Previously on recapping Game of Thrones… Nothing good.
Season 5, Episode 7: The Gift
Still not much good! Much like the Velvet Underground song of the same name, “The Gift” turns out to be not that great of a thing to receive. I imagine watching these last two episodes is roughly equivalent to what it feels like to fall in the mud and get kicked with an iron boot, were that something that actually happens to people.
Bold move by Game of Thrones to end last week on a rape scene, only to immediately have another one this week. Well, near-rape in this case, I suppose. But still, BOLD. It’s almost as if, they don’t care what happens to “good” characters, so long as it provides for “compelling” television that people will “talk about” (Like this!) With Jon off to make peace beyond The Wall, and Maester Aemon finally succumbing to being terribly old, Samwell Tarly is fast running out of friends at Castle Black. And with Jon and Aemon gone, the brothers of the Night’s Watch naturally start to go insane again, with two rather rude members trying to have their way with Gilly. After many instances of totally blowing it with Gilly however, Samwell Tarly will not allow this treatment to stand. So he steps into action and gets his ass totally kicked. More accurately, he gets his face totally punched. Repeatedly. Sam still isn’t much of a fighter, despite his White Walker/Thenn slaying pedigree. Still though, the power of love is a curious thing, and Sam is able to harness his love for Gilly to get back on his feet, to keep on fighting these Night’s Watch flunkies. Thankfully, a deus ex dire wolf occurs in the form of Ghost the conveniently deployed dire wolf/plot device, and the two chumps are scared off. Sam collapses with a thud, but Gilly tends to him, wishing he would stay out of danger. Then, Sam finally gets to finally have sex with Gilly because it’s only in near-rape that they can consummate their love for each other? Obviously, this would never happen in like, real life, but hey, it’s a dumb fantasy show, RULES DON’T APPLY HERE. This is a hardened woman making a choice. In the words of Sam the Slayer himself: “Oh my.”
Clearly there is a sentiment in the Game of Thrones writer’s room of, “Hey, wait a minute, are we subverting expectations enough by punishing our innocent characters just for being innocent characters?” I bring this up because YEP, Sansa is yet again punished, seemingly only for the purposes of horrifying the audience; It is something that Game of Thrones “should do.” A handful of time has apparently passed since last episode’s most terrible wedding (until the next one.) Sansa reveals to Theon that she is locked in her tower all day, and that Ramsay hurts her every night. If you think that sounds bad, don’t worry, it gets worse. She begs Theon to help her, reminding him that he is Theon Greyjoy, heir to the Iron Islands, which don’t look like that great of a place but hey, it’s still something to rule over. Sansa outsources the task of lighting a distress candle in the broken tower to Theon. She trusts Theon to get it done for her, to maybe find some redemption for this sniveling wretch with the absolute worst case of Stockholm Syndrome. Seemingly in compliance with her wishes, Theon ascends the tower, and ascends, and ascends (it’s quite big) and reaches the top where, of course, Ramsay is munching away on a dinner of human innards (I assume.) If you think that sounds bad, don’t worry, it gets worse. Because the next morning, Sansa gets treated to see that Theon has betrayed her, and that Ramsay has flayed the old woman who previously told Sansa, “The North Remembers.” JE-SUS. There needs to be a happy ending for Sansa, there just needs to be. Brienne is out there, just waiting to come rescue her! Though—and this is how this show has conditioned me to think—even if Brienne does come, I fear that things will continue to not end well. In the past, I kind of liked that the show had no regard for its characters, as it seemed to truly allow for anything to happen. Now, I think I’ve reached a tipping point. At this juncture, unpredictability for Game of Thrones just means that the worst thing possible is going to happen.
Making things ever so slightly worse, based on the current condition of Stannis’ army, it doesn’t seem that the Bolton rule over Winterfell is going to end any time soon. Stannis and his men are stuck in a regular Stalingrad out there in the freezing, snowy North. Davos urges Stannis to turn back, and allow his men to take refuge at Castle Black. But, Stannis does not want to take that backwards path. Winter is coming, and who knows how long it will last this time. By the time they can get going, it might already be too late! Plus, he can’t retreat, he already did that once at Blackwater. If he retreats now, he’ll forever be that guy who retreats. Also under doubt are all those fire visions that Stannis started looking at because he thought it meant he would get to have more sex with Melisandre, but actually started to believe in once literally everything started going his way. As previously discussed, the Lord of Light is real, so it is possible that all of Stan’s leeches-filled-with-Gendry’s-king-blood-sacrifice power has worn off. The Lord of Light is really going to need a much more substantial donation from Stannis if he wants to keep advancing under the umbrella of this god. Some sacrifices are too big to make though, even for a man so obsessed with being king like Stannis. For the Lord of Light needs fresh blood, and the only source of royal blood among them would be Shireen. For now, Stannis remains Dad of the Year, straight up shutting down the idea. But, seeing as how this is still Game of Thrones, where agonizing pain happens, I’m sure he’ll capitulate and totally farm his daughter’s blood for his own purposes (I’m unclear if this means completely sacrificing her, or just doing some more leech work. Either way terrible thing to do to your daughter that I’m sure he’ll totally do, or get slaughtered for not doing, for there is no reward for being moral on Game of Thrones.)
