by Matthew Thompson
Last week I had reached my breaking point with two storylines that I have found to be problematic all season and the result was my least favorite episode of the show in some time. I gave the showrunners some (I feel) much deserved flack for these moves. This episode didn’t really change my opinion on either of those plotlines, but I am happy to be able to praise another change that sat better with me this week.
Fast tracking Tyrion’s meeting with Daenerys was a smart move. Martin famously ran into issues setting up the Meereen situation in the books and readers are still waiting for these two major players to meet. The show has streamlined this storyline a lot. The conflict isn’t as grand and Barristan is gone. Bringing Tyrion into the fold now just makes so much sense. I wasn’t exactly blown away by the first shared scene between Tyrion and Dany, but it left me unbelievably excited to see their interactions as the season rolls on.
This is one of two big developments that take place this week that should shake things up for the tail end of the season in a big way. The other occurs in King’s Landing where we see the tables turned against Cersei. She empowered the Faith to help her move against the Tyrells and now it has backfired as they imprison her for dalliances with Lancel earlier in the series. The scenes in King’s Landing worked really well for me because of two major reasons. For one it is satisfying to see Cersei taken down a peg at the end of this episode. And I was just really impressed by the acting here this week. Jonathan Pryce has done a good job all year as the High Sparrow, but his performance this week was really special. It didn’t hurt that he got to play opposite Diana Rigg’s Lady Olenna in what may have been this episode’s best scene. But I also liked seeing different sides of Cersei and Margaery towards the end of the episode.
My favorite part of this season has been the stuff happening at The Wall. The scenes with Jon and Stannis feel more transitional this week, further setting up for big conflicts that we will see in the final few episodes of the season, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. We see a heartfelt goodbye between Jon and Sam (I saw some cool scene comparisons between it and Jon and Robb’s goodbye years ago). We see the death of Aemon Targaryen (with some nice references to Egg for those more familiar with the lore or the short stories he featured in). I suppose the Dragonglass that Sam handed over to Jon might be a tease of what he might run into on his next mission and that has me more excited than ever to see the next leg in Jon’s journey this season.
Stannis’s short bit this week clues us into a few things. His trip south has taken a toll on his troops. Food is running low and some of his mercenaries have fled. Davos thinks they should retreat, but Stannis remains resolute in his plan to march south. Melisandre thinks the key to his success could be found in the sacrifice of Shireen. Stannis basically tells her to get the fuck out, but I remain worried for Shireen. While I don’t see Stannis budging on this, it seems like something that could easily happen while Stannis is otherwise occupied.
As for the two storylines that are on my bad side, they didn’t exactly do much to get back in my good graces. As someone who has always found some of the show’s nudity to be eye roll inducing, this week’s check in with the Sand Snakes wasn’t exactly the kind of moment to win me over on them especially when paired with their shaky motivations in the scene. The part with Jaime and Myrcella fell a little flat for me too. The Dornish storyline remains unsubstantial, and a bit silly at times, in my eyes.
My issues with the Sansa plotline are a little trickier. I just don’t think inserting her here ever made much sense from her perspective, so I’m still having a hard time getting on board with where we ended up as a result. A lot of people thought maybe last week’s ending might be a turning point for Theon (it definitely crossed my mind), but this week we learn he is still very much under Ramsay’s thumb. The walk and talk with Sansa and Ramsay was probably the most interesting bit in Winterfell for me this episode. She gets some shots in at Ramsay (and Tommen in the process which was hilarious), plants some seeds about his possible brother to twist him up a bit and even snags a corkscrew type tool. I was also intrigued by her learning about Jon becoming Lord Commander. With everything converging in the North the way it is, I wonder how this might factor into things. I’m still in wait and see mode for this storyline. I love this show, so I hope I will look back and think my criticisms, issues and worries about Sansa’s placement with the Boltons this season were unfounded and it will all be worthwhile. As I said last week, I’m not optimistic, but I would like to be proven wrong.
A few more things:
- Scene of the Week: I was more excited by the meeting of Tyrion and Dany, but I feel the High Sparrow/Olenna scene was the strongest this week.
- I like what “The Gift” in the episode title turned out to be. When I saw the title, my first thought was the region.
- Tyrion and Jorah’s scenes together have been really fun. Tyrion improvising to make sure he is able to stick with Jorah during the slave sale was great.
- I guess I was right about Bronn being poisoned. I wasn’t expecting it to come up or him to get an antidote so soon though.
- I liked having the High Sparrow talk about Baelor’s vanity and the simplicity of the room (and its altar) that he and Cersei were in at the end. Good sequence.
While I didn’t find “The Gift” to be the most enthralling Game of Thrones episode to watch, it did a good job of making me excited for what is to come in the final three episodes of Season 5. There were some very important developments here that will shape the rest of this season and I can’t wait to see where they end up taking us. What did you think of this week’s Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!