Game of Thrones Memory Lane 507: The Gift

With only four trips down Memory Lane left, today we bring you Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7, “The Gift.” Airing on May 24th, 2015, the episode was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Miguel Sapochnik. Most famous for uniting Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister, the episode features several key moments in the series including Jon’s preparations for Hardhome, Stannis’ struggle with sacrifice, and Cersei’s imprisonment.

We begin at Castle Black where Ser Alliser advises Jon against his mission to save the wildlings. His patronizing demeanor ultimately foretells not only his later resistance opening the gate but the mutiny he has planned for the finale. Sam and Jon also share a goodbye as Sam gives him dragonglass he hopefully won’t need.

At Winterfell, Sansa begs Theon for help against Ramsay. Reek is horrified at her request in disobedience when Sansa uplifts him with a speech on who he really is: Theon Greyjoy. She pleads with him to put the infamous candle in the window for Brienne to see.

The scene that follows is an exceptional directing trick by Sapochnik. The uplifting music following Reek through Winterfell and up the stairs, leading us to believe he’s going to light the candle until…he arrives in Ramsay’s quarters. Dammit! To tease us further, we go to Brienne vigilantly watching the window and frowning as it remains dark. Further still, the transition to the next scene with Sam, Gilly, and Aemon begins with none other than a lit candle. Our desperation is more than in line with Sansa’s at this point.

Gilly urges Sam to get some rest as he’ll need to speak for Aemon in the morning. Sam resists as the maester deliriously speaks his final words:

Aemon: Egg…I dreamed that I was old.

Maester-Aemon1

The scene is a lovely reference to George R.R. Martin’s Dunk and Egg novellas (which could if anything be our next Game of Thrones TV series) and a touching final scene for Maester Aemon. Peter Vaughan brought wisdom and sincerity to The Wall and will sorely be missed now that his watch has ended.

Back at Winterfell, Sansa experiences the fallout of her failed escape plan. Sansa cuts down Ramsay’s hopes of being Warden of the North noting he was legitimized by a bastard and has no claim to anything once a true son is born. Littlefinger would’ve been proud at that one. Recently, Sophie Turner discussed Sansa’s emotional intelligence over physical violence in playing the game of thrones and here is the prime example of such. He retaliates by displaying his gruesome work of the old woman who tried to help Sansa escape. Iwan Rheon’s calm demeanor in reliving how Ramsay flayed her only makes his character more terrifying for Sansa than Joffrey’s outbursts and wild bloodlust. Also worth noting this scene is the snowfall and the threat it accompanies.

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Outside Winterfell, Melisandre reiterates the need for a great sacrifice in order to ensure a great victory. She reminds Stannis of the power of king’s blood and what she’s seen in the flames as Stannis faces his ultimate decision. The scene conveys their entire relationship perfectly. He leans on her for counsel and even lusts for her while she stays true to her duty to the Lord of Light. With Melisandre struggling with her faith after the finale, it’ll be interesting to see what she reverts to when she’s lost so much.

It didn’t take long after Aemon’s death for the brothers to turn on Sam and Gilly (as Alliser warned). At Castle Black, The Slayer defends Gilly with a little help from Ghost and is rewarded for his chivalry after. It’s a tender scene between the two that adds heart to an otherwise dark episode.

tumblr_nowq7y8RAN1u17sbuo4_250In Meereen, we catch up with Jorah and Tyrion’s adventures as well as Dany’s reluctance for the fighting pits. Tyrion demonstrates his skills as a fighter for fear of being separated from Jorah as the two are sold off. Daario offers some suspicious council to Dany and urges she kill all the masters.

The face off between Lady Olenna and the High Sparrow is one of my favorites this episode. The dialogue is delivered with precision and excellence between Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce. She tries to demand her grandchildren’s freedom, even attempting bribery. He sees through her character, claiming he simply serves the gods and warns that the reign of the few will soon be triumphed by the many they have preyed on to get there.

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Though he may be truthful, in this series it’s hard to believe when a character doesn’t serve themselves. Does he truly serve the gods or does he simply want to dethrone the corrupt? Hopefully we’ll find his true motives in Season 6.

In King’s Landing, Tommen throws a tantrum frustrated that he cannot help his queen. Cersei internally laments her only son’s outburst and the affection he has for the woman she despises. She delves into a heartfelt speech that depicts exactly how much her children mean to her as the two are tearful.

Cersei: I would do anything for you. Anything to keep you from harm. I would burn cities to the ground.

Keeping up with The Lannisters, we move to Dorne with Jamie and Myrcella. He discloses why he came to Dorne as Myrcella refuses to accept any reason. She iterates her happiness in Dorne with her beloved Trystane ignoring any warning Jamie brings. The Lannister twins are paralleled in their parenting here as the game of thrones continues to tear the lions apart.

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Sapochnik plays with lighting here brilliantly as Jamie is basking in the light while he tries to illuminate Myrcella of the danger she’s in while being kept in literal darkness.

In the prison cells of Dorne, we find Sand Snakes, poison, and The Dornishman’s Wife (“What? He’s got a good voice!”). The scene shows the Sand Snakes’ weapon mastery extends to poisons and antidotes where they no doubt picked up a few tricks from The Red Viper. It also doubles as foreshadowing for Myrcella’s assassination in displaying what the Snakes are capable of.

In the shambles of his brothel, Littlefinger meets with Lady Olenna. She extorts him by reminding him they both played a role in Joffrey’s murder though he still plays loyal to Cersei. He assures her that she will get her just desserts as he has also given the High Sparrow a gift, similar to the one he gave Cersei. Sapochnik plays with the lighting here as well and the result is glorious.

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Remembering Littlefinger’s “knowledge is power” quote from Season 2, it makes sense that he is the one illuminated in this scene. The symbolic red lighting not only signifies the violence that occurred here but also illustrates the volatile nature of Littlefinger.

