Game Of Thrones Season Five Recap: The Dance Of Dragons

For the second week in a row, season five of Game Of Thrones has delivered the goods. Parts of the episode were exhilarating. Other parts were exceptionally unpleasant to watch — Red Wedding style. Read on for the recap.

Warning: Spoilers within!

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Traditionally, the penultimate episode of Game Of Thrones has always contained the show’s biggest moments. In season one, it was Ned Stark’s shock beheading. In season two; the Battle of the Blackwater. Season three served up the Red Wedding while season four gave us the wilding’s assault on the Wall.

Compared to these stellar episodes, The Dance Of Dragons was a moderately low-key affair. While there was plenty of action and drama to keep things interesting, none of it was particularly jaw-dropping. (Unless you count burning a little kid at the stake, which we’ll get to in a moment.) With that said, it was still a highly entertaining episode from start to finish.

Episode 5.9 picks up several days after the Hardhome massacre, with Jon Snow and the battered remnants of the wildling army showing up at the Wall. After a tense faceoff, the prickly Ser Alliser Thorne proves loyal (for now) and opens the gates to the refugees. The rest of the black brothers are none too pleased to be sheltering the enemy though – particularly orphan boy Olly whose stare practically shoots daggers. Watch your back, Jon!

Elsewhere in the North, Stannis finally succumbs to Melisandre’s urging and does the unthinkable; burning his daughter at the stake as a blood sacrifice to the red god R'hllor. We knew this was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch. It was a truly horrific moment; right up there with Sansa’s despoilment or the mayhem of the Red Wedding. There can now be no doubt that Stannis Baratheon is doomed. No man is as accursed as the kinslayer.

Incidentally, we’d like to give a shout-out to actress Kerry Ingram who played Shireen Baratheon. From her touching tête-à-têtes in Ser Davos’ dungeon to her blood-curdling wails while lashed to the pyre, her acting was always top notch. Of all the newcomers to appear in Game Of Thrones, she was arguably the most impressive performer. Hopefully we get to see her in more stuff.

In the far south, the kingdom of Dorne continues to bask uselessly in the sun. While the Spanish villas and slinky sand snakes are very nice to look at, none of it has contributed to the plot in any meaningful way. (Well, apart from helping each episode meet its nudity quota, natch.)

It may come as no surprise that the books' Dornish subplot has been gutted by the show, with key events and characters removed for pacing reasons. We suspect they would have been better off scrapping Dorne entirely. As it stands, this has easily been the weakest part of the show.Perhaps everything will come together in the season's final episode but we're not going to hold our breaths.

We then cut to Braavos, where Arya is entrusted with her first assassination by the Faceless Men. By chance, she happens to spy Kingsguard member Meryn Trant who killed her sword-fighting instructor all the way back in season one. He's also one of the chief names on her kill list. Sensing a golden opportunity, Arya shirks her assassination duties and tails Meryn Trant into a brothel. We learn that Trant prefers underage prostitutes (eew) which will surely factor into Arya plan for revenge next episode.

Like last week's episode, the final third of The Dance Of Dragons was devoted to rip-snorting action. In Mereen, Daenerys finally attends the grand re-opening of the fighting pits, where various warriors fight to the death for the crowd's amusement. Among them is Jorah Mormont who's determined to get back into the queen's good books or die trying. The CGI coliseum out-Gladiatored Gladiator; the scale was truly spectacular. We also liked how the combatants all had different looks and fighting styles; it was all very Conan-esque (in a good way).

Pandemonium erupts as the Son's of the Harpy launch a surprise attack on the queen's viewing booth. (The fighting pit organisers clearly need to bump up their security — how did so many guys with gold masks get through the front gates?) Danny's would-be husband Hizdahr zo Loraq is brutally dispatched by the assassins' knives which pretty much rules him out as a conspirator.

A desperate battle then follows, with Tyrion, Missandei, Daario, Jorah and the queen scurrying around the blood-soaked amphitheatre looking for a way out. Just when all hope seems lost, along comes Drogon — and he's hella pissed! Scores of Harpy henchmen get chomped and/or barbecued by the rampaging dragon after ill-advisedly poking him with spears. Daeneryes then makes an impromptu escape on her scaly savior's back. Fade to black. Awesome.

What did you think of this week's episode? How do you think the finale will pan out? Share your views in the comments section below!

Note: Please, no spoilers from the books in the comments below!


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