Things are going downhill in Westeros -- depending who you're cheering for, of course.
Warning: Spoilers within!
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We begin season five, episode seven -- "The Gift" -- in Castle Black, where Jon Snow continues to make preparations to travel with Tormund Giantsbane to rescue the remaining, scattered wildling population from north of the Wall. Jon Snow frowns. Seemingly every single Night's Watchman apart from Jon's loyal sidekick Sam is dead-set against the idea, of course, and it's pretty obvious that they think something needs to be done to stop him.
Sam, of course, is starry-eyed in love with
Gilly Jon Snow, and gives him a going-away present of a dragonglass blade -- all the better to stab a bunch of white walkers with. And the mother of all bro-hugs, as well. Old Maester Aemon, too, is in his death bed, but gives a portentious warning to Sam and Gilly to take their baby south "before it's too late." It's too late for Aemon, though, and the Night's Watch celebrates his life with a funeral pyre.
A few day's ride south of the Wall, things aren't going too well for Sansa. She's already endured a horrendous and horrifying wedding night at the hands of the bastard Ramsay Bolton (bastard in the insultative sense, he's a legitimate Bolton now), but that same disgusting treatment continues night after night. Sansa tries to get the brain-addled Theon to help her, but instead he stays true to his name and goes turncloak on her, telling Ramsay of her plans and co-conspirators -- one of which who ends up flayed to death. (Ew.)
Sansa did have a bit of good fortune coming her way in the form of a small but scrappy army led by rightful king and Protector Of Good Grammar, Stannis The Mannis Baratheon. The Sansa Effect is in full force, though, and that army is having some serious performance issues. The force is besieged not by Ramsay and Roose and their bannermen, but by snow and storm. The smartest man in the entire seven kingdoms, Ser Davos Seaworth, begs him to retreat but Stannis did that once already at King's Landing and he's not really too keen on trying it all out again.
It's down further south that the real action is happening, though. In King's Landing, old biddy Olenna Tyrell is petitioning the High Sparrow to get her children out. Margaery and Loras are in the clutches of the Faith Militant, and no amount of money -- or even threats to cut the city off from its food supply -- will get them out. Even poor little King Tommen has no sway with the High Sparrow, and the only person that possibly might -- Queen Regent slash Queen Mother, Cersei Lannister -- doesn't actually want to get them out.
Cersei does deign to visit Margaery in her dirty, dark, dank cell though, and lords her freedom over her. But hey! That won't last for long, as Cersei is utterly unceremoniously hauled away into her own cell. This gon' be good. This, oddly enough, leaves Olenna as top lady in King's Landing, and she talks to Littlefinger in the ruins of one of his brothels and gets from him the name of a young man. What is this young man for? We don't know.
Down in Dorne, Myrcella visits gold mate Jamie Lannister in prison, after he attempted to prison-break her and royally stuffed it up. She's still infatuated with Dornish Jonas brother Tristane, which will continue to be a point of contention for everyone involved except the two lovers themselves. Bronn flirts with a Sand Snake who previously stabbed him, because he's Bronn and that's exactly what he does every day of the week.
Meereen is where the party is happening. This is the big reveal of the episode, and one of the biggest departures from the book so far. Daenerys meets Tyrion! Daenerys is still schlepping around with Daario despite being betrothed (by her own politicking) to Hizdahr zo Loraq, and her proposal of marriage from Daario would mean she has a strong fighter as a husband but no advisor. That's where Tyrion will enter in episodes to come, we think. But what do you think?
Note: Please, no spoilers from the books in the comments below!
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