she chose the path of the spear and war long ago. She then throws her spear to impale the ship captain's head.
On the Summer Sea
At Volantis, during the night, Jorah Mormont knocks out a fisherman and steals his boat, leaving with his captive Tyrion Lannister. Later when they are at sea, Tyrion urges for Jorah to remove his gag. Jorah will not volunteer any information about himself, but from a few observations (such as the bear sigil on his armor), Tyrion quickly surmises that he must be Jorah Mormont. He admits to Tyrion that the "Queen" he is taking him to is not Cersei but Daenerys. Tyrion recalls from Small Council meetings that Jorah was spying on Daenerys for Varys. Given that he is half the world away from Daenerys, he also accurately deduces that she must have found out he was spying on her and had him exiled - and therefore, he kidnapped Tyrion in the hope that presenting him as a gift to Daenerys will get him back in her favor. Tyrion laughs aloud at his situation, informing Jorah that he was already heading to meet Daenerys, so this is a waste of a kidnapping. Tyrion also points out that there is no guarantee this will assuage Daenerys, and it is just as likely she will remain angry at Jorah, and welcome himself as an ally. Jorah smacks Tyrion across the face, quieting him down.
At the Wall
Jon Snow trains recruits in the practice yard of Castle Black, as Stannis Baratheon and his wife Selyse watch, along with their daughter Shireen. Selyse is worried that Stannis wishes Jon was his son, because she gave him only stillbirths and weakness, but he says that wasn't her fault. Melisandre joins them and appears to quite firmly take Stannis's side, declaring that the Lord of Light doesn't care about Shireen's Greyscale disfigurement, and this doesn't change the fact that she has her father's blood. When Selyse departs, Melisandre discusses the coming battle to take Winterfell from the Boltons. She asks if Stannis intends to leave her behind as he did at the Blackwater, but Stannis assures her he won't this time.
As the new Lord Commander, Jon goes over paperwork with Samwell Tarly, letters they have received from minor Houses offering up a handful of new recruits. Jon balks when Samwell hands him a request letter for Roose Bolton, saying he killed his brother Robb. Sam points out that Roose Bolton is now the Warden of the North, and he has the most recruits to send them - much more than the pittances offered by the other minor Houses Jon has never even heard of. He reminds Jon that the Night's Watch has sworn an oath of political neutrality. With disgust, Jon reluctantly signs the letter to the Boltons.
As Sam departs, Melisandre enters. She entreats him to assist Stannis in retaking Winterfell, pointing out that even if he doesn't become a Stark, his familiarity with the castle could win them the battle. She also acknowledges that there is a greater war at stake, and asks Jon if he is on the side of life or death, undoing her dress and straddling him as she does so. She encourages Snow to take her, as the Lord of Light made humans male and female for a reason; although clearly tempted, Jon refuses, citing his vows, and the fact that Stannis wouldn't approve (to which Melisandre suggests they not tell him). When Melisandre points out that he broke his vows once before, Snow acknowledges that he still feels for his deceased love. Melisandre adjusts her dress and leaves, but not before uttering the words the new Lord Commander thought he'd never hear again: "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
Later, Stannis is in his chambers at Castle Black working on other letters, and Shireen enters. Stannis begins to apologise for dragging her along on campaign with him, as Castle Black is hardly a place for a child, but Shireen cuts him off; she is happy to have come, having expected to be left at Dragonstone, as Selyse had made it clear she wanted. Shireen asks her father if he is ashamed of her because of her deformity; Stannis gets up from his table and explains that not long after Shireen was born, a Dornish trader arrived on Dragonstone and, having heard of Shireen's birth, gave a wooden doll as a gift for the newborn girl. Unfortunately, the doll was contaminated with greyscale, and by the time that was discovered, Shireen had already contracted the disease. Everyone claimed Shireen would die of it sooner or later, and urged Stannis to send her to the ruins of Valyria to live out her days with the "Stone Men" before the disease infected the rest of the castle; Stannis says he told them all to go to hell and summoned every healer, apothecary and Maester he could to save Shireen. Stannis insists that Shireen is his daughter and he would not send her away because she belonged with her family. Shireen, overjoyed at her father's declaration, runs over and gives him a hug which, after an awkward pause, Stannis returns.
At Winterfell, Sansa Stark takes the opportunity to visit her family's underground crypts. She comes to the tomb and statue of her aunt Lyanna Stark (and finds the feather token that Robert Baratheon left there years ago when he visited the castle). Petyr Baelish arrives and says he thought he'd find her there. Sansa remarks that her father, Eddard Stark, never talked about Lyanna, but she would at times find him down in the crypts lighting candles at her tomb. Sansa never knew Lyanna because she died before she was born, but she notes that people say she was beautiful.
