clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game of Thrones does the unthinkable to the undeserving

Hey, remember when we all liked Stannis?

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

The move to burn Shireen made sense from a certain pragmatic point of view; Stannis was all out of options. Ramsay's strike-team of men destroyed the camp's supplies and siege weapons. When Stannis is lost, he turns to dark magic. So here we are. Shireen even volunteered to be killed, even though she didn't really understand the implications of what was happening.

So that was the first big dubya-tee-eff moment of the evening, and it was made worse by the fact that Shireen was one of the few characters on the show who seemed to be more or less innocent.

According to Stannis' story a few episodes back she contracted grayscale due to her proximity to his power, but it was his power and will that saved her. Now, unfortunately, her closeness to him led to her death. The Great Wheel turns again, and one more person is ground under it so this man can rise to power.

game of thrones 9

Last week's episode seemed to show us the plans for the rest of the show, much less the rest of the season, and things certainly happened this week in a big way. The fighting pits are finally opened, and we get to see everyone around Daenerys react to that situation. It's not exactly to Tyrion's liking to watch the brutality this closely; and he's right that he's certainly seen enough of it up close and personal, but nearly everyone else seems to be enjoying the display.

That is, until the Sons of the Harpy show up and kill just about everyone.

I'm not sure you can do a gladiator scene without evoking the titular film starring Russell Crowe, or even the weird scene with all the bugs from Attack of the Clones, but Game of Thrones tries to pull it off and uses quite the trick: A huge, fire-breathing dragon that swoops in to rescue Daenerys.

It's a thrilling scene, and Drogon looks amazing, but the special effects fall apart a bit when Daenerys rides off into the sky. Compositing is hard, and expensive, to get right, and the seams on the show's budget begin to show through at moments like this.

Hey, remember when we all liked Stannis?

She leaves everyone else behind after Drogon takes out at least some of the Sons of the Harpy, and that's kind of an interesting decision. Does she have faith that they will all survive? Does she care? Learning to control the dragons is one of her keys to the throne, and at the end of this episode Daenerys is just one more chosen ruler willing to put herself above everyone else. Quite literally, in this case.

I'm really curious about how you read the ending of that scene, because even though Drogon was clearly beaten up by those spears it didn't look like much had been resolved; everyone left behind still seemed to be in immediate danger.

You either have power in this world, or you don't. And if you don't? You're just one sacrifice or abandonment away from becoming fodder for the inevitable battle around you.

Odds and ends

  • Shireen said the name of the episode within the episode! And she wouldn't pick sides! Shireen was pretty great; too bad she had to die in the most horrible way possible.
  • The show isn't subtle about where Arya's story is going, and it's already making my stomach turn a bit. I'm not sure where the brothel owner found the first girl, but I have a feeling taking care of the customers in this way wasn't part of her original contract
  • "It’s easy to confuse what is with what ought to be. Especially when what is has always worked in your favor." Dany's whole philosophy seems to be idea that things don't have to be this way, but the longer she keeps her rule the more that thought is tested. Her arc in some ways reminds me of Mayor Carcetti from The Wire.
  • The Dorne story may be back with a double-cross or something, but even the characters seemed all too willing to put everything about those scenes behind them.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon