Return to Westeros: “The Dance of Dragons” Review

After last week’s better than expected episode, I have to say that I still held no hope whatsoever for this week’s Game of Thrones, and boy was I not disappointed! That’s the good thing about not getting your hopes up. With what Ace has foreshadowed for me in the next episode, I can safely say that I am ecstatic that this blog will not be reviewing the next season.

So what do we have in this episode? A bunch of plot events that seem incredibly unimportant, and the one that does—the situation at The Wall—I just don’t give a shit about. But let’s get into it before my distaste drips all over everything.

Game of Thrones Fighting PitWarnings for mentions of pedophilia and immolation under the cut.

In the North, Jon Snow shares a moment of sorrow because he couldn’t save enough people during the battle that occurred last episode. And while that un-enjoyable to watch asshole, Alliser Thorne, finally gives him a bit of respect, I fear that his words of Jon’s soft heart leading them all to their deaths is not far off from the truth. But who cares about the Night’s Watch when we can look at Stannis’s tortured army. After getting ambushed, the lot of them are left without much in the ways of supplies, protection, or transport. Davos becomes frustrated when Stannis refuses to move from their current location, but agrees to head off to Castle Black under Stannis’s orders, even without Shireen (as Davos wanted to take her along, away from the thick of battle, like a responsible adult). To further how cute the father-child relationship is between Davos and Shireen, he carves her a wooden stag before he heads off, and thanks her for all she’s done for him. However, after Davos has left, Stannis appears before Shireen, sounding troubled over his so-called destiny. He asks her about how she would choose to make a tough decision—in terms of which Targaryen she would choose to sit on the throne from her books, to which she replies “no one” because that’s how the conflict in the book started. Sensing something is wrong, and loving her father dearly, Shireen offers to help in any way she can. And that’s how Game of Thrones spent ten minutes on a scene of a little girl burning at the stake to an unfeeling audience. You know, I kind of liked Stannis at the beginning of the show? Ha ha, well fuck that now.

In Bravos, Arya finally gets her chance to exact revenge on one of the people on her hit list: Meryn Trant. Tracking him for an entire day, she follows him to a brothel, which, ok, every knight in this series seems to go to the brothel. However, Trant is a special fellow. He not only wants to (most likely violently) fuck prostitutes, he wants to fuck young prostitutes, deeming all of the choices shown before him as “too old” before this poor little frightened teen is brought before him. Although Arya doesn’t get the chance to strike that day, she seems convinced that “tomorrow” will be the day. So, just in case you may have thought that Arya was beyond being sexually abused too, the show seems to want to argue that point. Who’s even surprised anymore?

Meanwhile, the Dorne plotline continues to be incredibly embarrassing for everyone involved. While Myrcella has some good sass with Jaime, Ellaria is once again villanized the entire time she’s on screen. Some things happen where Jaime agrees to safely transport Prince Trystane to Kings Landing to take Oberyn’s seat on the Small Council in exchange for letting Myrcella return alongside the both of them, but it’s all a bit overshadowed by the show trying to show Ellaria “getting hers”. Not only is she humiliated in front of Jaime, she is forced to swear fealty to Doran or die, and eventually even tries to make nice with Jaime. I have absolute faith that her sudden kindness toward Jaime is going to be some ploy to kill him in the future, which she will fail at and probably get killed for because Jaime is the perfect white man who is having a redemption arc, damn it. Also Bronn is set free in return for getting punched in the jaw, and no one really cares because it doesn’t mean anything and none of these characters are supposed to be here.

I know Doran is a cool guy, comparatively, but damned if I didn't want her to slap him here.

I know Doran is a cool guy, comparatively, but damned if I didn’t want her to slap him here.

