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Recap / Game Of Thrones S 5 E 9 The Dance Of Dragons

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We open on Stannis's camp somewhere past Long Lake, the tents are sunk into the drifts as the snows fall thick upon them and apart from some solitary sentries patrolling, only the Lady Melisandre is still awake, watching one of her fires in a brazier from within her own pavilion. The shadowbinder suddenly seems to have a premonition and exits her tent with a lantern held aloft, she quickly discovers that a hidden enemy has fired their provisions and a good deal of the compound is burning down, along with a poor destrier sprinting past engulfed in flames.note 


The Bastard of the Dreadfort has done as he promised, as Davos informs his king in the morning as the army tries to salvage what they can. Their food stores have been turned to charcoal, their siege weapons destroyed and hundreds of horses killed. Stannis orders Ser Axell Florent to see to last night's watch. They are to be tortured for their failure in noticing a small squad of Northerners committing such massive sabotage then executed regardless of their allegiance being swayed or due to their own negligence in the matter.

King Stannis Baratheon: We're not returning to Castle Black.
Davos: Forgive me, Your Grace. I never claimed to be an expert in military matters, but if we can't march forward and we won't march back...

Stannis is not listening, instead focusing on his lady wife, Selyse and Melisandre standing together, silently offering their own option of what needs to be done. Davos is clearly troubled but the Lord's Chosen commands him to see that all the dead horses are butchered for meat to bolster their stores and leaves his Hand to clench his jaw in foreboding...

On the wrong side of The Wall, Lord Commander Snow, Edd, Tormund, Wun Wun and the five thousand strong band of Hardhome refugees have arrived at Castle Black's gate.note  They halt before the defences and Giantsbane is seen to now have the care of Karsi's two daughters, d'aaw! Not so heartwarming is the frosty presence of Ser Alliser Thorne glaring down at Jon and the wildling survivors. Jon steps up to the plate, he gave his men the orders now lets see if they follow them... After an intense seven hundred foot long stare-down, Thorne cracks and gives his consent to raise the portcullis. Jon can barely contain his relief.


As the wildlings make their way through the castle and make their way into the Gift, Jon confides in Sam that this was just a small portion of those who were alive; that he failed his mission by not saving the rest. Samwell assures Jon that he did all he could and that every man, woman and child still living is a victory in itself. Jon notices that Othell Yarwyck and his men are boiling with resentment and mistrust as the wildlings pass, as is Bowen Marsh. The sight of Wun Wun the giant only exacerbates their fears and Olly is also there to give Jon a condemnatory look, much to Jon's sadness. Finally, Ser Alliser steps up and gives his two cents. "You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It'll get us all killed." Before striding off, Jon seems about to reprimand him but stops cold; his men's doubts eating away at him.

In Stannis's Camp, the king has sent for Davos and orders him to ride back to Castle Black and procure fresh provisions and mounts, in return, when he takes the throne, he will ensure the Night's Watch wants for nothing. Davos sees through the mission as a thinly disguised attempt to have him away from the army when the Red Woman works her magic and, hoping against all hope that he is wrong, asks whether the queen and her daughter can accompany him away from the fighting. Stannis refuses. Davos pleads that he should at least allow him the custody of Shireen but her father is as iron in this and Davos is forced to back down.

The men are suffering in the cold, there's little to no food and moral is at rock bottom. Davos arrives at Princess Shireen's tent to find her reading, 'The Dance of Dragons: A True Telling' by Grand Maester Munken. She tells him how a knight cannot hope to beat a dragon through duplicity as all that will earn you is a fiery death. Davos understandably changes the subject due to his misgivings and gives the princess an intricately carved wooden stag that he whittled himself.

Davos tells her he'll be gone for a few days and that he'll want to hear the rest of the story when he gets back, Shireen smiles that he can read it himself in the end. The smuggler gives her a fatherly kiss on the brow and leaves, not wanting to consider the worst.

All the way down in Dorne, Jaime is brought under guard to a balmy afternoon repast with Prince Doran Martell, with Ellaria Sand, Trystane and Myrcella also enjoying the fine vintages. Doran calls out the bald-faced idiocy of Jaime's woeful Season-long plot-line and Jaime, (amazingly), almost manages to defend it with a counter that a threatening message was sent to King's Landing; implying that his niece was in danger from the Martells. Interestingly, both Doran and Ellaria exchange looks... So who was responsible? Jaime asks snarkily whether he's going to be beheaded but Doran assures him that all he wants is peace and prosperity with the Iron Throne. The prince proposes a toast to Tommen, to which Ellaria pours her serving on the Myrish rug. Doran inquires as to whether Myrcella's return is a royal command and complies when Jaime confirms it, with the twin condition that his eldest, Prince Trystane accompanies them back to the capital to engage Myrcella and to claim the seat on the small council that Oberyn left vacant far too soon. Ellaria is outraged but finally takes her insults to her liege too far and Doran openly threatens her life if she continues her insubordination. Jaime also asks for Bronn to be freed. Trystane allows it under the condition that Bronn allow Hotah to strike him in the face in revenge for being struck by Bronn earlier.

Over in Braavos, Lanna!Arya continues to peddle oysters, clams and cockles while getting accosted by a pervert. O-kaaay... She is about to poison the thin man but before he can secure his lunch order, she sees a Lord Of Westeros being ferried to the quay, from a ship with a Lannister crimson sail, and more importantly, guarded by an armoured knight she knows all too well. Ser Meryn Trant, murderer of her fencing master, Syrio Forel. Tycho Nestoris greets Mace Tyrell on behalf of the Iron Bank and they get down to business straight away, with Arya stalking the delegation behind her cart. Trant seems to be interested in the girl though he clearly does not recognise her as the Stark pup he was sent to capture in the Red Keep all those years ago. Arya lingers outside the bank until the negotiations are over, from the nine clams she's eaten, it seems to have only taken a short while to broker new more favourable terms.

Lord Mace Tyrell: We should celebrate.
Tycho Nestoris: I'm afraid I still have a good deal of work to do.
Mace: Oh, nonsense, work's over, do you sing?
Tycho: I don't have that gift,
Mace: Oh, it's not a gift. It's a skill. Anyone can learn it. ♪ So give me a kiss by the Long Canal! And give me two kisses in Salty Town! For we're going to die, tomooorrow! The bare-headed beggar, the king with his crown...! ♫

"Thought that old shit would never stop singing!" Spits the unworthy knight of the Kingsguard as he and his duo of Lannister arms-men travel the streets towards dusk. Trant takes himself and his lads off to have a go with "the sleekest little minks in Braavos" and Arya follows them into the high-class brothel with a tray of fish as her cover. Although Brusco the bouncer wants to send her on her way, one of Arya's contacts, Lhara, vouches for her and Arya is free to continue her surveillance. She hides behind a sheer privacy screen and watches as several ladies come forward as presented by the madame to show of their wares for Ser Meryn. The first svelte beauty seems to be around twenty seven to twenty nine. "Too old." Trant grumbles. The second, Brea, is also in the prime flush of gorgeousness and must be twenty five at the absolute most. "Too - old." He states again. The final girl, Anara, is eighteen or nineteen, with all the radiance of youth and the most expensive consort on the menu befitting her age. Trant sighs. "Too old." He can't get more obvious about what he wants, seems Littlefinger must have provided him with all the kids he could want back in Westeros. And his men shoot him looks of disbelief at letting one of those three lovelies escape. The madame is forced to improvise, considering Braavos must be the only Free City with sexual labour standards and Arya is roped into the room by one of the red-cloaks to serve them some pre-coital snacks and Trant's interest in the pubescent is piqued... but the madame saves the day, well, at least for Arya, as she brings in a fifteen year old scullion nabbed from the kitchens it would seem. Trant is barely satisfied even with this and demands a new girl for the next night; the madame agrees then chases Arya from the premises.

