Poor Cersei Lannister. She's going to miss several wine-filled happy hours after "Game of Thrones" Season 5, Episode 7, "The Gift." Now all they have to do is lock up useless Tommen, and Ser Pounce and Ghost can take their rightful places as the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms.

"Game of Thrones" loves letting unlikable characters build their smug egos to stratospheric heights, only to knock them painfully down to Earth (or Westeros) with a good slap of justice. Just ask Theon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon, maybe someday Ramsay Bolton (please please please) and -- this week -- Cersei Lannister. But GoT also loves reminding us that it's not so easy to peg someone as a hero or a villain -- see the unexpected sympathy we feel for Theon. Cersei may also earn more sympathy before long. Everyone loves a redemption story.

Last week's episode ended with the traumatic wedding and rape of Sansa Stark. This week ... her life did not get much better. Also, Gilly almost got raped, Ghost was a hero, Gilly had sex with Sam (his first time was a lot better than Sansa's), the woman who wanted to help Sansa got flayed and died, Bronn almost died from poison but instead got flashed and saved by the same woman who almost killed him, Melisandre now wants to kill Shireen, Lancel told the High Sparrow about doin' it with Cersei (never have sex with your cousin, kids!), Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister were sold in slavery, Jorah fought in the pits in front of Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion and Dany finally met face to face. Tyrion was the titular "gift" and we can't wait to see what happens now that Tyrion and Dany have been introduced. (Dany, please forgive Ser Jorah. He's earned a place back in your friend zone.)

All these book twists are blowing our minds, but Dany and Tyrion getting an official meeting earns two thumbs up. (Point to ponder: Where's Varys? Still on his way to Meereen or searching for Tyrion?)

In sadder news, that wonderful great light of The Wall, Aemon Targaryen, died, surrounded by his good friends Sam and Gilly. So the world has lost a powerful, heroic Targaryen, and Sansa lost her own little candle of hope when her would-be savior died. Can anyone save Sansa there in Winterfell? Brienne is apparently just hanging out waiting for a sign that is no longer coming, and Stannis is stuck in a storm.

Read on for a recap of Episode 7:

Opening credits: We're shown King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen, and Dorne. Why Braavos? Why do they show locations we don't visit?


To Alliser Thorne's dismay (what a pity), Tormund was unshackled and Jon Snow told Ser Alliser he has command of The Wall while Jon went with Tormund to Hardhome to try and save some free folk. Probably a bad plan to give Ser Alliser this power, even if Ser A doesn't want it. Sam gave Jon some dragonglass to help kill white walkers. Probably smart. Aemon Targaryen, not in good shape, had a nice moment with Gilly's son, and talked about his little brother, "Egg." Another twist on the book here, since it looks like there will be no sea voyage for this little group. Poor Aemon died and Sam gave a speech for him. "No man was wiser or gentler or kinder. ... He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out. And now his watch is ended." RIP, great man. Do you think Dany can tell that the world is now short one more Targaryen? Is she the only one left or ... is there still one north of The Wall? Of course, Ser Alliser couldn't resist ruining the moment by whispering to Sam that he was losing all his friends. Should Gilly worry?

Speaking of worrying about Gilly, two guys approached Gilly -- away from Sam -- and sexually harassed her while she was trying to work. She slapped one of them. Sam came in and drew his sword. Go Sam! The guys knocked Sam down and started kicking him., so she took charge and attacked. None of the good characters can catch a break! This is why Jon can't leave The Wall. It's chaos when he goes. One of those guys beat the crap out of Sam and Gilly almost got raped (AGAIN!) but Sam got up so he could try to play the hero. It would be nice if rape and attempted rape weren't such big deals on this show, but they are plot devices nearly every week. Before Sam could even try to save Gilly, though, Ghost came in and scared the guys away. At least Ghost stayed behind to help. While Sam healed, Gilly got on top of him and gave him his first sexual experience. Yep, Sam is no longer a virgin.


Sansa woke up crying, which is basically her lot in life. Theon came in, reminded her his name is now "Reek," and she begged for his help. Reek suggested she do what Ramsay says or he'll hurt her. Sansa said he hurts her every night, it can't get worse. But Theon said it can always get worse. She asked what Ramsay did to Theon. She mentioned how she still had friends in the North and all she had to do is light a candle in the tower, so why didn't she just do it? Was she a prisoner in that room and she needed him to do it? (Yep, apparently she is a prisoner in her own ancestral home. The Stark luck continues. Arya is fortunate to be changing into someone else.)

Sansa went out in the snow to talk to Ramsay. He said she's made him very happy, but clearly this is not a mutually beneficial alliance. Ramsay said the storm is a stroke of luck for them and will help them to defeat Stannis, who is not used to this weather. Sansa brought up Walda's pregnancy and she even mentioned that Ramsay is a bastard, and Tommen too. She was bold about it, which is good. She also learned that Jon is now the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Spark of an idea for her to go up there? What would happen if she did, and Jon was gone to Hardhome? What would Ser Alliser do?

