Dances with Dragons: Game of Thrones Recap

By Betch Ivy Carter

If you ever feel like your parents are unreasonable, just watch this week’s episode and thank your lucky stars you aren’t a Baratheon. Similarly, if you ever feel like you’ve accomplished nothing with your life, watch this episode and dream of being a Khaleesi.

Castle Black

Jon shows up at the gate outside the wall with his band of merry wildlings, fresh from their horrific zombie battle. Ser Allister is at the top watching them approach, and they have a 100 foot high staring contest before he decides to open the gates and let them in.

Things are tense to the say the least as the wildlings file into Castle Black. Not sure who’s angrier about this situation: the men of the Night’s Watch or Wun-Wun. Jon is doing his usual thing where he laments about the people he couldn’t save and Sam is doing his usual thing where he kisses Jon's ass. Olly stands glaring in the background, definitely still plotting murder.

Allister: You have a good heart, Jon Snow, and it’s going to fucking ruin everything.

Jon: True.


Arya is back at her oyster peddling on the streets of Braavos. Something that has been gnawing at me since her makeover was revealed last week: who is styling her hair like that? Seeing as how she despised all things even moderately effeminate, you know Arya can’t braid for shit. Is Jaqen doing her hair every morning before he sends her out on her nefarious spy missions? Is there a disguise and costume department at the House of Black and White? Forget Jon’s parentage, these are the questions that we need answers to.

Arya is distracted on her way to sell oysters to her target, the thin man, by the arrival of some very Westerosi looking men. It’s none other than Master Tyrell, who Cersei sent on a death mission to negotiate with the Iron Bank, and Ser Meryn Trant, one of the lucky few on Arya’s death list. She abandons her mission and proceeds to follow them for the rest of the day, like the good murderous spy she was trained to be.

You can just tell that Lord Tyrell is the kind of guy who overly enjoys dad jokes. The Iron Bank guy winces every time he speaks. Trant hates him too, so much so that he needs to go unwind from his travels at the nearest brothel with two other guards. Arya follows them inside, because nothing says low profile like a teenage girl selling smelly shellfish in a whore house.

She watches a line of prostitutes parade themselves in front of Trant, and I feel like it’s a process that’s frighteningly reminiscent of a casting call for George Clooney’s love interests as he declares each one of them “too old.” It gets to the point where even his men are getting uncomfortable with his obvious predilection for pre-pubescent girls. One of the guards finds Arya and drags her in to sell them some oysters, which is when Trant spies her and is like “ah yes, finally a girl who hasn’t been sullied by such unseemly things as menstruation.” or maybe he recongizes her some how. Who knows. 

Fortunately, she is shooed away by the madam, who drags in a legit ten year old for R. Kelly Trant. Before he goes, he reminds her that he will need a fresh child to have sex with the next night, because recycling your whores is gross. Arya watches this entire exchange, so I think we can all hazard a guess at where this is going.

Arya goes back to the House of Black and White, where Jaqen is waiting. She lies and tells him the thin man wasn’t hungry today, and then goes to wash the newest dead body to be added to their collection.

Dorne’t You Forget About Me

Jaime attends a tense family dinner with Doran, Ellaria, Trystane and Myrcella. He instantly assumes the role of overprotective father/uncle and criticizes his daughter/niece’s skimpy clothing.

Jaime: Nice dress, didn’t realize we were in Highgarden.

Myrcella: Weird, Trystane likes it.

Still rocking the Dorne by Free People collection, Myrcella could go to Coachella in her outfit and fit in just fine. Trystella potentially rival Daario and Khaleesi for best looking couple on this show (but don’t tell Daario I said so).

Doran wants to know why Jaime felt the need to steal into Dorne in secret and try to abduct Myrcella. He tells him that they received a threatening message: her necklace in the jaws of a viper. Turns out that necklace was stolen from her room. Literally everyone glares at Ellaria.

Being the rational guy that he is, Doran says he won’t behead Jaime because he doesn’t like unnecessary war. He even toasts to Tommen, but rather than participate, Ellaria pours some out for her homies. Doran is not amused, probably because OxiClean doesn’t exist in Dorne so that wine stain is definitely not coming out of his rug.

