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Game of Thrones Episode Companion – Season 5 Episode 9

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So….Meryn Trant likes…kids?

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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.

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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…?

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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.

A great little addition was the Braavosi Water Dancer!
A great little addition was the Braavosi Water Dancer!

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…

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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!

Once again, Daenerys' eyebrows were on point.
Once again, Daenerys’ eyebrows were on point.

 

Honourable mention of Mace’s singing, too.

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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 6

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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.

And ne’er a Stark
Was seen nor heard.

By which I mean this was the first episode of Game of Thrones not to feature any members of the Stark family at all. Which is pretty cool, considering in the first season they are arguably the centre point. I mean, obviously half of them are dead now, so that may have a lot to do with it, but it’s cool to see how the show develops more and more characters (such as Brienne, or even Yara Greyjoy), bringing them into the spot light. This is what happens in the books too – the two aforementioned characters, among others, become point of view characters and we get to see the world through previously unknown eyes. The show reflects this very well, I think, and it’s a credit to the writing. Saying that, there was one scene in tonight’s episode that bugged me, but more on that later.

Fans were treated to a new location in the show’s introduction in “The Laws of Gods and Men”: Braavos.

Braavos The city is located on the north most point of Essos (the continent across the Narrow Sea when Daenerys is) and is steeped in history. Topographically, it’s like a Game of Thrones Venice – built in a lagoon, the city is comprised mainly of canals and waterways. It is the richest and most powerful of the Free Cities (Pentos, Braavos, Lys, Qohor, Norvos, Myr, Tyrosh, Volantis, Lorath) and is ruled by what is known as the Sealord. At the entrance to Braavos stands the Titan of Braavos, a colossal statue that acts as Braavos’ entrance and line of defence – it lets out a loud boom whenever ships approach, to warn the city (though sadly I don’t think we witnessed this in the episode). Braavos was the home of Syrio Forel, Arya’s swordsmaster, who we discussed last week. It is also where the Faceless Men – the elite group of assassins that Jaqen H’ghar is part of – are based. And, of course, the Iron Bank of Braavos.

The Iron Bank has…a lot of money. They are currently helping to fund the Crown, who as we found out as early as season one, are heavily indebted to them (among others). Stannis seeks out the Iron Bank’s aid because he sees himself as rightful king and – as discussed in my last article – if the Lannisters should fall, the Iron Bank would lose a lot of their money. Stannis, obviously believing that he will win the war, wants to convince the Iron Bank that if they back him, they will receive their debts. But the Iron Bank does not make investments hastily. Mark Gatiss brilliantly played the role of one of the Bank’s most prudent representatives, Tycho Nestoris (though it kind of just seemed like Mycroft had been transported into another world and settled into a new job), epitomising how stern, meticulous and tentative the Bank can be. At the end of the day, they don’t care who sits on the Throne, as long as it is a good investment for them. It isn’t until the humble, brave and honest words of Davos Seaworth that they change their minds. This is a massive blow to the Lannisters, as they have now lost the funding of their biggest investors. We already know that, apparently, Casterly Rock is dry when it comes to gold, so how will the Lannisters pay their debts now?

During the Stannis story arc we were also reintroduced to the infamous pirate Salladhor Saan. We first met him in season 2, when Davos (the two were old friends) was trying to acquire ships for Stannis. After the Battle of Blackwater, Salladhor resigned from Stannis’ cause. We encountered him again when he saved Davos at the beginning of season 3, before convincing Lord Seaworth to abandon Stannis too. Naturally, Davos refused, and was rewarded by Stannis with a dungeon. So now we meet him again, frolicking in some Braavos bathhouse. Will Davos’ promise of wealth entice him to fight for Stannis again?

Meanwhile, some few hundred miles away, we see that Dany is struggling to rule. Not much to say on this scene – it was all pretty self-explanatory (dat dragon CGI doe). Essentially, Daenerys doesn’t seem to really have a game plan, and thought that feeding and ruling over hundreds of liberated slaves, Unsullied, Dothraki and mercenaries would be quite simple. Naturally, when you take over a city, there is going to be strife. We were introduced to Meereenese nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq. The names don’t get any easier. Hizdahr is peed off, as you would be, at seeing his father (a slaver) crucified. We already know Dany has a little bit of madness in her, but no other character has really addressed it until now. But if Hizdahr can see it, and has the courage to point it out, how long will it be until others follow?

I’ve noticed that I have ended the last three paragraphs with open-ended questions, so I will try really hard to finish this one with a good, old fashioned full stop.

