Howdy intrepid fact checkers! Welcome back to Compare the Throne, where each week we do a scene-by-scene comparison of the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones TV and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books the show is based on. Last week, in Episode 3 The High Sparrow, we ran through the absence of the seven characters Tyrion meets on the boat The Shy Maid and how Sansa was never engaged to Ramsey Bolton. Needless to say, this week’s episode is filled with twists and turns and several points vastly different from the books. Without further delay…
Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy
Episode 4 opens with Jorah Mormont stealing a boat from native fishermen off the coast of Volantis. With Tyrion bound and gagged he sets sail on the stolen ship. A small difference here as Jorah in the books sets out on foot before seeking ride straight to Mereen.
On a different ship, Jaime and Bronn are sailing towards Dorne secretly on a ship bound for Oldtown. Jaime explains with sincerity how he has to be present for the rescue of Myrcella from Dorne. When referring to Myrcella as his niece, Bronn questions him inquisitively seeming to hint he knows that Myrcella is not his niece. Bronn puzzles out that Jaime was the one that released Tyrion, ultimately leading to their father Tywin’s murder. As we discussed last week, none of this happens in the books, as Jaime is never sent to rescue Myrcella and Bronn with his new bride Lollys.
Back at King’s Landing Master of Coin Mace Tyrell is reviewing how the Iron Bank of Braavos are asking for a repayment of 1/10th of Crown’s overall debt. Cersei responds in kind that Mace will be sent directly to Braavos along with Ser Meryn Trant as personal guard to personally negotiate better terms of repayment. In the books this does not happen as Mace is sent to attempt to recapture Storm’s End from people loyal to Stannis Baratheon. Following one scheme with another, Cersei meets with The High Sparrow and in the growing collusion between them, offers to reinstate the rights of the Faith Militant. In the books we learn that Targaryen king Maegor the Cruel spent most of his reign attempting to outlaw the ability for the faith to be militarized. The newly reformed faith militant waste no time and capture many whores from Littlefinger’s brothel as well as murder patrons attempting to enjoy such service. Furthermore, they murder patrons engaging in homosexual sex. Olyvar, one of Littlefinger’s chief employees flees in fear. Directly after, Ser Loras Tyrell is captured by Lancel Lannister and a group of the faith militant, assumedly for reputedly being gay. This is of course, all a plot of Cersei’s to try to stem Margaery Tyrell’s hold on her son King Tommen and to end her engagement to Ser Loras. In the books, Cersei is directly responsible for the repeal of the law forbidding the faith to militarize. However, in the books, she doe so merely as a deal with The High Sparrow in order for him to give the faith’s blessing to King Tommen’s reign. The Faith Militant do a great many things in the books, but arresting and imprisoning Loras is not one of them.
King Tommen is confronted by Margaery about the imprisonment and hints that Cersei is behind it all. Tommen seeks out his mother and she promptly claims she does not hold Loras nor have the power to release him. She urges him to speak to The High Sparrow directly. Upon doing so, Tommen and a small group of guards are turned away by The Faith Militant claiming The High Sparrow is busy at prayer and not to be disturbed. In the books this does not happen, as Tommen is largely unaware of what’s happening (and Loras is not imprisoned) being that he’s younger then he is portrayed in the show.
Far up North at Castle Black, Stannis watches Jon Snow spar with the Night’s Watch soldiers. His wife Selyse acts jealousy over Stannis’ affinity for Jon, expressing regret for their daughter Shireen so marked by the greyscale affliction. Melisandre arrives as Selyse departs. In her discussion with Stannis he insists he won’t make the same mistake he did back when he attempted to sack King’s Landing without her at his side, refusing to leave her behind when he takes his army South to retake Winterfell.
Melisandre then attempts to seduce Jon Snow, hinting at how they could create life together, a shadow. No doubt a shadow just like the one they used to kill Stannis’ brother Renley. Jon ultimately refutes her advances claiming he still loves his deceased Ygritte. Melisandre exits, but not before stating coldly, “You know nothing Jon Snow.” Though in the books there is no seduction, there are several hints of desire from Melisandre and she does ultimately state Ygritte’s favorite saying, a dark suggestion to Jon that she knows all about the private joke between them that nobody else ever heard. How she knows? That part is still a mystery.
