Game of Thrones “The Gift”

Game of Thrones S5E7 “The Gift”

The Game of Thrones season formula is a familiar one by now. Table setting and build up to a mid-season climax, followed by a slow down with some more buildup, and concluded with an end season climax and aftermath. Part of why season five has felt slower than past seasons is because we cut out that second step. There was no mid-season climax and as we wrap up the seventh episode of the season, it’s apparent we’re going full steam ahead for the end season climax. “The Gift” makes great strides in this and while it lacks some payoff moments, it most definitely sets the table for pay off in the very near future. In “The Gift”, Sam feels more and more isolated at Castle Black, Stannis meets complications, Cersei’s plan for Tyrell destruction tragically backfires, and Jorah presents Daenerys with a “gift” in the fighting pits of Meereen. Let’s get it rolling.

We’ll start it off at Castle Black, where Jon is preparing for his northern expedition to Hardhome. The negative reception hasn’t cooled down in the slightest and Thorne goes as far as to call the mission an insult to the night’s watch when Jon gives him control of Castle Black in his absence. Sam says goodbye to Jon and gives him the bag of dragon glass, reminding Jon that dragon glass was how he killed the white walker. Sam watches as Jon, Tormund, Dolorous Edd, and a group of rangers depart.

Sometime later, Sam and Gilly watch after Maester Aemon who is nearing his end. Aemon is comforted by Gilly’s baby, Sam, and his last rational words are warning Gilly to go south with her baby before winter comes and it’s too late. Aemon falls into a state of dream delirium where he is young and with his younger brother Aegon, who became king because Aemon declined the throne. Aemon thinks that reality is a dream and tells his brother he dreamed he was old, and passes away a short while afterward. The next day, Sam gives the eulogy for Aemon and he and his fellow brothers watch as Aemon’s body is ceremoniously burned on the pyre. Thorne comments to Sam that he’s quickly running out of friends here.

Thorne’s words ring true very shortly thereafter when in the dining hall, two brothers attempt to rape Gilly. Sam comes to her defense but he’s never been a fighter and really just gets his face brutally beat in trying to protect Gilly. Even still Sam persists but is saved the embarrassment of getting beat up again when Ghost shows up and scares the brothers away. Later, Gilly tends to Sam’s wounds. Gilly tells Sam not to put himself in danger like that next time but Sam insists that he will always try to protect her, no matter the cost. After Sam reassures her that he’s alright, Gilly initiates sex and Sam loses his virginity. We know he’s sworn not to do that but you knew it was going to happen eventually, good for Sam, he’s earned it.

It’s not quite winter yet but late autumn is still prime weather for snowstorms in the north and that is what Stannis and friends find themselves marching in. It’s a particularly bad snowstorm and Davos has some bad news for Stannis. He tells Stannis that the snowstorm has seen forty horses die, and five hundred sellswords march home. Davos urges Stannis to march back to Castle Black because they don’t have the food to wait out the storm and they won’t make it to Winterfell with the food they have if the snow doesn’t let up. Stannis isn’t having it, stating that the snow will only get worse the longer they wait and says his legacy will be as a runner if he retreats from battle again, like he did during the Battle of the Blackwater. March on is the decision.

Stannis did concede to Davos that marching is a big risk and that this could very well could be a march towards defeat and you get the feeling that he honestly believes that. The surprisingly unsure Stannis asks Melisandre if she’s certain that she saw his victory in her visions and she reassures him that she did. You can never be too certain though and Melisandre asks Stannis for a sacrifice to seal the deal. When Stannis realizes that Melisandre means Shireen, he becomes furious at Melisandre for even suggesting that they burn his daughter, and sends Mel away. Getting away from Dragonstone has been a good change of scenery for Stannis and has let his character grow out far more than it did during his three seasons there. Lashing out at Mel, actively loving his daughter, and being unsure of himself are all things Stannis never would have done before but he’s done all of them this season. It’ll be interesting to see where Stannis’ character heads next as they march on deeper into the snowstorm.

