Saturday, July 4, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.09: "The Dance of Dragons"

“You have a good heart, Jon Snow. You will get us all killed.”
-Ser Alliser Thorne

This season’s penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones” was especially violent. It caused quite an uproar when it first aired, particularly because of what happens to Shireen Baratheon. It was just a bridge too far for some folks, I guess. My personal opinion on all the hyped up outrage after controversial episodes is, frankly, “What did you expect?” “Game of Thrones” has never pulled punches when it comes to violence, even sexual violence (which wasn’t the case in this episode, thankfully). I get not wanting to watch that level of violence (my personal breaking point is that I can’t stand watching torture scenes on television/film), but this show has been on for way too long doing the exact same things for people to be surprised. And I can almost guarantee you that this won’t be the end of the shocking violence, for the series or even the season (and we only have one episode left for this season). At least in this episode, some of the violence was balanced out by a pretty spectacular scene involving Daenerys at the end. Let’s just say middle school me’s dream was to live on Pern and be a dragonrider.

Early in the episode, Jon Snow brings the surviving Wildings back to the Wall as promised. There’s a bit of tension as the gate doesn’t open right away. Eventually Jon steps forward from the group and gives Ser Alliser a hard glare, and the gates finally open. As Jon and the Wildlings enter the compound around Castle Black, everyone stares at them and gives them dirty looks. Ollie, Jon’s steward whose family was killed by Wildlings, looks especially upset. Ser Alliser then delivers the Quote of the Episode up there, telling Jon that his heart is in the right place, but it’s going to get them all killed. Ser Alliser means that the Wildlings will kill everyone, no doubt, but at the moment I’m feeling like the Night’s Watch brothers themselves are the bigger threat. The Wildlings are still pretty shocked from their run-in with the White Walkers.

For a complete change of climate, we next head to Dorne. Jaime is trying to explain to Prince Doran and some of his advisors exactly why he is in Dorne. Jaime mentions that Myrcella’s necklace was delivered to Cersei in the jaws of a snake, and Prince Doran seems concerned. He offers a toast to King Tommen, and Ellaria, of course, doesn’t participate. Guessing that the threat is probably real, Doran decides that both Myrcella and Trystane will return to King’s Landing. Trystane will also serve on the Small Council in Oberyn’s place. Jaime agrees to this but also wants to know what will become of Bronn. Doran decides to leave that to Trystane, because Trystane needs to start learning how to make decisions. Trystane decides to let Bronn go too, but only after he’s received a punch in the face from an especially large bodyguard. Doran threatens to kill Ellaria, and she has no choice but to swear loyalty to him as the other Sand Snakes watch. Ellaria then visits Jaime and tells him that she knows Myrcella is his daughter. She says such things don’t matter in Dorne, and she knows Myrcella wasn’t involved in Oberyn’s death. Something tells me this doesn’t make Myrcella any safer, though.

Our next stop takes us across the Narrow Sea to Braavos. Arya, in her Lanna persona, is supposed to kill the Thin Man (the loan shark from the last episode), presumably by selling him poisoned oysters. Just as she catches his attention and he decides he wants a snack, though, Arya spots a Westerosi boat landing at the dock. It’s the party that was sent to negotiate with the Iron Bank, and it includes Ser Meryn Trant. Ser Meryn is on Arya’s personal kill list because he killed her swordfighting instructor, Syrio, way back in season one. Instead of selling oysters to the Thin Man, Arya follows Ser Meryn into a brothel. Ser Meryn is just a complete slimeball, and he keeps telling the proprietoress of the brothel that he wants a younger whore. Eventually, he settles on a girl who doesn’t look much, if at all, older than Arya. Arya causes a bit of a stir serving oysters to the patrons of the brothel, and eventually the proprietoress kicks her out. When she returns to the House of Black and White, she lies to Jaqen, telling him that the Thin Man wasn’t hungry today.

Between Castle Black and Winterfell, Stannis’ army is in bad shape. An attack by Ramsay and his twenty good men have left them without enough supplies to make it to Winterfell. Stannis also refuses to turn back towards Castle Black, presumably because he thinks it would be a sign of weakness. Instead, Stannis instructs Davros to go back to Castle Black himself and get supplies. Davros protests because as Hand, he shouldn’t be leaving the King, but Stannis insists. Before he leaves, there’s a sweet scene between him and Shireen where he asks Shireen about the book she is reading and gives her a carved stag as a gift.

Stannis later also finds Shireen reading her book. It’s called “The Dance of Dragons,” and it’s about a Targaryen civil war. In discussing how many people died in that war, Stannis mentions that sometimes leaders have to make tough choices. Seeing that he’s upset about something, Shireen says she will help him in any way that she can, because she’s “Princess Shireen of House Baratheon.” Soon after, Shireen regrets that decision, as she is lead to the burning stake. As soon as she sees it, she knows what is coming, and she starts to scream. Melisandre ties her up and starts praying to the Lord of Light. At the last second, Selise has second thoughts (as I would hope she would about killing her daughter), but it is too late. The flames have already started to consume little Shireen.

Finally, we travel to Meereen, where Dany and her entourage are watching the biggest fights in the fanciest arena. The first fight, once Hizdahr instructs Dany to clap to get it started, is pretty standard, although Dany is understandably appalled at the violence. The second fight is where things get interesting. One of the competitors is none other than Ser Jorah. Dany is a bit torn because she still cares about Ser Jorah, but she realizes that she’s already disobeyed her banishment orders twice, so she claps to start the fight anyway. The fight itself is impressive. Ser Jorah has to fight off multiple other men, but he is eventually victorious. The crowed begins to boo, presumably because they’re disappointed an outsider won. Ser Jorah throws a spear, and hit happens to kill a Son of the Harpy who was advancing on Dany.

After that first Son of the Harpy is killed, chaos erupts in the stadium. The place is full of Sons of the Harpy, and they are all ready to attack. Daario does his best to get the troops he has to defend the queen, but they’re eventually driven into the center of the fighting pit. They are clearly outnumbered by the mass of gold-masked Sons surrounding them. Danny grabs Missandei’s hand, clearly prepared to die with dignity. At that moment, however, Drogon arrives, and he starts attacking the Sons of the Harpy. He takes a few spears to the hide, but before he can get too terribly injured, Dany jumps on his back and they fly off. Tyrion looks off at the sky in amazement. I think he finally understands what Ser Jorah was saying about Dany making him give up all his cynicism.

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