After last week's Game of Thrones episode, I approached this week's Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: "The Gift" with trepidation. Last week's ending scene weighed me down like a brick in my stomach. Who's going to get killed in this episode? Who's going to get brutally violated?
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7: "The Gift" involves a semi-juicy comeuppance (about time) and a long-awaited meeting between special characters. Oh, and a few people die, one peacefully, the other slowly. But what episode doesn't involve a grisly death of some sort? This is Game of Thrones!
In previous seasons, the number of viewers remained steady throughout the season and slowly increased. After last week's lowly-rated episode 6, it looks like some viewers either boycotted the show or just didn't have the heart to come back. Or were partying it up for Memorial Day weekend.
Tormund's Fiery Beard: Lumberjack or Brooklyn Hipster?
With that glorious beard, Tormund belongs with a group of tree-axing Wildlings or a bookstore coffee shop in Brooklyn. All he needs are some flannel shirts and ripped jeans...
Anyway, I digress.
Jon agreed to go with Tormund to convince the Wildlings to move south of the wall in order to be safe from the White Walkers, and also in return for a military alliance with the Night's Watch. Today, they set off. Alliser Thorne speaks against it, but Jon is not deterred from his unpopular decision to accompany Tormund. He leaves Thorne in charge.
But Jon Snow forgot to bring his pet wolf...
Maester Aemon Dies of Old Age
Compared to all the cranky and bitter prunes at the Wall, Aemon was a source of kindness to Sam and Gilly and her child. The old, mild-mannered Targaryen scholar dies of old age, calling out to his dead brother, Aemon V. Compared to all the other grisly deaths that we've witnessed in this show, Aemon's death was surprisingly peaceful.
At the funeral, Sam delivers a beautiful farewell speech to Aemon. Right after the torch lights up the funeral pyre, Alliser Thorne wastes no time in whispering to Sam that he is losing his friends. Sam looks up at the grim blokes eyeing him with hostility. Gulp.
Sam: Not a Fighter, Not George Takei
With diminishing influence of Sam's friends, a couple of Night Watchers gang up on Gilly and try to rape her. After what happened to Sansa last week, I dreaded another brutal rape scene this episode. But Sam came to the rescue, clumsy and holding the sword the wrong way.
We all know that one's not a fighter. I thought Sam was going to get his head bashed in a la Oberyn. Those blows looked like some serious brain damage.
However, Sam unleashes Jon's direwolf, who growls and scares off the Night Watchers.
I have a feeling they'll be back. It's not safe for Gilly, and they might try to take out the wolf. Sam might not be able to protect her next time.
Gilly tends to Sam's wounds afterwards. They exchange cute kisses before Gilly climbs atop Sam and makes surprise love to him. "Oh my," says Sam.
Sansa's Bruises; Reek Disappoints Yet Again
In Winterfell, Sansa's arms show several weeks' worth of bruises. It's hard to tell how long she's been married to Ramsay Bolton, but it looks like he keeps her locked up in the room and rapes her at night.
Sansa tries to find help - she asks Reek to help her deliver a message to her helpers by running up to the north tower and lighting a candle. Reek refuses at first but Sansa insists that he is Theon Greyjoy. We know Theon has a horrible track record with loyalty to anything except his master Ramsay, especially since he sold out Sansa to Ramsay earlier when she found him in the kennels.
Reek runs up the stairs--but to Ramsay's study instead of the north tower. Sigh. His sister was right to leave him behind when she saw that he was broken -- good judgment call on her part. Unfortunately, Sansa will have to learn the hard way.
Meanwhile, Brienne and Podrick wait for the candle to light the north tower window.
Later, Ramsay tells Sansa that he found the old lady who had been willing to help her, and flayed the old woman. She died before they peeled off the skin of her face.
Stannis Refuses to Sacrifice His Daughter, Tells Melisandre to Begone
Stannis gets a bit nervous this episode. He tries to seduce Melisandre, perhaps being in the mood for some Shadow Babies for Success. He asks Melisandre to confirm that his army will win Winterfell. She asks him to sacrifice his daughter...and Stannis says no. Why not? Because "she is my daughter." The man has limits to what he would do to conquer. +2 respect. Then he tells her to leave.
Dany's Rogue Lover
This isn't the first time Queen Daenerys has slept with her rogue lover Daario. He asks her to marry him, but she laughs at the suggestion, knowing her duties as Queen to provide diplomacy and security to her people. He also recommends that she gather all the leaders of the nobles and kill them all. Dany is left with no knights to advise her, but a rogue who is more skilled with aggression than with diplomacy, all or nothing.
Daario is a ball of chaos rolled and kneaded into the shape of a handsome man. Where Dany tries to play by the rules, the man has none.
His take on ruling: "All rulers are either butchers or meat."
Jorah: One Does Not Need to Kill to Fight Well, Tyrion Meets Dany
In the fighting pits, fighters are picked to kill each other. Jorah is not picked for the first round, but he goes over to the opening and sees Daenerys sitting with her betrothed. He pulls on a helmet and runs out, knocking out and disabling several fighters with efficiency and speed as he hurries over to his Queen.
