It’s ok guys, it’s ok; there are THEORIES!
So the winner of the War of the Five Kings is….Balon Greyjoy!!! Ah, so another season of Game of Thrones comes to a climactic end. Whilst this season has arguably been the worst (of the best) so far, you cannot deny that the finale had some wonderful moments. Well, depending on your definition of wonderful. As it stands now, essentially every story has caught up or even overtaken the books – save for an entire side plot featuring the Greyjoy family which fans are hoping will make an appearance in season 6. This episode popped in to say hi with pretty much every ‘main’ character, so let’s start in the east and do a little banana shaped trip across Westeros and Essos.
The climactic scene of episode 9 was, of course, Daenerys flying off on Drogon. Now, Drogon is still a young’un and not fully grown, so it is understandable why he was hurt so badly from a few blades. We aren’t exactly sure where Daenerys has landed, but due to the arrival of the Dothraki, you can assume it’s somewhere within the Dothraki Sea, which is north of Meereen. It wasn’t revealed who the Khal of this particular khalasar is, but we know that what remains of Dany’s ties with the Dothraki is limited; will she be greeted with welcome arms, or a sword to the face? In the books, Drogon makes himself a home in a cave, which Daenerys calls Dragonstone after her old home. She also gets very ill and has the poos before she seen by a lone Dothraki scout, who then sends for the rest of the khalasar.
Further east, in Braavos, we saw the concluding chapter for Arya this season. After a bit more overkill with Meryn Trant’s evilness (yes, we get it, he’s a dick) Arya is able to finally act out her revenge, wearing the face of the girl that she helped mercy kill a few episodes ago, which was a pleasant scene to watch! What was interesting here was that we saw, in some form, how the faces actually work. They appear to literally be masks that the Faceless Men can chop and change as they please. Additionally, the show also implied truth behind a theory that many fans already speculated – that Jaqen H’ghar is just a face, not a person. Seemingly as punishment for going against the Many Faced God, Arya is now blind, and even that does happen in the books, but under slightly different circumstances.
Over the Westeros now. The slightly seemingly irrelevant Dorne scene concluded with the unexpected death (we assume, anyway) of Myrcella. It was kind of obvious as soon as Ellaria kissed her on the lips what would happen, but my mind was briefly taken away from thinking about it too much as soon as Tyene Sand said “bad pussy” and I cringed. I mean, really? As if the Sand Snakes couldn’t get any worse…. As mentioned prior, this whole side story differs quite dramatically from the books. To avoid mild book spoilers (for scenes that I am 95% sure will not appear in the show), skip ahead to the next paragraphs. Ok? Ok. Well, for starters, Jaime is off in the Riverlands, and nowhere near Dorne. Mycrella is still there, and is guarded by a member of the Kingsguard named Arys Oakheart. Doran Martell’s daughter, Arianne (who sadly does not appear in the show) seduces Arys and convinces him to make Myrcella queen, seeing as in Dorne, age matters in succession, not gender. The reason for this is to largely defy the Lannisters. Without going into too much detail, someone snitches, and Arianne’s little rebellion fails, with Myrcella losing an ear in the process and Areo Hotah (the big guy with the glaive that protects Doran) killing poor Arys. What do the Sand Snakes have to do with this? Well, not much…they kind of just bang on about revenge until Doran imprisons some of them, whilst Ellaria…also doesn’t do much, and is a lot nicer! So, anyway, the question that arises now is 1) how will Jaime react? And 2) how will Doran react? I’ve said before about how much I like House Martell in the books, and unfortunately they haven’t really shone in the series, but there is still in in season 6!
