Published on May 25th, 2015 | by Bean0
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7 “The Gift”
This evening’s episode, my better half and I were discussing the different path Season 5 of Game of Thrones has been wending in it’s last seven episodes. Without the major shocks of uber-villain-regicide, or the on-the-bog-patricide that befell Joffrey and Tywin in Season 4, the first half of this year has been concerned largely with fallout. But Game of Thrones doesn’t simply revolve around it’s character deaths, nor does it require them for it’s tension and the methodical progress that the fifth year has been making is a more satisfying breed of storytelling. Payoffs galore await the players and audiences alike in “The Gift”. I may have crowed with delight several times.
Many of our characters have made useful alliances, or moved closer to their destinies this year. Arya’s story is one of the few not covered in tonight’s episode, but we can rest assured interesting developments are in store for her in the House of Black and White. Meanwhile, her siblings attempt headway of their own. Jon Snow’s ascent to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch sees him riding north with Tormund to parley with the Wildling army, an unpopular mission which leaves Samwell and Gilly decidedly vulnerable at The Wall. This is made poignantly apparent as the great Maester Aemon finally succumbs to old age. We feel this loss with Sam, as his kindness and wisdom, not to mention the tales of his little brother “Egg” (King Aegon Targeryen), have been a rich seam in the fabric of Game of Thrones’ mythos.
Moments before Alliser Thorn ominously threatened Sam at Aemon’s funeral (classy guy) we’d pondered he was perhaps going to reform his asshole ways. Not so much. The very real jeopardy Gilly has been in for months kicks off in brutal fashion, with Sam attempting valour and receiving a kicking as she faces gang rape. Jon’s, presumably deliberate, decision to leave Ghost behind at The Wall is the deciding factor in the fight though, and the two young lovers live to fight another day. Their relationship’s consummation is handled with humour and sweetness, two threads that run through Gilly and Sam’s love for one another.
Sansa, alas, remains under lock and key, subject to her new revolting husband’s depravity and violent whims. Her venture to enlist Reek/Theon’s help is valiant, but ill-fated. Regardless what guilt/revenge/eruption may be stirring in the Greyjoy heir, his courage remains absent. The inevitable flaying of Sansa’s old lady ally is another illustration of Ramsey’s grip on the situation, for now at least. Brienne looks on, one badass against an undefeatable horde at Winterfell. As the snow begins to fall in earnest, and the Stark words “Winter is coming” become an unavoidable certainty, Stannis and his army face increasingly bad odds as they march on the Boltons.
Ser Davos, circumspect as ever, counsels retreat, but Stannis’ assertion that it’s now or never rings true, however unlikely their success seems. The Red Woman makes a dark demand of her king to secure victory; Selyse’s blood, and presumably we’re not talking a pint… Whether this will cause a rift, remains to be seen. His horror is a natural father’s reaction, but his response regarding Selyse’s security will answer that. Should he ensure her protection, we can assume he means what he says. However, either Melissandre or the child’s unpleasant mother could do the sorry deed on his behalf. And he knows that. It is a concerning state of affairs, as ‘unwittingly’ permitting her murder would be Stannis’ style – act righteously but allow horrors to be wreaked in his stead.
The amount of time spent up north was beginning to alarm (not another north-heavy episode), but then we head south and east. Yey! Some brief scenes in Dorn allow us to follow Jaime and Bron’s lack of progress; the one meeting the rebellious daughter he doesn’t understand, and the other very nearly meeting his end. Why the Sand Snake Tyene chooses to grant Bron the antidote to the poison she earlier administered is a mystery, unless there is some super-dark flirting going on.
Across the Narrow Sea, Ser Jorah and Tyrion manage to wheedle their way into Slavers Bay and the fighting pits, with the Lannister wit earning Tyrion first his ‘safe capture’, and then an abrupt smack in the mouth, since he never quits while he’s ahead. Being incapable of holding his tongue also gives him the grand entrance Ser Jorah was hoping for as he is introduced to Daenerys, perhaps the only thing keeping either of them alive. Thank god he wasn’t drunk.
The rest of Seven Kingdom’s erstwhile leadership has been flailing about in Kings Landing, with the exception of Littlefinger, who starts playing his big cards. The resulting developments are thoroughly well earned by Game of Thrones; these storylines have been brewing before our eyes and behind the scenes for five years, and for the whole lives of the characters involved.
House Tyrell is in a perilous stance, with Margaery and Loras still in chains and the boy king Tommen as ineffectual in their defence as ever. No matter how sharp-witted their matriarch Ollena is, her confrontation with the Sparrow gains her nothing, only laying out baldly the precariousness of her position, and all of those with money and ‘power’. She has no leverage over the Faith Militant, least of all of the Sparrow, who can clearly survive on little or nothing except the fervour of his divine calling. Diana Rigg’s imperious performance falters beautifully as Jonathan Pryce asks her if she has ever tilled a field or reaped a harvest. House Tyrell is to be the first for the reaping.
And next in line? Oh the joy, the really quite delirious joy it is to behold Cersei’s downfall. Even it’s opening gambit is a delight. Having spent a sarcky five minutes taunting her daughter-in-law as she sits in chains and her own filth, the Queen Mother pays her Sparrow a visit. Jonathan Pryce savours their exchange, as I imagine the audience did. What she thinks their dynamic might be is unfathomable. Each step she has taken to her doom has been placed there freely, wantonly, without the least sense of hazard or uncertainty. Cercei’s hubris is her greatest weakness; to send away or alienate every one of her allies when her family’s power is so borrowed, so entirely a facade, a mantra she keeps telling herself, just so she can finally play the game her way… Well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer..oh wait. Delicious.
Review by Nina Clark
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