Game of Thrones 5.6 – Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Okay. Okay. I hope you guys like the F word, because there’s going to be a LOT of it in this recap. A lot a lot.

flipping the bird-icorn


We open with the purification of bodies and end with the pollution of one. Hey, guess where my cussing is going to be? But we’ll get to that in a second. I want to say how proud I am of myself for not deleting this whole website and moving into a yurt. So good job, me.

Okay, seriously, when the Previously aired, I asked myself about Arya’s “What do we do after we wash them?” …do they take the faces of these bodies and mystically use them to become anyone? OHO. I think I’m onto something… [yeah, yeah, keep reading]

Side note that may or may not be related to anything… washing the dead can symbolize someone close to you repenting. [cough]Theon[cough] In Judaism, washing dead bodies is an elaborate ritual enabling the dead to meet their next stage/God/Gods with dignity and purity. I like that.

We open with Arya washing a woman, clipping her nails, cleaning her hair with oil, moisturizing her skin and covering her face with a shroud as two men come in to carry the body away. To where? What I loved was how very young Arya was, tapping her fingers impatiently and rocking on her heels as she waits for them to remove the body. She notices that they didn’t close the door, and she’s desperate to know what they do with the bodies, but Angry Other Girl shuts that down.

All good things to those who wait, but Arya is very young and very impatient. Plus, she’s still Arya. She’s not A Girl. A Girl is who wins a Game of Faces, after all. Angry Other Girl tells the story of how she came to be here, in that she was put in a Cinderella position with a new stepmum, but was able to murder stepmum before there were any balls. …or was that a lie?

WHAT IS HAPPENING. Arya, I’m every bit as confused as you in this moment. (But I loved that side story.)

A Man comes to her in the night (not like that, pervs) and asks her who she is. For every lie (Ned died in battle, she killed a stable boy) he whips her. One of the best bits is him whipping her when she says she hated the Hound. (Sandor!) Another lie: she wants to be No One. But once the game begins, there’s no going back, it seems. Eesh.

Down in Valyria, Jorah continues to try to hide his greyscale from an increasingly irritable (and sober) Tyrion.

Jorah: Would you shut your yap? Well, after you tell me why you traveled to Pentos in a crate?
Tyrion: I was certain I’d make the Slaver’s Bay news, but fine: I killed my dad after he tried to kill me and boned Shameless Shae.
Jorah: …yeah, that’s a patricide offense, I’d say.
Tyrion: Your dad was, like, way better than mine.
Jorah:was? [cries inside for his daddy] How could my amazing Pop Pop DIE?
Tyrion: …SHIT. Oops? Erm, death by mutiny? The most beloved Lord of the Wall basically was betrayed by his own men?
Jorah: Like father like son, I guess.

Back with the Faceless Men, Arya scrubs the floor when a man (not A Man) and sick child come in to the Drinking Well. He seems to think Arya has some sort of power or control here. She goes to the little girl and offers some comfort in the form of a lie, instructing her to drink the water. A Man watches from the shadows. Later, we see Arya and the little girl’s corpse as Arya prepares to clean her. Guess the lie didn’t take? (Still not sure how this mythology works, but I’m happy to have it slowly reveal itself.)

Also, she slips through the open door after A Man, down halls and staircases deep within the House of Black and White. He shows her the Hall of Faces, like, literal faces, all set within pillars reaching to heights unseen, every wall, every cornerstone, keystone. Jaqen asks her if she’s ready to give up her face, nose, tongue, everything that makes her her to become No One. We all know the answer is No, she isn’t ready.

Jaqen and Arya Stark Hall of Faces


But. She’s ready to become someone else. (Raise your hand if you were waiting for those eyes to shoot open? Just me?)

Back on the Jorah-n-Tyrion roadshow, Jorah explains his obsession with Daenerys becoming queen of the Iron Throne, and Tyrion says the best thing ever:

“Doesn’t mean she’d be a great queen.”

Their philosophical discussion about what sort of ruler Dany would make and what makes her the rightful heir is cut short when they encounter slavers. (FINALLY! I mean, there’s a place called Slaver’s Bay, I assumed I would come across Slavers at some point. Also, nice twist to have the Slavers be PoC and the slaves white.)

