The Dance of Dragons

Leave a comment Standard
Well – this is it – the last episode before the big finish. Usually the 9th episode of any given season of Game of Thrones is the most intense but I think last week’s will win that honor for season five. However, episode nine did certainly have some intense moments all of it’s own – one in particular that was absolutely horrifying and another that was absolutely amazing. Shall we begin?

The North: Burn Baby Burn – Too soon? We begin the episode in Stannis’ camp where Ramsay Bolton has made good on his promise; he obviously did something with his 20 men because an amazing number of Stannis’ tents spontaneously go up in flames. I’m not sure how Ramsay accomplished this but it leaves Stannis with almost no food and no horses; the dead horses will become food (yummy!) and the men that were meant to be on guard were either in league or had fallen asleep (so says Stannis). They should be questioned and hung – tough but fair, I guess.
Davos advises Stannis that they are…basically up shi* creek without a paddle – unless the snow lets up, they don’t have enough supplies to beseige Winterfell OR turn around and march back to Castle Black. Stannis remains his stubborn self, looking at Melisandre and Selyse and contemplating filicide per Melisandre’s earlier recommendation. Davos is later summoned to Stannis’ tent and given new orders: ride to Castle Black for reinforcements – this is basically Stannis’ way of getting Davos out of dodge so he can burn Shireen alive without any objections – because Davos has always been the only one with any sense! Davos knows this because he makes one request: can he take Shireen with him; she’s young and a seige is no place for a princess. “My family stays with me” Stannis says and everyone watching cringes in terror.
All my heart strings – pulled.
Before he leaves, Davos checks in with Shireen who is being extra delightful this week – just because Game of Thrones likes to really mess with you and be mean like that. He gives her a little wooden stag that he carved for her, promises to carve a whole family of stags for her, thanks her for teaching him to read and gives her a kiss on the forehead with a promise to return in a few days time. Who else really dislikes being buttered up like this – raise your hand! Davos’ true intentions are somewhat ambiguous – does he know Stannis is preparing to sacrifice his only child and is saying a covert goodbye or does he believes Stannis would never stoop that low and is using this conversation to reassure himself? Either way – there will be hell to pay when Davos learns of Shireen’s fate.
Couldn’t they have made her even slightly unlikable? Nope…
I hope you’re ready to hide your eyes (and cover your ears) because the moment of truth arrives all too soon – Stannis comes to visit Shireen, who is reading “A Dance of Dragons”, a book detailing a Targaryen battle that tore the realm apart. Shireen tells her Father that she wants to help him in the battle to come and echoes what he told her way back in episode four: “I am Princess Shireen of House Baratheon, I am your daughter”…but she’s also too young to realize what she’s volunteering for. Guards march her to a pyre, she realizes all too quickly whats happening and pleads for someone to step in and save her; Melisandre appears and Shireen pleads to know where her Father is – he’d surely not allow this – but there he stands, watching in the background. Shireen pleads with her parents and Selyse caves at the last minute but is held back by Stannis’ soldiers. Melisandra lights the pyre, Shireen’s screams fill the night sky and Stannis looks away – but there isn’t enough remorse in the world to make up for what he’s just done. Gross Stannis – I hope you die horribly and I hope it happens pretty quickly.
I was unsure about Red until this episode – now I just hate her. 

The Wall: No Place for Softies – Moving as far North as you can go, Jon leads the Wildlings who survived the massacre at Hardhom to the Wall; interim Lord Commander Thorne stares down at Jon and his band of bedraggled men (and women…and children…and a giant) and for a second you wonder if he’ll open the gate, but he has seen what happens to men who disobey Lord Commander Snow and so he gives the command to open the gate. The Wildlings walk through Castle Black and the men of the Night’s Watch glower at them; although they do avoid making fun of the giant…because well, obviously. 
He may be a pain in the butt….
But he’s probably got a point….
Jon is certain he failed in his mission but Sam tries to point out that for every person walking passed them, he didn’t fail – he was able to get some of the Wildlings to safety and some is more than none. I like Sam’s math but Jon isn’t convinced. Jon offers his steward Olly a smile but all he gets in return is a withering glare and you watch a small part of Jon die. I’m just worried a much larger part of him – like maybe all of him – will die in the finale. Oh me. Yikes!

Dorne: This Plotline gives me Whiplash – Moving from as far North as one can go to as far South as one can go…we visit Dorne for what will hopefully be the last time..this season at least, maybe ANY season. We can hope, right? Jaime is summoned to meet with Prince Doran, who cuts through the crap and asks Jaime why he tried to infiltrate the Water Gardens and steal Myrcella instead of just coming into Dorne openly, speaking to him directly and letting him know he was concerned for his “nieces” safety? Jaime explains the Viper-gram sent to Cersei way back at the start of the season and…what a shock, it was probably sent by Ellaria. Doran agrees to send Myrcella back to Kings Landing with her Uncle, but Prince Trystane will also return to Kings Landing as well – he will still be betrothed to Myrcella and he will also take a place on King Tommen’s Small Council. As for Bronn, he gets off with just a smack in the mouth…which is a small price to pay when two weeks ago he seemed to surely be dead. Bronn lives to crack wise another day!
A crack in the jaw – cracking jokes for days to come….
The Dorne story line continues to wrap up as Ellaria Sand is made to swallow her pride before God(s), the Sand Snakes and everyone else and tearfully swear her undying devotion to Doran. She certainly flips from being hellbent on revenge to humbly accepting defeat – although I guess hearing Doran tell her if she made another smart comment he’d end her life had a pretty unsettling effect. She later approaches Jaime and admits she knows Myrcella had nothing to do with Oberyn’s death and she supposes Jaime wasn’t involved either. She also tells Jaime she doesn’t blame him for being in love with Cersei; you love who you love, and she also points out no one else would have batted an eye 100 years ago…especially if your family name was Targaryen. It seems like Ellaria went through a real arc here but it just happened so fast…and as for the Sand Snakes? They are seen playing some kind of slapping game in their cell before being made to witness their Mother’s vow of fealty to Doran. 
I feel like Dorne could have been so promising but in fact, it was not much more than pretty scenery this season…. *sigh*

Bow down…

Braavos: Vengeance is Mine – Arya  or excuse me, Lanna weaves in and out of the crowds in Braavos selling her oysters, clams and cockles to anyone who is interested. She approaches the Thin Man that she’s been given the task of assassinating but before she can proceed to sell him poisoned oysters (and he’s practically begging her to sell him some…) she notices a familiar face disembarking a boat alongside Mace Tyrell. The look on Arya’s face lets us know she is not even remotely over Trant killing her dancing master way back in season one – he’s been on her hit list for a long while now and suddenly he is right in front of her. 
A girl must be sneaky….

Arya stalks Mace and Meryn Trant throughout Braavos, listening to Mace Tyrell extol the Iron Bank to give the crown a bit of a break on the money they owe…even going so far as to sing in the streets, which impresses no one. I can see why Cersei thought he was insufferable – he is. Arya finally follows Trant to a brothel; a working woman likes some oysters in between customers, and she watches as Trant refuses girl after girl…they are all too old…apparently Trant is, among his other winning personality traits, also a pedophile. After finishing her reconnaissance, Arya returns to the House of Black and White and lies to Jaqen about why she didn’t get around to killing the Thin Man. It’s unclear whether he believes her or not but since he knew she was lying about which streets she walked on her route…of course he didn’t believe her. Expect that lie to come home to roost in the finale.

Meereen: Release the Dragon (Drogon?) – The show ends the night in Meereen, opening on the largest of the fighting pits, the Great Games at Daznak’s Pit – the next twenty minutes of the show are where the budget of this episode went…so pay attention. Daenerys, Tyrion, Daario, Missandei and Hizdahr (who arrives suspiciously late) watch the first fight from a raised platform above the pit and Daenerys and Hizdahr give the whole “marriage of convenience” a whole new meaning when Dany threatens to sack the city if need be, causing Hizdahr to make a decent point about her tendency to thrust her on beliefs on others. I see a very happy future for these two crazy kids…ha!

