‘Game of Thrones’ 5.07 Recap: “It Can Always Be Worse”

I know that I shouldn’t try to judge this whole season until it’s done, because something amazing could still happen in the next three episodes, but ‘Game of Thrones’ feels like it’s in a holding pattern this year, slowly circling around the same story points without really going anywhere. This week’s episode hinges on a plot twist that was easily foreseen. (In fact, I called it last week.)

On the plus side, no rape scenes to stir up controversy this week. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. There is an attempted rape. Sigh…

King’s Landing

Having gotten nowhere with Cersei, Lady Olenna confronts the High Sparrow. She calls him a fraud and tries unsuccessfully to bribe him. He’s also not swayed by her threats to withhold food shipments into the city. In what turns out to be a really awkward metaphor for the 99% vs. the 1%, he points out that her wealth and privilege will mean nothing when the poor and working classes rise up and revolt, which is what he’s trying to facilitate.

Olenna then secretly meets with Baelish in the ruins of his brothel. He has a proposal for them to join forces again, as they did when they murdered Joffrey.

Tommen may now be king, but he’s helpless and ineffectual. He whines to his mother about Margaery being imprisoned. Cersei offers to speak to the High Sparrow to negotiate a release. How helpful of her.

Of course, Cersei really pays Margaery a visit in the dungeon to smugly bask in the girl’s change in fortunes. She does meet with the High Sparrow, but not to negotiate anything. She just wants to discuss how the upcoming trial will go. He tells her that it’s his mission to strip away all the lies and the finery so that everyone may be judged equally in the eyes of the gods. That applies not just to Margaery, but to anyone who has sinned. He then informs Cersei that Lancel told him some interesting stories about her. Realizing where this is going, Cersei tries to leave, but is blocked and hauled off to the dungeon, screaming that she’ll murder everyone who has crossed her.

The High Sparrow turning against Cersei is such an obvious development that I’m disappointed she didn’t see it coming and prepare a contingency for when it would inevitably happen. I half expected The Mountain to step into the room and crush the skulls of any Sparrows who laid their hands on her.


Also a prisoner is Sansa. Ramsay keeps her locked up in her room every day, then roughs her up and has his way with her every night. Her situation is so desperate that she begs Theon for help. She asks him to light a candle in the tallest tower, as the old maid had instructed her to do.

Theon takes the candle and goes to the tower. He finds Ramsay waiting there. I assume this wasn’t a surprise, that he knew where Ramsay would be.

Of course, Theon tells Ramsay everything. Ramsay has Sansa brought outside so he can show her the mutilated corpse of the old maid he tortured to death. He then gives her the candle back and sends her right back to her room. To her credit, while she’s out Sansa manages to swipe a corkscrew as a potential weapon later. She also plants a seed of doubt in Ramsay’s mind about how his station will be undermined by the birth of a legitimate Bolton son.

Castle Black

Jon Snow releases Tormund from his chains and places Ser Alliser in charge of the Wall while he goes north with the Wildlings. Alliser tells Snow that he thinks the plan is reckless. Before Snow leaves, Sam gives him some dragonglass in case he encounters any White Walkers.

Maester Aemon lies dying, his years having finally caught up with him. He advises Gilly to take her baby and head south, because the castle will not be safe for her. In his last moments, Aemon hallucinates that he’s talking to his long-dead brother Aegon (or “Egg”). Sam eulogizes the maester at his funeral. Afterwards, Alliser warns Sam that, “You’re losing all your friends.”

Later, two surly brothers of the Night’s Watch harass Gilly and try to rape her. Sam arrives to fight them off. They aren’t intimidated by him, and beat the crap out of him, including hitting him repeatedly in the head with a rock. Sam nevertheless refuses to give up, no matter how hopeless his situation. Conveniently, the direwolf Ghost enters the room and scares the other men away.

As she tends to his wounds, Gilly rewards Sam for his bravery by very delicately having sex with him – his first time. Sam’s reaction: “Oh my!”

Where the hell is Gilly’s baby, anyway?

Marching Toward Winterfell

The arrival of winter is bad news for Stannis Baratheon. His army is not as equipped to handle the cold and snow as the Bolton army will be. They’re already freezing and starving, and the “sellsword” (mercenary) divisions have fled. Davos counsels Stannis to turn back to Castle Black and wait out the season – which could be years. Stannis insists that they must press on.

