Hello everyone and welcome to another episode 9 of Game of Thrones! I apologize once again for being unavailable the past couple of weeks to do a proper recap. I had no idea when that happened that we'd be getting the amazing episode we got last week! And we still had plenty of discussion about it! With that said, I always suspected episode 9 would contain some form of the amazing conclusion we got this week. And it was nothing short of spectacular! The other moments in the episode were just as important and one in particular will probably ruffle a few feathers. Let's dive in!
As per usual, I have read all of the books, which is becoming less and less important as we near the end of the written material. In terms of spoilers, I try to avoid spoiling book plots that have not occurred to my best knowledge in the show. Once they do occur, I speak to the differences. In the comments book readers should note ***SPOILER*** or *** BOOK DISCUSSION**** if they are about to post something about book plots yet to happen.
Here we go!
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The North (enroute to Winterfell)
The snow is getting worse, Stannis's men are freezing. Ramsay's 20 men struck in the night and Melissandre had a sense of wrongdoing. This sets the course for a pivotal decision Stannis must make.
- We learn from Davos that they lost 100 men, all of the food stores, some horses were lit on fire and weapons were destroyed. They're basically stuck. They don't have enough food to get back to Castle Black and are not in a position to take Winterfell.
- Stannis orders Davos to head back to Castle Black and demand more food and supplies. It's really an excuse to get Davos away from counseling him out of doing what he feels is necessary.
- Davos has a touching scene with Shireen thanking her for all of the help she has provided. He gave her a stag that he made (the Baratheon Sigil).
- Shireen discusses a story she's reading of The Dance of Dragons. (Fun note: The 5th book in a Song of Ice and Fire is titled A Dance With Dragons) It's basically about a Targaryan civil war where brothers fought brothers and dragons fought dragons. It was set up as a device for Stannis to talk about his hard choice he has to make, but if you want to read more of the background of the Dance of Dragons you can do so here.
- We are well aware what Melissandre suggested must be done to continue winning and for Stannis to fulfill his destiny. She wants royal blood sacrificed to the Lord of Light. Stannis has set plenty of people on fire in his quest for the throne. The show has been setting this plot up to be a shocker since they gave Stannis a heart and had that great scene with Shireen where we know how much he loves her.
- But, we now know how much he believes he has been chosen by the Lord of Light to save Westeros. (Book Talk note: The prophecy calls to the return of Azor Ahai which legend speaks to him saving the realm from the White Walkers many ages ago. In the books, there are lots of theories who Azor Ahai might be. We're not sure how much this will come into play in the show, but it seems pretty significant. You might not want to google Azor Ahai just yet!)
- Little does Shireen know, but she helped Stannis make his final decision by implying she wants to do whatever she can to help her father. He then asks for her forgiveness. The next scene we see is Shireen being led to a pyre where Melissandre awaits. I think we all expected SOMETHING to intervene and they certainly teased an intervention. But this is Game of Thrones! And in the end, Shireen was burned a the stake while her parents watched. The surprise was that Selyse was the one that broke and tried to save her daughter. Stannis looked horrified the whole time, but with resolve to not do anything. RIP Shireen and WOW Game of Thrones. I'm a little shocked they went there! Granted, it's been a massive speculation from book readers that this plot would happen.
- Let me clarify. In the books there is another sacrifice attempt at the Wall, but it does not involve Shireen. There is a character that wasn't even introduced in the show. Mance Rayder had a wife and a newborn child. After Mance was "killed" (in the books he really wasn't. It was the Lord of Bones disguised to look like Mance. Lord of Bones/Rattleshirt was just killed in the show last week by Tormund Giantsbane), Melissandre looked to sacrifice his child. Jon Snow meanwhile, swapped Gilly's baby with Mance's son. Jon sent Sam and Gilly far away with Mance's son. The ruse worked and both children are safe for the time being in book land. But, since we're in a show that is moving forward at an increasingly crazy pace, we had Shireen burned at the stake. I've read several comments from book readers that don't understand this move by the writers. She is afterall, Stannis's only heir. If he truly is supposed to take the Iron Throne, who would be his successor? There are no more Baratheons! Well, I guess there are Robert's bastards, i.e. Gendry (still rowing to King's Landing!).
- In any case, I'm decided on how I feel about this plot, but it certainly was disturbing to watch as many scenes this season have been. The show certainly didn't give us time to process it last night as it piled on Dany's story right after! (Which we'll get to)
Jon Snow arrived at the Wall from the North side with thousands of wildlings and Wun Wun (Giant) in tow. Alliser hesitated but let them through.
- Jon believes he was a failure, but Sam insisted that all of those people he brought are alive because of him. I would've thought the first thing Jon would've told everyone was what they dealt with at Hardhome, but I guess they're saving that for the finale.
- Instead, we get an upset Alliser Thorne, who once again complimented Jon Snow first. He told him he has a good heart, but that it'll get them all killed.
- And let's not forget we had Ollie brooding in the corner at Jon Snow. Things should get interesting next week!