Returning to the House of Black and White, Arya informs No-one that the thin man wasn't hungry and that she'll complete the hit the following day, her mentor seems to believe her story... Or does he?

Back to Dorne and Doran very generously labels Ellaria's pathetic plot as a failed "rebellion," and tells her that she can swear her allegiance and give him the kiss of peace, or die. This is actually a difficult decision for Oberyn's widowed paramour and she breaks down in tears upon her supplication. With Martell promising her that he will not forgive her again.

Ellaria makes a play for winning Jaime's sympathy and gives an entreaty to understanding Jaime's proclivities with his sister and likening it to base-born women coupling with noble-born princes. She then forgives Myrcella and Jaime.

Shireen plays with her new wooden animal in the midst of Stannis's Camp. Stannis enters her tent for a heart to heart with his only child.

Princess Shireen Baratheon: (happily) Father! (concerned) Aren't you cold?
King Stannis Baratheon: No. (sits down with her) What are you reading?
Shireen: 'The Dance of Dragons'.
Stannis: What's it about?
Shireen: It's the story of the fight between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon for control of the Seven Kingdoms. Both of them thought they belonged on the Iron Throne. When people started declaring for one of them or the other, their fight divided the kingdoms in two. Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons. By the time it was over, thousands were dead. And it was a disaster for the Targaryens as well. They never truly recovered.
Stannis: (thoughtfully) "The Dance of Dragons". ... Why is that a dance?
Shireen: It's just what they call it.
Stannis: Hmm, doesn't make much sense.
Stannis: ... If you had to choose, between Rhaenyra and Aegon... who would you have chosen?
Shireen: I wouldn't have chosen either. It's all the choosing sides that made everything so horrible.
Shireen: (compassionate) It's alright, Father.
Stannis: (weary) You don't even know what I'm talking about...
Shireen: It doesn't matter. I want to help you. Is there anyway I can help?
Stannis: (Beat) Yes there is.
Shireen: Good, I want to. ... I'm the Princess Shireen of the house Baratheon. And I'm your daughter. (hugs him)
Stannis: ... (returns the embrace, broken yet resolute) Forgive me.

Shireen is led by four soldiers through a crowd of shivering sellswords and frost-bitten bannermen, to find the Lady Melisandre of Asshai standing by a stake and pyre prepared for her. "Where's my father? I want to see my father!" She protests, disbelieving. "It will all be over soon, princess." The Red woman reassures, the child is not and tries to flee. Her own sworn men grab her up and forcibly place her on the wooden platform doused in oil as she screams for her father to save her. Stannis watches the scene from afar, almost unwilling to witness it at all, his eyes full of madness and grief, expression haggard, skeletal. Selyse tries to justify the atrocity as her daughter is tied to the stake: "if we don't act we'll all starve here. All of us. but if we make this sacrifice..." Shireen tries a new tactic and cries out for her mother as Melisandre completes her prayer and lifts a torch aloft. Selyse's fanaticism is chipped away with every cry and suddenly she realises that the only offspring she's ever given her husband is about to die and she tries to revoke her decision. But her lord will not bend; not with his duty to save the land from the Long Night. As the tinder catches from Melisandre's torch, and Shireen's screams become more desperate, Selyse tries to forcibly rescue her daughter but is restrained by soldiers with a single commanding look from her husband, Stannis's queen collapses in despair as her child takes light and the screams raise higher and higher in pitch. The men are clearly revolted and Stannis can only close his eyes as Shireen's final scream of agony pierces his soul. Selyse wails in loss while Stannis averts his gaze from the ultimate offering he's made to the Red God.

The episode rounds off in Meereen, at the opening of the Great Games at Daznak's Pit. Twenty thousand spectators are jam-packed into the Colosseum's every seat, both freedmen, indentured servants and nobles alike. United in the pageantry of mounted champions conducting tricks to a massive percussion orchestra. Queen Daenerys, Tyrion and Missandei are sitting in the royal box, along with a few of the Great Masters, closest to the upcoming action, while Daario acts as the royal protector and a century of Unsullied keep vigil over the proceedings more as an honour guard than a show of military force. Although the spectators seem to be overjoyed at the upcoming circus, Dany's grieved expression says it all. It is not for her they cheer, but for their mortal art.

Hizdahr arrives slightly late to take his place at his betrothed's right hand side, as he has been putting the finishing touches on the day's events. The crowd applauds as the preliminaries round down and the Master of Ceremony marches out to the centre of the arena to announce the opening events. He bows to the couple then quietens the masses with a sweeping gesture and a presentation.

Each fighter steps forward to salute her highness, the first a smaller man of Lhazar with a short sword and buckler. The second a hulking Ghiscari with a double-edged headtaker. After the obeisances have been given the wind is all that can be heard as the masses look to their ruler for her acknowledgement. Hizdahr lets Dany sit in silent discomfort for a few seconds before telling her what he should have told her beforehand. She has to initiate the bloodshed with a symbol of acceptance and approval. Though reticent, we can see the fact that Dany has to give her explicit blessing to the entertainment is clearly another compromise she doesn't want to make for the sake of peace. But she knows her duty too and claps once through the silence.

The action kicks off and her people are pleased. The two fighters make a real show of near misses and clean dodges, until the Lhazareen gets a glancing cut on the thick meat on the big guy's shoulder blades.

KA-SPLUTCH! The smaller fighter's head is taken clean off with one swipe from the larger man. Daario is bummed while Hizdahr preens like a cat who caught the canary, until he notices Tyrion twitching at the gory display. The exiled Lord of Lannister does not think much of death as a leisure activity, especially when there's enough of it in the world as is. Hizdahr counters with some Machiavellian truth bombs, to which both Dany and Tyrion seem to be tired of dealing with; the world may be that way, but that should not stop idealists from trying to change it; even if the result is simply making people less cruel instead of good. Hizdahr reiterates that Meereen's bloody rituals are what has kept the city standing since the fall of the Old Empire and what will keep it standing long after they all are dead; Tyrion despairs of having Dany married to a man who's as pointlessly concerned with legacy as Tywin was.

The Master of Ceremony enters as the blood has been cleaned up from the last round to announce a free-for-all with six fighters from all over the world. We see a Meereenese spear-man in intricate bronze plated armour, (the fan favourite obviously), a Dothraki screamer utilizing an arakh, a Braavosi water dancer with his Bravo's blade, a sable-skined warrior priest of Norvos carrying his order's long-axe and a large half naked wild-man from Sothoryos, armed with cleaver and round shield — But all this while, Dany has nearly reached her limit as the peacemaker of this ass-backwards society.

A Westerosi knight appears. It's Jorah.

Clad in leather embossed fiber armour and wielding a longsword, stands in the sand at the end of the line of gladiators; resigning himself to whatever his fate may be so long as he can be near her. Dany is clearly distraught once the shock of seeing him again in such a place evaporates. Daario forbids Hizdahr from interfering and Dany, though hesitating, steels herself and gives the go ahead for the match to begin. Jorah gives her the nod of approval, Tyrion is worried while Daario seems impressed at his Queen's mettle and Dany quickly segues from regal aloofness to My God, What Have I Done? as the fighters warm up and spread out into three, two man skirmishes.

The Norvoshi makes for the Northman and thrusts his axe at Jorah's head, the knight side-steps, ducks a transition swing and tries for a crescent-moon roundhouse cut. The priest catches the blade on the fire-hardened wooden haft, turns two more overhead cuts from Jorah and tries a half-turn maneuver of his own, driving the butt of his long-axe into Jorah's groin. Mormont is able to deflect the reverse grip blade of the priest's follow-up attack with his gauntlet, but the priest allows the rebound to swing the end of the handle across the knight's face, smashing his lips and gums open and downing him in the sand. Much to Dany's barely concealed consternation. The axeman grandstands to the crowd, giving Jorah just enough recovery time to shake off his concussion and deflect the finishing chop, before kicking the priest in the back of the knee and bringing him down. Mormont tries for a sword plant but the priest dodges and sweeps the stuck blade with a low swing, sending Jorah tumbling as his sword spins away. Jorah comes up on his knees and draws a diamond-shaped dirk from his boot; the priest closes, but Jorah has the advantage on the inside, nearly slicing the gladiator's wrist open with a surprise slash and disarming him in turn. The priest seizes Jorah's knife-hand while punching him in the face with his left, the bear has a granite jaw though, so he tries to choke Jorah out with one hand while controlling the blade by the grip on his wrist, even as the Dothraki is stabbed through the spine by the water dancer and the edge shoved up and down within before being yanked out. Jorah stomps his opponent's knee-cap down, pulls free from his grip and shanks the priest in the heart as he's on his knees, spurting a good deal of blood from his aorta, much to the crowd's grisly delight.

Jorah looks up at Daenerys, clearly dedicating the kill to her before casting aside his side weapon and picking up his sword. The water dancer confronts him, wiping the Dothraki's crimson off of his rapier with his own belt sash, before performing some fancy katas and a foil point to the exile. The knight is only too glad to oblige. Jorah is an excellent fighter, but only a middling fencer, it takes merely one parry and two weaves for the Bravo to nearly take Jorah's left eye out, Mormont is fast enough to escape the counter with a shallow graze to the cheek. Though this does little to stop Dany's mounting terror. Jorah's next blows come no closer to hitting his opponent than before and the water dancer scores a line on his thigh before rolling under and away from Jorah's return cut and an economical jab to the stomach that only partially pierces Jorah's armour when the knight telegraphs his swing too early.

Meanwhile the Meereenese champion has toyed with the barbarian long enough for the crowd's amusement, staff-thumping him in the solar plexus, opening up a deep gash on his torso with a languid side-shift, then pulling off an Achilles-worthy leap downwards stab move that pierces the shaggy-haired fighter to the arena floor.

The Loyal Bear lasts three more parries before the Bravo slams the pommel of his rapier into the already split skin of Jorah's cheekbone, staggering him back. Jorah puts his all into the next sequence, a steel song five kisses long against a water dancer of such high calibre is nothing to be sneered at. But the Bravo's finesse overcomes even Jorah's chivalric combat-boost and he slices the northern knight's right upper arm with an angle switch on the sixth parry, blossoming a bright patch of red through Mormont's shirt and bringing him to his knees before slashing him across the torso; the blunted force of the blow casting Jorah down on his front to taste dry dust and shattered dreams.

Daenerys is rapidly losing composure as a winded and bloodied Jorah rolls on his back to be met with the water dancer holding his life at the pointy end. Mormont doesn't seem to care, he'd rather look beseechingly to the girl he's served and serves still. However, he's not asking for mercy; merely recognition. Tyrion tells Dany that she can end the fight and save Jorah but Hizdahr rebukes him, how will the populace take it if their Queen denies them blood? Dany is too conflicted to make a decision either way and as the water dancer prepares to skewer Jorah he himself is run through from behind by the Meereenese champion's spear. And Dany stops holding her breath, solace renewed though still under assault.

Jorah rises, retrieves his sword and acknowledges the spear-man's timely rescue, (though it was definitely for selfish reasons: out of the two, the champion would rather fight the middle-aged knight than the spry Bravo in his prime).

The Meereenese champion keeps Jorah at bay with some spinning antics, which Mormont deflects and ducks then tries to take the spear-man's head off, but his opponent dodges as well and tries to execute an under axilla throw with the shaft of his spear, to which Mormont grapples with him, trying to shoulder-barge the younger man to the ground while locking his longer reach down. The spear-man is the one to break the clinch, trapping Jorah's sword arm up close then releasing the tension, causing Jorah to land on his back once more. He goes for the kill but the knight seizes the grip below the spear head and stops it in its tracks before it pierces his cuirass, then kicks the champion away and makes his quickest recovery yet; much to the mob's displeasure. The spear-man laughs at Jorah's doggedness, taunts him in a foreign tongue and makes a showy spin of his spear and Jorah invokes a younger man's game, unexpectedly combat rolling under the champion's hasty flailing attack and nailing the overconfident bastard through his own soft metal armour with a single puncturing thrust.

Meereen's multitudes are not happy with Jorah the Explorer being the last man standing and they boo the victor rather uncharitably, though a foreigner showing up one of your best guys on home turf is rather depressing; especially at the opening of your country's major sports event, regardless of time or place it would seem. Dany has to conceal her gladness but Jorah ain't lookin' none too happy, he picks up the dying champion's spear and readies it to hurl at the royal box! Daario covers his Queen with his own body, forcing her aside and Hizdahr is left to fling himself to safety as Jorah lets fly with the javelin, it passes between the betroth-eds and impales an assassin making for Dany, a Great Master who was sitting inside Dany's inner-circle and thus not watched by the Unsullied.

He's wearing a defaced gold-painted Harpy mask.

Dany looks back to Jorah with a mixture of astonishment, gratitude and fear. All of which are well-founded, as Daario draws his arakh he looks up into the nearest seats and they are teeming with the Sons of the Harpy, both the rich and the poor, who've donned their masks during the confusion and carry enough shivs between them to challenge the Aryan Brotherhood. "PROTECT YOUR QUEEN!" Daario bellows to her immediate guards as the insurgents drive the admittedly many more, (but completely unarmed), of Dany's loyal subjects into a frenzy as they indiscriminately knife anyone they can get their hands on. The stands are so overrun with chaos that most of the eunuch warriors cannot reach their mistress and are pushed back by the panicked crowd while what few that remain separate from their comrades are quickly blind-sided and back-stabbed but Dany's lover kills any that dare try to approach the royal box for a crack at their main target, hacking down at least two with his curved blade.

Hizdahr loses his nerve, or maybe he gains it? We'll never find out as he rushes out from the protective cordon, ostensibly to lead Dany to safety. He doesn't get very far once three Harpies jump on him and shiv him a good dozen times. At least Daario has the grace to look a little guilty for suspecting the poor man of being the Head Harpy. But in the end, he must have had some connections to the shadow organization, or else the attacks wouldn't have stopped after his engagement to Dany... As Hizdahr is turned into a fleshy sieve, two Harpies manage to nearly reach Daenerys but not before Daario unseams one from brains to balls and is rewarded by Jorah for that save he gave him all the way back in Yunkai two Seasons ago: when the knight dispatches the one that could have taken him from behind. Daario silently acknowledges Jorah and the man of the hour steps up to his Queen and offers her his strength one more time. Daenerys understandably can't quite comprehend the sheer level of devotion and unconditional love Jorah has for her after her short lifetime of betrayal and mistrust, (especially where pushy Book!Jorah is concerned), but Jesus Christ Ian stop looking so goddamn earnest and adorable! The Last Dragon willingly reunites with her Loyal Bear and all is right in the world. Well, not yet. Jorah escorts her to the lip of the stands with Daario and six Unsullied in tow while Hizdahr bleeds out on the boards like a stuck pig.