In reality, Stannis has his doubts too. Melisandre must assure him that she’s seen him win the war in her visions. For her magic, she asks him to sacrifice his daughter to the old gods. That much, he refuses to do.


Jaime is allowed to see his niece (really daughter) Myrcella. She tells him that she’s in love with the Martell boy and doesn’t want to leave. “You don’t know me!” she rebukes him. Teenagers are the same all over, I guess.

Bronn is locked in a jail cell across from the three Sand Snake women. The one named Tyene flirts with him. (Cue this episode’s gratuitous nudity.) As Bronn stars to feel woozy, he realizes that she’s the one who cut his arm in battle. She tells him that the blade was poisoned and toys with him a bit, but, because she finds him charming, eventually tosses him the antidote.


The slaver Malko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) auctions off Jorah by embellishing the tales of his exploits to include a claim that he killed Khal Drogo in combat. Tyrion speaks up and convinces the buyer to purchase him too, thus sparing him for the moment from the immediate threat of having his cock cut off. The buyer brings them to Meereen, where Jorah will be made to battle in the fighting pits. Because Queen Daenerys has ruled that no slaves may fight there, he pays them each one coin – while keeping them in chains, of course.

Has Daenerys’ boyfriend Daario always been such an asshole? It seems like, in addition to the casting change to a new actor, the character is written very differently this season than I remember him. Every time we see him now, he’s giving Dany some bad advice. What does she see in this guy? This time, he tries to talk her into abandoning her planned political marriage and marrying him instead, then he suggests that she should slaughter all of the city’s former masters.

While she thinks that over, Dany allows her fiancé Hizdahr to talk her into attending a fighting pit match. Not just the big championship she’s already scheduled to preside over, he tells her that it would be a great honor if she made a surprise appearance at a lower level event first. Naturally, unbeknownst to her, this is the same fight where Jorah is set to make his debut.

During the first round, Dany is disgusted by the savage brutality on display and gets up to leave. Before she does, however, Jorah hears that the queen is in the audience and runs out in full armor, battling his way through all the opponents toward her stage. Dany sees something she recognizes and is intrigued enough to wait for a moment.

After he defeats all his foes, Jorah removes his helmet and reveals himself. Daenerys declares that she doesn’t want to see him and turns to leave again. Jorah yells out that he’s brought a gift for her, upon which Tyrion comes out onto the field and introduces himself.

I’m reminded of the famous gladiatorial episode of HBO’s former series ‘Rome’. In comparison, this episode doesn’t fare nearly as well. Most everything that happens this week is very predictable, and even Jorah’s triumphant moment is pretty underwhelming.

On the other hand, the meeting of Tyrion and Daenerys promises to bring some interesting changes to the show. One can hope, at least.


  1. I may be wrong but in the scene where Theon brings the candle to Ramsay, I thought they meant to trick us into thinking Theon was going to the broken tower. His reaction to seeing Ramsay led me to believe Ramsay wasn’t waiting for him in the tower, but he actually went straight to his chambers instead. I’d have to rewatch to confirm.
    Also, I thought that when Jorah was fighting in the arena Dany stopped to watch simply because Jorah managed to take out his opponents without spilling blood (which she was distusted by). Either way, I’m excited for Tyrion to move on to something more interesting.
    I think that Cersei is so bent on destroying the Tyrells that she makes critical mistakes. It felt like the High Sparrow was smacking her in the face with the realization that no one is safe from judgement, but she heard what she wanted to.

    • agentalbert

      I believe you are exactly right about Theon climbing the stairs. That was meant to trick us. Ramsay wasn’t waiting at the top of the old tower, Theon just was climbig a set of stairs to go where Ramsay was. What I don’t know is how Ramsay sniffed out the old lady he flayed. We didn’t see Sansa tell Theon about her. Maybe Ramsay just assumed as she was old and had been there the longest.

      Also I agree that what intrigued Dany about Jorah (not knowing it was Jorah yet) was how he was knocking out opponents rather than butcher them.