This isn't saying much, but this was probably the best storytelling from Dorne we got all season. But the whole story from start to finished has been a little contrived. Basically, in the end, all was forgiven and Myrcella will be sent back with Jaime to avoid war. Well, wasn't there another way to go about all of this then? Key points:
- Ellaria Sand would not toast to King Tommen when everyone else did. But eventually she kisses Doran's ring and all is fine. She even talks to Jaime later about it being okay that he loves his sister. Whaaaaat??
- Sand snakes play the SLAP game in their cell. REALLY???
- It won't be just Myrcella going home, but she'll be bringing Prince Tristane with her. And, he's going to sit on the small council in Oberyn's place. I can't even tell you if this was in the books, but I really don't think it is.
- Tristane is forgiving of Bronn for getting nicked but wanted one thing. Bronn comes up happy to be freed and asks for pie. Areo Hotah gives him a shot to the face (possibly knocking some teeth out) Prince Doran then suggests soup instead. That was my favorite part of all of the Dorne story!
Arya continues her role as Lana selling Oysters on the docks. She was getting ready to poison the gambler and was (WE ARE ALL SO SHOCKED) sidetracked by the arrival of Meryn Trant!
- Let's get this out of the way. If Mace Tyrell is supposed to play a fool in Game of Thrones, he does it spectacularly! Breaking out into song? So awkward and maybe a little hysterical!
- Arya did some stealthy following of Meryn. Maybe not so subtle as it appeared he saw her several times.
- Obviously, we dive more into how awful a person Meryn Trant is as he grumbles to his subordinates and rejects whores for being too old. I was worried for a bit that he was going to see Arya and think THAT is the right age. Can you really put that past the show at this point?
- He certainly did see Arya though but dismissed her. So, I guess this means he doesn't recognize that little girl he once shooed away from her Braavosi Dance Master in King's Landing (Syrrio Forel).
- Eventually Arya was forced out of the whorehouse and he reported back to Jaqen H'gar that the thin man was not hungry. Very untrue and we know Jaqen can sense when she's lying.
- I still guarantee Meryn Trant will see his end by the end of this season and this goes on no book knowledge but common sense!
The Great Games have arrived. If anyone still didn't believe Game of Thrones has been taking a page out of the Gladiator playbook, then look no further than this final setup here. Danzak's Pit was the spitting image of the Roman Colosseum, and it looked amazing! And it played house to a very pivotal scene in the Song of Ice and Fire as well as now Game of Thrones the television show. Granted, the storylines within the fighting pit were a bit different, but the end result was gloriously the same!
- Lots of great banter between Tyrion, Hizdar, Dany and Daario during the first match. They were jokingly wagering on whether the large man or the small and quick man would win. It gave Daario some time to flirt with Dany while playing with his dagger (not a euphemism). In the end though, the large man won bringing a smirk to Hizdar's face. Tyrion got a great line in calling Hizdar an eloquent man and then saying "Eloquent men are right every bit as often as imbeciles."
- But then Jorah showed up in the pit which made Dany hesitate to start the match. She did though and there were lots of close calls for Jorah. In the end though, he barely defeated the last man standing. The fight scenes were amazing, I'll say that but I'm not going to recap them scene by scene!
- The most important part is that Jorah noticed a member of the Sons of the Harpy was about to take out Dany and Jorah through a spear from the pit and killed him. The man always has had her back! Uh oh, there are Sons of the Harpy everywhere in the crowd! Innocents were being slaughtered, Dany's council was defending her.
- Long story short. Hizdar was killed thank goodness! I could be mistaken, but I think Hizdar was in on the Harpy plot in the books. That wasn't the case here. One big difference. Dany actually did marry Hizdar in the books. Doesn't look like it's going to happen here. This might suggest that the Meereen plot will be fast forwarded in the tv show. Hizdar does not die in the books and actually sets forth one more Meereen plot that follows the climactic moment of this episode, season and series. We shall see!
- We also see Tyrion save Missendi which was a nice bonding moment for the two of them. Look out Grey Worm, the imp is moving in on your girl! (just my bizarre speculation, not in the books)
- There is lots more fighting until Dany, Jorah, Daario, Missendi and Tyrion are forced into the center of the pit with some unsullied around them. (Seriously, where is Grey Worm? Oh right, still injured maybe. I could've edited this lapse in memory out, but I'll leave it in.)
- I wonder how many unsullied TV Show only watchers were waiting for Drogon to show up and save the day? Was it hinted at enough in the show? Last we saw him he was hanging out in the ruins of Valyria. But, they did show quite a bit of affection for his mother. I'm guessing it came as a massive surprise as it did for us in the books. He swooped in, ate some Sons of the Harpy and burned the rest of them. But he also got a few spears thrown into him. Dany looked horrified. She pulled one out of him. And then she did what we've been anxiously awaiting her to do. She mounted Drogon, gave the High Valyrian command for "Fly" and flew off! YES!!!!!
- The rest of her crew stood and stared in awe. Where shall Dany go? Is she ready to leave this Meereen mess in the past? If it were the books, there is still plenty of Meereen mess to go with or without Dany (heading into book 6), but we are in a brave new world! I don't consider this too spoilery. There is one more Dany chapter left to cover in the book material and I suspect we'll see it next week.