Right, King’s Landing. It was a shame that we didn’t get to hear of Margaery’s fate; so at this stage we have no idea what the High Sparrow has in store for her. In the books, Loras is off fighting on Dragonstone, and so the whole trial surrounding his sexuality doesn’t happen. Instead, Margaery’s own virginity is taken into question (bear in mind that book Tommen is about 8 or so, so they didn’t seal the deal). Nevertheless, I’m sure light will be shed on her early next season. No, instead, the focus was on Cersei and her brilliantly done walk of punishment. It was horrible to watch, in a good way…and it was just about long enough that you felt uncomfortable and, despite what you may think of the Queen-mother, sorry for her. The question that now of course is how will Cersei respond to this? Will she get revenge, or is she truly broken? As an interesting side note: lads, this was just a body double with Lena Headey’s head CGI’d on. Some people are complaining that it looked a bit rubbish, but honestly I don’t think you would know. We very briefly saw the return of Kevan Lannister, standing with Pycelle, in the Red Keep. Kevan has been acting ruler since Cersei’s imprisonment, whilst Tommen pouts in his room. We were also introduced to a new member of the Kingsguard….who looks somewhat familiar…but I can’t quite put my finger on it….
Everything that surrounded Winterfell was show-only stuff. In the books, we last we see of Stannis is that he is marching…forever marching. He does not engage the Bolton force. Sansa is still in the Vale with Littlefinger – in the series, she has taken the role of a character called Jeyne Poole, who marries Ramsay as a fake Arya. Nevertheless, Theon still steps up and leaps from the walls of Winterfell with her to freedom…only to run into Stannis’ army. Right…let’s talk about Stannis. Despite being a Stannis fan, I don’t feel as upset about his death as I thought I would. It was almost inevitable. He became such a tragic figure, and as I mentioned last week, truly desperate. But, like the man he is, he went down a trooper, in the most stoic, Stannis way possible. So, yes, whilst I am a bit gutted that the One True King is dead (in the series, anyway….), it’s almost a relief. Now, all the legit Baratheons are dead… On the plus side, Brienne finally got her revenge…at the expense of forgetting all about Sansa. Shame we didn’t actually get to see the fight, but I guess a lot of the budget was spent on Drogon and Lena’s head. Now, Melisandre…what is your game? You got the impression that her confidence in Stannis was waning as this season went on, especially after her interactions with Jon. Which brings us on to…
The Wall. Firstly, Sam. Now this conversation is carried out a little differently in the books, and it’s actually Jon who insists that Sam go to Oldtown to become a maester, pretty much as soon as he is elected Lord Commander. Sam also takes Gilly, the baby, and Aemon with him, the latter of whom still passes away, but during the journey. Melisandre never actually goes with Stannis, and stays at the Wall. As do Shireen and Selyse, who are still very much alive. The climactic events happen in a slightly different albeit somewhat similar way too. In the books, the Night’s Watch are annoyed at Jon not just due to his empathy with the Wildlings, but because he wants to attach Winterfell to remove the Boltons from power (and existence). The attack on Jon happens through the teary eyes of the Watch brothers, and is not led by Alliser Thorne. Jon is also not tricked about Benjen either – no, no one has heard from Benjen since A Game of Thrones. Also, Olly isn’t there, because that little bastard is a show only character. Nevertheless, Jon is assassinated “for the Watch”. This is where book readers are; “[h]e never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold.” BUT DON’T WORRY!!! Since this happened in A Dance With Dragons back in 2011, fans have been scrambling together any theories they can on how Jon might have somehow survived this assassination. Now, show Jon looked pretty darn dead to me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will stay dead. One theory is Melisandre. She returns to the Wall, but for what purpose? We know she has a bit of an interest in Jon, and know that Red Priests have some sort of power that allows them to bring back the dead – think back to season 3 with Thoros and Beric. I believe that she will use her power to resurrect Jon. This may well change the Stark bastard, but changed Jon is better than no Jon, isn’t it? Kit Harington has said in a very recent interview that Jon is dead…but my argument is that he wouldn’t really turn about and go “nah he comes back”, right? RIGHT?! It also seems kind of weird that they would kill off our only real link to the Wall. Sure, Melisandre and Davos are now there too, but they are more supporting characters. There are also dozens of other theories surrounding Jon, such as his parentage, or whether he is some kind of ‘chosen one’, and whether the title A Song of Ice and Fire alludes to him partially. Also, he had his stare down with big baddie White Walker, the Night’s King in episode 8…surely that was not for nothing….right?! Well, until either The Winds of Winter or season 6 are released (the latter, I’m sure), I guess we can keep on speculating.
