Viewers will have felt a sense of trepidation going into this week’s episode, and with good reason.
In the past, episode 9 has always been the standout episode. Either something shocking happens (seasons 1 and 3), or something spectacular happens (2 and 4). So presumably someone somewhere asked: why can’t we have both?
In Braavos, Arya’s quest to kill an insurance salesman is interrupted with the arrival of Mace Tyrell and Meryn Trant. It’s nice to see Mark Gatiss return to his role as a banker, but that’s not important right now. I can’t help but wonder if Mace might be smarter than he lets on, who knows, he may be hatching plans of his own, word must have reached him of the situation in King’s Landing.
If Meryn’s rap-sheet wasn’t already galling enough, it turns out he’s a pedophile. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pretend that this isn’t a real issue, what I’m saying is that Meryn is already despicable enough without adding this to his character (it’s the sort of thing you’d expect in a Terry Goodkind book maybe). That being said, I think it’s to serve as Arya’s opening to off him next week, as doubtless her friend in the brothel will be able to help her out.
Jaime is faced with an obvious question by Doran Martell: why didn’t you just ask me if Myrcella could return home? At least now we know the threatening message was sent by Ellaria (I had perhaps wondered if Cersei had done it to convince Jaime of the danger). Terms are reached, and hopefully the whole embarrassing story arc can be forgotten. Though Doran’s side of the deal is going to be a bit rubbish when he finds out what’s happening in the capital.
Still not a fan of Trystane, but him having Bronn simply elbowed in the face is preferable to execution, even if he’s such a wimp that he won’t hit the man himself. Ellaria has a much needed humanizing scene here, though it doesn’t help that she spent most of this season trying to kidnap Myrcella, so it falls a tad flat. But it looks like we’re saying goodbye to Dorne for now, as Jaime and co will return home.
Things get a little tense at the Wall when Jon returns. Thankfully, nothing comes of it. Given the penultimate episode’s penchant for killing loved characters, Jon’s position looked particularly dodgy.
Ramsay Plot Armour Bolton apparently manages to wipe out most of Stannis supplies and damage his weapons without anyone even seeing them enter the camp. How in the… really? I get the need for drama and such, but come on. Anyway, cause and effect is pretty much the order of the day here. Because of Ramsay’s little stunt, Stannis makes a decision that his fans will never forgive him for: giving Shireen to the Red God.
Shireen’s been getting an awful lot of character development this season. I’d assumed it was to justify her continued presence in the show. Alas, it was all set up for this tragic scene where a young girl is burned in front of her parents. Ironically, it’s her mother that loses her resolve and attempts to save her. People will now likely be hoping that Brienne and Stannis’ paths will cross next week. Poor Shireen =(
Onto the spectacle. Any arena based scenes are going to evoke imagery of previous forms of media, so let’s skip that. The fighting her is blessedly better done than what we’ve seen so far this season. Again, I must point out Daenerys’ hypocrisy in acting like the whole thing is needless barbarism. Fortunately, I’m not alone as even her husband points out that she is essentially placing her beliefs above those of the people who are actually from this city (it’s her holier than thou attitude that I don’t agree with, obviously Mereen is a terrible place).
The ambush of the Harpies is pretty well done, aside from the clumsy beginning where somehow no one sees the first masked fiend sneaking up behind the mother of dragons. However, the moment where they start to emerge from the crowd is accompanied by chilling music that provides a pretty threatening atmosphere. The fight is good, but it seems silly of the Harpies not to simply Zerg Rush their surrounded prey and get all stabby.
The appearance of Drogon is truly something to behold. I found myself wondering if this scene could ever be in the show, given how expensive it would be, but here it is all the same. If nothing else, season 5 must be given praise for all it’s visual triumphs this year. Drogon carving his way through the Harpies is pretty cool, though Daenerys distracting him long enough for him to get a hole in his wing is irritating.
Where do you think Daenerys has gone to? Is Stannis going to bump into Brienne or Davos? Let us know what you think in the comments below…