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Tales From Westeros – The Dance of Dragons

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This week’s episode was rough, guys. I thought this show had done it all to me after the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, the goddamn Beige wedding for all I care, but this week’s big death was pretty jarring for me. Of course it isn’t unlike Benioff and Weiss to save the big moments for the second to last episode of the season. I thought that perhaps this season’s penultimate would be a bit tamer than the last four. Boy was I wrong. Before we begin, we didn’t see any scenes from inside Winterfell or in King’s Landing this episode, so expect those for the finale. Really excited for the walk of shame on steroids. Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, massive spoiler warning.

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Now anyone who knows me knows I love me them crazy Baratheons with all my heart. Robert won my heart with his drunken jolliness in the first season, Renly was an interesting character with his own struggles, and whose actor Gethin Anthony can be seen as Charles Manson in NBC’s Aquarius series alongside David Duchovny for the X-Filers out there. They’re out there with the truth. The truth is out there. I’m sorry. But as of Season 2 onward, Stannis has been the only Baratheon out there besides his daughter Shireen. Gendry, one of Robert’s many bastard children, is out there somewhere. If you listen close, you can hear him rowing. Tommen and Myrcella are technically Baratheons but they’re really Cersei and Jaime’s purebreds. My point is Stannis was one of my favorite characters. I enjoyed his hard demeanor and harsh tactics, but remaining true to himself and never committing cruelty for the sake of cruelty. Until this week. Let’s go to the recap. At the episode’s opening, Mel notices something and goes outside her tent. So aside from the fire magic and demon vagina, apparently she’s a psychic as well. Stannis’s army ambushed by Ramsay’s twenty good men he asked for from Daddy. They burn tents, food supplies, and even a horse. For real, a horse on fire, galloping through the night. It’d be kinda badass if it wasn’t so horrifying. Like something out of a Meatloaf video or something. Stannis. Is. Pissed, and ignores Davos’s advice to retreat….again! Stannis sends Davos back to Castle Black to resupply; Stannis wants Selyse and Shireen with him. Why you ask? So they can help murder his character development.

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Shireen is reading “A Dance of Dragons” when Davos comes to visit her in his tent. The book details the Targaryen civil war between Aegon and Rhaeynera, for more on that, check out the Wiki of Ice and Fire. It’s an incredibly useful tool to getting to know the universe and its differences from the show for newbies to the series. However beware of both book and show spoilers! Davos carves Shireen a stag, the sigil of House Baratheon, as a gift of thanks for teaching him how to read. Teach an old man to read for weeks on harrowing weeks, get a wooden deer! Shireen asks for a doe, under the sly guise of saying the other will be lonely. But let’s be real, she’s trying to pry for a better deal here. Two wooden deer. Davos thanks her for teaching him how to read, and departs for Castle Black. Later, Shireen is playing with the Stag, when Stannis comes in. They talk about the dance of dragons and choice. Shireen notes how the choosing of sides between the two armies is what led to chaos. Shireen, a child, can get down with politics better than Tommen, Stannis, and Daenerys combined. You go girl. Stannis begins letting on how he may kill Shireen, as she has king’s blood, i.e.: his blood. Thanks creepy red priestess, real happy for your input. Shireen, oblivious, is all for it and hugs her father. Stannis says, “Forgive me.” And it was the moment the final Baratheon died right there in front of me. Shireen is carried to be burned at the stake, kicking and screaming. Stannis and Selyse, mother of the damn year, look on. Mel is going on and on with the whole “The Night is dark and full of terrors” bit while Shireen pleads for her life. As the flames begin to build, Selyse shows humanity for the first fucking time toward her daughter all series and tries to help Shireen as she burns. She is held back by guards, Selyse cries out, tears on her face as the screaming stops. Stannis closes his eyes. Well, this got me Stark raving mad. Stark. It’s a pun. I’m angry. But as an impartial judge, I will give the scene the merit it deserves. It’s jarring, it’s infuriating, and that’s what Benioff and Weiss are good at, weaving thread over thread of complexity to their characters. Especially Stannis. Now, it’s no surprise that I am angry, but let’s think about this objectively. We’ve seen the power of King’s Blood before with the whole Gendry leech thing. If true, it killed Rob and Joffrey. While it didn’t kill Balon Greyjoy, his line was ended i.e. Theon’s “toy” being taken away by Ramsay, so Stannis knows that Mel is no joke. But this crimson creep tried a few episodes ago to convince him to burn Shireen and Stannis, still being the Mannis, put her in her place. But now? Stannis is running out of options, food, horses and men. He’s a desperate man, and he chose to give up the one thing he loved and fought for: Shireen. Now when I vented my rage on Facebook, a friend posted this quote from the books, and I believe it is important to keep in mind, however the burning of Shireen Baratheon does not occur in the books. Take it as you will while I go mope. “…so long as I am the king, I have a duty … If I must sacrifice one child to the flames to save a million from the dark … Sacrifice … is never easy, Davos. Or it is no true sacrifice.”

