“A Dance of Dragons” – Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 9 – Review ***

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Whoever’s been following Game of Thrones this far, knows that Episode 9 has a certain reputation. In Season 1, Eddard Stark, the Show’s Main Character, loses his head. In Season 2, Tyrion defeats Stannis the Mannis in the Battle of Blackwater. Season 3, the most shocking so far, alas, it’s the Red Wedding. In Season 4, Tyrion shoots his Lannister Dad with a crossbow, in the toilet. Now, in Season 5, and after the most memorable off-canon scene so far in the previous episode, what does Episode 9 brings us?

Barbecued disappointment. Overdone. Pass the ketchup and let’s chew this slowly and painfully and hope for better next week. At least the initial credits were at their usual high level.

We start with a quick view over Stannis the Mannis Winter Camp, freezing his ass and army out. Melisandre hears something and voilá, Ramsey and his 20 men get some fire rolling in band camp. I mean, is this supposed to be annoying? It’s freaking cold, any fire should be welcome. Particularly when you have, I dunno, a FIRE PRIESTESS THAT SPEWS EVIL SHADOW BABIES around. Just sayin’. Daavos shows some strategy insight – they don’t have enough food to go back, and they aren’t going forward. However, he notices Melisandre and Selyse. And this is when we, audience, know what’s going to happen.

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Back to the Wall, Jon Snow marches over his namesake followed by a great quantity of wildlings and one giant. There’s a tension moment when we think – wait a second, they don’t really have to open the gate to let them in. But they do. Not that most of the Crows are happy to see Jon again. Well, Sam is. And… no, just Sam. Ollie looks sulky. Damn boy, we hate you so much already. Question is, why doesn’t Jon hate you too? How can one be so stupid? Is he really Ed Stark’s son after all?

Stannis sulks over his chess and tells Daavos to go back to Castle Black to ask the Lord Commander for food and reinforcements. Ser Daavos (bless him) smells a rat, but hey, Stannis is da boss, so Daavos does as the King says. He still tries to convince Stannis to let his daughter go with him, but El Kingo says no. Oh damn. Damn damn damn. We very much know what’s happening. Daavos goes to visit Shireen Baratheon and give her a gift – a little wooden deer, as a farewell gift. WHY NOT A SWORD SER DAAVOS? WHY NOT? Shireen is reading A Dance of Dragons (the title of the episode), but the book says nothing of her father’s future plans – or of Jon Snow’s mother. Worse book ever. We can even bet it ends up with three or four cliffhangers. What the book says is – nothing beats dragons. Ok, so maybe the book does tell something about this week’s episode. Unfortunately for Shireen, however, the only three dragons available for the rescue are on the other side of the world. Daavos leaves asking for a book synopsis, and Shireen tells him to read the book himself. Because, my friends, Homestead exceptions aside, the books are always better.

Jaime in Dorne. Let me spare you. He’s fine to go,  he’s taking his daugh- er…niece, and Bronn is free to go as well, and Ellaria wastes perfectly good wine. We also get some more Sand Snakes because, apparently, despite cutting major storylines like crazy to make it all fit in the series, we still have time to have minor characters doing nothing story-relevant on screen. Dorne over (we hope).

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Arya is cat-called while selling oysters but, alas! A ghost from the past! So instead of doing her Faceless God homework, she goes and follows Meryn Trant (you know, one of the items of her death list) on his Braavos tour, together with boring Tyrell and Mycroft Holmes. I have no idea what their conversation was about – no one cares, really. Not even Meryn, who goes to a brothel to forget his awes. Lana the Oyster Girl follows. Meryn likes them young, and for a moment we think Arya will have a great opportunity to chop Meryn Junior off, but not today. Her teacher, however, does not seem pleased. And yes, of course he knows.

Ellaria Sand cries a lot for Doran to forgive her, which he does. Which makes us wonder, what’s Doran’s game on all this? He’s not stupid – if he was, he would be as dead as his brother. So what exactly is his cunning plan, sending away his own son with the Lannisters to King’s Landing, that amazing city where not many people manage to leave? Ellaria also goes to visit Jamie and tells him she’s all up to support incestuous marriage rights. You know, very Targaryen of him to be doing the nasty with his sister. Indeed, this is a very Targaryen episode.

Stannis visits his daughter, and she makes the mistake of telling him she’s willing to help him however possible. Of course, she doesn’t know Melisandre is planning to make a barbecue out of her. So Stannis the Mannis, the man who has been gathering fans for the last two seasons, loses them all by burning his only heir alive. Very Greek/Biblical. Even Shireen’s mother shows more emotion (at last) than him. This is clearly a little nudge to remind us that the R’hollor’s stuff is no kiddie business.

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In Meeren, the Great Games start, and Daenerys, Daario, Hizquar and Tyrion watch. Book readers wait for the moment when you-know-who tries to kill you-know-what, but that does not happen, my friends. What happens is Ser Friendzone entering the arena, almost getting killed, and suddenly Daenerys feels feelings. Unfortunately for her, it may be a bit too late, as the stadium is full of Sons of the Harpy, that promptly kill her fiancee (wait, but wasn’t him the leader?), and create havoc leaving her, Missandei, Jorah, Daario and Tyrion in big trouble, surrounded and with no way out. But then, DRAGONS. I mean, Dragon. One. Drogo. He comes, spits fire everywhere, and gives Daenerys a ride out of there. Tyrion is massively impressed. Like, massively. I wish I was as well.

Episode Stats:

Boobs – We got a dick(head) instead.

Money spent on Dragon CGI – not enough 

Likeliness of season redemption on last episode – Only by turning hearts to stone.

Tyrion’s favourite witticism: “My father would have liked you.”

Character of the day – Ser Jorah, who got out of the friendzone for, like, 20 seconds, before Drogo came for his Mommy.

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.