Game of Thrones 5.9 – The Dance Of Dragons

Previously: WE ALL LOST OUR DAMN MINDS (in the best of ways!). We open with Stannis’ men chin deep in the snow, but I guess Fire Crotch Mage doesn’t need a coat? She’s all casually wandering outside in the bitterness when there’s an attack on the camp, most of the tents going up in flames, and a HORSE RUNNING WHILST ON FIRE HORSEY NOOOOOOOO!

Raise your hand if you thought that was a dream? Now slap your face with it because THAT. JUST. HAPPENED. Come on, Davos. Come the hell on, Fire Crotch Mage! WHERE IS THE SECURITY BREACH!?

melissandre game of thrones,

ACTUAL PICTURE OF MELISSANDRE, AKA FIRE CROTCH MAGE, LOVER OF THE LORD OF LIGHT.

Hundreds of horses are dead, Stannis’ food stores and their siege equipment: burned to the ground. Huh, the Bastard Bolton’s got skills after all. I love Stannis’ order to his general: round up the guards from last night, question them, then hang them. YEP. War… War never changes.

[And if you don’t think I”m going to work Fallout4 into everything I do until I have that in my hands, then you haven’t been paying attention to how I do business.]

But… I’m getting some strong “Kill the Newt, Win The Battle” vibes from Stannis checking out Worst Mother Ever and Fire Crotch Mage. [Ha. HAHAHA, oh, sweet Summer Child, she says to herself…]

Further north, Jon and the Wildlings (with a Giant in tow—Wun Wun made it!) approach the gate. Lord Butt Hurt looks down and does nothing… until he reminds Jon that he’s letting them in. He’s the Dwight Schrute of the Watch. (Assistant to the Lord Commander.)

As the Wildlings walk through, the Watchmen shoot them dirty looks. And then Wun Wun saunters into the courtyard and yeah! Remember how y’all laughed at the idea of Giants? How you like this guy, huh? Oh, and he’s probably loyal to Jon, so, maybe ixnay on that utiny-may.

[Can I just say how much I love that the giant moves like he’s giant? There’s heft in his step, he moves at a reasonable speed, and I just have a lot of respect for the people who make the effects on this show.]

Olly gives Jon a dirty look, and I think my theory of him sabotaging Jon is a go, which makes me sad.

Jon Snow Game of Thrones

“All around me are familiar faces… worn out places, worn out faces….”

Other things I love, the super intricate game pieces that Stannis commissions. Who’s his Royal Gamepiece Maker? I like that it’s a priority to have that with him, and not, you know, the Travel Version. At least he didn’t have some peasants haul that awesome map-table—slash–FCM bone table along for the trip.

Stannis wants Davos to ride like the wind to Castle Black for more supplies, and raise your hand if you think it’s because Davos absolutely will not allow Princess Newt to be sacrificed so Stannis can win? Ser Davos’ hand is WAY UP. He goes to smile at Shireen, giving her a carved stag (OHO, HE IS THE GAMEPIECE MAKER), and did you hear that? Like, a massive cracking sound? 0:13:10, for those of you who will watch again.

That was the sound of my heart breaking.

shireen barathen ser davos

HI HAHAH WHO NEEDS A HEART AMIRITE?!

Turns out there were enough pieces of my heart and soul left to be smashed! Huh. Fancy that.

Jaime comes before the Prince, Prince Jr., Daughter-Niece, and Ellaria Sand, but he’s not there to be killed. Prince Doran doesn’t want war because he’s smart. Ellaria Sand doesn’t drink to the toast he offers, but pours some out for her homies (Oberyn) and woman, that is a party foul! Also, it’s not like Doran is a fool. He tells Jaime he can take his niece-daughter as long as he takes Trystane. Oh, and Trystane will be on the Small Council. Sounds good to me, and because Jaime is smart, he agrees. These are two reasonable dudes, I gotta be real. I like what’s happening with them.

Bronn, meanwhile, is still stuck in Sex Prison (those were super popular Troma films in the ’70s!) while Boobs McSand and Bully VonOlderSand play a game of slap-hand. No, they are literally playing slap-hand, when little sister decides to slap older sister across the face. I know those feels. And…. scene.

Arya Stark oysters clams

A Girl has a side job.

Arya is A Girl with her oysters, clams and cockles, with a side of sexual harassment, and then she finds her mark, but before she can get on with it, oho, Lord Tyrell—with his guard of Ser Meryn Trant—pulls ashore. [ESPN announcer voice] She’s gotten one name off her list, will she make it two? OH, it’s a fastball that she didn’t even see, he gets right past her and over the plate!

She’s still got two at-bats, though.

Trant goes into a whorehouse to audition sex partners, and it’s super creepy. Arya gets caught selling oysters to Trant’s men, and I believe Trant is getting a little suspicious, but she’s led away when a very young girl is brought to Trant and all of the skin walks right off my body. ARYA: KILL THAT PIG.

She has to go back to the House of Black and White without accomplishing her task, but A Man knows, says I. She’ll get right on it tomorrow. Mm hm.

In Dorne, Prince Doran tells Ellaria that her rebellion is at an end, or she will die. She chooses to live, even though it kills her inside. She immediately goes to Jaime, explaining how Dorne is a wonderland of incest love and understanding. To… what purpose, lady? (No, really. Where’s she going with this, do you think?)

What’s it called, a comminuted fracture? When your bone shatters into pieces, but are still being trapped by skin and muscle? Basically I’m saying that Shireen and Stannis have a Daddy-Daughter story time about “The Dance Of Dragons”, a super fun book about two Targaryen siblings fighting over who should be leader (what’s new, amirite?), and it divided their city, leading to thousands of deaths. He asks who she would have chosen: Aegon or Rhaeneryaaighegh?

Newt: NONE OF THE ABOVE. The choosing is the problem. [Mostly]
Stannis: Yes, that sounds lovely on paper, but someone must still lead. The world sometimes forces a person’s hand. Which… means there’s no choice, actually. There is a lot of subtext here I’m hoping you don’t pick up on.
Newt: Hmm? I love you, Daddy. Let me help you. [smiles]
Stannis: [tries to talk over the lump in his throat] Yes, but… um. We’ll talk about it later ohmygodmypreciousbabyDaddylovesyoubutyougonnadie.
Newt: Hooray! I get to help Daddy win!
Stannis: DEAR GOD WHAT AM I DOING.

Shireen Stannis Baratheon,Stannis Baratheon Dance of Dragons

CUT TO: everyone in Stannis’ army getting a taste of HOLY SHIT WE BETTER WIN THIS THING as Shireen walks past them all to meet Fire Crotch Mage. They take her, bind her to a tree as she begs for Daddy and WOW. WOW ALL OF MY TEARS. Stannis watches with a grim face, but none so grim (and secretly pleased) as Selyse, Worst. Mother. Ever. She’s all “Jesus is taking the wheel!” and Stannis is like, “He’s a shit driver!” while FCM yawns “He has a lot of insurance, it’s cool.”

And holy moley, in the end as she begs, SELYSE says they can’t do this, and Stannis says they must. STANNIS ANDREW CARL BARATHEON THE FOURTH YOU SON OF A BITCH. During all of this the fire crackles, Fire Crotch Mage watches serenely, Shireen screams, and the whole fucking army watches. Jesus.

YOU BETTER FUCKING WIN, THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY. And be done with you. I AM ANGRY. I know, they forecast this seasons ago, but still. SHE WAS GOOD AND KIND AND A BABY.

Stannis Baratheon kills his child

This is ME. ME ME ME ME. STANNIS JASON HAKEEM BARATHEON, ESQUIRE. YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

Speaking of horrible tasks as a leader… Dany hosts the big fighting thing, with Hizdahr showing up late because he had “things to do.” Nope, don’t trust this guy at all. But let’s get real: our Russell Crowe is Jorah. We have some featherweight and bantam class fights first, as well as some dick-length competish between Daario and Hizdahr.

