The Dance of Dragons: Game of Thrones Episode 9 Analysis

Wow. That was difficult to watch. Fans of the Game of Thrones HBO series that haven’t read any of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series are probably really enjoying this season. I personally haven’t really gotten into it at all, like many of the other book fans. There have been a good many battle sequences to try and make up for the lack of many in A Feast for Crows, but little in the way of actual substance. Before I continue much further, let me preface this as I always do.

WARNING: The Dance of Dragons (Episode 9) aired on HBO last night as I’m writing this. For those who don’t watch each episode right away, there will be spoilers throughout this post. Once you watch the episode, come back and check out my analysis then. Thanks!

Okay, now back to my previous thought…

I basically skipped on reviewing last weeks episode. I didn’t really see much of a point. Despite an immensely drawn out fight sequence, not a lot happened in the whole episode. Judging by the events of Hardhome, the writers are either having difficulty finding material suitable for what they think their audience will enjoy, or HBO may have demanded more excitement and action to take place this season. There has been quite a lot of action, and I imagine show-only fans are loving it. I’ve read on some posts that people thought episode 8 was the greatest in the series, when I just thought it was a silly equivalent to a Michael Bay movie. Style over substance. I guess if that sells, then you can’t really argue with the mantra. I’m not going to elaborate on last week further, suffice to say that it was essentially pointless, and I think the Night’s King looks like an Iridonian made sweet love to the Lich King from World of Warcraft.

Now onto this week’s episode, The Dance of Dragons…

Tweet

As you can tell from my above Tweet last night, I wasn’t happy with how the showrunners treated a specific character. By the way, if you do follow me on Twitter, thanks! I love you guys. Every follow I get makes me feel all the more vindicated for sacrificing my daughter to the Lord of the Light for a WordPress account! Just kidding, but I seriously do appreciate it. If you like what you read here, please share with your friends.

Speaking of friends and ritual children sacrifices, it doesn’t look like Stannis is going to have a lot of fans after this episode — either from the worldwide audience, or from his actual army, or otherwise. Last night went pretty dark. Too dark for even my tastes. The dude lets Shireen, his own daughter, believe she is helping him out…and then has her dragged to her fiery doom. The whole time she’s just screaming and pleading for help while Stannis’ quickly demoralized army looks on in increasing dismay. It was certainly a bold move for the writers, but I feel like it was only done for more shock value. It just feels like they are just reaching now for ways to push the boundaries as far as they’ll go, instead of focusing on touching on good story points that actually move the plot along.

If you’ve read my past post a couple weeks back that proposes that Game of Thrones’ writers are just essentially phoning it in at this point, then you’ll understand my stance on this episode. This episode is really no different from any of the others so far this season. It’s just endless piles of scenes designed only for shock value. At this point, the show isn’t about little more than just tragedy anymore, which is not the point of these books.

I was much more angry by what Game of Thrones did to Stannis AT FIRST. He isn’t a particularly likeable character, but a small part of me was rooting for him to succeed in his quest. That was until this, obviously. In one fell swoop, HBO has made Stannis one of the most unsavory dudes on television. In A Dance with Dragons (not to be confused with the show), things were indeed starting to look pretty bleak for Stannis, so I’m not surprised if either book or show ultimately kills him off. It’s just a big risk when shows take too many liberties with source material. For all we knew, Shireen was going to be the key to stopping the “white walkers,” and Benioff and Weiss just decide to kill her off because we as an audience would be horrified by it.

Those were my thoughts…at first. That was until I heard that George R.R. Martin suggested the scene to the writers of the show. I’m not sure in what capacity he spoke, but if Martin was the one who proposed this scene, it has potential to actually play off similarly in the books. That certainly changes things, though we’re missing a lot of context to why this is happening now on the show. Supposedly, it’s because the army is demoralized and hungry because Ramsay snuck in and took their food. Shireen’s “king’s blood” is supposed to help them in some fashion… I don’t know. The book will obviously provide more information to go off of so the whole damn thing doesn’t seem like totally needless child murder.

I’m not sure what R’hllor’s (The Lord of Light everyone keeps mentioning) policy is on what constitutes king’s blood, or royal blood in general. Stannis has no real claim to the Iron Throne, at least no claim better than anyone else’s. He follows the succession to the throne being the purported next of kin to his older brother Robert. The very same Robert who stole (usurped, if ya nasty) said throne from Aerys Targaryen almost two decades before this point. What defines the traits of a king that their blood would do any damn thing for The Lord of Light? It’s all bananas.

