Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Winter Kills

"The Dance Of Dragons" was the cruelest episode ever of Game Of Thrones.  A few weeks ago fans were complaining about Ramsay Bolton's treatment of Sansa, and I still don't get it--Sansa had been through a lot and knew the score, and this was Ramsay Bolton so what did they expect?  But it's going to take a while to get over what happens in "The Dance Of Dragons"--I'm not sure if I'll be recovered by next week's finale.

The show, full of downers, starts with Ramsay Bolton's attack on Stannis's snowbound war camp.  I thought Ramsay's plan--to take 20 men and wreak havoc--was idiotic, but what do I know?  Apparently he was able to cross many miles to get to Stannis, sneak in unnoticed, light a bunch of fires, kill some horses, burn the food and get out before anyone noticed. Those wily Northerners.

So Stannis, already in trouble, is now completely screwed.  He's not going back to Castle Black (not sure if he could) and he can barely continue on to Winterfell.  It's at this point that Davos realizes Stannis is going to do the unthinkable--as the Red Woman suggested earlier, he's going to go full Agamemnon and slaughter his daughter for favorable weather.  When the subject was first brought up, I couldn't imagine the show would go so far.  I should have known better.

Now we cut to Jon Snow trudging across the tundra to the Wall, followed by the Wildlings who made it out of the battle of Hardhome. (I thought they were taking boats.  So they sailed back to north of the Wall? Couldn't they sail to south of the Wall?)  After a few tense seconds, Alliser opens the gate.

Jon feels he failed, though Sam (and I agree) says he saved everyone who made it. In fact, he's now got excellent testimony from all parties who saw what happened about what a good idea his plan is.  But that doesn't stop Olly from giving him the fish eye, or Alliser from being a dick about it, saying Jon's got a good heart and it'll get them all killed.

Back at Stannis's camp, he sends Davos to Castle Black with a message for Snow to send supplies and horses, but we know that's not the real reason.  He's about the kill Shireen, and Davos is the one person who can tell him to stop it. (What makes the whole episode so tragic is they all know what's happening, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.) Before he leaves, Davos goes to Shireen's tent and they have a nice talk. She even kisses his cheek (should she be getting that close to anyone with her greyscale?). She's reading a book, of course--The Dance Of Dragons--about tough choices that don't work out well for anyone. Oh, Shireen.

Over at Dorne, Jaime is brought in to see Prince Doran, who's already there with Myrcella, Trystane and the older one of the Sand Snakes (still don't get who they are, but I think it's the Prince's sister, or something like that).  They have a nice talk and Doran is quite reasonable--thus negating this entire plot, as Jaime could have walked in the front door rather than sneaked in.  Doran explains he wants peace with the Lannisters. We don't have to accept everything he says at face value, but it sure looks like he's going to let Jaime go.  Following Doran's cue, Trystane is even willing to free Bronn, as long as someone slaps him hard first.  Myrcella will return to King's Landing, but Trystane will come with her, they'll get married, and he'll be part of the Small Council.  Jaime agrees--he has to--but it sounds fine to me. (Dorne may be a flop this year, but at least we've got one place where mercy seems to be working.) Meanwhile, the Sand Snakes fight in their cell and Bronn is released.

In Braavos, Arya/Lana is on her mission, selling oysters and ready to kill the Thin Man, when she's distracted.  There's that silly-ass Tyrell dude, and his guard Meryn Trant.  Trant!  One of the names in her prayer.  Screw everything else.  She follows him as the party goes to the Iron Bank (following Cersei's orders--so many people working for Cersei, who can't do anything for herself right now).

Later that night, with Arya still on the trail, Meryn enjoys a brothel. He acts like a jerk in general, in case we forgot--even if he hadn't taken out Syrio, this guy's gotta go.  He keeps demanding younger women.  In fact, "women" is probably the wrong word.  For a second, we're thinking Arya is going to offer herself (and that may still happen), but instead she's brought before him by another guard to sell them some seafood. So I guess it's true what they say about oysters.  Trant sees her and gets a funny look.  This can mean one of three things: 1)  Didn't we see this fish girl at the docks?, 2)  Finally, someone the right age, or 3) OMG, it's been years, but is that Arya Stark?!