Littlefinger says that he actually saw Lyanna once years ago, and she was as beautiful as everyone says. Back when he was a boy living with Sansa's mother's family, the old Lord Whent of Harrenhal held a massive tournament: every notable figure of the time came from across Westeros: the Mad King, Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Lyanna Stark, everyone. Lyanna had already been publicly betrothed to Robert at the time. Baelish remembers how awed he was, a boy from nowhere and with no significant holdings, to see all of these living legends gathered in one place. In the final tilt, Prince Rhaegar rode against Ser Barristan Selmy. Rhaegar won and the entire crowd erupted in cheers - only to suddenly drop dead silent when Rhaegar rode right past his wife, Elia Martell, to lay the victor's crown (made of blue winter roses) in Lyanna's lap. Not long afterwards, Rhaegar made off with Lyanna, sparking off Robert's Rebellion which overthrew the Targaryen dynasty. Littlefinger wonders how many thousands died because Rhaegar chose Lyanna - to which Sansa says that he chose her, then kidnapped and raped her. Baelish gives her a wry look and moves on to another part of the crypts.
Sansa notices that Littlefinger is wearing riding clothes, and he explains that he is heading back to King's Landing, because Cersei sent a letter requesting his presence and it would be best not to make her suspicious by refusing to come. Sansa will be alone with the Boltons but he explains his plan to her: Stannis will have to attack the Boltons soon if he is to beat the winter snows, and he bets that Stannis will probably win, because he is one of the best military commanders in all of Westeros, and the Boltons will be outnumbered by Stannis, as the other northern houses would be quick to betray their liege lord. Stannis will then make Sansa the new ruler of the North, as the last (known) surviving Stark heir and in memory of her father Eddard's support for Stannis. Sansa asks what will happen on the off chance that Stannis gets killed, and Littlefinger explains that marrying Ramsay Bolton now will at least leave Sansa in a position to insinuate herself among the Boltons and help destroy them from within in future plans. Either way, Sansa will be Littlefinger's powerful "ally" in the North. Littlefinger kisses Sansa on the lips, and departs.
In Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen is looking down on the streets below from her royal apartments in the Great Pyramid, and Ser Barristan Selmy also brings up Rhaegar Targaryen. He says that the city's inhabitants always seem happy from such a distance, but Rhaegar actually liked to leave the Red Keep and mingle with the common people on the streets. Barristan accompanied him often to guard him, and says that Rhaegar liked to sing to people. He was a great singer, so he would find a place on one of the streets just like any public minstrel and sing. He liked to see how much money he could make, and everyone enjoyed his singing, so he often made quite a lot. Daenerys is surprised, because her brother Viserys only told her that Rhaegar was a great killer.
Barristan scoffs that Rhaegar was a great warrior but never enjoyed killing, he was a gentle man who enjoyed singing. She asks what they did with all the money, and Barristan says that they did all sorts of things: sometimes they just gave it to the next minstrel on the road, once Rhaegar gave it all to an orphanage in the slums of Flea Bottom, and one time they spent it to get horribly drunk. Daario Naharis then comes to say that the day's supplicants are waiting in the throne room, chief among them Hizdahr zo Loraq. Aware of his dislike of politics, Daenerys asks if Barristan wants to attend her in the throne room; after being assured that Daario has her back, she gives him the day off, cheerfully telling him to make some music in the city below.
Hizdahr again beseeches Daenerys to reopen the fighting pits of Meereen, because today is the traditional beginning of the fighting season. Daenerys again refuses, but Hizdahr rationally argues that the fighting pits provide a great spectacle that has always been enjoyed by both the slave-masters and slaves, and is one of the few things that can bring the city together. Bringing back this major tradition will not instantly solve all of her problems, he concedes, but it would be a start at mending together her subjects.
As he speaks, the Sons of the Harpy are already mounting a series of large-scale attacks in the streets. A Meereenese prostitute helps them distract and kill some of the Second Sons, and when a patrol of Unsullied arrives, she feigns fear and directs them into a trap by pointing that the Sons of the Harpy ran into a narrow alleyway. The Unsullied give chase, only to be surrounded by a much larger number of the Sons of the Harpy. Brutal fighting rages throughout the streets of Meereen. Grey Worm is among the ambushed Unsullied; he kills many of the attackers, but loses his helmet, is slashed in the leg, and is stabbed in his side. Grey Worm pulls the dagger out of his own chest, stabs a foe in the throat with it, and keeps fighting, though his wounds slow him considerably. Most of the Sons of the Harpy are dead but they outnumber the Unsullied so much to begin with that only Grey Worm is left. Just then, Ser Barristan arrives and saves Grey Worm from certain death by drawing the attention of the remaining rebels. He takes on eight Sons of the Harpy, killing seven of them; the eighth stabs him in the belly. He falls to his knees, but before the attacker can cut his throat, Grey Worm thrusts his spear into his back, killing him. Grey Worm staggers over to the unconscious Barristan before collapsing from his wounds.