Daario is all “Astronauts!” and Hizdahr goes “Cavemen!” and Tyrion rolls his eyes. Because come on. Always Astronauts. Those guys are tough as nails, one, two, they’re all drunks—Tyrion would approve—and three, they have to be physically fit. I’ll fight you on this one, guys, my ex-Father in Law was NASA. I know things.

Dany ends it by reminding her intended that he’s never actually fought, pampered little shit that he is, and she ate a HORSE HEART. So. She’s going to side with Daario.

Aaaaaaand the Caveman fucking chops off the Astronaut’s head and I guess we’re not going to the moon, Large Meereenian. THANKS.

But hold the damn phone, because the sexiest voice in all of Westeros, Essos, and whatever other place I haven’t heard of claims allegiance to Khaleesi, and I hope the women working on this show use birth control because those dulcet tones will get you pregnant. LOOK. JORAH IS A PROBLEM. I KNOW. I know. IAIN GLENN’S VOICE IS THE OPPOSITE OF A PROBLEM. I’m a lonely middle-aged woman with a cat, let me have this.

jorah Mormont dance of dragons

JUST GIVE ME A FEW MINUTES WITH THIS MAN and I mean that in a way that isn’t creepy because I’m actually quite shy in person and would never be able to actually STAND IN THE SAME ROOM WITH HIM without bursting into the shakes, BUT STILL

Even Daario gets how big a deal this is, telling Hizdahr to shut his mouth and let her feel what she’s feeling. Tyrion probably calls for shots, because while he was abducted by the man, he still has a ton of respect for Jorah. Jorah, the man who… takes a quarterstaff to the face, eesh. Dany is trying really hard not to show how nervous she is. GIRL. I GET IT. [fingers pointing to my eyes and yours] I get it.

Jorah takes out one opponent, points the home run right at Dany, and gets to the sword battle with someone who is an actual opponent. The man is good. It’s not looking good for Jorah, who is on his back with a knife at his throat, but another contender takes the swordsman out. I don’t care that it’s easy. NOPE. Don’t care. LOOK THIS IS A STORY. THINGS CAN JUST HAPPEN, THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT.

Now we have Spear Fighter with Jorah and his sword, and Jorah does a tuck and roll and stabs the guy, while the audience is pissed. They wanted the spear-guy to win. Jorah takes the spear, stares at his Khaleesi, and THROWS IT AT HER WAIT NO AT A FUCKING SON OF A HARPY BEHIND HER AND WAY TO BE ON TOP OF SHIT, DAARIO. Okay, Daario immediately assesses the crowd, sees that it’s FULL of dudes in masks (this is why they need a Kiss Cam, to ferret this shit out) and yells, “PROTECT YOUR QUEEN!”

Her guard surrounds her as the Sons of the Harpy start slitting throats, and wow, terrible PR for your organization, guys. Women, men, whoever is close is at risk as all are killed, even Unsullied are killed, shit, even Hizdahr gets stabbed—wow!—when suddenly, Jorah stands, Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” begins to play, and he leads Dany to safety.

BEST ROMANCE EVER. Stop judging me. THE NAME OF THE SITE IS– Look. I just like Iain Glenn.

The MVP of the moment is TYRION, who protects Missandei by killing someone and leading her to safety. (Look, she’s important to me, but easily forgotten by the royalty apparently.) What the hell, Unsullied?? Why aren’t they stronger?? They get blocked from one exit, try to make the other, but are surrounded. SHIT. WHERE IS A DRAGON WHEN YOU NEED ONE?? There are a handful of one-on-one skirmishes, and it’s a classic ninja mistake: attack ALL AT ONCE, NOT ONE AT A TIME, NOT THAT I WANT YOU TO WIN, MASK BROS.

Daenerys Targaryen Missandei, Game of Thrones,Dance of Dragons

Dany and Missandei hold hands and it’s everything to me.

AND HEY. GUESS WHAT. Drogon fucking shows up. How you like them apples, Sons of the Harpy? MOMMY IS SO HAPPY. He burninates all of the bad guys hurting his mommy and some ASSHOLES throw spears at him (look, I’m Team Dragon) and it hurts Dany’s heart to see her baby hurt, but he keeps on burning like the good kid he is (oh my god, don’t hurt dragons they are ENDANGERED).

And how am I choked up at Dany pulling out a spear from her emo-teen dragon, he yells at her “ALL I WANTED WAS A PEPSI AND YOU WOULDN’T GIVE IT TO ME” and she’s all, “I know, you can get a tattoo at 18, it’s your body, you’re right, I get it now,” and then he wants a hug but doesn’t know how to ask, and NO I AM NOT PROJECTING, SHUT UP, READER, BEING A MOM TO TEENS IS HARD.

Ahem.

She freaking CLIMBS ABOARD HIS BACK, says “Valahd” and they FLY OFF TO HAVE ADVENTURES IN PERN, sorry I’m a little drunk on excitement (and also wine) as I write this.

dragon daenerys targaryen

THIS IS EVERYTHING I WANTED AND IT’S HAPPENING OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD

Tyrion: So… I think I’m on the right team?
Drogon: WE’RE NUMBER ONE!! CAN’T BE NUMBER TWO! WE’RE GONNA BEAT THE WHOOPEE OUT OF YOU!
Me: [passes right the fuck out from JOY]

Next. Freaking. Week: I lose my damn mind. My guess: you will, too.

Okay, so we all called it on precious baby Newt, ALL MY TEARS, and I was prepared because they set that up waaaaaaaay back. And hey! Book readers! Looks like Shireen dies in a future book. HOW MUCH DO SPOILERS SUCK!?! Now you see why I’m so adamant about it. (They are the worst.)

Oh, other awesome things: Tyrion’s backdoor insult to Hizdahr about “My father would have liked you.” Not a compliment, dude! Bronn getting an elbow to the face and Jaime being a little shit about it. That’s probably for all the elbows to the face he took from Bronn’s training. LOL, best buddy-cop duo ever.

So reminder, no book talk here, please don’t go on about all the things you HATE because I don’t caaaaaare. It’s “We really love TV” for a reason. Talk about what you LIKE. Because there’s a LOT to like. I mean, there’s a lot to clutch your pearls over (which I have in the past) but ARYA! DAVOS! JON’S BIG… HEART! DRAGONS.

I’ve seriously had three glasses of wine and am posting this immediately, but I’ll edit in the morning, hahaha. TALK AT ME, OMG. (And click here for the Season Finale)

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  • Estelindis

    Such an emotionally draining episode! I’m devastated about Shireen. For me, this is the most impactful death of the entire show. A sweet, innocent child, begging her parents for mercy, was burned alive. Stannis made the wrong decision, 100%. I can see why he thought he needed to do it, but he was wrong, wrong, wrong. Poor Shireen. Major kudos to her actress, as her depiction of those final moments ripped my heart into tiny shreds.

    I was only somewhat surprised by Hizdahr’s death. I thought that the writers making him a big suspicious in some respects was just misdirection, and it’d turn out that the Sons of the Harpy saw him as a collaborator… but I wasn’t sure. Nice to have my reading of his character confirmed.

    No room in my heart or mind for other things right now, just deaths!

    Thanks as always for your great recaps.

    • Stannis was awful; at least Selyse finally had a change of heart.

    • Still, I do wonder, why was Hizdahr delayed. I’m thinking he WAS a collaborator but someone higher up in the SoH order must have decided they don’t need his help anymore and decided to kill him too. Could be he didn’t want Dany killed or something (chances are he still wanted to keep her alive to get power as a King) and the SoH maybe didn’t like that plan.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        OR… it’s a double bluff, and he will miraculously survive his wounds, now firmly established in Dany’s eyes as being innocent, in case she had any doubts.

        That would be more of a Littlfinger type plan than anything we’ve seen in Meereen so far, but who knows? It would mean he was planning for the possibility of Dany surviving the attack somehow.

