Game of Thrones ups the stakes right before its penultimate episode!
Game of Thrones: Season 5: Episode 7: The Gift: GRADE: B
While Jon, Tormund, and some rangers go off to Hardhome, including some dragonglass given by Sam, we said goodbye to Maester Aemon who died from illness and damn I loved that guy. Such a wise man to the Night’s Watch and just the best guy to talk to. He passes after one last talk with Sam and Gilly. That was good stuff before shit looked like it might get more rapey as Gilly was being hassled by two men in the dining hall before Sam arrives and gets his ass beat before the highlight of the scene, Ghost! Yeah Ghost! Jon and Sam’s faithful wolf shows up for the first time in well I can’t quite fucking remember. He scares them off and Gilly tends to his wounds before they have sex.
Yeah they finally did it and it was a nicely done scene. The connection between Sam and Gilly was undeniable from the moment that they met and you can bet that fans on Tumblr lost their goddamn monkey mind. Sam couldn’t believe it as much as I did while I was watching the scene go down. Good on you, Sam. You get yours! Though to be honest the real impact of this was the passing of Aemon who I really did love to see and got a very nice send off. Sam getting laid is fun, but not that much important as Aemon’s passing.
Well there is some follow up on the incident of the events from the recent episode. Ramsay has banished Sansa to her bedchamber and is shown to be badly bruised. Yeah seems much more brutal shit has gone down off camera and our countdown to Ramsay’s death just keeps going.
Sansa begs Reek to light the candle that would alert Brienne and Podrick as to come and get her, but since this is Reek who fear not even pissing right would get him killed by Ramsay, he tells Ramsay who then flays the women who told Sansa of the signal and displays it for people to see. Ramsay really is becoming the perfect new villain for the show in place of Joffrey as the show needs that huge antagonistic force to root against, but yet, no immediate followup or acknowledgement of the incident from last week. Hopefully that’s still planned out since the show will be in deeper hot water if not.
That was good stuff while Stannis’ stuff is just eh. Its there. He’s traning his solider for the upcoming storming of Winterfell while Davos suggest going back to Castle Black and Stannis doesn’t want no part of that shit. Most interesting thing here was that Melisandre reassures Stannis of her vision of seeing him victorious, but also asks to sacrifice Shireen to the Red God. Stannis cuts that shit down right away. It was just okay, not as compelling as the flaying reveal, which honestly was the highlight of all that went on in Winterfell which was overall meh in all honesty for this episode.
Joran and Tyrion’s excellent adventure continues on this week as they are sold into Yeezan while Daenerys her upcoming marriage with Daario who advises that she should kill all of the nobles of Meereen when the fighting pits are reopened just as Yeezan then brings his fighters and Daenerys right away recognizes Jorah who easily dispatches of the soldier put in front of him. Daenerys orders him away, but Joran then reveals his gift to her and out steps Tyrion which leaves Daenerys shocked. The direction on this as the best thing about it. The tension felt from Daenerys when she recognizes Jorah was perfectly suited as was the moment Tyrion came out, who had an episode highlight himself with attacking the slave herder that had been whipping him. Just more Tyrion badassery. Things are really falling into place now that these two are meeting and man it gets me excited for their scenes together.
Over in Dorne, Jaime and Bronn are in jail and Jaime gets a kick to the balls emotionally as Myrcella expresses her desire to Jaime about staying and marrying Trystane. I gotta say actually getting to the Myrcella’s actress, Nell Tiger Free something more to do this season. She did well and then Bronn discovers he’s poisoned. Placed across from the Sand Snakes, Tyene Sand reveals to Bronn that her daggers were coated in a slow acting poison as she slowly begins stripping and showing off her body to him and will only give the antidote if he proclaims her the most beautiful woman in the world. He does and I’m left slightly confused. Not sure we needed boobs for the sake of boobs, don’t get me wrong, it was lovely seeing Rosabell Laurenti Sellers’ amazing body as well as see her play seductive very well, but that just felt unnecessary. I like how the acting went in the scene though, again her seductiveness of it played very well against the desperateness of Bronn is stay alive. It was well played.
Now we get to where the real meat of the episode was in King’s Landing where it was consistently on point. Right off the bat the conversation between Olenna and the High Sparrow is great as they talk about the imprisonment of her grandchildren. He of course refuses and declines her bribe to which she then threatens to end the Tyrell support for the capital by ending shipments of food. Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce’s back and forth is excellent. They perfectly work off each other so well and command the screen with how much tension and hatred is between their characters. They are masterful actors and they show it off against each other so well.
Olenna gets word to meet Baelish and she does in one of his ransacked whorehouses about their roles in the death of Joffrey which leads her to reveal that should her house fall, Baelish is coming down with her. Meanwhile Tommen continues to be as effective a king as you know he is which is to say, not that much. Cersei soothes his soul in saying she’ll talk about getting Margaery and Loras released, which she won’t do. Cersei does talk to the High Sparrow and in another great scene between those characters, get arrested by him for her involvement in Robert Baratheon’s death and committing incest. Great twist, wasn’t quite expecting that at all. Cersei is now on the other end of things and I’m too intrigued by how this could go in either way. Cersei has always been the cool, calm, confident player, but now she’s being played with instead of being the player. It’ll be exciting to see how Lena Dunham will play that.
Game of Thrones: Season 5: Episode 8: Hardhome: GRADE: A
We pick up where we left off from previous week and man Cersei is not copping with being on the other side at all. Its rewarding to see a character as despicable as her get comeuppance in this way, that karma comes around and great to see even more from Lena Dunham as she is constantly abused and taunted with water in exchange for confessing to her sins which she refuses. If that’s not enough, Kevan has been sent in to serve as Tommen’s hand. This was a great way to open the show and nice to see how Cersei has truly fallen.
