Sunday, June 14, 2015

Game of Thrones, Series 5 Episode 9

‘The Dance of Dragons’

Series 5, Episode 9

*Spoilers ahead*, only read on if you’ve seen the episode.

I know I’ve fallen behind and so I am only going to briefly talk about episodes 7 and 8 before I get on to episode 9, which has more material and compelled me to write more. 7 & 8 were pretty mixed.

My discussion points from episode 7 – again, it’s hard to stomach Sansa’s plight. She is locked in her chamber and visited nightly by Ramsay. Sophie Turner is brilliant again but every avenue of hope is ripped away from her character in this episode. Brienne spends a good thirty seconds staring into the distance. As if they haven’t made joke enough of the Sand Snakes, Tyene beseeches a dying Bronn to tell her she’s the most beautiful girl in the world, flashes him and then gives him the cure to the poison she infected him with. I don’t really know why any of this happens. It wins dumbest scene of the episode.

Dany and Tyrion scenes, even though they haven’t met quite yet in the book, are really good – they have a great dynamic and seem to be developing a mutual respect. This is a change that has made sense so far and is working well for the development of both.

Now for Episode 9:

As the episode begins, Stannis’ camp is in bad shape. Melisandre looks on as tents burn, and she kind of looks expressionless and like she’s made of plastic. Which she could. Cause she has no soul. But sadly she doesn’t melt. In the book, the ordeal of Stannis and his army is still going on and is much more drawn out – here it is heavily simplified and rushed through as if the showrunners are just impatient to get it out of the way. Frustratingly, Stannis doesn’t listen to Davos – the only person giving him good advice, and sends him back to the Wall to ask for supplies. Bad things happen when Davos isn’t there and this is no different.
Jon brings the surviving Wildlings back to the Wall, only to have Ser Alliser glare down and make him sweat/freeze a bit. Jon Snow, in this episode, is like a cupcake – gaining more frosting as it goes on. Ser Alliser eventually lets them in but there are clearly tensions in the camp and it’s a ‘frosty’ welcome. Haha. Ha.

Before he leaves, Davos asks Stannis to let him take Shireen with him. Stannis insists that ‘his family stays with him’ and this is when I know that the very unsubtle hints of horror and manipulation throughout the season are about to come true. Watching this episode for the second time just lays bare all the emotional manipulation, which I optimistically mistook for characterisation, that this series has been in terms of Stannis and Shireen. Even a scene like Davos giving Shireen a wooden stag now seems cheap and tacky. This storyline has been so condensed and accelerated now that it seems even more contrived. I know that George RR Martin supposedly told the showrunners something like this would happen – but I don’t see how it can happen in a way like this – because Stannis is hundreds of miles away from Shireen in the books (she stays at the wall), and in a sample chapter from Winds of Winter, he has this exchange with a knight:

It may be that we shall lose this battle … in Braavos you may hear that I am dead. It may even be true. You shall find my sellswords nonetheless.’
The knight hesitated. ‘Your grave, if you are dead –‘
‘—you will avenge my death, and seat my daughter on the Iron Throne. Or die in the attempt.’

Which is a very different sentiment to ‘burn my child’. The way it could be done differently, which might make more sense – is if Selyse and Melisandre do it against his will or without his knowledge. It doesn’t lessen the horror but makes more character consistency sense.

In the show Davos, leaving, tells Shireen: ‘I’ll want to hear all about the dance of dragons when I’m back’ – which are the kind of weighted last words usually saved for Starks.

Prince Duran Duran in Dorne has invited everyone round for tea. Jaime secures Bronn, Myrcella (and Trystane’s) voyage with him. I have a feeling the Sand Snakes, if Ellaria has changed her mind, might have something to say about this (a way to incorporate part of Myrcella’s book storyline maybe?). Jaime allows Bronn to get a deserved elbow in the face.

In Braavos, Arya spots Ser Meryn Trant – who his having to endure Mace Tyrell’s random bursts og song. ‘Oysters, clams and cockles’ very quickly becomes infuriating and makes me claw at my ears. I can still hear it now. Arya follows Meryn into a brothel for our weekly brothel scene. This gets randomly more disturbing as the show has decided to make Meryn a paedophile, who will only accept a girl who looks barely a teenager.

Ellaria reswears her allegiance to Duran Duran and becomes much more like the Ellaria of the books – counselling Jaime, telling him that she knows he probably had nothing to do with Oberyn’s death and even drops in some relationship advice - ‘we love who we love’.

Stannis visits Shireen’s room, muttering some drabble about ‘sometimes a person has to choose. Sometimes the world forces his hand … he must fulfil his destiny’. Shireen just asks if she can help, which is a big mistake. The innocent and the honourable often suffer the worst fates in Game of Thrones. Shireen is led out, clutching her little stag and looking confused. As she realises what is happening, she screams for her parents. Watching her mother crack is one of the hardest bits. As the flames start, Selyse shoves Stannis aside and runs for her daughter – as if she’s just snapped out of it and remembered she is a mother. She collapses as guards hold her back and my heart breaks. It’s heart-rending and often they would end the episode on a moment like that, but this time we switch to the grand opening of the fighting pits. Which it’s quite hard to care about right now.

Dany decides she quite likes smart-talking Tyrion, who issues a series of put-downs to her irritating husband. Because you can’t keep a good Jorah down, he pops up to fight again. I think even Dany is beginning to admire his persistence. After successfully laying the smackdown on every challenge, Jorah launches a spear through a Son of the Harpy who is about to stab Dany. Apparently there are thousands of them, just to add to the drama. Hizdahr, even though he’s been acting suspiciously, doesn’t last long. Jorah offers Dany his hand, which I really hope doesn’t give her greyscale, and they hop down into the pit to try and escape.

Tyrion saves Missandei. Missandei saves Tyrion. But the Sons of the Harpy have them all surrounded, even as Jorah and Daario single-handedly hold off hundreds. A big army of Unsullied would be really useful right now. Seriously, where are they?

Missandei and Dany hold hands and share a moment of ‘we’re going to die but at least we’re together’. That is, until Dany’s ride shows up and she jets on out of there. Harsh, Dany, harsh. At one point Drogon breathes his stinky dragon breath in her face and then squeaks adorably. This is all kind of epic and true to Game of Thrones. Even with some dodgy effects this is pretty impressive and a nice way to end the episode. She is now just about completely caught up with her book story and I think events in the finale will match more closely to what we know from the books for certain characters. For others, I think it isn’t hard to guess the trajectory they will take. Dany’s future though, is harder to predict, and I just hope that Winds of Winter arrives in the next couple of years.

No comments:

Post a Comment