Yara's journey.
Yara’s journey. By reddit u/NumberMuncher

Now for the scene that I didn’t particularly like: the Dreadfort. Firstly, Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Theon-turned-Reek is outstanding, terrifying, and very sad. But I can’t help that but think that this scene was just a filler to show that- which would be fine, if it wasn’t so poorly executed. There was quite a lot of suspension of disbelief here, and if you haven’t already guessed, this scene wasn’t in the books. Firstly,  Yara Greyjoy made a big speech at the end of season 3, and another in this episode, about finding her little brother, which was great. Bear in mind, however, that the Dreadfort is right on the other side of Westeros to the Iron Islands, which means that Yara et al would have had to sail all the way around Dorne and up again. Which is fine, it’s obviously been quite a while since she set sail. But you would have thought that after such a long cruise, they would have tried a little harder to get Theon back? So, they break into the Dreadfort – which is currently the ruling stronghold of the North – pretty easily. Before freeing Theon and escaping, Ramsay shows up – topless (but wearing plot armour), pretty much unarmed, and covered artistically in blood from somewhere. Think back to the Greyjoy words – “We Do Not Sow”, and how much Balon Greyjoy was banging on about paying the ‘iron price’ – that is, kill things. The Ironborn are supposed to be seasoned fighters – especially Yara. And yet they are very nearly defeated by a handful of Bolton men and an unarmoured Ramsay, who, if I remember correctly, seems to take out about four of them. Fast forward. The battle is over. Why the hell doesn’t Yara just throw an axe at Ramsay’s face and be done with it? Ok, so Theon is brainwashed and doesn’t want to come, but after sailing literally half way around the world, you wouldn’t expect Yara to just give up like that, would you? And then, and then, these armoured, veteran warriors are chased out of the castle by….dogs? Really? It just all seemed a bit stupid. Don’t get the wrong, the fact that Ramsay would rather chase them out of the castle and humiliate them, rather than kill them, was very in line with his character, but thus far in the series the Ironborn have just been a joke.

Oh well. The series is amazing put it isn’t immortal – I guess they’re always going to have little slipups.

Now the centre point. The scene that is on everyone’s lips as they weep tears of empathetic pain. Oh, Tyrion! As Jaime puts it, that wasn’t a trial: it was a farce. Everyone, including Tyrion, knows what the verdict will be, regardless of any evidence in his defence. Meryn Trant, Pycelle and Varys all give compelling evidence against the Halfman – and whilst the first two generally despise him, I feel that Varys still has a lot of respect for Tyrion. But then, as we all know, Varys has his own agenda, whatever that may be. It was interesting to see Margery’s reactions too, as she is probably the only one in the room, aside from Tyrion himself, who knows for 100% that he didn’t do it. But speaking up would mean the end of her family, and she can’t have that now. Speaking of her family, lol Mace. Roger Ashton-Griffiths plays the bumbling, arse-kissing oaf perfectly – I just want to see more of him gallivanting around King’s Landing, making observations and writing them in his journal (I assume he has a journal of inner thoughts). Shae’s reveal was as heart-breaking as I dreamed it

The Tyrion Dance, not to be confused with the Charles Dance.
The Tyrion Dance, not to be confused with the Charles Dance.

would be, but the standout performance in that scene was definitely Peter Dinklage. His deliverance in the final speech was just…remarkable. Tyrion has finally been tipped over the edge. All of the anger, sadness and betrayal that he must have been feeling at this time – Dinklage channelled it into that speech superbly. But here is a plot twist that Tywin didn’t see coming – a trial by combat! Jaime’s face said it all – he assumes that Tyrion will pick him – which, in his current state, could be very detrimental to both Lannister brothers’ health. Then the question arises who will stand against him? As Cersei is the accuser, it falls on her to pick a champion. Whilst you may assume that she would choose Jaime too, I don’t think that he would ever fight against his brother. So who does that leave? She can probably pick literally anyone in the Seven Kingdoms. There will probably be a mountain of knights piling up, willing to fight for her favour against the evil Imp, but who will she pick?

 

Damn, ending on a question again. I’m so sorry, reader. Or readers, if there is more than one of you. Excelsior!

Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 3

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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.

TOMMEN IS TOO OLD.

Sorry. Episode 4.03, “Breaker of Chains”, was definitely one of the weaker episodes as of late, and one of the weakest overall, IMO. I don’t think that anything has stirred the fanbase up so much more than the “rape” scene, tywinbut we will touch on that later, as well as how our opinions on certain characters change. I have very mixed feelings about this episode –  there were some fantastic scenes such as Tryion and Pod, the sept (pre-rape) and that one bit with Daario…but equally, there were some very disappointing, almost seemingly pointless additions.

Let us begin, as most do, at the beginning. Following immediately after the Purple Wedding (feat. Jack Gleeson as ‘Corpse’), we see Sansa escaping with Dontos, across the water, and into the sly arms of Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. It has been heavily implied that Joffrey was poisoned. ‘The Strangler’, it’s called, not to be confused with the 1970’s English punk band. FUN FACT it’s the same poison that Maester Cressen used to try and kill Melisandre all the way back at the beginning of season 2, remember? Probably not. Anyway, if you’re wondering how it got in to Joffrey’s chalice, go and watch the scene again and keep an eye out. It’s awesome. What’s Pete doing out on the sea, you ask? He has recently been made Lord of Harrenhal (that big place where Arya and Tywin were), and needs to “acquire some sons”. He has sailed off to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Tully. Lysa, if you recall, is the late Catelyn’s sister – the one with the annoying breast feeding son. Baelish allegedly took her virginity, and since then she has apparently been infatuated with him, though it seems that he had eyes for Catelyn. Only Cat. So I imagine that that’s where he is taking Sansa – to meet her lovely aunt. I don’t know what he’s been doing since he left King’s Landing almost a season ago though…fishing, I imagine.

Staying in King’s Landing: with Joffrey’s death, his younger brother Tommen is now heir. As mentioned in me last post, Tommen has recently been recast presumably for a more experienced actor, due to becoming a larger character. I have yet to be impressed with this new (see: old) guy, though. For one thing, I think that he is too old. Tommen dans le books is supposed to be about 8 or so. A lot of characters ages have been upped (Daenerys is about 13…) but for them it makes sense: Tommen is supposed to be a podgy, naïve kid who would rather stamp envelopes and play with kittens than rule. Can you see this guy playing with kittens? I can’t. Of course, they may be taking him in a different direction, with his nativity possibly stemming from the fact that, at some point, he needs to get Margery preggos. Poor Margery. I think that she just wants to get laid… Tommen didn’t have too many lines in this episode though, so it’s still quite early to judge. Though I have to say I loved how blunt that scene between him, Cersei, Tywin and dead Joff was – Tywin outright insulting the recently deceased king – his own grandson – in front of Cersei, who remains brilliantly quiet and poker faced. Obviously, Tommen seems like a much nicer chap than Joffrey, and Tywin wants to break him in early. Perhaps Westeros will finally have a good king?

Meanwhile, locked away like the little rascal he is, Tyrion is awaiting trial for Joffrey’s death. The trial will be headed by Tywin, Mace Tyrell (“who will do whatever Tywin tells him to”) and Oberyn Martell. “But don’t the

#Heartbreak
#Heartbreak

Lannisters and the Martells hate each other?” I hear you scream at your computer/smart phone/tablet. Well, to an extent, yes. As has been established, Oberyn blames Tywin via the Mountain for his sister, niece and nephew’s deaths. However, Tywin knows that he needs Dorne. Interestingly, this is the first time that we see Tywin actually concerned about Daenerys and her dragons across the world. In the olden days, when Aegon conquered Westeros with his dragons, the Dornishmen were the only nation to resist due to their perseverance and promiscuity (that last one may be speculation…) Tywin seems an alliance with the Martells as completing the so-called Seven Kingdoms, and Oberyn probably sees it as an easy way to eliminate Tyrion Lannister, should he want to. All in all, Tyrion is pretty fuzzed, it seems. The discussion between him and Podrick was heartbreaking, ending with perhaps Tyrion’s only true friend leaving him. The fact that Tryion, who in a lot of ways is quite selfish and scheming, would willingly sacrifice his life (by having Pod ‘confess’) to save his squire’s is a credit to the growth of his character, and indeed their relationship.

So dem’s the good. Now the bad.

