In what was easily the best episode of the season so far, ‘The Gift’ delivered in every way and left us feeling rather pleased with the final moment that saw the devious queen mother, Cersei incarcerated for her sins. Along with this, we saw an almighty meeting that has been five seasons in the making and Sam taking the title of hero of the season. Yes, tonight’s episode was packed full and at no point did it feel rushed—it was well written, well executed and well shot.
As Jon Snow departs Castle Black for the north of the Wall, we see a bedridden Maester Aemon slowly sinking into a delirious slumber from which he will never awake. It isn’t long before the Maester passes away and the Knight’s Watch say goodbye to the only living male Targaryen in what was an emotional farewell. The focus shifts to Sam as he stands there at the Maester’s funeral and watches his close friend cremated. There is a realisation that Sam is short on allies and it is mirrored in the word of Alliser Thorne when he says “You’re losing all your friends, Tarly.” There was something sinister in this statement as it was clear that danger was afoot for Gilly and Sam. After all, she is the only female in the Knight’s Watch and all men have urges regardless of their oaths or beliefs; however, it is the good in someone that decides whether you act on them or not. In some of the final moments of Maester Aemon’s life, he tells Gilly to take the baby south before it’s too late and they really should have listened to him. In the best scene of the episode, Gilly is minding her own business when two ‘brothers’ of the Knight’s Watch plan on taking advantage of her. In comes the hero of the hour; Sam asks them to stop but they ignore, deciding to abuse him with insults and brute force. One of the men started to beat Sam up to such an extreme that I thought that we might be seeing the end of him. With Sam left there bleeding profusely, the two men revert back to a vulnerable Gilly. Before they can start, the might Sam gets to his feet and delivers a monologue about being able to kill a White Walker and taking his chances fighting the two of them. This was truly amazing because it showed how fiercely he loved Gilly and would go to any lengths to protect her, even at the risk of losing his own life. Luckily, we got to see Ghost—Jon Snow’s direwolf come to the rescue and scare off the two cowards. I’d missed Ghost and it was awesome to see him save his friends. As for Sam, he has been an integral member of the Knight’s Watch and also the entire show. In a world full of liars, murderers and thieves, Sam is the only honest, honourable and pure human being that is left in Game of Thrones. He deserved this—he deserved to be the hero because he is the hero. Not only does he save the girl, but he gets to lose his virginity to her too, in what was a sweet and funny scene that saw Sam win in every way—hopefully this is the start of good things for the two lovebirds.
Winter is coming! We have heard this phrase since the beginning and we are now starting to see the cold weather take its toll on Westeros. Stannis Baratheon is on his way to battle the Bolton’s in Winterfell but he is struggling. Davos informs him that they have lost forty horses and there will be many more to perish unless they think about returning to Castle Black and coming back when they are better prepared. A rugged and worn Stannis disregards Davos’ ploy in favour of persevering, even though it could cost his army greatly. He doesn’t want to retreat again; he did it at King’s Landing and doesn’t want to be the ‘King that ran.’ Stannis and Melisandre converse about what to do as he clearly is in doubt about what to believe anymore. She tells him in no uncertain terms that the only way they can win the war is to sacrifice his daughter. Stannis bluntly refuses and tells her to get out of his sight—the first time he has ever been vexed by her suggestions. Hopefully, Stannis is starting to see how bad an influence Melisandre is and finally—after years of Davos telling him how dangerous she is, Stannis gets rid of the red priestess for good.
After last week’s shocking final scene, Sansa is suffering in Winterfell with no friends left. In a moment of desperation, she turns to Theon and asks him to help her. She remembers the candle and asks Theon to place it in the highest window. Theon decides to help and heads up the spiral staircase, only to encounter Ramsay Bolton, eating and supping there. We all know that Ramsay has a firm control on Theon and manages to get all the information out about the candle and Sansa’s plan. The next time we see the two, Sansa tries to wind up Ramsay by calling him a bastard and saying that his father’s unborn child will be the true heir to the throne. You can see Ramsay swallowing his rage—keeping it dark and keeping it hidden. In yet another painful victory for Ramsay, he leads Sansa to where he has killed the woman that passed on the information about the candle to Sansa and she has been brutally tortured—her skin burnt off and her bloody corpse up on a pole. You’d think that all of Sansa’s suffering will eventually lead to the sweetest revenge possible, but I’m not sure anymore. Personally, I think Ramsay could be a great villain for the remainder of the show and as much as I want to see him writhe in pain, there aren’t many other great villains left (apart from Cersei but we will get to her shortly).
As an Englishmen, I’m aware of Jerome Flynn’s (Bronn) short but successful singing career and it was nice to hear him belt out a beautiful song in ‘The Dornishman’s Wife.’ Unfortunately though, we nearly said goodbye to Bronn when the speculation surrounding his ‘cut’ at the hands of the Sand Snakes in last week’s episode was addressed. After Tyene Sand shows him her womanly wares (her naked body!), the poison begins to take affect and Bronn begins to see the light. After getting Bronn to call her the most beautiful woman in the world, she gives him the cure and covers up her skin. For the first time, I liked the Sand Snakes’ contribution to the series (and not just because one of them got naked) because it is helping to give them a good dynamic with Bronn. It seemed that the Sand Snakes were killers, incapable of emotion and void of any kind of character but they were smart—Tyene was smart and I liked her for it. Elsewhere in Dorne, I hope Jaime gets to leave soon because I can’t see his daughter leaving with him—heck, I can’t see Bronn leaving with him either at this point. Only time will tell, I guess. Jaime is wasted in this season and I want him back in King’s Landing.
Jorah was sold off to fight in the fighting pits, with Tyrion managing to go with him after beating up one of his captors with the chains he was attached with. Were we finally going to see the meeting of two main characters that have spent the whole journey so far living thousands of miles apart? Were Danaerys and Tyrion finally going to interact with one another? With the fighting pits finally opened and Dany being brought along with her soon-to-be husband (one that is purely a ‘political move’), we got to see Jorah slaughter almost all of the fighters just to get a chance to speak with Khaleesi. “Get him out of my sight.” She says. Clearly, Danaerys has not forgiven him for being a mole for the former king. Luckily for us though, the glorious dwarf and all round legend, Tyrion Lannister reveals himself to her and my smile couldn’t have gotten any wider. We are left wondering what this means for the future of the throne but nonetheless, things are definitely getting interesting. The moment felt epic and it will hopefully end with Danaerys heading to King’s Landing to take the throne with Tyrion by her side (hopefully being the key word here).
And so we end with King’s Landing. Baelish and Lady Olenna meet in his brothel—completely destroyed by the Sparrows. He informs Lady Olenna that they have common interests and offers her a gift—a ‘handsome young man.’ At first, I assumed the gift to be the information regarding Lancel and Cersei’s sexual encounters but it could be something else, as it is revealed shortly after that the High Sparrow was already aware of this. In the final moments, the High Sparrow makes an insanely smug Cersei mindful that he knows all about her transgressions and has her thrown into a cell—a similar cell where she visits a clearly distressed Margaery moments earlier. Finally, Cersei is getting a taste of her own medicine and she deserves to pay. Of all the horrible things she has done and all those people that she has made hurt, it was more than rewarding to see her thrown into a dungeon. I have no idea what fate awaits her but surely, things aren’t looking good for her. Who cares eh? Not me—I hope she pays for her crimes, even if it is at the hands of the Sparrows.
With only three episodes remaining, Game of Thrones is heading to a monumental finale. The battle of Winterfell, Cersei and Margaery’s fate, Jon Snow’s journey beyond the wall, Tyrion and Dany’s potential partnership and more, season five still has lots to give and I hope the final trio of episodes don’t feel rushed. It has done incredibly well so far in terms of pacing but there is still so much to fit in I hope that the show doesn’t falter at the final hurdle.