      Yes, Cersei should have seen what would happen with the High Sparrow coming, but Cersei is reckless. How has she still not figured out that Tyrion and Sansa didn’t assasinate Joffrey? She’s blinded by rage against Margaery and turned the sparrows loose to an entirely predictable result.

  2. TagCloud

    Worst season yet, does kind of go nowhere still my favorite show on television. I do think a bit less of the later couple of books in the series as well, takes a lot of time for stuff to happen in them.

    Small correction: Aegon Targaryen is not the Mad King, that is the nickname of Aerys II Targaryen, grandson to Aegon V Targaryen and father of Daenerys in the show. The books talk a lot more about the Targaryen family tree and provide some context, not sure why they felt it was so important to keep Aemon’s senile ramblings in the show. They don’t mean much for someone with only the show to go on.

    • agentalbert

      I suspect there is a very good reason they have kept stories and allusions to the Targaryen family so frequent the last few episodes (going back to Barristan telling Dany about Rhaegar). I think there could be a big reveal and that is why they’ve kept reminding the audience about these long dead Targaryen people we never saw.

    • I agree the whole Aemon death bed scene was an odd choice to keep. The only reason I can think of them keeping it is because they were getting rid of a character and couldn’t think of a way of doing it differently so they just lifted it (sort of) from the book.

      I’m pretty surprised actually at how predictable the writing is becoming. If something hasn’t been mentioned before and is suddenly being focused on then you can be sure it will hold significance later in the season or series. For example: I think it was the second episode this season they had a whole scene dedicated to grey scale and the stone men (which have never been mentioned) so I knew they would be bringing them in. Also, earlier in the season there was a lot of references to Rhaegar and Lyana in the same episode. When have they ever focused on them and their relationship other than now? We all know what that is leading to, but it just seems like they didn’t do a great job making things subtle.

      Some of my favorite things about the books is that there is a lot of hearsay as to what everyone is up to around the world. Everyone kept wondering where Barristan the Bold had fled to so when he finally showed up it was epic. The same with Barric Dondarrion and how so many rumors built up the character to legendary status. Now he’s just kinda been tossed to the side.

      I’d love it if they somehow managed to build intrigue throughout the seasons to certain mysteries so that the reveal would be amazing. I would have loved to have seen Rhaegar in Dany’s vision when she went to the house of the Undying. That was one of my favorite moments of the second book.

      Sorry, I went off topic. Haha. I tend to agree that this is probably their worst season yet. Books 4 & 5 were very slow, but there is plenty of material to make something more interesting than they have. No Victarion makes me sad and no other important people trying to get to Meereen. Those stories were pretty cool.

      • agentalbert

        How would we have known Dany was seeing Rhaegar in her vision? Would have have a name tag, like a guy at an insurance convention? “Hello, My Name is: Rhaegar” 😉

        I didn’t have any problem with the scene of Aemon dying. I always liked that character and its just another way of them reminding viewers about the Targaryen family. I can understand how some might find it all too blatant, but at least they’ve been doing it over a number of episodes. It’s not like they did it all at once and then gave a big reveal that episode.

  3. Clemery

    This episode was the first where I thought that I might finally be over Game Of Thrones. The whole season has just dragged, and although I still remain hopeful that there may be greatness to come in the remaining few episodes, I find myself starting to just not care about GoT much anymore.

  4. Charles M

    Not the best season. But it’s still a great show. People acting like this suddenly turned into the worst show on tv or something like that.

  5. This season may be slower than the last couple of seasons, but this pace is not to far off of the first that spent a bunch of time building characters and up to a climatic and controversial season finally. But when we were watching the first season we didn’t have anything to compare it to and we were drawn into the depth and complexities of an intriguing world. The next second season started out slow and the pace picked durint the second half of that season. The third and fourth seasons kept the pace furious and covered a lot of ground. Most seasons try to keep moving the pace faster and faster and this becomes a downfall for almost all shows at some point. The books that GOT is based on seriously drag on when they get to certain points and if this season followed that pace we would be watching the last 10 episodes dragged out over 20 – 30 episodes. This is still a great show.