- Lead Dornish Guard
- Merchant captain
- Ser Barristan Selmy
- Many unnamed King's Landing residents
- 3 unnamed Dornish guards
- Many unnamed Meereenese residents
- Many unnamed Sons of the Harpy
- Many unnamed Unsullied
- Lyanna Stark
- Eddard Stark
- Rhaegar Targaryen
- Aerys II Targaryen
- Robb Stark
- Tywin Lannister
- Catelyn Stark
- Olenna Tyrell
- Davos Seaworth
- Oberyn Martell
- Doran Martell
- Elia Martell
- Robert Baratheon
- Roose Bolton
- Myrcella Baratheon
- 17 of 27 cast members for the fifth season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund), Conleth Hill (Varys), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar), Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton) and Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- The episode title is a reference to the Sons of the Harpy, an underground resistance movement opposed to Daenerys Targaryen's rule over Meereen and seeking to restore the Great Masters. The Harpy is the heraldic symbol of the slave-masters in Slaver's Bay, originally a symbol of the old Ghiscari Empire which originally colonized the region thousands of years ago.
- Dorne now appears as a location in the opening credits for the first time (it didn't when Dorne was first seen two episodes ago, but that was simply due to time constraints: not all of the diverse locations in that episode could fit in the opening credits). Due to the way the title sequence has to be arranged (starting at King's Landing, then moving north and then across the Narrow Sea), it is the only Westerosi location to appear after wherever Daenerys is. Curiously, while "The Eyrie" is used to represent the Vale of Arryn as a whole because it is the capital of the Vale, Dorne is simply labeled "Dorne" - instead of its capital, Sunspear.
- Since most of the action in Dorne is set in the Water Gardens and not Sunspear itself, it's possible that this was an attempt lessen confusion for viewers (even though the Water Gardens aren't far from Sunspear) – in the Vale, most of the action was still set at the Eyrie.
- Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, and House Greyjoy do not appear in this episode. Sansa and Littlefinger appear at Winterfell, but the Boltons remain off-screen, though they are discussed.
- This episode marks the on-screen introduction of the Sand Snakes, Oberyn Martell's daughters. They were first mentioned as the "Sand Snakes" two episodes ago by Ellaria to Doran, and Oberyn first mentioned that he had eight daughters in Season 4's "First of His Name". They are called the "Sand Snakes" because "Sand" is the special bastard surname used in Dorne, and "Snakes" for their father's nickname, "the Red Viper". Several of them are the daughters of other women Oberyn encountered in his life, though the younger ones are by Ellaria: even so, because Ellaria Sand was herself a bastard Oberyn could not marry her (it would be marrying beneath his station), but instead he simply lived with Ellaria as his paramour (formal mistress) and treated her as his wife in all but name.
- The manuscript that George R.R. Martin originally wrote for the fourth novel grew so long that he had to split it into two novels - but whose events occur simultaneously. The fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, focuses on events within the Seven Kingdoms themselves (particularly on Cersei, Margaery, and the political situation in King's Landing). The fifth novel, A Dance with Dragons, then backs up and covers all of the events set in the same time period, but occurring outside of the "Seven Kingdoms" proper: Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon at the Wall (and the Boltons in the North), Daenerys in Meereen, and also Arya and Tyrion in the Free Cities. Martin pointed out that there are a few narrative parallels between events in different regions that are not immediately obvious as a result, i.e. he meant to intercut Cersei chapters in King's Landing with Daenerys chapters in Meereen, contrasting how each queen is challenged to hold their rule together. The TV series intercut this material, however, as it was originally conceived. Therefore, in this episode the rise of radical movements in both regions are presented in parallel - the Faith Militant in King's Landing and the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen.
- The Iron Bank of Braavos has called in a tenth of the crown's debts. As Davos predicted last season in "The Laws of Gods and Men", the bank wouldn't have as much faith in the Lannisters compared to Stannis after Tywin was dead, so they're starting to put pressure on them. When Eddard Stark first came to King's Landing in "Lord Snow", the crown was already 6 million Gold Dragons in debt, and Littlefinger said that half of it was owed to Tywin Lannister. The novels specified that of the rest of the debt, 2 million was owned to the Iron Bank, the Tyrells and several Tyroshi trading cartels (together), and about 1 million to the Faith of the Seven (though the fact that they also owed money to the Faith seems to have been omitted from the TV series). When Tyrion and Bronn found out about the debt in Season 3's "Walk of Punishment", Bronn pointed out that now that Tywin's grandson is the Lannisters' puppet on the Iron Throne, the Lannisters can't pay themselves back the 3 million Tywin lent to Robert. Mace Tyrell reveals in this episode that they can only physically pay back half of the tenth of the debt they owe the Iron Bank: they only physically possess one twentieth of the money they owe the Iron Bank, which out of 2 million would be 100,000. However, Tywin revealed to Cersei in Season 4's "First of His Name" that wartime spending drastically increased their already significant debts to the Iron Bank to tremendous levels - quite probably more than the 2 million they owed in the novels - so proportionately, that twentieth of the debt they physically possess is probably also larger.
