This is my first of many Game of Thrones related posts that were composed to reflect upon the previous season and help the anticipation for the next one. Adaptations are always tricky things to fulfill and D & D in my book have done a fairly excellent job with George R. R. Martin’s remarkably complex A Song of Ice and Fire series. There have been notable missteps, but rarely has a storyline as a whole felt submerged in quality (Theon’s torture in season three is a prime example). Dorne unfortunately filled that role this season, the writing given the southernmost Westerosi kingdom was never as bright as its locations and costumes. A significant reason for that lack of quality was the removal of Arianne Martell, the central figure in the Dornish plot that kept it all tied together in the books. The following is what I would have done with the Dornish over eight episodes if I was in charge of that specific plot. In doing so, I realized even more so how difficult it truly is to adapt Martin’s work for the screen and despite not wanting to, several characters (like Ser Arys Oakheart) have been excised for the sake of efficiency. It’s a slightly tricky fit overall but one I feel keeps the spirit and intent of the source material more intact. I hope you enjoy the article, converse below in the comments, and follow The Film Chronicles for regular updates!
NOTE: BOOK & SHOW SPOILERS DO OCCUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Wars to Come
Ellaria is en route to the Water Gardens as the ship passes by the ports of Sunspear, brightly lit in Oberyn’s honor. At the palace, she finds Doran on the balcony, watching the youngest Sand Snakes and servants frolicking about in the pools. Ellaria brings him the proclamation, but he refuses to read it, unwilling to see the reality he knows all too well displayed in writing.
Cersei fears for Myrcella becoming the subject of Dornish retribution after Oberyn’s death. As a preventative message, she sends Jaime to Sunspear with the head of the Mountain, hoping that will pacify at least Prince Doran if no one else.
As Doran contemplates the future of Dorne with his brother’s demise, Ellaria notes the sheer power of public anger displayed at Sunspear. She suggests that the royal Martell retinue return to the capital to better quell the public anger. Doran agrees, taking one last look at the pools as the memories of him and Oberyn playing in the gardens play before his eyes, a time that ended far too swiftly. Arianne watches Ellaria wheel Doran into the palace, frowning in concentration from the shadows.
The House of Black and White
Present-day: Arianne is with a reluctant Nymeria and a mildly impressed Tyene, watching Ser Gerald Dayne spar with Dornish guards. He reluctantly stops each moment where it seemed that his sword would triumph. Arianne thinks of his blade ripping through a guard and the thought gives her an unexpected amount of pleasure. Tyene watches him with a keen eye of her own, but she refrains from any advancement in light of Arianne’s clear interests. Nymeria instead comments on the importance of House Dayne as a whole and Gerald’s jealousy of being less significant than Arthur.
Nymeria and Tyene depart to prepare for Obara’s arrival, who was at a bout at Starfall, the seat of House Dayne. Arianne takes one last note of Gerald before she departs as well for her chambers, where she finds Myrcella waiting for her with a game of cyvasse. Arianne probes Myrcella about her life in King’s Landing and if she ever thought about becoming the queen. Myrcella notes that her gender prohibits her from sitting on the Iron Throne. Arianne nevertheless probes her, wanting to know what Myrcella would do with that power if it was hers. To top it off, Arianne notes how unfortunate that situation was, as the amount of danger for poor, young Tommen was surely more than he could bear.
Flashback: A young, temperamental Oberyn arrives at a brothel in Lemonwood, the citrus air swirling around him. He approaches the brothel’s main door, demanding to see a whore who claimed to have had the prince’s child. She brings out a young Obara and Oberyn throws a spear down at the child’s feet. He gives her a choice between the spear and her mother’s tears. She picks the spear. Oberyn carries his daughter and his spear into the desert sunset, the tears of Obara’s mother becoming more faint by the minute.
Jaime and Bronn pass by the Isle of Tarth as they travel through Shipbreaker’s Bay. Bronn probes Jaime on Myrcella’s parentage but he remains mum, fixating instead on his desire to kill Tyrion for the demise of Tywin. Their arrival in Sunspear was notably a dull affair but as their caravan travels through the capital city, it’s suddenly attacked by a group of brigands. Jaime discovers a new usage for his golden hand. The Dornish guard arrive in time to save Jaime and Bronn, under the direction of steely-eyed Obara, who greets Jaime with this gem as he lies on the ground: “Need a hand?”
Sons of the Harpy
Ellaria, Doran, and Areo Hotah are in wait for the Lannister host. Doran wastes no time in getting down to business, ordering the Mountain’s head to be placed on a spike in the capital. Jaime is clearly uncomfortable every moment Doran speaks of the crimes that the Lannister family has committed against the Martells. Bronn continues to stare at Arianne, who pays him no attention whatsoever. Doran reaches a settlement of his own choosing, noting how his past experience with war has committed him to avoiding it at all costs in the future. Nymeria would take Oberyn’s place on the Small Council, the Lannisters would make a pledge to defend Dorne in any conflict, and all of the lands that had belonged to the Mountain would be signed over to Trystane and Myrcella as a wedding gift.
Kill the Boy
Arianne, disgusted with Doran’s lack of response to Oberyn’s death, sets her plan in motion. Knowing Nymeria’s penchant for gathering as much information on essentially anyone, Arianne discovers Bronn’s broken betrothal to Lollys Stokeworth and surmises that Jaime must have promised the sellsword something better in return. But the reasoning for that confuses her. Surely a simple journey to Dorne wouldn’t warrant such a price? Nymeria arrives at the conclusion that Jaime is here to take Myrcella back to King’s Landing, which surprised her considering the Lannister gold mines had run dry. Arianne, surprised greatly by that tidbit, thinks of a plan. As her eyes grow alight, she hears notes of “The Dornishman’s Wife” waltzing through the corridors.
