Game of Thrones, season 5, episode 7 - review: Rough justice for Cersei Lannister as HBO drama returns to form

*Warning! Contains spoilers* It has taken seven episodes for season five to hit its stride

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Has the internet broken yet? In tonight’s episode Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen finally meet. *Woo-hoo!* It might not have happened in George RR Martin’s books (the published ones, anyway), but for Throneheads this union couldn’t have come soon enough. After spending the entire season either stuck in a box or tied up in shackles, it’s a huge relief to see Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) about to do something exciting – and the same goes for Dany (Emilia Clarke) whose presence has been decidedly flatter in season five as she sits atop her Meereen pyramid.

It didn’t totally eclipse the Ser Jorah Mormont/ Khaleesi reunion though. When Mormont (Iain Glen) learns his Queen is only metres away and strides out, helmet on, sword in hand, you get that tingling feeling – you know, the one we used to get from GoT in season 1 – and it’s wonderful. Season five has finally found its stride and it only took seven episodes to get there.

What this means for the Mother of Dragons’ hold on power is unknown: will she marry the man who said bringing back the fighting pits wouldn’t bring back slavery? More importantly, what will she do with Tyrion and Mormont? Even smug book readers don’t know. It’s all exciting again!

Across the narrow sea, meanwhile, there is plenty more action. For starters, we get to see the aftermath of that controversial rape scene. Weeks have past and Sansa (Sophie Turner) is locked away in a tower, her body bruised and her eyes wet with tears. If you were one of the many who vowed to never to watch again, I implore you to come back and discuss the real problem: domestic abuse.

Yes, I agree rape is not something to be used just to move on a story, especially when it barely adds anything to the characters. Last week was disturbing and unnecessary but now we see the consequences. A broken Sansa, crying beneath her covers, with no-one to go to but the man who she believes killed her brothers. It’s heart-breaking, especially when Reek betrays her. The following conversation with her husband, Ramsay (a brilliant Iwan Rheon), is all the worse knowing there’s very little hope of escape. “You make me very happy,” the he says. It’s terrifying, and difficult to comprehend how rooted in truth Sansa’s predicament is.

Things also go downhill for dear Samwell Tarley (John Bradley-West), who now has very few human friends at the Wall. Jon’s gone, Aemon Targaryeon (Peter Vaughan) is dead, and now the Night’s Watch brothers are trying to rape Gilly (Hannah Murray). Thankfully, Ghost saves the day in a proper fist pump moment. Unfortunately though, it’s all slightly sullied when Gilly decides to mount Sam in a cringeworthy and pointless sex scene, as if to just remind us what Game of Thrones is really all about - Has there been enough violence and nudity this week? Quick, add some in, the producers cry.

Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton in the terrible wedding scene in Game of Thrones season five

The titillation continues in Dorne between The Sand Snakes and Bronn (Jerome Flynn), and again, exactly why they needed to show more nipple is beyond me. But hey? I had been really excited to see the Snakes as their father, Oberyn Martell, was the standout character of series 4, but now I fear they’re taking up precious screen time. Fortunately in Dorne there is a great scene between Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his niece/daughter Myrcella Baratheon (Aimee Richardson) who refuses to leave, bluntly saying: “You don’t know me!” With Cersei’s influence looming over him, it will be interesting to see if he forces her to return home or allows her the freedom to marry a Martell.

Speaking of Cersei, she’s having a rather rough time of it back in King’s Landing. Her plan for the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his followers to imprison Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and her brother backfired as she was arrested for incest. It was, of course, Aiden Gillen’s Littlefinger (phew, after last week we thought he was on her side) and Grandma Tyrell (the wonderful Dianna Rigg) who set it up. They’ve turned into quite the team, having previously killed king Joffrey at his own wedding night. Every episode Littlefinger’s plan’s get more and more intriguing, hopefully we’ll see the play off soon – either that or I hope he meets a dismal end for leaving Sansa to suffer just for his own gain.

One person neither of these expert schemers has any influence over, though, is the Sparrow, Cersei’s imprisoner, who has suddenly become a massive and unexpected player in the game of thrones. He has control over King’s Landing right now and is proving himself just a Machiavellian and ruthless as the Queen Mother he has locked up. His talk with Cersei proves he too can play with words and power. If and when a ruler does confront him and the Faith it will surely be one hell of a battle. But for now, Game of Thrones has enough game-changing stories to deal with. A return to previous form – finally!