Game of Thrones. S. 5, E. 9: “A Dance of Dragons”

"I should have worn pants today." Dany prepares to mount her dragon. Image source: HBO Viewer's Guide

“I should have worn pants today.” Dany prepares to mount her dragon. Image source: HBO Viewer’s Guide

So… That was the controversial episode nine that HBO’s Game Of Thrones has consistently strived for. Yes, that was certainly extremely controversial, in a season already wracked with controversy.

We can sit around and discuss, much like we did earlier this season with Sansa, whether it was okay for the show to take the direction it did this episode. Sure, we can argue the finer points of the fact that Stannis has almost always been an asshole (one could argue he is a passive one: he had a shadow murder his own brother, was willing to let the Red Lady murder Gendry, and allowed countless people to be burned at the stake). (I do believe they have built him up way more in the show to be a fan favorite – to the point that I even forgot that I hated him in the books and don’t recall anyone rooting for him). One could also argue that Shireen’s fate has been foreshadowed from the very beginning. And, for argument’s sake, we could compare this against the other atrocities committed in the name of “historical fiction.”

But seriously, I don’t want to. Fact is, I hated that they went there, specifically in that fashion. That total emotional manipulation – for what? I can maybe understand building a bond between Shireen and Davos – but those cuddly father-daughter moments? The last second hasty “I take it back!” from her mother? If a little girl had to die, did she have to die in that way? Did we have to see her, humbly and lovingly offering to help her father in any way she could – and then in the next scene burning to death at the hands of her father, who so recently boasted with love and pride that he did all he could to save her from gray scale (a father who at best was totally distant to her in the books)?

Yeah. Another part that could have been developed differently, in my humble opinion. And makes me feel bad for trying to justify the show earlier this season. Or ever, maybe.

Couple that with random inclusions of pedophilia and I’m pretty disgusted today.

Life is complicated and full of good and bad people. I understand that to portray humans “accurately,” as GRRM has claimed he tries to do, one has to include all shades of morality – not just good guys and bad guys. It’s one of the reasons I found ASIOF compelling, as I’ve stated in the past. Yet, I suppose it’s one thing to read about it as opposed to seeing it, as well as another matter entirely to sit here and discuss if we’ve crossed the line from morally complex characters to manipulation for ratings and shock value. Or to determine if I’m overreacting versus GRRM and David Beniof and DB Weiss are just trying to push the envelope or include things for the sake of including them. It just kind of makes me feel shitty for trying to rationalize this stuff, sometimes.

Anyway. That was awful. Just awful.

I guess some other stuff happened in this episode:

In Meereen, surprising some, or possibly no one, Hizdahr is apparently not the leader of the Sons of the Harpy (unless that was a ploy and he’s going to miraculously recover from that stab wound). We got a small token of joy in an otherwise awful episode, seeing Jorah saving Daenerys– yep, there’s the redemption I wanted. I wonder if he will be allowed to sit on the council again? Pretty awesome to see the scene with Drogon carry out the way I had imagined it – minus the spines on his back. How does she sit with those there? Ow.  Also: Unsullied are apparently the Storm Troopers of Game of Thrones. Unlimited supply of terrible fighting skills.

In Dorne, Doran Martel is a wise and generous ruler – can we nominate him to the Iron Throne? That was some seriously diplomatic shit. Elia Martel… Well, that was some stupid switch-flipping shit, seeing her scorn guests one second, and beg for mercy another. Also, it does seem as though that stupid boobs scene was actually entirely just stupid and not setting Bronn up to join the Sand Snakes or take Arys Oakheart’s role. (And excuse me, were they playing fucking hot hands? BRB, I think my eyes got stuck from rolling too hard).

In Braavos, hopefully we don’t have to see Arya pimp herself out as a child prostitute in order to get close to Meryn Trant. Def seemed like he recognized her so that doesn’t seem like it would work. Also: what the fuck. Guys, we have already established that Meryn Trant is an asshole. Arya has had him in her sights since season one. Was that entirely necessary to add pedophilia to the show? Ugh. UGH. At any rate, I am guessing Meryn is going to die here right quick, and his death will be a major setback toward Arya’s many-faced god servitude.

And elsewhere, on the Wall… How come no one is talking about the massive fucking attack they just experienced and the extremely dire circumstances we have just witnessed? Nope, we are preoccupied with Olly not smiling and other long, foreboding stares.

I hate everyone, I hate Game of Thrones. The end.

Also, see you next week.


