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Monday, 25 May 2015

Game of Thrones S5E7: The Gift.

Game of Thrones
S5E7: The Gift.

We're coming off the wake of Eurovision now, which a lot of people were claiming at the time was very Hunger Games-oid, which is absolutely not true. Eurovision is a lot more like Game of Thrones, with a large group of factions with a long shared history forming alliances and backstabbing people. Not that I'm thinking of any particular backstabbers, Australia. 

(I also thought from the title that this would be a wildling-focused episode, with the titular gift being the region of the same name just south of the Wall, but no, no, they kind of wasted that particular opportunity.)

In this episode, Jon heads North, leaving Sam to deal with Maester Aemon's death and a brewing mutiny in the Watch. At Winterfell, Sansa suffers under her new husband Ramsay, and attempts to convince Theon to help her. Stannis and his forces suffer in the snow, and Melisandre suggests the unthinkable. Meanwhile, down in King's Landing, Littlefinger and Olenna form another uneasy alliance, and Cersei's informal alliance with the High Sparrow takes a sharp turn. In Essos, Jorah and Tyrion are sold to the fighting pits, where a chance encounter sees them meet Daenerys, newly engaged to Meereen nobleman Hizdahr. In Dorne, Jaime meets with Myrcella and Bronn has a run-in with the Sand Snakes in prison.

Olenna's not happy.

Let me just start by saying how deeply I hate Sansa's storyline right now. I was excited for this divergence from the books, but for all of the writers' rather creepy trumpeting about how this was an important part of Sansa's character arc, it feels like she's been kicked back to series two, and all for the sake of HBO getting their rocks off to what remains one of the most awful, skeevy, and unnecessary scenes in the show. 

Sansa doesn't get much screentime in this episode, and although she has some good moments (taunting Ramsay about being illegitimate, and then that Tommen, who legitimised him, also isn't trueborn), the idea of her as Ramsay's prisoner (who, it's implied, he has sexually assaulted repeatedly) leaves the most foul taste in my mouth.

There are quite a lot of very short glimpses at other storylines this episode - Stannis gets a single scene, Sam gets very little screentime, Daenerys only has two scenes. That's not too bad, though: Stannis' scene establishes several important plot conflicts, while Sam's are suitably dramatic and involve the death of a character who has been part of the show since early in the first series. 

(Jaime and Bronn's storyline was so forgettable this episode that I actually wrote this entire review without remembering it, and had to go back and edit it when I saw a picture that reminded me.)

What actually happened in this scene? I barely remember it.

Daenerys has two scenes, one in service to her own plot and one to Jorah and Tyrion's, and by jove am I glad that they didn't pull the 'they nearly meet but then they don't' card, as they have done before sometimes. It seemed like they might for a second, but instead, having Jorah and Tyrion actually meet Daenerys punts their storyline ahead by a country mile, and also puts them in a position where they are unquestionably massively diverged from the books - which is just fine by me. 

The bulk of the story falls on the characters at King's Landing - Cersei, Olenna, and Littlefinger - and how they're coping with the High Sparrow. It's always nice to see Littlefinger and Olenna, allies in kingslaying, interact, and they have a great dynamic. Nicer still was seeing the payoff for this plot that I think we all predicted from the moment that Cersei met with the High Sparrow - the point where the absolutely terrible 'arm the fanatics and point them at your enemies' strategy would turn around and come back to bite her.

The fact that Cersei is surprised by this happening does prod at my suspension of disbelief a little, but never mind.

Yay Stannis.

It'll be interesting to see how Cersei and Tommen cope with this development. I'd be willing to bet that Littlefinger and Olenna will be sweeping in to manipulate the young king, and god knows that if they attempt to get anybody out of the Sparrow's clutches, it will be Margaery first, then Loras, and then literally never Cersei. Of course, the High Sparrow mentioned confessing and throwing oneself on the Mother's Mercy in this episode, so chances are high that that will become relevant - and soon, since we only have three episodes to go.

(God, it feels like the series has barely started and it's already close to finishing.)

For the final three episodes, my hopes are thus: I want to see Brienne rescue Sansa, or Sansa to otherwise improve her situation. I want Stannis to march on Winterfell and for us to get the Battle of Winterfell that frankly has been being set up since the very first episode. I want to see events reach some kind of head with Daenerys, and the same with Cersei. These, I think, are not unreasonable demands. Make it happen, HBO.

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