Helen Sloan, HBO

“The Dance of Dragons” delivered dramatic fireworks worthy of the show’s reputation for barn-burning penultimate episodes. It was a good night of TV.

Episode MVPs

People watch “Game of Thrones” for a lot of reasons—the complicated political plots, the well-developed characters, the shocking deaths—but this past Sunday’s episode succeeded for a pretty simple reason: Daenerys Targaryen rode a dragon. Fans were there when her dragons were born, and they’ve waited patiently as they grew over the past few seasons. “The Dance of Dragons” paid off several years’ worth of growing pains, and proved that the show can satisfy on the basis of spectacle alone.

Not that spectacle was the only thing the episode had going for it. In a season that’s been called out for a number of disturbing scenes, “The Dance of Dragons” featured one of the most unsettling sequences to ever appear on the show. Stannis Baratheon, his army paralyzed by a heavy snowfall, headed the advice of his longtime counsellor Melisandre and sacrificed his daughter Shireen to the Red God, hoping that it would clear a path to victory. Putting children in danger is always a risky move, and by killing Shireen, “Game of Thrones” proved once again that it’s willing to commit to risky ideas. Just when audiences thought they’d seen everything, the show found another way to shock them.


Our watch for next week begins

This week, Jon Snow returned to the Wall with several thousand wildlings in tow. His fellow Night’s Watchmen were not pleased, so look for that conflict to boil over next week. Meanwhile, Arya skipped out on her assassination assignment to confront an old enemy. She’ll likely face some consequences.

“Game of Thrones” has picked up a ton of steam over the past few weeks and shows no signs of slowing down. If the season finale can capitalize on the momentum from this episode, it’ll be one to remember.

The show will return to Spain to film Season 6

This year, ‘Game of Thrones’ used the Royal Alcázar of Seville to stand in for the Water Gardens of Dorne, one of Season 5’s most striking new locations. For Season 6, the show will film in the Spanish cities of Girona and Peñíscola. Although it’s unconfirmed, rumor has it that these cities may double for Oldtown and Casterly Rock, two Westerosi locales we’ve heard about but have yet to see.

As the editor in chief for Winter Is Coming, Dan Selcke spends his time writing about the latest Game of Thrones news and preparing for the long night that will have no end. Read more of him at winteriscoming.net.

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