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While we’re in the North, let’s talk about what’s going on at the Wall. Pretty brief this week. Jon and the wildlings return in massive numbers. Allister Thorne is pissed. Jon can feel his death stare from 600 feet up the wall as they have a stare down. Thorne calls for the gates to be opened. As the wildlings file through, Jon, who murdered a White Walker, is all bent out of shape due to the casualties. Sam reassures Jon that his acts of courage matter to each and every wildling making their way through Castle Black. Wun Wun is okay (Thank the gods) which means, he was tall enough to walk along the bottom or Michael Phelps’d his way across the Shivering Sea. Wun Wun’s presence visibly jars the entire Night’s Watch. You’d have that look on your face if you saw a giant for the first time too. Allister sidles up to Jon and offers him the most backhanded compliment yet seen on Game of Thrones. “You have a good heart Jon Snow, it’ll get us all killed.” Jon has gambled pretty hard on the wildlings, and after seeing what he saw at Hardhome, our curly haired hero is in doubt, and thinking maybe, just maybe Thorne might be right.

In Braavos, we see Lana back at the oyster biz. Literally just for the clam pun, Arya/Lana is accosted by creepy dude who asked her “how much for yours”. Don’t really need to spell that out for you guys, just gross. Was that, necessary B and W? What wild amount of character development did that achieve? Grumble grumble. Arya sees the thin man that Jaquen told her to kill. You could almost hear the James Bond theme playing. But, like I thought may happen in my previous review, Arya sees Meryn Trant instead. DUN DUN DUNNNN. For those of you who may not be familiar with the character, Trant is one of Cersei’s pet Kingsguard who was tasked with accompanying literal Santa Mace Tyrell to Braavos to meet with the Iron Bank about the debts the crown is in. Arya has a major hate on for Trant because he killed her swordsmanship teacher or “dancing master” as Arya referred to him, Syrio Florel back in season one. Syrio was a bonafide badass, former First Sword of Braavos, and gave us the non-book found quote “There is only one god, and that god is Death. And what do we say to Death? Not today.” Other than “Winter is Coming”, it’s arguably one of the more memorable quotes from the series. Alas, like so many others, Syrio died at Trant’s hands, defending himself with a wooden training sword, as was mocked by the Hound during Arya’s travels with him. Sandor Clegane stated that Trant won because “…he had armor, and a big fucking sword.” Tycho Nestoris greets Mace Tyrell at the docks. Tycho is portrayed by the wildly talented Mark Gatiss, who can be seen as Sherlock Holmes’s older brother Mycroft in the BBC Sherlock series, and had a meeting with Stannis and Davos in an earlier season. Arya is actively ignoring thin man, who is calling to her and follows. The man didn’t get his oysters. I know that feel bro, every time I think the waiter/waitress is coming with my food. But it isn’t my food…excuse me, I need a moment. Arya waits it out while Mace, Trant, Tycho and guards enter the Bank and then leave in a change-over shot. I had my captions on, and Mace said something about celebrating, so I’m guessing the meeting went well. Mace, being the jolly Santa he is, starts singing. You can just see how uncomfortable everyone is and it makes Mace that much more of comic relief. I really love the guy. Later, Arya follows Trant and guards to a brothel. She’s about to be kicked out by the bouncer, nearly unheard of, that normally happens to dudes who don’t have any girls with them. But thankfully, a whore wants oysters and she comes inside. Trant goes in with some ladies. Trant rejects two whores for being “too old”. Now, these ladies weren’t exactly grey, so that leads me to believe Trant likes em a bit….prepubescent. Arya gets invited in for some oysters by Trant’s guards. He gives Arya a quizzical look and you get that feeling in your stomach that perhaps to cross the name off her list, Arya might go a bit farther than expected. Thankfully, the brothel has a younger whore on staff who is dressed in very non revealing clothing, which would lead us to suggest that she isn’t a whore at all, but perhaps a serving girl or something else. Trant’s eyes light up like he’s in Westeros Chuck-E-Cheese and takes the girl to another room. Trant asks the brothel madam for a “fresh one” tomorrow. I physically shuddered, no joke. I’m assuming Trant is really into either sex with virgins or very young women, but only once? Hate to shame, but that’s a pretty weird kink, bro. Arya sees what she has to do and it’s more than likely going to be very uncomfortable to watch. Arya lies to Jaquen saying the thin man wasn’t hungry. Jaquen replies with an indecipherable dig “Perhaps that is why a man is thin.” I couldn’t really get a read on that, whether or not Jaquen knows or not that Arya or “Lana” rather, screwed the pooch on the poison oyster job, but we are very close to seeing a dramatic conclusion of Arya’s long awaited first kill as a Faceless Man. I also really gotta hand it to Maisie Williams, who while not having a lot of dialogue, tells a lot of emotion through facial expressions. This is more often than not during pretty intense scenes, and is a wonderful way to build tension.

