Monday, May 1, 2017

Game of Thrones (Re)Watch 5.7: "The Gift"



5.7 “The Gift”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik

The title of this episode once again can actually be read as a theme; while the obvious “gift” is Tyrion, there’s also the stretch of land between the Wall and Winterfell that Stannis and company are snowbound in (although I think they’ve referred to this area as “the Gift” all of once in the show); Tyene’s gift of the antidote to Bronn’s poisoning; Petyr’s offer of “a handsome young man” to Olenna; and even, if we want to be generous about it, Gilly having sex with Sam.

At the Wall, Jon’s preparing to go North with Tormund, and everyone looks super mad at him. Even being left in charge doesn’t help Alliser’s mood. Sam gives Jon the bag of obsidian weapons and says he hopes he doesn’t need them.


After Jon leaves, Sam and Gilly take baby Sam to see Aemon, who says they need to take the baby south “before it’s too late.” The White Walkers are coming, after all, and the actual reason why Gilly’s sent away from the Wall in the books has been thoroughly torpedoed by Val and Dalla’s baby Not Appearing in This Picture. Not too long later, Aemon succumbs to old age and dies—his last words, to his brother Aegon: “Egg! I dreamed I was old!” Thus passes the only other living Targaryen in the show (and possibly in the books; there’s some debate about a certain young blue-haired man).

Sam does Aemon’s funeral rites, and Alliser sidles up to Sam to tell him that he’s losing all his friends. Sam looks up to see two completely random Black Brothers giving him the stinkiest stinkeye to ever stinkeye—for no really good reason that I can tell. Of course, they had to establish these two as a) existing; and b) mad at Sam, because the next thing we know, they’re cornering Gilly in the dining hall, giving Sam the opportunity to show that he’s a Real Man™ by defending her honor. He reminds everyone that he’s killed a White Walker and a Thenn (we know, Samwell!) and fights them, taking a good beating before Ghost runs them off. Seriously, Ghost has spent more time with Sam than with Jon in this show.

Gilly nurses Sam’s injuries, then climbs on top of him and they have fully clothed sex because (if I had to guess) neither of them are conventionally attractive enough to titillate the audience, so no skin here. It can’t have anything to do with the cold, or Myranda wouldn’t dress the way she does.

Also, it's still too damn dark to see anything anyway.
So, let’s check off the clichés in this scene:
✓Men attack a woman because she “belongs” to another man they’re mad at
✓Attempted rape as drama
✓All women are at risk of sexual assault at all times
✓Man defends “his” woman with violence
✓Despite his injuries, man insists he totally could have beat up the attackers
✓Man is rewarded for his courage with sex
✓Sex and violence are the markers of true manhood
✓Entirely not how this happened in the books

Moving south, Stannis and company are stranded in the snow. Men are freezing to death. Davos reports that 40 horses have died of the cold and they can’t keep the supply lines open. The Stormcrows, who apparently got hired at some point, have left. Davos thinks they should go back to the Wall; Stannis doesn’t know how to admit defeat. Melisandre assures him that her flames have shown her on the walls of Winterfell with the flayed man banners falling; she suggests that there’s one way to get rid of the snow and get R’hllor’s favor with Stannis, and Stannis says absolutely no way we are not burning Shireen alive, get out. (Guess how many episodes that refusal is going to last.)


In Winterfell, Theon brings Sansa some food. She’s locked in the bedroom, in the dark, in only a torn underdress, with bruises all over her arms. She begs Theon to help her, but he’s too afraid of Ramsay. Despite the frequent protests from showrunners (Bryan Cogman in particular) that Sansa’s not going to take this lying down and the abuse makes her stronger (gross) and she’s going to come out of it even more of a player than she already was, it sure looks like she’s relying on a man—one even more broken than she is—to rescue her rather than rescuing herself. She tries to get Theon to set the signal for rescue that Brienne passed to the old “the North remembers” servingwoman, but Theon goes straight to Ramsay.

Ramsay has Sansa brought to him on the walls, and she grabs a corkscrew or bung holer or something off a barrel, but then proceeds to sass him rather than using it on him. He takes her into the courtyard, where the servingwoman has been flayed and hanged; Sansa starts crying, Theon looks constipated, and she’s dragged back to her room. Again, we’ve already done this with Sansa being abused, beaten, and forced to look at a dead body. Jeyne Poole might have been a wet dishrag, but Sansa’s supposed to be past all of that by this point.


