When the Many Stop Fearing the Few: ‘Game of Thrones’ Recap for ‘The Gift’

You can’t blame her, really. She didn’t witness the torture like we did. She didn’t see him claim to be his former self in order to kill his own people. And more than anything, she was desparate.

But Seven Hells, Sansa. You shouldn’t have expected Reek to do anything for you except tattle! But she did it anyway! Bruised and weeping and thinking it can’t get worse than being Ramsay’s reproductive slave, she pleads with Reek to bring her savior candle to the highest window of the broken tower. Of course, Reek knows (and we know) it can get much, much worse.

imageAnd it likely will for Sansa, because Reek went straight to Ramsay and told on her in her state of despair. In the same moment Sansa is looking at the dead, flayed body of her old lady friend, Ramsay tells her how happy she makes him because he expected her to be a “fat, bearded beast.” Essentially, Sansa is being kept alive and unharmed (relatively speaking, of course, when it comes to Ramsay) because she’s pretty and he wants an heir. If he gets his male heir, Ramsay’s place in the Bolton family tree is solidified and he will become Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell. Yeah, he’s vain and seriously demented, but you could never call Ramsay undetermined.

For Sansa’s sake, I hope Stannis’ army or Brienne (or SOMEONE! ANYONE!) comes along to destroy the Boltons before she gets pregnant and/or gives birth. Her life is only secure until then, and Ramsay has a very good memory. Then again, she grabbed an object that looked a lot like a corkscrew without Ramsay seeing, so maybe she’ll finally take her life in her own hands. And that’s so much better, isn’t it? I’d much rather see Sansa fighting for herself than be saved by someone else, as is the usual case.

Fortunately, Stannis is on his way, albeit very, very slowly, and the Northern weather is unforgiving. (Could it be? Could Winter actually be coming?!) Stannis’ luck and time are running out. Not only is it taking forever to get to Winterfell, but a whole lot of horses died during the night and even a group of soldiers left because of the cold. Good Ser Davos is losing faith in the timing of his “one true king,” and implores him that they have to try a different time to conquer the North. But Stannis does his best Don Draper impression and insists that there is no going back, only forward.

Leave it to Melisandre to provide Stannis with an alternate option that involves death. “The power of king’s blood,” she calls it and reminds him of what happened to Robb Stark and Joffrey using that power. I’d call their deaths and her magic coincidences if it weren’t for her uncanny ability to repeat the catchphrases of people she never met. Without actually saying it, she tells Stannis that sacrificing his daughter to the cause will ensure his victory. He gets pissy and tells her to leave, but I wouldn’t put it past Stannis to get to a point of desperation that he kills his daughter for the crown and the “greater good.” That, and Shireen has been featured so much this season that I can’t imagine it was all just teasing the greyscale plot line.

imageAnd that plot line’s victim, Jorah, would’ve afflicted a bunch of people this week if it weren’t for those cuffs on his wrists. He was sold as a slave to a man who needed a seasoned warrior, and Tyrion’s trademark quick thinking saved him yet again, so he was able to be sold along with Jorah to the same man. Tyrion is never without a partner when he’s not in a safe place, because he knows that danger will inevitably come around and fighting is not his strong suit. His new “owner” was likely more amused by Tyrion than impressed with his chain-hitting skills.

But nevertheless, the two are brought to a place with a slew of other chained-up guys that are released into a pit to fight each other.

Wait, wasn’t Daenerys going to open up the fighting pits in Meereen?


Jorah, upon seeing his silver-haired queen, is motivated by unrequited love and unleashes a shitstorm on the other fighters in the pits. Hell hath no fury like a Jorah scorned, amirite? After the last fighter is defeated (by a hit to the head with his own helmet? And another person taken down with a shield? C’mon, GOT. You’re better than that.), Jorah whips off his helmet all Eowyn style and displays himself to Daenerys.

So hopeful, so earnest is Jorah looking upon his queen. And then: “Get him out of my sight.” (If that doesn’t stab you in the heart a little, then go check out ancestry.com because you may be a Bolton.) Jorah would have seen the last of Daenerys if it weren’t for Good Guy Tyrion saving the day and presenting himself as Jorah’s gift to her. It is quite a neat thing to see two major characters come together after five seasons of having nothing to do with each other. I suppose it was bound to happen eventually anyway, since Varys was taking Tyrion to Meereen in the first place. I hope Varys was smart enough to go to Meereen without Tyrion, because I really want to see his WTFOMG face next week when Tyrion strolls in. Though she’s playing the long game of spite, I think Dany will keep Jorah around. Barriston’s dead, and she could use him for guidance, even if he did really betrayed her trust. But c’mon, girl. That was four seasons ago!

Also, one can’t go without mentioning the hero of the episode: big oafy guy who broke Tyrion’s chains for him for no reason. What a nice guy!

