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Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7 “The Gift” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7 “The Gift” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

People seem really shocked over “The Gift.” Not sure why. Let’s dig into this mostly disappointing episode that’s more coal than anything you’d actually want to get under your tree.

We started with the snow softly falling over Castle Black, as Jon (Kit Harington) got ready to lead an expedition up north of The Wall to try to save the Wildings. He then vanished for the remainder of the episode, but not before Sam (John Bradley) could give him dragon glass, in a “We’ve mentioned this twice this season so it will probably start to be important just like the Stone Men” moment.

Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) then buried Old Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan). The post-episode commentary mentioned this was the first natural death on the show, but it was one that it probably kept a little too in the background (there was some hints here and there), but you had to pretty much know it was coming.

And don’t lie, I know some of you out there jumped with joy at the mention of Egg. I know you did. Back in your seats with those tinfoil hats!

I can’t wrap my head around the rest of the Sam and Gilly stuff, though. They are one of my least favorite (read: hated) romantic pairings on the show, perhaps only trumped by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). For a second it seemed the show had decided that one rape scene a season wasn’t enough, but having Ghost come out of literally nowhere (and have him not with Jon…which is also weird) is just one of those “too good for real life we must be watching TV moments.”

Sam does manage to get his dick wet though…?

My bigger problem here is that, while “Game of Thrones” is not shy to dole out violence, it is usually the direct result or consequence of a character’s decision. It’s (almost) always the character’s fault, and while as readers/viewers, we don’t WANT Ned to have his head chopped off, we can directly trace the decisions he made that got him there.

The seemingly random violence toward Sam and Gilly seems different. It could be read as a result of Sam keeping Gilly at the wall, but it seems to be there more to echo Jon’s absence than anything else, which really isn’t fair in a way the show (and source material’s) structure usually is.

We then returned to Winterfell. The show has been falling into the habit (read: bad habit) of lumping areas together and then cutting really small scenes back and forth. It isn’t working. Please stop.

A disheveled Sansa (Sophie Turner) asked Reek/Theon/The Muffin Man (Alfie Allen) for help, picking him for the ever important task of going up and lighting the candle that will save her from all of her doom. It might have been one of the worst decisions in the show since Ned decided that sharpening Ice before going to King’s Landing was a good idea.

Of course, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) was waiting for Reek in the tower. It’s unclear if the whole thing was a power ploy by Ramsay (it wouldn’t be beyond him), or if he just happened to have a giant feast set up so he could sit there and wait for Reek or Sansa to show up. Leaning toward elaborate ploy.

Sansa did start to get her own power-play booties on, sowing more seeds of discontent in Ramsay over his soon-to-be brother. I just wanted her to press those buttons even more…and become the manipulator we all want her to become. Use the Force, Sansa! Turn off your targeting computer. Feel it inside you!

We paid a very brief visit to Stannis (Stephen Dillane), and there’s really not much to say here beside I totally called it and he is going to sacrifice Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Hello airborne Grey Scale. Moving on to someplace warmer….

On Essos, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) got sold into slavery. Or were hired to fight in the pits. Slavery is illegal. But so is the Pirate Bay. Shrug.

The one bit that was especially good here was the slaver’s description of Jorah: I can’t remember how much the show went into his back-story, but Jorah’s whole troubled affairs started when he sold slaves in Westeros, so now being sold as a slave and having the slaver hit really close to the actual truth here had to sting.

And sure. Sure sure sure. Sure. The show did pull a clever little inside joke with fans who pay close attention. The area of land south of the wall but north of Winterfell is called the Gift, and by titling this episode “The Gift,” it made very acute watchers think something was going to happen there.

But nope. Instead it was Tyrion who was in fact the titular gift, running into Dany (Emilia Clarke) earlier than I expected him to. Having her at the opening rounds did feel like a cheap excuse to do something small scale (Tyrion falling off a horse instead of seeing a battle cheap), but show descriptions make it look like the tournament will continue, so it may not have been the cop-out it originally seemed to be.

It’s big…but is it really that big of a surprise? It’s earlier than expected, and it hasn’t happened in the books yet, which means the show is either pulling stuff from the future and ruining it for us poor fools who like the written word, or that nothing will come of their meeting quiet yet.

Daario (Michiel Huisman) also finally called out Loraq (Joel Fry) as being the head of the Harpies, which is the first time the show has made that kind of direct accusation and implication. And it was about time for Dany to realize that being queen meant she was just as trapped as everybody else. Welcome to the real world, Dany girl.

