The seventh episode of Game of Thrones season five is so obvious it hurts. Its called The Gift and it’s about gifts. (In Oprah voice) – everyone get a gift! Sam Tarley, Ramsay Bolton, Stannis Baratheon, hell even Daenarys Targaryen! They say its better to give than to receive, but in Westeros that depends on who you ask. Spoilers after the (shark) jump!
Talk about a literal interpretation of the episode. Its as if the characters couldn’t stop mentioning the word “gifts” – we get it, Game of Thrones, you mean what you say. Many viewers were still angry after last week’s scene in which Sansa Stark was raped by Ramsay Bolton. The trauma is fresh, both for the viewers and for the characters. Its through that lens that perhaps advancing some really straight-forward plots about really basic stuff was a good thing, although hello why not include the piece of land south of the Wall called The Gift? Literal distractions are nice, especially as viewers start to get concernstipated; there’s only so many characters you can rape, murder or torture while waiting for G.R.R. Martin to write new material.
At the Wall, the Nights Watch is about to get nuts. Jon decides to leave with the Jolly Ginger Giant to rally the support of the northern freefolk. He gets all kinds of flack from his fellow men in black. His close friends Sam, Gilly and Maester Aemon are in the stark minority (get it!?) once Jon leaves. As the former comfort the later in hospice, Aemon cries out for his baby brother Aegon, or “Eggs” as he was known as a child. When Aemon dies, suddenly Sam and Gilly find themselves alone in a wash of enemies at the Watch. Gilly is threatened with rape by two nights watchmen, and is aided by Sam and Ghost (Jon’s Dire Wolf). If you turned to the TV and went “oh please, not again” you weren’t alone.
Turns out Gilly doesn’t get raped (this week), and instead makes love with Sam in what might be the sweetest display of affection on the show thus far – talk about a gift, get it!? We were a little disappointed we didn’t get Aemon’s predicative monologue about Daenarys being Azor Ahai like we did in the book, but perhaps that will come about through another character as Game of Thrones likes to throw little nods to the book readers here and there.
Conveniently Tyrion and Jorah were sold into slavery by a merchant who just so happened to be on his way to Meereen’s fighting pits. During his first practice match, Jorah hears that Dany is present overseeing the fights. He puts on his helm and takes the field, defeating all of his competitors. When she learns his identity she says to get him out of her sight, but Jorah pleads with her – “Khalessi I’ve brought you a gift” he says, as Tyrion escapes his bonds and comes to the base of the pits. “I am the gift, I am Tyrion Lannister” he proclaims. We can’t help but wonder how this plot is going to play out. Why would Dany take in Tyrion as a part of her small council? Why would she embrace the son of her enemies, merely for his betrayal? Longtime fans of Dany are probably wondering if she’ll throw him to the dragons as quickly as she ‘s met him.
Being thrown to the dragons sounds like a quick and painless way to die in comparison to what’s be going on in the north. Sansa has been held captive in her bedroom, suffering her husband’s continual assault night after night. Theon brings her meals, and she pleads with him to light her candle in the tower to call for help to loyalists in the north. Theon owes her, but Reek doesn’t. Reek takes this candle and this information to his master, Ramsay Bolton who then flays Sansa’s handmaiden and torments her by showing his work. This guy is a grade-A asshole, and between him and Joffrey has really made a strong case for Tyrion being her best suitor thus far. With the north in turmoil, and Sansa a capture in her own home we wonder if Brienne will ever make it to save the day? Spoiler theorists might even imagine this to be a great way to introduce Lady Stoneheart, who comes back to the north to defend her cubs! One can dream. In the meantime Sansa suffers, but not without dropping a few digs at Ramsay, “a bastard legitimized by a bastard” Bolton nee Snow.
The audience may have hoped that Stannis’ armies marching from the Wall might be the saving grace that Sansa was holding out for, but we learn that they’re stuck on the road to Winterfell and are taking casualties from the elements. Winter isn’t coming, winter has come and being stuck in traffic isn’t the best way to weather the storm. They can’t go back, so they’ll have to march forward either to their victory or to their death. Melisandre offers another solution, that perhaps with some of Stannis’ kingsblood she could make another shadow baby to kill their enemies. Of course the cost would be Princess Shereen, but Stannis can’t especially after such a moving monologue a few weeks ago. Naturally this mean’s she’s dead because Game of Thrones is a show about bad people doing really fucked up shit. Nice touch, well done.
Speaking of bad people, we haven’t talked about Kings Landing! You see, once upon a time there lived this girl named Cersei. She got her fortune told by Maggie the Frog, who said that one day she’d be Queen and that she’d have children, and that another queen who was younger and prettier than her would take her crown. This made Cersei a little cray, on top of a bunch of other really weird incest shit. Now she’s super paranoid about her son Tommen’s wife, Queen Margery so she’s gone and had her arrested by the faith militant. This of course has pissed off the real power players in Westeros, Lady Olena and Lord Petry Baelish who both come back to Kings Landing to clean up her mess. It’s no surprise that by the end of the episode Cersei has been arrested for her own fornications and sins, and thrown in a jail cell right next to her daughter-in-law. Moral of the story – don’t write checks your ass can’t cash to the Iron Bank!
We’re glad that Lancel is getting more screen time in season five, considering he was the biggest lose-end in this machination of Cersei’s to do super incestuous shit and have bastards inherit the throne. We’re also especially pleased with Jonathan Price’s portrayal of the High Sparrow, particularly in the scene where he and Lady Olena exchange pleasantries. Price’s eloquence has a certain mischievous quality that makes us want to re-read the Sparrow chapters in the books. Could the Faith Militant inherit the Iron Throne if no suitable houses can hold the seven kingdoms together?
We could sure use some of the Sparrows charms down in Dorne where Mini-Cersei is set to wed Tristane Martell. Jamie, her Uncle-Father tries to convince her that politically is not safe for her in Dorne because of reasons and plots, but she’s having NONE of it. She wants to be married to Tristane, and that’s final. Honestly this entire scene is horrible. Everything they’ve done in Dorne has been a total miss. Even the scene where one of the Sand Snakes, or as we’re calling them here at Nerd Bstards, the Spice Snakes, fucks with an unwittingly poisoned Bronn is just cheap and boring. There’s no mystery to these women, no hints at their true power within the Kingdom of Dorne. These characters were the embodiement of their people’s love for Oberyn Martell, and through Arianne Martell we learned their place in this society. Opting to remove Arianne from the story was a mistake, and much of this entire adaption is collapsing as a result.
Next week we’ve been promised new terrain as Dany and Tyrion get to know one another, Jon attempts to recruit free folk, and Sam and Gilly determined to escape their fates with the nights watch. We’re hoping the Dornish plots heat up long enough for things to start to coalesce, but even at 80% this show is probably the best thing on television!