Well, now you have just under a year to kill. My advice? The same as last year: read the books. They are phenomenal, and further expand on this world that we know and love. As for me, I need to find some games to review…
So….Meryn Trant likes…kids?
First, let’s take a moment to appreciate Doran’s awesomeness. Finally. After nine episodes, he is finally given his due. Doran is very smart man, and not at all rash like his brother: he bides his time. We see in this episode, though, that despite being in a wheel chair (from severe gout, if you remember) he still holds great power and is well-respected. It is unfortunate that these Dorne scenes have been pretty filler…and pretty awful filler at that, but it least it has nearly concluded without any serious causalities, and has provided us an insight (albeit small) into how Doran rules, and his motives. And Trystane’s weirdly hairy chest.
In all honesty, most of episode 9 was largely self-explanatory, so I’ll just focus on the two ‘big’ scenes of the week: Stannis and Daenerys. Let’s begin in the north. With winter closing in around them, Stannis and his army are truly struggling. Especially when scoundrels like Ramsay come and set stuff on fire. I can’t help but laugh at the irony as Melisandre steps out of her tent to a sea of flames and a Ponyta. How brilliant would it have been if the downfall of Stannis’ conquest was fire? I mean, after this week’s episode, but proxy it just may be! So, yes, Stannis sacrificed his daughter to the Lord of Light. Now I feel it’s important to add here that this has not (yet) happened in the books – book Stannis is currently trudging along in the snows with his army still, whilst Shireen and her mother stay at Castle Black. The main things that afflict book Stannis’ army is the lack of food and endless marching. This whole section of the book is also told from the point of view of a character that hasn’t even encountered Stannis once in this entire series, though whether or not they pop up in episode 10 remains to be seen. Despite not appearing in the books, Shireen’s sacrifice was apparently headed up from the evil mind of George R. R. Martin himself, and not from Benioff and Weiss – which is who most people will turn to blame when something happens in the show they do not like! So, why did Stannis do it? Well, this is my quarrel with the whole thing. We saw that lovely scene earlier in the season between Stannis and his daughter. Then, last episode, he shooed Melisandre out from his tent when she merely hinted at the notion of sacrificing Shireen. I feel that his decision would have been more believable if we had seen one more episode – one more scene even – of Stannis pondering it over, as opposed to this apparent sudden choice. My personal opinion on Stannis hasn’t really changed because of it – he did it because he thinks that it is the only way he can save the realm, essentially, and you could see the pain in his eyes as the execution is carried out. I’m not saying it was right, or even justified, but in his mind it was the only option. The sacrifice itself, I feel, was almost inevitable, what with the amount of time dedicated to building Shireen’s sweet, innocent character this season, as well as the ominously foreshadowing conversation between her and Davos earlier in the episode. Also, Davos said something about hearing about her story “when he gets back”…and from past experience we know that in Game of Thrones, if someone says that, they (or the recipient of the conversation) are going to die… My personal prediction was that Selyse, at Mel’s bidding, was going to go behind Stannis’ back and do it, to which Stannis responds with a firm backhand, but in fact it was her mother’s crying, along with Shireen’s screams, that really made this whole scene very haunting. Stannis is truly desperate. He has made a number of speeches about the needs of the many over the few, and that sacrifices aren’t easy, “that’s why they are sacrifices”, but one cannot help but pause and wonder if the Stannis hype train is really going in the right direction… But then again, he sneakily murdered his brother and has sacrificed countless people in the past, so what’s so different about a daughter…?
Say what you will on the episode as a whole (though I quite enjoyed it), but you cannot deny that once again we were treated to an epic ending. What began with some well-choreographed fighting and a bit of Daario suave ended in what can only be described as slightly-bad-CGI-dragon-epicenes. Meereen, as we know, is plagued by the gang known as the Sons of the Harpy (RIP Barristan). These ex-slaves and Masters loath Daenerys for what she has done to their city, and won’t rest until her head is on the edge of a rusty blade. Apart from that, we still know very little about them, such as whether they have any ulterior motives, or even who their leader is. One of my guesses was Hizdahr, so I was extremely shocked and surprised to see him viciously stabbed to death (and felt a pang of sympathy). Now, there are those on t’internet who believe that Hizdahr’s death was staged, and that he is in fact still alive, and it was all a ruse…but I think it looked pretty convincing. I think he is pretty dead. This scene is somewhat similar to its book counterpart, the key difference being that book-Jorah is somewhere else (and Tyrion, too). Still, Drogon is drawn in by the scent of blood and lands in the pit, singeing all who come near, until Daenerys mounts him and soars into the skies, leaving behind the chaos to her bemused followers. Despite the questionable CGI, I thought this scene provided another brilliant end to a decent episode. Even Jorah’s Dark Souls inspired forward roll kill was pretty epic…though not as epic as the Spartan inspired spear throw. Well done Jorah.
