'Game of Thrones' recap: Death, sin, and Sand Snakes

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Between nudity, violence, betrayal, and a shocking death, the fourth episode of the season was “Game of Thrones” at its best.

It began with Jorah Mormont throwing a bound and gagged Tyrion onto his boat, preparing to take him to the queen. Tyrion eventually gets his gag taken off, mostly by just annoying Jorah until he finally gives in, and ponders aloud why the boat is headed east and not towards Westeros. Jorah confesses it's because he is delivering Tyrion to the true queen, Daenerys Targaryen. It's only a moment before Tyrion figures out who Jorah is and puts together that he must have fled after Dany realized he was a spy and is now offering her a Lannister to get back in her good graces. Tyrion may be correct, but it only earns him a punch to the face.

When they finally do reach Mereen, it's unclear what will be left of it. The Sons of the Harpy begin killing soldiers in the streets, leading to an incredibly violent confrontation with the Unsullied. Blood literally splatters against the walls as the Sons descend upon Dany’s men, including Grey Worm. Just as it looks like all hope might be lost, Ser Barristan enters, taking down a number of the Sons. Triumphant music begins to play, even though the number of dead Unsullied clearly outnumber the dead Sons. The moment doesn’t last, as Barristan is stabbed and collapses to the ground. Grey Worm stops a Son from slitting Barristan’s throat but then crumbles and falls right next to the old man, leaving us to assume that two of Dany’s most loyal fighters are dead.

Similar unrest is occurring in Kings Landing. The new alliance between Cersei and the High Sparrow strengthens when she reinstates the Faith Militant and promises to offer up an unworthy sinner to their cause. What follows are violent beatings of prostitutes and their johns as well as the killing of two gay men inside Littlefinger’s brothel. Afterward, Lancel Lannister is marked with a seven-pointed star, meant to symbolize the seven gods, before arresting Loras Tyrell for “breaking the law of gods and men.”

Margery isn’t too pleased to learn that her brother has been locked up for his crimes and takes it up with her King Tommen, who had no idea any of this had taken place. You can see her beginning to lose her patience as she tells him his mother is to blame and she believes it's his responsibility to stand up to Cersei and get Loras out of prison. Cersei plays innocent, noting that it wasn’t she who had Loras arrested, though her smug smile shows just how pleased she is.

Cersei shouldn’t be too confident. When Tommen attempts to ask The High Sparrow to free his brother-in-law, villagers call him a “bastard” and an “abomination”, revealing that many believe he's a product of inbreeding. Turned down by the Faith Militant, Tommen chooses to back down rather than save Loras. Tommen then learns that there is truth to the saying “happy wife, happy life,” when he informs Margery of his failures. She leaves him in his chambers alone, saying she needs to be with “family.”

Meanwhile, Sansa is off mourning her family in the Stark crypt under Winterfell when Littlefinger tells her he will be returning to Kings Landing. Upset at first, he tells her Stannis will arrive soon and will undoubtedly defeat the Boltons, making her Wardeness of Winterfell after he rescues her from her soon-to-be husband Ramsay. Sansa doesn’t like the uncertainty of the plan, noting that the Boltons could end up defeating Stannis. Littlefinger isn’t worried, he’s trained her well and is sure she can manipulate her husband into doing whatever she pleases. He offers her one more creepy kiss on the lips and hits the road.

Littlefinger is right. Stannis does plan to invade Winterfell and Melisandre is hoping Jon Snow comes along for the ride. She gets him alone and reminds him of all that he’s missing out on by being a part of the Night’s Watch by stripping naked in front of him. Still, her seduction techniques aren’t quite enough for Jon, who insists it isn’t just about the vow and that he still loves Ygritte. Melisandre is none too pleased to be rejected and coldy repeats Ygritte’s now-famous catchphrase to a stunned Jon before leaving him alone.

Finally, Jaime and Bronn reach Dorne, killing some bannermen in an effort to enter the city unnoticed. Unfortunately for Jaime, it wasn’t as quiet as he hoped. The ship captain who brought him there confesses his deed to Oberyn’s daughters, affectionately known as The Sand Snakes, which leads to them deciding to go against their uncle’s wishes and wage war on the Lannisters. Will Jaime reach his niece/daughter before its too late?