The whole Shireen thing was painful to watch. Not because I didn’t see it coming, but because I KNEW it was coming, and it was just a terrible circumstance in general. That poor girl! JESUS. I had a feeling that Davos knew what was about to go down, that’s why I was hoping that he would just steal Shireen away and abandon his post as Stannis’ Hand. Nope, just off to request some aid — BRB! What is Davos even going to come back to? I have no idea where the next episode is going to take us from this point. We’re venturing full speed into unknown territory now.

I want to say something plain, and clarify things a bit. Right now it sounds like I’m nothing but a book fanboy. This is obviously true. I love the books. Still, that doesn’t mean I HATE when things aren’t 100% by the book. I want to make this clear — I don’t hate when adaptations stray a little bit from the source material when translating to film and television. Shawshank Redemption, one of my all-time favorite movies was almost nothing like the Stephen King short story it was based on. The screenwriter took massive liberties in the film adaptation…but it worked, chiefly because it was a well written story with a cohesive plot. Game of Thrones is suffering because the writers are usually pretty good at best, and in danger of being akin to sloppy fan fiction at their worst. That is not to say that the episode was bad, because some parts I actually liked.

Interesting things are happening with Arya and Braavos. She continued this week on her path, training to become one of the Faceless Men, under the guise of a canal-wandering oyster peddler. A new, and unexpected development happened, though. One of the people she hates the most — one whose name she used to whisper into her pillow at night — showed up on her turf. Ser Meryn Trant, of the Kingsguard. A lot of people may not remember him specifically. My fiancé certainly didn’t, and I can’t necessarily blame her. He’s usually frowning off to the side somewhere, and often goes unnoticed.

Meryn Trant was one of the dudes who betrayed Ned back in Season One, along with Janos Slynt (the cowardly bald guy Jon Snow beheaded a couple weeks back). He was also one of the people who scrapped with Syrio Forel, Arya’s Braavosi friend and swordplay instructor. Ser Meryn was always willing and eager to do some dirty work for Joffrey Baratheon, often being the knight who would give the defiant Sansa Stark a backhand to the face. There’s a lot for Arya to hate here.

The show did a good job of making him appear even more disgusting and despicable than he already was, as he was depicted requesting a girl that was much too young for him at the brothel. I’m hoping Arya is going to pose as a young prostitute, so that she can kill the shit out of this dude. Meryn is a sonofabitch. It may not go down that way, but this part of the show actually has my interest piqued.

Dorne is just as boring and pointless as ever this week. I don’t want to say that, that’s too extreme. There are aspects of Dorne I like. Doran Martell is interesting, and I’m a big fan of Areo Hotah, even if he doesn’t get much personal screen time. Everything else just seems pointless. They may have been better off just waiting to show the Dorne stuff until a later season, because all it is serving for right now is to occupy Jaime’s attention away from Cersei and King’s Landing. Bronn is always great, though. That man deserves his own damn show.

Then there was Daenerys’ arc in Meereen. I was okay with that whole sequence. Jorah’s life-saving spear throw was impressive, and Drogon’s inevitable appearance was awesome. I’m a sucker for dragons, so it is always hard for me to critique any scene where one is absolutely wrecking an entire coliseum. It was also hilarious to see Hizdahr shanked by a Son of the Harpy. I literally laughed out loud at that part. He was all like, “Here, I know the way ou—FUUUUUUGH!!” The only thing that was questionable was Daenerys’ sudden abandonment of her loyal followers in the middle of a deadly battle. She just hops on Drogon and peaces the hell out. This is similar to the books, but it was under pretty different circumstances. Either way, it’s abruptness made the scene more funny, if not intentionally so. She just said “later” to Meereen and bounced.

I’m not sure where the show is going to go after this point. There are a few scenes in particular that I’m holding out hope for, but after this season…where does it go? Aside form the Greyjoy arc, we are basically completely caught up with George R.R. Martin’s book series. Luckily, we have a year to wait, and hopefully Martin gets the book completed in time for production to begin on Season 6. I don’t know how confident I am in Benioff and Weiss to essentially wing it as they continue with one of my favorite all-time book series.

Final thoughts…
If you like the show, that’s fine. It’s not a bad show. I’ve kind of just been letting the chips fall where they may now and trying to enjoy it for what it is. It’s like how I had to accept that NBC’s Hannibal is going to be a departure from what I felt about the character. Game of Thrones is still entertaining to watch, aside from the little kid murdering. They make everything a big spectacle. All in all, I was entertained. I liked this episode a lot more than the previous one, and am at least somewhat curious about next week’s finale.

Do yourself a favor, though. Read the books. They are amazing! It may even be easier for you now, because you’ll have the advantage of having a face to put to names, which can only enhance the experience.

What did you think about last night’s episode? Are you planning on burning a Stannis effigy in your backyard firepit? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

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