Finally, it’s time for Daenerys and the King of Meereen, Hizdahr, to watch the performances in the fighting pit. Dany is incredibly uncomfortable with the entire thing, but still goes through with it because she needs the support of the people. However, things get harder for her when Jorah makes his debut. It’s hard to tell if she’s containing fury at seeing him or somewhat glad to see a familiar face, but the entire time he fights, Daenerys, Tyrion, and her assassin boytoy all watch on intently. After narrowly emerging victorious, Jorah chucks a spear into the royal viewing box, but instead of being some assault against the royal family, he ends up killing one of the Sons of the Harpy, who have infiltrated the entire arena and take no time slaughtering as many people as they can get their hands on. So while Hizdahr doesn’t make it out of the scrap alive, Dany is reunited with all currently alive members of her old council (plus Tyrion) and just before they can all get killed, one of her dragons comes down and starts burning the Sons of the Harpy and eating them, all ending in a glorious escape by Dany on the dragon’s back. (Which looked kind of ridiculous and 80’s to me, but whatever floats your boat.)

Hoo boy, where do I even begin. Well, for one, I didn’t like the episode. Clearly. I think what I hated the most about it is that literally everything damaging that happens, once again, only happens to the female members of the cast. The show is bending over backwards to show what a great, sensible guy Jaime is, but continues to destroy Ellaria’s character in the process: the woman who, in the books, didn’t want war with the Lannisters. She is being threatened out of her home if she doesn’t bend to Doran’s will, and her “evil plan” to threaten the Lannisters is laughable at best. Jorah may have almost gotten completely destroyed in the fighting arena, but he’s given the chance to rise again, to overcome these obstacles and show Dany that he’s worth bringing along with her. Comparatively, Shireen is burned and is left screaming for everyone to see, giving her no chance at any sort of happiness or justice, and I’m hoping that when Davos returns he lops Stannis’s head off—clearly there is an impostor in Stannis’s body. And, in the words of Ace when I complained to her about this last night, when Selyse is the voice of reason… (Especially since she hates Shireen. Why is she the one who suddenly has a bout of emotion over her daughter dying? Oh right, because she is a woman, and thus emotional and feels for all children, even those she hates.)



Unsurprisingly, my complaints don’t stop there. In the face of the final scene in Meereen, I started to wonder: are there any meaningful friendships between ladies at all in Game of Thrones? Sansa used to have Margaery, but now one’s in prison and the other… well, I guess she’s in a prison of sorts too. Arya has no one, Brienne had Catelyn, Ellaria isn’t shown hanging out with any other women, Cersei is above friendship, Gilly’s cute friendship with Shireen is now null and void (sorry about no one respecting you now, Gilly). Truly, it seems like Daenerys and Missandei are the only female friendship in the series, and I fear for the continued survival of the latter. It seems that women are only elevated through their relationships through men, making them “stronger” in the process. If you recall, for example, Sansa wasn’t universally considered strong (in fandom at least) until Littlefinger forced her into his scheme.

This is further emphasized with the Martell ladies in prison. Sisters fight—all siblings fight—but it doesn’t even seem like they’re friends or family. They all seem to hate each other. In playing that hand slapping game, one of them calls the other “weak” and “slow”, and it doesn’t come off as playful taunting. Especially when the other takes her turn and slaps her sister in the face, thus proving she isn’t so weak or slow… apparently. And as Bronn is led out of the prison, the one who forced him to call her the most beautiful woman asks him to do so again, leading one of the remaining sister to call her a whore. What the fuck? I was led to believe that the Martells were a pretty close knit family: what’s with all the vitriol toward their own sisters? And in a land that is continuously praised for how much better they treat women than the mainland, why are misogynistic slurs the first place they go to? It seems that due to a lack of book material to draw from for this plot, the show writers have instead deemed it necessary to replace that with just… blatant hate toward women. Good. This is just what the show needed and has never been shown on Game of Thrones before.

Next week being the finale, I can only guess that a grandiose act of misogyny will be performed to top off the misogynist cake that is this show. I am not looking forward to hearing about it, because I’m sure as hell not watching it. Ace will keep me informed. Please pray for her.

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About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.

1 thought on “Return to Westeros: “The Dance of Dragons” Review

  1. Pingback: The Past was Terrible, the Present is Terrible, and the Future will be Terrible | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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