Jorah knows how to take a punch to the face, much to their amusement, and they decide to cut off Tyrion’s dick to be sold for money.

Tyrion Lannister Slavers cock

The canniest man in all of Westeros and Essos right here.

Maybe the greatest thing in all of A Song of Fire And Ice is learning that in this universe there’s a legitimate career called a “cock merchant.” Except…

Tyrion: You can’t just sell a dry cock!
Me: [cackles madly] And gross, I’m not buying a wet one.
Slaver: The tiny cocked–
Tyrion: [thrusts hips out] TRY AGAIN.
Slaver: –the regular-sized cock’d tiny man has a point. Don’t slit his throat just yet.
Jorah: That works? Then, how about I have a tiny cock on a regular sized body?
Slaver: You have a point?
Tyrion: YES. That we should stay alive. Say, you’re going to Meereen Volantis, we want to stay alive, what say you keep this one [nods at Jorah] since he’s the greatest fighter in all of mankind?
Slaver: [busts out laughing] Willard Scott here?
Jorah: I killed a Dothraki bloodrider one-handed while eating an ice cream cone.
Slaver: Mother fu… Yeah, let’s go.

(I like to think that Jorah will show his Greyscale in the fighting pits, should it become necessary. God knows it’s what I would do.)

And holy sheep shung, Lord Baelish returns to King’s Landing! He’s immediately confronted by Lancel and the other religious wonks. Because Cersei is waiting for him, Lancel will let him pass, but I loved the dig Baelish got in about them both peddling lies and fantasy, but Baelish’s are far more entertaining. Hahaha.

In Who Can Throw More Shade, Cersei and Littlefinger break down the curious choices in relationships. I think they both had to hold back a snicker when it came to the idea that Cersei is the “offended party” with regards to Loras choosing boys over her, and I had to stifle a queasy stomach at the reminder of Lysa Arryn. Cersei wants to get to the meat of it: if war comes, with the Vale stand with the throne? But of course! Littlefinger has always counseled loyalty to the throne.

Note the giant Lannister piece on the wall in her chambers, not anything reflecting Baratheon. Oho! Not even hiding it now, is she?

Then this shady mother fucker gives up Sansa Stark, says she’s back at Winterfell, throws in that it’s all Roose’s plan to have all the power of the North at his call, incensing Cersei and making her want to skin the Boltons alive. This slippery mother trucker…

He counsels patience: let Stannis and Roose battle it out, then send Kevan Lannister with an army to wipe the victors out, taking what’s “theirs.” Problem with that: Kevan is grossed out by his niece Cersei, so who is there left to fight? Why, Littlefinger would love to send the knights of the Vale to do just that very thing, how very convenient… Plus, it won’t cost her anything. Just name him Warden of the North. She seems to go for it. And she better see Sansa’s head on a spike when it’s all said and done.

Littlefinger: As I said: I live to serve.
Me: [angrily shoves popcorn in my mouth to keep me from cussing this slippery weasel out] BAELISH YOU JUST BETTER NOT– [shoves more in my mouth]

I genuinely don’t know if he’s actually going to hurt Sansa. His drive for legitimacy and power doesn’t speak well for her. But he’s also creepy and obsessed with her, so… I just don’t know!! D:

Down in Dorne, Baby Lannister simpers and bats her eyelashes at her Mini Oberyn Martell (who is every bit as slick and flirtatious as Oberyn was—EXCUSE ME WHILE I CRY OVER OBERYN FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME, SOB SOB!), all while Prince Doran watches over them. He’s expecting something bad, which is reasonable, given this world’s track record.

Bronn and Jaime make their way across the grassy fields on their purloined horses, Bronn singing bawdy songs and EXCUSE ME, PART TWO. There are more songs in Game of Thrones than Reynes Rains Reins Raighns of Castemere and The Bear and The Maiden? Can you please teach other people these songs, Bronn?? Also, please pay attention to the words: Dornish man with a blonde wife, a deadly blade, both the bride’s kiss and the blade’s kiss are something other worldly, but we don’t get to hear the ending, which, according to Bronn “is the best part.” Jesus Jumped Up A Ladder, this is foreshadowing something terrible, I just know it.

