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The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 9, The Dance of Dragons

The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 9, The Dance of Dragons


Kids' show, kids' show, oh good Lord it's a kids' show

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Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

By the time we finally made our way to Meereen this week in the Game of Game of Thrones, I felt like Wun-Wun after a long walk in the snow: kind of over this. The gladiatorial drums of the fighting pits hammered away, as if to say "another day, another child burned to a crisp," but it was hard to get on board when the screams of Shireen Baratheon were still ringing in our ears. Farewell, Princess. We'll throw you a +5 for acquiring a cute carved stag before striking you off the board, and another +10 for fully curing Davos Seaworth's illiteracy before you left. ("Thank you ... for teaching me to be a grown up," said Davos, which was objectively the best line of the week. +15) Thank goodness this writeup is just an impartial, cut-and-dry scoring recap, and not some kind of podium for my personal opinions and feelings about television, or we might be here all day!

This show is very subversive

Just to show how little I care about subjective things like good vs. pitch-black-hopeless-void evil, I'll even go ahead and throw +30 at Ramsay Bolton — who, come on, wasn't even in attendance this week! His resoundingly successful mission with his "20 good men" effectively brought Stannis Baratheon and his army to the tough predicament they found themselves in this week. You have to respect the uncompromising world George R.R. Martin has built: unlike your mom's lamestream sword-and-sorcery books, where the heroes predictably always manage to slay the bad guys against impossible odds, in Westeros, the villains always manage to slay the good whatever guys against impossible odds, which is way more realistic and less predictable. This show is very subversive!

Game of Thrones

Now, some more emotion-driven scorekeepers might be tempted to dock 100 points from Stannis and Melisandre, for, you know, losing any smidgen of audience sympathy or appreciation they may have built up over the past several seasons. But rules are rules, and if it makes them feel any better, those two miserable dummies can split the +35 they earned for killing a drafted character. And hey — who knows? Maybe this will be just the thing the Lord of Light's army needs to get his mojo back. If it's not, or if there are — gods forbid — some kind of terrible repercussions for such an unpleasant decision, then trust me, this will not be the last you hear about this.

Here are some points, you miserable dummies

Elsewhere, in Dorne, Doran Martell's respectable refusal to kill little girls has been at the source of the GOGOT's only officially sanctioned Lame Plotline, so maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judgement. Let's start off by doing our routine -10 docking of all concerned players (Jaime Lannister, Bronn, Obara Sand, Tyene Sand, and Nymeria Sand), none of whom managed to make any of those points back except Jaime with his new Dornish look (+10). Myrcella Baratheon also switched up her usual Princess Peach togs for something a little more contemporary and appropriate for Dorne's winter festival season (+10).

With Myrcella and Jaime heading back to rotten old King's Landing, and Doran forced to give up his only potential bargaining chip, Trystane Martell is arguably the biggest winner of the little family meeting Doran hosts. Jaime promises him a seat on the small council, which I will award Promotion points for when I see it — I'm with Ellaria Sand; I'm not sure we can trust the word of a Kingslayer for the time being. Ellaria gets in some cutting remarks and dumps a nice red all over Doran's mosaic flooring, but no move was quite so devastating as this low blow: "No wonder you cannot stand. You have no spine." (+10) This apparently tested the limits of Doran's cool-mom approach to discipline, and he eventually got her to kiss the ring (+10) while the Sand Snakes looked on helplessly.

The bad guy is bad and the brothels are ... there

Let's hop back across the pond to Braavos, which I had kind of been partial to as a nice, somewhat more sane alternative to King's Landing. They've got oysters! They've got a cornucopia of nationalities and religious beliefs! And they apparently also have a rich child prostitute economy, at least when Meryn Trant's in town. Not sure what we really accomplished this time around, or if Arya's stalking detour for her own personal vendetta accomplished anything other than further establishing that a bad guy is bad and that brothels are ... there. I do not like where I think this plot is going, and unfortunately Game of Thrones has become predictably gross enough for me to be pretty sure I know where this plot is going. Onward to Meereen!

