Game of Thrones Rewatch: Season Five Episode Seven “The Gift” and Episode Eight “Hardhome”

Continuing my reposting of articles originally posted on the old site. Spoilers abound.

Episode title: The Gift

Director: Miguel Sapochnik.

Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Summary: Jon leaves for Hardhome with Tormund and some rangers, in spite of Ser Alliser’s complaints. Sam and Gilly visit Maester Aemon, who has fallen ill. After sitting with him until nightfall, Aemon dies, and in the morning Sam eulogizes him before lighting his funeral pyre. Afterward, Gilly is attacked in the dining hall by two brothers, but Jon’s wolf, Ghost, comes to her rescue. Sam is badly beaten, and Gilly takes care of him before the two have sex.


At Winterfell, Reek brings food to Sansa, who has been badly bruised and imprisoned in her bedchamber by Ramsay. She begs for him to help, asking him to light a candle at the top of the broken tower, the aim of which is to send a signal to Stark sympathizers to rescue her. Instead, Reek tells Ramsay, who reacts by flaying and killing the old lady from whom Sansa learned the signal. As Ramsay is showing her body off to Sansa, however, she discreetly steals a corkscrew from the top of a barrel. Meanwhile, Brienne and Podrick wait out in the snow for the signal to no avail.

Not far away, Stannis’s troops make a camp during a snow-storm. Davos suggests returning to Castle Black, but Stannis replies that such would delay them for years, since winters in Westeros can last for years at a time. After Davos leaves, Stannis asks Melisandre if she is sure of his victory. Melisandre assures him that she saw a vision of Stannis winning, but she asks for permission to sacrifice his daughter Shireen to the Red God.


Jorah is sold by the slave traders to a Meereenese noble, and Tyrion convinces him to purchase him as well. Yezzan takes his fighters to Meereen, where they fight in front of Daenerys. When Jorah realizes that Daenerys is present, he enters the pits and easily defeats the other fighters before revealing his identity to Daenerys, who orders he be taken away. Jorah tells her he brought her a gift, and Tyrion enters the arena, where he reveals his identity to a stunned Daenerys.

Myrcella is brought to speak with Jaime, and asks why he came to take her back to King’s Landing, when what she wants is to stay and marry Trystane. In the cells, Bronn is taunted by Tyene Sand exposing her breasts to him, before learning that her daggers had been coated with a slow-acting poison that would activate when his heart rate increased. He slowly succumbs to the poison, but Tyene gives him the antidote after he gives in to her request that he call her the most beautiful woman in the world.


Olenna meets with the High Sparrow to discuss the imprisonment of her grandchildren, Loras and Margaery. She demands that he release them, but he declines, stating they will be punished for their crimes. On her way out, Olenna receives a letter from Petyr Baelish. In the Red Keep, Tommen anguishes over his inability to help Margaery. Cersei offers to speak with the High Sparrow for him, and advocate for Margaery and Loras’s release. Petyr meets with Olenna in his ransacked brothel, where they share a tense conversation. Olenna reminds Petyr of the role they both played in Joffrey’s murder, and warns that, should her house fall, she won’t keep his involvement a secret.

In the Sept, Cersei meets with Margaery and brings her food, but Margaery refuses and angrily orders her mother-in-law to leave, knowing full well that she was responsible for imprisoning both her and Loras. Cersei then meets with the High Sparrow, and after a brief discussion on Margaery and Loras, he reveals that her cousin Lancel has informed against her of their illicit relationship as well as the part they played in the death of her husband Robert Baratheon. Cersei tries to leave but is stopped by a tall septa, who proceeds to take the protesting Queen Mother to another cell.


My take: Lena Hedley has a great moment in the Sept when she realizes what’s about to happen to her. You can see it in her eyes. You also get to see Diana Rigg spar with Jonathan Pryce, and no amount of bribery is going to work against him. Few things do against the truly fanatical. Imagine a scene between him and Melisandre

Changes from the books: Lancel confesses his and Cersei’s crimes (their affair and Robert’s murder) to the second High Septon, who is killed for that reason by Osney Kettleblack at Cersei’s command. Lancel admitted that also to the High Sparrow, but Cersei is not arrested due to his confession: she sends Osney to confess falsely to the High Sparrow that he has slept with Margaery, as a part of Cersei’s scheme against her. Osney sounds so pleased to be so guilty, that it arouses the High Sparrow’s suspicions. He has Osney tortured, then the truth comes out: Osney admits he has slept with Cersei, murdered the previous High Speton at her command and never touched Margaery. Cersei is thrown to jail. Later, she is confronted with all the accusations based on both Lancel and Osney’s true confessions. Tyrion and Daenerys have not yet met, though it has been confirmed to happen in the following novel.Gilly is not nearly raped by brothers of the watch, thus Sam does not defend her. Aemon dies on a ship en route from Braavos to Oldtown. Additionally, his body has not been burned as of yet, but is being preserved in a barrel of alcohol until Sam has a chance to conduct a proper funeral. Melisandre never asks Stannis to burn Shireen. Olenna never outright says she killed Joffrey, nor does she meet with Littlefinger.