    • Thank YOU!
      And… this show has numbed me to the point where I’m not devastated like I was when Oberyn died. I GUESS THIS MEANS I’M HISTORY’S GREATEST MONSTER. D: But, oh what a horrible thing, and I think this spells Stannis’ doom.
      I was quite shocked that Hizdhar died–I thought they were setting us up for his betrayal of Dany. Instead, he was betrayed by the people he was trying to “help.”

      • Jay

        I don’t know how many seconds it was, it just seemed like…something was gonna break. And even though that first damn search result was “does Shireen burn in the books” (just use straight Yahoo search, Google automatically looks for “news” headlines too and the headlines are different from the articles) (Mom! just wanted to make sure my spelling was correct! I’m not seeking spoilers! You’re the one who’s seeking spoilers!) I thought “that still might mean she didn’t *here*” and SELYSE breaks and……..and…………….she stopped screaming.

        Well, SHIT.

        (I thought we’d at least get a little light show, a little “WHAT UP? I HEAR YA, KIDS!” as the Lord is sometimes wont to do. Nope, just….welp, that’s that then….you wanna stew that horse now?)

    • I disagree. Stannis made the correct decision. He couldn’t go forward, he can’t stay, and he has nowhere to retreat. Even if he managed to escape the north (much of his army would die along the way), he and his family would not be safe anywhere – they’d be deep in debt, landless, homeless, friendless and army-less, and would soon be erased by one of the other contenders.
      It is the Game of Thrones, after all, and as always it is You Win or You Die.
      Also, the directors didn’t really do a good job recently of reminding us that Stannis honestly believes he is the hero destined to defeat the White Walkers, and thus failure for him is simply not an option – not only for him personally, but all of humanity.

      • Right, this decision (horrible, HORRIBLE decision) wasn’t just based on a guy wanting to win or to change the weather. In his way of thinking, he KNOWS he can win, the LoL has shown him it’s possible as long as he obeys (or what have you). If he doesn’t do this, his men die. Then he doesn’t get to add to his army and take over KL. And then all of Westeros will die at the hands of the White Walkers. All civilization as he knows it will come to an end.

        Now, I’m not saying that’s ACCURATE because I don’t know. But this is what’s at stake on his end.

      • Estelindis

        I think he was wrong. If he had retreated to the Wall, he could have embarked on the ships that brought him there, which presumably would’ve been back from Hardhome by that point. He then could have had his army land somewhere it wasn’t snowing. His only option wasn’t wintering at Castle Black.

        I understand why he sacrificed Shireen, from his point of view. But the show didn’t do a good job of showing that he genuinely had no other options, because we’ve seen that the ships are still a factor.

  • But more importantly, Dany just left her squad to die in the pits while she took the Harry Potter ride around Meereen?

    • magnusk_98

      Nah, the last scene pretty clearly shows that Drogon took out the majority of the Sons of the Harpy, so the rest of the Unsullied can hold out easily until reinforcements arrive.

      • I dunno, man. It seemed like there were plenty left in the stands. And in any case, that was a big risk to leave them there. She better be getting the dragon reinforcements, aka, Viserion and Rhaegon.

        • magnusk_98

          The pan-around at the end showed no Son of the Harpy left standing or attacking, so I don’t think there are enough left to dare attack the rest of Dany’s team in the arena.

          • So, I guess they are safe. There was a picture of them on the steps of her throne room, anyway, so I’m guessing they made it out safely. Although, Missandei was missing from the picture. Let’s hope my favorite translator/gal-pal is safe!

          • It was filmed really oddly. One second it looks like there were tons of Harpies (like 50+), but then the next on one of the flight scenes it looked like a lot fewer. My unsullied wife was also furious at Dany for abandoning her friends. The directors seemed to have needed one more few-second clip of Drogon frying the last cluster of harpies, I think (after Dany mounted him).

    • dustfan

      Her attention was on saving her baby in that moment. Drogon was not going to leave with Dany still in danger. He was eventually going to take one spear too many. The only way for both of them to live was for her to get on him and fly away.

  • Lucia Scarpati

    I don’t judge the characters on this show by real-world moral standards (otherwise i’d only be able to root for bran and ser pounce) and I’ve been a stannis fan since day one but burning mini twoface crosses a line! He is DEAD to me!!!
    Say what you will about my Queen Bitch, but she would never harm a hair on Tommen’s head, even with the iron throne at stake.

    • True that! Cersei is so much better than Stannis – she loves power but loves her children more. Stannis – at least TV Stannis – is so obsessed with sitting on the Iron Throne, he would rather burn his child alive.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        I think, in Stannis’s mind, it’s sacrificing the one thing he loves in order to Save the Realm. Probably justified as a heroic thing, how he would be a hypocrite if he was willing to sacrifice only the things that don’t matter as much to him personally…

        Argh. Shireeeeeeeeeen!

        • Jay

          That’s honor for you. It always fucks you in this story.

        • Lucia Scarpati

          Yes it’s perfectly in character for him to do this, it’s just too much for me to still root for him.
          SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE YOUNGER AND MORE BEAUTIFUL QUEEN THAT WOULD CAST CERSEI DOWN! :'(

    • moata

      Agreed.
      But he can’t be properly dead until he’s helped Sansa get out of her current situation and/or wiped the floor with Ramsay Bolton. Not that he’d be forgiven, mind…

      • I don’t know who I want to see dead more – Ramsay or Stannis. Let’s hope they both kill each other in a face-off.

        • padaeum

          How about this: Stannis can win the battle to get the Boltons out of the way. Then Brienne can kill Stannis.

          • Ooh, that sounds good. Brienne will also get to keep her oath. Everyone is happy!

          • THIS ^^^^^^

          • Lucia Scarpati

            YES PLEASE! But Sansa gets to do something too. Like come up with a masterplan to weaken the boltons’ defenses or something

    • LOL about Ser Pounce. I dunno… he does like to play with mice. ;)

      And how funny that we are now saying CERSEI is more moral (in this respect) than STANNIS. Oh, Stannis, what evil hath thou wrought?!

    • padaeum

      Well, she was ready to poison Tommen during the Battle of Blackwater when it looked like Stannis was going to win. You can argue that she saw it as a mercy kill, and would’ve followed it up with her own death, but the fact that she was ready to do it without even knowing the outcome of the battle was reckless at the very least.

      • Lucia Scarpati

        She was willing to mercy poison him to save him from being executed by stannis.. are you seriously comparing this to burning your kid at the stake? And maybe you don’t remember the episode but the scene before that is Lancel coming to her and telling her “the battle is lost your grace, stannis is inside the city walls, we’re fucked” so in her mind the outcome was already decided.

        • padaeum

          Yes, I am comparing it, in the sense that both were willing to kill their kid for what they saw as the greater good.

          In Cersei’s case, the “greater good” is mercy-killing her son rather than letting him be executed.

          In Stannis’s case, the “greater good” is sacrificing his daughter so he can win battles and become king and be the chosen warrior of light or whatever that Melisandre keeps promising he will be.

          Cersei’s rationale is more sympathetic, to me, than Stannis’s — as far as I’m concerned, if saving the world means killing your own kid, it’s not a world worth saving. But I am disputing that Cersei is a person who would “never harm a hair on Tommen’s head.” She was ready to do it based on her cousin’s hearsay.

          • Lucia Scarpati

            Cersei’s rationale is more sympathetic, to me, than Stannis’s, because he is sacrificing her for the good of the realm while Cersei was doing it for what she thought was his own good

            • (You guys are saying the same thing. Just making sure it’s clear. I’m a mom, I can’t help it. Come have cookies and tell me about your day. :D)

              • Lucia Scarpati

                I was just about to write that ahahah

          • dustfan

            In a way it is a mercy killing for Stannis as well. If they do nothing everyone in the camp, including Shireen* would either starve or freeze to death. Maybe they didn’t do enough to make that clear. He obviously didn’t want to do it but at that point he felt he had no choice, sacrifice the one to save the many, it just happened that the one had to be his daughter.

