In comparison to “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, which is quite possibly Game of Thrones’s worst episode, “The Gift” was actually fairly decent. Unfortunately, as I was still reeling from the shitstorm the show threw at us last week, this week I found myself more peeved than normal at Game of Thrones’s usual bad decisions, such as the unnecessary nudity and even more pointless sexual assault. I think I can safely say that this is the show’s worst season ever, and I know that it’s only downhill from here.
Trigger warning for sexual assault and misogyny below.
In “The Gift”, the writers continue to show us how not aware they are of anything that they are writing. Last week featured some of the worst sexual assault Game of Thrones had to offer, so we start this week off with even more sexual assault, because that’s what we really want to see. Our lives just would not have been complete had Gilly not been almost raped by some Night’s Watch men. Thankfully, Sam was there to save her with the help of Ghost, but that scene was completely unnecessary.
In fact, numerous unnecessary things happen this episode. We check back in with Sansa, Theon, and Ramsay, where we learn that Sansa’s still a prisoner, Theon’s still traumatized, and Ramsay’s still an evil piece of shit. The plot has not progressed at all for them, and I can safely say that their scenes are still superfluous and Game of Thrones can do better.
However, probably most unnecessary were the scenes in Dorne. While it will be nice to see Jaime try to reconnect with his family—Myrcella telling him off was certainly worthwhile—the parts with Bronn and Oberyn’s daughters left me shaking my head. They’re all in jail together, throwing barbs at each other, but unfortunately for Bronn, he was nicked with a poison-coated dagger last episode. The daughter who poisoned him has the cure, which she refuses to hand over until he confesses that she’s the prettiest girl he’s ever seen, for some unexplained reason. And while she’s tormenting him, she slowly takes her clothes off, so that way we can be treated to the camera roving over her body numerous times. Though it was nice to see a woman hold onto some of her agency and assert herself as smart and powerful, while in jail no less, there was no need for the nudity.
But this is what Game of Thrones does, because Game of Thrones hates women, and it thinks we can only hold power while being evil seductresses. The show keeps reducing its female characters to their bodies. It punishes them for being female, and it rewards them for using their sexuality to get their way. Though, as Cersei’s going to find out shortly, the show also plans to punish her for being a sexual person. It should have come as no surprise to me that Game of Thrones followed “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” with even more misogyny, because it does this every time. The show has never taken a break or missed out on an opportunity to sexually exploit female characters, often against their will. Last year, Game of Thrones even followed up the Jaime-Cersei rape episode with another episode filled with even more rape. Pointing out all the misogyny in Game of Thrones has gotten so tiring, and I had so few shits to give anymore, that watching “The Gift” literally gave me a headache.
I think I can safely say that the only reason characters like Shireen and Arya haven’t suffered sexual violence yet is because their characters are too young for HBO to get away with doing that to them. Maybe within the next two seasons it will have the opportunity. It certainly jumped at the chance to exploit Sansa when she got old enough, so why not Arya and Shireen as well? At this point, the ratio of female characters who have undergone assault, completed rapes, or just been pointlessly nude far outweigh the female characters who haven’t.
A few other things of note happen this episode. Maester Aemon dies, and Jorah and Tyrion manage to make it back to Meereen and Daenerys despite being sold into slavery. Also, Cersei goes to visit Margaery in jail, where the High Septon takes the opportunity to arrest her as well. Nothing about anything in King’s Landing makes sense anymore. And the Sparrows, the untrained peasants that they are, have risen to power way too quickly. The evidence they also have against Loras and Margaery is rather flimsy. They have no proof for anything—someone knowing that Loras has a mole on his leg means nothing, since Loras is highborn and lots of people have probably seen him naked before. How many servants have bathed him? Dressed him? Taken care of him?
Yeah, I’m quite certain that the show has fucked itself over this season. Maybe next season will be better.