In Winterfell, Reek brings Sansa breakfast one day and Sansa takes the opportunity to beg Reek for his help. Ramsay locks Sansa up in their chambers all day so Reek is her only contact with the outside world. She reminds Reek that he has caused her family a lot of grief and he owes her for it. She makes Reek promise to take a candle and light it at the top of the broken candle, which was the distress signal she was told to use. At the end of the day though, Reek fears Ramsay more than he wants to help Sansa and that’s saying a lot because he has such a sad face of shame when Sansa finds out what he did. Instead of keeping his promise to Sansa, Reek spills everything to Ramsay. Sansa is horrified when Ramsay shows her the flayed corpse of the woman that wanted to help her. Ramsay has Sansa sent back to their chambers but it is worth noting that Sansa stealthily stole a corkscrew while she was in the outside. You figure that’s going to play a role in something in the nearby future.

We’ll go all the way south and check in with Dorne where the story continues to lack momentum at best or just be plain bad at worst. Jaime is locked away, but it’s still an upscale room and he’s given clothing that noble Dornishmen would wear. Prince Doran sends Myrcella to see Jaime to prove to him that she’s perfectly safe here and not only is she safe, she’s happy here. Myrcella isn’t buying Jaime’s excuse of “complicated diplomatic missions” requiring her to go home and she flat out refuses to go with him. She leaves the room and Jaime wonders if he really came all this way for nothing.

Bronn isn’t as lucky as Jaime as he gets a more traditional dungeon setting. The Sand Snakes are in the cell across from him and Tyene is attracted by Bronn’s singing voice (who wouldn’t?). Bronn says there’s worse places to be imprisoned, stating that the Dorne at least has the most beautiful women in the world. Tyene takes this as a personal compliment and Bronn corrects her that it wasn’t. It turns out that Tyene poisoned the tip of her dagger that cut Bronn, but it’s a slow poison. She gets Bronn’s blood running quicker by bearing her breasts and that does the trick as Bronn starts to feel the effects. Tyene throws Bronn the antidote, but only after she gets Bronn to confess that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Bronn did warn us that the Dornish were crazy folk.

King’s Landing is our next stop and we start with Olena’s visit to the High Sparrow. Much like you’d expect, Olena asks the High Sparrow to release her grandchildren but the High Sparrow refuses, saying that they will face trial. Olena quickly loses the nice cop act and tries to bribe the High Sparrow and then threatens to cut off the food supply to the capital after he refuses the bribe. The High Sparrow warns Olena that the common folk already hate the noble folks and if she cuts off the food supply, there will be nothing left that they provide to the common folk. At that point the common folk will have nothing to fear and will be able to attack the highborns, which the common folk already outnumber severely.

After leaving the Sept, Olena is handed a note with Littlefinger’s seal on it. The note leads her to meet with him in his brothel and the two share a tense conversation. Olena threatens Littlefinger, reminding him that they both played a role in Joffrey’s murder and if her house falls, she will reveal his role in the murder. Littlefinger tells her that they should only look forward, and to help her with that, he has brought her a gift. The gift is Lancel Lannister, who proves his use to Olena a little bit later.

Tommen is irate that his wife is being held captive and that there’s nothing he can do. Cersei seems to have miscalculated just how much Tommen would be upset over this.She gives the illusion that she regrets this and wants to help by telling Tommen she’ll talk to the High Sparrow on his behalf, but it’s really just a chance to gloat. This is confirmed when she first visits Margaery’s cell. Cersei tries to play the caring mother in law but Margaery sees right through it all and calls Cersei a hateful bitch before asking (really yelling) her to leave. Cersei is so caught up in her victory, that she doesn’t realize what’s going to happen to her next until it’s too late. The High Sparrow delivers a speech about getting rid of all of the sins and corruptions in the capital and Cersei is too dense to realize that the High Sparrow intends to turn the tables on her. The High Sparrow brings in Lancel and reveals that Lancel told him everything about Cersei, including the incest and her part in murdering her husband Robert. Cersei tries to leave but is restrained and thrown into a cell. Everyone except Cersei saw this coming. Cersei was so caught up in trying to destroy House Tyrell, that she didn’t care or notice that the High Sparrow is dead serious about getting rid of all the sins and corruption in the capital and doesn’t know or care that one of his devout followers had a whole lot of information that made her look very bad. Cersei truly did get what was coming to her.