            *And yes, he could have sent her with Davos, they had enough supplies apparently for a few to make it back to Castle Black, but then the rest of them still die.

        • padaeum

          To be clear, I totally agree with you that Stannis is dead to me, and at this point I’d rate Cersei as a parent higher than Stannis — but I think Cersei’s love for her children, while sincere, is incredibly twisted, and makes her see no choice between “mercy-kill my son” and “watch my son be executed.” Tyrion did an incredibly smart thing by getting Myrcella out of town before the battle, and Cersei went ballistic on him. In her place, I would’ve been like, “Let’s send Tommen, too.” (Somewhere out of King’s Landing, anyway, not necessarily to Dorne.) But such is the nature of Cersei’s love that she wants her kids with her at all times, even if that means risking their deaths.

          • Lucia Scarpati

            Completely agree with this. I think Cersei is a bad mom but she means well in her own fucked up lannister way :P

    • Jay

      Thank you for “mini twoface”.

  • Andy Street

    Oh, Stannis, what have you done?

    (Actually, what he did was basically replicate what I do in every RPG ever. Deliberately switch the decent, heroic guy out of his party before doing something utterly morally reprehensible in the pursuit of profit).

    DAVOS GREATLY DISAPPROVES

    You are right though. Whilst it was horrible to watch they have been telegraphing this outcome for a while. The show (like the book) makes you do this awful moral calculus – would I accept an innocent little girl dying horribly if it means Ramsey gets what’s coming to him?

    They are giving Stannis a fairly typical Shakespearian tragic hero style arc of a fundamentally decent, brave man losing everything that is good about him and everything he loves in the pursuit of power. The usual outcome would be for him to get what he wants only to be immediately undone by the consequences of what he did to achieve it (presumably in this case getting gutted by a large angry lady with a big sword).

    • Actually, Doran as Dany supporter does look good as an idea. He doesn’t like the Lannisters, and maybe he lost faith in Dany ever conquering Westeros. He probably only wants to keep the peace now, especially in Dorne. He would probably be a good fit for the Iron Throne.

      • Anthony Gitto

        Don’t forget…. Dany is Doran’s niece. He is absolutely a supporter if he knows about her progress, though maybe not openly at the moment.

        • He is? Do we know this from the show?

          • Anthony Gitto

            Oops not niece… SISTER- in law. Doran and Oberyn’s sister was Elia Martell married to Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s eldest brother. That was definitely discussed in the show.

            • OKAY, whew! I was like, AM I NOT PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION?? :D

            • Lyanna Mormont

              The cousin-ship is several generations back, and not mentioned in the show so far, I think. But her brother was married to his sister, so they’re technically in-laws. (Although it barely counts when Rhaegar and Elia and their children were all dead before Dany was even born.)

        • No, she isn’t. Rhaegar, who married Elia (Doran’s sister), was Dany’s brother. They are sort of cousins, at the most.

          • AndyStreet

            Well, if he is anything, he would be her brother-in-law. Her older brother was married to his younger sister. Whatever, out of the major Lords, he is her most obvious source of support if she decides to invade Westeros. That and the fact that he obviously plays his cards very close to his chest, made me think he was possibly in on Varys’ little scheme.

            Sending Trystane to Kings Landing would seem to argue against that, though…

    • Andy, here’s my dorkitude: I always play a good character (lawful good, if we’re getting down to it) because I am TERRIFIED OF THE RISK. This also comes from growing up in a fundamentalist religion, I know, but still. I am usually HORRIFIED by characters turning like Stannis did.
      …except he didn’t, not really. When we first meet him, it’s just before he shadow bones FCM on his sweet map table. We know he’s willing to do what it takes. And now, well, we KNOW know.
      He’s a man of his word.
      I do love the point you bring up about the moral calibrations and calculations we must make. Stannis divided by Shireen plus FCM, times 100 dead horses to the Winter Is Here power = bad dad, but potentially neutral-neutral or lawful neutral king?

      • JP

        I think Stannis and Javert would get along really well.

      • AndyStreet

        I come from the most wishy-washy of agnostic backgrounds, and I am STILL somehow unable to disappoint a well-scripted fictional character by behaving evilly in front of them…

        Oh – this is perfectly in character for Stannis. He has his very loud and proud, obsessive fans for some reason, possibly because he is the only one who sees part of the big picture, but he has always been a hard, cold, utilitarian man who will do whatever it takes.

        Stephen Dillane actually acted the hell out of it in this episode as that man right at his limits and trying desperately to hold it together for the ‘greater good’. I can’t see Stannis ever getting a good nights sleep ever again in whatever remains of his life but he will still tell himself over and over that he did the ‘right thing’.

        He’s always kept Davos around as the voice of his conscience, but I can’t see how their relationship can continue now – perhaps Davos will stay at the wall where Jon desperately needs some friends.

        The worst thing is Melisandre will probably abandon Stannis at some point when she finds a better ‘messiah’ candidate; I can think of at least two more plausible ‘warriors of light’ in the show already, one of which she has already shown an unhealthy interest in. Then it will truly all have been for nothing.

        • Lyanna Mormont

          All of this, yes.

          (But it still hurts.)

        • Basically I agree with everything you’re saying here. Esp. Melisandre walking off to the next first stringer with MVP on him. =/

      • Lyanna Mormont

        Lawful neutral, definitely. Remember the letter dictation back in Season Two? “Don’t call Robert my beloved brother, I didn’t love him. And write Ser Jaime the Kingslayer, because he is both a knight and a kingslayer. The good and bad don’t cancel each other out.”

        • AndyStreet

          Yeah – I think Lawful Good = Ned Stark, Lawful Neutral = Stannis, Lawful Evil = Roose Bolton. Now I can’t decide if Tywin was LN or LE…

          • Fluffinmyturnups

            from his treatment of Tyrion veering towards evil

    • Lyanna Mormont

      The Arthur comparison is a very good one! Of course, Arthur hadn’t had years to grow to love his child, but then he killed lots of innocent babies instead just so he could be sure to dodge the prophecy, so…

      There’s a very strong Iphigenia parallel, too. I was always horrified by that little sidenote to the story when I was reading about the Greek mythos.

  • magnusk_98

    Pfew, yeah, I was not ready for that Shireen scene. Not ready at all. :-/ I saw it coming a mile away, but I was hoping to the last that the writers would do a swerve and have Selyse be the one to end up on that pyre or something.

    And by this point the series is basically a very well produced fan-fic, so I wouldn’t count on this happening to Shireen in the books. ;) After this season’s end, next season will all be original material and you cannot imagine how excited I am about this.

    A little quibble I had with this episode was how the camp of Stannis went up into flames in so many locations at once. How exactly do you set this up and get away with all your men safely?

    Also, you too forgot to mention how Bronn got elbowed in the mouth and called that bob-haired Sand Snake the most beautiful woman in the world, again. I hope those two crazy kids make it together. ;)

    • Lucia Scarpati

      did you watch the inside the episode? it answers your question regarding wether this will happen in the books

      • magnusk_98

        Just watched it, but I seem to have missed that particular quote. Could you cite it, please?

        • Lucia Scarpati

          something along the lines of “when george told us what would happen we were horrified” implying that it does happen in the books

          • magnusk_98

            Ugh, you made me watch that scene again. Yeah, it’s there, so future spoilers for book readers, I guess. ^^

    • I think about the camp burning, they could have used long ropes dipped in oil, got a few feet away and sneakily set fire and then run off in the confusion caused. All that snow was anyway hampering visibility.

      • magnusk_98

        Possible. In any case, Stannis was right to punish the guards. You can talk all about “they know the land like nobody else”, but it was still a fortified camp under guard.

        • In that cold, they were most probably sleeping. Stannis was a bit harsh, though, on the guards to execute them. But then again, he did sacrifice his only daughter

          • magnusk_98

            “Harsh” is one of two modes Stannis got, the other one being “good dad”. And, uh, what became of *that*…

            • Happy freaking father’s day, huh?

