12:14 am EDT, June 8, 2015

‘Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 9 recap: Ashes, ashes, all fall down

Desperate times led to the darkest of choices on Game of Thrones season 5, episode 9.

Thus far unbroken

In Dorne, Prince Doran puts his foot down on all the tribal nonsense and declares that both Myrcella and Trystane will be returning to Kings Landing with Jaime. The heir to Sunspear will fill Oberyn’s seat on the Small Council.

…let’s hope that kid is smarter than he looks.

Trystane decides to allow Bronn to go free following a healthy punch from Areo Hotah. (Bronn is like, “I am so over Dorne.”) Even Ellaria Sand is allowed her freedom, after tearfully swearing her allegiance to Doran.

“I believe in second chances,” the prince warns her. “Not third chances.”

With peace restored, at least on the surface, Ellaria goes to visit Jaime. She commiserates with his futile love for Cersei, as apparently the Dornish are chill with incest as well. Ellaria allows that Myrcella, and even Jaime are innocent of Oberyn’s death, and it’s all very cordial, and we are exceedingly suspicious.

Prayers answered

In Braavos, Arya steels herself to deliver the Gift of the Many-Faced God to the Thin Man, but is interrupted by a rather more interesting opportunity. Mace Tyrell and his retinue — including Ser Meryn Trant — land at the docks and are met by what’s his face the Doctor Who guy Tycho Nestoris to discuss the Iron Throne’s debt to the Iron Bank.

Almost entranced by the sight of Ser Meryn, whose name has burned for years in her death prayer, Arya follows the men on their errands. That evening, her pursuit takes her to a brothel, where she witnesses Ser Meryn bully the madam into bringing him a girl barely more than a child.

A stunned Arya is shooed out of the brothel, and she returns to the House of Black and White with no deaths to her name. She lies to Jaqen, and tells him that the Thin Man did not ask for oysters that day.


“Tomorrow,” he says.

“Tomorrow,” Arya agrees.

Hell on Earth

Jon and the wildlings arrive at the Wall. An appalled Ser Alliser lets them in.

“You have a good heart, Jon Snow,” he tells the Lord Commander, as the wildlings and Wun-Wun the giant stream through the gate. “It’ll get us all killed.”

Slightly further to the south, Ramsay Bolton’s raiding party sets fire to Stannis’s stores of food, and kills many horses. Stannis’s army is, pardon our French, completely fucked; Davos looks for logic from his king, but Stannis orders him back to Castle Black to demand supplies from Jon Snow.

Davos still has a brain in his head, and begs Stannis to let him take Selyse and Shireen with him.

“My family stays with me,” the evil man king says.


Davos says farewell to Shireen, thanking her for teaching him to read. The oblivious Onion Knight takes his leave, and we hate everything.

Stannis goes to visit Shireen, who is reading a dense tome on the Dance of the Dragons (which, incidentally, led to the death of nearly all of House Targaryen’s dragons — not to mention thousands of innocents — and severely compromised their power) because she is perfect.

Stannis tells Shireen that he has to follow his destiny.

“Is there any way I can help?” asks Shireen, too good, too pure for this world.

“Yes, there is,” her father says, and then, “Forgive me.”

(Forgive us, we are literally vomiting in despair.)

Shireen Baratheon, kind and generous, honest and sweet, her father’s only heir, is marched out of her tent. She recoils when she sees the stake built for her, and Melisandre, holding a burning torch.


“It will all be over soon princess,” the vile woman says.

Screaming, begging, desperate, confused, and terrified, Shireen is bound to the stake as her parents watch. Melisandre lights the pyre, and Selyse breaks, but can only fall to her knees as her daughter is murdered by her own bloody faith.

Shireen screams as she burns to death. Melisandre smiles.

Fire and blood

Blissfully unaware of this obscene crime, Daenerys opens the fighting at Daznak’s Pit. Her disapproval is palpable, and her patience for Hizdahr grows increasingly short as he, Tyrion, and Daario debate morality while men die on the sand…

Especially when the unshakable Jorah Mormont shows up in the Pit.


After a moment of shocked indecision, Dany claps her hands to allow Jorah to fight. But the desperate, bloodied knight only elicits a reaction when he hurls his spear right into Dany’s balcony — but rather than a furious act of frustration, Jorah’s weapon skewers a Son of the Harpy who was advancing unnoticed behind Dany.

(What does she even pay the Unsullied for?)

No one in the royal box has much time to recover from their shock. The crowd in Daznak’s Pit suddenly shimmers with hundreds of golden Harpy masks (next time, put in metal detectors!) and blood begins to flow immediately. Blades strike at Dany from all sides, and the Unsullied crumple under the onslaught.

Hizdahr tries to play the hero and lead Dany away, but Dany makes her choice and follows Jorah instead — leaving Hizdahr to be stabbed by Sons of the Harpy. Tyrion saves Missandei from a Harpy’s blade and they follow Dany.

But the Sons of the Harpy have cut off every exit from Daznak’s Pit. The Queen of Meereen is trapped on the bloodstained sand with Missandei, Tyrion, Jorah, and Daario. Her Unsullied are vastly outnumbered by the masked men, and the Sons of the Harpy close in to finish the vicious attack.

Dany grips Missandei’s hand and closes her eyes, accepting her fate — and her failure.

But a dragon’s cry breaks out over the fighting, and like a livid vision, Drogon sweeps down into Daznak’s Pit.

It is not an exaggeration to say that neither Dany nor any of her allies can believe what they are seeing.

Drogon immediately burns his way through a swath of Harpies. He incinerates anyone he sees, but the black dragon is soon bristling with enemy spears. Dany approaches her oldest child as the fighting continues around her; Drogon offers a flameless roar as he recognizes his mother.


And with blood and chaos in every direction, Dany makes a decision. She grips Drogon’s spines and pulls herself up on dragonback — something no Targaryen has done in almost 200 years.

“Fly,” she tells Drogon, and he does, carrying his mother away from the city she worked so hard to earn.

Tyrion, Jorah, Missandei, and Daario are left behind, gazing in shock at the Dragon Queen as she disappears into the sky.

Are you trembling in the wake of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 9?

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