Show: Game of Thrones
Watched: Episode 47 – May 24, 2015
Title: The Gift
Summary: In motion
NOTE: SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING. This review/discussion contains tons of spoilers about the episode and even ones crossing over from the books. It’s really my free-for-all musing given all the information at my disposal.
First off, I wanted to put forth my perspective on the flack that’s been flying around the internet with regard to the demon in the room at the end of last week’s episode: namely, Sansa’s rape. Regardless as to whether it was a necessary plot point or not, the objections to this scene feel to me like a bunch of pseudo-feminist posturing. True: rape is a horrible thing. But when you place this particular event in the context of the show’s characters and narrative it’s also a complex thing — and besides, why can’t shows show horrible things? GOT doesn’t try to paint the act as a righteous one! First of all, Sansa CHOSE to be in this situation. Now, that doesn’t mean she deserves it, but she chose to go North with Littlefinger. She chose again (and the show paused on that choice) to say the words when marrying Ramsay. She knew full well that she was absolutely definitely certainly without a doubt going to have to sleep with the foul creep that night. She didn’t know she’d have an audience, but she chose to take one for team Stark for her own (more sympathetic) purposes. Second, and in the context of the “historical/cultural” period, there is no such thing as rape inside the confines of a marriage bed. This is incredibly important. I’m not defending this, but it was (and still is) a pervasive way of thinking. In the late middle ages (and that includes Westeros) there really wasn’t any other way of thinking to be had. Marriage was an economic transaction and women and their sexual availability were on the balance sheet. Period. Pointing that out, in contrast to our more “enlightened” modern perspective, is interesting and useful. Everyone should know where we have come from and how far we still have to go. Anyway, I don’t think anyone is confused about the fact that Ramsay is a sadistic, evil, bastard in both the literal and figurative sense. That’s why he’s a VILLAIN. We all hope Sansa gets him up on that red cross herself.
The Wall – GOT sure loves a good departure scene. Jon packs up his men and horses, and trots Tormund out. Thorne and Oly give him the stink eye. Jon, plays the adult and even gives Thorne command. His one fan is Sam, who gives him a jiggly hug and some obsidian daggers (could come in handy if things get creepy).
Meanwhile, Maester Aemon is lying on his death. Sam and Gilly attend, and he compares Gilly’s baby to Egg (who grew up to be the mad king Aegon — get it). Gilly knows he is dying but Sam lingers on a long river in Egypt. But he fades anyway. This might be Westeros’ first natural death. Some have been deserves, some sudden, some slow, many violet, but I can’t remember one from old age or natural disease. Anyway, Sam delivers the eulogy, which is well handled, and the crowd lights him up. How come he burns? Are all dragons immune to fire? Or just Dany? Or only when alive? Afterward, Thorne makes sure to remind Sam that he’s a bit short on friends. We book readers all know where this thread is going.
Next, Gilly is doing laundry when a couple (drunk?) black-shirts wander in and start up that lecherous prelude to bad stuff routine. Sam appears with a sword but is easily disarmed and takes a vicious kicking for it. The redouble their efforts to compromise Gilly’s virtual and Sam stands to courageously defend her (with what? he had a sword and that didn’t work for him). But Ghost materializes and chases the scum away. Nice to see Ghost but we have to wonder why he didn’t go with Jon. Also, for that matter, now that Jon is Lord Commander why haven’t we seen more of Ghost? Why doesn’t he have a nice wolf-bed in the Lord Commander’s office?
Anyway, Gilly cleans up Sam later in his chambers. Their chemistry is good. They both don’t want the other to come to any harm. Gilly knows he means it and kisses him. Which leads to a highly clothed sex scene as she clambers on top of him for a little ride. I think she might find it a little suffocating the other way around. But truth is, in its way, this is a tender little scene. They really are alone. With Jon, Aemon, and their better friends gone, Sam is left with the thugs — and Gilly. But he’s going to have a hard time protecting her from the scum, so I wonder if they will head out to Old Town.
