GAME OF THRONES 5.09 ‘The Dance of Dragons’ Review

GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 9

Episode Title: “The Dance of Dragons”

Writers: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

Director: David Nutter

Previously on Game of Thrones:

Episode 5.08: “Hardhome”


Game of Thrones fans, can I talk to you about the Lord of Light?

There are many Gods on the continents of Westros and Essos, but only the Lord of Light has demonstrated real power. The Lord of Light can bring life to the dead, and allow Melisandre (Carice van Houten) to give birth some unspeakable shadow demon. If there’s a real deity in this world, it may very well be the Lord of Light.

But who wants to worship a God that condones child sacrifice?

From this point on, there are full spoilers ahead for “The Dance of Dragons.” You’ve been warned!


It’s been obvious for several weeks now that Shireen (Kerry Ingram) was doomed. Stannis (Stephen Dillane) demonstrated his love for her and refused to have her burned alive at Melisandre’s request. Of course it was going to happen this way. This is Game of Thrones! Most of the truly good people were killed off years ago.

As much as the audience might have grown more attached to Stannis this season, the would-be king of the Seven Kingdoms has demonstrated that he loves power more than he loves family. The crazy thing is that I don’t think that Stannis really believes in the Lord of Light. But on the off chance that Shireen’s death could put him on the Iron Throne, Stannis was willing to let his own daughter die a very painful death.

It was truly a horrible scene to watch. We’ve seen just enough of Shireen to care when she dies. It was gut wrenching even the camera focused on the faces of the soldiers who were forced to watch. Even Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) had second thoughts about sending her daughter to die after hearing her screams.

The most damning thing of all is that Stannis knew how wrong this was and he sent Davos (Liam Cunningham) away on an emergency supply run largely to get him out of the way. If he had been there, Davos would not have allowed this atrocity. For four seasons, Davos has been one of the most moral characters on the show. But after this, how can a man like Davos continue to serve Stannis?

It’s easy to forget that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has also been linked to the Lord of Light. Earlier this season, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) witnessed a red priestess claiming that Daenerys was one of the Lord of Light’s chosen. Although it should be noted that Daenerys doesn’t seem to hold any religion in her heart. And her destiny has never seemed as tenuous as it did this week.

Daenerys’ reign in Meereen has been a disaster despite her good intentions. For the first time, the Sons of the Harpy presented a very real threat to her life in the middle of the Fighting Pits that Daenerys openly despises. Hizdahr (Joel Fry) was an excellent suspect as the ringleader of the Sons, as he was suspiciously late to the games. Shame that he was killed off, as that totally ruined my theory. But I did enjoy the verbal interplay between Tyrion, Hizdahr and Daario (Michiel Huisman).

Barring a major action sequence next week, it looks like the White Walker attack on Hardhome was this season’s epic battle. However, the Sons’ assassination attempt on Daenerys was a thrilling bit of television that brought Drogon back into play. Any time that one of Daenerys’ dragons gets to cut loose is always entertaining. But this was even more meaningful, given Drogon’s open rebellion against Daenerys’ control.

I loved that the episode didn’t present Drogon as being completely unstoppable and he was hurt by some well placed spears. It had been mentioned a few times on this show that the Targaryens of old rode their dragons into battle. I hadn’t expected Daenerys to follow in their footsteps, but that was a great moment.

Things were less great in Dorne, which I hereby rename as “Snore.” It took nine episodes to get Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to the point where he could bring Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) back to King’s Landing, but the journey seems pointless in retrospect. The Sand Snakes have been unrelentingly dull and Ellaria (Indira Varma) became a one-dimensional villainess who was less interesting than when she was just Oberyn’s lover.

I did enjoy Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) and the way he laid down his law, as well as Bronn (Jerome Flynn) getting sucker punched as a condition of his release. But these characters can’t get out of Snore soon enough. And I imagine that Jaime will have some trouble keeping his promise to have Trystane (Toby Sebastian) named to the small council.

In Braavos, Arya (Maisie Williams) abandoned her first target to stalk Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie), who finally arrived alongside Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths). Some of these scenes went on too long, but Mace was hilarious as he attempted to sing and socialize with Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss). It looks like we’ll have to wait a week to see Trant meet his end at Arya’s hands, but I’m more curious about Jaqen’s (Tom Wlaschiha) reaction to Arya’s open defiance of the Faceless men.

Up at the Wall, we only get a brief check-in as Jon (Kit Harrington) and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) successfully bring the Wildlings through Castle Black. I was surprised that the show didn’t build more tension over whether Ser Alliser (Owen Teale) would open the gates. But I did like  Alliser warning Jon that his good heart would get them all killed.

The bore at Snore wasn’t enough to derail Game of Thrones this week. The show is once again peaking as we head into next week’s season finale.