But they've left Tyrion and Missandei behind! The Imp grabs up a dagger from one of the fallen Harpies just as one of Meereen's brave patriots corners the girl from Naath. Tyrion cuts his hamstring sinews, bringing him down to his level, then splits his spinal cord at the base of his skull with a single cut. Damn, son! Tyrion quickly takes Missandei in hand as the group escapes, with Dany being lowered down to the arena floor.

The Queen and her bodyguards make for the closest exit from the ring but the Harpies shut and lock the heavy wooden doors from the other side and trap them as Mormont slams into it. A wild Harpy appears! Daario flings Dany behind him but Jorah is the one who makes mince-meat of the attacker. "The other side. Follow me!" Daario advocates and the trio quickly join up with Missandei, Tyrion and as many Unsullied as have managed to reach them, which is only a dozen. They make their way at a brisk run across the arena but are brought up short in horror as scores and scores of the fanatics rush from that entrance and overflow the lower seats as they surround the small band.

They are only fourteen against nearly a hundred.

Jorah and Daario fill their off-hands with dirk and stiletto respectively as they take up battle stances, guarding the three non-combatants.

The Unsullied form a protective phalanx and the cowards are unwilling to rush the formation as one, leading to nearly twenty of their number dying at the combined hands of the defenders while only one of Dany's soldiers is slain in return. Tyrion is nearly crushed by a falling body and one Harpy comes within inches of driving his blade into Dany's back before Daario eviscerates him. Even with all the skill in their favour, their hopes of winning are futile, there are always more to take the place of those who fall and even the sellsword captain will eventually tire. Daenerys realises this and holds hands with Missandei, consigning herself to the end with nobility and reserve...

A roaring screech shatters the warm air, causing all to look up and for the harpies to quail in fear. Daenerys's gaze is drawn to the upper ledge of the pit as a great wave of dragon-flame burst over the rim of the open air Colosseum and Drogon blazes through it unharmed, for he is fire made flesh as he dive-bombs into the pit.

Daenerys is overjoyed, Tyrion gobsmacked. The black and red dragon with a combined wingspan of forty-feet makes a circuit of the stands and nearly half of the Harpies present break and run for their miserable lives as Drogon, with four reverse flaps, slows his descent and crushes two of the terrorists under his hind legs, before letting out his best T-Rex impression. From Dany's expression, we know badassery is about to go down.

One maddened Harpy charges for Daenerys but her two human protectors don't have time to confront him as Drogon takes that responsibility for himself, his serpentine neck rears back before he snaps up the man in his jaws and turns him into giblets with a few whipping motions of his mighty jaws. As the torn pieces land amid their compatriots, more Harpies wisely decide to live and murder another day. Drogon billows a great tongue of flame into a group of them, melting the flesh from their bones in seconds. He indiscriminately pours another breath attack into the next closest clustering, even killing one of the embattled Unsullied as he sweeps his head over the perimeter, immolating dozens.

His blazing stream is abruptly cut off when some of the fools decide to try and become the stuff of legend and hurl spears at the beast. One takes Drogon between the frills on the left side of his neck but this only enrages him, causing him to wheel and unleash the longest torrent yet, crisping his attackers and a couple of Meereen's citizens who took the now unenviable option of staying to watch the show.

Another spear sinks into the flesh of Drogon's right shoulder, both his vestigial arms are skinned and weeping from a storm of spears raining down on him and even as the first spear falls from his wound, one is thrust a quarter of its length into the right side of the dragon's throat. Daenerys can both see and feel his suffering as one. The adolescent snaps another's back with a single bite and lashes out with his tail, causing the Harpies to retreat momentarily.

Dany sees her chance and walks calmly through the mayhem towards the feral animal, as Jorah and Daario cut down those who would harm her. She closes with her largest son, takes hold of the spear in both hands and rips it out. Drogon whirls on her.

Courage beyond measure is what's needed here and Drogon is brought up short as his mother stands firm before his pain and fury. Even through his blood-lust he recognises the being that brought him back into the world at the cost of her husband, son and people and calms himself in her presence. Dany reaches up to touch and soothe him but a Harpy spoils the tender moment by jabbing the dragon with his spear, one gets ready to throw his own but Daario flings his stiletto into the douche's chest and the newly furious creature of myth shields Dany with his flank, yet he is unwilling to go anywhere as long as she is in danger, even as a hole is punched in his right wing.

Dany has another of her patented epiphanies and begins to clamber onto Drogon's back from his hind legs as Jorah watches in astonishment. The girl pulls herself along her child's torso, using his spinal spikes as hand holds and settles in at the smooth hollow of his neck, almost lying flat. She quietens his rage with a gentle touch and utters one phrase.

Daenerys: Valahd. note 

Drogon shakes off his injuries and starts lumbering across the arena; friends and foe alike dive out of the way as the scarlet and black dragon picks up speed. Dany exchanges one half-terrified look with Tyrion as they pass and the Harpies flee en masse, swathes of sand are kicked up by Drogon's wings and he coils down with all his incredible strength.

