“The Gift” Review

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May 26, 2015 by kbaldy15

“The Gift”

Season 5, Episode 7 Review

Firstly, I apologize for the tardiness of this review. I’ve been in the Northwoods of Minnesota for the past few days, so it’s half a miracle that I even managed to watch the episode on Sunday night, which was a nice return to form following the slightly weak episode six. But, nothing can stand in the way of my Game of Thrones viewership, not even sketchy Internet connections and accents thicker than the Dornish. And since I provided myself with a little segue there, I suppose I’ll start off with the struggling Dornish storyline.

This week saw some of the aftermath to last week’s abysmal Water Gardens fight scene, but none of it was really all that interesting or consequential. Instead of seeing Doran interrogate Jaime/Bronn or the Sand Snakes, we just got to see that each of the parties is imprisoned, although to somewhat different degrees. Jaime has his own, semi-comfortable room to brood in, or to be told off by Myrcella in. As it turns out, she’s not all too keen on returning to King’s Landing, on account of being in love with Trystane, and being not too thrilled with Cersei for shipping her off to Dorne in the first place. Judging by Jaime’s face after Myrcella storms out, I don’t really believe either of them should be all to pleased with Cersei for her role in sending them both to Dorne (although I’m not all that sure the viewers should be too thrilled about our trip to Dorne, either).

The other half of the Jaime/Bronn pairing found himself in less comfortable accommodations, and even less comfortable circumstances. Thankfully, those circumstances resulted in the best Sand Snakes scene we’ve had so far, perhaps because Obara didn’t get to talk about her father or fighting for Dorne, and Ellaria wasn’t there to give the crew a rousing pep talk. Instead, we got Tyene first real moments, which were spent convincing Bronn that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Sure, she’s extremely pretty (as she showed us all), but you have to wonder how much the revelation that she poisoned Bronn and had the only antidote conveniently wrapped around her neck played into Bronn’s admission that he thought she was cute. So Bronn was saved, HBO filled their nudity requirements, and the rest of us were stuck wondering where exactly this storyline is headed. At this point, it seems like everyone is imprisoned and Bronn owes the Sand Snakes a favor (even if they poisoned him in the first place), but that’s about it for any consequence this storyline has produced so far.

Luckily, there was progression in just about every other storyline this week, which is really what this week’s episode was all about. We’ve got three left this season, so the endgame for everyone needs to be pretty much set up at this point. To start, Jon set off on his quest to Hardhome, much to the dismay of just about everyone it seems. Ser Alliser Thorne is happy to vocalize his displeasure, but it seems like most people are content to glare at Jon from afar, like Olly. Jon’s wasn’t the only notable departure from the Wall, as Aemon finally succumbed to being 102 years old*, which, as Thorne also pointed out, left Sam without many friends at the Wall. Apparently everyone else took note as well, as all the talk about why having women at the Wall is a bad idea was finally validated when two of the men tried to make not-so-pleasant advances on Gilly. That didn’t sit real well with Sam, who honorably defended Gilly by throwing his face at the attackers’ fists repeatedly. When that strategy failed, it was Ghost who did the saving, once again proving that Direwolf intimidation techniques are always the best route to take in a fight. Really though, all of this was just a build-up to the most hilarious “oh my” ever uttered on television, as that was all Sam could come up with as Gilly climbed on top of him to help him break some of his vows.

In another part of the North, we got to see just how much of a Hell Sansa’s life had become, which, along with most other people I’ve read or discussed the show with, I’m kind of tired of seeing. I know I defended the rape scene in last week’s review, but I do agree that it’d be nice to see Sansa’s story change dynamic, rather than the person making her miserable being the only change. Instead, we see Sansa locked up a room, bruised and beaten from Ramsey’s nightly assaults. Still, there are signs of Sansa trying to take charge of her situation more than in the past, as she did attempt to get Theon to light a candle in the broken tower, as the old woman said to do if Sansa needed help, but all that amounted to was another display of just how much Ramsey controls Theon (or, Reek) and another display of Ramsey’s penchant for flaying people, as the old woman paid the price for helping Sansa. So even though we saw Brienne still patiently waiting for the candle to be lit, it looks like she may need to take some initiative and just go for a rescue mission in order for Sansa’s life to get any better.

