Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9 “The Dance of Dragons” – Written Recap Round-Up

dany and drogon 3

Welcome to the penultimate installment of the Game of Thrones written recap round-up! “The Dance of Dragons” left many viewers both breathless and elated. It was an exceptional addition to its episode 9 counterparts and left critics with a lot to say!

And don’t forget Watcher’s own Sullied and Unsullied reviews!

Reviews for Book Readers:

Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post

Laura Hudson, Wired 

Myles McNutt, A.V. Club

Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone

Charlie Jane Anders, io9

James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly

Sarah Hughes, The Guardian

Neil Miller, Film School Rejects

Eric Dodds, Time

Elio Garcia, Westeros.org

Scott Meslow, The Week

David Crow, Den of Geek 

 

Unsullied Book-Spoiler-Free Recaps:

Andy Greenwald, Grantland

Laura Stone, Hey, Don’t Judge Me

Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix

Brandon Nowalk, A.V. Club

Nina Shen Rastogi, Vulture

David Malitz, Washington Post

Libby Hill, Salon

How did you like episode 9? What did you think of the critic responses? Let us know in the comments below!

203 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. So let me get this straight.

      Castle Black to “north of Eastwatch” via horse PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Hardhome via ship PLUS
      Hardhome to “north of Eastwatch” via ship PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Castle Black via WALKING

      is faster than Stannis’ army moving from Castle Black to Winterfell?

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    2. Zann:
      So let me get this straight.

      Castle Black to “north of Eastwatch” via horse PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Hardhome via ship PLUS
      Hardhome to “north of Eastwatch” via ship PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Castle Black via WALKING

      is faster than Stannis’ army moving from Castle Black to Winterfell?

      Yup.

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    3. Zann,

      In fairness, Stannis is trying to move an entire army while Jon only had thousands of children, elderly and infirm wildlings.

        Quote  Reply

    4. Zann:
      So let me get this straight.

      Castle Black to “north of Eastwatch” via horse PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Hardhome via ship PLUS
      Hardhome to “north of Eastwatch” via ship PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Castle Black via WALKING

      is faster than Stannis’ army moving from Castle Black to Winterfell?

      Yes, because apparently to you all terrain is equal, and all places in the North have identical weather.

        Quote  Reply

    5. Well so far the backlash to Shireen’s terrible end has been pretty weak in my honest opinion.

      Greenwald wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be and Laura Stone doesn’t seem to be too perturbed either. It seems it was an emotionally resonant moment that felt organic to the story and their expectations. Each critics seems to slap GoT on the wrist and then either forgive it completely or throw in a wee stab in the last paragraph (Greenwald).

      The response to this episode confirms that using the Drogon spectacle to end the episode was a clever move on the showrunners’ part.

      And my initial worry, that my Mother would stop watching the show after Shireen? Her response: “Best episode ever!”

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    6. I CANT WAIT TIL THE ONION KNIGHT FINDS OUT ABOUT SHIREEN’S BURNING WHO DO YOU THINK HES GOING TO KILL FIRST STANNIS OR MELSIDRERE.

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    7. Wow, never ment to have a reason to say something like that, but: Andy Greenwald really seems to criticise for the sake of criticism by now. There’s not a single logical argument in the whole essay concerning the Shireen-Incident that isn’t slaughtered by his superficial analogies. Yet still, that seems to be the only thing he really wants to write about this time…
      That’s either his new and well disguised way of “letting off some steam” or he hasn’t a proper concept anymore when he writes those reviews.

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    8. Lars: Yes, because apparently to you all terrain is equal, and all places in the North have identical weather.

      I don’t know what the terrain is like between Hardhome (or wherever the ships docked) and Castle Black, but I think the King’s Road, one of if not THE major road in Westeros runs straight from Castle Black to Winterfell.

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    9. Zann:
      So let me get this straight.

      Castle Black to “north of Eastwatch” via horse PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Hardhome via ship PLUS
      Hardhome to “north of Eastwatch” via ship PLUS
      “north of Eastwatch” to Castle Black via WALKING

      is faster than Stannis’ army moving from Castle Black to Winterfell?

      Eyeballing from the map, and using the length of the Wall as 300 miles (100 leagues), it’s about 120 miles from Castle Black to Eastwatch and another 150 miles by sea to Hardhome, so 540 miles round trip with more than half the trip by boat. It is about 800 miles from Castle Black to Winterfell. So distance-wise it makes sense, especially since Stannis has been trapped by the snows. I still think GRRM made Westeros way too damn big, but you could scale it down and the relative distance comparison would still hold.

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    10. Simeon: Eyeballing from the map, and using the length of the Wall as 300 miles (100 leagues), it’s about 120 miles from Castle Black to Eastwatch and another 150 miles by sea to Hardhome, so 540 miles round trip with more than half the trip by boat.It is about 800 miles from Castle Black to Winterfell. So distance-wise it makes sense, especially since Stannis has been trapped by the snows.I still think GRRM made Westeros way too damn big, but you could scale it down and the relative distance comparison would still hold.

      George, a worldbuilder.
      Hah.

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    11. Shock fatigue seems to be setting in with many of the reviewers. For example, for someone usually so committed to wearing her heart on her sleeve, the ‘Hey, Don’t Judge Me’ gal was so nonplussed this week, I want to call her Laura Stoneheart.

      I don’t know if it’s better or worse for the show that in the span of a few weeks reactions went from overly emotional outrage (Sansa) to measured, intellectualized resignation (Shireen).

      Yeah, the occasional ‘Hardhome’ will keep most on board, but passionate engagement will wane if D&D keep taking the tale where no one wants it to go, and when they up the ante just because. Some scenes don’t need punching up (pedo Trant), and some don’t need to exist at all (Stannis burns daughter).

      You know critics are checking out emotionally when they start making term paper references to Agamemnon and Iphigenia.

      Or: maybe it’s my own fatigue after reading too many darn reviews!

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    12. ^ I don’t think that’s the case, though. Most people seem to have had a very strong reaction to the Stannis and Dany storylines this episode (in a good way). Almost all have given it great reviews, and people on IMDB have voted this episode a 9.6 overall, which makes it the 3rd highest of any. It obviously impacted a lot of people.

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    13. Rodrik the Reader:
      Shock fatigue seems to be setting in with many of the reviewers. For example, for someone usually so committed to wearing her heart on her sleeve, the ‘Hey, Don’t Judge Me’ gal was so nonplussed this week, I want to call her Laura Stoneheart.

      I don’t know if it’s better or worse for the show that in the span of a few weeks reactions went from overly emotional outrage (Sansa) to measured, intellectualized resignation (Shireen).

      Yeah, the occasional ‘Hardhome’ will keep most on board, but passionate engagement will wane if D&D keep taking the tale where no one wants it to go, and when they up the ante just because. Some scenes don’t need punching up (pedo Trant), and some don’t need to exist at all (Stannis burns daughter).

      You know critics are checking out emotionally when they start making term paper references to Agamemnon and Iphigenia.

      How is it ‘shock fatigue’ to see a clear parallel between Stannis and Agamemnon? I mean, plenty of people have talked about the similarities between ASOIAF and War of the Roses. And the Red Wedding was drawn from the Black Dinner.

      Recognizing the allegories in a story is an important part of critiquing it. It has absolutely nothing to do with how one ‘feels’ and everything with how one interprets what they are reading (or in this case, seeing).

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    14. I do admit I find myself wanting to go out next episode with a faint bit of hope, or a few small moral victories, for *somebody*. This season has been a bit grimmer than the others, with the absence of characters who helped lighten things up (and the ones added to lighten things up, the Sand Snakes, have so far been a pretty bad misfire). To me it’s no coincidence that the best episodes were the ones where we had some more interesting banter going on, be it Jaime/Bronn, Tyrion/Jorah, Tyrion/Dany, Olenna/Sparrow. “The Gift” and “Hardhome” were the strongest ones.

      But Shireen’s death is hitting pretty hard, particularly because she was such a hopeful sort, and she deserved better. Not that it doesn’t make thematic sense, and it is consistent with Stannis, who is driven by one objective. Still, seeing that has me a bit down, honestly, and as I said, hoping that Sansa or Arya get some measure of relief in a way. I don’t need a happy ending, but it’s been a bit more grim this year than in past years.

      And yes, I’m a Sullied viewer. So I have some reasonable expectations on next week, and some places, obviously, where I have no clue (Sansa).

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    15. I am pleasantly surprised to find that most early press reviews has been positive for this episode. Contrary to what happened with Sansagate, most critics have coincided in pointing out that Shireen scene was really moving but meaningful (to plot and characters alike). I was fully expecting a huge press backlash like three weeks ago, but so far it has been mostly the usual suspects (you know them) complaining about everything, again…

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    16. Can it get any darker than what happened to Shireen? To me, the answer is no. She was by far the sweetest character on the show, and she died in the worst way imaginable. The way I see it, if you can tolerate that, you can tolerate anything. So I hope that in the future, we have less of the faux-outrage over the show going too far. By now, people should know what they are watching.

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    17. Rodrik the Reader: Or: maybe it’s my own fatigue after reading too many darn reviews!

      I suspect this may be the case. 🙂 I enjoyed this episode very much – all storylines. But I started to read a couple of reviews and quickly stopped. Time better spent on a rewatch.

      I am wondering how they are expecting to pack everything in Ep. 10. I expect many deaths (!) and the resolution to quite a few storylines. I am expecting to almost be at the point where I am unable to digest everything next episode, so packed do I expect it to be. Dorne, KL, Winterfell, Wall, Meereen, Bravos, Drogon’s “home”. Yeah, I can imagine it will break the internet.

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    18. Joshua Atreides: And my initial worry, that my Mother would stop watching the show after Shireen? Her response: “Best episode ever!”

      Ha! Personally, I could stomach the Shireen storyline because it had been totally telegraphed to me in past episodes in big neon signs. It was inevitable for me and not a shock. But reading comments before the episode aired, I could see that 90% of posters were in complete denial and unprepared; but after the episode aired, it probably made a sort of sense in their heads, leading to acceptance.

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    19. Knight of Storm’s End:
      Wow, never ment to have a reason to say something like that, but: Andy Greenwald really seems to criticise for the sake of criticism by now. There’s not a single logical argument in the whole essay concerning the Shireen-Incident that isn’t slaughtered by his superficial analogies. Yet still, that seems to be the only thing he really wants to write about this time…
      That’s either his new andwell disguised way of “letting off some steam” or he hasn’t a proper concept anymore when he writes those reviews.

      Yeah, this makes no sense:

      Despite what many of Game of Thrones’s legions of devotees like to argue, it is not, in fact, a “medieval story.” It is not received wisdom from another age. Though it has the trappings of an earlier Earth, it is actually a contemporary story and should be considered as one.

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    20. Kay,

      I was one of the deluded ones. Honestly, it was maybe halfway through Selyse’s running up to the pyre when I finally admitted to myself “Oh shit he’s not changing his mind…fuck.”

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    21. Kay: Ha! Personally, I could stomach the Shireen storyline because it had been totally telegraphed to me in past episodes in big neon signs. It was inevitable for me and not a shock. But reading comments before the episode aired, I could see that 90% of posters were in complete denial and unprepared; but after the episode aired, it probably made a sort of sense in their heads, leading to acceptance.

      Yeah… That was me. However, in the days leading up to the episode, I did my best to let go of my denial, and force myself to believe that Stannis WOULD sacrifice Shireen, so the blow wouldn’t hurt as much.
      It still hurt… but less than it would have otherwise. And honestly, I thought they set it up very well in this episode.

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    22. Tyrion Pimpslap,

      I agree. And while it was probably too dark for me personally I am kind of comforted by the fact that it really can’t realistically get any darker here on out.

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    23. Sooooo…

      Any of you people who know how to find ratings know if GoT broke the 8million first viewership ceiling yet?

      I am betting it did, considering how amazing Hardhome was.

      And after the horrific Stannis scene and the amazing Dany scene I am betting even higher ratings this Sunday.

      Yes. I Know ratings don’t matter to HBO like commercial television but its still fun to see just how freaking amazing it is for a pay-for, rated r, premium cable network to pull in these kind of numbers.

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    24. Arthur:
      Sooooo…

      Any of you people who know how to find ratings know if GoT broke the 8million first viewership ceiling yet?

      I am betting it did, considering how amazing Hardhome was.

      And after the horrific Stannis scene and the amazing Dany scene I am betting even higher ratings this Sunday.

