‘Game Of Thrones’: Sansa Strikes Back On ‘The Gift’
Last week’s Game of Thrones ended on possibly the most controversial scene in the show’s five year history: the rape of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) by her new husband, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). With little else dominating the discussion for the past week, would “The Gift” follow up on this moment that left some fans saying, “I’m done,” and others defending the show?
Turns our, yup. Here’s every big moment that happened this week — and let’s see if this episode ends up being as fractious as last week’s:
The Sansa Strikes Back
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it’s definitely what we’ve been waiting to know all week long. Sansa hasn’t just been raped the once: Ramsay has been keeping her locked in her room, assaulting her each and every night. She’s sobbing, beaten, and barely wearing any clothes. And it’s here that Reek (Alfie Allen) approaches her.
She begs him to help her, calls him Theon, says it can’t get any worse. “It can always be worse,” mutters Reek. She tells him that there are people who will help her, all he has to do is put a candle in the North tower. He says he can’t, he’s just the lowly Reek… And there, she stiffens up, looks him in the eye. “Your name is Theon Greyjoy,” she tells him, which gives him the strength to march out… And straight to Ramsay.
It’s a heartbreaking moment, and doesn’t necessarily excuse what happened last week — but the agency, the strength Sansa shows proves that Ramsay didn’t break her. He attacked her, she’s not letting it go… And if anything, she’s pulling strength from it.
And then of course it all goes to s–t.
Though she gives as good as she gets in a conversation with Ramsay, pointedly noting that his royal decreed title was given to him by another bastard — Tommen — and it seems she’s gotten the upper hand… The problem is, she can’t match Ramsay for physical cruelty. He’s not just discovered her plot to leave, he killed and crucified the woman who was going to help Sansa escape.
Crying, Sansa is returned to her room… And us to the ongoing conversation.
Exit The Dragon
Following up on his promise to Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Jon (Kit Harington) leaves the Wall in the charge of Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), but not before Sam gifts Jon a blade made of Dragonglass. You know what they say: if a blade of dragonglass is introduced in the first act… Well, you know the rest. Anyway, they don’t follow up on it this episode.
Meanwhile, Sam (John Bradley) gets tasked with being sent to OldTown, “before it’s too late,” by Aemon… Who then dies, after one last vision of his brother Aegon. “He was the blood of the dragon, and now his fire has gone out,” Sam touchingly eulogizes one of the few purely good characters left on the show at his funeral. SAD.
Stannis Eats A Big Bowl Of Chilly
“Winter isn’t just coming, it’s here,” Stannis (Stephen Dillane) tells Davos (Liam Cunningham), as they decide to push through the snow to take Winterfell. But it’s not going to be enough. One final burnination is needed in order to assure Stannis becomes king and saves Westeros from the White Walkers: he has to give his own daughter to the red god.
Stannis casts Melisandre out for even suggesting the idea… But how long until ol’ Stoneskin McDaughter is tied to a stake? Not long, methinks.
Sam The Slaaaaaaayer
There was a point when I thought, oh god, another character is going to get raped. And it certainly seemed like Gilly (Hannah Murray) would, when she was about to be assaulted by two Night’s Watchmen. Even when Sam tried to protect her, it seemed like all was lost, as the Slayer was nearly beaten within an inch of his life. But he stood up, literally and figuratively, saying, “I killed a white walker. I killed a Thenn. I’ll take my chances with you.”
And then Ghost came in, scaring the two men off… Though Sam fell down, nearly dead. Gilly nursed him back to health, and then after asking her to stay, Gilly and Sam made love.
So, that’s a thing.
Given the context and proximity to a rape threat and last week’s events, I certainly wish these two scenes hadn’t lived next to each other. But at the same time, yay for Sam and Gilly because they’re super cute together.
Emotions and opinions are confusing, you guys.
That Girl Is Poison
Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is flirting/sparring with the Sand Snakes in prison, saying he’s not interested in Dornish women. So one of the Snakes takes off her clothes, distracting him long enough for the poison she dosed him with last episode — when she scratched his arm — to take effect. Nearly dying, she asks Bronn who the most beautiful woman in the world is. “You,” he says, and she gives him the antidote. “I think you’re handsome, too,” she says.
Uhoh, looks like love is in the air!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!
As expected, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) get sold to a slaver looking to make them fight for a living. Tyrion cons his way into joining Jorah… And then Jorah finds out if he fights, he may get the chance to fight in front of the Queen, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Except she’s already there, making a surprise appearance at the same fight where Jorah is making his debut.
And when Jorah finds that out, he proceeds to exit into the fighting pit with a helmet on and dispatches everyone as quickly as humanly possible, like a bawse. Once everyone is dispatched, Jorah reveals himself to his Khaleesi, promising her a gift… Who reveals himself.
“I am the gift. A pleasure to meet you, your grace. My name is Tyrion Lannister,” Tyrion tells Daenerys, and our jaws hit the floor.
Queen Of Thorns Continues To Rule
Olenna (Diana Rigg) continues to be the best and I’m going to be super sad if she ends up dying at literally any point. While the rest of King’s Landing is terrified of the Sparrows, she tells the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) straight up: “A man of the people? Is that your game? It’s an old game, and a dull game.” The High Sparrow fights back, though, explaining that he doesn’t have a game, he’s just following the word of the gods.
“We are the many,” he tells her, leaving, before adding, “When the many stop fearing the few…” And though the QoT seems defeated, she gives a small smile. This game of Thorns, at least, is far from over.
And in fact, she recruits an old ally: Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), who is dealing with his brothels being destroyed by the Sparrows. In their conversation, we get confirmation that Olenna and Littlefinger did, in fact, murder Joffrey together… And with this fact out in the open, they decide to work together to take back King’s Landing — and Westeros.
Queen Mother Continues To Blow It, Big Time
“I would do anything. I would burn cities to the ground. For you… And your sister,” Cersei (Lena Headey) tells her son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) when he sickly explains he can’t do anything to help the Queen imprisoned by the Sparrows.
So of course, Cersei heads to Margaery’s (Natalie Dormer) cell, giving her gruel; but Margaery will not be fooled. “Innocence. Decency. Concern. You’re not very good at those I’m afraid,” she says, casting out her former “mother.”
Except Cersei isn’t going to leave. No, she’s escorted to the High Sparrow, who explains what may happen to Margaery or Loras (Finn Jones) if they confess to their crimes. He gives a nice speech about things being nice and simple, and how the Tyrells will be stripped down and laid bare. “What will we find when we strip away your finery,” he tells Cersei, and then proceeds to tell her the story of what happened to Lancel — the cousin she casually slept with.
Oops. When Cersei said she would burn cities to the ground, did she know that the city would burn with her in it? As the door closes on her own cell… “Look at me. Look at my face. It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die,” she tells a silent sister. But you know what she gets back? A locked door in the face.
Sorry Cersei, things just went from bad to worse.