Arya gets out, but not before she discovers Meryn is returning the next day. She goes back to Jaqen and lies to him about her mission.  Whether or not he's fooled I can't tell. (You never can tell with him.) She promises to finish the job tomorrow, but what job is she talking about?

Back in Dorne, Doran demands submission from the head Snake, who kisses his ring. So he's in charge, even if he can't walk.  Once again, we wonder what's his ultimate goal--peace, or world domination?  He's at least got to get the Sand Snakes under control, I guess.  The Snake visits Jaime, who's writing to Cersei of the latest developments.  She knows all about Jaime and Cersei, and in Dorne, she notes, no one cares.  Hey, maybe they can get a winter house there.  Anyway, I'm not sure where all this is leading, but if there's to be any action in Dorne, either it happens next week or it doesn't happen at all.

As if the Davos-Shireen scene wasn't painful enough, back at the war camp we get Stannis with his beloved daughter.  Shireen wants to be helpful, but she can't imagine what that will mean.  Stannis knows he must go through with this sacrifice to fulfill his destiny.  This season has done a lot to humanize him, and now we see the obsessive side that always made him so forbidding--but never this hateful.

Shireen is lead by guard to a pyre.  Once she realizes what's going on, she cries for her father, then her mother.  They look on as Melisandre lights the fire.  Selyse, surprisingly, is the one who breaks down, but it's too late to do anything. Shireen screams and screams as Stannis stands by.  I'm guessing the witch's vision is right, and this will allow them to march forward, but it's too painful to take.  It doesn't really matter what happens next, the viewer is simply numb for the rest of the episode.  Will we stay numb for the rest of the series?

Now we go to Meereen for the climax. It's a huge sequence, but, as I said, it's hard to care at this point.

Dany is hosting the fights in the Great Pit, with Hizdahr by her side.  There's also Missandei and Tyrion, with Daario watching guard.  I guess Grey Worm is still recovering.  Great ceremony as the gladiators (if that's what you call them) introduce themselves to the Queen and wait for her to clap her hands so they can start dying.  The Breaker Of Chains is beginning a new chapter in her life.

The fights begin.  People cheer lustily. (You know, if it weren't for the morality of it, I can't imagine any sport more exciting than watching men fight to the death.) Tyrion and Hizdahr verbally joust about the fights, with Tyrion, I think, getting the better of the exchange.  Then some new fighters come out, including Ser Jorah.

The Queen is stunned.  But she claps.  Let the slaughter commence.  I guess Jorah's plan is he's finished anyway, he might as well have some glory--just being near his Queen is enough. And perhaps he believes that somehow he can still prove himself to her.  But first he's got to defeat his opponents.  These aren't the jokes he made quick work of last time and he has some trouble with his opponents.  In fact, he's saved from a death blow by another fighter slaying Jorah's attacker--sort of a cheap save, but it counts just the same.  As Jorah's waiting for the final thrust, Tyrion tells Dany she can end it--clearly she isn't happy, but she just watches.  Anyway, when the dust clears, Jorah is the last man standing--apparently not a favorite of the booing crowd.  Damn Westerosi invading our pits!

Then Jorah throws a spear into the Queen's stand.  Why?  Because one of the Sons Of The Harpy was sneaking up from behind. (He throws it far and with great accuracy--seems to me this would have been a good way to kill his opponents in the ring.) In fact, a whole bunch of Harpies are lurking in the stands, killing people and approaching the Queen.  So that was the plan all along?

Let's stop for a second.  First, I suspected Hizdahr was behind the Harpies, but he doesn't seem to be.  Second, just what kind of security does Dany have?  She's got thousands of Unsullied and Second Sons at her command--shouldn't the Queen, when she goes to the Great Pit, have a huge company surrounding her at all times.  I know it's a surprise attack, but her guard seems pretty scanty. (Of course, she's often played with fire.  Her people have been attacked and killed before, and even Daario was able to break into her camp pretty easily--luckily for her he was friendly.)

Back to the action.  Daario, Tyrion and now Jorah protect Dany--guess he's back in her camp--but the odds don't look good.  Hizdahr says he knows a way out, but is soon cut down.  Jorah leads her out--use the right hand, Ser!--but the gate is locked, so her very small band is surrounded in the middle of the Great Pit by what looks like hundreds of Harpies.  Dany holds Missandei's hand, closes her eyes, and prepares to die.

Just then, we hear Drogon's cries, and he flies over the stadium. He lands on the field and smokes a bunch of Harpies, ripping up a few with his teeth for variety's sake.  They throw spears at the dragon, but I'm not sure how much damage that causes.  Dany runs up to him and pulls one out.  They have a reunion of sorts.  Then Dany climbs on his back and (with so-so FX, reminding us it's still TV) they fly off!  A big moment, and would have been even bigger if we weren't still thinking about someone else who got burned a bit earlier.

Tyrion and the crew watch her go.  Are they in trouble, or is everyone so stunned (or dead) they can just walk out?  Guess we'll have to wait till next week to find out, because that's the end of the hour.

So one show left, but a lot left to do. This episode had no King's Landing--which may be a first since we originally got there. So we've yet to learn Cersei's fate, along with all the others--Margaery, Loras, Olenna, Littlefinger (unless he's on the move), the High Sparrow, Lancel, Pycelle, Qyburn, Kevan and whoever else drops by.

Also no Brienne--not much of a season for her so far, mostly following Sansa and waiting to make a move.  No doubt she'll be in next week. In fact, with Shireen out of the way, Stannis is free to finally have that Bolton battle everything's been leading up to so they'll be action a-plenty at Winterfell.  I think Stannis will defeat Bolton, but can't imagine he himself, after what he did, can live much longer.  The Red Lady didn't see beyond the winter fight, so this may be his last hurrah (or did she see him as King, I don't quite remember)--and after it's over maybe she'll go to the Wall and become a Snow groupie.  My guess is Stannis kills Roose, Theon kills Ramsay (or does something, finally--but if he doesn't do it, then please give it to Sansa), and Brienne gets revenge against Stannis. In fact, maybe Stannis is riding high when he buys it.

Is something brewing in Dorne?  I don't know, but nothing's happened there yet. If the producers have some ideas, now is the time.

Arya, of course, will have to deal with Trant, who's a horrible human being, but smart and sneaky.  If she does take him out (with Needle?), will she get in trouble with Jaqen? What would that mean?  Would he kill her?  Would she be a free agent and go back to Westeros?  Might not know that till next season.

And there's certainly more to expect at the Wall. You'd think Jon would start spreading the word about what he saw, which was plenty, but there's also plenty of unrest there.  Will Olly take a stab at dealing with it?

And in Meereen, will Dany fly back?  Release her other dragons?  Who will rule if she's away?  Tyrion and Jorah and the rest?  Doesn't make too much sense, though if they've got an Army that will listen maybe they can manage.

So there's more than enough for next week.  Maybe the episode will be extra long.  But I have to wonder, even after the season's over, if Shireen's cries won't still be echoing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hizdahr is still alive. Just wait and see.

12:53 AM, June 09, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sons of the Harpy*. The White walkers and their Wights. The Stone Men. Bran's battling skeletons. The producers love faceless hordes that are murdering machines.

* That mask must be really light & made of some sort of gold colored tin foil. The masks seem to really hurt peripheral vision, and if they are gold would be too heavy and if they had that much gold, it seems there would be more cost effective methods of toppling Dany.

New buddy show spin off for Lord Mace and Ser Meryn- The Imbecile and the Pedophile as they ply there way through the banks and brothels of Braavos.

How many named characters do we think will die next week?

5:29 AM, June 09, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Not only how many name characters will die, but where?

No doubt a bunch will die in Winterfell. And I get the feeling Meryn Trant in Braavos isn't long for the world.

But will there be any more death in Meereen, or did we see enough this week?

And will there be slaughter in King's Landing, or some more peaceful resolution?

And will there be some violence at the Wall, or is everyone too tired?

And will someone finally die in Dorne, or will the whole expedition be pointless?

10:31 AM, June 09, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hizdahr is definitely in on it. He came in late, sat down next to the Queen and said he's late because he was busy making sure everything was ready. His "death" was a ruse.

9:57 PM, June 09, 2015  

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