Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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"The Gift" is a jam-packed installment that delivers long-awaited plot turns in a satisfying manner, even though it continues a disturbing theme from the previous episode.
I don't expect things to end well for Cersei over the next three episodes; her list of heretical sins is longer than Lancel's hair used to be.
We're not really sure what Olenna Tyrell's plan is going forward, but having her on the scene, and Dianna Rigg playing her with verve, makes any episode of Game of Thrones infinitely better.
I'm reluctantly sticking with the show to see where it takes these new storylines through this season's finale, but this week didn't do much to restore my faith in the showrunners.
We hopscotched from King's Landing to Castle Black to Meereen and back again. Pretty much the only character missing was lovable galoot Podrick.
Stuff happened Sunday night. Lots of stuff. Stuff that hasn't even happened in the books yet. So much stuff that I'm not even going to complain that the showrunners actually crammed entirely too much stuff into one episode.
I love that there was genuinely no reason for Cersei to go to Margaery's cell at all. She had no intention of even trying to free her or Loras. That's classic Cersei. That section of her daily itinerary literally just said the word "gloat."
Given that, it's no surprise some stories in "The Gift" feel fundamentally underdeveloped; and yet, the thematic unity driving it all helps elevate the episode from becoming one of the show's more frustrating, fractured hours.
Yeah, he's vain and seriously demented, but you could never call Ramsay undetermined.
On the whole, "The Gift" was a far more satisfying and effective episode.
The writers chose yet another in-our-faces scene of a woman being assaulted (and nearly raped*), and the gratuitous display of Tyene Sand.
I wasn't impressed. The whole thing felt like that weird brawl in the water gardens in episode five: rushed and half-assed.
It was the most compelling episode of the HBO drama since the beginning of the season, and with just three episodes to go we should be prepared to see some serious action.