In Meereen, Daenerys and Hizdahr sit through the preliminary fighting matches. As the bloodshed ensues, Dany is sickened by the brutality. Jorah takes note and dons a helmet to conceal himself. He incapacitates the other fighters and is revealed before the khaleesi.

Daenerys: Get him out of my sight.tumblr_noywbkvXMy1u58bayo5_250-1

Iain Glen never ceases to amaze me in his depiction of Jorah’s love for Daenerys. Like in “The Mountain and The Viper,” his acting is pure and effective. He protests, claiming he brought her a gift. Tyrion steps forward and introduces himself much to Dany’s surprise.

I always forget the episode doesn’t end there as it very well could. We see gifts being given all around as Cersei visits Margaery in her cell and brings her supper. Natalie Dormer channels the vicious rage Margaery has pent up for Cersei effortlessly. She reveals Cersei’s faults in character were what made it so easy for her to snatch Tommen away. The Lioness is unmoved by these remarks mocking her further; “sleep well, sister” is a nice callback to the exchange between them previously.

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“Get out, you hateful bitch!”

Cersei smirks victoriously as she makes her way to the High Sparrow. He perceives the fineries stripped away from House Tyrell and questions what they will find when the same is done to House Lannister. He reveals the gift Littlefinger gave him as Lancel steps out of the shadows.

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Sapochnik is exceptional throughout this episode with his choice of lighting. Here we see the High Sparrow and Lancel also illuminated where Cersei is kept in the dark. It mirrors their exchange as it presents each with their level of knowledge. As cunning as Cersei is, she does a complete 180° in this scene at the last outcome she’d expected. She created her own nemesis by arming the Faith Militant and now she’s cornered. In a desperate attempt to flee, she’s arrested and imprisoned where she delivers my favorite Cersei quote to date.

Cersei: Look at me. Look at my face…it’s the last thing you’ll see before you die.

Ending with Ramin Djawadi’s haunting “High Sparrow” adds to his victory as we close-up on Cersei’s new door.


Introductions: Yezzan, the slaver and Septa Unella.

Deaths: Meereen pit fighters died for glory and Maester Aemon‘s watch has ended.

Quotes:

“We march to victory. Or we march to defeat. But we go forward; only forward” – Stannis Baratheon

“I killed a White Walker. I killed a Thenn. I’ll take my chances with you.” – Sam the Slayer

“Don’t spar with me, little fellow.” & “They’ll never even find what’s left of you.” – Lady Olenna

“The past is the past, the future is all that is worth discussing.” – Littlefinger

“A life of wealth and privilege has left you blind in one eye – you are the few, we are the many, and when the many stop fearing the few…” – High Sparrow

“Winter is coming. Those aren’t just the Stark words. That’s a fact.” – Stannis Baratheon


Creative Fandom:

PoMGTtN

“The Blood of The Dragon” for Maester Aemon by Robert Ball from his Beautiful Death collection.

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Daenerys and Tyrion by CeeCeeMV on DeviantArt

Join us tomorrow when Winter comes to “Hardhome.”

75 responses

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    1. One of the best episodes this season.

      I would say it’s the 4th best after HH, Mother’s mercy and Dance of the dragons.

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    2. That prison scene is my favourite scene in Dorne.
      I was watching the episode with my father and I think he said it best. The way Tyene spoke, the way she smiled, the playful tone in her voice when she watches a guy dying really reminded him of Oberyn.

      The way they all came to see him die was also nice.

      And of course Bronn’s beautiful singing.

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    3. Thanks again for this series of great posts, Nate & others. They’ve made the wait much easier to endure. Just a few more to go and the trip down memory lane is complete!

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    4. Aemon’s death is hearth breaking.

      I know many will focus on ”egg, I dreamed I was old.” but I just loved how he spoke with the little baby and his warning to Gilly:”get him south Gillyflower, before it’s to late”.

      His funeral was also very sad you can see how sad Sam is and how scared!
      Alister then comes to spin the knife in the wound. I think this, and of course the rape attempt, is where Sam decides to go to Oldtown.

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    5. Second best episode of the season, no doubt. Even the Dorne scenes were actually of good quality (if you discount the dialogue in the scene between Jaime and Myrcella).

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    6. Ollena’s talk with the HS is among the best in the series.

      Until then you may think that he does Cersei’s dirty work, but here you start to see his true nature.

      It’s clear Ollena is suprised, she is used, and frankly is a master at manipulating people, but with people who have some secret motive, people who want power, money, lands,…etc. his honesty suprises her, his courage in face of her threats, his amused tone in face of her bribes..

      One of the best scenes in GOT hands down.

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    7. Cersei getting arested was a superb scene.

      It has two great contrasts in my opinion.
      Cersei going from confidence to doubt and outright suprise.
      And the HS going from a kindly old priest, to a complete fanatic.
      It’s a great scene. You can see Cersei loosing all her confidence and you can see the HS slowly imposing himself in that moment.

      You can see in those moments, especially in his eyes, that he really believes, with every fiber of his being, that what he does is a holy mission from the gods.
      Pryce nailed it! He was amazing!

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    8. This episode was really up and down for me. Really liked Maester Aemon’s death and funeral, Tyene / Bronn, and Winterfell. The rest was a lot of slow plodding that I didn’t really enjoy.

      The High Sparrow was such a bore in the episode as well as throughout the season. Nothing interesting about any of his speeches. Jonathan Pryce added nothing to the role (though I’m not sure there was really anything to add). The Sparrow’s in general just weren’t interesting to me.

      More Sam and Gilly mehness. I like them I just find it such a chore to sit through their scenes. Is it wrong of me to hope that a certain pirate crosses paths with them in season 6?

      r.i.p. old bird. It was very convenient of her to die just before Ramsey got to flaying her face so the viewer would be able to recognize who it was.

      The fighting pit scene didn’t work for me either. Seemed a bit forced.