    • I wonder if Ramsay had incendiary arrows? Quick skulk through the surround grounds to determine vantage points, Northerners seem like they’d be archers, and Bob’s your flaming tent?
      And lol, I didn’t forget, I just don’t put every little moment in the recap. ;)

      • mrspidey80

        He’s obviously a Witcher and just snapped his fingers, using Igni.

      • Mike Brown

        Are we positive that Ramsey did it? They conveniently say it could have been done by ~20 men. But no one saw them, did they? Could FCM have rigged this to get Stannis to go along with her plan?

        • OOOOH. I like your cynicism, Sir. I like that a LOT.

  • moata

    Even though the Sacrifice of Shireen seemed inevitable, right up until the flame hit the pyre I was hoping so hard that that wouldn’t happen. Is this the same man who scoured the country for healers to save her from the greyscale?
    It somehow made it worse that Selyse woke up to her parental responsibilities (#1 Do not set fire to your child, #2 5+ portions of fruit and vegetables a day!) but way too late to make a difference.

    By the looks of next week’s episode, the Lord of Light-who-demands-innocent-little-girl-bonfires is appeased and the weather is turning, but I have a feeling that Stannis’ army might not be as inspired to fight for him as they once were. Bad stuff happens in war, sure, but sacrificing your own child? Who’s gonna fight for that dude? He may win the battle but this move may have lost him the war. Stannis no longer deserves to be King, and I can’t be the only one who thinks so.
    Speaking of difficult parent-child relationships and fire (love when you work in interesting parallels, GoT), seeing Drogon get his flame on was all kinds of awesome. Ride that dragon, Dany!
    Did anyone have a freak out moment though, when she took Jorah’s hand? I thought you weren’t supposed to touch the greyscale-afflicted? Or is it just the scaley bit that’s infectious? But Shireen got it from a doll, right? Or would Dany be immune because she’s “a dragon”? But could she pass it onto Messandei by holding her hand? Unfortunately the CDC website does not have any info on disease vectors for Greyscale so I’m all at sea on this one.
    Do we all think that Arya is going to turn up at that brothel next week offering herself as jailbait? Is that what that seemingly random clam comment was supposed to communicate to us? That Arya isn’t a little girl any more? She has transitioned into womanhood via the rite of passage we all experience, being sexually harrassed by some skeezy dude whilst innocently walking somewhere.
    Right during the big sons of the Harpy reveal, I turned to my fiance and said “I love not knowing what’s going to happen!” and I meant it. At that point they all could have been killed, or none of them, or just some. Oooh the not knowing makes me so tense/happy/excited. Bring on next week!

    • Ugh, let them not go down that road for Arya. Seeing that pig chose that young girl was skeevy enough. I don’t want to even imagine Arya being in his sights. Then again, that exactly is what D&D might be up to.

      • magnusk_98

        It’s also a logical entry vector for Arya, who probably is analyzing right now how to get close enough to Trent to do him in.

        • I don’t want to think of that possibility for another precious Stark, okay? It’s bad enough with Sansa already. Can’t take another of my babies near any creeps.

  • mrspidey80

    It’s actually “War…War never changes”…

    • Oh, thank god we got that right. I’ll take longer to get these up instead of racing, then.

      • mrspidey80

        But then we would have nothing to nitpick! :(
        Just kidding … ;)

  • JP

    Great episode, I even liked Dorne this week! Really helps to bring out Doran, show. I’ve been waiting for this pit scene since this season started and it was everything I could have wanted. As for Stannis….I’ve been dreading this possibility for weeks. When a Podcast I listened to made a reference to Agamemnon sacrificing his child I hardened myself to it this week. And for as much as I’ve waved my Team Dragonstone flag, and a lot of similar people are calling this out of character, when I ask myself when I’m alone would Stannis Baratheon do this to save the realm I really have no choice but to answer…yes. As far as he’s concerned, the realm is bigger then himself or his family, and this lady does things with magic, whatever it takes to help the most amount of people. All of which is to say, I’ve been like Davos over here, and that in my heart of hearts I knew something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.

  • Zack

    Okay, now that I’ve had a night’s sleep I think I am up to processing my feelings. Jesus Christ. I had your back, Stannis! You were my guy!

    I just have to say that these writers, these actors…they know how to hurt me. Tons of adorable Newt/Davos moments, Newt/Stannis scenes where you can see in his eyes that he loves his little girl and would never let anyone…..and then this happens, and I realize that it’s not out of character for Stannis to do that. He’s a master of doing the hard, necessary things that he hates. (I can’t remember if they talked about what he did to help Robert win the rebellion, at Storm’s End, on the show?)

    I can’t root for him any more, obviously, but I fucking love the character and his depth. And the actress for Shireen, she’s SO GOOD. My heart is broken into bitty pieces but coming here and sharing in the anguish helps.

    I had goosebumps at the scene with Trant in a brothel, goddamn creep. I was certain Trant’s demands were going to end with the brothel owner grabbing Arya by the wrist and dragging her in…instead, now they’re probably foreshadowing next week. Arya ‘volunteering’ so that she can be alone with him. “Syrio Forel, my dancing master. Remember him?”

    And Dorne was great too, and it hasn’t been the most exciting place this year. I give 90% of the credit for this week to Alexander Siddig as Doran. OMG <3 More Doran plz. And I laughed so hard I had to rewind the episode when the guard walloped Bronn.

    And the ending! Holy moley! Way to go Drogon :D
    I was shocked (shocked!) when Hizdahr got killed by the Harpy, since I had been assuming he was secretly leading them, but I had found myself kind of liking the guy in spite of that so it was actually a relief (and super sad!) when they killed him.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      Yes, yes, yes and yes.

  • I’m very worried about the greyscale transmission vector, because Jorah touched Dany who then touched Missandei. Are dragons immune to greyscale? Is Dany because blood of the dragon? Is everyone going to get it now?

    • Good point–I wonder if Jorah keeping his eczema patch covered helps keep it from spreading? ALSO, work with me here, I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE DRAGONS.
      How was Drogon so easily pierced by spears?! I’m coming from an LOTR stance, where a bird needed to find the one missing patch of scale for Bard the Bowman’s arrow to pierce.
      WHAT IF they give the dragons greyscale? IMPENETRABLE. But then, this could also lead to an even greater nightmare. [crams popcorn into mouth]

      • Anthony Gitto

        In the movie you are correct, it was a missing scale… but In the Hobbit book (I can talk about THOSE books right? haha) Smaug was centuries old and his belly was his only vulnerable spot. He used gemstones to create an armor of sorts to protect it. I don’t recall if the books explain why there is a bare patch… Drogon’s still a lil baby, so maybe his armor hasn’t grown large enough yet to be impenetrable?

        • OMG, the Rankin and Bass movie is so integral to my childhood that I forgot that in the book Smaug makes gemstone armor!

          But I like the idea that perhaps Drogon being a wee-dragon means he’s not fully hardened? HMM. I just really like all of the dragon mythology and hope we gets LOTS MORE in S6.

          • Anthony Gitto

            Agreed regarding Rankin and Bass…. I still to this day have a tabletop book with the illustrations from that version. One of my favorite possessions!

            • Those movies, plus The Last Unicorn… THE GOLDEN AGE OF ANIMATION (and where my love of fantasy was born. Add onto that the magical illustrations and creations by Brian Froud, and that should explain everything about me. :D)

          • JCDavis

            Tsk tsk tsk……you surprise me, Laura Stone. Rankin Bass version of LotR’s??? LOL. And the Pern dragons would have also been vulnerable to spears, they had very soft hides that had to be oiled and brushed regularly. I got the PERN vibe when Danys jumps on Drogon and they fly off. Very different looking dragons though. Drogon does look much more rough scaled and all pointy bits all about. Too soon for me to process Shireen. Just can’t go there yet, I will hear those screams for a long time to come, I fear.

