***Note- yes this is belated, it took me a while to recover….***
Next time you fall out with your parents, spare a thought for Shireen Barratheon, sweetest and unluckiest girl in the seven kingdoms. ‘Devoted’ Dad Stannis sends a reluctant Davos on a futile errand to Castle Black answering his queries about the youngest Barratheon with the ominous: ‘My family stays with me’
The men may be freezing but none is colder than Stannis. Faced with his daughter’s poetry and smiles he seeks absolution for a sin as yet uncommitted and of which she is wholly ignorant. the stag princess signs her name in blood without feeling a pinprick- ‘forgive me’- like hell we will.
She is marched to the pyre, and, seeing her end at the hands of the lady in red begs for her father, refusing to believe he is the cause of her destruction. The screams pierce even her mad mothers heart the goosebumps, the tears and the gut punch as the men look away, and the screams rise until they are drowned by flames. Such primal horror puts the Boltons to shame- Ramsey, meet Stannis, one man you are very much allowed to flay. RIP princess, you were too good for this world.
Arya’s mission is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the murdering paedophile Meryn Trent – the wolf stalks her pray through candlelit brothels where he ruins frightened virgins with cold cruelty. one name surely must be close to being ticked off the infamous list – valar morghulis after all. Mace Tyrell provides his normal bumbling comic relief during this dark interlude- his spontaneous song was particularly entertaining, though Arya was not distracted. Yet I am not convinced a man is convinced by a girl’s lies…
Back in Mereen the fighting pits are opened, the queen a necessary but reluctant viewer. Dani distracts herself from the performative bloodshed by way of by Daario’s shameless third-wheeling. The lethario undercuts Hizdar the grim future husband (who may or may not be a harpy) at every turn, grin in place. Tyrion’s interjection to the future king: ’My father would have liked you’- may be the best insult ever.Until he comes out with yet another witty put-down that is: ‘in my experience eloquent men are right every bit as often as imbeciles’
Horror, confusion and futility cross Dani’s eyes as they lock with the enslaved jorah and the real match begins. Khaleesi looks on as the dust flies with each blow, tortured inside but serene outside. The beloved bear has so many near deaths my heart stops as the blood stains rain down….yet Mormont says ‘not today’ to the god of death. Winning to boos he launches a spear to the queen’s dais- into a waiting harpy. Like cockroaches the golden villains crawl everywhere out of the stonework, Facing death and destruction at every turn the mother of dragons finally accepts Jorah’s proffered hand, and her two loves, the scoundrel and the bear, encircle her as Tyrion rescues a forgotten Missandei- nobody expects a killer dwarf. Almost all my favourite people appear to be facing a bloodily massacre- until DROGON FLIES IN! Saved by the dragon. the spectacle of scales and blood set to soaring score is breathtaking, the harpy cannot defeat the dragon- it is known. Then the war drums of slavers bay return, and the queen mounts her weapon of mass destruction whispering ‘fly’ and the goose pimples return for a happier cause, and the Targaryen is risen anew, as her court can only stand and stare at her dust. We mourn a princess, but cheer for the Khaleesi.