Before we conclude, the word “Graces” was uttered by a character during this final scene – I forget who. Anyway, the Graces are a group of healers or priestesses in the area surrounding Meereen, led by the Green Grace, who acts as an advisor of sorts to Dany in the books. So far, they have been omitted from the series, so it’s interesting to hear their name dropped, even if it was for a second. Will we be delving more into the political side of Meereen next season? I’m also curious about the Unsullied, and how, for lack of a better word, shit they have been this season. The argument here is that they are not trained for this kind of combat, and lack proper field training, but nevertheless they got pretty much butchered by…well, civilians. I hope someone has an answer for this! I assume Grey Worm was resting in bed as this whole shabang went on…
As mentioned last week, The Dance of Dragons’ episode title is taken from the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Obviously, the title prominently refers to the climactic Meereen scene and Drogon, but it was also referred earlier in the episode via the book that Shireen was reading. The final episode of the season is titled Mother’s Mercy, so put your speculation hats on now and start guessing what that’s about!
This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
Happy Father’s Day, Tywin.
I bet I’m the first person on the internet to make that joke.
So, Game of Thrones is over for another year. What did we all think of the finale? Whilst I don’t think that it was Weiss and Benioff’s ‘masterpiece’, as they claimed it was, I did thoroughly enjoy the episode. Book fans have been simultaneously reeling from the lack of a certain scene, but actually I am kind of glad that it was omitted. Without spoiling anything, the scene that was expected is the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, which is book three in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s a major reveal – I will say no more than that – and would have made a great epilogue to the series. However, had they included it, there episode would have been too packed, I think. There was a lot going on, and a lot of twists and turns in various story arcs. Had this scene been included, I think that it would have taken away from the rest of the episode. Now, I just hope they include it early in season 5, as the longer they wait, the less impact it will have. But I’m not as angry about it being left out as I thought I was, and actually having the episode end with Arya sailing away was quite a nice way to finish the series.
A lot of events unfolded throughout the 65 minute episode, so I will try and cover as much as I can, ending with a note on where the characters all are at the moment.
I’ll start with a scene that was quite easily overlooked: Qyburn and the Mountain. I’m sure that a normal man would have died by the wounds that the Red Viper of Dorne inflicted…but the Mountain is not a normal man. It is revealed here that Oberyn used poison during his fight with Gregor Clegane in episode 8, and this is what is slowly killing him. Qyburn (who was once a maester, but was kicked out for ‘unorthodox’ practices) is the fellow that escorted Jaime and Brienne back to King’s Landing from Harrenhal at the end of season 3. He has been there since, and Cersei has taken quite an interest in him, it seems. Qyburn promises that, through his ‘unorthodox’ practices, he can save Gregor Clegane’s life, but he won’t be the same. As an interesting side note, Qyburn was first introduced in season 3 episode 1, when Robb arrives at Harrenhal after it had been pillaged. Pillaged by whom, you ask? Well, the very person that Qyburn is experimenting on.
