Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9 recap.
Last week Lainey noted that the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones is usually when the Serious Business goes down, but after last week’s episode featured that amazing battle sequence north of the Wall, we all wondered what could possibly top it. The answer? DRAGONRIDERS. We’re getting into spoiler territory as the season winds down, so back out now if you haven’t watched yet.
This week’s episode deals with power and how it is wielded. Jon Snow is still coming to terms with his power—I would say, actually, that he has not even begun to realize it—but for now he commands the Night’s Watch, and for now, his command holds. It’s precarious, though, and we can see that he senses that. The question for Jon is what he’s willing to do to hang onto the power he has at this moment. Jon is still not the most compelling character, and the Wall is the stupidest place in Westeros, but the more Kit Harrington gets to play Jon as a leader, the more interesting he becomes. I have a theory about Jon Snow, but it gets into serious spoilers and speculation, so if you’d like to discuss it, please email me. Otherwise, that’s it for him this week.
Arya isn’t a leader and her power is limited to a little bottle of poison, but when she sees Ser Meryn Trant, one of the names on her Death List, on the docks at Braavos, she’s faced with a choice. Does she obey Jaqen’s orders and poison the man at the docks, or does she pursue her own agenda and go after Meryn? She’s not supposed to be Arya Stark anymore, so the question is really between her short and long term goals. She could kill Meryn now, but that might risk her ability to gain more power to destroy her enemies later.
One person who’s definitely playing the long game is Prince Doran. I can’t help but feel that the entire Dorne plot has been squandered this season, and the scene between Doran, Ellaria, and Jaime is so anti-climactic it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the episode. But we do see that Doran wishes to avoid war and so goes the political route, agreeing to send Jaime back to King’s Landing with Myrcella, so long as she still marries Trystane, who will also join the Small Council. It’s a bitter pill for Ellaria to swallow, but Doran avoids war and increases Dorne’s power, so it’s not a bad play. Who really cares though? Dorne is the second stupidest place in Westeros.
But the real showpieces of this episode both involve fire. Princess Shireen is finally sacrificed because Stannis is a ruthless man overtaken by a religious zealot, which is a terrible and too often tragic combination. Stannis is beyond the pale now—nothing he could ever do could redeem him after burning poor Shireen alive. It’s gutting to watch, and it would be awesome if next week Ramsay and Stannis kill each other somehow. But this is also the source of Stannis’s power: Not his religious nut witch-advisor, but his willingness to do anything to win. Stannis has backed down once, and as he says, he won’t do it again. At this moment, he’s more terrifying than anyone in House Bolton. Nothing is sacred to Stannis except his agenda.
It’s Daenerys, however, who stops the show. She’s always been a frustrating character because her season one set-up as the Mother of Dragons was amazing, but then she spent four seasons dicking around in the desert, not doing much. But this episode all that pays off as Daenerys becomes the first dragonrider. Let’s all ignore that the CGI gets a bit dodgy and revel in how awesome it is when Daenerys commands Drogon to fly and takes off, escaping the ambush of the Sons of the Harpy. The look on Tyrion’s face captures the majesty and power of that moment, when we really feel Daenerys coming into her own—not sitting on a throne in a pyramid, but taking to the sky with her dragon. This is her greatest power, her ability to commune with these incredible beasts that had disappeared from the world.
We forget, getting bogged down in petty human politics and intrigue, that Westeros is a place of magic, but these last two episodes have been heavy on the magical elements of the show. We’ve seen the ice bearing down on Westeros, and now we’ve seen the fire rising in the east. How long before the White Walkers and dragons are the ones waging war?
Next Week: Brienne returns! (Lainey: hopefully to shank that piece of sh-t Stannis. Or Ramsay.)