Nudity: Tyene Sand, topless

Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, Braavos, Meereen, Dorne

Death Count: Maester Aemon, of natural causes. Several fighters in the pit, although none by Jorah. Old woman of Winterfell, flayed by Ramsey

Quotes: High Sparrow: 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…

Tyrion Lannister: I’m the gift. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace. My name is Tyrion Lannister.


Episode title: Hardhome

Director: Miguel Sapochnik.

Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Summary: Qyburn visits Cersei and tells her about the crimes she is charged with, including incest and the murder of Robert Baratheon, which she rejects as lies. Qyburn also tells her that Grand Maester Pycelle has taken control of the Small Council and has sent for her uncle, Kevan, to return from Casterly Rock and serve as Tommen’s Hand. Before leaving, Qyburn tells Cersei that “the work continues”.

Arya assumes the identity of Lana, an oyster seller. Jaqen explains that the family of one of the salesman’s clients hired the Faceless Men to kill him after he refused to pay out when said client drowned at sea. He tells Arya to return to the harbour and learn everything she can about the insurer before poisoning him.


Reek brings food to Sansa who remains locked in her chamber. She asks him why he told Ramsay about her escape plans, and Reek replies that there is no escape from Ramsay. When he tries to leave, Sansa confronts him about murdering Bran and Rickon, but Reek confesses that he was unable to find them, and killed two farm boys instead and passed off their charred remains as those of the Stark children. In the great hall, Roose Bolton and his advisors plan for battle with Stannis’s army. Ramsay insists that the Boltons should take the fight to Stannis, and asks his father for twenty good men.

Jorah and Tyrion are brought before Daenerys, who asks Tyrion why he should be allowed to live and serve her. Tyrion is able to convince Daenerys to spare Jorah’s life, though he tells her that Jorah should not be allowed to serve her, and she orders Jorah exiled from Meereen again. Later, Daenerys tells Tyrion that she will not have him killed or exiled, and intends to allow him to advise her. She remarks that the powerful houses of Westeros are spokes on a wheel and that she intends to break the wheel. Meanwhile, Jorah returns to Yezzan zo Qaggaz and asks that he be allowed to fight in front of Daenerys in the Fighting Pits.


Arriving at Hardhome, Jon, Tormund, and a group of Night’s Watch brothers meet with the elders, including Wildling leader Karsi. At the meeting, Jon shares the dragonglass with the wildlings, telling them how Sam killed a White Walker with a dragonglass dagger. Jon and Tormund are able to convince roughly 5,000 wildlings to come with them.


While loading the ships with wildlings, Hardhome is attacked by an army of wights. Hundreds of wildlings attempt to flee, forcing their way onto the boats and attacking each other. Jon and the Night’s Watch brothers assist in the defense of Hardhome, helping defend the walls from wight attacks. A White Walker pursues Jon and they fight, but the Walker is momentarily stunned when he is unable to break Jon’s Valyrian steel sword Longclaw, and Jon manages to kill him. His victory is short-lived, as the walls surrounding Hardhome fall to the wights and Jon and his remaining allies are forced to flee. As Jon returns to the boats, he witnesses the Night’s King reviving the dead, including Karsi and many of the wildlings and the Night’s Watch, as wights.


My take: I’ll talk about the battle in a minute. I love Arya’s dress as the oyster girl. So Dany wants to break the wheel. What does she propose to put in its place? It hasn’t worked so well so far.

Okay, the battle. So many great moments. The White Walker striding in the burning room, the flames retreating from his very presence. His fight with Jon, when they realize that Longclaw doesn’t shatter, and Jon turning him into ice cubes. The giant, yanking off wights and tossing them. Kari overwhelming by blue eyed children. And finally, the Night King raising his arms and the dead standing up. Holy shit.

Changes from the books: The entire occurance at Hardhome takes place offscreen and Jon was not present. Cersei is accused not only of the crimes of fornication, treason, incest and Robert’s murder, but also with the murder of the previous High Septon. Ser Kevan comes back in the position of Lord Regent, not Hand of the King. Kevan appoints Mace Tyrell as the Hand of the King. Also, Qyburn is dismissed from Kevan’s council. Valyrian steel isn’t confirmed to be resistant to the White Walkers’ weapons and lethal to the Walkers themselves, though it is implied that is the case when Sam discovers textual references to “dragonsteel” as a weapon against the White Walkers, and they assume it means Valyrian steel. Sansa does not know that Bran and Rickon are alive.

Nudity: None

Locations on the Map: King’s Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, Braavos, Meereen, Dorne

Death Count: White Walker, killed by Jon. Karsi, by wights. Serveral wildlings, by wights, resurrected by the Night King.

Quotes: Tyrion Lannister: Someday, if you decide not to execute me, I’ll tell you all about why I killed my father. And on that day, should it ever come, we’ll need more wine than this.

Daenerys Targaryen: I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.

Tyrion Lannister: When I was a young man I heard a story about a baby born during the worst storm in living memory. She had no wealth, no lands, no army, only a name and a handful of supporters, most of whom probably thought they could use that name to benefit themselves. They kept her alive, moving her from place to place, often hours ahead of the men who had been sent to kill her. She was eventually sold off to some warlord on the edge of the world and that appeared to be that. And then a few years later the most well informed person I knew told me that this girl without wealth, lands, or armies had somehow acquired all three in a very short span of time, along with three dragons. He thought she was our best, last chance to build a better world. I thought you were worth meeting at the very least.