Future assassin Arya gets her training in from Jaqen as she is now oyster seller, Lana out in public and describes her daily routine to Jaqen. It was a greatly done sequence thanks to camera movement and editing between Arya describing the Jaqen and it actually playing out in Braavos. It was extremely nicely done and tightly put together as Maisie Williams gets to keep stretching herself as well. She keeps evolving and evolving her character at every turn and its remarkable to see as she’s become one the biggest mainstays in the show with how fascinating her character is. Her first assignment is to learn about the insurer that refused to pay when the captain drowned at sea and learn what she can about him before poisoning him. Nicely done as well and something really good for Arya to do in the episode as her beginning. Just grea stuff all over this.
Gilly still tends to Sam’s wounds as Sam reassures a young child that this deal with the Wildlings is the absolute right thing to do and to trust in Jon Snow. John Bradley plays that scene against the kid well and sells the hell out of it. Not just in sticking up for his best friend Jon, but also making sense. White Walkers are coming and the Night’s Watch alone can’t defeat them. Alliances must be made to better things and make the odds even.
Alright more Sansa goodness. In a great scene for her character, Sophie Turner owns it as Sansa tells Reek how she wishes she could do something to Reek herself for all that he’s done including killing her brothers. Which leads to a nicely played moment by Alfie Allen in that they’re still alive. He couldn’t find Bran and Rickon and instead used the charred bodies of two farm boys as them to gain a reputation and credit. Sansa’s reaction is pitch perfect for the scene and really feels true to how this moment would play out. Its really fantastic.
As Stannis continues to make his moves, Roose starts planning for his arrive and devises a battle plan which has them waiting out the invaders as they are more fully repaired and supplied for the upcoming invasion, but Ramsay himself suggests taking the fight to Stannis and that he be able to lead 20 good men with him. Ramsay is crazy, but he’s a crazed man with a plan. There has to be a method to his madness as to wanting to go with 20 other men to take on Stannis and his army where they would be clearly outnumbered. What is the point? Is is planning them being killed and striking a deal with Stannis? What ace does he have hidden up his sleeve? I’m intrigued to find out.
Jorah and Tyrion are brought before Daenerys and while Tyrion is able to stay behind thanks to his political experience back in King’s Landing as a former Hand to the King, Jorah isn’t so lucky, but is spared thanks to Tyrion and just exiled from Meereen for the second time. The tension between Jorah and Daenerys is perfectly appropriate. Their past is obviously played into this scene and its exceptionally well done. The sadness on Jorah’s face and Daenerys’ understandable coldness to that just gets you right in the gut. So nicely played, but don’t worry, Jorah will be back sometimes soon as he goes right back to Yezzan and asks to be allowed to fight in front of Daenerys in the Fighting Pits.
Tyrion finally has his sit down talk with Daenerys and it was well worth the wait to see these great actors and characters interact so damn well. The writing, chemistry, acting, and all that doesn’t disappoint in this scene. Daenerys will allow Tyrion to advise her to which Tyrion immediately brings up that Daenerys’ rule in Meereen hasn’t gone as smoothly as she thinks among the people and that she will need the backing of a powerful Westerosi house. Saying that powerful houses of Westeros are spokes on a wheel, she intends on breaking the wheel. That excited me a lot seeing this scene and man we get two more weeks of wonderful as delightful as imagined.
Now for the highlight of the whole episode. Jon Snow and Tormund arrive at Hardhome and after dealing with the Lord of Bones, i.e. killing him for being a real dick, they have a tense meeting with the wildings. Its nicely done. Jon Snow’s history is still felt with them, but Tormund being the voice of reason along with Jon but for the wildlings really works in this scene and the conflict rises until a conclusion is meet that 5,000 wildlings will come with the Night’s Watch through Thenns.
Then shit goes down! White Walkers attack and a huge epic battle escalates between them against the Night’s Watch and the wildlings which includes giants, mutilations,, and resurrections. They are all forced the flee and Jon watches as Night’s King reviving the deceased, including Karsi and many of the Night’s Watch into his army.
Now the event that happened in the last fifteen minutes of this episode was only implied in the book and this was the interpretation of this from show creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and holy fuck do they have an imagination. This sequence is just as impressive and amazing as anything I saw in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which you should all fucking watch!
Episode director Miguel Sapochnik perfectly crafts this chaotic mayhem together so well. His camera movement, pacing, cuts so you can see everything that’s going on, it just comes across so perfectly together. I mean it when I say I think Game of Thrones might have just blown their load already. This is the episode right before the penultimate(!) which is where shit usually really goes down. Its incredibly fantastic and holy balls its amazing. The whole thing is just perfect. The mini fight between Jon and one White Walker was a great fight scene within itself of all the madness going on and a great highlight of the White Walker being stunned as hell when he couldn’t Break Jon’s Valyrian steel sword. I kind cheered at that moment because once again, Jon Snow is the current season five MVP as far as I am concerned.
Game of Thrones perfectly gets you tenses up and riled up for these last two weeks with Hardhome. Now while The Gift was a suitably fine episode and had plenty of good, Hardhome is instantly one of the top five episodes of the entire goddamn show. I really fucking loved Hardhome and man it kinda did light my director fire again so I can go out and film myself and make some stories. What is even gonna happen in these last two weeks? We’ll find out soon enough.