What a gamechanger.
Before we get to the iconic final scene, it’s worth noting that The Dance of Dragons contains what is probably the single most horrifying thing this show’s ever done (well, it almost rivals The Red Wedding). I am of course talking about Stannis sacrificing his daughter to “The Lord of Light”. Everything from Shireen’s haunting screams piercing the air to her mother failing to save her are traumatic to watch. But Stannis? Stannis is completely convinced by what he must do, and it’s a terrifying thing to watch after the character had become so likeable this season (particularly in his relationship with Jon Snow). What makes this development even more depressing is the fact that Stannis sneakily sends Davos away to Castle Black before going through with the sacrifice, knowing full well that his advisor’s righteousness would have been an obstacle. Ultimately, Shireen’s sacrifice is tremendously dark and brutal, but it’s also insanely effective in terms of moving the narrative forward.
For the second week in a row, Game of Thrones produces a mindblowing sequence that bookends the hour in astounding fashion. It starts out simple enough with Dany overseeing the opening of the fighting pits as Jorah makes yet another return appearance. And then, in a most chilling moment, Jorah throws a spear towards Dany and saves her life as the Sons of the Harpy attack. What follows is a tension-soaked series of events as Daario and the gang struggle to keep Dany alive in the middle of the coliseum (bye bye Hizdhar). And then, in an utterly transcendent moment as Dany holds Missandei’s hand and all hope is lost, we hear a dragon screech as Drogon finally returns to save his mother while barbecuing everything in sight. The moment where Dany finally climbs on top of Drogon and soars into the air is the kind of scene that we’ve been waiting for since the dragons were born in the season one finale, and it feels enormously well earned and satisfying. I dare anyone to not get goosebumps with the rousing music as Dany’s comrades watch in awe. Wow.
Finally, Arya has a compelling subplot this week as she got close to poisoning “The Thin Man”, only to witness Ser Meryn Trent’s arrival in Braavos and spy on his depravities in a whorehouse. I wish she intervened instead of going back and lying to Jaqen, but at least this storyline is finally going somewhere. Kudos!
Bits & Beheadings
– The image of the flaming horses in Stannis’ camp as Melisandre casually watches is strangely beautiful.
– Did anyone think Alliser wouldn’t open the gates for Jon and the Wildlings? I debated it for a moment.
– Olly is still not happy. No surprise there.
– Interestingly enough, Shireen is reading a book with the title of the episode as she tells the story of the Targaryen civil war. It’s also the name of one of the GOT books.
– Love how Doran threatens Ellaria after she pours her drink and refuses to toast the king.
– Bronn is released from prison (and the Sand Snakes’ useless hand clapping game). The condition? He gets punched for laying a hand on the prince.
– If you needed more proof that Trent was disgusting: he repeatedly calls the prostitutes too old, until finally settling on a poor innocent girl and asking for a “fresh” one for the next day.
– What is Ellaria up to? I didn’t buy her swearing allegiance to Doran or apologizing to Jaime.
– Heartbreaking scene between Stannis and Shireen as the latter pleads that she wants to help her father, and you can tell he has already made his decision.
– So sad: Shireen is holding on to the wooden deer that Davos gifted her as she walks towards the pyre.
– Nifty shot with a head getting decapitated, framed by Dany and Hizdhar on either side.
– Tyrion says that Tywin would have liked Hizdhar. So true!
– Notice Dany’s dragon necklace. Very cool!
– Jorah taking Dany’s hand. Awwww! But won’t his Greyscale infect her?
– Tyrion saving Missandei was one heck of a badass moment. I love having Tyrion in Meereen.
– I like to think that when Dany closes her eyes and looks up into the sky, she’s not giving up, but telepathically calling Drogon to save her.
– Drogon munching on Harpies is oh so satisfying.
– Loved Dany pulling a spear out of Drogon. She needs to be more hands-on.
– Sure the dragon CGI could be better in the end, but this is a TV show after all and there are limitations. I’m thankful we got what we did.
Kings & Quips
Alliser: You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It’ll get us all killed.
Doran: (to Ellaria) You are mother to four of my nieces, girls I love very much. For their sake, I hope you live a long and happy life. Speak to me that way again, and you won’t.
Arya: The thin man wasn’t hungry today.
Jaqen: Perhaps that is why a man is thin.
Ellaria: (to Jaime) 100 years ago, no one would have blinked an eye at you if you’d been named Targaryen. It’s always changing, who we’re supposed to love and who we’re not. The only thing that stays the same is that we want who we want.
Tyrion: In my experience, eloquent men are right every bit as often as imbeciles.
The second perfect hour in a row. Absolutely remarkable!