Monday, June 8, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.9, "The Dance of Dragons"

The actually most impressive warriors of the setting.
After finishing up my re-read post on Daenerys I (ADWD 3) I couldn't help it. Just had to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode, bedtime be damned. I'm regretting it now, after only five hours of sleep, but I'll just have to suffer through the day and remember that there are worse fates. Which of course brings us to (heavy spoilers after the break!) ...heavy spoilers and some speculation to boot.
And wondering how the Sons of the Harpy can be so good at what they're doing, considering they're random citizens. It's got to be the masks.

...little sweet Shireen. If watching Sansa getting abused by Ramsay Bolton wasn't bad enough, this week we're throwing the most innocent and sweet character of the entire show on the pyre. I was in a discussion with staff writers at Tower of the Hand where this was spoiled for me, but that okay, in retrospect. I felt being mentally prepared for the scene was good because I did get the feels enough that there was a possibility for a tear in the corner of an eye (which I haven't experienced yet with this series; I believe the high amount of characters versus the short length of scenes and crammed feeling of each episode makes me not all that invested in the characters, and, of course, it's a fantasy (not that it should matter if the story/characters are compelling enough) - but  was almost there during the Red Wedding as well - and again when Dany chose to board Drogon later in this week's episode. So there are story beats that make me emotional in Game of Thrones.

The Shireen sequence, then, was both horrible to watch and the best scene of the episode (and didn't even come toward the end) - Stannis' haggard look, Shireen's heart-breaking pleas for help, Selyse faltering for a moment there in her faith in the Red God (is this to set up Selyse's sacrifice - as in, "You had a moment of doubt, shame on you. Come, here's a pyre."), the lighting, the colors, it all went into one well baked, horrific scene that also spoiled the living Tyrannosaurus Christ out of us all! But the scene was so well done in my opinion that seeing "The Winds of Winter" material on screen, in this case, wasn't bad at all. Besides, I find myself really not minding getting spoiled by HBO on Martin's plot. I don't care that much anymore, Martin's had so many, many chances during the now three Long Waits, I rather see HBO cook up something than go through the waiting game again for the seventh (and final, according to myth) novel.

Next memorable scene is of course Daenerys, Tyrion, Maximus Mormontus, that guy, and Daario. The CGI was shoddy but for a TV show more than good enough. And when she rose in the air I was both gleefully excited and feeling sorry for her crew that she just left behind without a word. Fortunately all the Sons of the Harpy suddenly vanished between Dany calming down her dragon and Dany leaving. Which was one, but not the least, problem with the Essos sequence this episode. As I have noted has been pointed out elsewhere on the webses, there was a whole lot of wrong mixed in with the good here - why was Hzzidar killed? How did so many Sons be able to infiltrate the arena without getting noticed? Why are the Unsullied heralded as the best soldiers ever when they can't do shit?

Right. A third scene I really liked was Arya and Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard. Now casual viewers may have forgotten either who he is, why he is there, or why Arya is giving him the stares, so they have to be very blunt about him being a despicable character deserving of Arya's...I mean no one's mercy - but I think it added to his character more than distracted. The sequence, from Arya first spots him on the docks until she (most likely) decides to become "the next girl" for Ser Meryn in order to kill him (it is rather obvious isn't it) is tense and exciting. I was glued to the screen.

These three scenes were all lengthy, daring to dwell on the moment, letting them play out; they had important plot beats (well, the first two anyway) that helped make them the most memorable of the show. The rest of the scenes were more of the transitional talky-talky type scenes.

There was a lot to dislike as usual as well; Mace Tyrell is just too over the top dumb now, and it isn't even funny; the Dorne scenes were much better than they've been so far, but are still distressingly jarring compared to the rest of the story and feel so tacked on (which they are); the Sand Snakes, like Mace Tyrell, are but caricatures with no depth. The Dorne scenes are also confusing - especially Ellaria Sand's role in this episode - but upon a quick rewatch it already feels better when you notice that there's some subtext in the Prince Doran scenes which explain why she suddenly 'changes' her character (she doesn't; she's acting). So it seems Trystane and Myrcella will go back to King's Landing (where the sweet girl most likely will die) with Uncle Jaime. The burning of Stannis' tents, which we can assume is Ramsay's work (but could be Melisandre's in a plot twist) was weird the way it was shot/choreographed/composited take your pick), and Olly versus Jon was once again so heavily telegraphed I almost blushed.

Right! What's almost as fun as watching a new episode, is of course to read up on the reactions online - forum comments, tweets, the works - and this particular episode has turned someone very close to George Martin somewhat angry (actually, it was an episode 9 Behind the Scenes video) - after years of hacking on people with dissenting opinions on Feast and Dance, and banning said people from her website, the "premier Westeros fan site" at that, she finds herself in the same boat. I really like the irony as it comes a-bitin'. If you've followed the various flame wars over the last decade you'll appreciate it too. Thanks for the headsup, you-know-who-you-are, (No, I'm not a regular visitor to that twitter account by any means!)

SO...I think the previous episode was a shade or two stronger (there were less awkward shots, less awkward developments - I mean, Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Ser Jorah knows he's got grayscale and goes touching Daenerys all over her arms? It is clear they want us to notice, so it'll probably come up. But that's silly of Jorah - unless he's so smitten with her that he wishes to spread the disease to her, and take her with him into death, so that he can have her forever for himself. I wouldn't put it past him. Him being ShowJorah, not BookJorah. A bear a bear and a maiden fair. Yadayada. I am also predicting a scene where Missandei dies in Daenerys' arms and Daenerys wonders why she isn't infected, leading to wondering why Tyrion isn't infected, thus revealing their kinship and setting up Tyrion as Viserion's rider. You heard it here firstest!

Right, time for breakfast and changing some tires before going to work. If yesterday was one of those days, today is one of these days. It's gonna be a rollercoaster ride.

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