Jorah proves a point: you don't need to kill in order to fight with skill.
He unmasks himself. Due to his previous deception, Dany doesn't ever want to look at him again. However, just in time, Tyrion runs out and presents himself as the "Gift". I would like to see Tyrion advise Dany. He's got a knack for politics (being a Lannister and all) and for improving morale within a group. I think he'd be a great counsel.
But what happened to Varys? I don't think he enjoys bar-hopping.
Myrcella and Uncle Jaime
Myrcella talks to Jaime and asks him why he's trying to take her back when she has gotten used to living in Dorne. I often forget how little she was when Tyrion sent her away from King's Landing to live in Dorne. By now, she's probably somewhat socialized the Dorne way, if not educated in its ways. And she has a fiance.
This was a pretty heart-wrenching scene from Jaime's perspective. Jaime can never tell her the truth of who he really is to her. Myrcella may actually be safer in Dorne than in King's Landing, where the lack of stability in power is bound to lead to something ugly. Safer, if we ignore the fact that the Sand Snakes and Ellaria Sand want to kill the Lannister daughter to avenge the death of their father.
Tyene and Bronn
Now here's a flirty coupling. The Sand sisters and Bronn are residing in different cells of the same prison. Through the bars, Tyene starts heavily flirting with Bronn. As his heart rate goes up, the poison from her blade kicks in. She reveals that it is fatal, but makes him say that she is the most beautiful woman before tossing him the antidote, which she wears around her neck in a bottle.
Bronn and Tyene look like they'd make a fun couple. They like to tease and troll people, and they're both playful.
Lady Oleanna's Barbs
Lady Oleanna, the matriarch of the Tyrell family, tries to persuade the High Sparrow to free her grandchildren, Margaery and Loras. The two trade clever barbs in an old-people-flirty way. Or maybe that's just me, thinking that in a different world, Lady Oleanna and High Sparrow would make a fun and witty couple.
The High Sparrow reminds her that no one is immune to the religious laws. She tells him that half the city would be damned if he actually enforced it, and also points out that compared to other sins (rape, murder), Margaery and Loras are pretty low on the totem pole.
She tries to offer him money, but he has no interest. She threatens to halt shipments of grain into the city, and the High Sparrow looks at her with disdain before he turns the threat back on her. "You are the one percent," he says. "We are the 99 percent, and we outnumber you." Or at least, that's how I remember it.
Later, Oleanna meets up with Little Finger, reminding him that if her family falls, then he will fall with them due to their mutual involvement in the death of King Joffrey. He tells her that there is a way...
Cersei Plays with Fire and Gets Burned
Tommen is frustrated by how he can't do anything. His mother has stripped him of all his kingly powers. Sadly, her actions have greatly destabilized the power dynamics within King's Landing. He may be in greater danger now because of her actions, due to her petty grudge against Margaery.
Cersei visits Margaery in her cell beneath the castle to gloat, offering false words of consolation, such as that her isolation will end once the trial begins. Margaery isn't buying any of it and throws the deer food back at Cersei, calling her a "hateful bitch".
Cue: Cersei's smug face as she saunters through the hall and informs the High Sparrow that Margaery's accomodations are "sufficient". The High Sparrow starts talking about the architecture while Cersei humors him with that smug smirk on her face. He keeps repeating that the wealthy will be stripped of their riches, but Cersei does not get it until he brings out her cousin who had joined the cult and spilled her dark and ugly secrets to the High Sparrow. This is really good acting on Lena Headey's part. Her smug face doesn't completely give as the High Sparrow's threats begin to dawn on her but she quickly casts sidelong glances at the guards before she attempts to hurry away.
Nuns drag her into the dungeon, as she screams that she is the Queen, which confirms something that we all know: Cersei never stopped seeing herself as Queen, not even after Tommen married Margaery. Now we await her trial.
+50 Lady Oleanna, for being the most awesome grandma ever. The clever, sharp-tongued, and witty "Queen of Thorns".
+1 for a possible romance between the Tyrell matriarch and the High Sparrow. Just kidding. But they do make amazing verbal sparring partners.
+2 Stannis, being a good dad by not sacrificing his daughter for success.
+1 Jaime, being an awkward dad-uncle with a rebellious daughter who's in love.
-2 Cersei, lacking the foresight to see that she is putting her son in danger by playing with forces that she can't control.
+1 Cersei's look of 1,000 years of hurt when Tommen tells her that he loves Margaery. And her rage-inducing smug-smirk. Props to Lena Headey, for creating a character that people love to hate, and hate to love.
+100 Cersei's comeuppance. Many of us have been waiting for this for a very long time.
+8 Jorah finally reunites with Dany. Also, Tyrion meets Dany for the first time.
-10 The poor old flayed woman. She wasn't sneaky enough, and Ramsay was able to sniff her out fast.
-15 Reek, being Reek and not Theon Greyjoy. Theon was a jerk, but I liked him a lot more as the pervy and horny Greyjoy. Once again, disappointment.
+1 Sam's heartwarming "Oh myyy" moment with Gilly.
Game of Thrones: Critical Reception by Episode