Also, lest we forget, Brienne is staring at Winterfell, waiting for the candle to be lit in the tower. Determinedly. Staring.


In King’s Landing, Olenna goes to see the High Sparrow to ask for the release of Loras and Margaery. He’s unmoved; he says they lied to the gods and have to be judged. She says Loras never hurt anyone and Margaery was just defending her brother, and anyway, everyone in the city is guilty of some sort of sin. He implies they’ll get to everyone else eventually; it’s pretty ambitious that he started with the queen, but okay. As Olenna leaves the Sept unsatisfied, a messenger runs her a scroll; the seal is black with a stylized bird on it because that’s super subtle and sneaky, Petyr.

Petyr’s at his destroyed brothel, looking at the wreckage, when Olenna shows up. She’s sure he had something to do with all this and reminds him that she has regicide to hold over his head. He offers her a gift, the same thing he gave Cersei: “a handsome young man.” In Cersei’s case, it was Olyvar; in Olenna’s, it seems to be Loras. Because when Cersei goes to visit Margaery (who calls her a “hateful bitch”) in prison, then to see the High Sparrow in his little chapel deep in the Sept of  Baelor, she’s told that Lancel has admitted to everything and she’s arrested and hauled away into one of the cells.


In Dorne, Aero brings Myrcella to Jaime to show that she’s alive and unharmed, and she yells at him for ruining everything, dad! She’s in love with Trystane, and she’s going to marry him and she doesn’t want to leave Dorne! Her new dress is just as hideous as the old one, if a tad more modest.


Down in the cells, Bronn’s singing “The Dornishman’s Wife,” much to the disgust of the Sand Snakes. Tyene flirts with him a bit and asks about his arm, which she cut open during the fight. She asks if he’s ever seen a woman more beautiful than her, and he says sure, but she pulls open her dress to show a boob because of course she does. “Fight and fuck, fuck and fight,” after all. At that point, his nose starts bleeding, and she tells him she’s poisoned him with The Long Farewell and she has the antidote, but first he has to admit that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Her and both her boobs, which are now on full display. He says she’s the most beautiful women in the world and she tosses him the antidote, then says she thinks he’s nice too before finally tying her dress back up.


I promise to do a full rundown of the extremely problematic treatment of race, gender, and sexuality in “Dorne” when this storyline wraps up. There’s more awfulness coming, and it should probably be addressed all at once.

In Meereen, Dany and her new husband are visiting the smaller fighting pits to honor them. Of course, it just happens to be the one that Jorah’s new master has brought his slaves to. Jorah realizes she’s out there and busts out of the prison/waiting area and starts slaughtering the other slaves to get Dany’s attention. Despite Jorah’s stunning victory, Dany rejects him again, and he tries to tell her that he brought her something but she doesn’t want anything to do with it. Tyrion manages to break out of the prison, as well, and totally humbly tells Dany that “I am the gift” because the writing on this show is phenomenal. He tells her who he is and she doesn’t quite know how to react to that.


On a side note, Daario thinks that the murders have stopped because Hizdahr is the Son of the Harpy. Again, the murders stopping wasn’t part of the stated conditions of the marriage, so this is entirely out of nowhere. Also, it seems that Dany doesn’t realize that her fighting pits are still populated by slaves? She’s disgusted by the violence, but not a word is said about whether the fighters had a choice in the matter. This is a major point of contention in the books, but it’s completely glossed over in the show. It’s just another way in which it looks like Benioff and Weiss don’t quite know how to treat slavery unless it has an immediate impact on the story they’re trying to tell, and here they’re trying to tell the story of the Friendzoned Advisor who’s trying to get back to Dany and Tyrion Being Awesome, not the restructuring of an entire city’s culture and economy after Dany comes in like a wrecking ball.

RIP: Aemon Targaryen
Winterfell serving woman
Nameless faceless pit fighters

Next week: The battle of the season. A girl is given a name. Nobody gets Cersei out of prison. Tyrion ingratiates himself to the Dragon Queen.

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