Life at King’s Landing takes a rather interesting, if not inevitable turn. “Hello, my name is the High Sparrow, and I’d like to talk to you about God. All seven of them actually. Yes, we worship seven gods. And yes, if you affront them YOU WILL ROT IN A DUNGEON FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS.” Call it God’s Landing now, because the King has no more power. Tommen says as much himself. “I am the King! The Queen is in prison, and there is nothing I can do!” Of course, he could do something, like make a royal decree that the Faith Militant have no more power, and give all power back to himself. You know, like a King would do. But, why would Cersei allow him to do that when she’s having so much smirking fun torturing Margaery Tyrell like this:
Cersei: "Hello sister. My, aren't the conditions in here awful? Please, have some venison." Margaery: "I know you did this." Cersei: "I mean really, they couldn't have at least given you a room with a window?" Margaery: "LEAVE." Cersei: "Ooh yes, I suppose my son does need me." Margaery: *Throws bowl at Cersei* "Get out you hateful bitch!" Cersei: "Oookie, buh bye now." *Smirkiest smirk that ever smirked* SCENE
Now, why Cersei would go anywhere without a bodyguard crew is beyond me (though I guess it’s a combination of hubris and that High Sparrow fella just seeming so gosh darn nice!) but she does. Once the High Sparrow got going about confessions, truths being laid bare, and what will we find on Cersei, you knew the other shoe was going to drop. Oh the irony, the “it was only a matter of time you smirking idiot” irony. She’s done terrible things, and now everyone knows it. Only the gods may judge. To her credit, Cersei remains defiant until the dungeon door is slammed in her face. “Look at my face! It’s the last thing you will see before you DIE!” Actually Cersei, it’s the last thing we’ll see before you die. Nice knowing ya, kiddo.
Finally, out in those damned fighting pits, there is some hope for a story line. Sure, it’ll probably end in mass Grey Scale infection sadness for all parties, but for now, there’s hope. By their own methods, Jorah (reputation) and Tyrion (beating his guard up) both get purchased to fight in the so-called “Great Games.” First though, there’s what I guess is a qualifier, or like when you go around to the smaller tennis courts at the U.S. Open to watch lesser known players go at it, and be really close to the action. Basically, there is a lower-level fighting pit that Jorah and Tyrion are rather assuredly told the Queen will in no way show up for. Smash cut to: the Queen, Daenerys Targaryen showing up to watch some good old fashioned mutilation. For tradition! Jorah, still wanting the warm embrace of his cherished Khaleesi that is only reserved for Daario Naharis, catches wind of her presence and springs into action. Technically, he wasn’t a part of the fight that Daenerys was in attendance for, but he springs regardless! And he wins! He reveals himself to his Khaleesi and is met only with a, “Get him out of my sight.” But wait, he has a gift for her! And here he comes now, newly freed from his chains by some random huge guy with a chain-cutting blade… it’s Tyrion Lannister! FINALLY, the two meet! Let’s inject some Dinklage theatricality into this dead wasteland that is every week the show goes to Meereen. Hopefully the dragons don’t turn on them all and roast them alive, because man is foolish to believe he can tame an ancient beast forever, or some crap. Give us some positive progress here, please!
Spare thoughts to make us think that it’s all going to work out by Episode 10:
– Also happening this week: Jaime meets up with Myrcella, who remembers him with more hair. Myrcella considers Dorne her home now, and isn’t leaving. Bronn was poisoned in last week’s fight but gets the antidote by complimenting the beauty of one of the Sand Snakes, who quite likes his singing, as the foremost beauty in all the world. Sure. Frankly, I’m surprised the antidote actually worked. Boy, these Sand Snakes sure were hyped for a whole lot of nothing.
– Related to the above: to quote myself from the BOLD PREDICTION recap, “Bronn falls in love with the female assassin tasked with killing him, and the two end up living a very happy, quiet life together, operating an artisanal lemonade shop in a hip suburb of Dorne.” YOU GUYS. This could happen!
– Also related to the above: Myrcella claims to have been in Dorne for years. I can’t remember in what season she got sent there, but years? People usually say that when they’re talking about a very long period of time. But, even if she’s only talking about two years (two being more than one, so literally, a plurality of “a year”) shouldn’t Little Sam have grown some by now?
– What do you think Varys is up to these days?
– Sansa for some reason decides to keep reminding Ramsay of his bastard lineage. DON’T MAKE HIM ANGRY YOU DUMMY! I CAN’T HANDLE MUCH MORE OF THIS!
– Heavily implied by Little Finger and Olenna’s meeting that his gift to her is revealing past Cersei transgressions to then leak to the High Sparrow, no? CARCETTI!!!
– Daario’s comment of “All rulers are either butchers or meat” has to be the strangest take on pillow talk that I’ve ever heard.
– I want to know more about the random huge guy that frees Tyrion! Tyrion even gets a bro nod of approval from him. What’s your story, man???