      Of course this criticism is only in relation to other GoT episodes. In other series it would be 1000x better than any of the episodes.

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    9. Mihnea,

      Am I the only one who isn’t really digging that scene? I mean QoT clearly should’ve won that argument. She keeps pointing out how the High Sparrow judges nobles and highborn much harsher than the poor, yet he keeps replying with: “The Gods’ laws must be applied to all equally”, despite her pointing out how that’s clearly not what he’s doing, yet the scene tries to make us think that he won the argument? BS.

      That said, this episode was still of exceptional quality.

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    10. Great recap.

      Yes, an excellant episode.

      Cersei: I would do anything for you. Anything to keep you from harm. I would burn cities to the ground

      Foreshadowing?

      “You are the few, we are the many. And when the many stop fearing the few…”

      Reminds me of:

      “Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
      “So power is a mummer’s trick?”
      “A shadow on the wall, yet shadows can kill.”

      Is Westeros headed toward a sparrow led theocracy? Is that his aim?

      “hateful bitch”

      I prefer the “vile, scheming, evil bitch” comment from the books …

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    11. There’s a question I’ve asked myself all season long: How the hell would Brienne save Sansa?

      Supposing she would be able to even see the candle burning in the tower, how would she do it? Climb the walls of Winterfell barehanded, use her mad sneak skills to avoid getting caught, get Sansa and suddenly start flying towards freedom?

      I’ve never understood what her plan was.

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    12. Tyrions moments where just great.

      But here I liked Jorah more. The way he hears that Dany is in the crowd he rushes to see her.

      The way he just knocks everyone out of the way, he wants to see his love and no one will stop him!
      Emilia, as always was great, that look in her eyes when she sees Jorah, that slight pause before she orders the guards to take him away. The desperation in Jorah’s voice.
      The Tyrion’s entrance.

      At F***ing last he meets Dany!!! I’ve been waiting for this moment for about 10 years. Can’t imagine how happy I was!!

      Ok that’s my last comment. 🙂

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    13. Dragonmcmx,

      Hypocrisy from the Sparrow … what good is to be gained from lancing the boils of the common folk … there’s much more to be gained from doing so with the nobility … I think the comment about the few and many reflect his ultimate game … except that he will be leading the many … a theocracy

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    14. My fourth favorite episode of season 5 and my thrid favorite 9-rated episode, preceeded by Second Sons and Two Swords, and followed by A Golden Crown.

      Aemon’s death was one of the saddest moments and it can be seen, that ser Alliser was really sad as well (considering that he was a Targaryen loyalist). And Tyrion finally meets Daenerys, something that even the books haven’t accomplished yet (and according to GRRM, it won’t happen soon).

      The fighting pit was a nice addition to TV and I really liked Yezzan, even though his role was very brief (I certainly enjoyed him more than his grotesque book counterpart).

      This episode had the least views in season 5 because of Memorial Day. I remember that some critics and book purists were sure, that Sansa’s wedding night caused the drop and people on westeros.org were sure that the show will be cancelled. And then, Hardhome happened…

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    15. Darkrobin,

      You have to look at things from his perspective.

      Yes many of the Sparrows ware criminals. But so where the NW.
      In his eyes, and the gods, are they criminals if they repented and punish the sinners now?

      Like Lancel did. ”step by step he unburdened himself” it’s clear he believes in redemption. Lancel was a sinner, for commiting incest and sleeping with a married women, but is he anymore? He confessed and helped punish other sinners. (Cersei.)

      Didn’t the popes and priest during the crusades forgiving crimes the crusaders commited because they where against ”unbelievers”/”sinners”?

      In my opinion it’s quite a interesting question to analyze.

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    16. Mihnea,

      Yeah the SS do well in their prison scenes. The short one in 509 was good too. Hopefully we’ll see them build on that next. Perhaps it was just a matter of the right direction for them.

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    17. Personally, I’m still not sure what “gift” Littlefinger intended to offer Olenna… cant be Lancel… maybe Robin Arryn… or something to come we dont know about yet…

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    18. So the young man LF promised to Olenna is Lancel? This part has me confused.

      Anyway, this episode is better when I rewatch it. Aemon’s death is one of the saddest moments on the show.

      And yes Cersei! Burn them all!

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    19. I really don’t like Sam with Gilly.

      She is the most annoying character in the show, and she wasn’t that annoying in the books. I really can’t stand her in the show.

      And for some reason the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about this episode are their pointless scenes.

      But this episode was really good. I liked every other scene.

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    20. Mihnea,

      It’s clear Ollena is suprised, she is used, and frankly is a master at manipulating people, but with people who have some secret motive, people who want power, money, lands,…etc. his honesty suprises her, his courage in face of her threats, his amused tone in face of her bribes..

      I loved the beginning of this scene, where each are discussing their particular joint problems. I so could relate!

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    21. Arkash:
      Personally, I’m still not sure what “gift” Littlefinger intended to offer Olenna… cant be Lancel… maybe Robin Arryn… or something to come we dont know about yet…

      It’s going to be Gendry.

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    22. It seems pretty straightforward that the gift Littlefinger was referring to was Lancel, who could be used to take down Cersei. It was a scene to set up the ending of the episode, with Cersei’s arrest.

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    23. Mihnea:
      One of the best episodes this season.

      I would say it’s the 4th best after HH, Mother’s mercy and Dance of the dragons.

      The back half of Season 5 was some great TV.

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    24. Definitely the happiest I’d ever been at the end of any episode of GoT was when Tyrion and Daenerys finally came face to face. I squeeeeed the hardest squeeeeee for like 5 minutes after the episode ended.

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    25. Vincent Stark:
      There’s a question I’ve asked myself all season long: How the hell would Brienne save Sansa?

      Supposing she would be able to even see the candle burning in the tower, how would she do it? Climb the walls of Winterfell barehanded, use her mad sneak skills to avoid getting caught, get Sansa and suddenly start flying towards freedom?

