A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×09 (The Dance of Dragons, A Dance with Dragons, same diff)

GOT 5x09

While some roads lead to circumstantial sacrifice, another takes to the skies as the mother of dragons dawns her title and sees her city of Meereen from a dragon’s point of view. Tonight’s penultimate episode places each front running player into an uneasy position where choices become harder and vengeance is but an eyelash away. The only moments left are the one’s that almost guarantee lives will be lost. Who’s lives will it be this season? Only those who have read A Dance With Dragons know for sure.

For the last few episodes, they’ve managed to truly capture some spectacular storytelling moments in the last twenty minutes of their broadcast. Last week it was Jon Snow and the whitewalker horde. This time it was both the lasting battle of Jorah Mormont and the ambush from the Sons of the Harpy. Each creative in their own way yet, this venture had the flair for the fantasy and managed to ease the tension with a dragon’s roar. Aside from a desperate decision made by a cold-hearted king and a gladiatorial climax, this episode carried with it a calm not usually expected during such a critical point in a season. Now a girl must decide if her training will be used outside of the orders given to her.

Jon Snow returns to the wall with a sense of defeat only having saved a few hundred wildlings. Stannis sends Davos back to the wall for reinforcements after Ramsey’s men lay siege to Stannis’s supplies. He later gives in and has his daughter Shireen put to sacrifice by flame to help Melisandre call on her godlike forces for aid against the Boltons. Doran Martell releases Jaime and Bronn and sends Myrcella and Tristane with them in the hopes of maintaining their alliance with King’s Landing. Arya is on her way to assassinate the thin man when she spots Mace Tyrell and more importantly, Meryn Trant who she remembers killed Syrio. She follows him to a brothel and spies on him. In Meereen, Daenerys watches the games take place in a grand arena. In the second match, she watches Jorah fight and eventually win the round. He stops a Harpy from striking the queen as the Sons of Harpy ambush everyone. Jorah, Tyrion, Daario, Missendei, and Dany flee to the center of the arena where Drogon arrives and helps kill many of the Harpies. She then climbs Drogon and rides to the sky as the others watch in awe.

King’s who whisper “forgive me” are often put to the most harshest of trials in claiming what they seek. Stannis fought against Melisandre’s simple solutions to win the oncoming battle. To her, sacrifice is simple and necessary, yet in the end, Stannis relented and watched as his daughter burned to death. Will this in fact help Stannis beat the Bolton’s in the finale? The truth is, she hasn’t been proven wrong yet and that’s a scary track record considering how magic, dark or otherwise is used. Obviously sending Davos was just so he wouldn’t try and stop Melisandre because he would have. It will be interesting to see if Davos is the kind of character who will stay subservient after finding out or actually go after Melisandre yet again regardless on the outcome of the war.

Arya’s tale is very basic and after nearly five seasons later she finally has a chance to exact another piece of her revenge, this time on the vile Meryn. It’s not so much a matter of if, but rather how Arya will take his life. Will she have the ability to change her face, or will it be just a few stabbings or poisoning when he eats next? I’d say it’s too early for her to be establishing any abilities, but rest assured, she’s cunning and smart enough to find ways to get those she wants killed. In fact, my money is her using needle to get the job done. Just use the pointy end. Odds are she’ll get caught in the attempt or execution and possibly punished.

Jaime and Bronn got off easy, but it’s more about how Doran handled the situation. He’s a king who has his people and lands to worry about and knows the point of having an alliance. Whether Ellaria is truly swayed by the act of a second chance or whether she’ll try once more to exact revenge remains to be seen. The sand sisters have barely any screen time this season, so there’s hope they have more to offer in the next season. There isn’t any danger of them expiring, but then there is one more episode left.

For a seasonal show, a lot of effort went into the effects of tonight’s episode which I think was absolutely flawless. The fighting itself was decent considering the movements of people in armor, and the gore was rather limited, but the point was to showcase Jorah’s absolute devotion which paid off in the end as he defended her from the creepy Sons of the Harpy. They came out droves but Drogon’s appearance was abundantly telegraphed especially when they were surrounded in the arena. Rather than end the dragon’s life which could have been any other writer’s prerogative, they instead followed suit from the book and had Dany take flight. There’s no guarantee she’ll land near Tyrion and the gang, but for now, she’s safe. Tyrion’s moments were few but each line was delivered with the usual care and gusto as only he can deliver. Overall, the scenes in Meereen have been better considering most of Dany’s adventures as of late keep her walled up and bored. At least Tyrion’s around to make light of the queen’s stony demeanor.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I think it’s safe to say that the final arc of the episode had the most to offer in terms of action, suspense and of course a fire-breathing dragon. Everything from the start to the finish was a very well articulated segment. The sheer volume of the Harpies was a good choice because we’d only seen them in small skirmishes, and clearly the games did not sway them from trying to take back their city. And Drogon’s thrashings were a grand sight in both CGI and backing soundtrack. Well performed all around.

CHARACTER MVP

As a send off, I’d like to give the MVP to Shireen Baratheon. Her stories to both Davos and Stannis showed her innocent nature at recounting the massive history of Westeros and both cared for her in their own way. She was essentially the last bit of light in Stannis and now she’s gone. But even from her affliction, she remained a courageous character and tried her best to be a good daughter to Stannis. What happened to her was a despicable act, and hopefully Davos doesn’t let her lie in ashes as just a bitter memory.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Who is really going to mess with that giant at the wall? I hope he’s a mainstay, because he’s survived some wicked battle scars and should be a clean ally for Jon.

Judging by how the books went down, I’m not expecting Jaime to return to King’s Landing quite yet. His relationship to Cersei is very different in the written world and this Jaime is still very much in care of his sister, which makes anything he does from here on out very interesting and possibly questionable.

Will Dany discover Jorah’s greyscale and how will she react after trusting him again so soon? Or will she even find out at all. His days could be numbered, but that’s for the seasons to decide. Shireen survived it after all and it’s just an arm.

How exactly will sacrificing Shireen help Stannis? Will men and supplies suddenly appear or will the snows do the Bolton’s more harm than good? Maybe the snows will cease just enough for Stannis and his army to make it to Winterfell. Since Stannis is still the lesser of two evils, he has to be the one to be victorious, for Sansa’s sake if nothing else.

Speaking of Melisandre, what would a character like her say to Daenerys if the two ever met? Considering who she’s serving with such loyalty, has she really considered what a Targaryen would do when she lands in Westeros? Is she like Varys, actually biding her time with the safest enemy because she knows what’s really going to happen, of does she know even more dangers than just the whitewalkers, if she even cares about them at all.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out 10. It was in the realm of being a lower number but the last act stayed the course and kept it in the high eight range. We understand everyone’s final storylines for this season with the exception of Sansa, Jon, and Dany. Sansa could be rescued, or she could be taken away by Ramsey if he’s been defeated. Jon is on thin ice with his own men still and keeping the peace with an even larger wilding group could prove to be most difficult in the finale. And where will Dany land? In the books we know exactly where she lands, but enough things have changed, she could be dining in Meereen just as easily, except that her city is being overrun yet again by her enemies. She has to save it or leave it, and she’s not the kind to leave anything abandoned. Very good episode at the end, and I look forward to seeing yet another finale rip the hearts or freeze the eyes of it’s fiercely loyal audience.

No more words

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