They fall in with a convoy going into the Water Gardens, break off, and we cut to the Sand Snakes, who vow to be unbowed, unbent, and unbroken. For Oberyn they will strike. I think they’re not quite seeing the big picture here…

The three girls, deadly and dangerous, slip into the gardens, their faces covered. Jaime and Bronn find Myrcella kissing Prince Trystane (“Well, she’s made herself at home.” Hahaha), but she’s too confused to just come away with “uncle Jaime” quietly. And of course, Trystane notices the blood on their stolen clothing and “does something stupid.”

Bronn knocks him out, Mrycella screams, and the Sand Snakes strike with whips and spears and short blades, Bronn’s “Oh, for fuck’s sake” echoing my thoughts on this whole mess, too. HOW DOES THE SONG END?!?! I feel like it’s crucial.

Bronn and Sand Snakes fighting in Dorne

I liked how real this felt, it wasn’t Hollywood fast cut, but felt like a man of Bronn’s age fighting a young woman just being tested in battle, too.

Bronn is no small shakes at fighting, using their whips against them, but one of the girls manages to take Myrcella by knife point. Also, Bronn gets cut on the arm AND DOES THE POISONED BLADE STUFF EXTEND TO OBERYN’S CHILDREN?!?

Prince Doran’s right hand man shows up and foils everyone’s plans to kill one another. Because Bronn is Bronn, he tells the Sand Snake he was fighting, “You fight pretty good for a little girl,” just because he knows it will piss her off. His wicked laugh and smirk as she’s dragged away is everything to me. Such a dick. (A dwarf dick, which we now know is

  • dry
  • not small.)

Ellaria is also taken in, and boy, is she upset about that. But girlfriend, you can’t go against your King/Prince/Leader, come on, now.

BETTER THAN EVERYTHING EVER, LADY OLENNA ARRIVES, READY TO CHEW BUBBLEGUM AND GET HER GRANDBABY OUT OF PRISON AND SHE’S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM. Cersei, being the petty, bitter bitch that she is, fills out every piece of paperwork she can find before acknowleding Lady Olenna, who ain’t here for it.

OH SNAP. Guys, I would walk across fire for Lady Olenna. Because she'd give me cheeses and lemon cakes after. <3

OH SNAP. Guys, I would walk across fire for Lady Olenna. Because she’d give me cheeses and lemon cakes after. <3

Lady Olenna: A slut says what?
Cersei: What? …DAMMIT.
Lady Olenna: [blows on her nails] It’s gonna suck when you no longer have wheat and gold from House Tyrell.
Cersei: Are you threatening me?
Lady Olenna: [smiles sweetly] But of course I am, my dear.
Cersei: Oh, pish and tosh to all of this, because there will just be a little interview with Loras, and ha, it’s not like they have any evidence of his… proclivities, do they? Good day!

CUT TO: all of the evidence to Loras’ proclivities.

As the High Septon goes through the many many instances of buggery, we watch Loras, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater: Hot Pie’s spaghetti. He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready. He drops his bombs (I’m innocent, I tells ya!), then Margaery is called to the stand. She’s offended, but what can she do? Cersei unleashed this plan and it’s rocketing past anyone’s control faster than anyone named Lannister could have predicted. And then oho, here comes Olyvar from the whorehouse, and who wants to bet his life is on the line, he knows it, and he’s ready to toss aside that whole “discretion is the better part of skin peddling?”

Olyvar flat out says yep, we boned over here, we boned over there, we fucked and sucked just about everywhere! His sister she came and watched as we fucked! She sat and she knit and she drank from a cup! He first was on top, then he flipped to the bottom, why, Prince Loras should be named the Great King of Sodom!

Oh, and there’s the little thing about him knowing about Loras’ birthmark. BUSTED. So now there’s going to be a trial, and Margaery is going to be a part of it, TO THE DUNGEONS. KING TOMMEN, YOUR SPECIAL PURPOSE IS BEING LED AWAY.

Margaery being led to the dungeon

What would Ser Pounce have to say about this, TOMMEN!??