Sticking in King’s Landing, Tywin had a very bad day. Firstly, his daughter tells him that his family is built up on incest, and then his youngest son shoots him whilst he is having a poo. Deary me. The most powerful man in the word…killed on the toilet. Here we see the Lannister’s real decline in power. With the patriarchal figurehead eliminated, what will happen to the family now? We already know that the gold mines in Casterly Rock have all but dried up, and the Tyrells are sneaking around, getting their mits into Tommen to manipulate him. Jaime remains in the Kingsguard, and as a result cannot father any children. Indeed, it seems that the Lannister line is all but drying up! Whilst I really enjoyed how Tyrion’s story was played out, I can’t help but be a little upset with some minor variations from the book – it is obvious that Tyrion is a favourite; not just a fan favourite, but Benioff and Weiss’ too. As a result, I think that they are, for lack of a better term, white washing him. In the books, Tyrion is a lot darker. For example (I think I mentioned this before), he once had a singer boiled into stew for threatening to reveal the truth about Shae. In the series, we sometimes see a darker side to him, but not to this extent. Anyway, my point is that Tyrion and Jaime’s departure in the series was on good terms, whereas in the books it is not, which both influences their characters drastically in the next installment. For those interested, this is how it plays out in the books (if not, skip ahead until after the nice picture).
****** SPOILERS KIND OF-ISH BUT NOT REALLY ****
Do you remember the story of Tysha, Tyrion’s first wife? Long story short, Tyrion lost his virginity to her, and then found out that she was a whore, hired by Jaime to help Tyrion become a man. In response, Tywin had his men rape her, and paid her afterwards. Skip forward to the present, and Jaime comes down to the cells to free Tyrion. He reveals the truth about Tysha: she wasn’t a whore; Tywin lied about it to break up up their un-(in his eyes) holy matrimony. Naturally, Tyrion is mega pissed off, and then proceeds to tells Jaime that he did kill Joffrey, and that Cersei has been having sexy time with Lancel (their cousin, in the first and second series), Osmund Kettleblack (a knight from the books) and “Moon-Boy, for all I know” (Moon-Boy is a court fool). The two part ways, peeved at each other – with Jaime questioning his incestuous relationship, which had been perfect up until now, let’s be honest. Anyway so Tyrion encounters Varys, who’s like “by the way, that’s Tywin’s room up there, jus’ sayin’.” Tyrion ventures up, finds Shae in Tywin’s bed as the show portrays (though he seems to be a lot angrier in the books and pretty much murders her in cold blood) before finding Tywin on the privy. The difference in the scene here is that series-Tyrion seems concerned and upset with Shae, whereas book-Tyrion is hung up on Tysha. He tells Tywin he knows the truth, and asks where Tysha is. Tywin replies “where do whores go?” before Tyrion thwangs him with the crossbow. Like Jaime, Tyrion has this line repeating in his head – “where do whores go?” – heavily influencing his character and the decisions he makes. So, I for one am very interested to see how their future stories play out!
Continuing on – so Tyrion finds Shae and kills her out in self-defence, anger, betrayal and sadness. I’m not sure what the weird “I’m sorry” was about, but the scene was very well done. He then finds Joffrey’s old reliable crossbow and hunts down Tywin, putting a big crossbow bolt shaped dent in the Lannister’s power. Varys, who is so awesome, then helps Tyrion escape. Varys is about to return to the castle, but then realises what an awful, silly place it is, and proceeds to boat trip with Tyrion. He doesn’t accompany the Imp in the books, but I’m looking forward to seeing more interactions between the two next season!
Ummm next we have Daenerys. Her exploits in the finale were pretty self-explanatory: Drogon, the largest and most fearsome of her three dragons, went and flamethrowered a young girl. Daenerys wisely finally realises that dragons are actually pretty dangerous, and, full of emotion, chains them up for the time being, which is probably going to end really well. Well, she chains two of them up – Viserion and Rhaegal. Drogon – the most dangerous muthafuzzer – is out hunting and hasn’t been seen for days…
In the North, viewers were treated to some brilliant exchanges between Jon Snow and Mance Rayder, before Stannis shows up and kicks arse. If you recall at the end of season 3, Melisandre tells Stannis that the “true fight is to the north”. So how did Stannis get to the Wall? Last we saw of him, he was in Braavos, which is to the east of Westeros in Essos. From there, Stannis could have sailed north along the Westeros coast and past the Wall, before docking and unloading his troops. But why is he there? Well, to quote George R. R. Martin, Stannis is realising that he shouldn’t become king to save Westeros, but should save Westeros to become king. It is important, however, to note that the Night’s Watch swear they will not align themselves to a specific family or take part in any wars besides their own. This is A Song of Ice and Fire, and it appears that Ice and Fire are indeed now meeting!
