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"Game of Thrones" recap: "The Gift"

After five seasons and nearly 50 episodes, the worlds within "Game of Thrones" are finally starting to collide.

Two of the show's central characters met face-to-face for the first time on Sunday's episode (did you forget there was a new one, with the holiday weekend? Stop here, go watch and then come back), but that wasn't all -- all of Cersei's plotting finally caught up with her, we suffered another character death and things continued to be awful for Sansa in Winterfell.

Castle Black

First, a moment of silence for Maester Ameon, who died as few do on this show - peacefully. Sam gives a speech at his funeral and also gives a parting gift to Jon Snow, who's about to set off for Hardhome with Tormund. That White Walker-killing dragonglass will probably come in handy.

After Jon leaves, a pair thugs go after Gilly and beat Sam bloody as he tries to protect her. For a moment it looks like another female "Thrones" character will be the victim of rape, but Jon's direwolf Ghost comes to the rescue and scares them away. A grateful Gilly takes Sam's virginity (so much for those Night's Watch vows) and makes him promise to take care of her baby, Little Sam. Sometimes, good people on this show do good things and everything is nice. It doesn't happen that often, so let's enjoy it while we have it.

The North

Stannis and his army are not doing well - horses are dying, sellswords are deserting and Ser Davos wants to go back and ride out the winter at Castle Black. But winter could last years, and Stannis retreated at Blackwater and feels that if he does it again, that's all he'll be known for.

Melisandre, however, has an idea -- sacrificing his daughter, Shireen, to ensure his army's victory. After all, the priestess reminds him, the little girl has king's blood in her veins. But Stannis refuses (at least, for now).


If you're among those still reeling, disgusted or feeling various degrees of anger after Sansa was raped last week by Ramsay, we're sorry to say things haven't gotten any better for her. In fact, they've gotten worse.

"He hurts me every night," she pleads to Theon, imploring him to help. But he can't even acknowledge his own name, and warns that with Ramsay, "It can always be worse." She gives him a candle and asks him to put it in the top window of the broken tower to alert her friends in the North, but Theon (or, we should say, Reek) delivers it to Ramsay instead.

Sansa, perhaps thinking escape is imminent, taunts her husband about his stepmother's pregnancy, but Ramsay has a surprise for her -- he's flayed the old lady who wanted to help her. If only she could somehow get word to Brienne, who is still holding watch outside Winterfell waiting for some sort of sign and a chance to uphold that vow.


A quick tour through Dorne before we get to the other big locations/moments of Sunday's episode: Myrcella tells Jaime she doesn't want to go home because she's happy there and in love with Trystane.

There's just the issue of those Sand Snakes, who are imprisoned a cell away from Bronn. They engage in some playful banter (and boob-showing - this is "Game of Thrones," after all) that turns almost deadly when Tyene informs Bronn that she poisoned the blade she cut him with last week. But she happens to have the antidote around her neck, and tosses it over before the poison kills him.

King's Landing

Cersei's plan to take out the Tyrells worked so well that it took her down, too.

Things start with a meeting between Lady Olenna and Littlefinger at what was once his brothel before the Sparrows destroyed it. She doesn't mince words: if her family goes down, he's going down with them. But, of course, Littlefinger has a solution -- Lancel, now a faithful member of the Sparrows who'd be more than happy to confess Cersei's sins.

There was also a great tete-a-tete moment between Lady Olenna and the High Sparrow when she tries, unsuccessfully, to get her grandchildren released from prison. She seems him for what he is -- a dangerous man hiding behind faith and humility while grasping for more power, something Cersei grossly underestimated.

Speaking of the Dowager Queen, she goes down to visit Margaery in the Black Cells for a gloaty victory lap, but it's one that ends up being very brief. When she goes to the High Sparrow to stress that she wants the Tyrells to get the "justice" they deserve, he casually begins talking about a young man who joined their ranks and Cersei's face immediately falls. Of course, that young man is Lancel -- and he knows all about killing King Robert and all her other misdeeds. The episode ends with guards taking Cersei down to the same cells she had Margaery and Loras thrown in. Karma, karma, karma...


Last but not least, that Lannister- Targaryen meeting.

After reopening the fighting pits and shooting down Daario Naharis' suggestions that she a) marry him instead of Hizdahr zo Loraq and b) kill all the former slave owners in Meereen to end that Sons of the Harpy business once and for all ("All rulers are butchers or meat," he says), she goes to observe one of the lower fighting pits as a show of respect for the local "tradition."

She's about to leave out of disgust over the fights-to-the-death when a new fighter comes out (Ser Jorah, though Dany doesn't know it yet), knocking everyone out instead of killing them. This arouses the queen's curiosity, but when he removes his mask she's not quite pleased to see him.

"Wait!" Jorah begs, as she's about to have him taken away. "I brought you a gift!"

That's when Tyrion rushes out and introduces himself, marking both a significant departure from George R.R. Martin's books and a monumental moment for the series.

Tell us: What did you think of "The Gift"?