In several short bounds Daenerys Targaryen inherits the spirit of her ancestors, becoming a rider of dragons for the very first time as she is lifted from the earth, mounted on Drogon's back as he gathers his feet, cracks his tail and launches upwards into the clear sky. She is carried higher and higher around the stands before cresting over and into the city and Drogon doesn't stop there; as he and his rider disappear into the blue and Dany's allies gather to watch the magnificent sight. Tyrion stands at the forefront, perhaps now a believer that kindness can be used to make a better world. Especially when it's backed up by something like that.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Hizdahr, unlike his book counterpart, clearly has much less to do with the Sons of the Harpy and was perhaps only involved with them peripherally to make peace on both sides. If so, his neutrality costs him. As he dies while trying to help Daenerys escape.
    • Alliser Thorne supports Jon despite not agreeing with him. In the book, he's given no such Hidden Depths (wouldn't have the opportunity either, since Jon's sent him on a ranging).
    • Drogon gets this as well. His book counterpart flies in to the fighting pits to gorge on a dead fighter and roasts several bystanders, before Dany whips him into submission. He also burns Dany as well in anger (but she is fireproof) and only then does she get on board and they fly off. Here, he's a Big Damn Hero who saves her from the Sons of the Harpy and the only people he roasts are clear Asshole Victims.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Jon Snow and the wildlings left Hardhome by ship at the end of the preceding episode - the ships simply disappear in this episode, and they're presented as marching back to the front gate of Castle Black - in the middle of the continent, far away from the coasts, without explanation. Jon didn't personally go to Hardhome in the novels but he did send an expedition there; any ships returning from Hardhome could just sail around the Wall to the southern side, to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Dany's interaction with Drogon is much more active and heroic in the books, where she whips a dragon, here she's surrounded and overwhelmed seemingly reconciling herself to inevitable death before Drogon arrives to carry her away.
  • Adult Fear: Despite her Parental Neglect towards Shireen and her adamant faith in the Lord of Light, being forced to watch Shireen burn at the stake was one step too far for Selyse, who breaks down and tries to free her.
  • Ambition Is Evil: According to Benioff, when Stannis has to choose between family and ambition, he chooses ambition.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: More like an argument than a single question, but it boils down to Hizdahr asking Dany whether she thinks the pit fighters (who she claims to be fighting for,) have no ability to know their own minds and make their own judgements about what they're willing to die for. As is frequently the case with this trope, Dany is unable to directly answer or refute it, though Tyrion gives a Shut Up, Hannibal! himself (while not actually saying he disagrees with Hizdahr).
  • Apologetic Attacker: Stannis asks Shireen to forgive him for what he's going to do.
  • Arrogant Water Dancing Guy: The Braavosi Water Dancer is very good - he effortlessly dispatches his first opponent and has little trouble repeatedly wounding, disarming and knocking down Jorah Mormont. But he cannot resist making a show out of finishing the knight, when there's another combatant still standing, who is a Combat Pragmatist and skewers the flaunting prick from behind. The Mereneese fighter who stabbed him even allows Jorah to get up before fighting because he knows how to please the crowd and he is confident that the old knight is no match for him, that doesn't go well for him either.
  • Badass Baritone: Mace Tyrell is shown as more competent and assertive than usual, and after he successfully renegotiates the loan terms with the stern Iron Bank, he shows off his certainly impressive voice with a folk song in the streets of Braavos. Even the Lannister mooks Cersei assigned to guard him are impressed.
    Meryn Trant: Thought that old shit would never stop singing!
    Lannister guardsman: Wasn't bad, though.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Lord Commander Snow arrives at the Wall with thousands of wildlings in tow, First Ranger Thorne overlooks them, and for several moments it looks like the known wildling hater will deny them entry or fire upon them. To Jon's relief, he opens the gate for them.
    • Hizdahr arrives a bit late for the opening of the Great Games, telling Dany that he was "just making sure everything was in order". Since the pre-released shots already showed the pit getting flooded with Sons of the Harpy, this sounded very suspicious. Turns out they didn't like him very much either.
    • Has Jorah finally tired of his eternal purgatory in the friend-zone and caught a case of if I can't have you, khaleesi, no-one can? Nope, his loyalty to Dany is made of steel not pudding.
    • It looks like Arya will carry out her assassination of the thin man this episode, but her attention is diverted to Ser Meryn Trant in the process, who is on her personal hit list. She spends the episode instead tailing him and trying to poison him instead.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: A realistic variant. Jorah catches a spear by the top of the wooden shaft as it's thrust at his chest.
  • Backhanded Compliment: From Tyrion to Hizdahr:
    "My father would have liked you."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Shireen adamantly tells her father that she wants to help. Too bad she didn't know that it meant burning her alive.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Selyse has been abusive and neglectful toward her daughter for the entire series, but its only as Shireen burns to death that Selyse finally feels motherly love toward her. Her Mama Bear instincts kicked in far too late.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Daenerys requires two:
  • Black and Gray Morality: The conflict in the North is now between the Boltons, a House of Les Collaborateurs, whose patriarch and heir are both psychopathic rapists and torturers and who flay enemies and innocents inside-out, and Stannis, a Well-Intentioned Extremist who recognizes the White Walkers as the true threat and ultimately takes the drastic action to sacrifice his own daughter to court the, admittedly real, magic powers of the Red God.
  • Blood Magic: Shireen was sacrificed as part of Melisandre's rituals involving "king's blood".
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The episode ends with Dany escaping on Drogon, but her court is left surrounded by Sons of the Harpy in the middle of the arena with no apparent way out. (Though you do see the remaining Sons of the Harpy, quite understandably, run for the hills when Daenerys begins to take off.)
  • Broken Aesop: In an interview on the topic of Shireen, Dan Weiss brought up Nominal Importance and A Million Is a Statistic, stating that, "Instead of saying 'How could you do this to somebody you know and care about?' maybe when it's happening to somebody we don't know so well, maybe then it should hit us all a bit harder." Remember a few episodes back when Daenerys, whom many intelligent characters shower with praise and hold up as the one hope for peace and justice in Westeros, arbitrarily fed an unnamed man to her dragons just to Make an Example of Them?
  • The Bus Came Back: Mace Tyrell and Ser Meryn Trant finally arrive in Braavos.
  • Cock Fight: A verbal one between Hizdahr and Daario. Hizdahr tries to explain the other man how the scenario in fighting pits usually goes, while Daario ridicules him by pointing out that as a Meereenese noble, Hizdahr has never taken part in the fighting himself, while Daario has. All this while making some killer moves with his stilleto right next to the obviously uncomfortable noble, with an equally exhilarated Dany watching the interplay amusedly. Meanwhile, the big guy in the arena cuts the other warrior's head off, proving a smug Hizdahr right and shutting Daario down.
  • Cold Equation: Stannis is faced with one, either he, his army, his wife and Shireen all die in the cold winter after their supplies have run out (though he could have sent Shireen back with Davos), or he can rely on Melisandre's magic powers (which he knows, and which viewers know, are very real) and make the ultimate Sadistic Choice.
  • Composite Character: Hizdahr's speech about suffering and abuse being necessary for greatness comes from Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who visits Meereen and meets Daenerys in A Dance with Dragons
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: The Braavosi Water Dancer gets speared In the Back by the Meereenese champion just as he's about to give Jorah the Coup de Grâce.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Doran Martell asks Jaime why he didn't just send a raven to ask about Myrcella or come see him personally. Had they done so he would have sent Myrcella and Trystane to King's Landing, keeping Myrcella safe from the Sand Snakes and strengthening Dorne's relations with the Crown. Justified, in that Jaime and Cersei had received an obviously threatening message (Myrcella's necklace in the jaws of a snake,) and they had no way of knowing it hadn't been sent by Doran.
