HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons”

Well played, Game of Thrones; that ending totally momentarily made me forget that I hate you this season.

And then the familiar sorrow and frustration returns, settling about my shoulders like a Sand Snake’s discarded robe.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

That was certainly a big “Fuck yeah!” of an ending not seen since… last week, I guess? Only this was an uplifting fistpump of an ending, not a “Fuck… yeah… you guys are so screwed by incoming White Walker armies.” It left me with a big smile on my face and no little appreciation for how Game of Thrones manages to make a moment centering on a hot blonde chick riding a dragon a true emotional highpoint and not something you’d find airbrushed on the side of a van.

It seems like Dany should’ve held firm on her stance to not open Meereen’s fighting pits, seeing as it was a giant trap. But it sure led to some great chaos and big moments to cheer and get a little misty-eyed over. I was surprised as anyone to find I was most worried about the fates of non-crucial characters. Yup, I had to cover my eyes when I thought Daario might get skewered. And Missandei. It seemed a bit odd that Grey Worm was absent in this big scene, but I already feared for his life once this season already.

GOT-drogon

I can’t believe Ser Jorah is still alive, that it was his heroics that save Dany from the first assassin to come her way. I guess he’s firmly back in the Royal Friend Zone now and that small moment of forgiveness was sweet.

I also can’t believe that Hizdahr zo Whocares was killed by his own Sons of the Harpy. Huh? Was he not behind this attack like in the books? Because it really seemed like he was pretty eager to tell Dany that Meereen’s gross traditions would live long after she was gone.

Was I wrong to hate him so much all season?

Was I wrong to love Stannis so much all season?

Yes. Yes, I was.

And I will hate him for every episode he draws breath for letting Melisandre burn Shireen alive as she screamed for her daddy.

I knew Shireen was doomed the moment Stannis sent Davos away. Whether the Onion Knight really could’ve stopped her burning is doubtful, but Stannis knew his Hand might’ve had one more chance to talk him out of it. Stannis, when stuck between a rock and a very cold place, seems to have reverted back to his less charismatic original character—unforgiving, the ultimate stickler for rules, and believer of his own hype as much as any terrible, frightening zealot believes that their way is the only way. And, if Stannis truly feels his destiny is to win a war that is bigger than the one for just the Iron Throne, I can see why he thinks his duty as a father pales in comparison.

Shireen_Davos

In this regard, it was a nice touch that Selyse was the one to show emotion here.

What might be interesting to see is if any of his men, who rightly looked disgusted, will even want to follow him to Winterfell after this. His men never loved him. They might have respected him, but who can respect him now? Especially if Melisandre’s vision in Shireen’s fire doesn’t work and they remain just as snowed-in as before.

And if it does work? Wasn’t Shireen his only heir? That he just killed? Good long-term planning, asshat. Aside from Renly’s death, what has the Red God really given Stannis at this time? How can he still believe?

Shireen’s death should at least be the final wedge that makes Davos leave Stannis’ camp.

As sad as I am about Shireen and the horrific-even-for-Thrones’ standards death she got, I’m also strangely bored. Yet another beloved character given lots of screen-time this season murdered for a flimsy reason, much like Barristan Selmy. It just gets disheartening. They’ve gone to this well so many times before, it doesn’t have as much emotional impact for me. Oh, hey, it’s Game of Thrones, aka HBO’s Sunday Night Gutpunch Hour. Yay?

Maybe I’d feel differently if Thrones wasn’t so 50-50 this particular episode. We had a minor, adorable minor die and we had a dramatic dragon appearance. Other than that, we had… pie in Dorne.

Seven Hells, Dorne is the worst thing to happen to this show since NOTHING IS AS BAD AS DORNE.

You could’ve gone for a bathroom break every single time the scene switched to Dorne this season and missed not a damn thing of import. Oh, Myrcella is coming back to King’s Landing with her boyfriend, that dude that left One Direction, and he’s getting placed on Cersei’s Small Council. That basically doesn’t exist. The wonderfully talented Alexander Siddig got all of ten lines, most of them in this episode, making him possibly even more wasted than the poor actor playing Davos. Jaime and Bronn should’ve spent this season in Plot Time-Out with Bran. I chuckle thinking of how my expectations for a great Dornish plot to put Myrcella on the Iron Throne were so very hilariously wrong. There’s still potentially one more shot for something to happen in Dorne as Jaime’s party leaves next week, I suppose.

To this season’s adventures in Dorne!

ellaria toast

 

Final Thoughts:

  •  Line of the night: “Is there any way I can help?” –Shireen, oh, you sweet summer child; or Drogon’s roar. I’m picking the less sad one.
  • Speaking of characters no one’s throwing a welcome potluck for, Jon Snow’s greeting at the Wall was cold even for literally the coldest place in Westeros.
  • Arya has spied Ser Meryn Trant. As if killing Syrio Forel and slapping Sansa around wasn’t reason enough to hate him, he’s also a pedophile. Okay, then. If we have to see Arya going undercover in a brothel in order to remove him from her hit list, I may well vomit. But not from shock!
  • Jaqen seems to be pretty chill about Arya’s obvious lie. For now…
  • Dany’s big peace out was cool n’ all, but also kind of rude. “So long, my friends, my lover, and my brain trust! Have fun in the giant failure I’m leaving behind! Wheeee!” Her story is so going to advance beyond what’s been published in the books. I bet they’ll be done filming Game of Thrones’ sixth season before The Winds of Winter hits stores. I can’t wait.

Next week: “Mother’s Mercy,” the fifth season finale. Something tells me there will won’t be much mercy for anyone.

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.

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