Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Winter Has Come: The Dance of Dragons

   Well, that was horrifying...

RPG Party Archetype #5821

  After being utterly convinced that HBO's Game of Thrones could not possibly top itself after last week's phenomenal "Hardhome." I was so convinced that I even decided to name this section dedicated solely to Game of Thrones related columns or reviews "Winter Has Come," based on the fact that I'm convinced the "Winter" the Starks have been dreading has officially begun. And then came "The Dance of Dragons." Part of the dreaded "Number 9" episodes that usually have a shocking death and or event (The Rains of Castamere, Blackwater, The Watchers of the Wall), "The Dance of Dragons" is a worthy addition to the tradition the show has imbued in it's own canonical culture.

  This episode started with Arya Stark, still on her assassination mission given by Jaqen, finding Ser Meryn Trant (accompanying Mace Tyrell in a mission to appease the Iron Bank) landing in the port in Braavos. Arya follows him throughout the day until she infiltrates a brothel were we find out (in pure heel fashion) that Meryn is a full blown pedophile ("Too Old.") and Arya's mind begins to cog the wheels of how she'll finally kill one of her "List" entries. Upon her return back to the House of Black and White she lies to Jaquen about her daily activities, but her assassin Master seems to let her be, whether or not he knows she's lying is left to the viewers

  Jon Snow took a break from battling White Walkers and Wights this week while returning to the Wall (in one of the shortest segments of the episode) with the Wildling refugees. The scene showcased the hatred most of the members of The Night's Watch still reserves towards the people beyond the Wall, but it was nice seeing their reactions when they saw a live giant pass by them. One of those satisfying "Myth Meets Truth" moments the show has been building up to since season one. Allister Thorne had words for Jon while Sam tried to tell Jon his compassion and mission saved lives that otherwise would have perished and become part of the undead army.

"Your Grace, the men still can't get wifi in their tents."

  King Stannis Baratheon was having issues in the North as Ramsay Bolton (and twenty men) ransacked his camp and destroyed his army's food supplies. Due to the Winter that has come, he cannot press forward nor can he march his entire army back.  This lead to his decision to have his "Hand of the King," Davos go on a mission to the Wall to ask for troops and supplies. But Davos could sense that Stannis was going to give in to Melisandre's plan to sacrifice his daughter Shireen to the Lord of the Light. There's an incredibly touching scene between Davos and Shireen that felt like the proper goodbye to their characters since they've had a Father/Daughter relationship that felt pure, and was probably the last relationship in the series that had any sort of purity to it.

  Sadly, as soon as Davos left, Stannis (looking incredibly haggard in this scene) let Melisandre sacrifice Shireen to the Lord of Light and burned her alive. A couple of things stood out in this scene. First, and foremost, the child actor who plays Shireen (Kerry Ingram) did an absolutely fantastic job in the scene, ranging from: relaxing as she marched towards the pit, sinking into dread as she realized what was going to happen, losing her composure and begin to see her Father, and finally the screams as she was burned alive will haunt viewers and Stannis until the end of the series. By far one of the most chilling death scenes, in a show chockful of them, in the entire series' run. Another thing that stuck out, and this may be due to the "Butterfly Effect" the show has had when compared to the books proper; was the fact that Queen Selyse Baratheon was the one to break down and not want to go through with this, even though she has been the one to continually push King Stannis to use the Red Priestess' powers to his benefit. The sacrifice was just too much for her, when the time came to actually follow through.

Pictured: The exact moment when CPS should've been called to the scene.

  The Dorne storyline has been exceptionally slow and uninteresting this season, which is disappointing considering that this has been an area of the world of Westeros that we have yet to spend that much time in. While the adventures of Jaime Lannister and Bronn were cut short, they walked away relatively unscathed from their ordeal, with Bronn only receiving a small elbow to his face by Dorian Martell's main guard Hotah. Jaime's freedom and Princess Myrcella's return to King's Landing was earned at the exchange of allowing Trystane to accompany them as Oberyn's replacement on the Small Council of King Tommen. It seems that the fate of Oberyn Martell's bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes, is left up in the air for now - but their mother, Ellaria was forced to pledge loyalty to Prince Doran after given the ultimatum to leave her revenge for Oberyn's death, at the hands of The Mountain  via Lannisters, or face the consequences.

  And then came the Dragons. We were finally treated to a real gladiator coliseum combat scene as Daenerys hosted the fighting pit finals. The scene had some tension between her soon to be husband Hizdahr, her current bed warmer Dario, and her "Hand of the Queen" Tyrion, as they all discussed the merits and disadvantages of slavery and the culture of Mereen. But before things could get any more heated between them, Jorah Mormon appeared and fought his way to victory against all other gladiators. Before he could get the Queen's approval, a Son of the Harpy attempted to assassinate Dani but got a full Mormont spear chuck in the chest for his troubles. Suddenly the scene escalated to a full blown Red Wedding on a Coliseum as hundreds of Sons of the Harpy appeared and killed their way into the crowd and surrounded Dani and her crew as the Unsullied attempted to fight them off. As soon as Hizdahr died I legit feared that some of the major characters could be in real trouble (this being episode 9 and all) - especially since we're treading new territory on account of the show now having reached certain checkpoints past the books. But thankfully, Drogo (in full CGI glory) came down and decimated the Sons of Harpy with his fire breath and the occasional chomp. Dani climbed her elder dragon and soared out of the war-zone as the ending credits rolled.


SHR Rating:

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