- Mace also mentions before being cut off that rebuilding the Royal Fleet after the Battle of the Blackwater significantly added to their debts. This is a nod to a larger subplot in the novels: Cersei grows increasingly annoyed that without the Royal Fleet, the Lannisters have to rely on the Redwyne Fleet under the command of the Tyrells (House Redwyne are Tyrell bannermen; Olenna herself was born "Olenna Redwyne"). Therefore, despite the fact that they are already barely able to placate the Iron Bank about their massive debts, Cersei orders a new Royal Fleet to be constructed - a huge expenditure, made at kingdom-beggaring cost, done primarily because she is paranoid about being too reliant on the Tyrells.
- There may be too many Kingsguard in this episode. There are only supposed to be seven Kingsguard at any one time. Jaime is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and he is in Dorne, and Cersei says she is sending Ser Meryn Trant to escort Mace Tyrell to Braavos. Previously, when Myrcella was sent away to Dorne by boat in Season 2's "The Old Gods and the New", a Kingsguard was sitting on the boat next to her —in the novels, he was Ser Arys Oakheart. Yet, when Tommen tries to visit the High Sparrow, there are five Kingsguard with him. These five plus Jaime, Meryn, and Arys make eight, not seven.
- There are three possibilities: First, one of those five might be Meryn, and he just hasn't left for Braavos yet (unlikely, as he is usually the point-man speaking for the other Kingsguard, and instead another Kingsguard is introduced who talks to Tommen). Second, in the TV version, Ser Arys might simply have returned to King's Landing after he finished escorting Myrcella (even though within the narrative he stayed with Myrcella to guard a princess of the royal blood). Third, the number of Kingsguard visible on-screen might simply be an accident - this would not be the first time such an accident happened in the TV series, as in the Season 1 finale "Fire and Blood", nine Kingsguard were visible on screen when Joffrey tortures Marillion (even though Jaime wasn't present and Barristan had just been fired, meaning there shouldn't even have been more than five at the time).
- Given that Arys is not subsequently seen at all in Dorne this season, it seems that in the TV series he simply returned to King's Landing immediately after delivering Myrcella to Dorne, and thus there are not too many Kingsguard in the episode.
- Ser Barristan Selmy does not die in the novels, and in fact lives to become a POV narrator of his own chapters by the end of the fifth novel and at least in the beginning of in the upcoming sixth novel. He is slated to participate in a large battle at the beginning of the sixth novel, and it is unclear if he will survive, so Barristan dying in this episode might be a very loose condensation of the novels.
- In the Season 5 Blu-ray commentary, it was said that there was a lot of discussion about whether to kill off Barristan like this, but they decided to kill him off so Daenerys would feel increasingly isolated as the season went on.
- Barristan's final fight scene and death were originally intended to be in episode six, but as the season was reshuffled, it was moved here to the fourth episode.
- Actor Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), in the same interview with Huffington Post, revealed that a lot of thought went into Grey Worm's reaction of pain/anger when he was wounded in the fight. This was an unusual reaction for Grey Worm, because it has been emphasized that the Unsullied have been brutally trained to ignore pain and fear (in the novels, they are even given a special tonic to drink which over many years of continued usage physically dulls their sense of pain). In the next episode, when Grey Worm wakes he tells Missandei that he is ashamed, because he was afraid - not of death or pain, but when he was wounded he was frightened by the thought that he would never see her again (therefore his reaction wasn't so much out of physical pain but frustration/fear). The Unsullied are trained to be essentially mindless automatons, who place such little value on their own lives that if on a whim their master orders them to fall on their sword they will do it without hesitation. Since Grey Worm was freed, however, he is journeying towards a sense of personhood and self-value: he felt no fear when he had nothing to lose, but now that he has things he cares about, for the first time he is experiencing the associated fear of losing them. Anderson saw this as part of Grey Worm's overall character arc and growth, saying:
- "I've discussed with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] a few times, like, how far I've gone with it each season because I guess it's like as Grey Worm is going along, he's becoming more and more human. So I thought about that when I got stabbed, and, yeah, there was a discussion on the day of that whether I would respond to that, a kind of warrior that’s not afraid of death."
- The previous High Septon has been replaced by the so-called High Sparrow as the new High Septon, due to Cersei's machinations. A quirk of the office is that when someone becomes High Septon they give up their entire name, and it is forbidden to refer to them by it - which does make people confused in-universe when they try to discuss different High Septons. Everyone tends to still refer to the new High Septon (the third in the TV series) by his nickname, "the High Sparrow".
- The conversation between Cersei and the High Sparrow in the novel goes the other way around: the High Sparrow is the one who brings up the subject of restoring the Faith Militant. He tells Cersei about how much the smallfolk and members of the Faith have suffered during the war. She has no sympathy for the rape victims, and even internally muses that half of the septas must be yearning to be raped. Finally, she reaches an agreement with the High Sparrow: King Maegor's laws disbanding the Faith Militant will be cancelled by royal decree, and in return the High Septon will acknowledge Tommen as king and forgive the Crown's debt to the Faith (nearly one million Gold Dragons). In the TV version, apparently Cersei accurately surmised that the attacks on clergy in the chaos of the war are something that the High Sparrow would be worried about - she doesn't care, she's bringing it up to manipulate him, hoping to gain new allies in the Faith.
