With Ned's execution, two major battles, and the still-painful Red Wedding rounding off the penultimate episode of each 'Game Of Thrones' series, "episode nine" has always been the one to watch out for. This year, the show took a darker, more personal twist.
HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' has been getting a lot of criticism this year for it's massively dramatic departures from the book series 'A Song of Ice and Fire', upon which the show is based. While series creator George R. R. Martin stated on his official blog "there has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material" and reiterated how the show and the books are entirely separate stories, albeit with the same intended ending.
Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) falls victim to the ninth episode
That still doesn't excuse the sudden, unexpected (and rather brutal execution) of a young girl, in Sunday night's infamous Episode Nine 'The Dance of Dragons'. Written by show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the episode saw Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) hounded by Ramsey Bolton's (Iwan Rheon) guerrilla tactics, and offering his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) to the priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) as a sacrifice. Said sacrifice involved burning her alive to appease the Red God, with the hopes of turning their luck and winning him the Iron Throne once and for all.
"What it comes down to is ambition verses familial love. For Stannis, sadly, that choice is ambition" explained Benioff during the weekly 'Inside the Episode' webisode. He continued to talk about how it was a horrible thing, but it made sense in the story of the character, as "the very first time we saw Stannis and Melisandre, they were burning people alive on the beaches of Dragonstone". With the constant reminder of the power of king's blood, the story has led to this moment.
Emilia Clarke stars as Queen Daenerys Targaryen in 'Game of Thrones'
People watching at home appeared to appreciate the rest of the episode, however, which earned a rating of 9.5 from over 9,000 votes on IMDB. This rating places the episode third best, following the infamous 'The Rains of Castamere' (9.7) from the end of Season Three, and 'Hardhome' (9.9), the episode preceding this one. It seems as though fans are beginning to appreciate deviations from the novels - no matter how shocking they are.