HomeTelevisionTV Recap: Game of Thrones, 'The Gift'

TV Recap: Game of Thrones, ‘The Gift’


The Gift Plot Summary:

Desperate for help, Sansa (Sophie Turner) attempts to reach Theon (Alfie Allen) through his thickened Reek personality. Sam (John Bradley) personally deals with several conflicts at The Wall. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) reach their destination. Cersei (Lena Heady) encounters unforeseen complications with her master plan to rein in power.

Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO

Episode 7! You know what this means folks. The tiny breadcrumbs that we have been following since the season premiere are now becoming full meals. Just last night, two stories reached their climactic moments with “The Gift.” Each of them were explosive turning points that give us a better sense of what we can expect as Season 5 ramps up. In fact, it’s through those big changes that this episode truly shines. It’s about time we took the great leap to a next phase instead of prolonged dialogue and diversions. Of course, not every story was prepared for this. There was one arc in particular that was likely thrown in for a bit of aftermath. Yet even that contained a little nugget of information for what might come in the very near future.

I’m sure that Sansa’s rape is still fresh on everyone’s mind from last week. Just thinking about that scene makes me feel dirty and want to shower for ten thousand hours. Unfortunately “The Gift” didn’t exactly pull us out of that horrid hole. Things continue to get worse for Sansa and show absolutely no sign of stopping. Last night, she tried to appeal to Theon’s loyalty to her family as a means to escape Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). For a very brief second you think things will work out for her. Then you watch Theon give Ramsay the candle and the show’s resident super villain skins Sansa’s predominant ally. There’s no way the killing of innocent Northerners is both going unnoticed and not impacting Ramsay’s public persona, but who cares about that right? Things need to go bad for Sansa and now they need to get worse. Everyone else is irrelevant. At least it looks like she’s prepared to verbally spar with Ramsay. Mentioning the unborn son of his stepmother and how that will ruin his plans for leadership must sting like hell.

Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO

Stannis (Stephen Dillane) received no more than a drop in for his portion of Northern Events. We don’t know where he is exactly at this time, but clearly things aren’t going well. Davos (Liam Cunningham) delivers a fairly abysmal report on their losses and Stannis pledges to march onward no matter what. Obviously you’d expect nothing less from the guy, but it also makes sense with what’s at stake. If Stannis isn’t able to take back Winterfell, he will never get the throne he believes he deserves. Westerosi history will remember him very negatively as “The King Who Ran,” as aptly described by Stannis himself. So he might as well die trying to get what he wants instead of living in a constant state of failure. Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) is there as well to keep feeding Stannis the belief that the Bolton’s will fall soon. Pointedly however, she doesn’t mention that it is Stannis himself winning the day. Could that mean something? I also did enjoy the test the man now faces. Melisandre says that he needs to sacrifice Shireen for victory, but just a few episodes ago he reassured her that he will do everything to protect her. Clearly he’s now at a moral crossroads. Value victory over family, or vice versa?

At the Wall, it was wise for “The Gift” to use Jon’s (Kit Harington) journey to Hardhome as a means to focus on Sam. Sam’s POV chapters might be the most boring parts of “A Feast For Crows,” but they still contain some fairly important story elements. Last night touched on all of those in a big and fairly well constructed way. Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) met his foreshadowed end and it leads to Alliser (Owen Teale) commenting that Sam is losing all of his friends. We definitely see that when two men attempt to rape Gilly (Hannah Murray). This scene was great for two reasons: 1) It showed us how dedicated Sam and Gilly are to each other, and 2) It gave Sam some badass material to work with. John Bradley doesn’t get many chances to not have Sam look like a sniveling coward, so he wisely uses these events to their full extent. Plus, Sam and Gilly finally had their “first time” with the latter using sex as a gift for Sam’s bravery. With a show that so frequently uses sex as a means of punishment (see Sansa’s life right now), it’s actually nice to watch it in a completely consensual, rewarding manner.

Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO

Cersei’s arc down in King’s Landing is one of those stories that took a massive leap forward into something substantial. After years of powerplaying where she used every weapon at her disposal, Cersei’s past came back to haunt her in a big way. Lancel (Eugene Simon) has told the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) everything and the Queen Mother is promptly thrown into prison. Clearly the High Sparrow has known about Cersei’s indiscretions this entire time, so having him wait until he gains her trust to show his hand was a shrewd bit of trickery. The ramifications of this are obviously massive. What will happen to Cersei when all of her power is totally stripped away? Hell, what will happen to Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman) now that both his Queen and mother are imprisoned? He was already prepared to send an entire army out to rescue Margaery (Natalie Dormer). Now we might see a full-on brawl between the King’s Guard and the Faith Militant. Speaking of Margaery, she only had one scene, but it was filled with so much hate between her and Cersei. Glad to see these two women are no longer holding back.

As for the Faith Militant themselves, we learn through a discussion between the High Sparrow and Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) that they’re a truly dangerous force. The High Sparrow reveals that he wants nothing more than to do what faith demands. Everyone in this show holds religion in very high regard, so they wouldn’t dare openly defy whoever god or gods they follow. With this in mind, how do you fight someone who is the exact representation of your beliefs?

Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

The coverage of Dorne was pretty inconsequential on the surface. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and the Sand Snakes are prisoners, and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is being kept in a lavish room. The latter finally comes face to face with Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), but she quickly declares her intent to stay with Trystane. Unless Jaime is prepared to fight his way out of Dorne with his daughter in tow, his entire journey might be a complete bust. As for Bronn, his entire scene was a verbal duel between him and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers). It’s compelling to watch, but the only real takeaway is that Tyene is a lot like her father Oberyn. She uses sex as a psychological weapon while poisoning her physical ones.

However, that entire bit of poison might foreshadow future events, giving these scene’s greater weight. Unless I’m mistaken, Jaime was also struck during his battle, which means he’s likely poisoned too. Bronn probably succumbed to it earlier because arousal must cause it to circulate faster. With such a deadly poison in his veins, could the end of Jaime Lannister be on the horizon? It would give a greater purpose to this journey outside of introducing several important Dornish characters. Plus, killing a Lannister is the exact type of revenge I’d expect from one of Oberyn’s daughters.

Interestingly enough, Tyrion and Jorah received less attention compared to many other character events, but where they ended takes this show in a completely new direction. Tyrion and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) are now face to face for the first time. This pivotal moment has yet to happen in the books, but for people who have waited on this for so long, it’s great to finally watch it occur. The ramifications of this meeting will definitely be explored in the final three episodes. Dany, who has spent so much time focusing on the slave regions, is now speaking with someone from Westeros who’s not Barristan and Jorah. Tyrion is also the first member of the main Westerosi families to meet Dany. Suddenly the sprawling world of Game of Thrones is a lot smaller. Hopefully Tyrion’s appearance will send Dany west already.

Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit:Helen Sloan/HBO

“The Gift” finally gave us the climactic moments of two stories. Dany and Tyrion are now talking with each other, and Cersei was thrown into jail by the Faith Militant. Though not a culmination of constant buildup, Sam got some excellent character moments too. Sansa’s arc continued moving at its own pace, and likely won’t get far until she finally finds a way to freedom (Brienne!). The only outlier from all of this is what’s going on at Dorne. That minimal attention primarily served as a fallout to what happened last week. Yet even that contained a possible nugget of what’s to come. Looks like big changes are on the horizon.

Rating: 9/10

Pick Up Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-3 on iTunes today.

Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.



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