Episode 9 - The Dance of Dragons
15 June 2015
Synopsis: Ser Alliser opens the gates and lets Jon and the Wildlings through. Ramsay's attack badly damages Stannis' camp. Stannis sends Davos away and then has Shireen burnt alive. Arya sees Mace and Ser Meryn arrive and follows the latter to a brothel. Jaime agrees to take Myrcella and Prince Trystane with him back to Kings Landing. Dany oversees a Ser Jorah victory before the Harpies attack and its Drogon to the rescue.
The Good: Arya's story is coming together as we expected. I liked the use of the brothel to set up Ser Meryn for the finale. Presumably Arya will volunteer to be his girl for the night and kill him. He won't be easy to defeat I'd have thought.
I'm glad Ser Alliser respects the chain of command and opened the gates but I doubt that's the end of this chapter.
The Bad: Drogon burning the Harpies and Dany riding him into the sky were cool moments. However the buildup to that was pretty weak. First we had Hizdahr suddenly acting the heel to misdirect us. I don't see the point of that given it added nothing to the drama of the attack. When the Harpies made their move it really wasn't clear what their aim was. They kept stopping to butcher various Masters in the crowd rather than converge quickly on Dany.
It led me to briefly think that the Harpies were a slave-only movement and their intention was to slaughter all the Masters. That's not right I know but it led me to wonder if that's what was happening when some Harpies attacked Jorah and Daario in their defensive circle and others didn't.
Instead it seems the Harpies were just waiting for more of their number to join them. Or something. Why not throw a spear at Dany? Surely she's the key to the whole thing? It was a bizarre directing choice because it sucked all the drama out of the moment and gave us all time to mentally scan the horizon and wait for the "cavalry" to arrive. Amusingly Dany even flies off to safety before its fully clear that her friends can see off the remaining Harpies. As long as you're safe right Dan?
Similarly poor choices were made with Shireen's sacrifice. It was horrific as a plot point but the staging was dull and uninspired. The scariness of Stannis' misguided faith or his utter grief at this choice would have made solid emotional contexts to place us in. Instead the scene didn't connect to either and poor Shireen's death just felt like an inevitable road marker on the way to Winterfell.
Of all the poor choices this season Jaime's trip to Dorne continues to bemuse. The only way this plot can justify the time spent on it is if one of the Sand Snakes kills Myrcella next episode. Along with Tommen's death it would fulfill the fortune tellers prophecy from the seasons opening scene but it wouldn't make up for the frivolous nature of our time in Sunspear.
The Unknown: Should Ser Jorah be so confident about touching Dany? Even if the greyscale is nowhere near that hand I'd still be troubled if I loved her so much.
Best Moment: Ser Meryn staring hard at Arya was genuinely tense.
Conclusion: Some lacklustre choices combined with predictable plotting hurt this episode. I imagine next week will be more surprising but I hope it's also directed with more imagination.
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