            • Where there’s a whip [whkSHAH!] there’s a way! :D

              Oh man, Pern. I haven’t read those since I was a wee Laura, and you’re completely right that they didn’t have armor. DAMN YOU SMAUG FOR MONOPOLIZING MY GREAT DRAGON THOUGHTS!

              Poor wee little Newt, just wanting to teach phonics, smile, and love her daddy. [CRIES A LOT]

              • JCDavis

                {{hugs}} *whimpers* It is gonna take some time for the pain on this. Second time for buckets of tears from me for this show. There is no other television product (besides Lonesome Dove) that has done this to me, ever. MOVIES indeed, BOOKS for sure, but television shows? Not hardly. *pours a very large drink* *passes bottle*

                • Ooooooh, have there been TV shows that have torn me up. The ending of M*A*S*H, Kara Thrace blowing up on Battlestar Gallactica, Buffy Summers saying “Mommy?” as she walks in on her dead mother. LORT, I AM TEARING UP NOW.

                  AHH, NOT PENNY’S BOAT IS ANOTHER ONE, WHY GOD, WHY?! Oh, how I love tv (can you tell?).

                  And because you brought up Lonesome Dove, I now submit the request to be called Laurie Darling. :D

                  • JCDavis

                    “Ah Gus, there’s no one like you. They’ll all forget you, they got their own doin’s. Whether it comes morning or night, I’ll never forget” Lauri (Lori) Darlin’ – Lonesome Dove.

                    I so totally loved Augustus McCrae that I named my ACK registered Doxie Augusta McCrae and called her Gussie. Had the dear thing for 12 years. But Lori was right, “there ain’t no one like you, Gus”.

                    And Laura Darlin’, works for me!!

      • I will only say that this surprised me too. Very much. Like a lot.

  • Moriah Gemel

    What an emotional episode. I cried like a baby at Shireen dying, and at her mother’s reaction, finally standing for her daughter, even if it was too little too late. As a mother that touched me deeply, and Shireen’s death really upset me. It was really hard to hear her screams, the actress did phenomenally.

    And how amazing was the final scene? The desperation, the terror, and then Drogon showing up? Perfect buildup, perfect moment when it happened. Especially when she climbed up and flew away. But where does that leave Daario, Jorah, Missandei, and Tyrion? There are still Sons that weren’t killed and now they have to fight their way out? Like Drogon couldn’t finish his burninating first? IDK.

    Also are we suuuuure that Hizdhar is dead, and not just very injured? They stabbed him on the right side of his chest, not the left, so I’m like, maybe they missed his lungs and he’s just bleeding? I don’t know, I have this paranoia that he is the head of the Sons and he just ordered them to hurt him but not kill him so he would look innocent. But I’m super cynical and paranoid so I could be very wrong.

    • I had to look away several times as Shireen was being tied to the stake. JFC, that was awful. I am really interested in how the soldiers are going to compartmentalize that–maybe they’re too desperate? IDK.

      We’ve had others mention the crowd at The Pit, and it’s pretty well established (I thought) that the Sons of the Harpy were on the outs once Drogon showed up. The stadium was almost emptied, many were killed by fire, and there are enough Unsullied (as well as Jorah, Tyrion and Daario) to fend of the remaining few in the actual pit.

      Oooh, I admire that cynicism with regards to Hizdhar, though. That’s very much a GoT thing to happen, hmm…

      • Lyanna Mormont

        If the soldiers are believers – the sellswords probably aren’t, but some of the army might be – then they might feel all the more Chosen and Bound To Stannis because of it. “A leader so devoted to our Great Cause, he’ll even give up his own happiness!” Opposite of “Sure, he’s willing to throw away OUR lives, but I bet his family gets the good food and warm tents!”

  • MaxwellJames

    I got a new name for Stannis.

    • AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • MaxwellJames

        (Badum)

    • Lyanna Mormont

      There really needs to be a Baratheon sigil somewhere in the background…

  • Julie Martin

    I am definitely on team “Incredibly Worried About Greyscale.” Last thing we need is a growing swarm of Stone Men in the East while the wight army up North swells…what if they get together and make Stone Wights? Not. Good.

    Loved the entire ringside chitchat scene in which Dany and Tyrion seemed so well matched in terms of wit, and values, and regal bearing, and I really hope they are reunited soon, I LOVE them. Also, Tyrion’s expression when Dany flew away was just perfect. In my mind, at least one thought running through his head had to be “I want one!” If he doesn’t do everything in his power to learn how to fly one of Drogon’s siblings, while carrying a jug of wine, I will be annoyed.

    If we just never talk about Shireen, then that scene never happened, right?

    • …holy sheep balls, STONE WHITE WALKERS. JFC, they’d be invincible, wouldn’t they? Best. Visual. EVER.

      Tyrion having a verbal sparring partner is everything I need in life. Too bad there’s bad blood with the Tyrells–Lady Olenna would enjoy him far more than she did Tywin.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        I’ll see your Stone White Walkers and raise you a White Walker Dragon.

  • CLASSIC

  • MaxwellJames

    Now, to indulge in a pleasure I’ve denied myself since first discovering this website: rank speculation. With no book spoilers, mind!

    Stannis ultimate role in this story has long been curious to me. For all of Game of Thrones moral shading, it has plenty of clear “heroes” that we are meant to root for – Dany, Jon, Tyrion, Arya, Brienne, Bran, Davos, Sam etc. And of course there are plenty of despicable villains. And there are Jaime and Cersei of course, who kind of fit into the hero/villain boxes but are damn complicated.

    Stannis is something else entirely – driven, admirable in many respects, but his monomania has made him morally broken. This is the second time he’s done something utterly heinous in the story, even more so than the first time. That’s why tonight’s episode solidified my theory that he is the real villain of this story – its Darth Vader, if you will. The Boltons are terrible, but they’re a distraction. The White Walkers are terrifying, but even after Hardhome they’re still just demons. The monster has to have a human face.

    Stannis is going to become a White Walker. Quite possibly their leader, somehow. I am not basing this on anything I’ve read in the books (and plenty of readers think otherwise). But I think it’s gonna happen.

    Anyway, RIP sweet Shireen – brought to wonderful life by Kerry Ingram. And if we didn’t already know Ser Davos was GoT’s Lester Freamon – well, we do now.

    • Something I’ve loved about this show from the beginning is that everyone-EVERYONE-has good and bad in them. (I mean, I guess the good thing in Ramsay is that he once was a hurting little boy? Okay, he’s the outlier jacking up the metrics, MOVING ON.)

      Stannis FROM THE BEGINNING has been amoral. Not to say evil, just purely calculating things in an unemotional, almost robotic sense. This is something that must be done? Okay, I trust the math. I was swayed by the heroics visually of him sweeping in at The Wall, and then his visible love for his daughter, but THAT was a distraction, imo. He’s still the man willing to put his wife aside for the sake of magicks, willing to burn his own brother and now his child for the good of the realm. And… I still think he’d make an excellent King, one who could bring reason and control and stability.

      But that doesn’t mean I’m rooting for him like I am for the folks you mentioned, the ones established as The White Hats.

      But OH. Stannis Baratheon as a White Walker!? I just got Galadriel feels from that. “Instead of a White Walker you would have a KING. ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR.”

      • MaxwellJames

        MORE SHALL LEARN THE RUDIMENTS OF WESTEROSI GRAMMAR.

        FEWER (NOT LESS, DEFINITELY NOT LESS!!!) SHALL GRIND THEIR TEETH AT THE SIGHT OF MY KINGLY BALANCE SHEET.

        • I’ll have you know I legitimately just pigsnorted while laughing.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      I am not at all convinced Arya belongs in the Hero camp. (Or that she will stay there, perhaps.) She’s too badly damaged, too focused on revenge. She’s putting aside Life in favor of Death. And isn’t this story partly about the horrors that stem from people putting revenge (or ambition, or even honor) above humanity and love and life?

