The dreaded ninth episode is what an entire season of Game of Thrones builds towards, often culminating in something unprecedented. To this day many still cannot believe that Ned Stark lost his head, and this time round Dany finally, finally, becomes a Targaryen, by mounting Drogon’s back and taking flight.
In terms of episode 9, ‘The Dance of Dragons’ isn’t the finest hour of Game of Thrones – it could probably have done without the Dorne elements, and even the Arya stuff could have been scrapped. I’ve argued before that Cersei’s penance would make a brilliant episode 9, alongside Dany’s epic fight for life. Seeing the two most powerful women in Game of Thrones in trouble would have made brilliant television. That said, ‘The Dance of Dragons’ is sublime, if controversial, ensuring that it will be remembered. But that’s a given, right? Episode 9s are always remembered.
As always, our top OMG moments are below, in no particular order.
The Dance of Dragons
This entire twenty minute segment is glorious from start to finish, from Dany’s tense discussions with her betrothed, to the fights of Daznak’s Pit and everything that follows afterwards. I thought Jorah was a gonner, and I don’t think he would be a great miss if he were.
I had entirely forgotten about the threat of the Sons of the Harpy, and I think that is what the showrunners runners intended. After butchering Barristan in episode 4, they have pretty much receded into nothingness, which makes their return all the more shocking. Anything can happen in a ninth episode, so this was the very first moment I’ve feared for Dany’s life. Season 5 is renown for altering the source material, after all.
But no. After being surrounded by the Sons of the Harpy Dany finally accepts that this is her end. And what an ending it would have been. The novels hint at a connection between Drogon and Dany, so I’d like to think that it wasn’t the stench of blood that brought Drogon back to Meereen, but rather the fact that his mother was in peril.
This scene in the novel is epic, and ever since I read it I’ve been clamouring to see it realised on screen. It did not disappoint. From the stunned silence following Drogon’s screech, to the burning of the Sons of the Harpy and finally to Dany mounting the dragon, I was literally on the edge of my seat. I had feared that since Dany and Tyrion had met earlier than planner that this scene wouldn’t come to fruition, but I am so thankful that it did. It entirely lived up to the source material.
So where does this leave things in Meereen? With Barristan dead (he becomes a POV character in the novels following Dany’s departure) Jorah will have to take his place to save himself, Tyrion, Daario and Missandei, and I think Tyrion will take his place in overseeing Meereen. And as for Dany? Well, I’ll just leave that one till next week. It’s a humdinger.
The Girl lies, and Arya’s list
I had a feeling there would be more to Arya’s assassin storyline than simple killing the thin man. I don’t think there was any struggle at all between Arya’s current mission of being no one, and her age-old mission of crossing names from her list. I just hope that she actually manages to do it; it has been a long time coming.
Meryn Trant is on Arya’s list for killing her dancing instructor, Syrio Forel way back in season one. He’s been pretty dastardly ever since, but I think this episode takes the biscuit. Because Meryn, it is revealed, is a paedophile, and he asks for the youngest girl in the Braavosi brothel. Arya, kill this bastard already!
Did Jaqen believe her? I don’t think so. But I do think that he’ll accept her change in mission, ultimately. Killing a pedophile is more worthwhile than killing a gambler, surely? Hopefully the Many-Faced God will see it like that, anyway.
Ever since Stannis delivered his beautiful speech to his daughter earlier in this season I think Shireen has been on borrowed time. Stannis has used kings blood in the past, after all. His devotion to the Lord of Light has always been strong, and seemingly it is stronger than his paternal bond. If he ever makes the Iron Throne (which, as of now, I sincerely hope he never does), who will rule in his stead upon his passing? He has no further children. It is an entirely selfish act. I think the only good thing to come of Shireen’s death is Selyse finally becoming a mother. Her desperately trying to protect her daughter was heartbreaking.
But the controversy surrounding her death, I think, is unjust. Yes, a child dies. Yes, someone the fans love dies. But Stannis has burned many at the pyre before, and no body has particularly cared about them, right? Writer D. B. Weiss justly said that her death was ‘entirely [narratively] justified’ and that people only cause a storm because it’s a character we know and love. Anybody remember those killed in season two’s pyre? Or season four’s? No, didn’t think so.
And, interestingly, the writers have confirmed that this scene WILL happen in Martin’s future novel, The Winds of Winter. I wonder how many people will say they won’t read the final novel after this happens, just as people are saying they’re going to stop watching Game of Thrones because of this controversy. Viewers need to get off their pedestal and go with the flow.
Tense Dornish politics
The Dornish elements of season five have been a colossal waste of time, and a huge let down. I don’t remember a single good scene to happen in Dorne (I’m sure there has been some, but the bad outweighs the good). Well, until episode 9, that is.
This scene still isn’t great, but the tense confrontation between Jaime and Doran Martell is the best we can hope for. To me, the Dorne storyline hasn’t amounted to much at all; it could have easily been trimmed down to a three-episode arc. I just hope there is some importance to getting Myrcella back to King’s Landing – maybe this will tie in with Cersei’s penance? I do ultimately think something important will happen, otherwise this storyline would have been cut by the showrunners. I just wish it would happy already.