Game Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons” Review

Game Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9

Game Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9: “The Dance Of Dragons” Review (Spoilers)

Going by previous seasons, Game Of Thrones has conditioned viewers to expect the unexpected in its penultimate episode. High expectations can be bit of a double-edged sword. It adds to the intensity knowing a regular character could get killed off and in anticipating a season defining moment. On the other hand, setting the bar high could result in a let down if that game changing event doesn’t land as hoped. The good news is that on its own merits, “The Dance Of Dragons” is a solid episode. It just happens to be in the shadows of “Hardhome”, one of Game Of Thrones’ best episodes to date. A better way to think about these two episodes is that they’re not in competition with one another, rather it’s a great one – two punch to the final stretch of Season 5.

Let’s briefly start off in Dorne. So the consequence for Bronn’s fight in the Water Gardens is getting an elbow to the face. This is fairly indicative of the Dorne story line which been been played for laughs throughout the season. Some were intentionally amusing moments like when Jamie caught a sword in his golden hand while some are laughingly bad like when the Sand Snakes fought. While this episode saw marginal improvements in getting to know the Sand Snakes, Ellaria and Prince Doran, it’s a case of too little, too late. This was a weak little rebellion by the Sand Snakes and ultimately of little significance. All in all, it’s an anti-climatic way to end the events in Dorne.

Across the narrow seas in Bravos, Arya’s scenes which started out strong at the beginning of the season are becoming less satisfying.  There has been so much time devoted in these past couple of episodes in setting up her assassination mission I’m not sure the pay off will be strong enough. Arya’s scenes are at their strongest when it brings out all the qualities we love about her: Arya’s wit, inner strength and defiance. Here, we barely get to see her speak or interact meaningfully with anyone. What I do like is that Meryn Trant has been on her death wish list. This may force Arya to choose between her path in the House of Black & White and vengeance from her past life in Westeros. Or maybe she’ll be clever enough to find a way to take out both the gambler and Trant.

game-of-thrones-5x09 Davos and Shireen

In the North, my expectation for a confrontation between Ramsey and Stannis was subverted; swerving the story line into a dark “wow they really went there place“. The early part of the season was building Stannis into a character we could possibly root for, at least in defeating the Boltons. Even if he becomes the one true King, it’ll be a crown stained with his own daughter’s blood. To win the Iron Throne, it’ll take ruthlessness but it’s not a quality suited for someone to rule it justly.  

The writing was on the wall when Stannis sent Davos away so he wouldn’t have opposition to burning alive Shireen at the stake. It was brutal hearing Shireen cry out, she didn’t receive the same mercy as Mance Rayder when Jon put an arrow through him. Game Of Thrones has never shied away from violence on children or infants. In the pilot, Bran got tossed out a tower window. But the impact of Shireen’s death feels especially heavy because she’s a sweet, innocent and very likable girl. Her cruel fate will be remembered in Westeros like in those stories she likes to read.

The big set piece took place in Meereen. It was a great sequence of events from Jorah throwing the spear that hit the harpy to Drogon’s epic return. One angle this season could have played up more if they had more time is if Hizdahr was secretly the Harpy. When he came late to the fights, it seemed to suggest he was planning something. That theory goes out the window after seeing him get repeatedly stabbed.

I also really liked the moments and looks between Dany and Jorah. I didn’t expect Jorah to make out of this episode alive but he’s not out of the woods yet unless he finds a cure for grayscale. When he held Dany’s hand it was a touching moment, I assume the grayscale hasn’t spread to his fingers which she touched. Dany’s “How to Train Your Dragon” sequence was cool but the visual effects didn’t quite look right and took me out of the moment. 

Overall, a really strong episode. But one that doesn’t quite reach the heights of other great episode nines. My favorite character driven scene is probably between Davos and Shireen, knowing it was their final goodbye. The scenes in Meereen are undeniably exciting. There’s been hit and miss fight choreography this season but the fighting pit stuff is a solid hit. The big question is what happens next. Will Melissandre conjure up something to help Stannis in his march towards Winterfell?  How will Sansa’s storyline wrap up? Should Dany start making plans for Westeros? One more to go before this season is done!

Do you think the show went too far in burning a child alive at the stake? What did you like or dislike in this episode? 

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Posted on June 8, 2015, in Game of Thrones, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. enjoyed this episode a lot. yes episode 9 is now a double-edged sword and I also didn’t think Jorah would survive. Shireen was pretty shocking and it will be interesting to see where everything goes from here.

    great recap!

    • I enjoyed this episode although I understand if some people felt it was too heavy or cruel. I sensed something was going to happen with Shireen but I was off the mark with Jorah. Yeah, let’s see what happens next, it should be interesting. Thanks Rob!

  2. thepreppymoviegeek

    I’n eager for Danaerys to reach Westeros. The fate of Jorah, Daario, Missandei, and Tyrion was unclear at the end of the episode.

    • I’m highly anticipating what’ll happen for Dany. Yeah it was unclear. My guess is that the show wouldn’t kill them off-screen so they should be still alive at the start of the next episode … who will make it alive to the end of the episode is another story. 😀

  3. abbiosbiston

    That really did go all the way into the darkness, didn’t?

    I agree that the vfx were crap but I will admit to getting goosebumps when Drogon arrived.

    • Into the darkness indeed, this season is very dark and there’s still the finale to come.

      Yeah, Drogon alone looked good but when it’s Dany & Drogon flying together the effects didn’t look good at all.

  4. As a Stannis supporter, this episode rocked me. It was the bit where Selyse, who is meant to be the crazy one, shows some sympathy and Stannis snuffs it out in a heartbeat. Great writing. Upsetting writing, but great at the same time.

    • I can only imagine what (former) Stannis supporters are feeling now. The show did a great job at setting this up. And we know that Stannis did love Shireen, making his decision even more brutal.

  5. Oooh sounds like what Stannis did is utterly despicable!! Reminds me of Rodrigo Borgia who’s capable to sacrifice his own children for his own gain. Btw, every time I see that Daario guy I kept wishing they cast my crush Stanley Weber instead, he looks a bit like him here, only hunkier 🙂

    • Haha, yes just when I’m starting to warm up to Stannis he does something despicable. Oh my, this Rodrigo guy sounds despicable too. Funny about Daario, this is the second actor to play him, I think the role was recast to find a guy who’s more appealing and become the love interest for Dany. 🙂

  6. Hey there fellow GoT fan, great review as always. It took me a few days later to watch this one because a staff party I attended on Monday and the recovery time I took yesterday haha.

    Anyways I thought this was another great episode, like you said not quite as epic as last week, but still a solid follow-up. This episode easily could have been just okay, but there waas a lot of memorable and incredible stuff that went down for sure.

    As for the stuff in Dorne I was surpised that it could cleared up so quickly without any proper resistence or continued fighting, but in the end I’m glad that Jamie gets his daughter back, Myrcella gets to keep her man and Bronn, besides getting smacked in the face gets to keep his life so that’s all well and good. I thought Ellaria would get up to something, possibly attack Jamie or come up with some crafty way to usurp Doran but I guess that ultimatum wasn’t something to fuck with lol.

    In Bravos, Arya wasn’t too interesting. Usually I find her stuff pretty intruiging especially after Jaqen gave her a mission before. It was interesting to see her watching Trant, but since she didn’t do nothing with him I wasn’t that fussed. I’m sure that Jaqen knows that Arya is up to something or at least knows that she’s not on-target for her mission. I’m thinking there must be repercussions or something fire her not sticking to her mission.

    Up in the north things got real dark real quick. Firstly I have to say that I’ve always like Davos, he’s a nice guy, so when he got sent away I was worried for him and Shireen, but I was like “He’ll probably leave and potentially get help for Stannis, while the army suffer in the cold and attempt to take on the Boltons.” The moment between him and Shireen was lovely, I wish he’d make me an animal figure. But let’s talk about what i remembered most about this episode, the death of Shireen. That shit was messed up. Shireen was such a beautiful and innocent beacon of light in this world of chaos and now she’s gone, I think this may have hurt more than what happened with Sansa yo. As for Stannis… Worst. Father. Ever! Any respect I had for this man left when he decided to sacrifice her for his victory. I actually started to like the guy this season, he started to look just a little less boring and had some form of humanity, unfortunately he gave up his daughter to be burnt by Melisandre, that crazy bitch. Hearing Shireen’s screams were SO painful, even that bitch of a mother went from being fine with it to wanting to actually save her child from the pain, in the end she had more of a soul than Stannis did. What i wonder now is whether Shireen’s death will help the battle in the north or if it would be for nothing? Is this powers they’re recieving from the god or melisandre?

    And finally we have Meereen and this for me did not disapppoint. I liked the interesting back and forth conversations between Hizdahr and Tyrion, Dany and Daario, it was like “Hey let’s make a fool out of Hizdahr day!” or something like that. Hizdahr he’s crafty, he a way with words and yet he comes across as a posh asshole, was happy to see him get stabbed up. Then there wasth gladiator sequence with Jorah, fuck yeah my man! I mean I don’t love Jorah but I wanted him to live and he was doing pulling off some cool moves too. The fight choreography was definitely on-point this time round. But then thos blooyd Harpy bastards started going crazy after Jorah harpooned that one dude in the chest, then it was all-out chaos and I frigging loved it. I guess it was inevitable that Dany’s big dragon would save her from the tight situation but I definitely felt tense seeing them running around for an exit and having Daario, Jorah and Tyrion having to defend the queen whcich was cool. Oh and like you loved that moment between Dany and Jorah, just simple things like the touch of the hand goes a long way. I was also hyped to see Dany’s dragon toasting the hell out of those dude and then to see Dany’s “How to Train Your Dragon” sequence (as you put it) happen, it was lovely and cool. Also like you I though the visual effects were a bit blurry and went from lokin really good to being not so good, but hey its TV and it got the job done. Now I just want to know how this season will be concluded. Which stories will be concluded in this season and which, if any will continue in the next? I’m super hyped! 😀

    • Hey there! Nice that we’re still fans of the show. I heard some people felt this episode crossed a line and didn’t care to watch anymore.That’s sounds like a killer staff party man lol.

      Everything in Dorne seemed to wrap up neatly, but I’m glad that Jamie and Bronn will live to see another day. Some people think that the writers needed to Jamie to be away from King’s Landing so that Cersei would be left on her own with no one to help her. I think it’s funny that even Ellaria knows Jamie is the father of Myrcella. I hope they find something interesting for Ellaria to do next season.

      I personally would have liked Arya’s stuff to have wrapped up this episode instead of dragging it out. But who knows, maybe after I see the finale I might love how they handled it. Yeah, I think Jaqen knows Arya is up to something and lied about the skinny man not wanting oysters this time. I think there would be repercussions too if she doesn’t complete her mission.

      I would love an animal figure too carved by Davos, I think it was a stag. Looking back at the season I think Shireen’s death and Stannis’ decision was set up very well. We knew that king’s blood would be important and that Melissandre was going to do something. I have to say the Red Priestess was so cold saying “it’ll be all over soon” as if that would be comforting hear. Selyse was terrible too, I don’t really care that she regretted it at the last second. I’m curious too how sacrificing Shireen will help. We’ve seen Melissandre give birth to a shadow creature but those leeches … I don’t think she influenced Joffrey or Robb’s death.

      The conversation with Hizdahr and the others was great. I also liked that Tyrion got his little moments in there. The fight choreography was good and Jorah’s slower style made sense for his age. There was one fighter that reminded me of Syrio Forrel, the dude who taught Arya water dancing. When Jorah threw the spear I was like “what are you doing”, then he harpooned the harpy … very cool moment. I noticed that as big as Drogon is, he’s still vulnerable. Maybe having a dragon rider would help him in fights. If I was a fan girl, I’d totally be shipping Dany and Jorah haha. Also, maybe Tyrion might put the moves on Missandei lol. What’s exciting and a little scary is that the show is doing things different from the books. Aside from a couple of big things, I’m not exactly sure what’ll happen next. 🙂

  7. Shireen being burned was super sad, but I (perhaps I’m cynical) was expecting it to happen eventually. What surprised me was Stannis being involved or allowing it. I thought he’d draw the line there and perhaps Mel would do it behind his back or while he was in battle. I was clearly wrong!

    I wish Dany flying on Drogon looked better, but otherwise the final sequence in the pit was really cool. There seems to be a lot to do next week. I suspect they may be leaving a few of these off with cliffhanger type endings this season.

    Great review man! Really excited for the finale!

    • Looking back at the season I can see how everything was set up for what happened this episode. But I probably wouldn’t have guessed it myself if it wasn’t for some speculation I read. Stannis allowing Shireen’s sacrifice was a surprise to me, especially since he told Melisande no the episode before. I guess Ramsey’s sabotage pushed him to that decision.

      Yeah, the finale has lots of ground to cover. I can’t wait for everybody’s reaction to the big cliffhanger haha. 😉 Thanks Matthew!

  8. Stannis is a bastard. Killing his brother wad one thing but killing his only child, a whole other level. However I don’t completely hate him. I guess that makes me as bad as him… He’s not king material and Tyrion’s comment to Dany about not killing those loyal to her resonates with Stannis’ action as well. The final scenes in the pit were awesome, minus the cheesy cgi moment (a first miss for the series). Even Tyrion got to show he’s a bad ass. I thought that guy was part of the Harpys too. Wonder if he was but they killed him anyway because of his working with Dany.
    Slightly annoyed with Arya’s scenes. Seemed like a waste of time to show her following what’s his name around and have nothing come of it. I’m sure there will be some ramifications in her training with abandoning her mission and would have liked to have seen more substantial story.
    Sigh, last episode next 😦 Let’s hope for some good stuff!

    • I don’t completely hate Stannis either. I’m still interested to see what he does next. The thing is that I would have been more invested in his march towards Winterfell if I felt strongly for him. I can’t say I’m rooting for him anymore, I’m just sitting back and watching what happens between Stannis and the Boltons. I mainly care that Sansa gets out of Winterfell, I hope she realizes Littlefinger is using her. For Stannis, he’s seen the power of magic that Melissandre can unleash, making him a diehard believer. Unfortunately no matter what good advice Davos gives it’ll fall to deaf ears. Dany seems more level headed in taking good advice when she hears it.

      To follow up a tragic and sad scene in the North with a thrilling and exciting one in the pits was really well done. Except for some visual effects that clearly needed more work, it was a great way to end episode 9. With Arya, I thought she’d pose as a brother worker right then and finish off Trant. I don’t mind more Arya scenes in the finale, but like you said this episode her scenes didn’t feel substantial, just a whole lot of unnecessary set up.

      Just one more, I can’t wait to hear everyone reactions to the big finale!

  9. So who’s next to go tonight? That be the question 😀

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