      Arya is, at best, an Anti-Hero. I think she’s more likely to end up as a mere remnant of a human being, wrecked by the horrors of the war and brutality she’s lived through.

      • Jay

        Like Maxwell was saying, all my heroes have been the people who DON’T want the throne.

        I am just really not comfortable with hitmen though, with divine contracts or not. I can’t even watch “Grosse Pointe Blank”. So I’ve been waiting for “Arya” to return in the books. Oh please, oh please, go dig it up, little Stark.

      • Oh, yeah, Arya’s been sliding into darkness since S2. Total anti-hero as you say, which is awesome because she’s a little girl.

        I do wonder if her overall arc will be redemption somehow? Like, she’ll be cleansed by becoming A Girl? WHO KNOWS. It’s entertaining as hell to watch, I’ll say that much.

        • Lyanna Mormont

          You can’t very well redeem yourself by killing people, though.

          Refusing a kill, maybe… if she judged it Wrong by Stark Standards…

        • magnusk_98

          I’ve always hoped that she becomes Danys personal ninja.

      • MaxwellJames

        That’s part of why I put “heroes” in quotes. Arya may or may not end up on the side of good (though I think she will, as much as it exists in GoT) but there’s virtually zero conceivable circumstances in which I would stop rooting for her. And oddly, I find even her thirst for revenge kind of comforting, since it’s clearly interrupting her efforts to give up her soul for the Many-Faced God.

    • Fluffinmyturnups

      The beauty of GoT and its best subversion in that NO ONE is ever an outright hero or villain. People act according to their character and due to events and pressures.

      ANY character can be involved in events or be subjected to pressure that will cause or force them to take an act or go down a path of darkness

      I actually think it would be quite amusing if Jon became a White Walker ^^

  • Jay

    I raised and I slapped.

    • Jay

      Also, I thought in the *first* frame of mind I thought “Oh, she’s doing this….wait, no, the tents are on fire, she wouldn’t do that” Then the dream thing I was like “Oh, Rhyllor’s gonna fuck with us, that was a scary vision”.

      NEITHER!

    • Hahahaha. AND THANK YOU.

      • Jay

        I’ve made one of these for each season (though Gilly’s was a RIF poster instead last year) and I went to make sure I was spelling “Shireen” correctly this morning. Web articles hide their spoilers but their search result headlines don’t. (Price Is Right fail horn)

  • Michael Logan

    The “Institutionalized” reference made my day.

  • Lyanna Mormont

    This episode broke me a little bit, in a deeply personal way. Stannis reminds me of my dad, okay? Not all of Stannis, obviously, but as a father who loves his daughter very much but can’t express it. (Also, I was a bookworm – still am – and spent a big part of my childhood with my nose in a book.) So yeah, I identified.

    And now… it feels like a very personal betrayal. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Yes, I saw all the flashing red lights, but I ignored them. Stannis wouldn’t. Someone else behind his back maybe, but not STANNIS. Not his DAUGHTER.

    Heart. Shattered.

    And yes, there was Arya and Meryn Fucking Trant, there was Doran Martell finally getting some more airtime, there was a Jon-Sam reunion. (Why did they have to be let through the Wall? They had ships, so why didn’t they just sail past and land on the other side, then make their way to Castle Black on the southern side?) There was even Dany and Drogon. But it’s hard to appreciate all that when your heart is lying broken on the floor. I’ll rewatch, I’m sure I’ll love it. But right now…

    SHIREEN! Nooooooooooo!!!

    • [holds you] I know, I know. STANNIS. WE WANTED TO BELIEVE. D:

      POOR LITTLE NEWT.

    • Anthony Gitto

      I completely agree with the Why Castle Black Question…. They would dock at Eastwatch by the sea which is on the Southern side of the wall by every map I have seen…

  • Michael Logan

    In an episode full of emotional trauma, I loved that the pit announcer sounded like his off-season job was announcing at the big Essos monster truck rally.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      He was hilarious! Talk about making the most out of a very small part.

    • Jay

      I was gonna be really upset if there wasn’t a Mean Gene Okerlund (or however the book would spell it).

      • Jay

        Mean Jesus Okerlund, even.

    • There’s a Stone Cold Steve Austin/Stonemen joke in here, but I’m not nimble enough to make it.

      • Zack

        To continue with WWF allusions, something that occurred to me last night was that so far the books/show have shown a lot of evil characters ‘going good’ but I couldn’t think of any characters in the inverse situation. Now we have one!

        • Lyanna Mormont

          (I can think of at least one in the books, who hasn’t been portrayed that way in the show, so I won’t say who here. Maybe not full-on Evil, but definitely Dark.)

        • Fluffinmyturnups

          I dont think Stannis has EVER been good

          He burnt his own brother in law to death in EP4 because he would not convert to the Lord of Light. Burning Mance to death was the last straw for me.

          • Eddie H

            And facilitated the murder of his younger brother.

            • Zack

              He killed Renly…before Renly could have killed him. Renly had the numbers, Stannis had a sorceress. I don’t have a problem with that.

  • Eddie H

    I am completely flipped on Stannis. I hope he fails miserably, yes even at the hands of the Boltons (as long as Ramsay gets his in the meantime I won’t even care). Then in his grief he kills Melisandre after realizing that she really just has a fire fetish and couldn’t guarantee him anything. Then Stannis’s men turn on him because of the death of the princess and Davos delivers the Brutus blow to Stannis’s Caesar.
    I’m so angry….AAAH!

    • Fluffinmyturnups

      SHADOW BABIES

  • Becky Diane

    Oh man, that first picture. I died laughing before I read a word. You have a gift, madam. Side note, as the wife of a fighter pilot I totally agree with your astronaut stance.

    This episode just gutted me. I thought I was ready, but I was yelling at my screen. What made me extra angry was the fact that Shireen called for Stannis for about an hour before he came out of his tent looking a little pissed that he was being disturbed all, “WHAT? I was brushing my teeth. Oh, that human sacrifice was TODAY? Man, is my face red.” He didn’t even have the guts to face his little girl while others did the dirty work. I want him to die die die die. Okay, cleansing breaths…

    Was I the only one who responded like Drogon was a dog when he showed up? Who’s a good boy????? Shake ’em shake ’em shake ’em! Such a good boy!!!

    As always, thanks so much for your recaps. They bring sanity and grief counseling to my Monday mornings!

    • Hahaha, you ABSOLUTELY KNOW then about the astronauts. :D I mean, we stick them inside rockets, so fair enough: drink up, buddy. ;)

      I don’t think he could bear to watch it, personally. I think it gutted him to do it, but he still did it. He still did it. (And if you look at stills of his face, he looks like he’s on the wrong side of a three day bender.) HE STILL DID IT THOUGH.

      I’m so happy that you enjoy the site!! Aww, that makes me so glad.

    • Sarah Sanderson

      When Drogon flew down I was like “C’mon C’MON! MOMMY NEEDS HER BABIES! What a good baby!”

      Just a grumpy puppy and his mama.

  • MaxwellJames

    Also – amidst the (understandable) fanrage over Shireen and fanawe over Drogon, I want to give some appreciations to my favorite player in this episode, who was (wait for it)… JORAH!

    You, dear hostess, have of course been admiring of Jorah for a long time now. And I have long enjoyed Ian Glen’s understated performance. But this last episode was, I think, his finest moment. The tension between him and Dany was palpable, just masterfully directed, and both actors played it beautifully. I also loved that they didn’t make Jorah out to be some kind of god-king in battle, just an competent knight doing his best and mostly getting his ass kicked, yet somehow surviving.

    And then “when Jorah stands, Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” begins to play, and he leads Dany to safety.” YES!

    And then she rides off on the dragon without him. Damn. That is some cold, cold fire.

    • Iain Glen’s performance really is a masterclass in subtlety. I just adore how he plays this role, which shouldn’t be sympathetic (and isn’t on paper) but when you watch this man pour everything he is into this girl, wanting her to succeed, it’s just marvelous.