The girl whose special purpose has yet to be discovered [CRYING], Sansa, sits in her chambers, trying to figure out What The Hell because apparently it’s her wedding day, when Myranda—she of the Dogs and the Torture and the Crazy—says she’s there to bathe Sansa. UM. SANSA. How many times can I tell you that you’re in danger, gorl, before you listen to me!??

Myranda basically says Ramsay will straight up get rid of girls who bore him. Best to be interesting, or it’ll be the hunt for you, girlie. Hunt?!? YEAH. SO NOW SANSA KNOWS. (She doesn’t really know. How can she?!?) Except let’s not underestimate Sansa, who rolls her eyes and asks how long Myranda has been in love with Ramsay?

“I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home, and you can’t frighten me.”

If you don’t know that I jumped up and threw my fist in the air at that, then you haven’t been paying attention to how much I freaking love this girl.

She dismisses Myranda with all the grace of a noblewoman, and I love this girl so much. LIKE, OBERYN MARTELL LOVE. Which… [bites lip]

The Winter Snows fall at her window, her dress is beautiful, and someone knocks on her door. It’s Reek, ready to take her to the Godswood. But she will not take his arm, and she doesn’t care that Lord Ramsay insisted she did.

Sansa: [with disgust] I’m not touching you.
Reek: P-please. He’ll punish me.
Sansa: Do you think I care what he does to you?

Also, jesus, there is no one for Reek in this world. :(

She walks to the tree, to the Boltons and their flayed-men sigils, to Ramsay, and she does it alone, chin held high even though I imagine her hands are shaking. The flayed men sigil in a holy space is rather telling of the people she’s being forced to marry, innit tho?

Reek plays his part in giving away the bride, Myranda sulks and seethes in the audience, and Reek says that he is Theon Greyjoy, who was her father’s ward, his voice pausing with grief as he once again is faced with the reminder of all that he’s the cause of, as well as all that he’s lost. A man’s hubris is a terrible thing, and none so terrible as Theon’s.

She agrees to take Ramsay, and the hairs on my arms stood on end at his pleased, smarmy grin. Good hell, everything is terrible and nothing is good. They retire to their honeymoon suite, where Ramsay assures her that he wants her to be happy and is confused that she’s still a virgin. Honestly, he thinks she’s lying. (Reek is standing in the doorway this whole time, uncomfortable and probably a lot frightened for her. I’m glad there’s still someone inside the shell that is Reek. Kind of.)

Sansa and Ramsay on wedding night


He kisses her, then tells her to take off her clothes with Theon still standing there. Reek will stay in the doorway, apparently, and watch. WHAAAAAAAAAT. Sansa is not okay with this, NEITHER AM I, but with dawning horror, she realizes just how precarious this situation is. She has no power here, and let’s get real. It’s a wedding night, all brides expect to be taken–Tyrion was quite the exception. She begins to untie her laces, and Ramsay reminds Reek to watch. His face is crestfallen as Ramsay says, “You’ve known her since she was a girl. Now watch her become a woman.”

I’M SORRY, NO. NOPE. NO. I am NOT going to watch Sansa fucking Stark be raped by this man, NOPE. GOD FUCKING DAMMIT.

Theon Greyjoy Reek watching Ramsay rape Sansa


Reek’s tear streaked face mirrors my own, and I could do without the grunting and Sansa’s crying and I pretty much hate everything right now?!? THEON FUCKING GREYJOY, NOW IS THE TIME TO STRIKE COME THE FUCK ON.

…do I have to break up with this show?? I’m 100% serious. Guys, I can take a lot. I can. I can put a lot into story and furthering plot, etc., but GOD DAMMIT. I am SO FUCKING TIRED of women being treated like things so we can see a man’s pain, or serve as a tool to help him grow as a fucking person FUCK YOOOOOOOU.

man getting his crotch punched

Okay, as I was seething, the credits rolled and I saw “Hair Stylist (dragon)” and that made me laugh through my angry tears.

Fucking Petyr Baelish. He’s on my “never forgive” list alongside Ramsay and Roose. He can never come back in my opinion. NEVER. And honestly? If this disgusting scene serves only to be a redemption arc for THEON fucking GREYJOY? I am going to lose my gee dee mind.

