“Game of Thrones” recap: Two legendary characters finally come face to face

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7 Recap.

In case it was lost on anyone after watching “The Gift,” “Game of Thrones” would like to reiterate that often times, people feel imprisoned within their lives (and lies.) No less than 10 characters are imprisoned in some way, shape, or form within the episode’s hour and that doesn’t even take into consideration the metaphorical chains worn by the vast majority of the universe’s inhabitants. I never thought I’d see the day when Sam Tarly had something in common with Cersei Lannister and yet here we are, two major characters both totally screwed, and I couldn’t be happier.We knew from the outset of Cersei’s scorched-earth campaign against Margaery and the rest of the Tyrells that eventually the flames would lick her, too.

And so it went on Sunday, not long after her victory lap in Margaery’s cell — presumably the most satisfying moment of Cersei’s recent past — she ended up in her own. Even when not directly involved in an individual’s life, parents cast a long shadow in any universe centered on a system that includes so much in the way of lines of succession, family crests, and, well, incest. All the worst things in the world kept happening to Sansa, Daenerys continued bowing to pressure from the Masters, Littlefinger continued spinning his inscrutable web of double- and triple-crossings, and Cersei kept right on digging herself into a hole that even she can’t extract herself from anymore. Sure, Cersei’s end awaits and Sam got his end away, but it seemed to be an episode of few winners and mostly losers, and the eternal coin-tossing between the two states.

It was a dire development for Cersei in an episode that, Tyrion’s long-awaited meeting with Daenerys Targaryen aside, perhaps, mostly kept the desperate vibe going from last week. Time and again throughout “The Gift,” we see individuals forced to a point where they must choose to abide by the standards set by their parents or make their own path. Remember, spoiler spoiler spoiler etcetera etcetera, leave now or forever hold your piece, you know the drill, sweet, so let’s start as we mean to finish – with a bang.

It’s not something that’s gone unexamined by the show before, (a theme perhaps best explored in this piece that suggests the only way for the remaining Stark children to survive the series is to stop being Starks) but “The Gift” showed a renewed commitment to the question, with father figures passing on and actual fathers forced to choose whether or not to sacrifice their children for their own glory. Aemon Targaryen, maester of the Night’s Watch, passed away in bizarrely normal fashion this week: in bed, surrounded by people who care about him, experiencing flashbacks to his childhood with little brother Aegon, a “jolly fellow” with an endlessly amazing nickname, “Egg.” Before he dies, he advises Gilly to fly south before winter comes—advice that would suit Sam, now entirely friendless at Castle Black, just as well. The death of Maester Aemon, the last of the “classic-era” Targaryens, flavoured this whole episode not just with a sense of loss but the feeling of losing it.

The episode begins at the Wall, with Jon taking off with the wildlings to meet up with more of their brethren and leaving Castle Black under the rule of First Ranger Thorne. The centenarian veteran of the Night’s Watch has been an infrequent but calming presence throughout the series, passing on wisdom as well as messages from the ravens. Sam Tarly and Gilly made his final moments peaceful and even happy, with the old man remembering his younger brother – the future King Aegon – as a bouncing baby very similar to Gilly’s son Little Sam, before having something of an Inception moment and dreaming that he was old. Not quite as rousing as Missandei and Grey Worm’s first kiss, but Sam’s I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening look, plus the earlier moment when Gilly breaks free from one attacker and flies at the other with her teeth bared and claws outstretched, snarling “LEAVE HIM ALONE!” felt like this bleak episode’s biggest wins. Gilly’s practicality and strength are the perfect foil for Sam’s sensitivity during these final moments – she urges him to sleep and be strong and it’s not just because he’ll have to speak for Maester Aemon at his funeral pyre.

Turns out she would’ve been better off sticking with raven Skype — once again, as with their undoing of the wretched King Joffrey, Littlefinger and Lady Olenna brought down a Lannister. (Yes, I realize Joffrey and Cersei are technically Baratheons, but c’mon.) Olenna and Littlefinger’s fateful meeting in the latter’s “broken little flesh market” was but one domino in a chain Cersei herself sent toppling weeks ago, when spite and fear sparked her devil’s bargain with a holy man. In less pleasant consummations, Sansa is imprisoned in a tower in Winterfell, spending her days weeping and her nights being raped, leaving her so desperate that she begs Theon to help her, by placing a candle in the broken tower to signal the North of her distress. With Ser Barristan Selmy gone, there’s a vacant place in Daenerys’s inner circle for a politically savvy Imp with knowledge of—and a vendetta against—the rulers of Westeros. In his youth, Aemon went so far as to refuse the throne when it was offered to him after his father’s death, simply because he didn’t think he was fit for the position.

