TV Review: Game Of Thrones 5.9 “The Dance Of Dragons”
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Game Of Thrones
Episode 5.9 “The Dance Of Dragons”
Directed by David Nutter
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen, Kit Harington, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Turner, Dean-Charles Chapman, Jonathan Pryce
Air date: Sunday, June 7, 2015, 9pm

Spoilers ahead for Season 5 of Game Of Thrones, and a recap of Episodes 5.8 and 5.9.

In last week’s Game Of Thrones, Episode 5.8 “Hardhome,” shit got real. Seriously. After five seasons of waiting for it, winter finally arrived and with it came the Undead. Jon Snow had taken several brothers of the Night’s Watch with his to Hardhome, the Wildling camp, in an effort to convince the Free Folk to join the men of Westeros against the coming White Walkers. As luck would have it, soon after Jon’s arrival, the White Walkers came and did the unimaginable — they slaughtered lots of people and then rose them from the dead to serve in their army!

Back in King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister was still rotting in her cell beneath the Red Keep, awaiting her trial, still refusing to confess her sins. Arya Stark assumed a new identity as part of her training to become one of the Faceless Men. Sansa was given a glimmer of hope when Theon/Reek revealed that he never murdered her brothers. Sansa’s sadistic new husband Ramsay wanted “20 good men” to defeat Stannis, whose withering forces are struggling on their way to Winterfell, where Ramsay’s father Roose resides as Warden Of The North. Over in Meereen, Daenerys appointed Tyrion to be her new advisor as she resumes her plans to take over Westeros.

For this week’s episode of Game Of Thrones, 5.9 “The Dance Of Dragons,” we don’t get to see him, but it turns out that Ramsay made good on his plan to take “20 good men” to meet Stannis. It sounded like a crazy idea for 20 men to face an army, but the plan wasn’t to fight – it was to sneak into Stannis’ camp in the middle of the night and burn the food stores and kill the horses. Once again, Stannis must decide what to do now that they don’t have enough supplies to go back to Castle Black or to continue on to Winterfell. He’s sending Davos back to Castle Black for supplies, but Davos doesn’t want to leave. Davos wants to take Shireen with him — he knows she’s not safe. But Stannis insists that his family will stay with him. It’s obvious that Stannis needs Davos – his voice of reason – out of the way if he’s going to approve the Red Witch Melisandre’s plan to use his daughter, Shireen, as an offering to the Lord Of Light to gain power. Stannis goes to speak with his young daughter, who says he’ll do anything to help her father. She’s so sweet and intelligent and one of the deeper characters on the show. Too bad she was doomed from the start, as her parents become more fanatical about their religion. “Forgive me,” Stannis tells his daughter as he hugs her. Bad sign. We next see Shireen taken outside by guards in the snow where she’s tied to a stake. “It’s what the Lord wants,” Selyse assures her husband Stannis, “it’s a good thing.” She tells him, in almost a hypnotic way, that they need to make this sacrifice. Shireen cries out to her parents for help as Melisandre sets the pyre alight. Stannis’s men watch on in horror, many averting their eyes. Surprisingly, in the end, it’s Selyse who has a change of heart and tries to get Stannis to stop it. When he refuses, she runs to try to save her daughter, but cannot. Shireen will perish and Stannis will gain the power he needs to march on to Winterfell and overtake it from Roose.

Back at Castle Black, Jon Snow arrives from beyond the Wall with Wun Wun the Giant and a horde of Wildlings who survived the horrific attack at Hardhome by the White Walkers. Upon their return, Alliser Thorne does does the right thing and follows Jon Snow’s – the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch – order to opens the gates to let them in. To Jon he says, “You have a good heart… it will get us all killed.” That’s probably true.

In Dorne, Jaime tells ruler Prince Doran that he’s come there to protect Myrcella because a threatening message with the Princess’s necklace and a viper was received. Myrcella reveals that the jewelry was stolen from her room. Jaime confirms that King Tommen wants his sister back at King’s Landing, so Doran agrees to send Myrcella home, but accompanied by her betrothed Prince Trystane, who will serve on the King’s small council. Trystane will also grant Bronn’s release (after he gets a knockout punch, that is). The Sand Snakes are also released, as Elia Sand reluctantly ends her rebellion against Prince Doran and swears her allegiance to him. The Red Viper’s lover goes to visit Jaime, and alludes to Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous love and even refers to Myrcella as his daughter. While Jaime neither reveals anything nor confirms Elia’s comments, Elia consoles the one-handed Knight that his love would not be looked down upon in Dorne; in fact, it would have been fine in King’s Landing 100 years ago when the Targaryen were still in power — this is the same argument Cersei gave to Ned Stark back in Season 1. What her angle is here is unclear. She had so badly wanted revenge against the Lannisters for the death of her lover Prince Oberlyn (the Red Viper), but perhaps she will settle for the punishment that Cersei is sure to receive.

In Braavos, Arya hits the docks with her new identity as Lanna, who runs an oyster cart. She’s looking for her target, the “Thin Man” from the last episode. But, she’s distracted when she sees Mace Tyrell arrive at the Iron Bank along with Ser Meryn Trant, one of the people on Arya’s hit list. She follows them to the bank and then sticks with Trant as he enters a brothel. Arya watches as one by one Trant says the girls paraded before him are “too old.” It’s obvious he wants someone very young. One of Trant’s men spots her and has her come bring some oysters. It seems perhaps that Trant recognizes Arya, but then he seems more interested in getting his young one. After Arya is chased away, she returns to the House of Black and White, where her mentor Jaqen H’ghar asks what happened with the Thin Man. Arya lies and says he wasn’t hungry today, even though we saw that he was calling out to her to bring him oysters, but she ignored him. Likely Jaqen knows she’s not telling the truth, but lets it go this time. She says she’ll get to the Thin Man tomorrow.

In Meereen, we return to the famed Fighting Pits that the people love so much. Daenarys watches over it with her usual distain with her betrothed Hizdahr zo Loraq beside her and her new advisor Tyrion near by. Daario taunts Hizdahr and Dany questions her husband-to-be whether he’s ever killed anyone who’s tried to kill him. It’s obvious he has not. Just as Tyrion hurls some backhanded insults at Hizdahr, Dany sees that Ser Jorah – her former advisor who she’s exiled twice now – is the next contender. She allows him to fight, but she’s visibly shaken when she sees him in danger and then injured. As Jorah seems about to be killed, Tyrion tells her she can end this, though Hizdahr says she cannot. In the end, by some miracle, Jorah wins the battle — and it’s a good thing he does, because it’s just then that one of the Sons of the Harpy appears behind Dany with the intent to kill her and he hurls his spear at the attacker to save Dany. This is when it’s revealed that the masked Harpies have infiltrated the arena. They begin stabbing all the patrons, including Hizdahr, and eventually surround Dany and her people in the center of the arena. Now, this would be a good time for some dragons, and … here comes Drogon!!!!!!!!!! The dragon, who’s been out on his own for a while now, unlike his siblings who are chained beneath the Great Pyramid, sets the arena ablaze, but not without withstanding some injury. In the end, Dany mounts the great beast and makes her escape, as Tyrion, Jorah, Missandei, and Daario watch from below in wonder.


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