If I may quote Mad Max, “WE ARE NOT THINGS.”

Talk me down, gang, or yell and rail with me, because this is some bullshit. (I’m sure I’ll be calmer in the morning, but for now? A huge pile of NOPE with a side of FUCK YOU and a splash of ARE YOU KIDDING ME.)

I’m tired of the rape boogie man. Fucking done with it. Ladies? Bite that shit off. Rip it off, jam it up their ass dry, and spit in their open mouths. Fuck this. [table flip] I will not be satisfied unless it is SANSA STARK (never Bolton, forever Stark to me!!) who slowly kills Ramsay, peeling his skin off and feeding it to his own dogs. That can include Reek.



Wow. Um. The faces were cool? Lady Olenna’s return was pleasing? WHERE WAS BRIENNE? I was desperate for Sansa to say, “Let’s take this up to Secret Bone Tower” so she could put the light out for help. :(

Next week! I’ll probably still be furious! Grumble.

Reminder that Book Talk isn’t meant for me or this site, please please please. Book readers have an edge by all the million and a half words of detail, and they ARE SPOILERS. No spoilers, please and thank you.

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  • Zack

    So….just to get it out of the way. This was not my favorite
    Game of Thrones episode. I expect most will feel similarly. I’ll get the
    negatives out of the way first to end on a better note, because there were
    things about the episode that I absolutely loved.

    That Dorne stuff seemed especially boring this week, I don’t
    know. The fight scene with the Sand Snakes was not one of the series’ best fights. To put it mildly. (Although like you, I freaked out when Bronn got cut. Oberyn was called the Red Viper….because
    poison I guess. And his daughters, Sand Snakes….yeah I think Bronn’s a goner. WAAAAHHH D’:

    But other than that, meh @ Dorne. I’m hoping this stuff really ramps up in the end of the season because this week it did nothing for me. And they have Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell. So I am hopeful that they cast that level of talent for a good reason.

    Winterfell this week had things I liked, and things I wasn’t so crazy about. I continue to be impressed with Ramsay’s nutjub sidepiece, though I forget her name. Mara? No…anyway, I think that actress is doing something great with the character. That bath scene…*shudder*

    I love all the actors at Winterfell actually. It’s just I hate to see Sansa tormented time and time again. WHat a miserable closing scene. I really do understand why that final scene was in the episode, and it will be crucial character development for Sansa and Theon. And and and, that scene could’ve been so much worse. I’ve been anxious for the past 3-4 episodes expecting how that played out in the book to be what they’d do. Much to my relief what they showed was relatively tame, as
    disturbing as it was. Still, it was incredibly difficult to watch and it’s a main reason why I don’t see myself revisiting the episode any time soon. I hope Sansa gets revenge sooner than later.

    P.S. I’m a guy and not supposed to care about these things
    but Sansa’s wedding dress was super pretty. There I said it.

    Now, onto better things: THAT KINGS LANDING STORY OMG

    Cersei/Margaery and the return of Diana Rigg’s Olenna
    Tyrell. YES. Cersei is so not as smart as she thinks she is. Those zealots know the ‘rumors’ as well as anyone else, and they have Lancel with them (who Cersei took to bed on many occasions while Jaime was captive) I am nervous for how Margaery and Loras will get out of this situation too, I have no idea what to expect there. I just know the intrigue in Kings Landing is spectacular to watch.

    I’m also really digging Arya’s developments. I loved her moment of comforting the sick/dying girlchild, weaving that tale. So they take
    the bodies/faces of those they kill (whether as assassins or angels of mercy) to use as their disguises, is how it looks. That’s a nifty magic trick. But I love Maisie Williams as Arya! I am not sure I like the thought of ‘Arya’ portrayed by someone completely different. Hmm….

    • Let me challenge one thing in your comment: you said that the rape scene is character development for THEON. Sansa is raped, and you’re thinking of Theon. A lot of that is because that’s how the scene was shot. (Not that I want to see Sansa being raped, please understand that.)

      I am FED UP with women’s bodies being used as a tool to elicit sympathy for male characters. WE ARE NOT THINGS. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider this, Zack. You and D&D and other writers. STOP USING WOMEN’S BODIES AS TOOLS TO FURTHER A MAN’S STORYLINE. STOP IT.

      And you absolutely can care about Sansa’s wedding dress being pretty! It was! Just like a beautiful painting or sculpture. Men are allowed to appreciate things that are pleasing to the eye? Don’t buy into the idea that you can’t. <3

      I'm right there with you about Cersei not being as clever as she thinks she is. Oooh, did Olenna get in a good point about how she hated Papa Lannister but at least he was clever and far-thinking. Cersei is not doing herself ANY FAVORS, is she?

      I am LOVING Arya/Masie. LOVING. She's a tremendous talent, and I'm always so invested in her scenes. I'm with you on not wanting to see any other bodies standing in for Arya, too, if that's where she goes. But that whole dying there at the House means they've essentially donated their shells to the cause is pretty freaking cool magic.

      • Zack

        Absolutely. I’m with you 100% in the feeling that if the primary reason for that scene is to find an excuse to redeem Theon, there are infinitely less offensive or problematic ways in which to do so. I should have clarified that I think the redemption for Theon is hopefully just a secondary perk, while the primary reason is because they have a plan for Sansa. I’m thinking Girl with the Dragon Tattoo type thing. But I do 100% understand your rage and frustration that GoT seems to go to this well rather too often!

        I think I may need to register in order that I can upvote comments too :)

        • Yes, yes, register so you can play along! ;D

          And as you say, if our other perk is to have some sort of, hmm, goodness isn’t the right word, but something less bleak for Theon, then I can support that as a stand alone idea. I just wish it didn’t have to be at the expense of one of the more beloved characters.


          • Lisa

            I want both Sansa and Theon to draw and quarter Ramsey. Then I want Sansa to murder Littlefinger for procuring her for this horror.

      • DrewHolton

        I agree that if the only purpose of the last scene was merely to use Sansa’s defilement as the catalyst for Theon’s redemption, that it would be a huge mistake. But while that was perhaps one goal, I think that also they were using Theon’s face as a way of showing the horror of what was happening without having to show it explicitly. Imagine how angry we all would have been had they done that! It seems a reasonable…er, decent…you know what I mean! compromise of how to demonstrate the emotion of the scene, without having to get too explicit.
        Also, does it only have to be for Theon’s development? Couldn’t they be driving both Theon’s and Sansa’s in the same scene? I feel we should wait to see how it plays out going forward before coming to conclusions.

        • Technically speaking, they absolutely filmed Theon’s face to stand in for our own horror. Yes. Aaaaaaaand to remind us of him, how he needs to have his redemption arc, etc. THAT is the part that has me heated. There were lots of moments throughout the episode (and last week, too) that show we’re supposed to sympathize with Reek, that he’s potentially going to be ‘awoken’ as Theon. My anger stems from the show using Sansa as a tool to get HIM to that.

          JP has a great example of how it could have been shot, and honestly, I’m still on the idea that it would have been FAR MORE FRIGHTENING to have Ramsay be kind to Sansa, sweet and tender, then undo her with his evil after she’s let her defenses down. And then, ha, NO RAPE. A gal can dream… ;)

          This show has shown time and again that they use rape for either titillation or shock. It never comes back to have any actual VALUE for the female characters. Dany? How did she “grow” from the rape–as the show portrayed it? She fell in love with Drogo. Cersei? The producers claimed it was a love scene. !!!

          We know Ramsay is evil. We know he’s depraved. Sansa has had enough in her life to find her “inner strength.” This was gratuitous. I give the show a vote of No Confidence that it will have any meaning to her character’s arc. But yeah. I’ll keep watching. Just like I’d watch a snake in the grass.

          • DrewHolton

            I absolutely agree they’ve done poorly in portraying rape and most especially following through on it’s consequences to the characters. I hope I didn’t come off as trying to apologize for them. I was merely expressing my “hopes and dreams” that now that they’ve gone there, they’ll at least follow through on the consequences to Sansa…. and I suppose Theon too if they really have to….

            • (Drew, we are aces, don’t you worry.)