Her imprisonment made it three-for-three in the Lannister incarceration department — she, Jaime and Tyrion are each in some sort of captivity at this point. Waiting around for Littlefinger to return is no longer an option; Ramsay has been raping Sansa every night and keeping her locked inside her room during the day.

Sam is now more alone than ever in Castle Black, and the consequences play out quickly and harshly: with Jon Snow gone and Aemon dead, two brothers assault Gilly and beat Sam when he tries to stop them. Sam, because he is honourable and kind and wonderful and adorable, stands up to them and cops one of the most brutal bashings of the show. “I killed a White Walker, I killed a Thenn, I’ll take my chances with you,” he tells the grubs, instantly winning the love of anyone who was ever bullied.

On the bright side, Sansa returns from their ambulation with a handheld weapon she manages to secret into her skirts, so maybe she can do everyone a favor and bury it in someone’s brain before the season ends. The most curious factor of Sansa’s storyline, a repurposed plot that in the books involved a character named Jeyne Pool posing as Arya Stark and being married off to Ramsay, is the idea that it’s the Stark name and the fate that befalls Sansa that would drive the North to rise up and protect her. But while, say, Season 2 Sansa would have met her fate with little more than sheer resilience (and lots of praying), this new Sansa is an active force to be reckoned with! While I did wonder why Jon didn’t take his direwolf with him beyond The Wall – surely Ghost would have been useful up there – it did make for a great, ahem, climax. But once Reek gets up there and unlocks the door, he finds, of course, Ramsay, just as he’s settling in for a plateful of dismembered limbs or dead puppies, or whatever it is sadists have for lunch.

Davos slinks off with his tail between his legs and Melisandre suggests that they could probably move things along if Stannis would just let her sacrifice his daughter to the Lord of Light (which, honestly, feels like Melisandre’s solution for everything). Sansa does score verbal points during a later walk with Ramsay by casually pointing out that he is still a bastard, no matter what King Tommen (another bastard) wrote on some fancy piece of parchment. Ramsay takes the token of Sansa’s foiled plot — the flayed, crucified body of the old woman who promised Stark loyalty — and parades it in front of her, hanging the corpse in the main courtyard.

Cersei slammed Jaime a few weeks back for his tendency to act without thinking, but isn’t what she did, in arming the Sparrows, a version of the same thing? But Stannis, as evidenced in the last few episodes, is a loyal father to Shireen and rebuffs the Red Woman, sending her away and leaving him alone with his thoughts and contemplating the fight to come. But, as likely comes as no surprise given the recent loss of their patriarch, no family struggles as mightily in the shadow of their father as the Lannister clan. But her attempts to regain control amount to nothing when she finds herself staring her dead servant in the eye, the woman’s flayed body pinned to a wall. Sam’s just lost something very important, but goodness gracious hasn’t he found something very interesting indeed (assuming he found it under all those layers).

Now I’d assumed that she was mostly driven by her own sense of malice toward Margaery and self-preservation. (Tommen was making noise about shunting her off to Casterly Rock, remember.) But didn’t that scene with the boy-king make it seem a little more complicated than that? It’s dangerous, if delightful, territory for the two young lovebirds, who will still face challenges in a Castle Black without Jon or Aemon on their side. Clearly Cersei wants to protect her own position, but she also knows that king or not, her son is a lamb among the wolves of the capital, starting with his power-hungry queen. Further down from The Wall, Stannis is marooned in a sea of white, as winter snows threaten to derail his campaign to capture Winterfell before it can even begin.

As far as she’s concerned, her mother traded her like chattel to Dorne and now that she’s happy, wants her to abandon her happiness and return to King’s Landing, merely because she bids it. No matter who or how strong you are, Cersei told Tommen, “sooner or later you’ll face circumstances beyond your control.” The irony, of course, is that she didn’t realize at the time how little control she had over her own circumstances. In this moment, Jaime yearns for the authority that a father has over his child, that Tywin never shied away from using with his own children, but serving merely as Uncle and messenger, he has no such sway over Myrcella, a realization that leaves him wanting. In the marginally less depressing setting of King’s Landing, Lady Olenna Tyrell comes face-to-face with the High Sparrow, with whom she bonds over achy joints (because they’re both old—get it?) before trying to bully him into freeing Margaery and Loras.