On that note, we had another death. The woman who wanted to help Sansa. Flayed. "Her heart gave out before I even got to her face." Ramsay told Sansa to hold on to her candles. "The nights are so long now." UGH. Reek. Stannis, get here fast. Brienne, get here fast. Someone please help Sansa.


Brienne just stared out the window. Do something! Don't wait for a candle!


Forty horses died in the night, Davos said, and they'll lose more. Stannis is just cursed. Never back him in a fight, even with Melisandre around. For once, it'd be nice if he won the fight. Davos said they should head back to Castle Black; this isn't their time. Stannis has too much pride, he doesn't want to be the king who ran. Yeah, but now he'll be the king who lost. Stannis says we march to victory or we march to defeat but we go only forward. Davos can tell this is not 100 percent his idea, with Mel in the background. Melisandre said she has seen herself walk through Winterfell and the flayed man banner on the ground. Stannis felt her up (!) but she took the moment to basically suggest they sacrifice Shireen as their next victim of king's blood. Thankfully, that was a step too far even for Stannis.


Myrcella visited with "uncle" Jaime, who explained why he's there to take her home. Myrcella didn't want to go there to begin with, but now she wants to stay. She loves Trystane.

Bronn was in a very different cell, but he kept singing "The Dornishman's Wife," and sort of impressed the Sand Snakes. He got very flirty with one, who bared her breast to tease him, then bared everything else. She kept asking about his arm ... she slashed him with it in the fight. Poor Bronn. He got woozy from the poison of that slash, and his nose was bleeding. The dagger she used on him was from Asshai, called The Long Farewell. A single contact brings death. She had the only antidote on her and demanded to be called the most beautiful woman in the world. Why did that work? She should've held out for more, or just let him die. But it's good to see Bronn live, even if it doesn't make much sense. Will he try to work with them now? Maybe they can form an alliance ... or a singing troupe.


Poor Jorah and Tyrion had chains around their necks and hands, and were taken to a slave auction. Malko the slaver told an even taller story than Jorah and Tyrion told last week to play up Jorah's strengths as a fighter. Jorah didn't react. The poor guy has greyscale and his life as been crap after Dany kicked him out, so what does he really care what happens to him next? A guy bought Jorah and Tyrion said they had to buy him too. He beat someone up to plead his case and it worked.

Dany was engaged to Hizdahr zo Loraq (her idea) but she's still sleeping with Daario. More sexposition as they made out, with Dany making her argument for why she's marrying into a Meereenese family. Daario said she should marry him instead. She said she can't. "Then you are the only person in Meereen who is not free." Good comeback. Then he suggested she gather all the masters together in the pits and slaughter them all. She said she's not a butcher but he said all rulers are either butchers or meat. Sounds like the "you're either the butcher or the cattle" line of "The Walking Dead" Season 5.

Jorah had his gladiator moment, preparing to go into the fighting pits, in front of Dany and Hizdahr. He saw her from the backstage area, so to speak, as she watched the early fighters die. He should've gone out right when he saw her, in case she left early. He basically did just that, not waiting his turn but going out with his helmet on and Dany seemed to have a feeling like she recognized him. He went up to Dany and removed his helmet. "Get him out of my sight." Really? Even now?! "I brought you a gift." Tyrion came out on that cue, saying it's true. "I am the gift." So Tyrion finally met Dany.


Loved seeing Olenna spar with The High Sparrow. She called him "a man of the people" who did Cersei's dirty work. She can smell a fraud from a mile away. ("A useful talent.") What does the High Sparrow/Septon want? He serves the gods, and the gods demand justice. She pointed out that The High Sparrow lives in a world of murderers and rapists and yet he singled out Loras and Margaery. She threatened them with lack of food from Highgarden. He countered that she is among the few and they are the many, and the many have stopped fearing the few.

Tommen -- utterly powerless -- had a nice chat with his mother. Apparently he was starving himself? He shouted at Cersei because he's the king and there's nothing he can do to save his queen. Tommen wants to start a war for Margaery. He loves her. It's not quite Rhaegar/Lyanna/Robert, but it's sweet. Maybe Ser Pounce can save the day, ala Ghost. Cersei said she'd burn cities to the ground for Tommen and his sister, they are all that matters. Cersei does love her kids, it's the one thing you can give her.

Littlefinger's brothel was trashed, but that's where he met with Olenna. These two should go on a road trip together, they are perfection. Olenna said their fates are joined; together, they murdered a king. If she should meet with an accident there, "they'll never even find what's left of you." Olenna wanted to know what Cersei wanted. Littlefinger gave her a gift, like he gave to Cersei. More ammunition!

To rub in her victory, Cersei visited Margaery in her cell and pretended to be horrified, bringing her leftovers from the night before. Cersei went on, putting salt in the wound, and Margaery finally shot back "GET OUT, YOU HATEFUL BITCH!" Cersei walked away all smug and satisfied, but she should've known better. She had a little talk with the High Sparrow and he went on about the history of the chapel -- and about how much Lancel had to say about her. So she got the same treatment as Margaery. Much deserved. But she's still in power bitch anger mode and just threatened her jailors.

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