    I did have trouble with how they discovered the old woman when no one appeared to know in the previous episode. I believe the show was trying to trick us in to thinking Theon finally was coming around, but he really went straight to Ramsey. There are many themes that stay true across the GOT books and one of those themes is that nothing goes well for those with the last name of Stark. they give us hope every once in a while that something positive is going to turn things around for the Starks, but nope. There is reason their name is Stark, it is always associated with bleakness and negative situations. The whole candle in a window if you are in trouble thing has bugged me because if she is locked in her room or the dungeon how is she supposed to light a candle. How about if there is not a candle lit we come and rescue you?

    In two episodes now Stannis and Melisandre have had conversations where John Snow is referenced as having royal blood. This again was never clarified in the book but it seems like the show is clearly treading into that territory. It makes sense that the entire arch of GOT is a show down between Daenerys and John Snow for the battle of Westeros and at the same time we find out they are essentially brother and sister. I think Melisandre’s vision of herself walking the walls of Winterfell is not indicator of success for Stannis but ends up being because John Snow ends up coming back and saving the day after Stannis fails. I won’t be surprised if Stannis dies at Winterfell and Melisandre starts following John Snow around.

    I think Aemon dying served us two purposes. First to remind us of the Targaryens because something big is coming that involves them for sure. And second, to make thinks more tense with John Snow away from the wall, nobody with reason is there while he is gone. No one to protect Samwell and no one to help Stannis or anything else that happens at the Wall.

    Cersei finally gets what is coming to her. Is this possible? I hope so. I am tired of seeing here always get away with everything. Now Jamie will have to decide wether or not he wants to save her, and now the kingdom is really being run by a 10 year old. I agree that it seems like she is to smart to get caught like this, but her ego is massive and cleary clouding her judgement. I am sure the Tyrells will now turn their army on Kings Landing. I do think it is a bit of a plot whole to think that Cersei truelly believes Tyrion killed her son and has stopped looking for the real killer. But since Tyrion did kill her father I can also see how she could believe it now.

    I think Danyrius was impressed when she saw some with actual skillset and not just pure hacking away at each otehr, i think the fight could have been better especially when Jorah came out and was clearly more skilled. It would have been nice when Jorah came if it turned into a highly stylized 300esque fight. I don’t expect Dany to take Jorah back, he is a sad-sack now and is destined to wander at this point. If he ends up with anyone else as an advisor I think I will be annoyed. He has officially been minimized at this point and will probably go away now.

    This episode ended on an exciting note with Tyrion finally getting to Danryius. This story line took forever and never go this far in the books.

  6. Timcharger

    Josh: “I half expected The Mountain to step into the room and crush the skulls of any Sparrows who laid their hands on her.”

    Maybe not the Mountain. Frankenstein’s
    monster is not quite ready yet. But Cersei
    used to travel with 4 Lannister soldiers
    escorting her everywhere. I’m surprised
    they didn’t accompany her.

  7. Timcharger

    Josh: “Maester Aemon lies dying, his years having finally caught up with him.”

    I recently saw a clip of some previous season
    where an attacking thug asks Tyrion, how
    does he want to die. Tyrion quipped, at 80,
    in my own bed.

    Yay! We have a natural death in GoT at a
    ripe old age?! Martin and the showrunners
    are getting soft in Season 5.

  8. Timcharger

    Josh: “The one named Tyene flirts with him. (Cue this episode’s gratuitous nudity.)”

    Yeah, it was, but surprisingly it was very
    empowering for the Sand Snake woman.
    She really held all the marbles. Bronn’s
    life was in her hands; the antidote literally

    Wifey gave me a weird look during this
    scene. I blurted out, “I’m not poisoned;
    she aint the most beautiful woman in the
    world, Honey?”

  9. Timcharger

    Josh: “even Jorah’s triumphant moment is pretty underwhelming.”

    Agree. Maybe it’s been too long since Jorah’s
    been away. I’m not that into Jorah’s story.

    So far what has he accomplished? Jorah
    kidnapped Tyrion, only to bring him to where he
    was going to go anyway.

    Or maybe, soon after we see Jorah again, he
    gets greyscale, so we know to not be invested
    in he who is about to die.

  10. Timcharger

    Lady Olenna confronts the High Sparrow…
    Olenna then secretly meets with Baelish…

    Redeem yourself Olenna. Tywin was caught
    with his pants down while on the john.
    Olenna, you’ve had the time to orchestrate.

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