      I’ve never understood what her plan was.

      This bothered me as well. I wondered if it was bad writing or if I was missing something. If the idea was that she knew some secret passage into Winterfell it wouldn’t have hurt to show that through dialog with her host. I hope that was the idea and it just got lost in the editing process. Otherwise, yes, it’s an absurd notion. It’s a freaking defended castle. She’s walking around in a suit of armor.

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    26. Sue the Fury:
      It seems pretty straightforward that the gift Littlefinger was referring to was Lancel, who could be used to take down Cersei. It was a scene to set up the ending of the episode, with Cersei’s arrest.

      Yeah, this is often mentioned here as some kind of mystery but it was rather straightforward. Doesn’t HS even use the same terminology?

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    27. I remember before this episode aired wondering what “The Gift” could refer to. Obviously the lands south of the Wall are referred to as The Gift, but I couldn’t think of anything that happened there in the story since Queenscrown in Season 3. Then I wondered if they might reveal the warging ability of Jon and/or Arya (referred to as a gift by Jojen and Varamyr Sixskins.)

      Turns out it had several meanings, as all the episode titles do, but they were far more literal that I imagined. Lancel is the gift Littlefinger gives the High Sparrow and, to a degree, Olenna Tyrell. And of course, Tyrion is Jorah’s gift to Dany.

      A great episode overall. Aemon’s death, Jon’s departure for Hardhome, Olenna and her confrontations with Littlefinger and the High Sparrow, Tyrion meeting Dany. Cersei’s very forshadow-heavy declaration about burning cities.

      A couple scenes didn’t sit right with me, though. The first was the Gilly attempted rape scene, which tempted a bitter response from the audience so hot on the heels of Sansa’s wedding night. It also didn’t adhere to rules of great storytelling either, with the Ghost ex machina resolution. They surely don’t let Ghost wander around CB when Jon isn’t there, right?

      The other scene that was kind of weird was the scene in which Yezzan buys Jorah and Tyrion. I’m just not convinced that Yezzan would have spent money on a dwarf just because he got the drop on and beat one of his captors. It bears no resemblance to a fight in the pits, and surely a dwarf would be a poor investment in that regard. I’m likely overthinking it, but I thought the whole scene a bit too convenient.

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    28. I’d rank this one 2nd best of the season, after Hardhome.

      The twin complaints of the Queen of Thorns and High Sparrow about their knees and hips hurting was very real, and pretty cool.

      And I was also even a fan of the Snakes this time through even though Tyene is the only one who really makes an impression, with only some of that related to her boob-activated poison.

      And way to go out, Peter Vaughan, who was so great as Maester Aemon.

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    29. Mihnea,

      Mihnea

      Great points and yes

      On another topic I know that the general consensus is that Lancel was LF’s gift to Olenna. But in the conversation between the HS and Cersei it would appear that the process of Lancel U nburdening his soul was gradual over time. And it would seem that he would have gone to the Sparrow before the Laf Olenna scene. I don’t recall the exact language but could there be another handsome young man or is it clear that Lancel is

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    30. Darkrobin:
      Mihnea,

      Mihnea

      Great points and yes

      On another topic I know that the general consensus is that Lancel was LF’s gift to Olenna. But in the conversation between the HS and Cersei it would appear that the process of Lancel U nburdening his soul wasgradual over time. And it would seem that he would have gone to the Sparrow before the Laf Olenna scene. I don’t recall theexact language but could there be another handsome young man or is it clear that Lancel is

      The thing is that GoT usually doesn’t significantly foreshadow something that would happen next season. If the handsome young man appears next season, why was this scene necessary in season 5? Why not in season 6?

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    31. This episode onwards marks the strongest second half of a season Thrones has ever had, for me. I know this season is probably the most divisive but they really knocked it out of the park starting here.

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    32. Off-Topic Otto,

      Yes, it seems obvious that they are referring to Lancel, but I don’t understand how Littlefinger is ‘providing’ that. I was under the impression that Lancel had already confessed his sins. I thought he indicated as much to Cersei when he first shows back up.

      At the very least he’s already a fervent member of the faith, relatively high up as he’s involved in arresting Loras .

      I guess the only way it makes sense is he’s a member of the faith militant, but the High Sparrow is unaware of him. Or at least of what he knows. And so the gift from Littlefinger is simply letting him know to seek out Lancel for questioning about Cersei?

      As the lone book reader in my group of viewer friends, I’m the one that ends up explaining a lot, and as far as I can remember that’s the only thing I’ve been confused about when they’ve asked.

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    33. Vincent Stark,

      Presumably she would have tried to get the Stark loyalists to sneak Sansa out of Winterfell and then she would take it from there.

      Alternatively, I guess Brienne could have entered Winterfell herself as a guest or claiming to be an envoy for the Lannisters .

      That would have been particularly risky, obviously, since Roose Bolton knows of her relationship to Catelyn and the last time he saw Brienne he intended to have her killed as a traitor to the North. But once inside Winterfell she could try to enact some escape plan.

      I don’t think we were ever expected to believe that once the candle was lit Brienne would immediately descend on Winterfell with some kamikaze escape plan. I think we’re meant to believe the candle was just a signal to put a plan into motion.

      But it’s certainly not obvious how she would go about a rescue.

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    34. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      Presumably she would have tried to get the Stark loyalists to sneak Sansa out of Winterfell and then she would take it from there.

      I had always assumed this as well. The old lady wouldn’t have come up with that plan unless it came from elsewhere, and I suspected that the North had people watching as well, not just Brienne. So when she does finally light the candle that Brienne doesn’t see, it didnt bother me. I figured someone else watching would sound the alarm and send the Northern army to Winterfell. Or something like that.

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    35. This was my initial reaction on the WOTW Open Chat thread for “The Gift”, less than an hour after its initial airing.

      Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen were in the same scene tonight. They spoke to one another. There were no fake identities, no last-minute interventions, no obfuscating bullshit. Tyrion walked right up to the Dragon Queen and announced his presence. The rest of the episode barely even matters to me (though to be clear, I thought it was excellent). That moment, however brief, was everything I needed.

      I’ll have more composed thoughts on the rest of the episode (and the walking legend that is Jonathan Pryce) later, but for now … HELL YES!!!

      Needless to say, I was pretty damn happy. 🙂 Whatever and wherever Cloud 9 is, I was dancing on it, with a big silly grin on my face.

      Purely because of the joy that I derived from that long-awaited scene, I think “The Gift” is one of the most emotionally satisfying episodes of the entire series. From a structural perspective, there are more cohesive episodes this season, largely due to the sheer number of storylines this one had to service. But everything from the dialogue to the various thematic parallels in this hour felt light and strong, and the intoxicating high generated by the hour’s two key moments – Tyrion meeting Daenerys, and Cersei’s arrest by High Sparrow – elevated the entire episode to another level.

      Nate, I appreciate all the notes you made about Miguel Sapochnik’s direction in your piece, especially his use of lighting. It is indeed a beautiful episode. With just two episodes, Sapochnik has established himself as one of Game of Thrones’ best directors, and given that Benioff and Weiss entrusted him with Episode 9 and Episode 10 of Season 6, we can only expect more great work from him on the horizon.

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    36. A great episode and another great recap. I’ve said that about every posting since the walk down Memory Lane started. It was a great idea from the WotW team and has certainly enabled me to ease the wait until Season 6 airs this weekend.

      It will be another 2am (UK time) in the morning thing for me! I could of course watch it at 9pm on Monday, but this page will be difficult to keep away from after the airing in the US and full of spoilers. I’ll watch it again in any case on Monday evening followed by Thronecast which is always good fun 😉

      In this episode, there were many highlights I enjoyed. The top one being finally Tyrion introducing himself to Dany via Jorah which seems logical to me why this episode is called ‘The Gift’.

      Maester Aemon’s funeral was sad as were his last words to Samwell. “Egg, I dreamed that I was old”. Peter Vaughan’s portrayal of Aemon throughout the series was superb. Incredible acting for someone whose real age wasn’t so far short as his fictional character.

      The final scene of Cersi being taken and locked up was brilliant also. You could see the smug expression on her face change when Lancel joined the High Sparrow and her comment to Septa Unella “Look at me. Look at my face… It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die!” matches well with her later comment in the trailer “I chose violence”

      The Lannisters versus the Sparrows scenes in S6 will be epic. Along with all the other stuff that’s been speculated on WotW. At last we only have a few days to wait to see how this plays out 🙂

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    37. Dutch Maester: Latrine

      But Lancel knew about Cersei all along. Why would LF all of a sudden influence him to go rat her out? Maybe we’ll find out. It was kind of weird though.

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    38. mau:
      I really don’t like Sam with Gilly.

      She is the most annoying character in the show, and she wasn’t that annoying in the books. I really can’t stand her in the show.

      And for some reason the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about this episode are their pointless scenes.

      But this episode was really good. I liked every other scene.

      I usually think like you Mau, but can’t on this. Remember in the books she was so annoying that they wanted to throw her over-board.

      she didn’t stop crying for the whole trip from the time they took her baby and replaced it with Mance’s

      That was more annoying to me than anything other than “where do whore’s go”.

      😉

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    39. Vincent Stark,

      That’s one of those instances where, since the writers knew she was never going to have to, they didn’t feel the need to flesh that out. Everything about the whole candle plot is highly contrived. The exact passage of time is always kind of vague here, but from Sansa’s account of her nightly rapes we’re clearly talking at least a week where she’s been imprisoned within this one room. Why has Old Lady not realized that it’s impossible for Sansa to signal for help (indeed, this was always a very obvious flaw in this plan)? For that matter, after Old Lady is flayed alive in the middle of Winterfell, another indeterminate period of weeks passes but no word of this highly public action seems to get out. And despite the Boltons having uncovered the existence of some sort of external signal, they make no effort to investigate to whom this signal is meant to be received by, even though the nature of said signal means there’s a very narrow area in which anyone could see it.

      The Tyrion plot this episode is similarly illogical. Tyrion saved himself last episode with the widely-memetic “cock merchant” line, but that whole business is forgotten, as he’s somehow bought as a gladiator(?) for what one imagines is a lot less money. Moreover, he manages this by beating up one of the slavers, which I’m pretty sure, if this show is meant to be realistic, would realistically have harsh and brutal consequences for any slave that did that. But not here! Also, who exactly was that guy who broke Tyrion’s chains, and why did he do that?

      The Wall was, by a country mile, the strongest plotline in Season 5, and the scenes in this episode are no exception. It’s sad to lose Peter Vaughan’s wonderful portrayal of Aemon, but I think they did a great job with his final scenes.

      The King’s Landing scenes are also good, on the whole. The scene with Olenna and the High Sparrow is the highlight for me. Cersei’s arrest is also good overall, even if the “handsome young man” stuff (which I agree is clearly supposed to be Lancel) is kind of muddled by the High Sparrow’s description of Lancel’s unburdening himself. For all the show’s tendency to give Olenna a bunch of extra scenes, if the implication is that Olenna convinced Lancel to blab to the High Sparrow, I think it would have made sense to actually show that.

      On to Dorne, where, despite the pretty blatant mandated nudity, I admit I sort of like the scene with Bronn and the Sand Snakes, simply because there’s something akin to a group dynamic between them. The Jaime/Myrcella scene, though, doesn’t work at all. Myrcella’s scenes this season are all written like this is a character we’re already invested in and whose mental state, etc. we’re already familiar with.

