Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
There was an episode of Game of Thrones! Entitled “The Gift,” this episode certainly lived up to its name as the best episode of the season thus far. Other than the continued missteps in Dorne, the end of this season is building to some serious fever pitches. This week had at least two definite “stand up and cheer” moments, and surely left everyone wondering what these last three weeks can hold as we scream towards the end of the fifth season. We focused on just a select few locations again this week, and it worked marvelously to ramp up the tension on a select few characters. Let’s start with our one misstep this week before we talk about all the great stuff and what it leaves for the last few episodes to close out.
Dorne just… is not doing it for me this season. Jaime meeting Myrcella worked, as she screamed at her dad/uncle and basically demanded to be happy. Good for her, but she is difficult to draw much sympathy due to the fact that she, essentially, was just introduced. As an audience, we understand where she is coming from. But it is difficult to care too much.
Meanwhile, the scene with Bronn in prison with the sandsnakes seemed to only serve two purposes – first, to remind us of actor Jerome Flynn’s excellent singing voice (the man was in a Hall and Oates-esque 90’s British pop duo. Really.)
Dorne is in the southernmost region of Westeros, so let’s head to the north, where Game of Thrones is firing on all cylinders. Up at the Wall, we did not get to see too much this week. Jon left with Tormund Giantsbane, leaving Alliser Thorne (as first ranger) in charge of the Wall in his absence. The unchaining of Tormund and Jon’s goodbye to Sam seemed to carry a bit of foreshadowing to it, didn’t it? The Wall is in flux right now, and there are so many moving pieces in play right now that it is tough to tell exactly how it is going to shake out at Castle Black.
The other main storyline at the Wall this week involved Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon. Watching Aemon slowly succumb to old age was touching and heartfelt, as we learned a bit more of his backstory. We also got to see a bit of a human side to Allister at Aemon’s funeral (although he quickly dashed that by threatening Sam). Hot on the heels of last week’s uncomfortable scene, we almost had another this week. It was good to see Sam try to defend Gilly and fail, as it reaffirmed his two main character traits: loyalty and ineptitude. The reappearance of Ghost was such a great moment though, right?
When that giant wolf stepped out to cover Sam’s back, a look of satisfied smiles surely appeared in front of screens across the country. Although Ghost and Sam got no real retribution (and where did Ghost go? He disappeared pretty darn quick), Sam finally got the reward he wanted – he got to break those vows. His love scene with Gilly was sweet and awkward, exactly the way it should have been. It was satisfying to see two people finally achieving something they both wanted, even if it took Sam getting his face broken to get there. Good for them.
Still up north, we got to see just what life is like in the world of Sansa Stark. That is, Sansa Bolton. Ramsay is being exceedingly cruel, locking her in her room when he is not abusing her at night. She pleads for help from the one person in Winterfell that she actually knows, Theon. Theon promptly proves that he is truly Reek by turning her in to her husband. The dialogue between Ramsay and Sansa is fun to watch. Although Ramsay is a total sadist, you get the sense that he still has to tread a bit lightly around his new wife. He knows that he is one step from losing all that he has gained, and watching him stare over the edge, waiting for him to fall, is a blast. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until next season to see that payoff. Whether it comes from Stannis, Brienne, Sansa herself, Roose… someone needs to carve Ramsay Bolton up. It was nice to see Sansa regain some of the strength she has been finding over the last season or so in her conversation with Ramsay. She obviously hates what he is doing to her, but Sansa seems so used to abuse that she accepts it at this point. It is good to see that she is not going to be rash about enacting her revenge, especially now that she knows Theon is worthless to her cause. She should call Ramsay a bastard just a few more times. She also got some news: she has heard almost nothing of Jon Snow since she first left Winterfell back in the first season. That was a nice moment for her to tie back into her past, before she had to see the flayed woman that Ramsay left for her.
Before leaving the north, we also checked in with Stannis and his awful march on Winterfell. You know your military strategy is going to be difficult when you have to march south to get to Winterfell, and Stannis is seeing the effects on morale and supplies. Not only that, but his troops are deserting and Melisandre wants him to sacrifice his own daughter for some more “awful shadow demon” magic. Stannis is no monster, and dismissed Melisandre for suggesting such a thing. This again proved that Stannis would make a great king, and helped assure that he would never get a chance to.
