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Spoilers abound in this article if you haven’t caught the ninth episode of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, “The Dance Of Dragons.” If you haven’t watched, yet, skedaddle out of here and check out one of our other lovely stories, including what we know about Season 5.
Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones was all about crossing lines. Jon Snow was busy making decisions that may end up being detrimental to his well-being. Arya was busy heading deeper into the world of the many-faced god, a world that features shadows and killings. But Stannis probably was the most apparent example of this, as he dispatched his former buddy the Onion Knight off on an errand and decided to sacrifice his daughter Shireen in order to help his cause.
Following a seemingly touching scene in which Shireen saw that her father was distraught and stated she wanted to help him if she could, her fortitude seemed to enable her father to finally take Melisandre’s advice and kill off his daughter for her “royal blood.” Shireen was led out to a platform where she was tied up and burnt at the stake, screaming for her parents as they watched on. Her mother realized the full extent of what was happening, a little too late, I might add, and was stopped by other soldiers as she ran toward her daughter’s burning body.
It was gruesome and it was horrible, but if we were given one small reprieve, it was that the director chose to cut away as the pre-teen girl was brutally murdered as a sacrifice to a god who totally sucks. Instead we got to see the grief on mom and dad’s face as they kept their eyes focused on their daughter. Melisandre didn’t seem too bent out of shape, though. And why should she? She’s been gunning for Shireen's death all season, and she got her wish tonight. Shireen’s death comes off as even more awful once we consider that Melisandre was able to use Gendry’s king’s blood to great effect without killing him. Between Sansa’s cringe-inducing rape scene, Cersei and Margaery’s imprisonments, the repeated assassination attempts on Dany, the death of the wildling mother last week and now Shireen, the woman have been suffering pretty horrible fates this season. It’s about time we see one of them work in a real win.
Game of Thrones has been waffling with the audience’s feelings towards certain characters all season. Sansa started showing initiative during Game of Thrones fifth season, only to have her agency taken away when she was wed to Ramsay Bolton. And the audience started warming up to Stannis thanks to his relationship with Shireen. That was taken away tonight when his goals came before his family life, like so many of the characters on this drama. I’m not even sure I’m rooting for Stannis to take down Roose and Ramsay, anymore. This world of big ambitions and gray morals is making me feel a bit down in the dumps.
We’ll find out how Season 5 will pan out soon enough. The final episode of the year will air Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET, only on HBO.