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    40. “I been legitimized by King Tommen”
      “Another bastard”

      I guess Sansa heard the rumours of Cersei’s kids

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    41. This was one of the best reviews written so far for the season 5 episodes. The words and expressions used to describe the different plot points are original and very well written and descriptive. Also good observation on the lighting. Looking forward to more reviews and articles by Nate! He is a talented writer and made this read as interesting as possible considering I’ve watched this episode multiple times. Good job!

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    42. From the moment that I learned that Olenna Tyrell would be returning to King’s Landing this season, I dearly hoped that the writers would put Jonathan Pryce and Diana Rigg in a scene together. They did, and it did not disappoint – watching two legendary actors sizing one another up in that context is a luxury few shows other than Game of Thrones can give us.

      As great as the High Sparrow’s conversation with the Queen of Thorns was, however, it couldn’t eclipse the scene in which the High Sparrow reveals his true plans for Cersei. Pryce’s performance as he digs into that rich, wonderfully written monologue never ceases to amaze me – the combination of his calm menace and the searing fanaticism dancing in his eyes made for an absolutely mesmerizing image.

      I don’t want to overlook Lena Headey’s contribution to that scene as well. She was awesome, even as she was mostly reacting to the force of nature unveiling itself before her. Cersei’s calm, self-satisfied arrogance slowly melting away into uncertainty, fear, and finally rage as she was dragged away was spectacular.

      This was just a fantastic episode for Headey all around. The way she can barely mask her gloating with courtesy when she visits Margaery’s cell is wickedly delightful, as is her kiss-off at the end. “Sleep well, sister.”

      But her scene with Tommen may be her best of the hour. As Tyrion once said about her, “Making honest feelings do dishonest work is one of her many gifts.” She puts that talent to work here.

      “Your happiness is all I want in this world.”

      “I know.”

      “No, you don’t. You can’t possibly. Not until you have children of your own. I would do anything for you. Anything to keep you from harm. I would burn cities to the ground. You are all that matters. You, and your sister. From the moment you came in to this world. My boy. My only boy.”

      She is deceiving her son here, but the love she has for him is genuine. Just keep your eyes on her face as you watch that scene (I couldn’t look anywhere else). Good God. Lena Headey is SO GOOD there. So, so, so good. I honestly think it may be her best scene of the season, Walk of Shame included.

      And as Deesensfan, Darkrobin, and HousePotterz all noted, this is not the first time that Cersei has threatened to “burn cities to the ground”. It’s becoming a pattern for her. Potential foreshadowing? It seems quite likely.

      It’s worth pointing out that the way Tommen shouts “I am the King!” and vows to kill all the Sparrows in order to save Margaery is the first time in the series that young King reminds me ever-so-slightly of his older brother Joffrey. Of course, that fury doesn’t last, but crumples the moment that Cersei raises the point (likely true) that Margaery would be the first casualty if the Sept were to be stormed.

      Of course, the Sept will be stormed this season … but Margaery will have found a way to ingratiate herself with the Faith by then.

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    43. Sean C.:
      Vincent Stark,

      Moreover, he manages this by beating up one of the slavers, which I’m pretty sure, if this show is meant to be realistic, would realistically have harsh and brutal consequences for any slave that did that. But not here!

      If I’m not mistaken I think that Tyrion was beating up another slave, not a slaver, as they were chained to each other.

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    44. Dragonmcmx,

      The Queen of Thorns could call the High Sparrow out on his hypocrisy with respect to equal applications of the Faith’s law all she liked. But even then, she wouldn’t have won the argument. Her objective in that conversation wasn’t to expose the High Sparrow as a fraud. It was to find something she could use to coerce him into releasing Loras and Margaery – gold, power, conscience, or fear. He refused to give her such leverage, and then refused to return her grandchildren, leaving her high and dry. She wouldn’t have won the argument unless she had found a way to convince him to release his prisoners. She failed.

      Olenna was fighting a losing battle from the moment that it became clear that the High Sparrow couldn’t be bought, and so she was left trying to shame him. But he refused to be shamed. He practically admitted to her that he has another agenda when he told her “You are the few, and we are the many.” But in doing so, he also told her that she is powerless to stop him.

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    45. Jared,

      And what did Tywin say about having to say you were the king …

      “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”

      And I agree, Lena’s performance, in this, and the other episodes in the second half of the season were amazing.

      Lord Parramandas,

      The thing is that GoT usually doesn’t significantly foreshadow something that would happen next season. If the handsome young man appears next season, why was this scene necessary in season 5? Why not in season 6?

      I agree, they rarely, if ever, foreshadow a season in advance (unless it relates to Jon’s parentage). It had to be Lancel.

      I wonder if they decided they wanted another LF/Olenna scene and, to make up for LF furnishing Olyvar to Cersei, they came up with the equivalent, even though Lancel talks to Cersei about unburdening himself many episodes previously, and with the HS comments, it seems there may have been a slight continuity issue. Given who Lancel is and his position in the Faith Militant, that the HS would not have known of his sins prior to LF/Olenna what? Furnishing a convert who’s confessed to the HS? seems a little farfetched. It’s not like the HS wouldn’t know who Lancel was. Small matter, but I think that’s why a number of people questioned as to whether it might be someone else. But even if it were not Lancel, there is no one that would help the Tyrells (Gendry would not as, if Tommen is not a king, Margaery is not a queen).

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    46. Tywin of the Hill,

      I don’t think it helps them as much as it it is just revenge. The High Sparrow will find out about Margaery what we already know. She is generous, kind, and empathetic, and would probably be a good and just queen with the right king. I don’t think she would have the same kind of ‘atonement’ that Cersei was put through. Loras on the other hand…eh, he may be in trouble..But, Cersei may take the heat off of both of them.

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    47. Dragonmcmx,

      Right! The same way it’s conveniently forgotten that the Tyrells have basically kept alive all of King’s Landing with their harvest, and are basically a good and generous house… (evil boy king murdering aside, of course).