Game of Thrones

I will say, even after a rough first half, it was kind of cool to see Daenerys Targaryen presiding over her gladiatorial arena, as much as she loathes her new duty as ceremonial hand-clapper. I liked the tetchy chitter-chatter between her newfound coterie of Daario Naharis (who could not be more obvious about the fact that he's still getting his eggs warmed on the side by the Mother of Dragons), the sputtering entitlement of Hizdahr, and Tyrion Lannister. Specifically, it was fun to see Tyrion interact with the crew, especially Dany's intended, if only for a brief spell ("My father would have liked you," Tyrion sighs — +5).

Meereen is about to get Sonned! (Of the Harpies!)

And then bad old Jorah Mormont saunters out, fueled by love and humiliation and his own impending mortality, like any good warrior. He proceeds to strike down two of his fighting pit assailants (+20), and then gets a bonus kill — a masked man who is about to make an attempt on the life of the queen (+10). Oh shit, Meereen is about to get Sonned! (Of the Harpies!)

For saving her life, Jorah effectively gets his job as back as the Gary to Daenerys' Selina (+25). But he barely has time to take a victory lap, because he's still got to see to the swarm of Harpies that materialize in the arena — you know what that means! It's a bloodbath point party! YOU get +50, Jorah! And YOU get +50, Daario! And YOU get +50, Harpies — as well as +20 for killing off my beloved Hizdahr. Tyrion even picks up +10 for a Harpy kill, and I'm going to give a mere +30 to The Unsullied, because I swear I think I saw them actually kill maybe three bad guys? (Where the actual eff is Grey Worm? Still recuperating? Haven't like five years gone by in Thrones time?)

+100 for Dragons (and the Power of Female Friendship)

And then when all hope seems lost, Daenerys and her best gal pal Missandei take each other's hands, and through the power of female friendship ... DRAGONS! Well, one dragon, to be accurate, but it does the trick — both of saving the queen and saving this episode from the fighting pits of despair. It's only fair to award both Dany and Drogon +100 each for this feat — like the White Walkers last week, they provided a tentpole moment that will forever be remembered as a peak of the show, even in one of its darker hours. Dance Dragons, Dance.

Game of Thrones

But we still have lots of unanswered questions. How is Daenerys' crew supposed to get out of that arena after their girl ditched them? Are the Harpies just momentarily disarmed due to the paralyzing power of Dragons (and female friendship!)? Did Hizdahr plan the whole massacre, including his own murder, so as to remove blame? (He suspiciously stepped out at one point to "make sure everything was in order" which is a weird way to talk about relieving yourself after an overindulgence in the Pentoshi Pale Amber (yup, still in my tabs). Which of the Verge's nine Game of Game of Thrones combatants will emerge victorious from this most cruel and bloody fifth season? All, or none of this — and more! — will be answered next week, in our final, definitely most objective score report.

This week's top scoring characters, (calculated from this total b.s. points guide)

Scorekeeper's note: Last week Jon Snow was erroneously awarded 25 fewer points than he earned. That has been corrected in the Royal Google Spreadsheet and taken into account in this week's league rankings.

  1. Daenerys Targaryen (101)
  2. DRAGONS (101)
  3. Jorah Mormont (76)
  4. Sons of the Harpy (71)
  5. Daario Naharis (51)
  6. The Unsullied (31)
  7. Ramsay Bolton (30)
  8. Tyrion Lannister (26)
  9. Melisandre (19)
  10. Stannis Baratheon (18)

This week's league rankings
  1. Bryan Bishop: 148 points (409 total)
  2. Liz Lopatto: 0 points (384 total)
  3. Ross Miller: 159 points (372 total)
  4. Dieter Bohn: 170 points (363 total)
  5. Kwame Opam: 84 points (347 total)
  6. Casey Newton: 3 points (345 total)
  7. Adi Robertson: 13 points (326 total)
  8. Chris Plante: 0 points (203 total)
  9. Arielle Duhaime-Ross: 7 points (163 total)