      Yes. I Know ratings don’t matter to HBO like commercial television but its still fun to see just how freaking amazing it is for a pay-for, rated r,premium cable network to pull in these kind of numbers.

      I’m pretty sure we won’t know them until tomorrow. It’s usually Tuesday or so that they are published.

      The NBA had a huge game on last night and I do subscribe to the belief that that alters the variables for Thrones when it happens so I don’t expect numbers that big, myself.

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    25. Jeff O’Connor,

      I know sometimes they come out early, like late Monday (around this time).

      I guess when I wake up tomorrow hopefully there will be a new thread about GoT shattering the 8million first viewership ceiling.

        Quote  Reply

    26. You have to figure Jon’s people were moving as fast as possible, trying to put as much distance as possible between them and the wildings. Plus, at least some of the trip was by boat.

      Plus, has it ever been nailed down totally that we are seeing these stories in parallel times? As in, Jon arrives at the Wall on a Tuesday morning, and that same Tuesday morning is the one where Stannis wakes up to find his camp in flames, that Jamie talks to Doran, etc…?

      As for the reviews and the backlash to Shireen, I am actually disappointed. At least Greenwald is consistent in his squeamishness. But people who were ready to burn the building down over Sansa and are blasé about Shireen bother the hell out of me.

      BOTH events should bother you.

        Quote  Reply

    27. Kay,

      I’ve been trying to figure out how they’ll allocate screen time for 510 because it will be such a packed episode.

      I’m thinking the breakdown may look very roughly like this (55min total):

      Dorne 3min (1 scene)
      KL 15min

      WoS & any other aftermath/deaths
      Dothraki Sea 4min

      WF/North 14min

      Battle, Sansa & co. scenes

      Meereen 2min (1 scene)
      Bravos 10min

      HoBaW, disposing of Trant

      The Wall 7min

      FtW, Samwell sendoff

      Also, quick question:

      Wasn’t there something posted a while back about Gemma Whelan making an appearance this season? Was that an actual thing? I’d love to see a scene with her, but as I’ve listed above, we’ve certainly got a lot to cover for the finale.

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    28. Arthur:
      Jeff O’Connor,

      I know sometimes they come out early, like late Monday (around this time).

      I guess when I wake up tomorrow hopefully there will be a new thread about GoT shattering the 8million first viewership ceiling.

      It’d be a nice surprise to me, but I suspect they’ll be comparable, if not very slightly lower. Stiff competition.

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    29. Lion of Night,

      Regarding your spoilery thing at the end…

      I think it was a blink-and-you-miss-it IMDb posting or something. If it pans out, I almost wonder if she’s going to crash Stannis’ party.

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    30. Lion of Night,

      Oh, well that might have been what it was then and maybe it had nothing to do with IMDb. I can’t really remember!

      Interestingly, though, they had the Night’s King showing up in 5×08.

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    31. WorfWWorfington:
      Jeff O’Connor,

      Wouldn’t that person be Team Stannis, though? Or, at least, Team Whoever is Fighting the Boltons?

      Haha, yeah. Should be. I guess I’m just prepared for just about anything at this point, given how different the adaptation has become in several key ways.

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    32. Lion of Night: I’ve been trying to figure out how they’ll allocate screen time for 510 because it will be such a packed episode.

      Indeed there were spoilers that

      Yara will show up. Most likely in the WF storyline. I wonder if Tommen will be killed in the KL storyline. There was that Maggy the Frog scene to start the season with, without payoff so far. Plus, aren’t we still due a wedding? I thought there were going to be three weddings this season – that’s what EW said prior to the start of the season. Myrcella and Trystane? They have talked about love and wanting to get married enough times, already!

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    33. Rodrik the Reader,

      The sacrificing of Shireen is a spoiler of twow clearly said by martin to them , so stop talking is not necessary watch another show the kings blood magic is Truly real nd will have consequences when martin will write the next book including the burning of Shireen everyone will have to shut up , Always complaining Like moralists about future events they dont even know like the producers instead know very well

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    34. Kay,

      Trystane and Myrcella tying the knot in King’s Landing would make for an interesting reason for Jaime to potentially say the trailer’s “we can’t choose the ones we love” to Cersei if they manage to warp his group there in a flash. I’m hesitant to really think of any ways the Dorne subplot this year is going to feel worthwhile to me at this point, but I suppose if that happened it might help compel Cersei to stand up and walk. Or maybe he says it to Myrcella in Dorne. Or something. I don’t know. I’m just grasping.

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    35. Kay,

      Yeah a possible Tommen death could be huge (especially for book readers). I have a strong suspicion that the 3rd wedding EW was referring to was just Dany telling Hizdahr that she would marry him. I can’t imagine there is time for a full wedding scene in the episode and Occam’s Razor (shoutout for you, Wimsey ) tells us that EW was simply discussing the marriage plans that already happened. Or at least that seems to be a simpler and more straightforward answer to the question rather than the other option of adequately setting up and showing us a third wedding. But who knows. We’ll find out next week!

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    36. Zeus,

      I like the Watch of Thrones podcast he does with Chris, Mallory, and Jason because its entertaining and they don’t take the thing too seriously. But I agree: he seems gun shy about bleakness, and it makes me wonder what show he thought he was watching.

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    37. Kay: Ha! Personally, I could stomach the Shireen storyline because it had been totally telegraphed to me in past episodes in big neon signs. It was inevitable for me and not a shock. But reading comments before the episode aired, I could see that 90% of posters were in complete denial and unprepared; but after the episode aired, it probably made a sort of sense in their heads, leading to acceptance.

      It wasn’t clear until this week whether Shireen would be sacrificed at Stannis’s request, or behind is back. Both possibilities fit the data we had as of Sunday morning.

        Quote  Reply

    38. Chad Brick: It wasn’t clear until this week whether Shireen would be sacrificed at Stannis’s request, or behind is back.

      Yeah, that’s what I meant. I saw many posts where Shireen burning was no biggie at all, as long as Stannis didn’t know about it. As long as evil Mom and Melissandre did it behind innocent Stannis’ back. But for me, it had been telegraphed since early on that Stannis would be the one ultimately responsible.

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    39. Ravyn:
      Rodrik the Reader,

      The Shireen burning is something GRRM told them is in the next book. It’s not in there just for shock value.

      True, but I think D&D messed this one up somewhat. First, if Shireen is sacrificed without Stannis’s permission in TWOW, then E9 is a huge deviation from the books, pretty much outright character assassination. Presuming Stannis does indeed choose to sacrifice Shireen in TWOW, I find E9’s depiction lacking on several points.

      1: D&D did not sufficiently close down Stannis’s other options. In particular, while running back to Castle Black would in the long run be a death sentence for him and his family, the show did not make this very clear. D&D actually made things worse when in there attempt to remove Davos for narrative purposes, they made it sound like there was a fully-stocked Wall-mart at Castle Black, capable of feeding thousands. This is ridiculous. Even if Stannis and Co fled, most would die to the cold, disease, mutiny and Bolton raids along the way. Those that found their way to CB would find little welcome and no food. Next up would be a march to their ships and a further dwindling of their numbers. Assuming they made it that far, whither to? Stannis and his family would be debt-ridden penniless friendless traitors with….

      2…no home: D&D really blew it here in my opinion. Kevan should not have sulked off to Casterly Rock for most of the season. He should have seiged Dragonstone (off screen), thus resolving the minor plot holes of what the Lannister army was doing and why everyone was ignoring Stannis’s under-defended castle. We should have learned about his success in E8 from Qyburn, and Stannis should have received a raven to that effect when he was talking to Davos early in E9. Having no place to return to would have made it very clear that Stannis’s only option is forward.

      3: Regardless of what book-Stannis does with respect to Shireen, he is going to win at least one masterful tactical victory vs the Boltons without the blood-purchased favor of the gods. D&D have stolen this from him and thus diminished his character.

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    40. Kay: Yeah, that’s what I meant. I saw many posts where Shireen burning was no biggie at all, as long as Stannis didn’t know about it. As long as evil Mom and Melissandre did it behind innocent Stannis’ back. But for me, it had been telegraphed since early on that Stannis would be the one ultimately responsible.

      It certainly was telegraphed, but in this show, you never know if such telegraphing is a fakeout or not. That’s a good thing.

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    41. Chad Brick,

      Know what else diminishes his character?
      Burning his daughter.

      If these books were already written, if we knew the end game ala LOTR our final opinion of Stannis would be that of a religious fanatic who burned his daughter alive to achieve his goals, however lofty they may be. Why would the adaptation need to give him a victory when it’s already sold us on Stannis being a badass general before?
      It seems all the showrunners did was allow the battle of Winterfell to be the conflict that MAY be his undoing.
      As for Dragonstone it can be written of in a single line at a Small Council meeting.

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    42. Ravyn,

      We keep being told the show is not the books, much less a book that hasn’t even been written yet. That the Shireen burning might take place in some form in the as yet unpublished next book does not mean it had to be included this season in the context given.

      But that is beside the point of my original post in this thread, which is that a cavalcade of such scenes ultimately prove numbing to most and alienating to many.

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    43. There seems to be a regular refrain from some of the critics ‘is this what you call entertainment, is this what you want on your TV?’ It’s what I’d call powerful drama. Tragedy has always been a major part of that. The great TV series are able to shove you back in your seat with great intensity. Trouble is we are more used to seamless violence that doesn’t include emotional impact on TV and film. In terms of this series winter is beginning so next season will likely be even darker.

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    44. Rodrik the Reader,

      Well, I agree that its been a trying season on the nerves and emotions. As well done as I think the season has been (for the most part), and as much as I love the show, I think I’m ready for the season finale. I don’t know if I can take anymore for another year, frankly. I’m hoping for a little catharsis like we got in last season’s finale, where Jamie stepped up for his bro, Varys decided, Tyrion got revenge, and Arya headed off on a new mission. It was a nice release, and I hope there’s some of that on Sunday, though signs don’t point to it.

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    45. Jeff O’Connor: “we can’t choose the ones we love”

      I thought I heard that as well. Jaime is repeating himself from “Dark Wings, Dark Words” from S3, when he is speaking with Brienne (about Renly). Interesting.

      “I don’t hold it against him, we don’t get to choose who we love.”

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    46. I’m not sure why people keep saying this stuff is added for pure shock value. As has been pointed out, these things have been set up over the course of multiple episodes, if not seasons. We might not realize it at the time when we’re first witnessing things like Ned’s execution and the Red Wedding, but in retrospect all the signs for just about every shocking, terrible moment in the series were there, including for the events D&D supposedly “made up” like Sansa’s rape and Shireen’s death.

      I was very disturbed by what happened to Shireen but I wasn’t particularly surprised (though that might be more because I had the damn thing spoiled for me via leaks). Stannis had his brother assassinated, executed his brother-in-law, nearly sacrificed his nephew, and gives friend and foe alike to the fire without batting an eye. He’s the Mad King come again, but motivated by religious zealotry rather than insanity. In fact, one could argue he’s worse than Aerys depending on your view.

      Personally, I’d have to say what Stannis has done is very shortsighted. Even if Mel’s magic is real and he defeats the Boltons, what then? Will he just keep sacrificing his way to the Iron Throne? What happens when word gets out that he burned his own daughter alive in the name of a foreign god? He’s already unpopular with the lords of the Seven Kingdoms as it is, this can only further distance them from him.

      I hope he gets crushed by the Boltons, strangely enough. There are two more people with “king’s blood” waiting for him at Winterfell. Ironically they’re probably safer with the Boltons than they would be with Stannis (although I hope at least Sansa manages to escape altogether). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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    47. Rodrik the Reader,

      Some scenes don’t need punching up (pedo Trant),

      Pedo Trant wasn’t just thrown in for the hell of it. It is obvious that was step up so Arya could be the prostitute he gets when he goes back.

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    48. Wow, this guy really hit the nose on the head…

      I am totally in the Jon Snow camp now!

      Warning, Spoilers about Jon Snow!

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    49. Ravyn,

      yes indeed man add That the kings blood shit magic will Give a lot of power to Stannis spoiling the next book from the trailer if seems like a weather change is going to happen

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    50. sj4iy,

      You are conflating two different things I wrote, thereby distorting the points I was trying to make.

      1) ‘Shock fatigue’ refers to emotionally exhausted audiences and critics becoming less inclined to be as invested in the show as they once were. In her review this week Laura Stone writes (paraphrase) that she learned her lesson on this score with Oberyn and is incapable of being as emotionally involved as she used to be.