- In the novels, the Sparrows strong-armed the Faith's hierarchy to make the High Sparrow the new High Septon (as Cersei executed the current one and an election was being held). It was actually the High Sparrow who asked to re-form the Faith Militant, in exchange for forgiving massive loans the Crown had made from the Faith. Cersei's decision to accept such a brazen request was still seen as ridiculous, but the TV writers felt it would have taken too long to explain this on-screen. Therefore, as they explained in the Season 5 Blu-ray release, they changed it to have Cersei come up with the idea to reform the Faith Militant, hoping that in return the Sparrows/Faith Militant will be loyal to her as a strong new ally. This cuts down on all of the other subplots, they felt, while still keeping the main thematic point that the recreation of the Faith Militant was Cersei's fault, and ultimately she was complicit in her own downfall across the season as a result.
- Actor Eugene Simon (Lancel) explained that after joining the Sparrows, Lancel Lannister stopped trying to maintain a refined and wealthy appearance, instead switching to the homespun cloth robes of the other penitents, and he is also barefoot like them. Because Lancel used to have long attractive hair, he now simply cuts it short without styling it, i.e. if he previously wore his hair short but neatly cropped, he would have switched to wearing it long and unkempt to show that Lancel doesn't care about his appearance anymore - but Lancel already had long hair, so they did it the other way around. Similarly, Simon explained that he got the idea that to show how little Lancel cares about his physical appearance, he intentionally grew out his own fingernails for three months without cutting them. When Lancel is having the Seven-Pointed Star carved into his forehead, the character grips the wooden arm of his chair in pain so hard that his nails break. For this shot, Simon weakened the long nails on his right hand by discretely cutting vertical lines into them, to make them break when he gripped the handle very hard. Simon's fingernails are actually breaking and bleeding, on-camera, with no props. As he said, "I put my hand on the side of the wood, I squeezed, and my nails broke. And we got the shot! It's used in the footage, my actual nails being broken. It was so worth it!"
- Simon said that an unfortunate side-effect of this happened in the preceding episode: when the Sparrows burst into the brothel and Lancel drags the old High Septon out onto the street naked, he accidentally ended up unintentionally gripping him so hard that his long nails cut the other actor deep enough to draw blood. After the shot was done he looked down at his hands and at the other actor's bloody ribs, and realized he had his blood under his nails.
- The Faith of the Seven in the novels does not treat homosexuality as a particularly severe offense, and there are no significant secular laws against it. The Faith does consider homosexuality a sin, but on the same level as adultery, fathering bastard children, or a clergyman sworn to celibacy secretly having sex with prostitutes. The Sparrows who make up the reborn Faith Militant shout that Loras has "broken the laws of gods and men" and either castrate or kill two homosexual men they find in a brothel - though the Faith Militant are fanatics and extremists, not representative of the "official" position of the Faith, so they might just be making exaggerated claims.
- Josephine Gillan, who plays the prostitute Marei, explained in an interview after Season 5 that for the scene when the Faith Militant storm Littlefinger's brothel and drag her out of the building, it was originally planned that they would punch Marei in the face - so hard (possibly breaking Marei's nose or jaw) that Gillan was going to need to have a large amount of fake blood continuing to pour out of her mouth as she is dragged away. The production team later decided, however, that seeing a woman beaten up like this was too dark and violent for the needs of the scene, and just had her dragged away by her hair.
- As explained in the Blu-ray commentary, the fact that Tommen's chambers have all the windows shuttered and the doors closed (until Margaery enters) are intended to convey that he is being protected, but also caged like a bird and isolated from what is really going on.
- The TV series did not explain this in detail at the time, but Joffrey's flippant decision to have Eddard Stark beheaded wasn't just shocking due his his psychopathic violence and political stupidity: in the novels, many were also outraged that Joffrey had Eddard executed where he stood, on the very steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, defiling holy ground. Even the High Septon at the time, a fat man politically bribed off as a Lannister puppet, expressed his outrage at them for beheaded Eddard at the Great Sept. In contrast, in this episode when Joffrey's brother Tommen is urged to have the Kingsguard kill the men blocking his path, he is shocked, and specifically points out that this would violate holy ground.
- This is the first mention of Oldtown in the TV series, when Jaime says the trade ship they are on is heading there. Oldtown is actually the second largest city in Westeros, nearly as large as King's Landing, and thousands of years older. It is ruled by House Hightower - Alerie Tyrell, wife of Mace and mother of Loras and Margaery, was herself born Alerie Hightower.
- In the novels, Jaime is very conflicted about what he would do if he ever encountered Tyrion again. At points he outwardly says he will kill him, though in his inner thought monologue (not easily translatable on-screen), he is much less certain whether he could actually kill Tyrion. So it isn't clear if Jaime actually means what he says in this episode (at the same time, he denies that he had any involvement in freeing Tyrion, when he actually forced Varys to help free him). Similarly, Tyrion swore vengeance on his family including Jaime in the novels after it was revealed what really happened to Tysha, but inwardly he notes to himself that while he wants to kill Cersei, he isn't really sure how he'd react if he met Jaime again (though of course, all mention of Tysha was removed when Tyrion killed Tywin).
- The novels have not given any significant backstory for Bronn, though sellswords do travel long distances searching for employment. In the TV series, Bronn previously said in Season 1 that he had been north of the Wall, and now in this episode he remarks that he has been to Dorne before - meaning he has been to the northern and southern extremes of Westeros.
- Jaime catching a sword with his metal right hand might be a slight nod to a separate moment in the novels: Jaime doesn't go to Dorne, but to the Riverlands, to manage the Freys as they besiege the Tullys at Riverrun. At one point Jaime punches out an obstinate Frey - with his gold hand, severely injuring him, and discovering that the metal hand makes a fairly useful melee weapon.
- The Dornish beach that Jaime and Bronn land on was filmed at Porstewart, Northern Ireland. Staging a fight scene on a sandy beach presents specific continuity difficulties: after each take the whole area had to be painstakingly raked and the proper continuity footprints replaced.
- The moment in the fight when Jaime sees how tall his opponent is and grimaces is a deliberate reference to a similar moment in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- George R.R. Martin sent in a note on the script for the fight scene pointing out that Jaime should be a worse fighter now due to his lack of a right hand, and not really having enough time to train how to fight with his left hand effectively. The scene was re-written and re-choreographed as a result.
- As explained in the Blu-ray commentary, the Dorne subplot was actually a relatively late addition to Season 5. Originally, the showrunners didn't intend for any scenes from Dorne to appear at all, due to the fact that no previously established major characters appear in it. Bryan Cogman, however, then got the idea that if they changed it to send established characters Jaime and Bronn, that would make it possible to depict the Dorne subplot on-screen.
- There was a character-building dialogue scene with the Sand Snakes which was cut for time from finished episodes in Season 5. Several early production photos were released of scenes which never aired, which was supposed to take place when the Sand Snakes first appear. The promotional image indicates that a longer introduction for Nymeria and Tyene was indeed apparently filmed, as they had a heated conversation with each other before Ellaria arrived at their campsite. In the finished, aired versions of the two episodes the Sand Snakes have appeared in by this point including this one (episodes 5.4 and 5.6), Nymeria and Tyene ultimately had minimal speaking lines. No deleted scenes containing new footage of the Sand Snakes were ultimately released in the Season 5 Blu-ray set, either. It is possible that the dialogue from these unaired scenes was simply reshuffled to another conversation the Sand Snakes have later in Season 5, so the scenes are no longer simply "omitted" but in fact redundant with the final version.
- The scorpions crawling the head of the Pentoshi Merchant captain that the Sand Snakes buried neck-deep in the sand are not CGI creations, but in fact live scorpions that had to be brought in by a special handler. The MakingGameOfThrones.com production blog even included a short video in which writers Benioff and Weiss take turns nervously holding one of the scorpions.
- The dusty feather that Sansa Stark finds on the tomb of her aunt Lyanna Stark was actually left there by King Robert Baratheon in the very first episode of Season 1, "Winter is Coming". The idea the TV writers had was that when Robert was courting Lyanna he'd bring her little tokens like feathers from tropical birds (which they don't have in the North), so when he visited her tomb he left one there for her. No one came into the tombs often, particularly after the castle was burned out, so logically, it simply stayed there for four years.
- From the in-episode guide, David Benioff said: "The last time we saw the statue of Lyanna was in the first episode. King Robert Baratheon laid this exotic, tropical bird feather in her hand. As we were preparing the scene [with Sansa], we thought: That feather's probably still there. People haven't been going down there and cleaning up much. Certainly after Ramsay destroyed Winterfell, there hasn't been a janitorial crew going down and vacuuming." D.B. Weiss said: "We thought it would be kind of a great thing to have Sansa wondering about it. Hopefully viewers wonder: Where did I see that before? – and then remember that in the first episode of the show, this is something that Robert left to remember the woman he loved."
- No mention was made in the novels that Littlefinger was present at the great Tournament of Harrenhal - though he quite probably was, given that he was living with the Tullys at the time, and as he said, everyone was there, it was one of the largest tournaments in living memory.
- King Robert said that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna Stark, which sparked off Robert's Rebellion. Bran Stark previously said that is what happened, and Sansa Stark in this episode reiterates it - though they weren't alive at the time and can only rely on what their parents told them. In Season 4, Oberyn Martell remarked to Tyrion that Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna, forsaking his own sister Elia Martell; it is notable that he doesn't seem to accuse Rhaegar of rape. Littlefinger explains to Sansa only the facts that he and an entire massive crowd saw with their own eyes: Rhaegar rode past his own wife and handed a laurel of flowers to Lyanna.