He’s losing time and the advantage he had hoped to press, but Kate Bush has a solution, and unfortunately for Stannis it does not involve any tent-based nookie. And the sobering thing for her, aside from a presumed separation from her morning wine, is that her callow little lamb is pretty much the only ally she has left. Melisandre shut that down faster than I shut down Andrew on Grade 8 camp who decided we should totally “snog” even though he ignored me in normal school hours. When Jorah realizes that winning means an audience with the queen, he rushes into the battle and lays waste to the competition before revealing his visage to Dany.

The Queen Mother’s incestuous indiscretion with her first cousin, Lancel—who helped murder King Robert but is now a devoted Sparrow serving the Faith of the Seven—emerges and Cersei is thrown into prison, the smug look on her face from seeing Margaery in a cell barely evaporated. Unmoved, Dany tries to dismiss him, only to have Tyrion present himself as the eponymous gift and finally bring two of the show’s finest characters into contact.

It’s curious how far Tyrion has come from the man we saw only episodes ago, uninterested in Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, and intriguing to think how his murdered father would react could he see his son’s actions. Arming the Faith Militant, a religious organization so conservative they make Puritans look like hippies, was a colossally stupid idea, even for the queen of self-sabotage.

Clearly the equation “Kill Shireen + ??? = Stannis Victory” makes sense to her, but she’s operating on a level of maths I could only dream about failing. With King Tommen refusing food, heartsick at the imprisonment of his queen, it’s his mother who takes to the cells to visit Margaery and offer “comfort.” He’s moved by his mother’s empathy, almost as angrily moved as Margaery is by Cersei’s gloating visit.

Cersei has always prided herself on being the most like her father when it comes to matters of cunning, a title that almost certainly belongs to her brother Tyrion, a fact made obvious by how blindsided she is by what transpires next. And over in Essos, Tyrion and Jorah find themselves, as promised, pawned off to Meereen’s fighting pits, re-opened as a gesture of Daenerys’s political goodwill. Ramsay Bolton continues to smugly breathe air like some kind of human being, rather than the foetid stain on the side of a privvy bowl that he actually is.

Her marriage to Hizdahr Zo Loraq has mysteriously stopped all Sons of the Harpy attacks (guess we know who was behind that) and she’s agreed to reopen the Pits as a nod to Meereenese culture, even if she hates their barbarity. The brutality inflicted upon Sansa in last week’s shocking wedding night sequence has not let up, with the Stark heir subjected to degrading and damaging abuse by her so-called husband. Please share your theories in the comments but refrain from posting book spoilers, if those even apply anymore. (I haven’t read them so am never sure what’s adapted and what’s original to the show at this point.) Anyone hoping for the redemption of Reek will have to wait another week, at least.

Some are trapped by chains and cells, some by lies and deceit, some by duty and obligation, but all are bound by the expectations of the family that raised them. And no matter the chains that bind them, no situation will ever be as insurmountable as learning how to navigate the family you’ve found, the legacy they’ve left, and the life you’ve yet to lead. Daario’s advice, to round up the Masters of Slaver’s Bay on the day the fighting pits re-open and kill them all, sounds more appealing (or at the very least, more interesting) with each passing episode. Shortly before entering his first fighting “pit,” (small dirt circle?) Jorah, with that familiar sparkle back in his eyes, glimpses his eternally unrequited love through a gate—then promptly straps on a helmet, jumps his place in line, and gets his Gladiator on to impress her.

I’m sure I’m not the only one whose face fell when Theon opened the door to the top room only to find Ramsay sitting at a dinner table like Lord Muck. If things haven’t gotten better for Sansa — and they haven’t — they’ve gotten much worse for that sympathetic and now freshly flayed Northern maid. More than that, as mhysa to the freed slaves, Dany also carries the burden of motherhood and the responsibility that goes with it, for thousands of citizens. Like a schoolboy’s daydream come true, he cuts down one enemy after another until he triumphantly takes off his helmet and looks to his queen, eyes screaming “LOVE ME!” Of course, she’s disgusted. The torture continued (SO Ramsay) with the Bolton bastard showing off his latest flayed victim – the kindly servant who told Sansa what to do if she needed help.

I still suspect Theon will come around eventually, but I’m hoping we don’t have to endure much more Ramsay being Ramsay before it finally happens. And yet he continues to sugar coat his violence with phrases like “I’m so glad we are married” and “You’re so beautiful” and by thunder will nobody crossbow this guy in the nads? There’s no way to sufficiently capture the grief of Sansa after being raped because there are fifteen other characters that need servicing in each episode. Sansa still has iron in her Stark blood, enough to undermine Ramsay’s feelings of absolute power by referring to the possible claim on Winterfell of his soon to be new trueborn half brother.

It’s that they should stop featuring rape because it is physically impossible for the show to portray it in the sufficiently grave light that it deserves. As it stands, Sansa’s fate leaves two possible options for resolution: Either she rises up, more powerful than before and uses her rape as PROOF that she is a STRONG WOMAN and she has OVERCOME ADVERSITY (which conveniently overlooks the fact that she’s already overcome the razing of her home, the ritual slaughter of her family, her near first marriage to a sadist, etc.) or she’s rescued from her terrible fate by outside forces.

Put up for a quick sale, Jorah’s cashed-up new owner agrees to shell out a few sheckels for Tyrion as well, because he’s funny and does a passable job beating up on a fellow slave in chains. In a similar fashion, it feels like the writers are messing with us, toying with both our anxieties about our beloved Bronn’s potential demise and our flagging hopes that the Sand Snakes will amount to something interesting. There are three weeks left, I guess, so we’ll see. • For a second I was afraid Gilly was going to be the latest rape victim on this show, but good news: Sam was just beaten to within an inch of his life. It was an uncomfortable scene all around, one that probably portends an unpleasant stint for Sam and Gilly now that their protector, Jon Snow, is off on his way to Hardhome.

Keep your enemies close and your direwolves closer. • “You had more hair,” Myrcella tells “Uncle” Jaime in Dorne. “And more hands,” he said. That was a delightful scene between Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce, two veteran English performers who have probably forgotten more about acting than I’ve ever known about anything. • What do you think? Into the fray he strides, backing up Jorah’s claim that he brought Dany a gift. “I’m the gift,” he declares to a stunned Dany. “My name is Tyrion Lannister.” Ooohhh, two of my favourites actually meeting! Olenna’s a canny lady with a lot of credible cards to play but even she doesn’t know how best to deal with someone who is a genuine loopy loony fanatic. It’s an interesting scene, with nothing super new about it save to remind us that Cersei is now down a kid and her whole lioness identity has only grown stronger because of it.

This becomes quite clear after she visits Kate Middleton in the Black Cells, where the younger more beautiful queen languishes without her hair stylist. Margaery is immediately wise to Cersei’s faux-Samaritan act, tsk-tsking about the conditions and begging her to eat some of her own food. “Get out of here, you hateful bitch!” Margaery cries, throwing her food back at her face. Cersei, appearing distraught and concerned, turns and leaves, breaking out into the smuggest of smug smiles since Arnold Smugzenegger won the Mr Smugniverse body-smugging competition. Surprised for Cersei is one thing, but humbled is another, and she’s not going to head down that path quickly. “Look at my face,” she spat at the Silent Sisters as they threw her into her own Black Cell. “It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die.” Don’t write her off completely – sure, I’m glad to see her cop some sweet, sweet comeuppance, but Cersei is a survivor. Let’s hope they all join forces at some point – having said it was against his code to fight women, it would be marvellous to see Bronn acknowledge the skill female fighters can have.

Jaime had a brief audience with his daughter-niece Myrcella Water in Dorne, in which she got stroppy about his attempts to remove her from Dorne for her own safety. But Petyr Baelish still believes he’s the kind of ally a smart gal like Olenna needs, and claims to have information about another young man who could be of importance. Clearly macking on with Maario himself would be preferable and obviously I can make myself available if needs be, but being a third eye in their cosy bedroom is a close second to the action. What’s not so cool is Dany’s sense of being trapped by her status, as evidenced by her refusal when Maario suggests she marry him instead. “You’re the Queen, you can do what you like,” he says, half covered by an irritating bedsheet.

She ain’t no butcher, she tells Maario, who remains decent despite me pausing the replay several attempts in an attempt to see more flesh. “All rulers are either butchers or meat,” he replies. What’s helped make her so different is her relative mercy towards enemies; but her grasp on her personal philosophy seems to be slipping (even if her grasp on Maario’s glutes remains strong).

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