Doran says that if Myrcella must go back to King’s Landing, Trystane is going, too. He’s not down to start a war to avenge his brother but he will do everything in his power to preserve this teenage romance. Wingdad of the year. Doran also wants Trystane to fill Oberyn’s spot on the small council so Dorne can stay in the loop with their “ally,” Westeros. Jaime concedes because it’s not like he has any other option. He probably also recognizes that his grandkids are going to be wildly attractive, so like why not.

Ellaria: You are spineless.

Doran: And you are irrelevant so you can probably shut the fuck up.

The sand snakes are fighting in jail and the youngest one clearly has some issues with her older sister. She also still has the hots for Bronn, which is weird because she is beautiful and he looks like someone you might see in the audience of Jerry Springer.

Trystane gets to decide Bronn’s punishment for punching him in the face, which is that Doran’s giant guard gets to elbow him in the face. That’s it. Bronn attacks the Prince of Dorne and nothing happens to him. Of all the cities we’ve seen so far, it kind of seems like Dorne is the place to be for a lot of reasons, the most important being that their first reaction to any transgression isn’t gruesome murder.

Doran tells Ellaria she can either swear her allegiance to him or she can die. She starts blubbering and opts for not dying, losing the respect of the newly released Sand Snakes in the process.

Later, Ellaria sneaks up on Jaime while he is writing a letter. She insults his hand writing and then calls out his incestuous ways, because I guess she never learned the intricacies of small talk. She is very supportive of his Flowers in the Attic situation with Cersei because Dorne doesn’t have inconvenient social restrictions on petty things like having sex with your twin sister. Unbowed, Unbent, Un-phased by inbreeding.

She also apologizes and says she knows that he and Myrcella had nothing to do with Oberyn’s death. It seemed sincere but if I have learned anything in the five years of watching this show it is that literally everything is a lie.

Let it Burn

True to his word, Ramsey wreaks havoc with just twenty men. He sets fire to a bunch of tents and a couple of horses at Stannis’ camp without getting caught. Melisandre, officially the least useful psychic ever, watches in shock like “WTF fire can hurt people?”

Grizzly Adams Stannis is pissed about the fires. And the winter. And just about everything. Daavos keeps insisting that they retreat back to Castle Black before they all freeze to death, but Stannis refuses.

Daavos: You make it really hard to maintain this crush on you when you’re intent on killing all of us.

Let’s just address the elephant in the room now: this is the episode where Stannis sacrifices his daughter to the Lord of Light in the hopes that it will help him take Winterfell. We were tricked by the heartwarming scene a few weeks ago in which he swore he would never do that exact thing, thus further cementing the mountain of trust issues this show has saddled me with.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing to Shireen’s death, like when Stannis decides to send Daavos, the only voice of reason in this camp, back to Castle Black for supplies. Daavos tries to take Shireen with him because he absolutely knows what’s up and, like a reasonable fucking human isn’t down to light a little girl on fire. He doesn’t even call Stannis the One True King once this episode, which is how you know he’s serious. 

Daavos goes to see Shireen and give her a parting gift: a tiny wooden stag. He says it’s for teaching him to read when really it’s a small “sorry you’re about to get sacrificed in the name of a bullshit religion” token.

Shireen is playing with her new (and probably only) toy when Stannis comes in to chat (sacrifice) her. She tells him about the story she’s reading, the Dance of Dragons, which is about a war between two Targaryen siblings that tore Westeros apart.

Shireen: They both wanted to rule and their fighting ruined just about everyone’s life. Interesting, right? Might even sound a little familiar?

Stannis: Nah.

He asks her which side she would have chosen, and she said neither because she is wise beyond her years. Bothering to at least look upset, Stannis is like “But sometimes we have to do shitty things so that we may fulfill our destiny. On that note I’m going to have to let my crazy girlfriend light you on fire.” Shireen, the innocent thing that she is, completely misinterprets this, probably because she is naïve enough to assume her father would never willingly sacrifice her for a title. Jokes.

Shireen: I want to help, is there anything I can do?

