Game of Thrones s5 ep 9

*Spoilers*

Despite last week’s extended heart attack of an episode, the GOT writers have obviously decided our tickers haven’t taken enough punishment yet, so “The Dance of Dragons” takes the entire audience’s hearts out of their chests, throws them on the ground and then stomps down hard.

Screw you, Stannis. How could you?

I guess those of us who thought that the show might – having already regaled us with rape and murder and cannibalism and all that other cheery stuff – stop short of ritual child sacrifice were relying more on optimism than experience. There’s a horrible inevitability to GOT killing characters we like, because that’s what GOT does, but, even so, the beautifully-acted, gut-punchingly directed and unapologetically horrific murder of poor, kind, sweet Shireen was a line I wish they hadn’t crossed. The show certainly makes its point about the dangers of religious fanaticism combined with the dogmatic pursuit of power, but this is one of those episodes when, call me soft, but I’d much rather have had a miracle than another lesson on how appalling humanity can be, undeniably powerful though that lesson is.

Sigh. Difficult though all this is to watch, however, the acting is magnificent, so kudos to Stephen Dillane, Liam Cunningham and especially to Kerry Ingram, an immensely likeable, talented young actress whom I hope goes on to do lots of fun tv that lets her live longer in the future.

Moving further north, then, Shireen may no longer be with us, but Jon Snow, against all odds, lives to fight another episode. So far. He and his beleaguered band of Brothers, Free Folk and one Giant return to Castle Black and, in a supremely tense moment, it’s even money whether they’ll be allowed back in or whether the mutiny begins now…. But Ser Alliser chooses duty to the Lord Commander and opens the gate. For now. “You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It’ll get us all killed.” Please not next week, though, eh? I need some time to recover first.

Across the sea in Dorne, meanwhile, Illyria Sand agrees (with some difficulty) to get a grip of herself, and Prince Doran agrees to send Jaime, Myrcella and Prince Trystane back to Kings Landing (presumably they don’t know yet it’s open season on royalty there). The rapprochement is a tad abrupt and tidy, if it’s genuine, but it does mean Indira Varma has a nice scene with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and if it gets us away from the resolutely charmless Sand Snakes, carry on.

Speaking of charmless, I’m going to skip past Arya and Ser Meryn in Boring Braavos because… nope, still don’t care, and head right to the Fighting Pits of Meereen where, after last week’s ice-fest, it’s time for fire to take centre-stage at the Fighting Pits Fun Day (or whatever their big tournament thingy’s called).

As stupid Daenerys sits pouting in her stupid white dress and stupid fantasy blonde curls, Tyrion, Daario and the Head of One of Meereen’s Great Families (nope, still don’t know his name) say smart, quippy things (even if Daario’s mostly involve the metaphorical production of a ruler for anatomical measurement purposes) till Jorah comes out and everyone gets all serious and worried. Turns out, however, that Jorah fighting for his life as some sort of live-action love letter to Daenerys (Dude, she doesn’t want you – just Give. It. Up. Already.) is only a prelude to the main event which is a full-on, fantastic, Sons of the Harpy ambush interrupted by a dragon. Oh, yes. This is all brilliantly shot – the direction and CGI are incredible again this week – and as exciting as all get-out, although Dany just sort of standing there, the battle raging round about her, till she can fly away on her dragon says everything there is to say about this character. On her own, she is static, with absolutely nothing to offer, so…. just as well she’s got three freaking enormous dragons for pets, then, isn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Game of Thrones s5 ep 9

  1. lukebbtt June 9, 2015 / 2:24 am

    As a firm Stannis supporter for the throne, that moment when Selyse gives into her softer side at the last moment and Stannis urges her that killing their daughter was the right thing to do… it killed me. I think once the shock settles, I will always appreciate that small moment for being the perfect slap to the face. A tough watch, but good writing.

    • CJ Cregg June 9, 2015 / 12:01 pm

      Agreed – those few seconds were horribly powerful and will linger with me too, Luke. Credit as well to Tara Fitzgerald – you could actually see the change in her eyes as she suddenly realised the enormity of what she and Stannis were actually about to do.

  2. Tim June 9, 2015 / 9:36 am

    Selyse’s last-minute change of heart was a gut-wrencher, underlining just how deep Stannis’s belief in Melisandre and his destiny runs. Although he doesn’t flinch, the make-up work and the grim, slightly haggard look in Stephen Dillane’s eyes speak volumes. The entire sequence of scenes between all the actors here is quite wonderfully acted, in particular young Kerry Ingram.

    Like last week, this episode took a little while to get going, but once it did it was spectacular. If events in Stannis’s camp were grim, the whole Great Games sequence was lovely, from that initial sweep up and over the Great Pit to the chilling reveal of all the Harpy masks in the crowd. I thought the composite work on Dany’s flight on Drogon wasn’t quite up to GoT’s usual standards, but it was yet another game-changing ending that delivered on its promise. But what will happen to Tyrion, Daario, Jorah and Missandei now?

    I fear also for Jon. That look that Olly gave him back in Castle Black does not bode well.

    I’m a little more pleased with Arya’s storyline, which is finally heading somewhere. Her story this season feels a bit like a Rocky training montage stretched out over ten weeks rather than two minutes and lacking the stirring music, but it’s finally going somewhere at last.

    Which is more than can be said for Dorne. Much though I love Jaime and Bronn, the sudden rapprochement with Ellaria felt completely wrong – unless (and this is a guess, not a spoiler!) this is all part of some wider plan on Doran’s part. And what exactly has been the point of the Sand Snakes? A bunch of brattish teenagers with pointy weapons (and I don’t means the ones whatsername thrust at Bronn in the cells …)

    • CJ Cregg June 9, 2015 / 12:12 pm

      Yes – I like Prince Doran, but the sooner we’re out of Dorne the better. It’s been bafflingly poorly executed. Ditto with Arya and Braavos – I agree with you, Tim, it’s like a drawn-out training montage but it’s been going on so long and is so incredibly po-faced, I don’t care if it’s going anywhere or not. I find it hard to give a stuff whether Arya kills Ser Meryn or not when we currently have Stannis burning his daughter alive, Ramsay torturing Sansa on a daily/nightly basis and Olly (presumably) about to do something terrible at the Wall – Ser Meryn is very old news. And tbh I wouldn’t have recognised him in a line-up before this week, let alone remembered what he’s supposed to have done or cared about Arya getting her revenge on him. (Thank you to t’internet for reminding me he apparently killed Sylvio Forel.) Arya’s is a storyline where the burn has been so slow, the fire has completely gone out.

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