      2) It’s great that critics point out historical and mythological influences in ASOIAF. The difference for me is that the Red Wedding can stand alone without needing a historical reference point to justify it. No one questions the existence of the Red Wedding within the context of the story. An intellectual justification for the burning of Shireen is harder to nail down, and the Agamemnon and Iphigenia myth is being used to give legitimacy to what I (and others) find a highly questionable scene.

      As questionable scenes mount, passionate enthusiasm is likely to diminish, and critical detachment is likely to increase.

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    51. Lion of Night:
      João Victor,

      PrinceRhaegar,

      Whelp. I won’t speculate specifically but listening to “Throne for the Game” definitely hints at what our last scene of the season may be…

      You’re probably right, but just remember there’s often a great piece on there that’s never used in-show.

        Quote  Reply

    52. JamesL,

      We already have plenty of reasons to hate Meryn, as does Arya. If we are correct in assuming that Arya will ‘borrow’ a face as a disguise, the face needn’t be a perfect age match to Arya herself, and therefore Meryn doesn’t need to be a pedophile to be enticed.

        Quote  Reply

    53. Lion of Night:
      Kay,

      I’ve been trying to figure out how they’ll allocate screen time for 510 because it will be such a packed episode.

      I’m thinking the breakdown may look very roughly like this (55min total):

      Dorne 3min (1 scene)
      KL 15min

      WF/North 14min

      Meereen 2min (1 scene)
      Bravos 10min

      The Wall 7min

      Also, quick question:

      Well, the episode is 62 minutes long (minus 4 minutes for credits and recap). So I’m guessing it will go like this:

      King’s Landing: 15 mins.
      The North/WF: 12 mins.
      The Wall: 10 mins.
      Braavos: 8 mins.
      Meereen: 5 mins.
      Dorne: 4 mins.
      Dothraki Sea: 4 mins.

        Quote  Reply

    54. JamesL,

      Well, “pedo” is a little inaccurate: the young lady in question was young, but a young lady rather than a girl. Still, we know that Trant like his women not looking ng after they start being women: abd that is where Arya is now.

      On a side note, it must be much easier for Ms. Williams this year, now that they are no longer pretending that Arya isn’t a young lady. As a man, I cannot fully appreciate it (and maybe I am completely wrong) but it looks like it must have been very uncomfortable to hide her “curves” with her costumes the last couple of years.

        Quote  Reply

    55. As far as the complaints about Greenwald – I do have some issues with him too at times – but I think he is by for the most consistent and most interesting of the truly “unsullied” reviewers/recappers.

      And if his written recap bothered you, I recommend you listen to the latest “Holloywood Prospectus” podcast, in which he seems to take a more nuanced view in the discussion with his co-host.

        Quote  Reply

    56. Rodrik the Reader:
      ,

      As questionable scenes mount, passionate enthusiasm is likely to diminish, and critical detachment is likely to increase.

      This is true of the books as well. I’d make the argument this is what ASOIAF is. I remember when i finished the Red Wedding chapter for the first time I felt like i needed to take a shower. I had to put the book aside for a few days. Many of us have lived with these stories and “questionable scenes” for years now. We’ve had time to process the darkness inherent in the world GRRM created. Ned’s beheading and the Red Wedding caused numbing detachment before. Sansa’s rape and Shireen’s burning are causing numbing detachment now. These are just the latest controversial scenes in what is a very bleak series. Should come as no surprise. Season 5 was never going to be the happy feel-good season of Game of Thrones.

        Quote  Reply

    57. It’s pretty amazing how much this show affects so many people.

      It’s just a fantasy show in a make believe world with make believe characters but so many people are emotionally attached.

      I guess it makes sense, hours of time invested in reading the books and hours invested in watching the show it’s natural to get attached.

      I feel really bad for all the GoT fans who choose to back Stannis and pledge their fealty. Just browsing through the interwebs and YouTube videos they are crushed.

      It’s actually pretty sad, Stannis got destroyed last Sunday, legions of fans feel empty right now.

      I’m sure in a few months they will heal and find a new character to back, like Jon Snow or Dany, but right now their wound is deep, it needs to heal.

      Someone they respected and backed did something horrible and unforgivable.

      Freaking Davos is the perfect representative of the Stannis fandom, he knows Stannis is a stern man but Davos respected him, like his fandom. I’m betting that respect will be gone once he finds out, just like the fandom…

      I can’t wait to see what Davos does, IMO he will be the representative of all the Stannis fans that no longer support Stannis after last night.

        Quote  Reply

    58. I love how every time somebody doesn’t like something happening, they bring out the old “IT DIDN’T ADD ANYTHING TO THE STORY” shtick.
      Look, I know you didn’t like Shireen dying. Nobody liked Shireen dying. I still think it’s a terribly contrived and somewhat irrational character assassination moment for Stannis. But you can’t criticize it for “not adding anything to the story.” Shut up, it added a ton of stuff to the story and is a huge character moment for a bunch of people.

      If something happens, it happens for a reason. Even the Sansa rape. People need to grow up and learn to distance their emotions from a fictional narrative.

        Quote  Reply

    59. Arthur,

      Bravo Arthur. Eloquently said.

      I was never a BookStannis fan but I love what Dillane subtly brings to his role. It also helps that I’ve loved Dillane since HBO’s John Adams where he played Thomas Jefferson to the literal T. Stephen made me believe in Stannis’ character just as much as Liam’s Davos hyped him. And while I renounce my somewhat allegiance to Stannis the Mannis I fully appreciate the fantastic tragic arc of his character. This is why I love ASOIAF and GoT, it retells the stories and myths that have been popular for Millennia.

        Quote  Reply

    60. Arthur:
      Wow, this guy really hit the nose on the head…

      I am totally in the Jon Snow camp now!

      Warning, Spoilers about Jon Snow!

      Been on that Hype train for years. Welcome tho

        Quote  Reply

    61. Joshua Atreides,

      I just feel really bad for all the former Stannis backers. People are really trolling them hard. I never been one to kick someone while they are down but there seems to be no mercy in this online social media world.

      There’s so much heart felt anger and frustration out there about what happened.

        Quote  Reply

    62. King Podrick,

      Yeah I knew about the R+L=J but that YouTube video explanation was really informative and makes the case for Jon Snow really being the endgame character who will sit on the Iron Throne.

        Quote  Reply

    63. *WARNING: PENT UP RANT INCOMING*
      I just want it known that I have thought book Stannis was a c*ntfaced d*ckbag and terrible ruler for the realm since he was cruel to Cressen in the first chapter he was ever in. George laid it on pretty thick that he was bad and his only redeeming qualities were his reliance on Davos’ opinion and git’r done attitude. I view supporting him to be the equivalent of supporting Hitler (he burns people who have different views from him!). He has killed multiple of his kin and has attempted to kill more. He equates his own ambition to what’s best for the realm. I have no doubt he would sacrifice his daughter if the situation demanded; book Stannis has shown almost no love towards her except stating that she is his heir. But if he fails, he sees her as dead anyways. He is going to go all in at some point next book. Can’t wait for him to show his true colors in TWOW.
      *END RANT*

      Whew…just had to get that out of my system.

        Quote  Reply

    64. That Libby Hill is an idiot,nuff said . Typical,modern feminazi idiot who says only the women are treated horrible in this show,has she watched another show or is just spreading typical feminazi ideology,which is lying through their teeth because they don’t have a point to make ?

        Quote  Reply

    65. Lion of Night,

      Yes, her agency confirmed she’ll be in season 5. So that must be this episode. I don’t expect her to appear in the North, though. It’s busy enough there as it is.

        Quote  Reply

    66. Renly’s Peach,

      I’m wondering (I said something similar on another thread yesterday) if Selyse will eventually have something to do with undermining Melisandre. I had been worried about Shireen’s fate for some time but hoped I was wrong or that she would be rescued. Although I suppose (considering the Dany flying away on Drogon scene following) two people being snatched from the jaws of death would be too much. If Stannis and Melisandre were real people suffice it to say they would not be on my Xmas card list this year. I really liked the Shireen character, which was due in no small way to Kerry Ingram’s acting chops, and was really upset at what happened in this part of the story.

        Quote  Reply

    67. Where did Little Finger go?

      Anyone think he will show up in the last episode in the north with the Vale army?

      Not only that he will betray Sansa and side with the Boltons against Stannis.

        Quote  Reply

    68. Salvatore Leone,

      The show is dark, violent, and brutal and whether it be men, women, or children no one gets off easy. To pretend the brutality is uniquely doled out to women is ridiculous but typical of many of these social commentary type critics who dominate the critical community on the internet today.

      I wish someone would add up all the violent acts done to men in the show and compare it to the violence against women and the disparity would be staggering yet some want to pretend the show is uniquely violent towards women. Rarely an episode goes by where male characters aren’t being killed and mutilated in brutal ways, I can probably count on 2 hands the amount of female characters killed on screen. If they are for equality than why continue to put violence against women on a pedestal and ignore the pervasive violence against men in the show.

        Quote  Reply

    69. Hello all,

      I have a very huge theory regarding the Sons of the Harpy.

      In the fighting pits, we see that they kill the masters and not the slaves. But they also killed some unsullied before. And there is no reason for them to be lead by a group of previous slaves.

      So here is my guess : The Harpy is Varys.

      He wants to make the stay of Dany in Meereen the most unpleasant possible in order to make her move to Westeros.

      Go back to Episode 9, when Jorah kills the son of the harpy. Then there is the reveal of several Sons, and music starts. The choirs clearly say something like “Varys, Varys”….

      Am I just stupid ?

        Quote  Reply

    70. PrinceRhaegar,

      15 – The Wars to Come must be the Battle of Winterfell, right? It’s so strong and epic.

      It makes me wonder it might actually be the final scene of the episode. What a cliffhanger that would be!

        Quote  Reply

    71. Was it that difficult to tell that it was the theme of Son of Harpy playing not some chants that they were chanting when they revealed themselves

      i have to say the reveal was well done…made everyone wonder for a second ..what is jorah doing

        Quote  Reply

    72. Ravyn,

      I think this is a valid point. I personally don’t have a problem with bleakness and hardship in literature, but one should not overlook the power of catharsis. Why are Davos and Manderly so hugely popular? Because of ‘North Remembers’ and ‘Vengeance for your murdered king”, obviously! It’s important to inform even the darkest of tales with glimmers of hope and of better times to come.

        Quote  Reply

    73. It doesn’t matter how Book or Show Stannis wins a major victory (if he does) – Melisandre will claim it for Allah, sorry I mean R’hllor’s will whatever Stannis does or doesn’t do. In that aspect the burning of Shireen (and however it comes to be in the book ) was simply beyond barbaric, futile and unnecessary but that’s the point.

      Just as religious folk in the real world always believe its their praying that cured their loved one of that fatal illness, not simply science and medicine and human skill.

      It’s the thing about blind faith against reason which is what we largely have as a theme in this season, even if crudely done sometimes in the show.

        Quote  Reply

    74. Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      Only the Christian flavor of the Abrahamic God has been into burning people on pyres. The Muslim and the Jewish aspects of that same idea of God cannot be accused of that.
      Accordingly, I find your insertion of Allah quite disgraceful.
      And before you say anything, I grew up in a society composed of Muslims and Christians, and as much as I enjoy reading those holy writs, I don’t believe in the Abrahamic vision (child sacrifice is one souring element).

        Quote  Reply

    75. MX:
      Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      Only the Christian flavor of the Abrahamic God has been into burning people on pyres. The Muslim and the Jewish aspects of that same idea of God cannot be accused of that.
      Accordingly, I find your insertion of Allah quite disgraceful.
      And before you say anything, I grew up in a society composed of Muslims and Christians, and as much as I enjoy reading those holy writs, I don’t believe in the Abrahamic vision (child sacrifice is one souring element).

      Sorry, no intent to offend ( too late to edit it now ) so a mod can feel free to delete that. It was just related to apparent connections between religion in the show and the current issues of things being done in the name of religion in the real world and like it or not that is at the moment dominated by affairs in Syria and such places.

        Quote  Reply

    76. I couldn’t agree more with Andy Greenwald’s sentiment and I think that any true GoT/ASoIaF fan agrees with him in their heart of hearts.

