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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: The Gift

by Photo of Jason Hernandez

The finest dwarves in all the land.

Episode seven of the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones aired Sunday night and completely changed the landscape of the series. With so many story lines to keep track of, it was an amazing sight to see show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss pull them all together and end the episode on one of the most satisfying notes of the season.


Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: The Gift

The episode opens with Jon preparing to leave Castle Black with Tormund at his side.  He gives Alliser command of the Night’s Watch in his absence. As he heads out, Sam bids him farewell and gifts the dragonglass dagger, the only weapon capable of killing White Walkers.

After Jon's departure, Sam and Gilly watch over Maester Aemon in his final hours. Blissfully remembering his childhood, Aemon looks at Gilly’s son and likens him to his younger brother, warning her to take him South before it’s too late. In his final moments, he exclaims that he dreamt he had grown old (noting his place as the only character to die of natural causes so far in the series).

At the funeral pyre Sam gives a touching eulogy, lighting his body and sending him off to the afterlife. As Aemon is burnt, Alliser leans over to Sam and proclaims that he is losing all of his friends. It would appear Sam may not be safe in the Watch without Jon’s presence.

Gilly is later cornered by several brothers of the Watch in the washroom. As the situation escalates, Sam arrives in time to stop them from harming Gilly. However, Sam is quickly knocked defenseless and beaten mercilessly. As the brothers press Gilly up to the wall, Sam stands to her defense through sheer willpower. Looking like he’d get beaten once again, Sam is saved at the last moment by the appearance of Jon’s snowy direwolf, Ghost. Falling unconscious, Gilly takes Sam to a bed to heal. Scared for her safety – and of being alone – Sam asks Gilly to stay. Comforting him, Gilly finally makes Sam a man. It’s a beautiful day for everyone involved.

On the road to Winterfell, Onion Knight Davos reports on the losses to Stannis' army that have been sustained by the harsh weather. Davos suggests returning to Castle Black to prevent further loss, but Stannis does not budge. Ushering Davos back out, Stannis seeks comfort and advice from the scarlet witch Melisandre. 

Clearly upset with how things have turned out, he begins to turn on Melisandre and once again question her visions. In response, Melisandre offers a solution: sacrifice his daughter Shireen to secure his victory. Thankfully, as shown in the previous episode where Stannis and Shireen shared a beautiful moment, he is completely against the idea. He shuns Melisandre's touch, throwing her out of his tent. But was that a slight look of desperation on his face?

Theon enters Sansa’s chamber to change her chamber pot, hoping she is asleep. Sansa is awake and confronts Theon, hoping that he will help her. Theon is scared senseless but Sansa will not let him live. She asks him to leave the lit candle in the tower that will let those wary of her presence know that she needs help. Pleading to his lost identity, Theon agrees, making his way to the tower to light the candle.

Or so it seems. Shortly after meeting with Sansa, Theon opens a door to be faced with Ramsay Bolton enjoying a hot meal. As Reek bends the knee to his master, we cut briefly to Brienne watching Moat Cailin from afar, planning her entrance.

Along the barracks, Sansa meets Ramsay upon his command. He recounts the news of Stannis approaching from the North, claiming they will defeat his army and soon become Warden and Wardeness of the North. Sansa challenges Ramsay’s claim to the title, remarking about his potential future sibling. Blatantly out of spite, Ramsay takes Sansa to look at the flayed form of the old woman that offered her help in time of need. Reek has once again betrayed Sansa. Commanding Reek to escort his lady back to her room, Ramsay tells her to "hold onto [her] candles [as] the nights are so long now.”

Jaime finally gets to see his “niece” Myrcella alone to tell her why he came. She quickly dismisses his efforts to save her as she does not wish to be rescued. In fact, why is her mother sending for her rescue when she originally sent her away? Myrcella is now happy with her life in Dorne and has fallen in love with Trystane. In a huff, she leaves the room, leaving Jaime to wonder if his mission was destined to fail from the start.