The scene that has the internet howling for blood: the rape scene. Some context of how this scene comes about: so in the books, Jaime was not present at King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding/death. He arrives afterwards, essentially when this scene in the sept takes place. He arrives to find a disgruntled Cersei, who has been longing for him (albeit sleeping whilst sleeping with about 5 other guys) as much as he has her. The result is a consensual, animalistic sex scene, from Jaime’s POV, next to the corpse of their illegitimate son. Cersei protests at first, as you would if you were about to have sex on your son, but soon gives in. In the series, however, he has already been back for weeks, which completely changes the dynamics. Since he’s been back, Cersei has not touched him. Bear in mind that these two had a super secret sexy relationship before Jaime was captured, so for Jaime to go without for so long, well, one can only imagine! But all he gets is rejection. His blood, and penis, are boiling. Then, when Cersei gives an oh-so-slight, but noticeable, recoil to his golden hand in the sept, that just triggers it. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”. And then…the series, in my opinion, dun goofed. What follows essentially undoes all of the character building that Jaime did in the last season that made him a fan favourite. But is that such a bad thing? At the end of the day, we have to remember that this is still the man that pushed a young boy from a tower window. This is still the man that attacked Ned in the street and dagger-eyed young Jory. Jaime Lannister is not a good man. But we want to like him, which is why so many book readers are upset over this scene – not just because ‘that didn’t happen in the book’, but because this changes EVERYTHING about his character. Yes, the series and the books are different, but at the end of the day this is still an adaptation of a novel, and changing something this big seems…well, ridiculous. This isn’t like making Sansa a bit more wet, or cutting Strong Belwas (look him up…but don’t read too much) – this is a character defining moment, and as a result, our opinion on (show) Jaime has dramatically changed. Because, as a wise man once said, “rape is never ok”. This isn’t the first time that the show has changed a consensual sex scene into one of rape, however. In the very first episode of the very first series, we see Drogo (who also later becomes a fan favourite) rape Dany on her wedding night. In the books, thirteen year old Daenerys, after a bit of fumbling, let’s Drogo have her way with her. So there’s some food for thought.

Oh, sweet, gentle Sam!
Oh, sweet, gentle Sam!

Speaking of opinions on characters changing, what about that Hound fellow, eh? That was a dickish thing to do. The point of this (show only) scene was to seemingly show that, like Jaime in many ways, Sandor Clegane is still not a good person. Sorry guys, looks like we won’t be getting that “Arya and the Hound” spin off any time soon! Sandor Clegane just wants to survive, and as a realist (see “everyone’s a killer) he will do that however he can.

Goodness this has been long. Erm what else should be covered… Angry Wildlings? That was a bit OTT, but I guess it just shows their ferocity. These guys are pissed. At the Wall, Grenn and Ed return from the north north, bringing news of what happened at Craster’s Keep. Jon wants to send a party back to Craster’s to eliminate the Night’s Watch Brothers there, who killed Craster, Lord Commander Mormont and several other Brothers. When Jon was travelling with the Wildlings, he told Mance that Castle Black was garrisoned by over a thousand men, when in reality it is only a few hundred. Jon fears that if Mance’s army falls upon Craster’s keep, he will find out – one way or another – from the ex-Brothers there about Castle Black’s real numbers, giving him no reason to hold back: “he’s already got enough to crush us; he just doesn’t know it yet”.

The last scene, and perhaps the most climatic, saw Daenerys at the gates of Meereen. Meereen is the largest city in Slaver’s Bay – the other two being Yunkai and Astapor, which Dany has already, erm, liberated. Meereen is

Strong Belwas, by Sir-Heartsalot.
Strong Belwas, by Sir-Heartsalot.

a lot different, and a lot richer. They send out a rider to defeat Daenerys’ champion in one-on-one combat, which fails when Daario kicks arse and takes names. In the books, the aforementioned Strong Belwas performs the act, proceeding to poo on the corpse of Meereen’s champion, but Daario was a good choice in Belwas’ absence. Daenerys then uses her loud voice and barrels to intimidate Meereen (and, you know, not her three fat-off dragons), causing fear and mutiny in the city. The Mother of Dragons is building her army!

I’ll finish off by just elaborating a bit on something that has been mentioned a few times already: the Iron Bank of Bravos. What is this? Well, pretty much what it says on the tin. The Iron Bank is an extremely wealthy bank…in Bravos…with clients all over the world, including the Crown in King’s Landing. Tyrion, in season three I think, goes as far as saying that the Bank will begin funding the Crown’s enemies if they are not careful, to ensure they get their money back quicker, which is precisely what Davos’ little epiphany was.  One way other another, the Iron Bank will have its due.

Well that’s it for this somewhat dark episode. I mean dark as in lighting. Seriously, someone in Westeros should discover electricity. Maybe then they could start distributing music too, and people wouldn’t have to only sing “The Rains of Castamere” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry and aggravated? Ahh I’m so funny.