      We want for things that are good to happen to people that are good from time to time. We want people to do the right thing for the right reasons, and still win, at some point. When is the point where the conceit of the unrelenting presentation of the opposite reach a breaking point, when it becomes as unrealistic in the other direction as the stories that Sansa has always loved? For me, it happened about 1/3 through ADWD, and was finalized by the end of that book. I think that D&D have gotten too much criticism about changes from the book when in the end this season feels very much like the corresponding book – if not even more so.

      And hey, don’t get me wrong, just like Mr. Greenwald I’m still obsessed. But the reason I’m still obsessed at this point is that surely, finally, in some way, heros will prevail and humanity will survive; and meanwhile evil will be vanquished in both its human and magical forms, if only because at this point the amount of suffering just seems statistically unlikely.

      I also agree with him about how fans are misguided if they try to wave off anything that happens in the show as “oh, these are midaevil times that’s how they were”. No. What GRRM and D&D give us is a deeply contemporary story with deeply contemporary characters. This is a story written by modern people for modern audiences, about the struggle within human hearts no different than our own. The rest is just trappings.

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    77. But the reason I’m still obsessed at this point is that surely, finally, in some way, heros will prevail and humanity will survive; and meanwhile evil will be vanquished in both its human and magical forms, if only because at this point the amount of suffering just seems statistically unlikely.

      It’s interesting how even after all the show and books have subjected us to, I’ve never once heard anyone suggest that L&R, Azor Ahai and comets-portending-the-return-of-dragons are just so many red herrings, and the actual endgame involves the conquest of mankind by the Others.

        Quote  Reply

    78. Wimsey,

      Correct. Arya might be 12, but Maisie looks her age (17 or so?). If anything, she might already look too old for Meryn and would need to borrow a younger face!

      Semantically, you are further correct in noting that underage doesn’t necessarily equate to pedo. However, it’s the shorthand used in the common vernacular, and if Arya the character as opposed to Maisie the actress is indeed supposed to be 12, the description of Meryn’s proclivities is accurate.

        Quote  Reply

    79. Just as religious folk in the real world always believe its their praying that cured their loved one of that fatal illness, not simply science and medicine and human skill.

      In case you missed it, praying to the Lord of Light (especially if coupled with King’s Blood sacrifice) actually works. Trying to compare behavior in such a scenario to the “real world” is quite a stretch. I am as militantly agnostic as the come on this side. If I lived in a word where my clan/faction was punished by the god(s) when we did X and rewarded when we did Y, I’d be in a real bind if Y was something I found immoral or X necessary or just. So would you. It’s something so far beyond our experience that I don’t even think we could guess how we would behave.

      I find it odd when people call Stannis a “religious fanatic”. Rather, he appears to be an agnostic stuck in a reality where one religion is turning out to be the real deal….and not a pretty one.

        Quote  Reply

    80. Rei:
      Is it just me, or was Daario totally involved in the ambush of the Son of the Harpy?

      Sorry, but you are a really really retarded girl. Daario can kill dany anytime he wants. Also he is protecting her. So yeah, you are a stupid girl.

      And by the way, you are also ugly.

        Quote  Reply

    81. Sergei Walankov,

      well i think there is more to this ..it depends who they wants to be heroes

      people want only certain characters to be heroes and other characters as some kind of mad villain

      they made their own version of characters in their head and now when the actual story is coming out …people blame the showrunners and author for what story they are telling and forget to remember its their story to begin with and arrogant enough to tell these guys this should not happen

      it still amazes when people say one of the main character is a red herring in the story and come up with theories that white walkers are returned and jon will team up with them to save the world from daenerys completely ignoring the story and make their version of story based on their favorites

        Quote  Reply

    82. QueenofThrones,

      It’s funny because this season is notably less violent than past seasons and now people are starting to complain. I’m not just talking about season 3 where we had the Red Wedding. But also season 4, where an underaged boy got poisoned to death and we all laughed, where a head exploded and we all were like “that’s in the books”, where an ear got bitten off, where a gang rape took place at Crasters’, and so on.

      If you truly analyse this season for its violence, we had a guy we didn’t really know well (Mance) shot (not burned), a guy (Mossador) we knew for one episode beheaded (off screen), a guy we all hated (Janos) beheaded, a guy that was underused killed (Barristan) and an old man (Aemon) dying peacefully in his bed. None of this can be called particularly shocking or disheartening. So when people like Greenwald and you refer to this “unrelenting violence” this season, it all comes down to Sansa and Shireen. Two cases that, while horrible, fit logically within the narrative of the story.

      Besides, the ending of the last episode gave us the largest beacon of hope the show’s ever given us in 49 episodes. What more do you want, for now?

        Quote  Reply

    83. Ludo:
      Hello all,

      I have a very huge theory regarding the Sons of the Harpy.

      In the fighting pits, we see that they kill the masters and not the slaves. But they also killed some unsullied before. And there is no reason for them to be lead by a group of previous slaves.

      So here is my guess : The Harpy is Varys.

      He wants to make the stay of Dany in Meereen the most unpleasant possible in order to make her move to Westeros.

      Go back to Episode 9, when Jorah kills the son of the harpy. Then there is the reveal of several Sons, and music starts. The choirs clearly say something like “Varys, Varys”….

      Am I just stupid ?

      You are just stupid…. like 99.999 percent of Asoif and game of thrones fans who comes up all the time with theories that are impossible.

        Quote  Reply

    84. Chad Brick: In case you missed it, praying to the Lord of Light (especially if coupled with King’s Blood sacrifice) actually works. Trying to compare behavior in such a scenario to the “real world” is quite a stretch. I am as militantly agnostic as the come on this side. If I lived in a word where my clan/faction was punished by the god(s) when we did X and rewarded when we did Y, I’d be in a real bind if Y was something I found immoral or X necessary or just. So would you. It’s something so far beyond our experience that I don’t even think we could guess how we would behave.

      I find it odd when people call Stannis a “religious fanatic”. Rather, he appears to be an agnostic stuck in a reality where one religion is turning out to be the real deal….and not a pretty one.

      How do we know that those things wouldn’t have happened anyway purely by human agency without the rituals? We can’t and that’s the point and that’s what faith depends on, even in the real world there are some things we simply can’t explain how or why they happen.

      Stannis seems only to use it as an insurance policy.

      I think it’s interesting that GRRM himself said

      the belief “the world we live in was created by the evil god [is] kind of persuasive” when “you look at the world, particularly the Medieval world”.

        Quote  Reply

    85. Simeon: Eyeballing from the map, and using the length of the Wall as 300 miles (100 leagues), it’s about 120 miles from Castle Black to Eastwatch and another 150 miles by sea to Hardhome, so 540 miles round trip with more than half the trip by boat.It is about 800 miles from Castle Black to Winterfell. So distance-wise it makes sense, especially since Stannis has been trapped by the snows.I still think GRRM made Westeros way too damn big, but you could scale it down and the relative distance comparison would still hold.

      Show!Westeros seems to be scaled down, actually. In 4×08 Roose gives us his rough estimate of the size of the North. Apparently, there’s something like 700+ miles from Moat Cailin to the Wall (or to the Gift at least). In the books, the distance is over 1,000 miles.

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    86. Doran:
      Hannibal tv show>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Game of thrones

      Pretty darn different shows, those.

      Star Trek: Deep Space Nine >>>>>>> The West Wing

      See? Apples and oranges, IMO.

        Quote  Reply

    87. Joshua Atreides:
      Well so far the backlash to Shireen’s terrible end has been pretty weak in my honest opinion.

      It’s strange. Fans seem really upset, but the unsullied I know/watch with were actually more upset with the Dany scene. Due to some minor flaws in how it was shot, it appeared that Dany ditched her friends while they were surrounded by like fifty or so harpies. Somehow, most of these harpies magically disappeared a few seconds later as Dany flew away. However, if you were focused on Dany and Drogon, and not on the mysterious lack of harpies on the ground, you could easily come away with the impression that Dany was leaving her friends to die. A second viewing resolved this for me, but I think the editing here was a bit sub-par. Dany should have had Drogon deal a couple more fireblasts before flying off, reducing the remaining harpies to a feasible number for Daario, Jorah and the few remaining Unsullied to handle.

      As for Stannis, his fans are feeling betrayed, as it is pretty hard to imagine GRRM writing the equivalent scene in such a way where Stannis looks so bad. D&D made two fundamental errors, I suspect: they’ve de-emphasized almost to nothingness Stannis’s reasonable belief that he is destined to save Westeros from the Others (and thus failure is not an option), and by sending Davos back to the Wall to pick up mythical supplies, they made it seem like Stannis had an out and could have just retreated there himself. This really isn’t a realistic option on TV and certainly isn’t in the books. Thus, TV-Stannis didn’t appear to be in a clear “last resort” situation. If book-Stannis does in fact authorize Shireen’s sacrifice, I cannot imagine him doing so unless all other reasonable options are gone. And if book-Stannis does NOT authorize her sacrifice…boy, that would mean that E9 was by far the worst thing D&D have made up…character assassination at its worst.

      In the meantime, the Stannis-haters are engaging in crass forms of schadenfreude, adding fuel to the fire and making the forums noisier than normal. None of this matters to casual viewers, however, who seem to feel while Stannis made the wrong call, it wasn’t an entirely unreasonable one and certainly not one committed out of cruelty or hatred.

        Quote  Reply

    88. Sergei Walankov: It’s interesting how even after all the show and books have subjected us to, I’ve never once heard anyone suggest that L&R, Azor Ahai and comets-portending-the-return-of-dragons are just so many red herrings, and the actual endgame involves the conquest of mankind by the Others.

      Yeah, I’ve… strongly considered it, but admittedly I refuse to say that out loud.

      Until now, anyway.

        Quote  Reply

    89. pntrlqst:
      Sergei Walankov,

      I think the Others will conquer humanity, but it will be in Final Fantasy VI fashion, where a small group of heroes will conquer the WW a year or two later.

      Leave it to Vivi Ornitier to bring up Final Fantasy. 😀

      I prefer the Xenogears version of the same Squaresoft endgame, but I’ll readily admit Xenogears had some obvious issues leading up to that point.

        Quote  Reply

    90. QueenofThrones,

      Andy Greenwald may also be the best pure writer in the roundup. I can enjoy his work whether or not I agree with him–and I usually agree with him.

      He makes an interesting point regarding medieval times: were they really that bad? Everything in ASOIAF might have a historical or mythological precedent, but in the day to day, most of the little fiefdoms were sleepy backwaters where the goal was, as I think book Roose put it, ‘a quiet land, a peaceful people.’

      The carnage in ASOIAF makes for compelling reading, but feudal societies generally lived under the compact that those in power restrain their worst impulses lest the torches and pitchfork brigade rebel and overthrow them.

      The model of ideal stewardship was the Starks, under whose dominion a maiden could walk hither and yon without fear of being molested, as one character put it.

      Cleaning up the existing system (restoring the Starks) or ‘breaking the wheel’ completely (Dany’s liberation conquests) is one of the key questions going forward.

        Quote  Reply

    91. Arya Havin’ a Larf?: How do we know that those things wouldn’t have happened anyway purely by human agency without the rituals? We can’t and that’s the point and that’s what faith depends on, even in the real world there are some things we simply can’t explain how or why they happen.

      “Human agency” made shadow babies, poison and cold immunity, voodoo leeches, flaming swords and visions in the flames? I suppose Mel could be a Level 20 Mage using her awesome magic to fake being a Level 15 Priest, but if I were Stannis, I wouldn’t bet the fate of humanity on it.

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    92. Greenwald & Ryan have a great discussion on their podcast about this episode. Anyone who claims Greenwald is just looking to trash the show are misinformed.

        Quote  Reply

    93. JaimenotJamie:
      Greenwald & Ryan have a great discussion on their podcast about this episode.Anyone who claims Greenwald is just looking to trash the show are misinformed.

      He’s a fantastic critic, and some of his reservations this season have been, in my opinion anyway, well-founded and worthy of consideration. People get snarky about him because they are being sensitive about someone questioning their favourite show (which I do get), but his points are always valid (whether you agree with them or not).

      And anyway, it’s obvious he is a huge fan. He just wants a bit of hope to cling onto every now and then. I totally get that, I’m feeling the same way right now with the show. I get that it’s thought-provoking and ‘realistic’ in its own universe but damn it, having a few rays of hope and a couple of cheer-worthy moments would be very welcome right now!

        Quote  Reply

    94. WorfWWorfington:
      But people who were ready to burn the building down over Sansa and are blasé about Shireen bother the hell out of me.

      Thank you for this!
      You can say ‘bother’, I almost would like to call it ‘criminal’.

        Quote  Reply

    95. Chad Brick: “Human agency” made shadow babies, poison and cold immunity, voodoo leeches, flaming swords and visions in the flames? I suppose Mel could be a Level 20 Mage using her awesome magic to fake being a Level 15 Priest, but if I were Stannis, I wouldn’t bet the fate of humanity on it.

      The Shadow Baby I’ll give you but poison immunity can be built up by ingesting non lethal doses over a period of time ( see Mithridatism ). Death by leech burning – so no one else with a motive just happened to be planning to kill Robb and Joffrey (and as for Balon maybe Euron was responsible)? The visions in the flames are just pish, even today people claim to see faces in fire.

      You know the possibility is there that Mel is just a very skilful trickster with some other agenda who is very good at manipulating people.

      Thoros puts this into question as it’s notable that he discovered he could do things that he couldn’t as a red priest and after he questioned his own faith (book Thoros anyway).

      Without knowing more about the religion itself on Asshai to knowwhat other priests can or can’t do and Mel’s past there’s too much we don’t know though. Beware of false prophets and all that.

        Quote  Reply

    96. Disappointing episode that caps a disappointing season. A by no-means complete roundup of shortcomings this season:

      1. Poor plot mechanics.
      Many examples can be cited: Dorne; Tyrells arrested by unarmored sparrows with zero resistance; Littlefinger handing over Sansa with no rhyme or reason; Dany flying away with Drogon after all the Harpies are seemingly killed (books give clear reason why they needed to escape; show suggests a joyride); Sansa’s uneven character development; etc.

      2. Poor pacing
      Again, many examples: Dorne; Mereen; arguably Braavos; Brienne, etc

      3. Dorne
      As many have said, the characters, writing, plotting and story has been way off the show’s high standards. Only impressive bit in Dorne is the alHambra palace grounds and Bronn’s singing.

      4. Cool rather than clever
      This point sums up the rest, and was mentioned in an article in Atlantic or Grantland. To wit: the show is favoring razzle-dazzle CGI scenes and making characters into cartoonish villains (Boltons, Meryn Trant, arguably Stannis). Even when “cool” pays-off, like with Hardhome battle, its instructive that GRRM felt a wildling massacre could be mentioned off-page while the show gives it the season’s major billing. A “clever” story is Stannis in the books, marshaling Northern support against the Boltons even as the elements work against his victory against a divided foe. A “cool” story is Stannis in the show, with heavy-handed villainy and no subtlety.

      A BONUS criticism: There has been little to no writing this season that matches past dialogues: Consider some of the fantastic scenes set between Robert & Ned; Ned & Varys; Jaime & Brienne; Cersei & Tyrion; the Hound & Arya; Littlefinger & Varys etc. Nothing this season compares.

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    97. Arya Havin’ a Larf?: How do we know that those things wouldn’t have happened anyway purely by human agency without the rituals?

      Occam’s Razor says that if you have the choice between one explanation and several explanations for N phenomena, go with one explanation. Mel tapping R’Hllor is one explanation for a lot of different things: and even if there were other agencies at work (let’s face, a lot of people want Robb Stark and Joffery dead), these acts might well have gotten an “assist” from this “divine” agency.

      People might be missing a major story issue here. R’Hllor is not like the Seven or the Goat God or the Spirit of the Rhoyne or any of these other things: it’s something real. Now, Mel, Thoros and others consider it to be “good”: but I would bet anything that whatever R’Hllor is, it’s ideas of “good” and “evil” (if it even has such concepts) are very different from human ideas of “good” and “evil.” On one hand, that is a truism: different humans have different ideas of “good” and “evil.” (The fact that there is no universal morality is another point that seems to get lost!) However, in this case, R’Hllor probably does not have any human interests in mind. In some way, I will bet that these sacrifices are analogs of “meat for their army.”

      Now, R’Hllor doesn’t like the great Other on about which Mel sometimes goes (or at least behaves in a fashion that we interpret as “dislike”: it’s concepts might be quite different than that). That probably has something to do with the White Walkers. However, the White Walkers, too, almost certainly do not have the same ideas of “good” and “evil” (again, if they have them) that humans do. At some point, odds are pretty good that the lead characters are going to have to figure out which is the lesser of these two “evils” or something like that.

      This doesn’t mean that other religions will not be relevant. The Old Gods represent something real, even if it is something much less powerful. The Faith might well be a fraud, but they don’t believe it: and a big issue could be moral absolutists like the current High Sparrow refusing to side with “demon worshipping” followers of R’Hllor or the Old Gods against the White Walkers.

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    98. This episode was great from beginning to end. Not so great as the previous episode 9s or 5×08 but pretty close.

      About people who complain about the timeline, the timeline in Game of Thrones is the same as in aSoIaF, it’s not lineair. Maybe the scene with Danny is 3 weeks later than the scene with Stannis. Maybe it’s 2 days before, maybe the same day, we don’t know. Same is the way the timeline works between episodes and a whole season. Maybe Aryas whole season 5 is about 2 months, and maybe that of Jon snow 2 weeks (I know it isn’t. So stop complaining about that some people move to fast or too slow because you don’t know how the real timeline is and that’s for the better.

      Tyrion Pimpslap,

      So True, I can’t stand that people with whom I watched the episodes gave the answer: You saw it happening already a couple of episodes ago. If that makes it okay for burning an innocent girl. RW was disturbing but this, I almost couldn’t watch and I knew it was happening this episode.

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    99. Rodrik the Reader: However, it’s the shorthand used in the common vernacular, and if Arya the character as opposed to Maisie the actress is indeed supposed to be 12, the description of Meryn’s proclivities is accurate.

      True, we do tend to use “pedo” for men (or women) lusting after “underage” people even when those underage people could become parents themselves.

      It is an anachronism when applied to a society where there is no such thing as an underage person who can become a parent him/herself. In Trant’s case, I wonder if it’s supposed to signify a need to dominate.

      JamesL: I don’t believe face changing will be involved, she will pose as the child prostitute.

      In this case, that will be almost impossible. Maise Williams is simply too old to pull off looking like a child prostitute. Now, her “elfin” face will always let her look a few years younger than she is and let her play teens well into her 20’s: but being able to look like a young adult is very different from being able to look like a child.

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    100. Say it Aint Sow:

      A BONUS criticism: There has been little to no writing this season that matches past dialogues: Consider some of the fantastic scenes set between Robert & Ned; Ned & Varys; Jaime & Brienne; Cersei & Tyrion;the Hound & Arya; Littlefinger & Varys etc. Nothing this season compares.

      Simply not true as this season had multiple stellar dialogues. To name a few: Jon-Mance, Jon-Tormund (while shackled), Stannis-Shireen, Brienne-Pod (on her younger days and Renly), Cersei-Littlefinger, Dany-Mossador (before sentencing him to death), High Sparrow-Cersei when he springs his trap (one of the finest scenes in the history of the show), etc, etc.

      Seems to me you’re letting your general disappointment with the season — which is certainly your prerogative — find faults even where there are none.

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    101. JaimenotJamie,

      Not sure it matters what he is looking to do, the point is his written review reads to me like a series of childish analogies and complaints that are all code for : “Me no likey da sadness, can we pweeease get a happy ending ??”

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    102. Say it Aint Sow,

      No strong dialogue scenes? Stannis and Shireen (both of them)? Tyrion and Daenerys? High Sparrow and Olenna? High Sparrow and Cersei? Jon and Mance? Jon and Stannis? Brienne and Pod (in 503)? Jon and Aemon?

      I think sometimes people are trying too hard to criticize the show. I don’t disagree with all of your points, but you seem to be willfully ignorant of the show’s strengths this season.

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    103. Wimsey,

      I guess I am over influenced by B5s Technomages 😉

      You and Chad may well be right but it feels very and literally deus ex machina to have this supernatural presence that can influence individual behaviours over great distances on the whim of a priestess with a proxy messiah complex. More satisfying to me to think that LF and the Tyrells came up with the idea to kill Joffrey when the time was right rather than that it was mysteriously planted there by some evil divinity who got who knows what from it. Same with Walder and Robb.

      GRRM is an agnostic of course himself so he may well have a take on this as some form of allegory.

      I can accept that magic exists within certain constraints because this is after all a fantasy with dragons and ice zombies, so I suppose I should just accept “god moves in mysterious ways” in the same way as in Greek or Roman myth but I do have trouble with it being entirely divorced from or remote controlling human actions.

      Of course GRRM hasn’t yet explicitly stated anything of this either way and for now we can interpret thing as we see fit and people can enjoy the books and show without knowing if our thoughts are definitively right or wrong . I just hope that we are not going to end up with something a bit lame that pisses everyone off at the end of it!

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    104. Rodrik the Reader,

      I’m right there with you. I feel like most of those who’ve responded to you feel like you’re criticizing the scene, but I didn’t read that at all. I felt like you were commenting on the reactions to the scene, and I agree. Under different circumstances such as the beginning of this season, the critics would have been shocked and outraged by this horrific scene (not saying the scene shouldn’t be there, but it is what it is: horrific). Perhaps we are drama- and controversy-fatigued as well as shock-fatigued.

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    105. Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      My gut feeling is that there are no real ‘Gods’ in the world Martin has created. However, whatever it is that Mel and Thoros worship clearly works – there is no question of that. The question is how. My feeling is that it’s linked with the magical powers that certain people have (e.g. wargs / greenseers / COTF / Mel herself etc.) rather than Gods per se. Exactly how that works I have no idea and I’m not sure we’ll ever have a conclusive answer on this from Martin.

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    106. Ginevra,

      Exactly. Analysis of the analysis. Are we analyzing the show, or are we analyzing each other? Very meta–and a worthy subject for some future student of the Web and its dynamics.

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    107. Ludo,

      He wants to make the stay of Dany in Meereen the most unpleasant possible in order to make her move to Westeros.

      Interesting idea. Not sure tho – how would Varys know that Dany wouldn’t be killed, and how would he imagine a dragon rescuing her.

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    108. Chad Brick,

      I was under the impression that the flaming sword was a trick (ala the Red Priest’s flaming sword that book Tyrion explains).

      The book makes more clear what the show only briefly hinted at that Mel’s trip to the Wall has made her doubt she backed the right horse. Is Stannis really Azor Ahai or is Mel just using trickery, old magic (that has been “extinct” with the death of dragons but could be revived with their re-birth), and manipulation to lead Stannis into believing and acting like the “Promised One?”

      I’m more inclined to believe the Red Priest’s and Mel’s magic were revived with the birth of Dany’s dragons, that Stannis is NOT Azor Ahai, but a cheap knock off who cares more for his own glory than the good of mankind, and that the promised one is more likely to come from Rhaegar’s house, given his sudden belief he was involved in the prophecy himself.

      Stannis could not possibly be the prophecied one given his willingness to sacrifice everyone but himself. The original gave up his own life… not everyone else’s.

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    109. Wimsey: Occam’s Razor says that if you have the choice between one explanation and several explanations for N phenomena, go with one explanation.Mel tapping R’Hllor is one explanation for a lot of different things: and even if there were other agencies at work (let’s face, a lot of people want Robb Stark and Joffery dead), these acts might well have gotten an “assist” from this “divine” agency.

      People might be missing a major story issue here.R’Hllor is not like the Seven or the Goat God or the Spirit of the Rhoyne or any of these other things: it’s something real.Now, Mel, Thoros and others consider it to be “good”: but I would bet anything that whatever R’Hllor is, it’s ideas of “good” and “evil” (if it even has such concepts) are very different from human ideas of “good” and “evil.”On one hand, that is a truism: different humans have different ideas of “good” and “evil.”(The fact that there is no universal morality is another point that seems to get lost!)However, in this case, R’Hllor probably does not have any human interests in mind.In some way, I will bet that these sacrifices are analogs of “meat for their army.”

      Now, R’Hllor doesn’t like the great Other on about which Mel sometimes goes (or at least behaves in a fashion that we interpret as “dislike”: it’s concepts might be quite different thanthat).That probably has something to do with the White Walkers.However, the White Walkers, too, almost certainly do not have the same ideas of “good” and “evil” (again, if they have them) that humans do.At some point, odds are pretty good that the lead characters are going to have to figure out which is the lesser of these two “evils” or something like that.

      This doesn’t mean that other religions will not be relevant.The Old Gods represent something real, even if it is something much less powerful.The Faith might well be a fraud, but they don’t believe it: and a big issue could be moral absolutists like the current High Sparrow refusing to side with “demon worshipping” followers of R’Hllor or the Old Gods against the White Walkers.

      I’m going to partially disagree with you on the things in your post that I bolded.

      I think that with the advent of magic back into the world, a lot of the “religions” have shown signs of having powers or being “real” in some sense or another. Some of the examples are from the books so I’ll spoiler-tag them:

      We’ve seen prophecies apparently come true from several “religions’ (i.e.: drowned god, maggie the frog, the house where Danny saw her visions, the witch on the hill, etc.) and other “magic” things like dragons, Danny not being burned in the funeral pyre, the weir wood network, the ravens, etc. show power that I don’t think are aligned with R’hollor.

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    110. Arya Havin’ a Larf?: Mithridatism

      How was Mel supposed to build up immunity to a poison someone else delivered her? Being immune to every poison is implausible (even one is very difficult and limited in scope), and if she divined which poison was coming her way, that would make my point anyway. And the cold immunity? Just a conjurer’s trick, I guess. Now, I’ve stared into a lot of fires in my life without seeing a “vision”. Perhaps you drink a bit too much around the campfire? Stannis seems like a teetotaler to me, though. Then you have three leeches with (in the books) three quick deaths. Yeah, just a lucky coincidence. Right along with Beric rising from the dead again and again and again. And, assuming you’ve seen net week’s preview

      favorable weather changes, right on time

      .

      I have a strong feeling you’d end up on a stake pretty quick in GRRMs world, for refusing to accept the obvious. R’hllor doesn’t appear to be good, but it ain’t fake either. Stannis has every reason and then some to believe, even though he doesn’t seem the type that normally would.

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    111. Ross:
      Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      My gut feeling is that there are no real ‘Gods’ in the world Martin has created.However, whatever it is that Mel and Thoros worship clearly works – there is no question of that.The question is how.My feeling is that it’s linked with the magical powers that certain people have (e.g. wargs / greenseers / COTF / Mel herself etc.) rather than Gods per se.Exactly how that works I have no idea and I’m not sure we’ll ever have a conclusive answer on this from Martin.

      Well the Ice and Fire is laid out there so maybe the better phraseology is Elemental Forces . How they manifest their struggle (if that is an acceptable simplification of the saga) through humans or maybe despite humans, maybe it isn’t that important to the story except as a backdrop to the character actions. I’d hope for something more than they just are and always will be in this world and we can’t explain that any more than ants can explain why humans exist.

      I haven’t read or intend to read A World of Ice and Fire so whether that gives any more clues…

      Chad Brick,
      Sounds like you’ve been indoctrinated 😉

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    112. Jeff O’Connor: Hanni

      Value is value…. both are tv shows. BOTH are meant to be WATCHED. Both are a form of ART. So both can be compared. You can’t compare for example a car with a tv show, yes, but ANY FORM OF ART CAN BE COMPARED. You can even compare a fucking drawing with a tv show and say which one is more valuable.

      The excuse “they are different” is the excuse of the stupid ones that don’t have arguments and don’t want to accept that they might be wrong and that out there could be someone else more intelligent and with a better understanding.

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    113. CM:
      Chad Brick,

      The book makes more clear what the show only briefly hinted at that Mel’s trip to the Wall has made her doubt she backed the right horse.Is Stannis really Azor Ahai or is Mel just using trickery, old magic (that has been “extinct” with the death of dragons but could be revived with their re-birth), and manipulation to lead Stannis into believing and acting like the “Promised One?”

      Let’s be clear – I don’t think Stannis is the “Promised One”. But he thinks he is, and he has logical reasons to do so. He did not sacrifice Shireen for a chair. He sacrificed her because he honestly believes he is humanity’s best and perhaps only hope. I expect that he even believes he will have to sacrifice himself someday, but now (on TV and in the books) is not that time. Winning the Iron Throne, in contrast, is mostly a means to an end. He can’t hold the Wall without the backing of the North, and he can’t hold the North for long without winning the South.

      I think D&D messed it up a bit by dropping this element from his story, making it appear that Stannis sacrificed Shireen out of political ambition. This isn’t even reallly sensible, as without her, what is the point anyway?

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    114. Arthur:
      Sooooo…

      Any of you people who know how to find ratings know if GoT broke the 8million first viewership ceiling yet?

      I am betting it did, considering how amazing Hardhome was.

      And after the horrific Stannis scene and the amazing Dany scene I am betting even higher ratings this Sunday.

      Yes. I Know ratings don’t matter to HBO like commercial television but its still fun to see just how freaking amazing it is for a pay-for, rated r,premium cable network to pull in these kind of numbers.

      7.14 million

      http://www.spoilertv.com/2015/06/final-adjusted-tv-ratings-for-sunday.html

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    115. I guess I always thought there would be more to Shireen than this. I thought there would be more significance to her greyscale. Especially when they showed us the priestess in Volantis mention the lord of light and Grey scale.
      I haven’t read the books, so im clearly wrong.

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    116. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – Clark’s Law

      Do we assume Wights are gods? Do we assume Children of the forest are gods? Why do we assume Lord of Light is a ‘God’? Because this unidentified force has worshippers? For centuries Amun or Athena had worshippers. People believed the oracles of Delphi (though they were probably sniffing volcanic fumes).

      Is there something behind shadow babies? Yeah. But is it a God? How are we defining ‘God’ here anyway? And we know Melisendre has a bag of tricks that aren’t supernatural that she uses to manipulate people. She just considers deception to be in service of her lord. Not even she understands exactly what she sees or what it is she is worshipping. She just knows that sometimes a power does some things that are powerful, so she fanatically worships it.

      I will say I think a serious question can be posed as to whether a god demanding the sacrifice of children is a god worth following and whether a house that will sacrifice their children is a house worth saving…

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    117. Chad Brick: By whom?

      By Sexy Mel and The Lord of Light of course.

      You believe what you want to, and I’ll believe what I want to – it’s only fiction after all 🙂

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    118. Shipp: And we know Melisendre has a big of tricks that aren’t supernatural that she uses to manipulate people.

      Is this a veiled reference to her bosom? Ahem or maybe it’s that ruby necklace.

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    119. Well, no wonder there less and less arguments here than more people gloating and telling people what they should do or how they should feel. Many reasonable people left the comments of this site after the 6th episode and how increasingly obnoxious people were about how others felt.

      To all the others, hope you keep watching with the same emotionless face you tell others to have. People are not allowed talk about their feelings on the show here anyway, just to rave about the greatness of the series and its shocking moments.

      Twitter is best suited for that with its 140 characters limit, to see all the “Baww poor Shireen!!” and “Stannis iz evul kill him!!!” comments. But apparently you are not allowed to discuss anything critically or you get lots of strawmen thrown at you.

      People are bothered by the comments and reviews talking about the bothersome aspects they see with the show. The hypocrisy here is telling.

      Anyway, enjoy.

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    120. Chad Brick: I think D&D messed it up a bit by dropping this element from his story, making it appear that Stannis sacrificed Shireen out of political ambition. This isn’t even reallly sensible, as without her, what is the point anyway?

      Oh I don’t doubt Stannis really believes it. I question Mel’s conviction. From the very beginning, she relied on cheap tricks and magic… almost like she doubted her own god. Stannis and those who believe what she’s selling are not to blame for their foolishness.

      When she started getting real visions, i think it threw her for a loop.

      She IS powerful. She was trained in the old ways of Valeria, wasn’t she? And that a drunken con-artist like RP (Thoros) is bringing people back from the dead suddenly, i don’t doubt she could pull off some crazy magic like shadow babies.

      I don’t doubt R’hllor is real. Though I was more inclined to buy the Faceless God explanation for all deities in Westeros – they are all the same, depicted differently.

      Also, i agree with you on the show’s de-emphasis on the prophetic aspect of what Stannis is doing. It does do more harm to his character than anything else. Which considering it was done since the beginning, i’m curious if the prophecy is actually not going to have that big a role in the end… whic, quite frankly, makes me a bit sad. Prophecies are fun.

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    121. Jason Concepion, also at Grantland — he is very Sullied — actually had the best criticism of the Stannis-Shireen scene. He whined a bit about spoilers — really, you guys are embarrassing yourselves– but otherwise, he had good points

      To whit: Stannis has been built up as the best commander in Westeros. He held Dragonstone. He smashed the Iron Fleet.

      And Ramsay comes in with 20 guys and ruins his world? I know the show made token stabs at the “guards fell asleep or were in on it” routine and I know there are crackpot theories about Melisandre letting it happen so she could get her burn on, but still, that is lame.

      PLUS, Stannis is giving absolutely no thought to the future.

      OK, he can probably make another heir, even if Selyse is basically barren. After killing your daughter, you can surely bump off an annoying wife.

      But, he’s a fucking kinslayer now, and there is no way in the world the Martells, Tyrells, Greyjoys and what’s left of the Lannisters will follow his ass. The Iron Bank might be like, “Really? Yeah, we’re going to need that money back, like, tomorrow.”

      Those are all really good points that the show didn’t bother to write around with any credibility.

      That’s the kind of criticism we need.

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    122. I remember, before the season started, GRRM promised us that 5 characters would die in Season 5 that haven’t died (yet) in the books. There were a lot of speculation as to who those deaths would be.

      As of right now, these are the “off-book” deaths:

      Mance Ryder
      Ser Barristan
      Shireen Baratheon

      Meryn Tryant is very likely going to be victim #4 in Episode 10, as Arya crosses yet another name off her list.

      Who is #5? My money’s on either Tommen (most likely to close off the Maggy the Frog prophecy from the start of this season) or Loras.

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    123. WorfWWorfington:
      Jason Concepion, also at Grantland — he is very Sullied — actually had the best criticism of the Stannis-Shireen scene. He whined a bit about spoilers — really, you guys are embarrassing yourselves– but otherwise, he had good points

      To whit: Stannis has been built up as the best commander in Westeros. He held Dragonstone. He smashed the Iron Fleet.

      And Ramsay comes in with 20 guys and ruins his world? I know the show made token stabs at the “guards fell asleep or were in on it” routine and I know there are crackpot theories about Melisandre letting it happen so she could get her burn on, but still, that is lame.

      PLUS, Stannis is giving absolutely no thought to the future.

      OK, he can probably make another heir, even if Selyse is basically barren. After killing your daughter, you can surely bump off an annoying wife.

      But, he’s a fucking kinslayer now, and there is no way in the world the Martells, Tyrells, Greyjoys and what’s left of the Lannisterswill follow his ass. The Iron Bank might be like, “Really? Yeah, we’re going to need that money back, like, tomorrow.”

      Those are all really good points that the show didn’t bother to write around with any credibility.

      That’s the kind of criticism we need.

      Ahem, Renly, cough.

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    124. Now that I’ve had time to digest it, and having re-watched the episode last night, this is how I see it :

      I am sullied, having read all five books at least five times each, so I sat through Ned’s execution and the Red Wedding with apprehension, but no shock and dismay, because I knew what was coming. Shireen’s death hit me like a ton of bricks, and I can honestly say that it was the biggest shock and feeling of horror and dismay that I have felt since reading the Red Wedding. As horrific as it was, I have to applaud the show for taking me there once again.

      I am a history major, especially Medieval England, and the Wars of the Roses, where people were burnt at the stake, for religious reasons, on a regular basis. Real human beings actually did this to other human beings, in the name of their God. If you felt shock, horror, and disgust during Shireen’s death – GOOD! That’s exactly what you should have felt!

      As for the show in general, and the people who say that scenes are being thrown in just for shock value:

      This is the downside of the show going “mainstream” – a lot of people who are watching, should probably not be watching (fans of the genre vs. casual viewers). When GRRM wrote these books, he never imagined that they would be adapted into a TV show, let alone a global phenomenon, so he wrote the story, of the horrors of war and their effect on the people who lived (or died) through them, based in the reality of medieval England. These were brutal, misogynistic times, where horrible things happened to good people all the time.

      So now it’s being adapted into a TV show – should the showrunners be watering things down in order not to offend the sensibilities of the casual viewers at the expense of the fans of the genre? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

      I, for one, will recover from the horror of Shireen’s death, and look forward (with trepidation!) to more shocking twists and turns in this amazing story.

      Keep up the good work, GRRM, and D&D.

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    125. Davos’ Luck,

      Right, I forgot about Hizdahr. So I guess we have our five, although I still think Tommen is dead meat next episode. The showrunners didn’t break their “no flashbacks” policy on a lark just to show Maggy the Frog.

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    126. WorfWWorfington:
      And Ramsay comes in with 20 guys and ruins his world? (…)

      PLUS, Stannis is giving absolutely no thought to the future.

      OK, he can probably make another heir, even if Selyse is basically barren. After killing your daughter, you can surely bump off an annoying wife.

      But, he’s a fucking kinslayer now, and there is no way in the world the Martells, Tyrells, Greyjoys and what’s left of the Lannisterswill follow his ass. The Iron Bank might be like, “Really? Yeah, we’re going to need that money back, like, tomorrow.”

      Those are all really good points that the show didn’t bother to write around with any credibility.

      That’s the kind of criticism we need.

      1. 20 guys wiping out the food stores could, indeed, ruin his world. Stannis’ forces lost their ability to wait out the snows to move again.
      2. Book Stannis for all his expertise and battle skill was in the exact same boat: starving men trapped in horrible weather. That’s quite true to the books, except for Book Stannis’ men resorting to cannibalism, something we were spared in the show.
      3. He can make another heir, if he survives. In his mind, if he doesn’t do this, he and all of his men die.
      4. The kinslayer curse doesn’t seem to exist in the show. There has been no mention whatsoever of it. That isn’t to say that he won’t have serious leadership issues down the road, but again, if you’re caught in a trap that will kill you if you don’t cut off your leg, the marathon you’re scheduled to run in a week isn’t going to be your top priority.

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    127. Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      Renly doesn’t count. He declared himself an enemy and didn’t respect the line of succession. This was burning your daughter for a weirdo god.

      This is Mad King stuff, and no one wants that.

      Tyrells – Still probably loyal to Renly, plus would be horrified at Stannis/Shireen
      Martells – Will not support any Baratheon
      Lannisters – Duh… not happening
      Greyjoys – Itching to rebel anyway, but want revenge on Stannis

      So, he may take Winterfell, but it’s still snowy between Winterfell and the Twins. Old Walder might make a deal, and even give him a daughter to make another heir with, once he got Selyse out of the way. But that still leave a lot of ground to try to capture.

      This ends with Stannis broken and defeated. Selyse either dead or gone. Davos either gone or on the other side, and Melisandre saying, “Well, guess you weren’t it. Sorry about the kid.”

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    128. It’ll be interesting to see what follow up there is in Ep 10 to the last episode anyway and some of us on whatever side of the in character / out of character Stannis argument might have to eat our words!

      There also time to retcon of course in the writing for S6 if they feel the need to placate which would be a bit naff but…

      I do have some reservations about some of the story the choices made but also think it’s best to wait and see if future episodes put these into context. Patience is not a virtue though on interwebz forums.

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    129. Stannis IS consumed by ambition. He simply is. He’s myopically focused on being the very most special snowflake in all the world.

      He knew Mel’s claims when he attacked King’s Landing. He sees her prophecy as his Devine right to rule. One thing serves the other and the prophecy and the Kings right are one thing in his head. He killed his brother as a usurper. Not because Renley hindered him from bating the wights. It was about eliminating an alternative claimant to the throne. to claim the throne. When that was a bust she told him that going to the wall would show he should be the rightful king.

      His pursuit of being the prince that was promised is heavy on prince and on recognition. He wants to be acknowledged. He wants to be followed. He wants to be the prophesied specialist snowflake in all the world and he’ll burn those who won’t believe, or hell burn those who follow him if it is necessary to achieve his goal. He’s always about the goal, the end. He went to the wall to achieve an end and to bolster his position, not because he’s concerned with the lives of the watch. He never did much there and actively tried to lure Jon from his duty for them. He went because Mel foresaw a battle in the snow and that vision confirmed his ‘destiny” to him. It wasn’t a mission of mercy.

      He’s not altruistically or even tactically concerned with the fates of Wildlings above the wall. He burned Mance. Why? For not kneeling to his kingship. He only wanted Wildlings through… To make him an army, not because they were in danger, as evidenced by his heading south to advance his war among men rather than seeing to men who are in danger.

      Sure he’s concerned with Azor Ahai– it tells him he’s the most special person in the world. But he’s not concerned with making peasants lives better, or the lives of his men, or even the well being of his family. What’s most important is that everyone everywhere see he’s the best, most pivotal human on all the earth, and to prove it hell burn everything in his way to the ground and explain it to himself as necessary. That is how you torch your legacy and the person who loves you most in the world, because you become so wrapped up i the goal that you lose sight of the means that you employ. THAT is ambition. Believing it is in service to a mission that just so happens to proclaim you the most heroic, special person ever, is hubris. And thinking that justifies what you do is ego outpacing thought, compassion, reflection, and logic.

      Stannis wasn’t a bad man. But he’s blinded himself to the fact the means you choose can define you as much or more than your goal.

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    130. WorfWWorfington,

      Well, it probably is an irrational thing to do. But faith is the death of reason, as Qyburn put it. This was an act of faith, if it was the rational thing to do then it wouldn’t be an act of faith.

      And I think people are missing the point of the Ramsay attack and how that influenced Stannis. The God who has shown his power numerous times to him is basically asking for a sacrifice. Soon after he refuses Mel, his awful sittuation gets even worse. Sign from the Lord of Light. That’s the significance of the Ramsay attack.

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    131. WorfWWorfington: But, he’s a fucking kinslayer now, and there is no way in the world the Martells, Tyrells, Greyjoys and what’s left of the Lannisters will follow his ass.

      Yes, all good points. The show can do what it wants to but what intrigues me is what actually takes place in TWoW.

      Does Stannis actually make the decision to burn Shireen (who is at the wall in ADwD) from his snowy, endangered base camp outside of WF (hundreds of miles away)? Mel is at the wall, incessantly debating what the flames are telling her…and FTW has happened, so Jon can’t stop her (presumably). Does Mel decide on her own to burn Shireen once she “sees” (or reads the pink letter) that Stannis is in danger? How does Mel get past the guards to access/kidnap Shireen? Via Selyse? That does make a difference, imho.

      This has me even more excited/anxious to read TWoW. Who is the real tool and who is delusional?

      Regardless of the specifics of the decision, given this extreme event, it’s fairly obvious that Stannis is heading down the route of ultimate tragedy.

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    132. WorfWWorfington:
      Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      Renly doesn’t count. He declared himself an enemy and didn’t respect the line of succession. This was burning your daughter for a weirdo god.

      So being totally complicit in the murder of your brother doesn’t count as kinslaying because he didn’t show ’nuff respect ?! Come on…Renly didn’t suddenly stop being Stannis’ brother. Stannis may even have been in the right but he was responsible for Renly’s death at the very least as an accessory. He had a choice to continue to try and force Renly’s submission and show mercy, what did he think Melisandre was going to do when he ordered Davos to take her to Storm’s End, offer Renly a retirement home in the Summer Islands?

      The other way around and it would still be kinslaying.

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    133. Wimsey,

      Trant needs to dominate, you say? What if he’s just a weary soldier who wants to cuddle, like that Unsullied in Episode One? Healing power of compassionate touch, you know? And Arya kills him anyway, perfectly bookending the season!

      Seriously, though, you do bring up a possible motivation for Trant’s behavior. If one thinks about it, many of the Kingsguard are lost boys who never grew up. Sandor’s the damaged child; Jaime never outgrew Cersei; Barristan stayed the idealist. These guys kill plenty of boys, but if they aren’t allowed to marry and father children (officially, at least), do they ever ‘kill the boy’ within?

      We’re big on talking about ‘agency’ these days, but what autonomy do the Kingsguard have? They seem to spend their lives attached to children like Joffrey–and often have to follow their orders, no matter how juvenile or capricious.

      One of the most telling insights into Meryn in the books–at least I recall it being Meryn–is that Sansa realized that Meryn neither liked or disliked being ordered by Joffrey to slap her around. He simply didn’t care.

      A grown man who robotically beats children at the behest of other children has to have an element of self-loathing, no? Being with youngish prostitutes might be the only way for Meryn to feel like a big man calling the shots instead of just an automaton delivering them.

      Ah, what am I saying? He’s just a TV villain…

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    134. WorfWWorfington,

      I usually like Jason, but he’s full of it in that column. First, he makes a blanket statement that GRRM is just bullshitting his way through his work just to keep the checks coming. Whether Martin has everything figured out is up for debate,but that was just speculation thrown in as fact to bolster your argument. And Jason makes it sound like Stannis is being stopped by “snow”, which he makes it sound like a light fall in Vermont. It’s freaking apocalyptic winter! He never mentions the show has clearly established his PYSCHE as someone who deeply regrets listening to Davos about Mel at the Blackwater. Also, that Stannis has lost a lot of his sell swords, which the show has established are untrustworthy. Jason needs to ask himself: What stopped Napoleon’s march on Russia? A little snow? No. Freaking winter. If Napoleon could finish his invasion of Russia by sacrificing his child, would he?

      NOTE: I’m not pro/anti Stannis, so I don’t want to get into that fray. I just think Jason’s full of it for the most part here.

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    135. Dutch maester,

      I neve said anything about only this season/book. Also I certainly didn’t laugh at those events when they came I previous books/seasons (if you did, ew). The point is I t’s the sum total across all of them that’s at issue. It eventually comes across as unlikely that this many horrible things would happen without hardly a ray of hope in sight. Then when it comes, hope inevitably getting crushed in the next episode/chapter. Eventually in sum it’s too much. I Still hope things will turn around eventually but for now, I’m not in a happy place.

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    136. Ravyn,

      Or: Stannis at Stalingrad (Winterfell)? Deluded messianic leader wants a blitzkrieg but gets bogged down in the cold, white vastness that is Russia (the North). The Russians (Boltons) refuse to engage directly and initially retreat, taking resources with them, regroup, and attack when the enemy is frozen and spent. A page out of Ramsay’s playbook indeed!

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    137. Rodrik the Reader,

      I have a Masters Degree in medieval literature plus a good side order of history (they’re often entwined at certain stages, especially when history and literature become blurred further back in the past) and yes… they were truly abysmal times to live in for most people, even those with wealth and prestige. Horrific violence, bizarre superstitions, I can’t even begin to list off how terrible it was in comparison to today (terrible things still routinely happen in the world, of course.)

      Look at the War of the Roses or the twenty year period known in England as ‘The Anarchy’ for some truly dreadful times.

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    138. When I heard Tyrion say the line “There’s always been more than enough death the world for my taste. I can do without it in my leisure time,” I immediately thought “Multiple critics are going to latch on to that line and use it as the foundation for a pithy observation about how uncomfortable, disturbing, distasteful and/or ‘problematic’ they find the relentless violence in this show.” Before I set off to read my usual round of recaps and reviews, I conservatively set my mental over-under at the number of reviewers who would seize upon that all-too-easy hook at five. I took the over and, for fun, made a few educated guesses at exactly which reviewers would do it. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Or rather, I was.

      I think I may need to stop reading so many reviews, or at least certain reviewers. When I can pretty much write their pieces in my head before I read them, there is nothing more of value to be gained.

      That being said, the “backlash” that I feared hasn’t really materialized on a larger scale – or at least, it hasn’t been nearly as loud or obnoxious as I thought it might be (I’m speaking of the critical backlash, of course. I’m doing my best to avoid book-reader havens where fans of Stannis the Mannis are undoubtedly licking their wounds and/or steeling themselves in denial as they wait for TWOW to either save their previous illusions or break them forever). If I wanted to steep myself in cynicism, I could dwell on the ridiculous disparity in how certain acts of fictional violence are dissected and perceived by certain online media outlets, and how much those outlets love to throw around terms like “gratuitous”, “problematic,” and “shock value” without understanding what they actually mean (hint: it’s not “This makes me uncomfortable, so it shouldn’t be shown on my TV.”) But I’m in a good mood today, so I would rather not wade into that particular pool.

      To end on a more positive note, I thought Alyssa Rosenberg had some really nice thoughts this week. While I disagreed with her less-than-stellar opinion of the battle scenes in “Hardhome”, I’ve consistently been very impressed with her reviews this year. I’ve especially appreciated the measured and thoughtful approach she has taken in analyzing the show’s darkest, most controversial scenes. In a reactive online culture where the Hot Takes unfortunately tend to draw the most traffic, she’s been a breath of fresh air.

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    139. Valaquen,

      Fair enough. How–and why–did the times change, then? And how might that shed light, if any, on what we might see in the last two seasons on the show? Impossible to answer, perhaps, but I’d welcome someone with your background giving it a try.

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    140. Grynthaline,

      I don’t know what site you think you saw, but WotW it wasn’t. Sure, there are some trolls and generally obnoxious people, but this place is a quite tolerant community.

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    141. Valaquen: Nah, Hannibal goes way off-book, it can’t be any good!

      Hannibal may just be my favourite show on TV. Next to GoT that is. I urge all of my fellow posters, and lurkers too, to give that show a try.

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    142. Rodrik the Reader:
      Valaquen,

      Fair enough. How–and why–did the times change, then? And how might that shed light, if any, on what we might see in the last two seasons on the show? Impossible to answer, perhaps, but I’d welcome someone with your background giving it a try.

      I’m going to butt in..

      There was a gradual change when the role of the noble manor houses ( i.e. like the Tyrells, Lannisters and the minor ones) declined starting in the 14th century. This was for many reasons such as improvements in agricultural technology and a drift of the population into towns and cities with more serfs becoming freehold farmers or renting property and land. The movement of money rather than barter increased.

      Add to this depopulation from the Black Death, The Hundred Years War meant changes too. Peasants gradually demanded reforms ( e.g. The Peasant’s Revolt ) and the very slow move to capitalism began.

      That’s a very sketchy look which valaquen can no doubt correct or elaborate on, but you can draw some parallels to the Westerosi situation e.g. imagine Greyscale = Black Death, wars, civil unrest…and ultimately perhaps reformation and renaissance

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    143. Rodrik the Reader: Trant needs to dominate, you say?

      No, I wonder if that is so! It could be to develop him further as a bully. It’s not too important: he’s an unpleasant man, and we’ve all met people like him. No tears will be wept if/when he passes.

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    144. Arya Havin’ a Larf?: I can accept that magic exists within certain constraints because this is after all a fantasy with dragons and ice zombies, so I suppose I should just accept “god moves in mysterious ways” in the same way as in Greek or Roman myth but I do have trouble with it being entirely divorced from or remote controlling human actions.

      That is why I think that Jon, Daeny, Tyrion and the other leads comprehending what R’Hllor is will be as important as their comprehending what the Walkers really are. Humans deify things in their own image, so a real “supernatural” power like R’Hllor would be deified and attributed with human emotions, agendas, etc. I can buy that it has an agenda: it seems to be doing something to encourage it’s followers to unite against the White Walkers. I seriously doubt that this is for the benefit of it’s followers.

      But the other key is that thing somehow transcends time. It shows visions of the future. It shows them vaguely and it does not convey understanding, only observation. (Old lines about humans trying to comprehend a god would be like a lobster trying to comprehend a human come to mind here!)

      However, Mel has done too much with these powers to dismiss it as charlatanry. She herself admits that there is an element of charlatanry in the “salesmanship”: a true charlatan would be denying any aspects of that.

      The question is, what is the end game? Why is it using people? What is it’s connection to dragons? Is it more or less dangerous than the Walkers?

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    145. Wimsey,

      I would say R’Hllor is ultimately more dangerous than the Walkers, but one is always needed to check the other. The snows of winter are ultimately positive because they will eventually melt and hydrate the gardens of spring. There might be a Long Night, but is there ever an eternal one?

      Heat might melt ice, but unchecked heat leads not to a garden but to the Sahara writ large. Permanent, all-encompassing death.

      Humans on our own beloved Earth have lived through several Ice ages, but supernova global warming that’s for real is an extinction event.

      So far, the physical manifestations of Ice look like freeze-dried humanoids; the physical manifestations of Fire are dragons, which are monsters.

      So, R’Hllr has its place (give the devil his due), but ultimately, it just wants to see the world burn.

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    146. Wimsey,
      It might be possible to reconcile the idea of The Great Other and R’hllor in terms of Gaia, since ice and fire are after all the fundamental forces of creation and reshaping the world. As in the Gaia Hypothesis this is a self regulating organism and maybe it has to use organic life as another tool to keep things in balance, and not necessarily to the benefit of the species at the top of the pyramid, which it could even drive to extinction if that kept things in check.

      Just how this manifests itself through “disciples” like Melisandre I can’t imagine and don’t like it that much ( though I do watch ‘Fringe’ which is well out there and demands suspension of disbelief so I shouldn’t have too much trouble with it!).

      I’m likely talking rubbish though!

      EDIT looks like Rodrik the Reader and I are on similar avenues…

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    147. Wimsey,

      But the question is, will Trant assassinate Mace before Arya kills Trant? Or will Arya inadvertently thwart Cersei by killing Trant first?

      We suspect, do we not, that Cersei wants Mace out of the picture permanently, correct?

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    148. Arya Havin’ a Larf?,

      Yes! So many times on this board, I type an epiphany at what I think is lightning speed, only to see someone already beat me to the same point. Don’t we have lives??? (Well, maybe after this Sunday night.)

      P.S. I binge-watched ALL of ‘Fringe’ a couple years ago, permanently scrambling my synapses!

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    149. Ravyn: The Shireen burning is something GRRM told them is in the next book. It’s not in there just for shock val

      not like this!
      Stannis is in the very same situation in the books and he is refusing to burn his prisoner but they made him burn his heir for a thing like that. That’s ridiculus, it’s not dire enough a situation for a sacrifice like that.

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    150. Rodrik the Reader:
      Valaquen,

      Fair enough. How–and why–did the times change, then? And how might that shed light, if any, on what we might see in the last two seasons on the show? Impossible to answer, perhaps, but I’d welcome someone with your background giving it a try.

      They changed slowly. Very slowly! The weakening of the monarchy and the introduction of parliamentary democray (as limited as it was for a long, long time) certainly helped. There were of course times of peace and prosperity in the medieval world (as there seemed to have been during Robert Baratheon’s rule) but times of war were chaotic, especially civil war. The period before the 1066 Norman invasion of England saw however-many invasions and at one point Britain was part of a Viking Empire rule by Cnut. People commonly believed the world was coming to an end, things were so terrible. Aelfric (c. 955 – c. 1010), in his Second Series of Catholic Homilies, seemed frustrated that the world actually did not end: “Often people say, behold, now doomsday is coming because the prophecies that were laid down about it have passed. But there comes war after war, tribulation after tribulation, earthquake after earthquake, famine after famine, nation after nation, and still the bridegroom [Christ] does not come.”

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    151. Rodrik the Reader: But the question is, will Trant assassinate Mace before Arya kills Trant? Or will Arya inadvertently thwart Cersei by killing Trant first?

      Oh, I quite like that! But was Cersei’s intent to get Mace out of KL or to have him not come back at all? I wasn’t so sure.

      Ravyn: All we have to go on is that Shireen is sacrificed for Stannis’s mission.

      Definitely. That’s all we know (regarding Stannis’ “story” in TWoW) at this point. His delusion and downfall (along with the realization that Lightbringer is a fraud) will be a stunning tragedy (imho).

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    152. Queenofthrones:
      Dutch maester,

      I neve said anything about only this season/book. Also I certainly didn’t laugh at those events when they came I previous books/seasons (if you did, ew). The point is I t’s the sum total across all of them that’s at issue. It eventually comes across as unlikely that this many horrible things would happen without hardly a ray of hope in sight. Then when it comes, hope inevitably getting crushed in the next episode/chapter. Eventually in sum it’s too much. I Still hope things will turn around eventually but for now, I’m not in a happy place.

      I wholeheartedly agree that the worst parts of our medieval history happening all at once in a normal world would be ridiculously unlikely. But this isn’t a normal world: it’s a world of long summers and long winters and, very rarely, the long, dark night. Winter is coming, and so is the long, dark night, where epic tragedy runs rampant. Still, it makes for a depressing tale. I dream of spring.

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    153. Hodor’s Bastard,

      I envision a long walk off a short pier into a deep canal–in mid-song!

      Might be a case of too much plotting for one episode, true, but when I saw Cersei send Mace off with HIM (Trant), trust-my-gut alarms went off. Wouldn’t put it past Cersei.

      For all we know, though, Mace swims like a merling.

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    154. Joshua Atreides:
      Arthur,

      Bravo Arthur. Eloquently said.

      I was never a BookStannis fan but I love what Dillane subtly brings to his role. It also helps that I’ve loved Dillane since HBO’s John Adams where he played Thomas Jefferson to the literal T. Stephen made me believe in Stannis’ character justas much as Liam’s Davos hyped him. And while I renounce my somewhat allegiance to Stannis the Mannis I fully appreciate the fantastic tragic arc of his character. This is why I love ASOIAF and GoT, it retells the stories and myths that have been popular for Millennia.

      THAT IS IT. I have been wondering for seasons where I had seen him before. I am a huge fan of John Adams by HBO (own it/recorded it) and he played Jefferson to the tee. Thanks, one less thing for me.

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    155. 2222: Sorry, but you are a really really retarded girl. Daario can kill dany anytime he wants. Also he is protecting her. So yeah, you are a stupid girl.

      And by the way, you are also ugly.

      And 2222? You are a complete horses ass. There are ways to say you disagree and then there is just being rude!!

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    156. Rodrik the Reader: So, R’Hllr has its place (give the devil his due), but ultimately, it just wants to see the world burn.

      Mayhaps! For all we know, R’Hllor is not even “sentient” as we think of the word. (Conversely, we probably would not be considered “sentient” to a god: we would seem so “tiny,” I would think.)

      The key point is that we should not think of Melissandre as some charlatan or her faith based on nothing. Indeed, her “faith” isn’t even faith: as Terry Pratchett famously noted, seeing is where thinking starts and believing ends. Now, I sincerely doubt that she has a clue what this power that she taps really is: but she’s not pretending that it’s there.

      Rodrik the Reader: For all we know, though, Mace swims like a merling.

      Mace certainly looks like he should float like a buoy! However, I now remember thinking something along what you suggest: Cersei would probably give Trant instructions to come back alone. Who knows, maybe she has some hare-brained plan to frame the Iron Bank: that’s not quite as dumb as flat-out stiffing them, but it’s certainly something I wouldn’t be surprised to see her think plausible.

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    157. Rei:
      Is it just me, or was Daario totally involved in the ambush of the Son of the Harpy?

      Impossible. Daario = Euron. It is known.

        Quote  Reply

    158. Anybody check out this week’s GoT Book Club in EW? Darren Frannich and Hilary Busis eviscerated this episode. It seems EW as a whole is split on GoT now. Hibberd is the hype engine and Frannich is the jaded nerd.

      To be honest, Frannich pisses me off. Here’s a guy who is the Resident Geek expert at EW and he trashes absolutely every geek property for Click Bait. Also he blames Shireen’s entirely on D&D Not once do either Frannich or Busis mention that it was GRRM’s idea.

      Also Frannich and Busis come off as such posers with their ASOIAF nick names for each other.

      I’m getting a vibe that the media is ready to move on from GoT either because of fatigue or because their worried about losing the SJW crowd that has been pushing to boycott the series. Yet it knows it can’t drop the coverage and has decided to hatewatch it from now on.
      Sometimes I feel the show would be supremely better with more than 10 episodes so they can’t fit in crucial details instead of streamlining the series which I think causes a simplification that creates the feeling of exploitation as opposed to well setup plot twists. But in my mind the show can’t do anything about the episode limit.

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    159. Joshua Atreides,

      I can’t stand those Book Clubs. You’re right about Franich, he’s a snarky ass, represents everything I find annoying in entertainment coverage. Last week “Hilltown” found a way to use the Hardhome sequence to complain about LS. Was pretty sure I knew what they’d think of this episode…

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    160. Valaquen:

      I have a Masters Degree in medieval literature plus a good side order of history (they’re often entwined at certain stages, especially when history and literature become blurred further back in the past) and yes… they were truly abysmal times to live in for most people, even those with wealth and prestige. Horrific violence, bizarre superstitions, I can’t even begin to list off how terrible it was in comparison to today (terrible things still routinely happen in the world, of course.)

      Look at the War of the Roses or the twenty year period known in England as ‘The Anarchy’ for some truly dreadful times.

      Am I right in assuming that Aegon and Rhaenyra are Stephen and Matilda?

        Quote  Reply

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