Our episode coalesced into two great storylines to end it. The first took place across the narrow sea, with Jorah and Tyrion finding their buyer. Tyrion had a few great beats during this episode’s story (as he usually does). After Jorah was purchased, how great was it to watch Tyrion kick the ass of the man holding his chain? Just gave him a beat down, and was eventually purchased for being “funny.” His other great moment came when he was trying to get out to the fighting pit, and the huge man broke his chain and gave him the slightest little head nod. It is the first time in a long time that things have gone right for Tyrion, and hopefully we get some payoff next week from Jorah’s gift as Tyrion revealed himself to Daenerys.
Tyrion was not the only one who got good moments over in Mereen. Dani’s conversation with her lover was another reminder that her idealized view of the world is not working. Hearing Daario suggest that she get as many masters together and kill them all was sickening because it showed the gap between the two. It was also sickening because, just as the audience knows, Daenerys knows he is right. It would make her a butcher, but it would also completely establish her power. Dani is obsessed with being a Targaryen, but she conveniently blinds herself to the fact that the successful members of her family were the butchers that Daario speaks of.
Jorah had his moment as well, strolling out into the fighting pit and easily dispatching everyone without killing anyone. He showed how formidable and driven he is before finally showing his face to the queen he has so desperately tried to make it back to. She can certainly rain on someone’s parade, right? “Get him out of my sight,” she stated. Any tenderness she once had for the bear is long gone; only Tyrion making his way out of the tunnel could possibly provide a glimmer of hope for that relationship to rekindle. Hopefully we see next week what the outcome of this meeting will lead to.
Finally, we ended our episode at King’s Landing. We got to see poor Tommen, raging and starting to sound more like his brother (“I am the KING!”), but ultimately remaining the inactive, powerless child we know that he is. Thankfully, Cersei offered to speak to the High Sparrow on his behalf. Lady Olenna, the Queen of Thorns, attempted to bully the High Sparrow as she bullies everyone else. In doing so, she uncovered the scary truth of what we already knew: the High Sparrow is serious about his cause. He appears to have no ulterior motive, instead relying on a strict interpretation of the laws of the gods. This makes him an incredibly scary force, as almost every character in this universe has broken those laws at some point. In actuality, the High Sparrow may be the single most powerful person in Westeros at the moment, as he seems practically untouchable at this point. Luckily, Littlefinger has provided Lady Olenna with a “handsome young man” to throw a wrench into the works.
Possibly even more satisfying that watching Joffrey meet his demise was finally seeing Cersei’s schemes catch up with her. All those smug smiles and backhanded compliments she has given through the entire series came flooding back as the High Sparrow systematically broke her down. It was even better after watching her brief meeting with Margaery. It was amazing to see how quickly Margaery has broken down, and hearing her call Cersei a “heinous bitch” was also a lot of fun. Their meeting also served to probe that the High Sparrow’s assessment of Olenna was correct – a life of luxury has ruined the Tyrell’s ability to be “normal.” But I will watch sad Margaery angrily hurl soup across the room any day of the week.
As soon as Lancel entered the room with the High Sparrow, the look on Cersei’s face finally became genuine. She entered full flight mode, but it was far too late. As religious as the High Sparrow is, he certainly loves to set his traps, doesn’t he? First Margaery, now Cersei. Cersei did not help her cause by telling her captor that her face will be the last thing she sees before she dies. It will be a lot of fun to see how Cersei tries to squirm her way out of this one, and also how Olenna tries to manipulate this situation to further house Tyrell and save her grandchildren. Overall, the best episode of the season and a great push towards the final three episodes of season five.
– Ghost saves the day
– Jorah’s badass fight
– Tyrion’s badass beatdown of his slaver and intro to Dani
– Sam gets laid
– Aemon’s funeral
– Sansa finding her strength, learning who she can trust
– Cersei gets her comeuppance, finally
– Sandsnakes (still)
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Did it fire on all cylinders for you? Or is an episode without Arya a lost cause at this point? Let us know in the comments below!