Further north, you may be rubbing your eyelids in confusion as to what is going on with Bran’s story. We know that he is trying to find the Three-Eyed Raven (Three-Eyed Crow in the books) from
his dreams, and he knowsthat it is something to do with a heart tree, which, as I mentioned before, were symbols of the Old Gods (Jon burnt Ygritte under one in this episode too). They arrive at the tree that Bran has seen in his dreams, are attacked by undead, and then rescued by a Lost Boy from Peter Pan. This character is called Leaf, and she is one of the Children of the Forest. Some quick background – the Children of the Forest, though childlike in appearance, are not children at all. They’re kind of like Halfling elfy things. The giants called them “little squirrel people”. They lived in Westeros eons ago, before the First Men settled. When the First Men settled, with their bronze weapons and what not, the Children’s weirwoods were all but burnt down, and what little of them remained went into hiding. That’s just a brief history – you can probably find out more online, as it is quite interesting, but beware, for the night is dark and full of spoilers. Leaf leads Bran, Hodor and Merra (but not Jojen as he is now super dead) to the Three-Eyed Raven, who appears to be a man caught in a tree. His depiction in the books is a lot cooler, but I imagine the CGI budget was pretty much spent at this point, what with all of Leaf’s fireballs, so I guess an old man in a tree will have to do. Suddenly, Bran’s story has become interesting again!
Holy Christmas is that it? Oh, no – Arya. Ok, so book-Brienne never meets Arya, and the fight between her and the Hound doesn’t happen – book-Sandor Clegane becomes weakened by a wound he suffered, then Arya leaves him to die – but this was much cooler, and a pretty bad arse fight scene. Arya has obviously become very suspicious of people, which is why her tone towards Brienne changes as soon as “Lannister” is mentioned. Despite that, she still resents the Hound for killing Mycha (the butcher’s boy), no matter how many whacky adventures they have had. Arya is now stone cold, and instead of giving the Hound the sweet, sweet release of death, she leaves him to die slowly and painfully. She arrives at a place known as the Salt Pans (hence all that salt you saw), searching for a vessel. She is lost and alone in the world, but still has one hope: the coin that Jaqen gave her at the end of series 2. “Give this to any man from Braavos and say ‘valar morghulis’”. And off she pops.
So, as it stands –
Bran and co. are beyond the Wall, sheltered from harm with the Three-Eyed Raven.
At the Wall we have Jon and the Night’s Watch, along with Stannis, Davos, Melisandre and Stannis’ men, whilst Tormund and Mance are being held prisoner.
Reek/Theon is at Winterfell, where the Boltons have made their new home.
Sansa (going by the name Alayne) and Littlefinger are in the Eyrie, preparing to depart on a tour of the Vale.
Ayra is boarding a boat to Braavos.
The Hound is left dying on a rock.
Brienne and Podrick are still in the Vale looking for Arya.
In King’s Landing, Tommen sits on the throne, surrounded by the Tyrells, much to Cersei’s dismay. Qyburn is experimenting on the Mountain, Jaime is still a member of the Kingsguard, Tywin is dead, and Tyrion and Varys are also boarding a boat to who-knows-where.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany has chained up her dragons and realises that ruling ain’t that easy, whilst Jorah is moping out in the wilderness somewhere on horseback.
Oh, and somewhere in the Narrow Sea, poor Gendry is still probably figuring out how to row his boat.
I think that just about covers everyone? Apologies if I have missed anyone out.
If you’re feeling a big Game of Thrones shaped hole in your heart, I really do recommend you to read the books. At times, they are quite difficult, tedious, and a tad boring, but overall the story is fantastic and exciting, and gives you so much more depth than the series can. Start with the first book – A Game of Thrones – even if you have watched the series thus far, or else you will miss out. Plus, then you can join in the hundreds of theory discussions online, and, more importantly, gloat and act smug to non-book readers that you have read them…not that I do that, of course. Thank you for reading my episode follow-ups, and I hope that you found them helpful and enjoyed reading them, as I did writing them.