- House Whent were the rulers of Harrenhal at the beginning of the War of the Five Kings, though in the opening moves of the conflict the Lannisters seized the castle, and the only remaining direct heir, old Lady Shella Whent, died (back in early Season 1, Catelyn in fact spoke of Lady Whent as ruling Harrenhal). Catelyn Tully's mother was herself a Whent, though of unspecified relationship to the rest of the family, so when Littlefinger is talking about the great tournament the Whents held, they are actually Sansa's maternal grandmother's family. In the novels, House Whent is currently held to be extinct, which is why the lands were given to Littlefinger - though in truth, Catelyn, her sister Lysa, and her brother Edmure were all half-Whent, meaning that all of them and their children like Sansa have some claim to Harrenhal.
- Littlefinger tells Sansa he thinks Stannis will defeat the Boltons because he's one of the best military commanders in Westeros, and he has the larger army. The latter point contradicts both the books and TV series: the novels stress that Stannis is initially outnumbered around five to one, given how small his remaining army he took to the Wall was. Also in the TV version, since the Season 5 premiere, Stannis himself has been complaining that he doesn't have enough men to take Winterfell, to the point that he initially tried to force the wildlings to fight for him. This can be easily reconciled, however, if what Littlefinger means is that he assumes the rest of the North will rise up to join Stannis's initial army; individually their armies were destroyed at the Red Wedding but their few remaining forces banded together can greatly aid Stannis. Indeed, in the preceding episode, Roose himself warned Ramsay that if all of the other Northern Houses rebel against them at once (i.e. and join Stannis), they don't have enough men to fight them all.
- Stannis mentions that "Stone Men" severely afflicted by the Greyscale plague are pushed out to live at the fringes of civilization in the ruins of Old Valyria. In the novels, a large area around the ruins of Chroyane, on the river north of Volantis, is used as essentially a leper-colony for people suffering from Greyscale. There are also vague rumors of men living in the shattered remains of the Valyrian Peninsula, in the ruins of Oros, Tyria, and Old Valyria itself - who might, similarly, be Stone Men pushed to live on the abandoned fringes of civilization - but these rumors are unconfirmed in the novels.
- The novels never specifically explained how Shireen got Greyscale - it is just common in cold damp climates, like the drafty coastal castle she grew up in. The story Stannis relates in this episode plausibly could have happened, though, and Stannis's actions were entirely in keeping with his character (he has an iron will and will break before he gives up, be it on the battlefield or doing everything he can to save his daughter's life). In the novels, when Stannis leaves Castle Black he explicitly orders the men he leaves behind that if he dies fighting the Boltons, he expects them to keep fighting to put Shireen on the Iron Throne.
- Samwell Tarly presents Jon Snow with some paperwork, requests for recruits from obscure minor Houses with only a handful of men to send them. Of the ones he lists, only House Ashford and House Smallwood are actually from the novels, while the other three were invented by the TV series: House Caulfield, House Mazin, and House Wibberley. A joke about this is made in the episode itself when Jon remarks that he's "never even heard of these people". That being said, there are several hundred minor Houses in Westeros, below the one hundred or so major Houses, and Martin intentionally never made a definitive list of them all (so new characters can be invented as the story requires). "House Caulfield" is apparently a reference to one of the producers on the TV series, Bernadette Caulfield (reinforced by the fact that Samwell specifically says that the letter is being sent to "Lady Caulfield").
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Game of Thrones:
- Chapter 58, Eddard XV: Lord Whent’s tourney at Harrenhal is recounted by a witness: Prince Rhaegar unhorsed Ser Barristan Selmy in the final tilt to claim the champion’s crown, yet all the smiles died when he urged his horse past his own wife, Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel —"a crown of winter roses, blue as frost"— in Lyanna Stark’s lap.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 42, Daenerys IV: Ser Barristan speaks to Dany of Rhaegar's love for music and the harp.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 2, The Captain of the Guards: The three eldest Sand Snakes —Obara, Nym and Tyene— want to go to war against the Lannisters in retaliation to their father Oberyn's murder. When Obara is questioned on her intentions, to make her point she recounts how Oberyn came to claim her, though her mother protested that she was too young and a girl. Oberyn tossed his spear at Obara's feet and said: "girl or boy, we fight our battles, but the gods let us choose our weapons." He pointed to the spear and then to her mother's tears, and Obara picked up the spear.
- Chapter 5, Samwell I: Jon refuses to sign a letter requesting support for the Night's Watch to the Starks' enemies until Sam convinces him to do so.
- Chapter 12, Cersei III: Cersei consigns Mace Tyrell to a mission away from King's Landing in order to get rid of him for a while, so that she can scheme against the Tyrells more freely.
- Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight: A relative of Prince Doran hatches a plan involving Princess Myrcella in order to bait the Lannisters into a conflict with Dorne, which would force Doran's hand to enter into the war he is trying to avoid.
- Chapter 17, Cersei IV: The Small Council discusses about the debt to the Iron Bank.