Meanwhile, Bronn and the Sand Snakes spend the day locked away in prison. Singing a song about sleeping with a Dornishman's wife, his performance is met with applause from the youngest Sand Snake, Tyene. The two begin to flirt before Bronn decides to play cold indifference, remarking that he's met women more beautiful than her. In retaliation, Tyene strips down, attempting to seduce Bronn (and succeeding). 

It quickly comes to light that this is a mere "last request." Turns out she’s a master poison user just like her father. As Bronn begins to fall prey to her dagger’s ointment, she offers him the antidote in return for telling her she’s the prettiest woman he’s ever met. Bronn gives in and gets to live another day.

At Slaver's Bay, Jorah and Tyrion are being sold at a slavery auction. Soon after Jorah is sold, Tyrion demands he be bought as well so as to not be separated and potentially killed for his stature. Demonstrating his tenacity upon the slaver's assistant, the man who bought Jorah chooses to buy him as well.

In the royal chambers of Meereen, Daario teases Dany over her political marriage to Hizdahr with a tinge of jealousy. Dany asks what he’d have her do instead; Daario proposes. Dany turns him down. In return, Daario asks that she slaughter all of the Masters of Meereen on the day of the first fight in the pits. Remarking that she is "a Queen, not a butcher” Dany is met with a soothing hand through the hair and a short reply: “All rulers are either butchers or meat.”

The opening of the fighting pits is finally here. As a show of good faith, Dany decides to make an appearance at one of the low pits. She watches men kill each other for glory in shock and horror. Meanwhile, Jorah watches from beyond the gate, hoping to gain an audience with her. As Dany decides she had seen enough, Jorah realizes he only has one chance to see her. Donning a helmet, Jorah proceeds to disable the other combatants on the battlefield. As the other fighters go to watch the rabble, Tyrion manages to escape. Revealing himself, Dany commands the guards to take Jorah away. At the last moment Jorah proclaims he has a gift at the same time that Tyrion comes out to present himself. Tyrion Lannister has finally met Daenerys Targaryen.

In King's Landing, Olenna Tyrell goes to meet the High Sparrow and demand that her grandchildren be released. Despite the impressive back-and-forth of cunning reprimands and snarky accusations, the High Sparrow denies her request. Stating that all people should be susceptible to the law of God, the High Sparrow makes it clear that he plans to make an example of Margaery and Loras as he alludes to "when the many stop fearing the few” as he takes his leave. Shortly after exiting the Church, Olenna is handed a letter bearing Littlefinger's insignia.

Within the castle walls, Tommen attempts to reprimand his mother over Margaery’s imprisonment. Cersei quickly dismisses his anger, stating that at times even he, a King, would be incapable of action. Tommen proclaims his love for Margaery, causing Cersei to express a rather vexed expression. Cersei offers to see the High Sparrow in his stead to sort out the manner. “I would do anything for you. Anything to keep you from harm.”

Littlefinger meets with Olenna inside his now debunct brothel to apologize for the current predicament. Threatening his life and most of his body, Olenna makes it clear that she suspects Petyr of having a hand in her troubles. Littlefinger assures her this is not the case and, as a show of trust, presents her with information on a young man…

Which brings us back to Cersei. Entering Margaery’s cell, Cersei takes her time to shove the recent victory further into her face. On the way out, she meets with the High Septum to see what the Tyrell’s punishments will be. Pleased, she plans to take her leave as the High Sparrow begins to wax nostalgic of the old religious practices, speaking of stripping away the vanity of the highborn. At this moment, Cersei’s cousin Lancel enters the room. It is painfully clear the High Sparrow knows of their incestuous relationship. Therefore Cersei is imprisoned and the episode ends to roaring applause from millions of viewers.


"The Gift" is by far the most comprehensive episode of the season so far. Although it's nothing new for a show with so many recurring characters to juggle several storylines at the same time, this episode does well to tie up various loose ends before moving on to the next location. In fact, many of the arcs were so well defined that this episode felt more like a collection of minisodes. With the preview, we see Jon meeting with the wildling clans, Cersei's continued imprisonment, and glimpses of Tyrion's time with Daenerys. All three of these moments will be character-defining set pieces for the season, so next week should be a must-watch for anyone that particularly likes these four.

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