Sansa’s other hope, Stannis the Mannis, is stuck in the snow. For all of his speeches to Davos about how they move forward regardless of if it’s to victory of defeat, his army doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We’ve still got three episodes left, so I’m betting we’re going to see the Battle for Winterfell yet this season (possibly why episode 10 remains untitled…?), so thankfully it doesn’t seem like Stannis will be camped out for too long. The most notable part of Stannis’s scene this week was obviously his discussion with Melisandre, though. It would appear his faith in her faith is dwindling, and I’m very curious to see just how her suggestion to sacrifice Shireen for her King’s Blood further fractures their relationship*. Also, serious props to Stannis for utterly shutting Melisandre down in that regard. There’s a reason we call him the Mannis.

Over in Essos we had a couple different scenes this week. Dany had another bedtime discussion with Daario about what it’s like to rule, and once again, Daario’s advice seemed kind of questionable. He wants her to open the pits and he wants her to slaughter all the Masters. He wants her to be the Queen, but he also wants her to marry him and say screw it with all the rest. Quite frankly, the only thing more baffling than most of Daario’s advice is just how much Dany appears to listen to him.

Meanwhile, Tyrion and Jorah were busy being sold off to go fight in the pits, Jorah because he looks like a fighter, and Tyrion because he kicked the crap out of a holder in order to stay with Jorah. There wasn’t really any reference to Jorah’s Greyscale, but it wasn’t needed this week, as the real drama came from Dany showing up to the first fight they were involved in. Jorah fought through the match without killing anyone in an attempt to win Dany’s approval, but it would appear that it was nowhere near enough, given the stone-cold stare that she gave him when he removed his helmet. Despite Jorah’s pleas for a minute of her time, Dany was having none of it, ordering for Jorah to be removed from her sight. It took Tyrion running out and declaring who he was to get Dany’s attention, although I have to wonder why his name should mean anything to her. Yes, his older brother was the one who murdered her father, but who says she’s ever heard the name Tyrion Lannister before in her life?* I suppose we’ll wait until next week to see the consequences of one of the most anticipated character meet-ups in the series’ history.

Finally, we had the drama in King’s Landing. Jonathon Pryce continues to impress as the High Sparrow, as his scene with Lady Olenna was one of the highlights of the episode. The discussion of his motives, and the idea that he may not have one besides serving the gods, was a concept completely foreign to the Queen of Thorns, who has been wrapped up in the Game of Thrones for far too long to understand someone who isn’t necessarily vying for power. Still, I’m forced to wonder if all of the power that’s been given to him isn’t going to the High Sparrow’s head. His speech to Cersei about stripping away all of the facades that the high and mighty hide behind felt perhaps a little satisfied. Regardless of if he’s happy about it, or any of the behind the scenes string pulling of people like Littlefinger or Lady Olenna, judgment is coming, for Margarey and Loras, and most importantly, for Cersei.

We’re at the beginning of the end for this season, which made this kind of a hard episode to review. The episode itself was quite strong, but none of the major moments felt super dramatic or anything, with Cersei’s imprisonment and Dany and Tyrion’s meeting ranking as the high points of the episode. Those moments, though, require what’s going to happen next to really put into context. All of the set up is done. The season has been building strongly (with the exception of the sixth episode), and I fully expect an absolute whirlwind of big moments in the next three episodes. And now we wait for those.

Spoilers and Speculation

*Aemon’s death, combined with the mention of Randyll Tarly a few weeks ago and Sam’s desire to be a Maester (as well as the casting calls for next season that sound an awful lot like the Tarly family…), make me think Jon is going to send Sam off to the Citadel before the end of the season. My bet is on him returning from Hardhome, shipping Sam off, receiving some version of the Pink Letter, and For the Watch happening. Just like Sam is without friends at the Wall, Jon is going to be in the same boat once Sam is gone.

*Melisandre’s suggestion about Shireen seems to confirm book readers suspicion that Shireen is going to be burned for some purpose or another. Personally, I’m still betting that Stannis is seriously wounded in the Battle for Winterfell (by Brienne or someone else) and Melisandre convinces Shireen to sacrifice herself for her father (which would be such a sweet Shireen thing to do). Mel does the sacrifice, and Jon’s eyes open instead. Although I’m hoping Stannis stays alive to burn Melisandre alive for killing his daughter.

*Is Varys still headed to Meereen? If so, is he going to get there in time to explain to Dany why she shouldn’t just murder Tyrion for being a Lannister? Since Benioff and Weiss have already said the last scene of the season is a book scene, I’m kind of thinking Varys turned around when Tyrion got captured to make sure Westeros was ripe for the picking once Dany showed up and we’re going to see him take out Pycelle and Kevan, probably giving his little speech about Dany instead of Young Griff.

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