Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7: Plots thicken, spirits darken, and winter …

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How Tonight’s Game of Thrones Finally “Spoiled” the Books in a Major Way.

Plenty of chickens came home to roost during the Episode 7 of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, but the biggest concerned Daenerys and Tyrion. [Warning: Spoilers] Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Gift,” wasn’t much for challenging Westerosi status quo.At Castle Black, Jon is preparing to lead a small group of Night’s Watch brothers to Hardhome, to bring the remaining Wildlings of Mance Rayder’s broken army south of the wall before the White Walkers add them to their undead army.

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. Pretty much the only character missing was lovable galoot Podrick. (We also didn’t see Arya, but she could have been hanging around wearing a different face for all we know.) The tides turned quickly in King’s Landing this week.

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. At the beginning of the episode, Olenna is giving the High Sparrow her signature sassy treatment and demanding that he release her grandchildren, Queen Margaery and Loras, who are imprisoned for perjury and “buggery,” respectively. Sam gets beat unconscious in an attempt to rescue Gilly from two would-be rapists (just another Tuesday in Westeros), highlighting his now-precarious position at the Wall. Martin has called it “the butterfly effect” meaning that when the show changes something that seems tiny, it can have a large impact on the narrative Martin is creating. He wrote about it earlier this week when addressing Sansa’s controversial wedding night: There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one.

When he tries to defend Gilly from some unsavory members of the Watch, Sam is beaten to a pulp, and only alive because Jon’s direwolf Ghost showed up at the right moment. 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. He’s the best friend of an unpopular Lord Commander and has shown affection to a Wildling woman—he’s becoming a target for his sworn brothers, so without his stronger friends to defend him, he’s locked in a room with Gilly while she tends to his wounds.

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. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds. At Winterfell, Theon brings a meal to a battered and bruised Sansa Stark, who has been locked in her bedchamber and at the mercy of her new husband, Ramsay Bolton.

Theon tells her to do whatever he says, as Ramsay can always find new ways of hurting her—but Sansa wants Theon’s help in alerting her rescuers and getting the hell out of there. 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. 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!

But in tonight’s episode the show “spoiled” something book readers will presumably have to wait until the next book to see: the meeting of Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. Or so this show keeps telling us. (Waiting for this feels like waiting for Daenerys’s dragons to fly to Westeros: a tantalizing promise that somehow never materializes.) Sansa pleads with Reek to seek help from the Starks’ “friends in the North” by lighting a candle in Winterfell’s highest tower, a symbolic call for rescue from the Starks’ old servants. In the most recent book of Martin’s series, the Targaryen queen watched Tyrion perform in the fighting pits without knowing his true identity, but that’s as close as the two have gotten. But once Reek gets up there and unlocks the door, he finds, of course, Ramsay, engorging himself on puppy’s dismembered limbs, or whatever it is sadists have for lunch.

Sansa’s brutal bridegroom takes her to Winterfell’s courtyard to show her his latest handiwork; He tortured and killed the serving woman who set the candle plan in motion. Ramsay retaliates by taking Sansa for a walk, during which she scores verbal points by casually pointing out that he is still a bastard, no matter what King Tommen (another bastard) wrote on some fancy piece of parchment.

But such small displays of control amount to nothing when she finds herself staring her dead servant in the eye, the woman’s flayed body pinned to a wall. She’s not particularly thrilled to watch men stab each other in the tracheas, and she’s considering making up some excuse — maybe her dragons need feeding? — when a helmeted warrior comes barreling out of the holding pen and dismantles every last gladiator.

He’s marching against Northerners who know the terrain and the climate—as Ramsay says, “our people are used to fighting in frost.” Suddenly, Stannis is beginning to look like less of a sure victor. 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. Whispers of Cersei’s incest-lust have been getting louder around King’s Landing all season, culminating with actual Flea’s Bottom-level peasants shouting “bastard!” at Tommen in front of the Sept of Baelor. But she also tells him that sacrifices must be made—she goes too far in suggesting he kill Shireen, his daughter and only heir, to ensure the favor of the Lord of Light. 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.

It’s hard to come up with a more eloquent explanation, but this just felt right. [Varys] puts Tyrion’s mission out there [in the season premiere] and the mission ends in Meereen. Fans of behind-the-scenes images and leaked plot info weren’t at all surprised to see Tyrion present himself to Daenerys in this episode; the two actors were photographed together last fall. Daenerys lengthy time in Mereen—possibly a by-product of Martin’s confessed desire to slow the plot and allow his younger characters to age—is one of the least popular stories in the novels. (Sorry Ser Barristan!) Sparing viewers that stall (you remember Season 2 and Qarth, right?) is just smart storytelling.

But a snowstorm is thwarting his Bolton-skewering plans. (And ours, too, frankly.) Horses are dying, soldiers are deserting and food is getting scarcer. 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. Ser Davos tries to use his magical eyebrows to convince Stannis it would be best to retreat to Castle Black, but the One True King is having none of it. She refuses to leave, after sticking Jaime with some shade and the ultimate teenager-to-parent insult, “you don’t know me!” Meanwhile, Bronn and the Sand Snakes are imprisoned in cells directly across from one another.

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. As he starts to succumb to the deadly substance, she teases him with the antidote, only giving it to him after he tells her she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Shortly before entering his first fighting “pit” (it’s more of a small dirt circle?) Jorah, 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.

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. In the same city, Jorah and Tyrion are auctioned off to a trainer of fighting slaves, and manage to stay together after some quick thinking and fast talking from Tyrion. She believes him to be a hypocrite, pretending to be a champion of the common folk while doing Cersei’s bidding—to her credit, it certainly seems like everything he’s done so far has been in the Lannister queen’s favor. That’s all it will take for Brienne to come to the rescue. “You’re Theon Greyjoy,” she insists, and for a moment it seems as if he might believe her.

But, as Olenna points out, they did kill the last king together, so their fates are intertwined—and Littlefinger swears he has information that will serve the Tyrells. Cersei goes to visit Margaery in her cell in order to placate King Tommen, who is beside himself with the fact that he was unable to protect his beloved Margaery. The Tyrells’ finery will be stripped away … what will we find when we strip away your finery?” Cersei thought she was using the new Faith Militant as a tool to oust her enemies, but she failed to realize that she was creating a monster that would ultimately target her too. Before seeing the aftermath of that horrific murder, Sansa manages to grab something — a corkscrew maybe? — and we can all hope she finds a way to lodge it in Ramsay’s jugular the next time he pays her a visit.

—Of course, her granddaughter Margaery has an equally perfect line, when she hurls a bedpan at Cersei while yelling, “get out, you hateful bitch!” —What will become of Jorah now?

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