      I, too, enjoyed his fight scenes. He’s a man of years, even though he’s well trained. It looked like an older knight fighting, and I loved that.

      (I have a feeling Jorah REALLY LIKED her getting on that dragon, though.)

  • Glad to see you here, though! (Lurking is perfectly acceptable)

    STANNIS, YOU GO TO YOUR ROOM AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE. >:(

  • JCDavis

    I want to contribute to the sterling conversation and talking points this week, but alas, the most I can do for now is to let you know that the bar is open and Kleenex is on the house. Thanks Laura for yet another wonderful written recap to the episode, you are not having one thought or emotion that I couldn’t validate. Is there a special room for singing folk songs and having a good hugfest? Point me in the direction, please.

    • [points to self] Get in here for some hugs. <3

  • JCDavis

    Hi Gail. I have a feeling many others feel just as you do and isn’t it great to have a place that is all soft places to land when GoT’s beats the hell out of us and knocks us from our feet. {{hugs}}

    • Gail

      *hugs back* I expected to be affected since, you know, episode 9, but. :(

      I am always really happy that this place exists. It’s the perfect place to lurk around and hang out and read really great discussion! (ilu laura <3)

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  • Lee No

    NOOOOO STANNIS YOU MADE ME BELIEVE IN YOU! Okay, I’ll be a lot less sad if you die now. (The last 15 minutes was just me staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the screen)

    The Pit of Meereen scene was perfect in every way. Wow. Now, order in the city will surely deteriorate quite quickly. I always think: Why aren’t the Unsullied better fighters? But it kind of makes sense: Dany gave them an identity again, and with it a sense of self-preservation, the lack of which made them (in part) imba fighters. Biggest shock for me (we are all Unsullied now) was that apparently Hizdhar wasn’t one of the Harpy guys, but really just the smooth survivior (ha!) he seemed to be…

    Will Arya revert fully back to her revenge quest now and abandon her training? I’m thinking the Faceless Men woudln’t be happy if she killed someone because Arya Stark wanted him dead.

    And yeah, what was that complete 180 by Illaria Sand who was being nice all of a sudden? Maybe she’s trying to manipulate Jaime? Idk, seems a bit random, or is she truly resigned to Doran’s rule over her?

  • Eddie H

    Forgot to mention how nice it’s been to have Arya out and enjoying some fresh air the last couple of episodes. She pretty much lived outside for like what, a year? It was probably getting really stuffy inside the house of black and white. Bravos is a really cool set, so I’m glad they’re using it.

  • Zack

    I can’t get myself away from Stannis’ choice. It’s all I can think about with the episode.

    And I just have to think….What in the world is Stannis thinking? If he wants the Iron Throne, that’s great. Shireen is his only child. A King without an heir is just a time bomb waiting to happen, people scheming and plotting and perhaps starting even more wars for the right to be the next King.

    Shireen was a major reason I had hope for a Stannis reign. She had strong potential as a ruler.

    God damn it. :(

    • JCDavis

      As a different thought….if Selyse were to die, Stannis could marry someone younger and still father a child. He has no heir now…..but in the world of GoT’s I could see that there is a way around the “no heir” issue.

      • And I would assume there’s a Law of Sarah equivalent in Westeros, since Melisandre was allowed to be put forth as a handmaiden of sorts? Selyse is barren, or cannot carry a child to term, so I would think there are go arounds, too.

        • JCDavis

          *nods very wisely*
          I am so excited for Sunday and SO scared of what is going to happen I am literally getting some heart palps. :o

          • Zack

            Me too! As an aside, I’m actually kind of glad, kind of….that GRRM is such a slow writer.

            Because Shireen’s death was more horrifying to me than Ned’s death and either Wedding (on screen….the books still take the prize). I knew what to expect there. And being surprised, and having to speculate along with everyone else…I’m loving it.

            So, yeah, it’s extremely interesting to think about what Stannis’ contingency plan is here. I hope it won’t get to that point though. Hopefully Brienne ends Stannis after he defeats the Boltons :)

            • JCDavis

              You and I hope the exact same thing then.

              On a side note here: Some Asshat is leaking photos from Sunday and they aren’t just spoilers, they are THE spoiler that you don’t want to see. Don’t open any attachment on any of the other sites like WotW or WiC or Westeros. Please, I did and I wish I could acid wash my brain.

              I came whimpering back to my safe spot for nurturing. Why for the love of all that is good and right in the world would someone do that? It is beyond thinkable to me. :( *huge crocodile tears*

              • !!!! PEOPLE CAN BE SO AWFUL, WHY?!?!? UGH, I appreciate this head’s up, especially since you know how much of a spoiler-phobe I am. I will remain hidden in my safe space! <3

                • Zack

                  Why in the world do people do this?!

                  Laura, do you have reader friends prescreen comments for you, or has it been unnecessary? I hope most of the major events so far have managed to be kept for your episode watches.

                  • I’m the filter, Zack, but I have a setting that anyone new has to be approved. Everyone who comments regularly gets “whitelisted”–so if any of you guys have spoilers, I am almost always alerted by another person in the group. :)

                    But yeah, it can be nerve-wracking. (Fortunately we end up with the best people over here. I’ve yet to be spoiled!) <3

  • Unbeheld

    It seems the majority of the Internet is up and arms about the actions of Stannis. Some pointing out the hypocrisy of the fans who backed a guy who killed his own kin to get here, while others thought that the show went too far burning a little girl when apparently burning dozens of harpies is worth cheering for.

    The point a lot are missing is that these characters are driven by what they believe to be their destiny. Jon is going out of his way to get the wildlings on board because he is convinced they are all going to die if they don’t, even if his own brothers are convinced otherwise. Cercei has done all of her little scheming without thinking long term because she is convinced Margaery is the “new beautiful queen” destined to replace her by the stupid prophecy that witch told her as a child.

    Stannis is convinced by Melisandre that he WILL lose this battle and all of his men and because he believes he’s the “chosen one”, the realm will fall because of his lack of conviction to the white walkers. Sure you can accuse him of having a huge ego, but the last time he listened to Davos and ignored Melisandre it cost him dearly at the Battle of the Blackwater.

    He doesn’t have a fall back this time, and he firmly believes this is the “right choice” for the greater good, so he makes his great sacrifice. It’s ironic Stannis’s name is being dragged in the mud just like Jaime was for doing what they believed to be the right thing to save the many.

    Great review as always Laura, your gifs always makes my day. See you next week =)

  • JCDavis

    Hi AnnieJ. *raises hand* HUGE McCaffrey fan here and have been for decades and then some. Great to see you post here, I do hope you come back. I am fairly n00bish myself. I think you may be right about Daario……but he was slayin’ some Harpy butt last week as well. Maybe we are just not meant to know who it is? Hard to say with only one episode left and everyone basically is Unsulled at this point.

    • Annie Lou

      I keep meaning to re-read all those books in a proper Pern chronology!

      I love being unsullied, as a book reader it’s refreshing :-)

  • Hi, Annie!! PERN!!!!! RIGHT?!??! (I assume you’re familiar with the amazing dragon artwork of Michael Whelan, but if not: GOOGLE.)

    I really don’t think Daario is, frankly. I think he was shocked and was especially shocked to learn Hizdhar was attacked by the Harpies, too. BUT TIME WILL TELL.

    • Annie Lou

      I watched it again, I just… don’t know! Aaargh… (this is me again by the way, I just realised I had a Disqus login haha)

  • Jehnt

    I looked up you GoT reviews after the ABSOLUTE UPROAR on my newsfeed following the last episode. I haven’t watched this season but I would like to say: Iain Glenn. Yes. SO MUCH YES. My husband was always really annoyed during Downton Abbey because I would spend basically the whole time he was on screen like “I WOULD BANG HIM TO INFINITY AND BEYOND” while everyone else was sighing over Matthew (in my husband’s opinion, the correct object of affection). But no. Sorry. Iain Glenn.