Their banter is cut short as the second match starts; Jorah Mormont presents himself as a combatant and suddenly Dany is extremely invested in the bloodshed playing out in front of her; she is pained but allows the match to go forward. If Jorah thought Dany would shut down the match to save him, he’s quite wrong and so he takes quite a few smacks before emerging the victor…and then out of nowhere, hurling his opponents spear straight at Daenerys. It would seems he’s trying to take her down in a fit of rage but he’s actually spearing the Son of the Harpy behind her; more of which pop up out of nowhere, tearing through guards and spectators alive in an effort to get to the Queen. One of them even takes out Hizdahr and I guess we can all just hope he’s dead, right?
I’ll teach you to friendzone me…
In the midst of the tumult, Jorah climbs the platform and offers Daenerys his hand; offering her a way to escape the platform and find an exit out of the pit – she takes his hand! I obviously don’t understand greyscale because I thought it passed via touch…does Daenerys have greyscale now?? Is she impervious to it because she’s “the blood of the dragon”? There isn’t time to worry about all that…the exits are blocked and Daenerys and her entourage are trapped in the middle of the pit, surrounded on every side by Sons of the Harpy. The Unsullied are picking off the attackers as they approach, but in a touching moment Daenerys and Missandei take hands as if they have accepted they will likely die here…but then…

Just when all seems lost…a cry rends through the sky and everyone tears their gaze skyward and away from the carnage below: Drogon comes barreling out of the sky, lighting the Sons of the Harpy up good and well. He eats people, he lights people on fire, he takes a spear in his side but he just keeps on ticking…and it’s all pretty thrilling to watch. In the thick of the fight, Daenerys walks calmly to Drogon and pulls a spear from his side; he turns his gaze on her and lets out a roar that would bring lesser people to their knees…but Daenerys doesn’t flinch.
Dragon speak for “come at me bro…”
Daenerys instead surveys the carnage unfolding around her, climbs onto Drogon’s back, speaks a word in Valyrain and the two rise from the pit and into the skies above Meereen…while Tyrion looks on in wordless wonder. Not a bad way to cap off an episode. 

And away she goes…

Other Notes from Westeros (and Essos) – 
No sign this week of anyone in Kings Landing…that includes Cersei, Tommen, Margaery and Loras, all suffering in prisons of their own making…even if only three of the four are actually in cells. We also didn’t see any sign of the High Sparrow and his wicked Septa, Lady Olenna Tyrell or Petyr Baelish…nor did we see Grand Maester Pycelle, Kevan Lannister or Qyburn.  
We can assume Brienne and Podrick are still waiting it out on the outskirts of Winterfell, staring wistfully into the snow… And does anyone know where Varys is?? We haven’t seen (or heard from) him since Jorah kidnapped Tyrion way back in episode three! 
Apparently the TV show crossed into that place all we book readers have been fearing for quite some time now – it spoiled the books to come. Everyone called foul on Stannis burning his only child but it would seem the author and creator of the world of Westeros gave this plot piece to the writers quite some time back…it’s just yet to happen in the books because it takes George R.R. Martin a million years to write!

The Dorne story line has been less than impressive, to say the least and I hate that. I am one of those people (apparently I’m in the minority) that loved the Dorne story lines from the book. Having said that, the part of the Dorne story line I loved was Arianne Martell – the eldest child of Doran Martell. The show only gave Doran one child: Trystane. The show also butchered the Sand Snakes…but here’s hoping if Dorne pops up again next season, it’s better utilized. 

I remain confused about Jorah offering his hand to Daenerys – having read all 5 books more than once, I was under the impression that greyscale was transmitted through touch. Jorah implies as much earlier in the season by making it clear to Tyrion that he should not let any of the stone men touch him. So…what gives? 

Until next week – try to remember you did the right thing; you’ll need that hope to hold on to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s