  1. legalreader

    I stopped watching after what happened to Sansa and your recaps keep telling me that I made the right decision. This season has definitely crossed a lot of lines. (Also, did you mean to say Ellaria when you talked about Dorne?) I was really looking forward to seeing The Sand Snakes and I hate how the show interpreted them. Also, I’m guessing Cersei’s walk is next episode?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally did mean Ellaria. Thanks for the catch! I really can’t stand the Snakes at all – they are super childish and feel really stereotyped, right? Bunch of hot-headed females working to out-sass one another? I don’t know. Can we have more Brienne instead?

      I think Cersei’s walk is next ep, for sure. Based on the preview, she seems more genuinely penitent than I thought she’d be. We’ll see! I’ll be ready to discuss more thoughts after episode ten!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear what you’re saying about Shireen. I think we might have been able to handle things if this season hadn’t been so relentlessly rough on innocent girls.

    I’m directing my anger at disappointment at Stannis, more than the show runners, but that doesn’t mean I want to argue with you and how you feel. I just want to break out the comfort food and watch cat videos or something for awhile.

    If I can skip past Stannis for the moment (other than to say that I love me Ser Davos, and I certainly hate Melisandre) —

    As a book reader, the events of the fighting pit were known to me, even though it’s an adaptation with a different spin, involving the Harpies and not other political factors. So it might have been cool to see by someone not expecting it, like I was. I was just bummed out about Shireen to enjoy it.

    Dorne wasn’t horrible this episode, I’m expecting something next week. It’s just a shame that the coolest things about Dorne that are in the books were omitted. I have some Dornish blog articles planned, and I hope I can salvage some insights from the little we’ve gotten. Although the Alcazar where they filmed is a beautiful location, I think they tied there hands by filming there, since it seems like they had 10 minutes to do each scene.

    I don’t know how I feel about Doran sending Trystane to be on the small council. He’s like … so unimpressive. They should send Areo Hotah and his big axe, to speak for Prince Doran. (Oh, the can’t. He needs Areo as security.)

    Speaking of security, Stannis and whoever was in charge of the games in Meereen suck at security. Gah! STANNIS!

    Lets have Arya kill Meryn Trant before he forces the brothels to recruit more of their stockroom girls and kitchen staff to meet Trant’s age requirements. Again, any other season I might have felt reasonably angry at Trant for being awful, but in a season so depressing, I couldn’t help but think “look Trant, Arya is going to shiv you regardless. Can you just pick a self-actualized and well adjusted sex worker who is doing this as a career, like Ros?” I’m being serious. I’m fine with Trant not having to totally be a brute and still have Arya kill him.

    Of course, I’m watching next week, and I’m watching next season. But I can vent.

    Thanks for writing up these recaps and so on. I think these are good discussions to have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’m angry at the show runners for making me sympathize with Stannis and forget that he’s been a one-track mind for the throne all along. He’s not a family man, he’s ambitious and self-righteous. Moreso in the books than the show. I rewatched the episode to write the review, and felt sick watching the exchange between him and Shireen. She just loved her father, and he did completely the worst thing ever.

      Anyway…. Trystane reminds me of Loras – all big hair and bravado. I doubt he’ll carry the role with as much gravitas and swagger that Oberyn had (RIP – one of the few characters I thought the show improved upon!). I suppose the capitol can stand another sexpot. I’m guessing he’ll be to Myrcella what Margaery is to Tommen.

      P.S. Anyone else getting some serious Taylor Swift vibes from Myrcella? Maybe it’s just her hair…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I appreciate your anger at the show runners, since they could have softened the blow by having Stannis just be callous the entire time. I am glad we have this more complicated Stannis, who we can root for (to wipe out the Boltons) (if we allow ourselves even that much – some can’t and want Ramsay to flay Stannis) and also root for his downfall.

        And feel all complicated. We tend to be given child-murderers of the show that we end up having complicated emotional relationships with, like the Hound, Theon, and Jaime (he doesn’t get a pass from me for Bran, who could have easily died from the fall)

        Hey, I think you’re not wrong with the Myrcella Taylor Swift vibe… I get that as well.

        We’ll see if they can “shake off” the “bad blood” between the Lannisters and the Martells. And if Myrcella, Tommen, Jaime, and Cersei (like the Starks) are “never never never never never getting back together” or not.

        But hey. I would really like to see the Freys getting some karmic backlash. Overdue, I say. Overdue.

        Liked by 1 person

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