Photo: HBO and Sky

Game of Thrones: The Gift

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or the last six weeks I’ve expressed frustration that this season of Game of Thrones has offered lots of potential, but delivered very little in the way of outstanding moments or episodes. This week, in ‘The Gift’? We’re still not quite there. But the payoff is tantalisingly close.

Events at the Wall; in King’s Landing; and in Winterfell harbour imminent conflicts – the kind of many-sided melodrama that has made the show’s name. Most significantly, this episode brought us a moment that’s been part of the show’s package of anticipation since its beginning: Tyrion Lannister met Daenerys Targaryen.

Jonathan Pryce as The High Sparrow. Photo: HBO Enterprises and Sky

Jonathan Pryce as The High Sparrow. Photo: HBO Enterprises and Sky

But we started this week in King’s Landing, where the nascent threat of the Faith Militant turned against Cersei.

The ever-underused Lena Heaney got a chance to show off more than just her matriarchal bitch face, both in her sparring with the High Sparrow, and in a touching scene with her son. While I think Thrones leans too heavily on Cersei’s love for her children as a means of redeeming her, it does prove effective when they get it right.

Unfortunately for the Lannister queen, most of the capital’s scenes this week were stolen by Jonathan Pryce’s High Sparrow.

Pryce’s character makes such a pleasant change from the usual power-hungry families, and Pryce plays him with piety and humility, but an edge of danger. He’s by far the best new addition this season. The scene between him and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) stands out in particular as one of the best in recent episodes.

In fact, it was a very good week for the older actors in the cast.

Maester Aemon is allowed a dignified exit. Photo: Helen Sloan, HBO, and Sky

Maester Aemon is allowed a dignified exit. Photo: Helen Sloan, HBO, and Sky

At the Wall, we got a touching send-off for Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan). It was pleasant to see him get some time in the spotlight when he’s been a reliably entertaining supporting character for so long. His closing line made for a sombre, dignified final scene – something that few Thrones characters get to enjoy. His absence now also spells bad news for Jon, Sam, et al.

Once again, our spell in Dorne felt underdeveloped. Jaime’s conversation with his daughter/niece was tender, but too isolated to feel like we were getting any new information.

Likewise, the scene between Bronn and the Sand Snakes, while fun in an unimaginative sort of way, outstayed its welcome in a show that is always crying out for more time.

This sort of thing seems to be a recurring theme to the Dornish segments. It’s a shame to see such a promising storyline hamstrung by pacing. Perhaps it is one setting too many in an overstuffed season.

Luckily, we can look forward to more efficient use of the show’s time, with the pretty thrilling crossover between perhaps the two most important characters

The coolest thing about this it won’t be easily undone. We’ve seen characters cross paths fleetingly before, but this has much more of a sense of permanence to it (assuming that there aren’t any curveballs waiting down the line).

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys. Photo: HBO Enterprises and Sky

Daenerys and Tyrion are now in the same sphere with the same goal: get back to Westeros, and reclaim what they’ve lost. Of course, we’ve yet to see exactly how their relationship plays out, and I suspect it won’t start off smoothly. Tyrion is, after all, very closely tied to the factions that killed her family and exiled her in the first place. There’s also the unresolved issue of Jorah’s betrayal that could threaten to unravel things.

Anyway, I suspect all that to be resolved shortly. It is the long-term implications for our characters following ‘The Gift’ that are most exiting.

How will Tyrion reconcile his new allegiance with the few friends he left behind in Westeros? How will this affect the eventual fate of Jaime who, lest we forget, killed Daenerys’ father with a sword through the back?

These storylines, still half in the realm of speculation, are becoming more concrete with every passing week. Given that we still have three episodes of the series remaining (and the promotional material has talked up big events that we are yet to see), it seems likely that we’ll see more resolution very soon.


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