  • Curb-Stomp Cushion: The Sons of the Harpy ultimately have no chance against a freaking adolescent dragon, but they still manage to hit Drogon with their spears several times and tear a hole in his wing, giving the impression that a Death By A Thousand Cuts is not that unlikely. In the novels...  
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation: Shireen and Ser Davos promise to read about the Dance of the Dragons when he returns from Castle Black. Sadly, it's the last time Davos sees Shireen alive.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Hizdahr, killed by the faction he's thought to lead in the books.
    • Shireen too, burned alive for the king's blood in her veins.
  • Death by Irony: After spending most of his screen-time trying to convince Dany how great Meereen is and how the majority of his fellow nobles want peace, Hizdahr is murdered by patriotic Meereenese fanatics.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Shireen has been getting a lot of focus this season, and the cause is abundantly clear.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The head of the first pit fighter slain is held up to the crowd as his body is dragged off.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Both Stannis and Selyse reach this point when Shireen dies. Selyse has a Villainous Breakdown, while Stannis just stands there as if he were dead inside.
  • The Determinator: Even with some pretty nasty scrapes from the Great Games and fully expecting no gratitude for his combat showing, Jorah still will stop at absolutely nothing to protect Daenerys when she's menaced by a Son of the Harpy.
  • Die or Fly: Somewhat literally. When Drogon lands in the great pit and begins fighting with the Sons of the Harpy, Daenerys climbs onto his back and beckons him to take off and escape the Harpies' spears. She succeeds at becoming a Dragon Rider in this life-or-death situation despite never having tried this before.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Melisandre, in contrast to everybody else who ranges from sickened to distraught, lights Shireen's pyre with barely a flicker. The only reassurance she gives to the girl is that it will be all over soon.
  • Double Entendre
    Arya: Oysters, clams and cock—
    Leering dockworker: How much for your little clam?
    • Daario leaning close to Dany and talking of "making his beast faces" probably counts.
  • Dragon Rider: Dany cements her bond with Drogon by mounting him and escaping from Daznak's Pit on his back.
  • Dramatic Irony: Apparently word travels slow between King's Landing and Dorne. Prince Doran's and Jaime's political arrangement rests on Cersei still being in power and the Small Council being under her thumb, which the audience knows is no longer true.
  • Ephebophile: It's ambiguous how old Ser Meryn's choice of escort is, but given how he rejects all the of-age escorts as "too old", it looks like this or plain old pedophilia.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Selyse never cared for her daughter, yet even she is horrified by the prospects of burning her alive and tries to save her. The reaction shots also show that Stannis's soldiers are none too happy about the atrocity they are witnessing or enabling.
    • The Lannister soldiers accompanying Ser Meryn Trant in the brothel are clearly disturbed by his depraved tastes. Even the Brothel Mistress herself is taken aback when Trant's desires become clear. It's implied that her harassment of Arya moments later is an attempt to drive her away from the obvious pedophile.
  • Excuse Me, Coming Through!: Friends and enemies alike get the hell out of the way when Drogon starts his takeoff run.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When it looks like Team Dany is outnumbered and about to die in the fighting pit, Daenerys holds Missandrei's hand and closes her eyes to calmly accept her fate.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • The Braavosi swordsman is busy making a show out of killing Jorah and forgets that there are other gladiators still in the fight. Thus he fails to see the Meereenese spearman coming up behind him and gets a spear in the back as a result.
    • It's jarring how Daenerys' Unsullied, Second Sons and her Dothraki bloodriders failed to notice the tarnished gold-masked Harpy attempting to assassinate her, as well as the dozens of Harpies in the crowd.
    • Discussed: Stannis believes his guards must have been either collaborators or asleep to allow the camp to be infiltrated and burned.
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: The Braavosi brothel becomes a medieval version as no girl is even topless, just some Bare Your Midriff outfits. This is because labor laws forbid underage actors, such as Maisie Williams, to be in sets with nude or semi-nude performers.
  • Fan of the Underdog: Daario roots for the scrawny-looking fighters during duels to the death, since he himself used to be the underdog and learned how to make Fragile Speedster work in his favor. Tyrion briefly remarks that he roots for the little guy too, for obvious reasons.
  • Finish Him!: Subverted; the Braavosi fighter has Jorah on his back in the area and looks to the queen, clearly expecting this trope. He waits too long however, and gets a spear in the back.
  • Foil: Trystane acts as one retroactively to Joffrey. Doran asks Jaime how they treats commoners who strike Crown Princes at Kings Landing and then says Trystane can choose what to do with Bronn who attacked him. Jaime has an Oh, Crap! moment, as he and the audience are reminded of all the times Joffrey has his subjects killed or tortured, going back to the show's second episode when Joffrey hunted down the butcher's boy for attacking him. Trystane comments he's learned mercy from his father and frees Bronn with nothing more than a punch in the face.
    • The exchange also contrasts Doran (who has raised his son to be a good, fair ruler and clearly has a good relationship with him) and Jaime (whose oldest son was a psychopath and was distant from him - albeit because he couldn't reveal himself as his father). Doran seems to be using the difference as a Take That! at Jaime.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: In-universe, Jorah is the "bad guy" in the fighting pits event, since the fight is between him (a Westerosi knight) and a Meereeneese champion. The Meereeneese crowd predictably cheers when things look bad for Jorah and boos when he ends up winning.
  • Fragile Speedster: Discussed along with Mighty Glacier, as the first event is a quick, lightly-armored man versus a larger, stronger, presumed-slower one. Hizdahr, having overseen these events for years has seen the big man win more often. Daario objects, saying from his own experience the faster man is the underdog, and nobody expects underdogs to win until they do. He is promptly shut up by the current Fragile Speedster having his head sliced off.
  • Gilligan Cut: The first match at Daznak's Pit is between a Mighty Glacier and a Fragile Speedster. Daario launches into a lengthy diagnosis of the match-up, explaining how people always bet against him when he was a pit fighter because he was small, and that small men are not to be underestimated... then the camera cuts back to the action, where the big man decapitates the smaller one in a single blow.
  • Girlish Pigtails: The third prostitute shown to Ser Meryn, Anara, sports a pair of braided pigtails.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The establishing shots of Daznik's Pit shows Unsullied and Second Sons on guard duty throughout the arena. Either nobody noticed the Sons of the Harpy donning their masks or they failed to raise the alarm until one of them got within striking distance of their queen.
  • Gunship Rescue: As Daenerys, Daario, Tyrion, Missandei, Jorah, Grey Worm and a few Unsullied are cornered by the Sons of the Harpy in the pits of Meereen, Drogon shows up in all his fiery glory. He then roasts or eats a few of the Sons of the Harpy before taking Daenerys on his back and flying away with her.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One of the Sons of the Harpy (either trying to charge at Daenerys or run for his life) suffers this when Drogon grabs him by the neck and shakes the luckless wretch until his body comes apart in the dragon's jaws.
  • Heel Realization: Selyse upon realizing what a mistake burning Shireen is too late to save her daughter. Her subsequent Villainous Breakdown is understandable.
  • Held Gaze: In the midst of the chaos, Jorah and Daenerys share one, which also seems to serve as a silent reconciliation.
  • Hidden Depths: Mace's attempts to cozy up to Tycho Nestoris are actually pretty good and might have worked on somebody less stoic. His singing is quite impressive as well.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Ramsay's raiding party manages to set several of Stannis's tents on fire, burn the food supplies, and sabotage their weapons store before riding away.
  • Holding Hands: Danearys and Missandei as they prepare for death.
  • Hypocrite: Ser Meryn Trant despised Renly for being a deviant for his homosexuality, despite being a pedophile himself.
  • Human Sacrifice: Shireen is sacrificed to the Red God.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Mace Tyrell is completely oblivious of Tycho's insistence of returning to work and bursts into singing instead.
  • Ironic Echo: This time, it's Shireen telling Stannis a story, and she even repeats what he told her at Castle Black. "I'm the princess Shireen of House Baratheon. And I am your daughter."