But who will Dany side with? Her lover scorned? Or the best dwarf lover in the 7 Kingdoms? I guess we’ll find out next week in another segment on worst kidnapping attempt ever.

And finally, the hornet’s nest of King’s Landing.

Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) sparred off with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Lady Olenna sparred off with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). Lady Olenna may be one of my favorite characters in the show universe of “Game of Thrones,” so the more of her, the merrier, for the most part.

I still have a problem with the handling of the High Sparrow, though. The show is so full of characters that are motivated by something that it is unique for these characters to come up against somebody who is in some ways pure of want. The High Sparrow can’t be bought or reasoned with, and that in some ways makes him untouchable. It also makes him quite dangerous, as even Littlefinger has wants and aspirations that give him some weaknesses.

I just wish he was a little more interesting. The show can’t seem to find a way to actually explain a motivation-less character, and his rise to power, and now ability to jail even Cersei (Lena Headey) is a giant hanging thread. If Cersei helped put him in power, why can’t she remove him? Where did these religious laws come from? How did Cersei not POSSIBLY see this coming?
Little Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is turning more and more like his mother (and fake-father, actually) every day, willing to go to war to try to free Margaery (Natalie Dormer). Cersie actually had some good advice to give here, having herself wanted to start wars and burn cities to protect her children, and also to see the world take away the people she loves while she stands there powerless to save them.

I’m curious how only-TV people took this. It seemed to be the show had been telegraphing this decently well; but knowing it was coming makes it impossible for me to really say how much of a surprise it was or not. It seemed pretty clear that the breeze couldn’t keep blowing in her favor already, and they already set up Lancel (Eugene Simon), even if he had dropped off the face of the show since season two.

It’s also quite unclear to me when Lancel confessed. It’s not super important in the scheme of things, but it does help determine if the High Sparrow is a power player who was toying with Cersei all along, or if he is really this contrite person that he claims to be.

“Uncle” Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) met up with Myrcella (Neil Tiger Free), who was under no circumstances going to go home with her uncle because he didn’t understand love and she was in love forever and it was real love and she’s not going to go home with him and she’s safe and he needs to leave her alone because TEENAGE LOVE GODDAMMIT.

I read an interesting theory at the start of the season that Cersei faked the whole snake eating the locket thing, and I’m starting to see that theory gain a lot of traction. At least from what we’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe Myrcella is in any kind of harm whatsoever, and that’s just the kind of thing Cersei would do…

For those acute watchers, the show did in fact make mention of Bronn (Jerome Flynn) being poisoned, as he sat in jail across from a den of Sand Snakes.

I’m off two minds of this whole scene: It puts the Sand Snakes in a powerful position, a position that probably rivals that of any other females in Westeros: They are in control of their sexuality, and aren’t afraid to use it against men. But, the Sand Snakes are also such interesting characters and it did seem a little cheap to disrobe one of them so early. It was almost like the show was like: “Well, maybe people will remember this one if she gets naked for Bronn.” Ironically, without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you which of the Snakes it was.

(I did get a kick out of the other two sisters rolling their eyes in the background though).

I’m still very disappointed with how they have been using Dorne this season. Just throwing that out there. Again.

The episode as a whole was a disappointment, and the show is falling into the glacially-slow territory the books occupied during these same arcs. Not much really happened in the hour plus episode, and that’s worrisome this far into the back half of a season. There might be some exciting stuff yet to come, and I say might because I’m honestly not sure how far into the books this season is going to go, but there’s only three episodes left, and while I’m sure there’s some end-game twist left, it’s going to have to be quite something else to save this season from being one of the weaker ones yet.

Notes & Quotes

-“Bastards can rise high in the world.”

-How the fuck did the Storm Crows get to be in Stannis’s keeping?

-“This is the right time and I will risk everything.”

-“All rulers are either butchers or meat.”

-“Lifetime of wealth and power has left you blind in one eye.”

-“…many stop fearing the few.”

-“And more hands.”

-“You’ve always been rather impressed with yourself haven’t you?”

Voices of Valyria Episode 17: Game of Thrones “The Gift” Podcast

Jon leaves the Wall, and Sam pays for it. Stannis realizes he should invent Valyria shovels. And Cersei gets a taste of her own medicine. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the seventh episode of season five, “The Gift.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~55:00.

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