Seemingly aware of her mother’s disdain, Shireen visits her father Stannis in his quarters and solemnly asks him if he is ashamed of her. Stannis details how in her infancy he purchased a doll from a Dornish trader, one that apparently caused the greyscale affliction that disfigured her. In that time, it seems most told him to abandon his daughter to the disease. He powerfully explains how he told them all to “go to hell,” instead hiring every maester and healer in Westeros until they cured her, how her place was with him simply because she’s his daughter. Shireen breaks out in tears and joyfully hugs her father because of his answer. The cause and cure of Shireen’s affliction are not covered in the books, but as of yet, this may be how it plays out there.
Inside Winterfell’s crypts, Sansa is lighting candles for the deceased members of her family. Littlefinger finds her there and tells her the story book lovers know very well of the great Tourney at Harrenhal. This tourney is famous amidst the story as Rhaegar ultimately defeats Barristan and passes by his wife to crown Lyanna Stark the queen of love and beauty (apparently being just before his abduction of Lyanna). Sansa is not aware of this story, but knows of Rhaegar’s kidnapping of Lyanna. Littlefinger goes on to explain how he has to return to King’s Landing at Cersei’s request. Sansa doesn’t want to be left behind, but Littlefinger spins out his scheme to her that likely Stannis and his army will soon overtake Winterfell. He figures that Stannis will save her from the Boltons and ultimately make her the Wardeness of the North. He promises to return quickly after he has appeased Cersei, creepily kissing her before he exits. As we discussed in detail in previous weeks, none of this takes place in the books, as at this point Sansa and Littlefinger are just climbing down from The Eyrie (and Sansa is not engaged to Ramsay).
Jaime and Bronn discuss their arrival over a breakfast of snakes as Bronn posits that the captain who brought them to Dorne will likely betray them and reveal their arrival. Right after, a group of Dornish soldiers find them, and ultimately Jaime and Bronn kill the four. We finally get to see a few of the famous Sand Snakes, who are meeting with Ellaria Sand far in the desert. At this point, it’s only Obara, Nym and Tyene. It’s not apparent yet whether they mean for Oberyn Martell to only have had 3 daughters or 8 like the books. They discuss how Prince Doran does not mean to bring Dorne to war with the Iron Throne and ultimately reveal they know Jaime is trying to free Myrcella. They all pledge to help ignite a war. This doesn’t exactly take place in the books, but most importantly, Ellaria is not seeking war at this point, it’s Arianne Martell. Arianne hatches the plot to abscond with Princess Myrcella.
Aboard the stolen boat, Jorah reveals to Tyrion that he is not taking him to Queen Cersei, instead he is taking her East to Queen Daenerys. Tyrion being the clever person he is quickly puzzles out who Jorah is and indicates that trying to broker a pardon from her in exchange for Tyrion’s life will likely not work. Jorah punches Tyrion in the face in response. This is all basically in the books, but it happens much later in their journey towards Daenerys.
Lastly, Barristan Selmy and Daenerys discuss her late brother Rheagar while looking out over a balcony at the great city of Mereen below them. He reveals an important detail to her that she was not are of how Rhaegar was an extremely gifted singer and would venture into King’s Landing disguised as a minstrel. He made a game of it to see how much he could get, but rarely kept any of it for himself (usually giving it away to other minstrels or to needy causes). Daenerys sends him forth into the city while she again goes to court to hear the pleas from Hizdahr zo Loraq for her to allow the fighting pits to re-open. As she does, the Sons of the Harpy launch their greatest attack yet, killing over a dozen of her unsullied warriors. Grey Worm is nearly killed too, just barely saved by Barristan who heard the commotion. Barristan alone cuts down 6 of the Harpy members before being run through in the stomach himself. The episode ends with Barristan apparently killed and Grey Worm on the ground next to him dying. Needless to say, none of this happens in the books and both characters are alive and well all the way through the close of book five, A Dance of Dragons. In fact, Barristan becomes a major character in book five, being a vital part of the leadership of Mereen following a massive incident with Daenerys and her dragon Drogon. His support for Daenerys stays absolute as the politics of the city seem to swallow her up he becomes the sole protector when the city is surrounded by the Yunkish army.