              Your hopes and dreams are also mine–I also really like what Maxwell said (points to Featured Comment) about D&D needing a female voice in the writer’s room, because what they THINK they’re portraying is a) outdated in today’s world and b) not quite carrying the social impact towards better thinking they believe they’re showing.

              In conclusion, #TeamSansaEatingRamsay’sFace (haha)

          • afartherroom

            JP has a great example of how it could have been shot, and honestly, I’m
            still on the idea that it would have been FAR MORE FRIGHTENING to have
            Ramsay be kind to Sansa, sweet and tender, then undo her with his evil
            after she’s let her defenses down

            See, I would hate that, because to me, it would seem like a return to “Ha ha! Sansa’s the stupid little girl who can be fooled into believing that evil men are good.” It would feel like a return to Season One to me. Sansa isn’t that little girl anymore. She is savvy, and I’d hate to see the writers turn back the clock on her development so far in that manner.

    • Anthony Gitto

      The current Sansa story arc is unique to the show… While I agree that the Show foreshadowed it, it is completely off book.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      Myranda. And her story of Ramsay’s past girls was terrifying, knowing him as we do… but Sansa doesn’t. Didn’t. Well, she still doesn’t know enough, I’m terribly afraid.

      Sansa’s dress was gorgeous, and very Stark. The godswood in the snow was beautiful. And the whole time she hesitated over the marriage vows, I was chanting for her to say no, say no, say no and then freaking RUN.

      But she didn’t know enough.

  • JP

    I would say that’s a pretty understandable response that I’m seeing all over the internet. My girlfriend said that I may need to prescreen Game of Thrones episodes from here on out so she can be forewarned to such depressing shit in the future. As someone who has read the books, and I don’t know how aware you are of differences so I won’t get it into it in specifics, I had been worrying that something like this was going to happen when Sansa walked into Winterfell though I had long deluded myself into thinking the show might go in a more different direction. But, when I realized the wedding was going down, I mentally fortified myself for what was to come so I didn’t quite lose it. I guess the similar scene in the books is worse in what was about to happen, but GRRM had the good sense of turning off the POV camera just before things are about to go on so we don’t have to look at it directly. I’ve been saying that the show should have gone all Hitchcock’s Frenzy with this and have the camera on the outside of the door so you can see where Ramsay and Sansa are standing and you can see Reek’s face as he closes the door, but then the camera pulls away through the window until we are looking in while the snows of winter blow around. A lot more tasteful. And, to give credit I guess, this was a better handled scene than previous rape scenes on the show but Game of Thrones, as much as I have and will still loved it, has not really earned the right to try to handle it properly after the last two seasons. You don’t get to keep doing these sorts of scenes until you get it right. *sigh*

    Dipping into “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?” territory I otherwise thought this was another really good episode for this season. It goes to show the strength of the performance, but Doran has only been on screen for a couple of minutes and my girlfriend really likes this guy and hope he gets to keep things calm.

    • You’re 100% on everything here, and your Hitchcockian filming alternative would have been gravy.

      And if I may, I can honestly say that they could have skipped the rape scene. They could have had him be nice, cloyingly sweet and all of that. Because that would have been more terrifying to me. Then I’d constantly be waiting for him to go completely mental. We could have seen Reek freaking out over the kindness, because he knows how short lived it can be (Ramsay “forgiving” him last week is a great example of what I mean by this.).

      I’m right there with your girlfriend. I enjoyed the Dorne scenes, even though the lightheartedness of Jaime and Bronn didn’t quite balance out the dark, I’m still grateful for them.

      • JP

        Very Fatal Attraction, and probably a scene I could handle watching ever again. Maybe having Bryan Cogman, usually known for being the writer with the most fidelity to the source material, might have been the wrong person to handle this material. When so many things are changed from the books and this is what we choose to bring close to the text? And in a way that’s not nearly as tactful as George, a man who sometimes falls off the tightrope he tries to walk?

