A welcome return to form this week, as several storylines were skilfully woven together and events in all locations progressed meaningfully.
With Stannis on the march to Winterfell, Daenerys hooked up with Tyrion and the Sparrows imprisoning Cersei in King’s Landing, the action is tantlisingly poised on all fronts, setting up what should be an epic – and difficult to predict – final few episiodes.
Some talking points from ‘The Gift’.
1 | The long-awaited fall of Cersei Lannister
We saw it coming a mile off, but strangely, it didn’t make it any less satisfying. As soon as Cersei Lannister engaged in the high-risk strategy of empowering religious fundemtalists, the Sparrows, in order to get Loras and Margaery imprisoned (for ‘buggery’ and deception, respectively), it was only a matter of time before they turned on the Queen Mother herself for her own indiscretions – namely, incest – particularly as Cousin Lancel, her former lover, is so deep in with the Sparrows he has his forehead branded with the mark of the seven.
It’s rare that we’ve seen Cersei get any sort of comeuppance, but seeing her visit Margaery in jail and wind her up to such an extent that the normally ice-cool Queen threw her own piss pot at the wall and screamed “Get out you hateful bitch!” – only to then be thrown in a cell herself – was undeniably delicious.
All of sudden, King’s Landing is the most interesting place in Westeros again. How will Boy King Tommen react now his wife and mother are behind bars? Surely the King’s army will be enough to destroy a bunch of zealots with sticks?
2 | Catty exchange of the week: Olenna and the High Sparrow
Two of the show’s senior figures collided this week when Olenna Tyrell confronted the High Sparrow (and indeed, High Septon), enraged that her grandchildren had been imprisoned.
It was a lively exchange, including some classic Queen of Thorns truth-bombing (“I know a fraud when I see one!”) and a note or two of mutual respect (“What is it for you?” “My hips” “My knees…”), not unlike the barbed exchanges Olenna and Tywin enjoyed last season.
With everyone else thrown in jail – and Tommen probably too scared to do anything except pet his cat – Olenna is now the last standing figure of authority who can realistically confront the High Sparrow. Who will emerge victorious in this new power struggle? And what part will Littlefinger play in it all?
3 | Poor Sansa Part 432
Momentum now surely lies with Sansa Stark in the hotly contested Most Unfortunate Game of Thrones Character Ever award. Last week’s controversial rape has become, she informs us, a nightly occurrence for her. And when she plays the only card she has left by asking Reek to put a candle in the broken Winterfell Tower – a move that is supposed to alert her ‘friends in the North’ to rescue her – not only does Ramsay thwart the attempt, but he flays the dear old lady who told Sansa about the signal in the first place. It was reminiscent of the younger Sansa being forced by King Joffrey to look up at her father’s head on a spike.
Still, there are signs that Sansa 2.0 is retaining some of her new found spirit. She subtly winds Ramsay up about the forthcoming Bolton child – and possible challenger to his heir status – and even manages to get a jibe in about Tommen being a ‘bastard too’. Meanwhile, Brienne of Tarth looked on uselessly from beyond the Winterfell gates, still waiting for that bloody candle. Expect her to finally get stuck in when Stannis arrives and it all kicks off.
4 | A new (and rather predictable) reason to like the Sand Sisters
Around 10pm last night, you may have heard a strange tap-tapping noise across the land – that was the sound of a few million men typing ‘Rosabell Laurenti Sellers’ into Google. The actress (19) plays Tyene Sand – one of Oberyn’s bastard daughters, the Sand Sisters – who last night took a shine to Bronn (52) after he gave her a blast of the old Robson and Jerome vocal magic as they languished in a Dorne jail.
By ‘took a shine’ we, of course, mean ‘took her clothes off’, thus completing what has looked suspiciously – and let’s face it, a little creepily – like a formal initiation process for any young actress hoping to find success on the biggest show in the world for some time now.
So far the Sand Sisters haven’t exactly fulfilled their pre-season promise as the show’s new kick ass female characters. After proving rather unimpressive in battle, last night’s topless scene seemed to make no sense, other than to get Bronn’s blood pumping faster to speed up the effects of the poison Tyene administered to him during their scrap last week. But given she immediately threw him the antidote, it did seem rather… what’s the word – gratuitous?
5 | Jorah gets his Russell Crowe moment
It wasn’t exactly difficult for a man of his fighting skills – even if he is infected with greyscale – but seeing Jorah slice through the sorry losers of the fighting pit in order to confront Daenerys in Meereen was one of the episode’s highlights. As desperate last attempts to win over unrequited crushes goes, it fell somewhere between making her a mix tape and cutting off his own ear.
Either way, Jorah is doomed – he’s just looking for a moment of redemption with his dear Khaleesi before he turns to stone – meaning the really interesting development was the introduction of Daenerys to Tyrion. It’s a meeting that has been promised since episode one of season five and raises the tantilising possibility of Tyrion becoming one of the Mother of Dragon’s advisors. You can sort of imagine them getting on, if she can get past the whole your-family-tried-to-kill-me thing. It might also train Daenerys’ attentions on King’s Landing, particularly now her marriage has shored up her authority in Meereen. And let’s be honest, we’ve all been waiting for that to happen for a long, long time.
– Has there ever been a more uncomfortable sex scene on Game of Thrones than seeing Samwell Tarly finally get it on with Gilly? The "Oh my!" was almost too much to bear. Still, it was amusing that even a collapsed lung wasn’t enough to stop him from trying to lose his virginity. We remember exactly how it feels, Sam.
– Tyrion beating one of his slavers to death (or near enough) in a desperate bid to be taken to the fighting pits was disturbing, particularly when you remember how his character started out. Tyrion always balked at violence, preferring instead to use his mind – or money – to get out of tight spots. No longer.
– Stannis’ beard!
Line of the week:
“All rulers are either butchers, or meat” – yet more fighting pit-inspired pillow talk from Daario.