“The Gift” left many characters of Game of Thrones in generous moods, and while some characters received perfect presents, others were left wishing they’d just gotten cash instead. Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) might not yet have use for Sam's dragonglass dagger, but if Chekov has anything to say about it, we’ll be glad it's with him. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) received his gift right in the nick of time – visually and literally. Both Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) offered gifts to important and dangerous women, but time will tell how they’re received.
Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) plea to Theon (Alfie Allen) for help in lighting a candle in the broken tower ended with a flayed ally – a gift Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) was all too eager to give. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) also found eagerness to be met with disgust when she suggested that Stannis (Stephen Dillane) sacrifice his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), to the flames to aid his war effort.
But perhaps the greatest gift of this episode was given to the fans, and it was courtesy of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), who followed up his slow burn on Olenna with a raging fire aimed straight at Cersei (Lena Headey). Don’t you hate it when plans backfire?
Now onto this week’s Riser!
Riser of the Week: Jorah Mormont
I was tempted to go with the High Sparrow after that final scene, but he didn’t actually do any rising this week. We already knew he was capable of locking up queens, and despite putting Cersei where she undoubtedly belongs, he didn’t gain anything from the act.
Jorah, on the other hand, went from chained and gagged to being back in front of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Though Dany’s reaction wasn’t what he was hoping to see, the news of his gift grabs her attention. When Tyrion Lannister waltzes out into the fighting pit, it’s clear that Dany must at least listen to what these two have to say. The last time Dany saw Jorah, she threatened to throw his head into Slaver’s Bay if she ever saw him again. Considering that Jorah still has his head, as well as a meeting with his Queen, I’d call that a win. Couple that with the fact that this is Game of Thrones and falling is a lot more common than rising for our characters, Jorah’s place here is deserved – at least until that grayscale we seem to have forgotten about kicks in.
Honorable Mention: Samwell Tarly, for still dishing out badass lines in the face of certain defeat.
Faller of the Week: Cersei Lannister
As Tywin Lannister said in Season 3, any man that must call himself king, is no true king. With Cersei being dragged off by the Faith Militant, the same can now be said about queens. Watching Cersei’s face go from smug to stung was a joy, and seeing Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) throw Cersei to the ground of her new cell gave “The Gift” one of the happier endings for an episode in Game of Thrones history.
It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of Cersei for the majority of the series, but she has been nothing short of idiotic this season. She unwisely restored the Faith Militant to power, which has put King’s Landing on a crash course towards anarchy. As Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) continues to prove, he’s just a boy when it comes to ruling, and the Faith Militant have removed his support systems. The ingenuity of the High Sparrow also should be noted here too. Due to Lancel Lannister’s (Eugene Simon) involvement with the Faith Militant, the High Sparrow has been privy to loads of information pertaining to Cersei for quite some time. But he couldn’t set his sights on her immediately, so he aimed his crosshairs at Cersei's enemies: the Tyrells. This resulted in Cersei backing the High Sparrow’s actions, setting the precedent that the Faith Militant could lawfully arrest a queen, and that there was nothing that she or Tommen could do about it. The fact that Cersei didn’t see her own arrest coming proves how asinine she’s been. Perhaps a lifetime of entitlement made her think she was untouchable? Or maybe, and more likely, she’s just not that smart?
Honorable Mention: Tyrion’s Chain Wielder. He’ll always be known as the guy who got his ass kicked by a dwarf.
Backstory of the Week: “Egg, I Dreamed I Was Old”
“He was the blood of the dragon, and now his fire has gone out.”
With those words we said goodbye to our oldest and most historically significant character. Playing the game of what-ifs is hardly ever satisfying, but the importance of Aemon Targaryen (Peter Vaughn), the decisions he made, and his effect on the history of Westeros should be understood by all.
Aemon was the middle son of King Makear I, and being that he was never supposed to inherit the throne, he joined the order of Maesters, thus giving up all rights to inheritance and dropping his surname. But Aemon’s older brother eventually died, and despite his status as a sworn maester, there were pockets of people who believed he should still inherit the crown. Aemon refused, and the crown passed to his younger brother Aegon (Egg). Initially, Aemon planned to remain in King’s Landing to serve as a maester there, but when some members of the royal court continued to push for him to take the throne from his brother, he removed himself from the discussion altogether by joining the Night’s Watch. Aemon Targaryen was selfless through and through.
But the what-ifs don’t end there. Up through Aemon’s brother, Egg, the Targaryens ruled peacefully over Westeros. But when Egg’s son, Aerys, took over as King, the Targaryen dynasty would finally meet its end. Dubbed “The Mad King,” it was Aerys who summoned and suprisingly executed Rickard and Brandon Stark and kickstarted Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. No one can ever fault Aemon Targaryen for making the choices he did. But it’s impossible not to wonder how different Westeros would be had the honorable and learned man who lived to 104 decided to sit the throne way back when.
(If the history and lore of House Targaryen interests you, I cannot recommend enough the three Dunk and Egg novellas written by George R.R. Martin about a young Egg and his bodyguard Dunk. The first novella is called “The Hedge Knight” and was released in Legends, an anthology certainly worth checking out, and not just because of Martin.)
Item of the Week: Sansa’s Unlit Candle
This episode proved that Sansa is no longer content playing the victim, as she followed up asking Theon to light her warning candle in hopes of escaping with calling Ramsay a bastard to his face. Sansa might pay for that jab, but it’s looking more and more possible that Ramsay is the one who ends up ultimately paying in the end.
- I think Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) summed up every book reader’s feelings this week when she asked about Jaime’s Dornish adventures: “Why is it happening at all?”
- The man that cut Tyrion loose from his chains had to be a Strong Belwas-sized piece of fan-service, right?
- It was great seeing Ghost again, especially as he saved Gilly (Hannah Murray), but why the hell is he not with Jon Snow on his expedition to Hardhome?
- Tommen simply can’t pull off a Joffrey-level tirade. But then again, Joffrey couldn’t pull off love.
- Something tells me Margaery is going to regret throwing away that venison.
- It might be time to learn how to plow a field, Olenna. Start by learning to grow aloe. You’ll need it for that burn.
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
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