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    48. Aemon’s deathbed scene was wonderful. I was thrilled that his dying words to his brother – “Egg, I dreamed that I was old.” – made it into the show. I’ve expressed my deep appreciation for Peter Vaughn many times. He was a treasure in this role. It was Aemon’s time to go, but Vaughn is greatly missed. Sam’s eulogy for the wise old maester who might have been King is deeply touching. “He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out.”

      Sam and Gilly finally consummating their relationship was a lovely scene, although I can understand the concerns that were raised about a near-rape serving as the catalyst for that moment, particularly in the aftermath of the previous episode. That being said, I thought sufficient groundwork had been laid to make it work, both with their relationship and the circumstances in which they found themselves. The criminal nature of many Night’s Watchmen has been strongly and repeatedly established – the fact that no one had tried to assault Gilly yet was more surprising than anything. Without Jon there to keep them in check, this felt like a logical thing that would happen. Perhaps there should have been a bit more distance between the two scenes, but at least it led to something good (as well as a badass appearance from Ghost).

      Further south, there’s a degree of potential foreshadowing in Stannis’s camp when Melisandre says “I have seen myself walk along the battlements of Winterfell. I have seen the Flayed Man banners lowered to the ground.” It seems that vision was wrong … but perhaps it will ultimately be proven right.

      That line is one reason why I don’t believe that Melisandre will die early in Season 6 after Jon is resurrected. I think that she will live long enough to see this part of her vision come true. Also, she needs to meet Arya at some point, as she predicted, and those two won’t cross paths this season.

      And while it’s difficult to convey the full depths of the snowstorm that has waylaid Stannis’s army, they do a decent job of it in this episode. That looks bad. It helps sell the desperate nature of his situation, as does Melisandre saying “You must become King before the Long Night begins. Only you can lead the living against the dead.” Hopefully that line reminds people that Stannis wasn’t doing what he was doing solely because he wanted the Iron Throne. He believed that he needed to become King of the Seven Kingdoms because it was the best way to protect those Seven Kingdoms. This was his time, and he decided to risk everything. He lost.

      It makes me deeply sad to reflect back on my original thoughts during this scene, when Melisandre first raises the idea of sacrificing Shireen. I can vividly recall just how hard I was selling myself on the idea that Stannis would never agree to burn his daughter. I was twisting myself into knots, trying to think of alternative scenarios as to how and why this sacrifice could be proposed, but ultimately not enacted. I was in hardcore denial.

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    49. At Winterfell, it’s heartbreaking to see Sansa in such a state. She looks like a ghost when she stands up and walks towards Theon, even though she speaks with a strong voice. “Your name is Theon Greyjoy.” Still, I appreciate that the show didn’t take a shortcut and have Theon snap out of being Reek immediately after bearing witness to Sansa’s wedding night. Reek’s decision to go to Ramsay rather than light the candle was devastating, but it felt true.

      Iwan Rheon does some excellent work in this episode. I’m struck by how his scene is bracketed by a pair of smiles. The first one, which Ramsay puts on when Sansa is brought to him, seems practiced and disingenuous. The thinnest veneer of warmth is disguising the cold void that lies beneath. He’s playing at being the doting, affectionate husband here, even if he’s the furthest thing from it. However, that smile fades after Sansa manages to get under his skin with the barb about his bastard origins and the tenuous nature of his inheritance. This role doesn’t suit him. He is, for the first time in several episodes, off his game.

      I love the flash of recognition and hope that crosses Sansa’s face when Ramsay mentions Jon Snow, and that he’s ascended to the rank of Lord Commander.

      After he shows Sansa the flayed corpse of the washerwoman and sends her back to her room, he stands alone in the Winterfell courtyard and surveys his handiwork. He makes for a terrifying image, standing there as the pure white snow settles down onto his dark cloak and hair. This smile is entirely genuine, relaxed, and cruelly satisfied. He’s back in his element now. The monster need not hide his true face any longer.

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    50. The scene with Bronn and Tyene in the jail cell is pretty comfortably the best scene involving the Sand Snakes, and probably the best scene featuring any of the Dornish characters so far. Rosabell Laurenti Sellers did a very good job portraying a woman who was both incredibly seductive and incredibly dangerous. There was even a moment during her taunting monologue when she tilted her head and let her eyes go cold in a way that was very evocative of … well, a poisonous snake! 😉

      What’s funny is that the scene was used for Tyene’s audition, and it actually leaked several months before the season premiered. When people got a look at the transcript, they went nuts, thinking it would be terrible. I was concerned about how it would play on screen as well, but the end product was far better than I had dared to hope. It goes to show that as important as writing good dialogue is, it isn’t everything, and reading a transcript or watching potential actors recite lines to a camera isn’t always the best indicator of how a scene will play. With proper rhythm and atmosphere to complement the dialogue, it crackled.

      For as much as some people complained about the nudity here being pointless, it actually isn’t. Tyene is trying to get Bronn’s heart rate up so that the poison will work faster. Maybe just talking dirty to him would have done the job, but showing him her breasts (and much more) was guaranteed to work, and work quickly. Not every bit of nudity on this show is mandated by HBO’s CEO of Tits to meet some imaginary quota. Sometimes it can *gasp* actually serve the plot.

      In retrospect, the scene with the Sand Snakes and the Long Farewell was also direct foreshadowing for the method of Myrcella’s assassination. Sadly, there would be no antidote for her.

      The conversation between Jaime and Myrcella was something I had been looking forward to for a while, as Jaime’s uncertain and awkward embrace of his fatherly responsibilities is something that I found very interesting, and hope to see explored at greater length. I found this particular conversation was a little disappointing, because it wasn’t very long or deep, but that also felt true to the characters and their circumstances. When Myrcella told her secret father, “You don’t know me,” Jaime’s face revealed how true those words were, and how much they hurt.