Stannis – Is taking his sweet time crossing from the Wall to Winterfell, and is now stuck in the snowstorm. Things are cold and grim — horses are dying. Davos councils retreat, but Stannis won’t have it. The Red Lady suggests she can fix the problem and ensure his victory if he just serves up Shireen as a nice BBQ. Stannis is not happy with that choice.
Dorne – Are somewhat pointless Southern episode continues with Jaime “imprisoned” in a fine room in the Watergardens. Hotah brings in his daughter/niece so she can prove to him that she really doesn’t want a rescue. The girl does a pretty good job of it and it’s a bit of a shock to poor Jaime, who had hoped to do the “right thing” by her. Now she’s all grown up and a petulant teen who he truly “doesn’t know.”
Bronn has less appealing accommodations down in the dungeons, but he does have a trio of attractive neighbors in the Sand Snakes, who he delights with his musical talents. One of them (I don’t bother keeping them straight), but the prettiest of the bunch, oddly decides to give him a through the bars lap dance. Why, I really have no idea. When he rises, it’s clear that the little dagger slice we saw last week — and in the previews — meant he was poisoned. And she tells him point blank. And gives him the antidote. All without him having to do anything or say very much. Why? Why poison him then cure him? Is he cured? Hmmm. Like many interactions that are written without much source material from GRRM it feels a bit hollow.
Dany – is getting on her own sexy time with Dario. In fact, this episode has a lot of that, with various levels of gentleness. Their in bed chemistry is fine, but he doesn’t actually do much from a plot perspective, just continue to offer hawkish suggestions like “round up all the masters and slaughter them.” Dany isn’t up for that style of ruling. Dario is also, not in the least surprisingly, jealous of Hizdahr zo Loraq (shades of Myranda, but different). Dany assures him she’ll keep putting out.
Meanwhile, both themes continue on when she accompanies Hizdahr to a trashy looking “lesser pit” to witness some good old gladiator action. More on this in a second, but let’s just say Dany isn’t a fan.
Jorah and Tyrion – are marched in chains to some slave auction in front of a lovely CGI background. Jorah is bid up for a high price, and when it looks to Tyrion like he’ll be left behind, he does what he does best, and talks. He does manage to win himself a (cheaper) buyout and head on with — but learns his place with a bit of a slap. Not sure I totally bought this sequence, but okay.
Next, in the fighting pits, Jorah is arming up and we learn that leading up to the Superbowl, men fight in the playoffs at lesser pits for a spot in the big event — or die. Reminded me of Spartacus. Some other guys are chosen and have a bit of a lame fight in front of Dany (above). Jorah, down in the dugout, hears them calling her name and rushes out with a helmet over his head. He makes short work of the whole lot of them while Tyrion desperately tries to get out of his chains. A mystery guy helps him by chopping them in half. Why? There seems to be a bunch of why in this episode. Anyway, he runs out too just as Jorah is pulling of his helmet to show himself to Dany. That’s quite the surprise (gift) and she isn’t pleased, but he offers up Tyrion, he is all for some gift wrapping (as opposed to chains). He tells her his name…
This is all much faster than in the books, and further along too because Tyrion and Jorah really miss her as she “takes off” at the end of ADWD. That part is good as the miss was very frustrating. But I would have liked to see Tyrion in the dwarf troop! I guess we will have to wait until next week to find out how this plays out.
Winterfell – Theon brings a tray to Sansa’s room, unlocking the door (i.e. she’s locked inside). He finds her crying in her bed. She gets up and she’s tear stained and her arms are all bruised. Apparently, Ramsay has been abusing her by night and locking her up by day. A sad sight actually 🙁 I’m still a little confused why she isn’t trying to get more a handle on Whack-a-doodle’s twisted psyche, but it sure is a raw deal anywhichway. Sansa asks Theon to light a candle for her in the broken tower. She begs him, reminding him of who is was. It seems she reaches him a bit. Next he is out in the courtyard, looking at the tower. He heads that way… to Ramsay. This is one of those classic TV/movie fake outs like with the door to Buffalo Bill’s house in The Silence of the Lambs.
