Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And Now The Gift Has Ended

The latest Game Of Thrones, "The Gift," is already the seventh of ten episodes this season.  Hard to believe how fast it's going.  And though there was some table setting in the hour, we also got some results.  And I expect nothing but climaxes from here on in.

As for the title, my friends who read the books informed me it could refer to more than one thing.  For instance, the Gift is the area of land south of the Wall given to the Night's Watch. And the Gift is the gift of death the House of Black and White dispenses. Turns out the episode's gift was a completely different thing.

We start at the Wall.  Jon Snow is preparing to go with Tormund up north to invite the Wildlings down south.  Needless to say, this isn't going over well with the regulars, who have spent most of their time fighting the Wildlings.  But a Lord Commander's gotta do what a Lord Commander's gotta do. Still, even is Snow's plan makes sense (even if it dramatically sort of takes him away from the action), how can he leave behind a fort ready to mutiny?

Meanwhile, Maester Aemon, who's 100 or so, is on his deathbed.  He's amused by Gilly's boy, and reminisces about crazy old Aegon when he was a baby.

At Winterfell, Sansa is being held in her chambers.  The last episode caused a storm of protest--it seemed like a lot of people were surprised at how cruel Ramsay was, leading to the question: have they ever seen this show before?  She tries to give Theon the backbone to put a candle in the high tower as a signal it's time for her friends in the North to take action.  So is she going to get the revenge the audience is waiting for?  Theon/Reek finally agrees, but when he climbs to the top of the tower there's Ramsay waiting.  (I was a little confused at the causation--did Ramsay already know about the signal or was this by chance? Or did Reek go to visit Ramsay to begin with? You see how confused I am. More on this confusion later.)

Meanwhile, Brienne, in her only appearance this episode, is hundreds of yards away, looking pensive, waiting for a signal that doesn't come.  (Guess she heard from others about the signal.)  See you next week, Brienne.  I assume Gwendoline Christie gets paid for a full episode anyway.

Aemon finally croaks and Samwell does the eulogy.  Then someone points out to him, rather too obviously, that he's running out of friends at Castle Black.

Back at Winterfell Ramsay sends for Sansa.  Never a good sign.  He knows Stannis is riding toward them.  So much for that sneak attack. Told you you were wasting too much time, Stannis. Sansa has a surprisingly smart mouth, reminding Ramsay he's a bastard, and, while we're at it, so is Tommen, who naturalized him.  Ramsay--give him credit--has a good comeback.  Sansa, your half-brother, Jon Snow, is now Lord Commander of Castle Black--didn't know that, did you--so bastards can rise high.

Next Ramsay shows her the corpse of the Old Lady who was her "Friend In The North." So he knows all about her plans.  It's not clear to me if he knew the Lady was working against him because Reek said so, or if he knew already and decided to torture her for information.  And it's not clear to me if she gave up information, or died before he could start seriously flaying her. (It's also unclear to me where Roose Bolton is in all of this--has he left Winterfell?  Seems to me he wouldn't be happy with his son treating such a valuable wife so poorly, so I'm guessing he's gone.)  Anyway, we know at least that Reek has blabbed, which should teach Sansa to trust him--though I still believe Theon will eventually make his move when push comes to shove. I think he, not Brienne, not Sansa, not Stannis, will kill Ramsay before the season is out.

There's a huge storm in the North, making Stannis's march tough.  Horses are dying, sellswords are deserting, supply lines are cut off. Davos suggests they retreat to Castle Black until the time is better.  Stannis says he can't retreat again--wintering at Castle Black could take years. (Yeah, Stannis, but when you were there you acted like it was a timeshare and you wanted your money's worth.)  Davos leaves and Stannis turns to Melisandre.  They've both seen visions of a great battle in the snow. (Really, that's it? Not in King's Landing--isn't that more important?)  The Red Lady says sacrifices need to be made, and they need King's blood.  But where to get it?  Well, there's always his only daughter, Shireen. Is she suggesting what I think she is?  We're getting very Greek here.  Stannis tells her to get out, but if the snow keeps falling, will he waver?

Back at the Wall (a very Northern episode so far), a couple of jerky Night's Watch men mess with Gilly.  Samwell tries to defend her, but they beat him so badly I actually thought they killed him. It shocked me--I didn't think the show would do that to such a beloved character. And, so far, I'm right. He's just very hurt.  In a memorbale scene, Gilly tries to lift his spirits by giving him a taste of what he gave up when he took his Oath.  Hey, isn't this how Jon Snow and Ygritte got started.  And  that didn't end pleasantly.

Finally we're out of the north, at a slave auction outside Meereen.  Jorah goes for a high price, as expected (even if the seller exaggerates his tale a bit).  But he needs Tyrion, and vice versa. The Imp convinces the buyer to take him for comic value.  I have one question, though.  It's not the biggest auction, but it's a public event. No one can figure out this is Tyrion, the dwarf everyone in the world is looking for, worth his weight in gold if you just return his head to King's Landing?  I had trouble with that the whole episode.  Didn't Varys try to keep Tyrion locked up to avoid this problem?

Meanwhile, Dany is bedding down with Daario.  Hey, she's a queen, she can do what she wants, but is this seemly?  When Jorah made even the slightest move, she shot him down, saying he was getting above his station.  But then, he's not Daario, is he?  She explains her upcoming marriage to Hizdahr is strictly political. (I still don't get that either. How will that help her take Westeros when it comes down to it?) Marrying Daario and opening the Pits has apparently calmed down the Sons Of The Harpy.  Daario suggest if she wants a real solution, when the games start, she should butcher all the high families there. Now that's an idea.

At King's Landing (which used to be the center of intrigue, but with so many characters dead or AWOL, seems strangely depopulated), a distressed Olenna meets with the High Sparrow.  Jonathan Pryce is a fine actor who hasn't had to stretch much this season, so it's nice to see him with some decent lines.  Olenna demands Loras and Margaery be freed. She believes he's just doing Cersei's dirty work, and can be bought off. She doesn't get this is a fanatic who believes what he's saying--and (like many religious leaders) is very unhappy with the inequality in wealth, and thus happy to fight that by taking down the rich and powerful.  He also has an answer when she threatens to stop sending food to King's Landing--it's the poor who reap the grain, not the powerful, and they will support him.

Meanwhile, Cersei tries to explain to Tommen why he can't do anything.  It seems sort of ridiculous, but he is so young it's just buyable his trusted mother can prevent him from believing he has the power to get his queen out of prison.  (I'd like to see her try this argument on Joffrey.)  He says he loves Margaery, which is painful to Cersei, but Cersei makes sure to let him know she loves him above all...along with Myrcella.

And so we go to Dorne.  So far, the whole Dornish expedition has been a flop.  Jaime and Bronn, not to mention the Sand Snakes, had allegedly big plans to get Myrcella. But the plans turned out to be just try to grab her, and they got blocked.  Jaime is in a nice room--I still don't see why he have walked in the front door and asked for Myrcella back: "Thanks for holding her, we'll take it from here."  But the problem now is Myrcelle wants to stay--she's been there for years (so that's how long it's been since earlier seasons) and wants to stay and marry Trystane.  Okay, so what's the problem?  (Last week I wasn't quite sure if Myrcella had been kidnaped, but now we see not.)

Down in the unisex prison, the Sand Snakes are in one cell and Bronn in another.  He finally gets to sing his song, and has a nice voice--it's almost as if he were once a pop star.. He spars with one of the Snakes, who starts stripping to prove how beautiful she is. Then (good timing) he starts feeling woozy from the slow-acting poison on her spear. The show didn't kill Sam, but would it dare kill Bronn?  Nope.  She's got the antidote and aftet a little teasing gives it to him.  This seem pointless intrigue--and anyway, I was busy watching her take her clothes off, which was quite interesting enough.

At King's Landing Littlefinger meets with Olenna in the ruins of his brothel.  At first she blames him for the trouble, and says she'll tell who was behind Joffrey's death. He explains he was summoned by Cersei, he'd rather not have come. (I have no idea if anything he says is true, by the way--I can't keep track of his intrigues any more.) But he says he's got some information (a gift) that could be quite helpful, so they should team up.   Looks like things will be getting unpleasant for Cersei pretty soon.

Back at Meereen, we're seeing preliminary fights before the big match.  Tyrion and Jorah are not chosen to be lambs to the slaughter just yet.  Over at the arena, Hizdahr (rather conveniently for the plot) leads Dany in to watch some of the bouts.  It's not her idea of fun.

But Jorah hears the fighters acknowledging the Queen and rushes over to see what's happening.  We get his POV, looking at Dany, all in white.  After being banished, to see her again, and have a chance to make it up to her--it's all he could ask for.  Jorah grabs his sword and makes short work of the fighters still there. Meanwhile, Tyrion gets free of his chains.

Jorah presents himself, removing his helmet and revealing himself to Khaleesi.  Not what she expected. It's a powerful moment. She shakes her head and wants him gone. (Could have gone worse, actually.)  He cries out that he brought her a gift, and Tyrion enters.  Who are you, she asks (so she doesn't know either). He explains he's the gift--hence the title of the show--Tyrion Lannister.  That should shake things up a bit.

But the hour isn't quite over.  We're back in King's Landing. Cersei promised Tommen she'd plead the Queen's case to the High Sparrow, but of course, she glories in Margaery being locked up. (Hardly the first time a high-born foe of Cersei ends up in a dungeon.) Margaery is having a tough time, but knows enough that Cersei is behind it all, no matter what she says.

Cersei goes to the High Sparrow and tries to find out what'll happen next, but gets a surprise. A surprise we saw coming, but not Cersei; she's wily, but not coldblooded enough--Tywin would never have put himself in such a position.  It's Lancel,  If the Sparrows think Margaery deserves to be locked up, you can imagine what they think of Cersei after hearing this Lannister tell his stories.

They grab Cersei and toss her in her own cell. (Isn't that done after the first hearing?  I guess not.)  She's vows revenge, and you don't want to get her mad, but these are fanatics, after all.  I'm not sure who holds the cards here.  Everyone is plotting, but while the religious nuts seem to have the upper hand, will Tommen really stand for all this?  Haven't they finally gone too far?  Or will the people side with the religious, who speak for the people.  And what about the battle between Lannisters and Tyrells--the Sparrows want to take away all their finery, but can't they use their sway to strip away whatever powers the Sparrows have?

So that's the hour.  No Arya.  Precious little Brienne or Jaime.  No Roose.  No Varys (is he out for the count?). No Grey Worm, thankfully.  And almost everywhere you look, some sort of tragedy ready to strike. With only three more episodes to go, expect plenty of trouble.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jaime is the prototypical bad dad. Pushes kids out windows. Can't protect his firstborn son and now he just doesn't understand his mean teen daughter (who thinks he is her uncle anyway and that he looks like an old fart nowadays)

4:14 AM, May 26, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tommen is back to being 12 again.

I kind of worry what Cersei and Jaime will do with their kids but maybe that's because of (SPOILER?) the fetish websites that were featured on Silicon Valley right after GOT on Sunday

8:31 AM, May 26, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Myrcella. Uncle/dad looked a lot cooler with long hair.

11:13 AM, May 26, 2015  

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