Jaime tries to connect with Myrcella without revealing his parentage but she simply is unable to do so. Jaime feels for the first time his severe shortcomings as a parent, trying to come to terms with the choices he has made in the past coming home to roost. Ellaria arrives in Jaime’s chamber, telling him that she knows quite well what his ulterior motive is behind arriving in Sunspear and that no one can choose whom they fall in love with. By trying to be a parent now and whisking Myrcella away, the only thing he would end up doing is hurting the very daughter he was trying to protect. The best thing he could do as a parent was to leave the capital as soon as he could. He agrees to depart with the arrival of the next ship to King’s Landing.
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Arianne, heaving heard of the news of Jaime’s departure, puts a pedal to her plan. At her behest, Nymeria uses the jealousy Ser Gerald espouses towards the late Arthur to garner his support to install Myrcella on the Iron Throne. Ser Gerald’s support secured, Arianne turns towards Bronn. She arrives quietly into his chambers, wanting to know more about him and who he was. Bronn, in typical fashion, attests that he is no one, merely a man who takes joy from the simpler pleasures in life. Arianne responds with an accusation that that assertion was a lie. Castle Stokeworth, was, after all, hardly simple. Bronn admits that he has lost Lolly’s hand. Arianne guesses that was at the behest of Ser Jaime, which was a shame as the Lannisters had lost all of the gold from their mines. She kisses him on the lips and caresses his shocked face before she departs from his chambers.
Trystane meets with Myrcella over another game of cyvasse. Myrcella beats him easily, despite her mind being elsewhere entirely. She confesses to her betrothed that she found her Uncle Jaime’s behavior to be fairly unusual, considering he had never before talked to her for longer than a second and Robert had never acted like a father towards her at all. She might as well have been invisible. Trystane notes that perhaps he was simply trying to make up for lost time and that it was never too late for her to get some of the parental love she had lost. Family is important, he notes, something Jaime is perhaps realizing after the death of Tywin. Myrcella’s mind harkens back to Arianne’s words about becoming the Queen and protecting her family from the Iron Throne. She and Trystane kiss, her mind made up.
In the underground chambers of the castle at Sunspear, Arianne arrives to meet Obara, Nymeria, Tyene, and Trystane, all of whom espouse her enthusiasm for revenge wholeheartedly. Arianna lays out her plan, to have Myrcella smuggled out of Dorne in the cover of darkness and onto the ship Jaime and Nymeria are leaving on. Jaime would be accused of kidnapping the key to further Dornish heirs and upsetting the Lannister-Martell alliance. Arianne, Obara, and Tyene would arrive in disguise, quickly toppling Tommen and install Myrcella as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Trystane would stay behind with Doran, although Arianne notably stiffens at the thought. Knowing full well the complete danger of their plan, the five join hands and mutter “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. For Oberyn.” The camera moves over the four sisters and brother, their hands joined together over their golden lit sigil of the spear through the sun.
As Ser Jaime begins preparations to leave, Bronn makes a promise to Arianne that he would ensure the safe passage of Myrcella on the ship. She kisses him, promising a castle in Dorne with a wife more beautiful than any Lannister could provide. Unbeknownst to Arianne, a guard assigned by Doran to keep watch over her overheard their conversation. He’s quickly distracted by Tyene, however. She leads him knowingly into the sept, pricking his thumb with poison. Tyene teases him and the guard’s pace begins to quicken. His breath is shortened and he collapses, his mouth foaming. Tyene looks at him sharply, turning back towards the altar of the sept as the guard shakes to his death.
Upon the Dornish docks, Jaime begins to make a confession but Myrcella hushes him, noting that she knows exactly what he is about to say. She confesses her gratitude at the unspoken revelation before the delegation to King’s Landing departs. She takes a deep breath as the ship sails across the Sea of Dorne, feeling a pang of guilt at her unspoken lie. Within the palace itself, Myrcella meets with Arianne, giving the anxious princess the gift of declaring her intent to return to the capital and sit on the Iron Throne. Arianne beams with pleasure and anticipation.
No Dorne this week. Hardhome, y’all!
The Dance of Dragons
The conspirators depart Sunspear in the dead of night, making their way to the silent shores of the sea where Jaime’s ship would have docked . As the morning rises, the caravan is suddenly attacked by Areo Hotah and Myrcella loses an ear as Gerald attacks her. Arianne saves her just in time, but Gerald escapes.
An embattered, embittered Arianne and her co-conspirators are led to Doran and Ellaria in the catacombs beneath the palace in Sunspear. Doran somberly declares his disappointment in that Arianne did not trust her own father in retaining her right to the throne in Sunspear. Ellaria and Doran reveal that instead of an all-out war, they have something else planned entirely, a key of what they call the Dornish Master Plan. A Dornish guard is shockingly revealed to be Aegon VI, nephew of Queen Daenerys Stormborn, rescued by Varys during the sack of King’s Landing and a Dornish way of grasping influence and power throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
No Dorne in the finale. Give those extra minutes to Stannis and or Jon.
Image Courtesy: Game of Thrones Wiki