      However, it beautifully set up the scene in the finale with Myrcella and Jaime on the ship. There, Myrcella would reveal what she knows – that Jaime is her father, and that she loves and accepts him – right before she dies.

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    51. I already expressed my unequivocal enthusiasm for the long-awaiting meeting of Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. I was pretty confident it would happen … but I was also worried sick that the show was going to have Tyrion adopt some secret Hugor Hill-style identity so that he could feel Dany out for a few episodes. Then the show would separate them again without the truth being revealed – essentially changing nothing. Mercifully, that didn’t happen. With those two characters in the same place – and no secret identities or contrivances to keep them from being fully honest with one another – the floodgates of immense possibility opened in this particular corner of the world.

      The scene itself wasn’t the most elegant that Game of Thrones has ever given us, but it was better than the alternative. I don’t care if we had to toss out a thousand pages of the source material to get that result – source material that, in the case of Tyrion’s long morose journey, I happen not to like. For the sake of Game of Thrones as a TV series, the union between Tyrion and Dany needed to happen, and it needed to happen now. Eventually Tyrion’s arrival will help facilitate Dany’s departure from Meereen, but the glow of their interactions, particularly in “Hardhome”, is so bright that I’m happy to revel in that for a while. I’m actually greatly looking forward to both of their separate storylines – Tyrion ruling Meereen, Dany rediscovering her ‘Fire and Blood’ roots with the Dothraki – in Season 6. And yet, I look forward towards to the day when these two kindred spirits will reunite once more, pack up the dragons and leave the morass that is Slaver’s Bay behind forever (even if they have to leave Grey Worm and Missandei behind to maintain a measure of peace and stability).

      Finally, the moment when when Jorah laid eyes on Dany for the first time in nearly a season was wonderful. I said it on last night’s Memory Lane as well, but Iain Glen is so gifted at expressing so much without words.

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    52. Jared,

      Strangely enough I actually remember that comment you made last year vividly! xD And I agree wholeheartedly.

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    53. Vincent Stark,

      Sansa would jump from the wall and brienne would catch her. They would then look passionately into each others eyes as though they both knew this should of been how they first met. End scene. Thats how!

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    54. “We’ve always wanted to get to a place, story-wise and budget-wise and time-wise and resource-wise, when we would be able to do a proper battle – with one army on one side, one army on another side.” – Bryan Cogman

      Not to be a buzzkill, but this sounds too much like a traditional battle with two sides charging into each other and just hacking away till there’s nothing left. Apart from the shield wall, will there be any room for the inventivity that was shown in Blackwater, Watchers on the Wall or Hardhome? Even Prince Caspian took the ground out from under a platoon’s feet before descending into the two armies clashing cliche.

      I skimmed over the reddit stood out and the thing that stood out was a boss fight between two of the main players. Oh well, I guess we’ll find out in…nine or ten weeks time? Are they doing a break this year?

      Jack Bauer 24,

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    55. Kit Hairyton,

      There’s no break this year. In part because of the later premiere date, HBO will be airing the episodes for 10 consecutive weeks, even over Memorial Day Weekend.

      And I wouldn’t worry too much about the battle based on either interviews with the writers or a one-paragraph summary from an extra on Reddit. The summary in particular may not be accurate or convey the full picture (though I think the major plot points are likely right, or at least not far off).

      More than any other episodes of the show, it’s the direction and the visual language of the big battles that bring them to life, and I have complete confidence in Miguel Sapochnik after last year. I’ve read textual summaries of all three major battles the show has done – Blackwater, The Watchers on the Wall, and Hardhome. Words on the page don’t come even remotely close to capturing the jaw-dropping majesty of any of those episodes, and those summaries were written by people who had actually watched the finished product, not an extra who likely hasn’t seen any real footage.

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    56. Flayed Potatoes:
      So the young man LF promised to Olenna is Lancel? This part has me confused.

      Anyway, this episode is better when I rewatch it. Aemon’s death is one of the saddest moments on the show.

      And yes Cersei! Burn them all!

      Littlefinger’s run in with Lancel was set up to that. He knows of his relationship with Cersei and, off-screen and maybe through an intermediary, encrouages Lancel to unburden himself of this unconfessed sin to the High Sparrow (who, remember, tells Cersei that Lancel had confessed to his sins “step by step”) culminating in Cersei’s arrest.

      Maybe we will get a follow-up scene between Littlefinger and Lancel in season 6 to make this clearer. The showrunners obviously wanted to keep Cersei’s arrest a surprise when it happened. It was a rather book-thing to do, I think, hiding a perspective from us when the show normally adds POVs owing to the fact it is filmed rather than read.

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    57. The handsome young man by Littlefinger for Olenna will be

      Gendry!!! GETHYPE! Seriously…Lancel doesn’t make any sense. He already confessed his sins(fucking with Cersei) to the High Sparrow before Littlefinger came. So it’s not Lancel.

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    58. I enjoyed this episode. Admittedly a breather between other larger episodes, but stuff moves.

      ***I don’t think they needed to invent *yet another* sexual assault scene for this episode now against Gilly, though admittedly it’s not like anything really happens before Ghost arrives to stop it.

      One thing I kind of hoped we’d get from the novels is how Cersei reacts when the Faith Militant turns on her – she realizes too late what is happening, and then — losing *all* dignity – she makes a desperate *sprint* across the Great Sept and manages to run a sizable distance (it’s a huge cathedral) before being tackled to the ground. I mean just the……remember how early in the first episode, you think “Oh, it’s the king, queen, and crown prince, they will be inherently noble and dignified”….and even across season 1, we find out that this isn’t your typical Fantasy stuff, instead it’s dark and gritty and like Sansa, we find out that Cersei is *none* of the “queenly” virtues people *assumed* she magically attained just by marrying the king. She drinks, she curses, she’s petty, etc. So it’s this last, yet another…..she’s just *sprinting* like some thief trying to outrun a gold cloak, just how undignified it was. The on-screen version is still good though.

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