Stannis: I mean, now that you mention it

She hugs him because she’s genuinely excited about being able to help her dad and it is just TOO MUCH. Shireen Baratheon: beautiful cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure.

However, once she is lead to what is clearly a pyre made for burning people, Shireen is significantly less willing to help the cause. Listening to her scream for her absentee parents was probably one of the hardest scenes to watch in a show comprised of horrifying scenes. Her heartless mother has a change of heart at the last minute, which was shocking and also poorly timed. You know it's just too little, too late, Lady Baratheon.

Melisandre smizes into the flames a la Tyra Banks, genuinely stoked (and probably a little shocked) that she has conned an army of people into believing in her bat shit religion for this long. I don’t understand why just a few leeches full of Gendry’s dick blood was enough of a sacrifice before and yet this time they have to not only kill Shireen, but do it in the most horrific way possible. Probably because no one was getting raped this episode, and they needed to up the shock factor.

Meet Me in the Pit

The great games are upon us, and no one really seems happy about it. The cast assembled to watch from the royal box seat is Daenerys, Hizdahr, Tyrion, Missandei and Daario. Without a doubt, the best part of this scene is watching Daario not subtly make faces at the back of Hizdahr’s head.

Khaleesi sits by, incredibly reluctant and uncomfortable to be there, while Hizdahr justifies the senseless violence and Daario shows off his dagger tricks to impress Daenerys. Tyrion looks bored because wine is noticeably absent from this event.

Hizdahr: These fights are what keep the great city of Mereen going.

Khaleesi: I will return your great city to the ground if you don’t shut the fuck up.

Tyrions’ feelings about Hizdahr and the pits become clear when he throws out a super casual “my father would have liked you,” the most slight and savage insult he could offer. He comes to Dany’s defense and their relationship is just EVERYTHING.

Daenerys is torn away from her whiny fiancé by the sound of a gravelly voice that probably haunts her dreams at this point. The second fight is about to start, and Jorah is back with his pleading eyes and general aura of desperation.

Jorah: Hey babe

Daario: wut

Tyrion: wut

Hizdarh: wut

Daenerys: Fuck me

Jorah takes a beating but wins his first fight, and then looks to Daenerys for approval. The severity of his eye contact is uncomfortable for everyone in the arena. He almost dies in his second fight but is saved at the last minute.

As his third fight starts things are looking bleak, but Jorah’s predatory and obsessive love will not be conquered by mere soldiers or superficial stab wounds. His victory is booed by the crowd and he responds by hurling a javelin right passed Daenery’s head. For half a second I thought he’d finally snapped, but it turns out he was aiming at a Son of Harpy standing right behind her. Suddenly, half the stadium is wearing their masks and melee breaks out.

Hizdahr gets stabbed through the stomach and Daario has the decency to at least look kind of upset. Jorah somehow made his way back to Dany, and alongside Daario they try to get her to safety. He looks far too joyously happy about being accepted back into her good graces for someone who is surrounded by terrorists. Tyrion actually kills a Son of Harpy before he can get to Missandei, so maybe sobriety works for him.

Dany and her crew get to the middle of the arena when a whole fuck ton of Sons of Harpy pour in from all sides. Daario’s face is the definition of “fuck this.” They are super outnumbered, and even with the Unsullied fighting them off things are still looking pretty grim. At this point I was convinced that Daario was about to die and was more than prepared to hurl my laptop across the room. Missandei and Dany hold hands, which seemed like the ultimate red flag. Episode 9 strikes again.

Just when it appears that all hope is lost, Drogon appears to save the day. The Sons of Harpy bail real fast but not before he can eat a few and then torch a bunch just for good measure. Daenerys strolls up to this vicious dragon with a history of eating people and blows everyone in the stadiums mind by crawling up onto his back. Then, in a scene straight out of Jorah’s wildest fantasies, she rides off on Drogon’s back into the sunset. Everyone is in awe. Everyone has a boner.

Drogon: Later, bitches.

Tyrion: Holy shit I made the right call.

MVB: Myrcella.

No man, not even your uncle/father, is allowed to dictate how you dress.

If anything happens to Daario next week, I will open my own fighting pits with the writers. You have been warned.





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