  • Irony: A few episodes ago, Daario suggested to Dany that she use the Great Games as cover to get all her enemies in one place and kill them all. Turns out the Sons of the Harpy had exactly the same idea.
  • It's All My Fault: Jon blames himself for all the wildlings that died. Even though, as Sam points out, he's the only reason any of them survived in the first place.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: A distraught Ellaria kisses Doran's ring finger in a sign of submission.
  • I Want My Mommy!: While being burned alive, Shireen is screaming for her parents. Till her final breath, she cannot believe her father would let her be sacrificed.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While he is a homophobic, thuggish paedophile, Meryn Trent is right that the Tyrells are traitors for having supported Renly.
    Meryn Trant: The Tyrells can all rot in hell! Treasonous cunts! They were going to make that boy-fucker Renly King!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ser Alliser tells Jon in a sympathetic tone that he has a good heart. Thorne being Thorne, he then has to add that it'll get them all killed. To his credit, Alliser also passes on the opportunity to betray Jon and the survivors from Hardhome.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Up to this point, while Stannis has performed morally dubious actions in the name of his right to the throne note . Despite this, he was always just to those who were loyal to him and the faith of the Red God. This is what makes Shireen's fate all the more tragic.
  • Just Following Orders: For once we hear this argument from the one giving orders instead of following them: Jaime asks Bronn to be spared, since he only struck Trystane following his own orders.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • As if Meryn Trant needed another one. He continuously dismisses the escorts until they bring him a very young teenage girl. And then tops it by demanding "a fresh one tomorrow."
    • Melisandre keeps her typical exalted serenity as Shireen burns, and doesn't even pay attention to Selyse. At least Stannis is shown to be distraught by the choice he has done.
  • Kill the Cutie: Princess Shireen, possibly the most pure-hearted character in the show, is killed as a sacrifice to the Red God.
  • Kill the Ones You Love:
  • Kneel Before Zod: Prince Doran demands that Ellaria kneel and kiss his ring to demonstrate her loyalty, effectively crushing her short rebellion. He warns that while he believes in second chances, he doesn't believe in third chances.
  • Large Ham: The announcer at Daznak's Pit is even hammier than one would expect for someone with his profession. Where it's practically a prerequisite.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Davos's appreciation for Shireen goes beyond friendship, which is underscored by Davos reminiscing about Mathos with her.
  • Man on Fire: Drogon roasts not only the Sons of the Harpy, but some innocent bystanders and Unsullied who happen to be in range of his built-in flamethrower.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Sons of the Harpy are clearly doing this when they hear Drogon.
  • Meaningful Look: The very subtle look of gratitude Dany gives Tyrion after Tyrion performs his Shut Up, Hannibal! on Hizdahr. In some respects the look is more meaningful in establishing their growing relationship than the meet cute between them in "Hardhome". It's easy to miss because of Jorah's sudden appearance in the ring a moment later.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the tragedy and horror of Shireen's sacrifice, we have a shot of a disturbed Stannis, overlaid with the cheering from Daznak's Pit and the opening of the Great Games.
  • Mook Chivalry :
    • The arena fighters miss several opportunities to finish off their opponents because they're showboating to the audience. Justified as being a crowd pleaser is the whole point.
    • In full force once the Sons of the Harpy have Dany and her group surrounded. Also justified: With the defenders bottled up, the only viable tactic for the Sons of the Harpy is to Back Stab an Unsullied while somebody distracts him by corpsifying himself on the soldier's weapons. Nonetheless, they hesitate for nearly a minute, giving Drogon a window of opportunity.
  • Ms Exposition: Shireen gives the audience some background on the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of Dragons when she talks about her book with Davos and Stannis.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Bronn is freed despite the fact he struck a prince of Dorne... after he gets elbowed in the face by the prince's bodyguard, making them even.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Selyse regrets her support of burning Shireen too late, and breaks down sobbing like a mother should as she watches it happen.
    • Stannis himself hates doing it, his eyes become a fixed Thousand-Yard Stare. He knows he's done something terrible that he will never forgive himself for.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong:
    • Alliser Thorne has a perfect opportunity to leave Jon and the wildlings to die out in the cold and probably would have had few people arguing against him in the Wall, yet he still obeys his Lord Commander, though he doesn't exactly treat Jon with the warmest regards, saying that his good heart will get everyone killed.
    • Some of Stannis's men are clearly appalled by the burning of Shireen, but they watch it happen without interfering. Of course, they might be afraid for their own lives should they attempt to stop it.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Brea and Anara, the two last prostitutes shown to Meryn.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: For the previews of this episode, Prince Doran's quote "You can swear your allegiance to me now, or you can die" was implied to be addressed to Jaime. It turned out to be said to Ellaria.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Davos helping Gendry escape means that Shireen was the only sacrifice with King's blood available.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Presumably this is how Ellaria sees Prince Doran's toast of good faith between the Martells and the Lannisters. She pours her drink out on the ground in defiance instead of drinking it.
  • Non-Action Guy: Hizdahr. In contrast to Jorah, Daario and even Tyrion. He puts up no fight whatsoever against the Sons of the Harpy.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Lampshaded by Stannis, who is not a big fan of pretty names for ugly things. He bluntly asks Shireen why a continent-wide civil war would be called "The Dance of Dragons" when there was no dancing and in fact a lot of killing.
  • Not So Different: Hizdahr asks Dany why she thinks her vision of violence for the greater good is better than the violence and Gladiator Games of Daznak's Pit.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The general reaction of the Night's Watch members when Wun Wun arrives in the courtyard.
    • When Jorah is shown to have killed a Son of the Harpy, Dany and the other members of the royal viewing box look around, seeing the rebels everywhere in the stands now.
    • The Sons of the Harpy have this reaction when Drogon crashes their bloody party.
    • The Braavosi brothel madam is visibly disturbed when she realizes what Ser Meryn actually wants. Eventually she does get a very young girl for him from some back room, but unlike Littlefinger she really doesn't seem to like catering to such people's needs.
    • Shireen understandably reacts this way when she realizes that Melisandre wants to burn her, and then again when she realizes that her father won't help her.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Ramsay and his twenty merry men deliver a terrible blow to Stannis by burning the food stores and all the siege weapons. They go incognito so well that they are not even seen by the audience.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: This time Stannis sets aside his typical Brutal Honesty when talking with Shireen and even hugs her back much more intensely. Guess what happens later.
  • Out of the Inferno: Drogon does a pretty unique aerial variant, shooting out of a column of his own fire-breath as he crests over the upper bleachers of the Great Pit.
  • Overtook the Manga: This episode marks the official moment when this trope hits, as the showrunners were briefed on Shireen's sacrifice by Word of God. In the equivalent scene in the books, Stannis leaves Melisandre, Selye and Shireen at Castle Black and marches with his army alone to Winterfell. He tells his subordinates that Shireen would be his heir if anything should happen to him and they will follow her. If the incident occurs, it will happen in a chapter that has yet to be released.
  • Pædo Hunt: Meryn Trant's awfulness is highlighted by his scene in the brothel, where he continually turns away young women, saying "too old" until eventually he settles on one who seems to be in her teens, and even then he barely seems satisfied.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Trystane's reaction to Bronn getting walloped by Hotah on his orders is taking a deep sip from his cup.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After years of Parental Neglect, Selyse does try to save her daughter from being burnt. Too bad she gets stopped by the Queen's Men.
    • It's highly qualified, but Stannis sending Davos to Castle Black is definitely this. Stannis is probably being a Manipulative Bastard but he also knows that Davos would try and save Shireen, forcing him to kill his Only Friend, likewise he wanted to spare Davos from seeing Shireen die.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Meryn Trant badmouths Renly over his homosexuality and demeans him as a "boy-fucker", this is coming from an unrepentant pedophile.
  • The Quisling: Apparently, Hizdahr was this to Meereen's populace in the eyes of the Sons of the Harpy. He was killed just like a Targaryen loyalist during their coup.
  • Reaction Shot:
    • Jon Snow's brothers at Castle Black are not happy at all to see the wildlings arrive alive and in one piece. Jon also gets a Death Glare from Olly.
    • Jorah gives his queen a smouldering look of veneration when she gives the go-ahead for his Multi-Mook Melee to start and Dany has multiple ones of distress as she watches the more highly skilled pit fighters from around the world whittle Jorah down. It's quite clear that They Really Do Love Each Other is in full effect.
    • Although nearly everyone is shown gaping at Drogon, the camera emphasizes Tyrion in particular.
    • Dany gets another three: one that's nearly Tears of Joy when Drogon swoops down to the rescue, one of confidence as he lands and roars, scaring the majority of the Harpies away and one of anguish when he's hurt.
  • Reality Ensues: Jorah is a Badass but he is no Barristan, fighting against top tier pit fighter who are younger than him and he needs more time to rest before facing another opponent. It's thanks to luck and pragmatism that he survives as he is the only one who is too busy killing to showboat.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Prince Doran proves to be this. He releases Jaime Lannister as not to start a war with King's Landing. Although he's aware that some of his people are demanding it, he reasons that he does not want to make his people suffer over his family's personal vendetta. He also grants King Tommen's request to allow Myrcella to return on the condition that Trystane assumes Oberyn's position in the Small Council, which simultaneously keeps their betrothal intact and maintains some Dornish influence on the throne.
    • Both he and his son prove to be this. While initially going to execute Bronn since he was a commoner, Jaime convinced him that he was a soldier simply obeying his orders. Doran leaves the decision to his son. His son decides to spare him. But not without a good whack in the face.
  • Red Herring: Hizdahr is revealed to have been one all along, being completely unaffiliated with the Sons of the Harpy. A more specific example is his late arrival to the games because he's "making sure all preparations are complete" which sounds incredibly ominous... but it turns out he has nothing to do with the attack.
  • Sadistic Choice: How Stannis sees his predicament, or rather how he justifies it to himself and Shireen:
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Once Drogon starts roasting Sons of the Harpy in small groups at a time, some of the smarter ones just hightail it out of there.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Jaime clearly doesn't approve of Mycella's revealing Dornish dress.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Stannis's decision to sacrifice Shireen so as to win favor of the Gods for better weather is an echo of Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphigenia during The Trojan War. Enforced by some versions that involve a deer, which is also the symbol of House Baratheon.
    • The winning gladiator throwing his spear at the royal box recreates a moment from Spartacus.
  • Shoo the Dog: Stannis dispatches Davos to Castle Black, ostensibly to secure more supplies... and also to prevent him from interfering with Shireen's sacrifice.
  • Shoot the Dog: Princess Shireen Baratheon is burned at the stake by her father as a sacrifice to the Red God. A morally questionable act to say the least, but the only chance Stannis has of victory.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Tyrion gives Hizdahr an amazing one:
    Tyrion: You are an eloquent man. That doesn't mean you are wrong. I often find that eloquent men can be right as often as imbeciles.
  • Silence, You Fool!: When Dany realises Jorah is one of the contestants, she just stares at him in shock.
    Hizdahr: Your Grace—
    Daario: Shut your mouth.
  • Smug Smiler: Melisandre when Princess Shireen is burned alive.
    • Also Hizdahr after Daario's bragging about how speed beats strength in the fighting pits is abruptly proved wrong.
  • So Happy Together: Not a romantic example, but Shireen and Stannis share some time together, with Shireen reading The Dance of Dragons and Stannis listening to the stories she tells. She then says that she would do anything she could to help him, and repeats the encouraging words Stannis told her when they were at Castle Black. And then they hug. The scene is very similar to the one they had in "Sons of the Harpy"... and then Stannis whispers "Forgive me".
  • Sound-Only Death
    • Shireen screaming as the flames devour her.
    • Arya enters as Jaqen H'ghar is giving poison to a supplicant. As he questions her on the day's events, we hear the sound of a body hitting the floor.
  • Spider-Sense: Or Fire Sense in this case, when Melissandre senses the sabotage of their camp shortly before it happens.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Coupled with Improbable Aiming Skills when Jorah throws his spear seemingly at Dany... but hits a Son of the Harpy about to assassinate her from right behind. He's several floors below her and very far away at the time.
  • Swiss Cheese Security:
    • Never mind the fact that seemingly every other member of the audience is a Son of the Harpy, one of the Sons manages to get directly behind the Queen with a knife while wearing their distinctive mask. The only one to notice him is the guy actively fighting for his life in the pit.
    • Stannis will have a word with the guards who let 20 men ride into his camp and burn it without sounding the alarm. Either they fell asleep or they conspired with the enemy. They'll hang either way.
  • Take That!: During the above mentioned exchange where Trystane shows mercy to Bronn for attacking him, Doran pointedly asks Jaime how Kings Landing treats commoners who strike the Crown Prince. Jaime has no come back for what's clearly a dig both at the abuse of the lower classes in the capital and at Jaime's own family's renowned cruelty.
  • The Teetotaler: Either Tycho Nestoris doesn't drink or he pretends not to, which renders Mace Tyrell's friendly gesture of fine wine a Bribe Backfire.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Stannis has one of these once Shireen stops screaming.
  • Title Drop: The historical Dance of Dragons is brought up by Princess Shireen, who gives exposition by way of telling Davos and Stannis about the titular book she's reading.
  • Troll: Daario makes sure his queen's intended is as uncomfortable as possible, permanently sticking his head between the two of them to comment on the fights, as well as overtly pointing a knife at his throat.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Jorah uses one to get under the spear thrust of the last fighter. It succeeds, enabling Jorah to get close enough to make the kill, so you could say it was a necessary combat roll.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Despite her fanaticism, Selyse can't hold the sight of Shireen being burned and tries to free her, only to break down in tears and collapse to the ground as the soldiers restrain her.
  • War Is Hell: Why Prince Doran doesn't believe in going to war unless it's a very good reason. To him, his own family's vendettas do not justify countless people dying and suffering.
  • Weapon Twirling:
    • Daario does this with his Myrish stiletto to humiliate Hizdahr and entertain Dany.
    • Likewise the Braavosi that Ser Jorah fights, as per his Water Dance style of swordfighting.
  • Wham Episode: It's episode 9, did anyone expect anything different? Shireen gets burned alive, the Sons of the Harpy launch their main attack, Hizdahr is killed, Drogon interferes and escapes Meereen with Dany on his back.
  • Wham Line:
    • Wham shriek actually. Enter Drogon.
    • "Forgive me". That's the moment when it's made clear that Shireen's fate is sealed.
  • Wild Card: The Sons of Harpy. Up to this point, the viewer has been led to believe that they're the hired guns of Meereen's nobility, and that Dany reopening the fight pits would pacify them. Not only does this fail, but the Sons of Harpy start killing nobles as well. In the novels the Sons of the Harpy also target "shavepates", Meereenese that have accepted Dany's rule and thus are seen as Les Collaborateurs.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: When Jorah survives the fight in the arena, Dany quickly masks her look of concern for one of cold disapproval.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Ser Jorah has light leather armor in the arena instead of the plate he's trained to fight in, which his Water Dancer opponent is quick to exploit.
  • You Have Failed Me: After realizing his Swiss Cheese Security, Stannis says that when the guards on duty are confirmed on whether they're Les Collaborateurs or asleep on the job, to hang them.
  • You Remind Me of X: Hizdahr's talk of Meereen's great traditions uncomfortably remind Tyrion of his father, and not in a complimentary manner.


Example of: