Season 5, Episode 9: "The Dance of Dragons"
Last Week's Rankings: "Hardhome"
In the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. In that spirit, here’s your weekly look at who’s winning and who’s (slowly, painfully) dying.
Anytime a video gets made with LeBron's face superimposed over yours, flying in to the rescue and literally torching your adversaries, you probably won the week.
2. Ser Jorah Mormont
Redemption stories are few and far between in Game of Thrones, which is why it was so gratifying to see Khaleesi take the outstretched hand of our favorite Friend Zone champion. And even better for Jorah: Khaleesi's forgiveness arrived just moments after she found herself husbandless! Does anyone know if there's a Dothraki word for "Rebound?"
3. Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne
Is it too late to add Prince Doran into the Iron Throne sweepstakes? Let's recap the list of character traits he displayed last week: wisdom, patience, forgiveness, strength, sternness, mercy, positive parentage, teaching, restraint, humor, familial loyalty, and not too much familial loyalty. Other than working legs, what's this guy missing on his kingly resumé?
Oh right, it's because Dorne is a paradise and no one in their right mind would leave there for the awfulness that is King's Landing. Now I remember.
4. Arya's Death List
Everyone's been waiting for years for the chance to see Arya actually cross a name off her death list by her own causation. And now it might actually happen. And to align the Karma Gods even more perfectly, Ser Meryn Trant really went out of his way last week to show how wretched he is. The words "too old" have never sounded more disgusting. Especially when repeated several times. Arya, stick him with the pointy end. (Or give him poisoned oysters. That's cool too.)
Of course, because this is Game of Thrones, and Arya killing Ser Meryn seems like a sure thing for next episode, it probably won't happen.
5. Scene Placement
After ending Episode 6 with Sansa's wedding night rape three weeks ago, leaving the worst possible taste in viewers' mouths, It seems showrunners Benioff & Weiss have already learned their lesson. Sure, this episode may have had someone burning his own daughter at the stake, but that was wisely shuffled into the middle, and then, dragon! Yeah, we're suckers with shit memories.
Honorable Mention: Mace Tyrell & Ser Bronn of the Blackwater
Hey, it's two characters I was worried were goners, alive and well! And Mace was singing while Bronn was offered
1. Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon
As we saw earlier this season when Ser Barristan told Daenerys the happy story about her brother's singing, characters reciting happy stories has a tendency to be the last thing they do.
But even still, and despite all the not-at-all subtle hints of what was to come, expecting Game of Thrones to actually go through with it and have Stannis burn his daughter at the stake was something very few people had the necessary amount of pessimism to predict.
I don't even know what else to say here. We listened to a young girl screaming for her father while she was being burned to death, by her father, for what amounts to supernatural good luck. And we watched this in the name of entertainment. And then we promptly got over this a few minutes later, because we got to watch a dragon set people on fire. We. Are. The. Worst.
2. Hizdahr zo Loraq
First, he received the pointy end of Tyrion's legendary verbal barbs--"My father would have liked you"--and then he received the pointy end of actual blades. Do we know if he and Daenerys ever even consummated their marriage? This guy's married life was approximately 4% better than Joffrey's.
Two weeks ago, I joked about Shireen being one of that week's losers because of Melisandre's interest in her King's blood, and then last week I joked about how excited I was to see Ramsay attempt to go up against Stannis with "twenty good men."
So of course Ramsay's raid is so successful that it plunges Stannis into dire straits and he needs to actually access Shireen's King's blood. This is all my fault.
4. Stannis & Selyse Baratheon, Parents of the Year
Let's be serious, Game of Thrones has shown us some truly horrendous parenting over the years. From Cersei's molding of Joffrey, to Cat Stark's ruinous decision making, to Lysa's slightly overzealous breast-feeding, to Tywin's real talks with Tyrion, to Daenerys imprisoning her dragons, to Craster sacrificing his bastards to the White Walkers, to Balon Greyjoy convincing Theon to sac Winterfell, to at least a dozen other examples I'm forgetting, we probably thought we'd seen every possible example of the way a parent can ruin their child's life.
But we were wrong! We hadn't seen anyone burn their own child at the stake yet! So, ummm, I guess problem solved?
5. The Brothels of Braavos
Braavos has the worst brothel ever! Seriously, not only do they employ underage staff and hand them over to psychopaths, but this was the first brothel scene in the history of the show without any nudity! If any episode called for soothing-via-gratuitous-nudity, it was this one. Fail.
Honorable Mention: Ramsay Bolton
Okay, here's a semi-longshot prediction: Stannis is going to kill the shit out of Ramsay next week. See, this is what Game of Thrones does--it makes us want something intensely, and then it gives us that thing in a way that we regret wanting it in the first place. So we all want Ramsay dead, right? Yes, yes we do. So Thrones is going to give that to us. Stannis is going to tear through Winterfell and brutally execute Ramsay. But we'll always know that the cost of getting that was the good-luck-via-king's-blood that necessitated the death of Shireen.
So when you're happily cheering Ramsay's death in a few hours, first, remember that I predicted it, and second, remember that the cost was a young girl's cries of "Father, please!" while she was being burned to death.
Confirmed Kills: 8 + Dozens of Horses, Hundreds of Meereen Citizens and Sons of the Harpy, and the Soul of King Stannis Baratheon
Princess Shireen: burned to death, Hizdahr: stabbed to death, the quick one: decapitated, the five fighting pit competitors that weren't Jorah: impaled. And then lots and lots of horses and fighting pit crowd members, which cannot possibly be counted.
Season Death Tally: 65 + Thousands of Unnamed Wildlings, Dozens of Horses, and Hundreds of Citizens of Meereen and Sons of the Harpy