In Dorne, Jaime is brought before Doran Martell. With him are Ellaria Sand, Trystane Martell, and Myrcella. Jaime makes a dig Myrcella about her dress, implying she must be cold due to its revealing nature. She sasses back that the climate agrees with her. Reaaaally trying to keep up the whole “I’m not your dad! Whaaat? I’m your uncle, silly goose” act, Jaime. He tells Doran about the viper message with Myrcella’s necklace. Ellaria is lookin pretty shady, as she’s been found out. Doran toasts to Tommen’s health, and Ellaria pours out her glass. Dude, we get it. You don’t like the Lannisters. Hardly anyone does. No reason to waste good wine. Doran cuts a deal, that Myrcella can come back as long as her and Trystane still get married and gets Oberyn’s previously held seat on the small council before his skull crushing finale. Jaime is down. Ellaria and Doran have a spat and she leaves in a huff, Doran actually threatening to kill her as she leaves. Jaime asks about Bronn, who we last saw being poisoned and dick teased by the Sand Snakes in prison. Doran will release him on one condition. Areo Hotah (That’s the huge guy with the ax that’s always hangin around Doran. I know! I didn’t know he had a name either!) unlocks Bronn and brings him before the meeting. Doran’s condition is fulfilled as Bronn is decked out by Areo. Physical comedy, everyone laugh. Later, Doran meets with Ellaria, asking her to give him allegiance or give him death. Her death specifically. Ellaria, in tears, kisses the ring Godfather style as she abandons her quest to avenge Oberyn. Doran warns “I believe in second chances, I don’t believe in third chances.” It was pretty big talk for the Professor X of Game of Thrones, but we know Doran can back it up. Ellaria meets with Jaime, drops the incest bomb, and explains differences between Dorne and rest of Westeros. “It’s always changing, who we’re supposed to love and who we’re not.” She says, explaining that no one would have bat an eye at his incest if he was a Targaryen. I can see it now, Jaime Targaryen. White flowing hair, brilliant dragon armor, bat.shit.crazy. Ellaria says that she knows Myrcella had nothing to do with Oberyn, and that perhaps Jaime didn’t as well.

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The great pit is at capacity. Its crowd cheers and lusts for blood and fighting. Tyrion, Dany, Daario, Missandei and…..that other guy Dany is married too are presiding. Dany has to clap her hands to begin the fight. She does that “don’t really wanna do it but have to” kind of claps and the crowd just goes wild. It’s like they’re cheering for her internal struggle, and that is something I can get behind. Daario brags about the differences between a small, quick fighter and a large slow one, as is what is on display in the ring. Daario talks about how he never worried going up against large opponents, and gets owned as the smaller, quicker fighter is beheaded. No surprise really. I hate to geek out but sword and shield versus a two handed great sword wielded by someone who can really swing it? It’s a no brainer. Weird guy defends the Great Games stating how important they are to Mereen, and is subsequently subtly dissed by Tyrion. “My father would’ve liked you”. Oof. Have I stated how happy I am to have Tyrion sass on this side of things? There’s some trouble in paradise as Dany threatens to destroy Mereen….for some reason… Seriously, that whole conversation came out of nowhere and escalated real fast. Jorah enters the pit, and Dany and he stare. It was so solemn. Emilia Clarke registered worry, confusion, hatred, and admiration all in one jigsaw puzzle of facial expression. She claps. Throughout the fight, continual shots show that Dany seems worried about Jorah. Jorah seems to be doing well, and after his first kill, Jorah starts to begin fighting a water dancer style swordsman with a sword like Arya’s Needle, but I might just be overthinking. Things start to look bad for Jorah as he is knocked to the ground and disarmed. Dany imperceptibly jumps. Jorah’s would be killer is killed from behind by another fighter. He gets his feet and after a struggle Jorah pulls an amazing dodge roll and kills the final participant. I mean, you gotta give the guy credit, he’s around sixty. Jorah tosses the fighters spear right at the seats that Dany and co are on. Who was he aiming for? Daario for stealing the affection of the woman he loves? Tyrion for betraying him and having him removed from the city? Daenerys? Would he kill the woman he loves? Not Jorah Mormont, ladies and gents. The spear hits a Son of the Harpy who was sneaking up on Daenerys and friends. The Sons are in the crowd, their golden Harpy masks littering the faces. The Sons begin killing indiscriminately. Civilians are screaming and running, Unsullied soldiers are getting killed in the stands, and it’s just general chaos. Dany’s husband gets killed by some Harpies, bringing forth a collective sigh of relief from the fans. Jorah makes a huge save, and after a long look that can best be described as “I hate you and you hate me, but shit just hit the fan” teams up with Daario. Jorah holds out his hand for Daenerys, silently asking to help, and she accepts, taking hand and attempting to lead her to safety. Tyrion saves Missandei from a Harpy. For a little guy, he’s pretty good a killing. Sons of the Harpy flood in from every side, surrounding Daenerys and company, blocked only by a ring of Unsullied. Things are   looking grim for our heroes. Is this the price Dany must pay for her rule over Mereen? After a cry that stops everyone’s heart, Drogon, Daenerys’s third dragon who had gone MIA, swoops in for the save. Drogon proceeds to eat and burn the Harpies and the tone shifts. At a point, it seems like Drogon might die, suffering multiple spears. Dany, amidst the chaos, approaches Drogon, and is roared at for her efforts. This is similar to both times Drogon has defied her in the past. And yet, it stops. She reaches out with her hand, inches from his snout, and Drogon remembers his mother. Daenerys climbs atop Drogon’s scaly back and gives him the command of what we can assume is High Valyrian for “fly” and then Dany rides away atop Drogon just like her ancestors. The episode ends with Daario, Tyrion, Jorah and Missandei looking on in amazement as Drogon roars. This was massive for Dany, as she is reclaiming her destiny, and while the Harpies may not be defeated, for now, a massive blow was struck. She now has her three dragons back, and Jorah may face some sort of pardon for his help. And she doesn’t have to deal with her dumb guy husband anymore. It’s an uplifting moment to offset the burning of a small child earlier in the episode. Thanks Benioff and Weiss, really filling the void.

Thanks for reading. Berate me in the comments

-Zach P.

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Posted on June 9, 2015, in Geekology, Tales from Westeros, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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