Up at the Wall, there are precious few nice guys left among the Night’s Watch. Nice Guy #1, Jon Snow, has officially left to go North with Tormund and fetch some wildlings, leaving Nice Guy #2, Sam, to fend for himself at Castle Black. Then, Nice Guy #3, Maester Aemon, kicks the bucket at the ripe age of 100 and Sam’s allies now consist of a girl and her infant. As Alliser is so quick to point out, “You’re losing all your friends, Tarly.”  Real helpful, First Ranger.

It doesn’t take long for some Night’s Watch jerks to get fresh with Gilly (though frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet) and for Sam to get his ass kicked defending her. Fortunately, Ghost has stuck around and will apparently come out of the shadows as needed to scare off any jerks that threaten Jon’s friends. Sam’s face pummeling was not in vain, however, as Gilly thanked him in the, uh, nicest way possible. “Oh… oh my,” says Sam as he’s breaking his oath. Good for you, buddy.

imageOver in the prison cells of Dorne, Bronn’s trying to get up to some oath-breaking of his own (so to speak.) The Sand Snakes are a darned five feet away from Bronn, who thinking little except “tasting the Dornishman’s wife.” Turns out that Ellaria’s Sand Snake, Tyene, has poison at the end of her dagger and it’s slowly killing Bronn, singing in his cell. It’s sped up, of course, by the accelerated blood flow of her strip tease. Unless Bronn and Tyene end up together, I’m really not sure why she gave him the antidote to her poison. That, or she just really likes his singing.

Also in Dorne, but in a much nicer cell, Jaime tries to convince Myrcella that she needs to return to King’s Landing. But leave it to teenagers to be incredulous, because she’ll have none of it. Cersei made her go there in the first place (more like Tyrion, but that’s fine) and now that she’s in love with her Dornish dreamboat she’s definitely not leaving. There’s one-sided concern happening in this exchange. Jaime is, of course, Myrcella’s father, and he likely loves her as a father would a daughter, but even his concern for her safety in Dorne is dubious. His orders to retrieve her were born of Cersei’s selfish paranoia, and it’s obvious that she’s mostly safe where she is. (Other than Ellaria and the Sand Snakes trying to get at her, but they’re obviously not a threat at the moment.) Myrcella, however, has only known Jaime to be an absent uncle most of her life, so his sudden interest in her well-being is unfounded in her eyes. “You don’t know me,” she says pointedly as she exits his cell, and she’s right.

Frankly, it is much safer for her to be in Dorne than King’s Landing, since the city has been taken over by the Sparrows and the Faith Militant. There’s no wine, Littlefinger’s brothels were ransacked, and political and social power has no sway over religious power anymore.

imageBut leave it to Olenna to not take no for an answer! She sought out the High Sparrow to find out what kind of bartering will be able to release her grandchildren from custody, but she’s not giving him enough credit. She assumes, unsurprisingly and rightfully so, that the High Sparrow is “a man of the people who does Cersei’s dirty work for her.” Who wouldn’t think that, in a ceaselessly soulless world? After he ignores Olenna’s bribes for riches and threats of withholding crops from the capital, the High Sparrow reminds her that her status and wealth has “made her blind in one eye.” The people that would “suffer” from the lack of crops sent from the Tyrells are the same ones that actually know how to till, plant, and grow. The societal elite are the ones that will actually suffer. She is part of the few, and he, “of the people,” is part of the many. “And when the many stop fearing the few…” he trails off, smiling as he walks away.

Though he’s part of a religious organization, there seem to be more political implications from this exchange. Considering this show is rooted entirely in the goings on of societal elite, the High Sparrow’s words hold a lot of weight. In a world without a ruling hierarchy, how much better off would the masses be? A whole freaking lot, when one considers how many thousands of people have died since this show began. Even still, his words render the entire concept of the show meaningless. Without royalty, there is no Game of Thrones.

Olenna assumed the High Sparrow was being funded by Cersei to take down the Tyrells, but the Sparrows’ inquisition is an equal opportunity offender. After Cersei made the duty rounds to Margaery’s dirty dungeon prison cell, and spouted the requisite bullshit about the poor conditions of her quarters, she went to visit the High Sparrow. She wanted to tell him Margaery’s conditions were adequate. She wanted to find out what happened next for them. But that ole chatterbox the High Sparrow kept Cersei around long enough with his tales of stripping finery and unburdening the soul that the proud, arrogant bitch never saw it coming.

imageAnd then it happened! Cersei’s just desserts, the longest time coming, have finally arrived! Of course the High Sparrow knows all about Lancel and his cohorts with the queen from season one, and who can tell what else he knows! The Tyrell’s finery will be stripped away, but so will Cersei’s, and she has no allies around to help her except her bumbling, incapable king of a son. It’s doubtful she felt the conditions of the prison were very adequate when she saw her cell door slam in her face.

Whatever the High Sparrow has in store for the city, and what it means for the story as a whole, at this moment I don’t care. Watching Cersei thrown into the dirt felt so damn good.

1 Comment

  1. Nice recap. I, too, applauded when Cersei was thrown into her cell. I only hope that, this time, she does not manage to wriggle her way out of her new predicament.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s