So this brings us to Sansa being brought to Ramsay on the wall of Winterfell. He does his usual pretend nice while the snow pours down on them. She does grab a corkscrew. He blabbers on for her and the audience’s benefit about the storm, about Stannis, about Jon as Lord Commander. Now she starts in a bit on his weaknesses by reminding him about his pregnant mother-in-law — which does bug him, but it isn’t enough because he’s all excited to show him his latest project: the nice old lady who was on her side, all flayed up. This is rather grisly (as it usually is with Ramsay). Sansa now REALLY understands what a pickle she is in with Lord Nut-job. Makes Joff look like a kitten. But while I do understand that Theon spilled the beans, I don’t understand how that lead to the lady. Sansa never mentioned the lady. She either should have, or Ramsay should have said: “I did a little digging around the castle” or whatever. Like many other bits in this episode, a little off in the writing.
This state of affairs is quite grim, and we can only hope that Brienne and/or Stannis busts in and Ramsay gets what he deserves — preferably from Sansa’s hand. She needs to take more agency though.
Olenna – not one to rest while her grandchildren are in prison, stomps into the Sept looking for the High Sparrow. She finds him quick, swabbing the floors. She pretends she doesn’t recognize him and then offers him gold. This is confusing. She’s no dunce, and while I can readily buy that Cersei doesn’t recognize his fanaticism, she should. He gives her more blah blah about everyone being judged under the Seven. She threatens the food. He threatens her soul. She stomps out and gets a note from someone…
Presumably… Littlefinger, who she next visits in his ruined brothel. She tries to use her leverage on him for Joff’s murder, and he offers information, apparently “another boy” just like he gave Cersei. This is all a little loose but I have to assume that means that he told Olyvar to spin his tale for the High Septon, which explains why he looked so un-tortured. I still don’t buy it totally. It also presumably means that he is telling Olenna about Lancel, which I also have problems with, but more on that in a second.
Cersei – is “consoling” her son about his missing wife. This is yet more of what she’s done a lot of this season, playing the calm innocent while plotting up a storm. It’s just more boring than her confrontations of prior seasons with Tyrion, her father, Ned or Robert. Tommen has grown, he’s taller than her. And he’s in quite a frustrated uproar about his lack of power with regard to freeing his wife. Now what happened to the military forces he commands? I’ve read quite my share of military history, and while the church often gave monarchs a lot of trouble they rarely managed to imprison them. It feels a touch light. “Innocent cersei” offers to talk to the Sparrow on Marg’s behalf. Right.
So she hikes on down to the Sept and pays a visit to Marg in her dungeon. Not the loveliest conditions, as the girl is chained barefoot in a filthy pit. Worse by far than even Bronn’s cell. No naked ladies either. Cersei continues her acting — which is boring, I liked her
better with venom — but Marg is not fooled, nearly spits at her.
After, Cersei stops by the Septon in some stony chapel. He announces that Loras and Marg will be tried separately by seven septons (including him). He then launches into a long diatribe about his philosophy of simplicity by using the metaphor of the gilded church and the simple chapel. This part I actually liked a lot and I felt consistent with religious reformer. There is a consistent pattern where religion becomes entrenched with the establishment and power structure and new more “minimalist” sects urge reform. Martin Luther was one such. Jesus preaching against the temple establishment another. It’s a prevalent but important duality in religious thinking.
But then the Septon brings out the real surprise. He trots out Lancel, clearly he knows (presumably as agency of Olenna/Littlefinger) about at least her incest with Lancel himself, maybe the poisoning of the king, and possibly (but less likely) about the whole Jaime/Cersei thing. Uh oh for momma queen. She is grabbed by nuns and dragged off — threats or no — to her own homey little cell. This overall miscalculation I buy. She is so cynical and manipulating that she was unable to see the Septon for what he was all along — true to his word. (clip below)
All in all an episode with a lot going on, but with serious flaws. The Dorne part was a little better, Tyrion good as always, Gilly/Sam pretty good, Winterfell excellent, and Cersei’s stuff half decent. But I had all these “why” problems. There were just a whole bunch of happenings that felt more like D&B needed the characters to do something more than their motivations warranted, or just connective arcs they wanted to draw but didn’t have enough space to make entirely clear.
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