TV Review: "Game of Thrones" 05x07: "The Gift"

I don't think it would be entirely off-center to say that "The Gift" was the best episode of this season, and one of the best ones of the show. For the first time this season, the show was really firing on all cylinders, giving us one of the most Game of Thrones-y experience in a while. There were betrayals, plot twists, deaths, and more. Let's start.

The main reason why this episode was so important was that many plotlines reached important climaxes, with still only three episodes to go. This gives us a great impression of progression, because in a season that has perhaps deservedly been called slow, there is promise of an extremely intense second half (like in the first season which, to be fair, was never slow). These plotlines aren't necessarily story arcs but also character arcs. I was particularly happy with Sam's plot this episode.

Now, just to get it out of the way, I was disappointed by the death early into the episode because, sadly, it couldn't capture just how poignant and beautiful it was in the book. I understand why it couldn't be filmed as it was in A Feast for Crows, so I can't complain too much, but I had to say that, for once, that scene was much better in the book. Sam, like Jon, is having a great season thanks to extended focus. The confrontation with the rapey asswarts was extremely intense, not to mention violent, thanks to the twice established tension of "no one is safe" (even those who are safe in the books). Oh and hello Ghost, good to see you're still around.

But the real culmination was of course Sam and Gilly's relationship reaching a, errr . . . climax. The scene was as awkward as we expected, but there was something very sweet about it. Also, I remember it being pretty gross in the book because Martin has something against writing sexy sex scenes. It felt like real progress for a couple that's been happening since the third season, so I'm glad it went somewhere.

I want to reluctantly applaud the show for once again making me nauseated thanks to its mean fucking edge. Sansa's story was bad enough after her brutal wedding night and the new plot twist presented this episode not only pushed it further, but completely trashed any hope we had of Sansa maybe getting revenge (or even just being okay). The same goes for Reek, whom we had begun to suspect could be reverting to Theon but sadly once again proved his broken loyalty to his torturer. Despite the fucking horrifying image of the flayed cadaver he caused, I can't help but feel bad about Theon. I'm glad the show hasn't shied away from the treatment he's received. If he so quickly could go back, I would feel somewhat cheated.

Also welcome is the book six material told from Stannis' POV. Though some differences are clear here, I appreciate them because they add drama, and promise some very heavy shit for the next episodes. I don't think Stannis had ever given so much sass to Melisandre as he did this episode, so there's another sign of great progression. Not only is Stannis' relationship with Davos slowly eroding, his relationship with Melisandre might come to a full stop sometime soon. This season has bothered itself with making some previously unlikeable or uninteresting characters likeable again without bastardizing anyone, and Stannis is the biggest winner.

What's been extremely disappointing though is the almost baffling absence of Jaime this season. Boy, we thought there wasn't a lot of Tyrion in season four, season five has all but forgotten about Jaime, a fan favorite. Not only that, but it was hard to see his story come to an abrupt stop after the one bad scene last episode. It makes sense that Myrcella doesn't want to be treated as a political pawn by her own family, but this was annoying.

At least the scene in the cells with Bronn and the Sand Snakes worked pretty well. Nym treated Bronn (and the audience) to some barely legal porn that filled me with deep and confusing emotions because hot-dang that woman is beautiful, creating a fantastic scene very few people seemed to grasp. See, she didn't really care about being called beautiful; she was using both her body and her skills in combat to Bronn (who's established as a Man's Man, talking only about fighting and fucking) to submit to her in a field that's completely male-dominated: the decision to appreciate a woman as pretty or ugly. Nym turned the sexist playing on its head without us even noticing, humiliating Bronn in the process. People complained because the Sand Snakes were standard tough chicks last episodes, so it was good to see them turn into something more complex this time.

Also fuck, that scene was intense in itself.

Now, on to the most impotant segments: Tyrion finally met Dany. This was a development that we could never see as such in the books, and it was long coming. I hated the scene in which Tyrion finds a way to go alongside Jorah; in the book it made much more sense, and Tyrion used his wit, and not violence (in a very awkward and forced bit) to get his ticket out of the slaver's grasp. That aside, the culmination of Tyrion/Jorah's story in the fighting pit was great and as heartbreaking as we expected. In any other episode, that would've been the closer, but . . .

Yeah. King's Landing. Holy shit. First off, let us not pretend that we didn't see Cersei's own ego coming back to bite her in the ass. It's a great testament to a horrible character that she created a monster she was sure wouldn't turn against her; realizing that the Sparrow is only being "fair" must be a tough pill to swallow, but hey: something something glass houses, something something stones. Of course Lancel hadn't forgotten about all their incestuous fucking in the early seasons. Doy.

More promising than seeing Cersei suffer a little (which I'm not looking forward to; I love Cersei), though, was the beginning of a new story between Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger. If there are two people in Westeros I do not want to see working together, to any end, it's these two. Olenna had enough gall to give lip to Tywin Lannister, and Littlefinger is Littlefinger. I don't know what they're going to do to pull their plan off, but I'm sure it will be delicious. As an extra observation: the dialogue between Olenna and the High Sparrow was phenomenal. Just as I was shocked when she sassed Tywin, I was shocked when the Sparrow sassed Olenna. Again, all without compromising either character. Phenomenal writing there.

"The Gift" has been without a doubt the best episode of the fifth season, and some classic Thrones. If this is what's happening with three episodes to go, I cannot imagine how crazy the last ones are going to be.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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