- Chapter 24, Cersei V: The Sparrows drag someone out of a brothel.
- Chapter 28, Cersei VI: Armed men of the Faith block the Kingsguard from entering the Great Sept. Cersei duplicitously concedes to the High Sparrow's concerns that the holy men and women need protection, and so she agrees to restore the Faith Militant, which the Targaryens disbanded centuries ago.
- Chapter 32, Cersei VII: Cersei plots to get rid of Loras Tyrell.
- Chapter 40, The Princess in the Tower: Cersei's Kingsguard arrives in Dorne.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 3, Jon I: Melisandre tries to get close to Jon Snow, but Jon keeps his distance. Mysteriously quoting Ygritte, Melisandre warns: "You know nothing, Jon Snow".
- Chapter 7, Jon II: Jon refuses to sign a letter requesting support for the Night's Watch to the Starks' enemies until Sam convinces him to do so.
- Chapter 8, Tyrion III: When asked why would he support Queen Daenerys, Tyrion replies it’s for gold and glory, and for hate, "which you would understand if you ever met my sister".
- Chapter 11, Daenerys II: The Sons of the Harpy attack a number of Unsullied on the streets of Meereen, including a loved one of Missandei. Much to Dany's frustration, Hizdahr zo Loraq insists on the reopening of the fighting pits, arguing it is traditional and the only way for the pit fighters to win glory and be remembered.
- Chapter 27, Tyrion VII: Tyrion realizes his abductor is not taking her to Cersei but to Daenerys, and reveals he has figured out he is Jorah Mormont. Since Jorah was working for Varys as well, Tyrion argues they are allies, but Jorah doesn't listen.
- Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII: In Volantis, Tyrion and Jorah take a ship to Meereen.
- Chapter 40, Tyrion IX: Tyrion teases Jorah, claiming that bringing him to Daenerys will not appease her. Jorah hits him in response.
- Chpater 41, The Turncloak: Two people enter the crypts at Winterfell.
- Epilogue: The new Master of Coin is sent to Braavos to negotiate the Crown's debt with the Iron Bank. He is escorted by one of the people on Arya's death list.
- The sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, remains unpublished, so there are some events brought forward from it that may occur in the story, yet the specific chapters are unknown. This may include the death of Barristan Selmy, who was last seen about to enter battle; and Sansa's wedding and her return to Winterfell, both of which are also part of Littlefinger's plan in the books but have not happened yet. The episode is adapted from the following chapters of The Winds of Winter:
Shireen Baratheon: "Were you bored a lot too?"
Melisandre: "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
Jaime Lannister: "He murdered my father. If I ever see him, I'll split him in two, and then I'll give him your regards."
Bronn: "I've had an exciting life. I want my death to be boring."
Hizdahr zo Loraq: [Urging Daenerys to reopen the fighting pits] "All men must die. But not all can die in glory."
Hizdahr zo Loraq: "Traditions are the only thing that will hold this city - your city - together. Without them, the former slaves and former masters have nothing in common. Nothing but centuries of mistrust and resentment. I can't promise this is the answer to all our problems, but it's a start."
Selyse Baratheon: "You think highly of this boy."
Obara Sand: "Will it be war?"
Ellaria Sand: "Prince Doran will weep for your father, but nothing else. We must avenge Oberyn ourselves."
Obara Sand: "Without Doran, we have no army to march against the Lannisters."
Ellaria Sand: "We don't need an army to start a war. Queen Cersei loves her children, and we have one of them."
Nymeria Sand: "You may have a problem."
[Nymeria flicks her bullwhip, flipping over a bucket to reveal a gagged prisoner buried up to his neck in the sand, with scorpions crawling over him.]
Obara Sand: "A ship's captain who found me in Planky Town, claiming he had information to sell. He told me he smuggled Jaime Lannister into Dorne."
Ellaria Sand: "He's come for Myrcella. If he gets to her before we do, we lose our only chance for revenge. You must choose. Doran's way, and peace... or my way, and war."
Tyene Sand: "I'm with you. Always."
[Ellaria smiles and strokes her cheek, then glances at Oberyn's two oldest daughters.]
Ellaria Sand: "Nym?" [After a measured pause, Nymeria nods.] "Obara?"
Obara Sand: "When I was a child, Oberyn came to take me to court. I'd never seen this man, and yet, he called himself my father. My mother wept, said I was too young and a girl. Oberyn tossed his spear at my feet and said, 'Girl or boy, we fight our battles but the Gods let us choose our weapons.' My father pointed to the spear, and then to my mother's tears." [She yanks the spear out of the sand, twirls it expertly, then throws it, impaling their captive through the head.] "I made my choice long ago."
- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
- ↑ 
- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
- ↑ 
- ↑ Why Is Sexuality on Trial in Game of Thrones?
- ↑ Josephine Gillan interview, October 2015
- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
- ↑ [ http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/2014/11/5/series-creators-give-scorpion-shout-outs ]
- ↑