Last stop of the day is in Meereen. Malko brings Jorah and Tyrion to a slave auction where he collects a pretty penny by selling Jorah to a pit fight slaver. Tyrion is able to convince Jorah’s seller that they are a team and does so with his fighting skills (who would have thought). In the great pyramid, Daario advises Dany to gather all of the former slave masters for the first fight and slaughter them while they’re there. Dany is shocked at the suggestion and says she won’t do that because the whole point of marrying Hizdahr was to end bad relations with the former masters peacefully.

The next day, Jorah, Tyrion, and the other fighters their buyer purchased are brought to a smaller fighting pit to prove their worth. It just so happens that it is tradition for the ruler of Meereen to frequent the smaller fighting pits before the start of the season and Hizdahr and Dany are at the very same fighting pit Jorah and Tyrion are at. Jorah actually isn’t picked to fight first though which is bad news because Dany wants to leave quickly, saying she’s seen enough. Jorah sees Dany preparing to leave and decides to enter the ring despite it not being his turn. He disposes of all of the other fighters which grants him the honor of being show to Dany. Jorah takes off his helmet and reveals himself to Dany. Dany is seemingly repulsed by Jorah’s presence and asks for him to be removed. Before that can happen, Jorah tells Dany he has a gift for her and Tyrion enters the pit and reveals himself as the gift. He identifies himself to an astonished Dany and you just wonder what’s going to happen next. Episode seven actually seems pretty early for Tyrion to get to Dany, I had this meeting penciled in for the ninth or tenth episode. I’m not complaining though because these are two huge characters in Game of Thrones and it is very likely that they are about to team up. I don’t know where all of this leaves Jorah but since we got this reveal out relatively early, it seems like we’ll get to find out this season.

Other Thoughts

Maester Aemon is actually the first death in the show from natural causes. In a show known for its violent deaths, I can’t think of anyone who more deserves a peaceful death that Aemon. He was 104 years old, blood of the dragon, a wonderful maester, and now his watch is ended.

Good to see Sansa reminding Ramsay of his insecurities about being a bastard and the possibility that Roose will name his new child his heir over Ramsay. There’s very few spots to hit Ramsay where it hurts and that’s definitely one of them.

I liked the bait and switch on Reek snitching Sansa’s plan. It very much looked like Reek was climbing the stairs of the broken tower and at the last second it’s revealed to be the steps to the main hall where Ramsay is eating lunch.

Brienne is taking her job very seriously. So much so, that she doesn’t actually speak in her scene this episode. Staring attentively at the broken tower is what she’s doing and it doesn’t seem like she’s doing a whole lot else.

Bronn got to finish his rendition of “The Dornishman’s Wife”! He was right, the ending was great, and his singing, well that goes without saying.

The Lannisters put on a bad parenting 101 class out there in this episode. Cersei didn’t care that her actions were going to isolate and infuriate Tommen while Jaime doesn’t have a clue in how to convince Myrcella to come back to King’s Landing.

Who the hell is going to handle political affairs now? The small council is now down to Pycelle and Qyburn. Those two don’t like each other and Tommen probably doesn’t like either of them. Maybe he calls his uncle Kevan back to the capital. Kevan did say he would come if Tommen called for him, Tommen could probably use him right now.

“The Gift” delivers the momentum that season five has been lacking as Tyrion makes it to Daenerys, Cersei is imprisoned, and Jon heads north for a difficult alliance proposal. 

Grade B+


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