        I suppose what it comes down to is…Is the Winterfell story from Dance worthwhile to tell on the show when so much else has changed? Arguable and understandable, as those chapters were my favorite from that book in spite of or because of how difficult they are to read. But then you get into how to execute it properly. They got the Why and the Who perfectly tied up, but struck out on the How of it. Will the weight of this be handled properly in the weeks to come? Perhaps, but with so many other characters that need to be covered I don’t know if there’s the time to do it. So as much as this is my favorite part of that book, I think twisting it into a strong Sansa taking advantage of these over-proud Boltons. And I can see that happening, and it better be where the story goes, but all of that could happen without seeing what we did.

        And that’s not even getting into the reduction of Loras from a young Jaime Lannister pining for his lost love in the book, to the Queen’s gay brother to kick off this plot in the show. But, I suppose Stephen Atwell of Race for the Iron Throne is right, Americans are too unfamiliar with left-wing populist religious movements (as is the case in the books) to go that way so you’ve got to hit all of the bigot pillars on the show so people know they’re bad. Unfortunately that may have led to the reduction of one of the well rounded gay characters in the books. They did a better job with Blackfish.

        The show is still one of the best, and I’ve enjoyed most of this season, but they really drop the ball in some areas. I can’t help but feel like some of these problems would be alleviated with more female or LGBT writers on the staff. Or if they trusted more in the audiences ability to handle complexity so they don’t have to delve into the shocking or obvious well so often. Oh well, I’m liking everything at The Wall (march Stannis, march), and Arya, and Dany (surprisingly). If I could scrub out the problematic stuff we’d have a really good season going on right here. *sigh*

        • Anthony Gitto

          Careful regarding all the book references friend, These folks are Unsullied and don’t want references like that.

          • *smooches your face*

          • JP

            Legit. I’m going to back and re-edit my post down as a re-read of my post clearly delves too much into specifics.

            • *smooches your face, too* :D

              • JP

                Heh. Too Long, too spoilery, didn’t read version: Why show this when you can show anything else? Using the source material as a defense, as I’m sure the showrunners will do, doesn’t hold much water when there’s a lot different these days.

                At least almost everything else is good, so I persevere through the problematic sections of the show.

      • Zack

        Well, in Westeros, if the marriage isn’t consummated, it’s void (hence why Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion wasn’t an obstacle for Ramsay)

        So what he did was, in his twisted way, not leaving room for doubt of the legitimacy of the marriage. It sucks, but it was probably needed for the narrative.

        Like you guys, I am hopeful that if we must get more scenes of Sansa being tormented at Ramsay’s hands, then it will be of the psychological variety rather than the viscerally violent. I preferred season 4 Ramsay to season 3 Ramsay.

      • Raja

        Hmmm. I’m not sure if scenes like those should be skipped. Sure, I don’t want to see that either. It’s depressing and awful, especially given how much I like Sansa. But isn’t that the point? People go through this shit in our world, and we as a society need to be confronted with the awfulness of it, we shouldn’t just be allowed to gloss over it and skip it. Art that makes us confront our every-day realities is something which I think is pretty important.

        That being said.

        I am 100% with you regarding making it all about Theon. That’s the part that I have issues with. Furthermore, David and Dan have been pretty awful in expanding upon the consequences of rape ( see Cersei from last season), it’s been merely a go to plot device for the writers. I have ZERO faith in the writers to effectively articulate the aftermath of the rape effectively. I hope that changes, but I don’t expect it to.

      • txvoodoo

        When I talk about this elsewhere, apologists hae said “it’s to show how horrible Ramsay is!”

        We know. WE KNOW. He flays and castrates. Are we just supposed to be grateful he didn’t mutilate Sansa?

        We don’t need the reminders.

  • Anthony Gitto

    A few edits for you:

    A. she DID kill the Stable boy… the lie was stabbing in the back vs the gut

    B. The Slavers weren’t going to Mereen, but Volantis

    Regarding Littlefinger… If he spies like he did in the past he KNEW Kevan was not backing his Niece, so he was maneuvering to get “permission” without his loyalty questioned and to have a mass troop movement unharassed across the countryside . Now he is positioned to

    1. Reap the benefits of the StannisRoose conflict essentially eliminating the untrustworthy Bolton rivalsallies,

    2. Being seen as a savior of the North essentially guaranteeing Warden of the North from the hands of the North or Lannisters (if they survive the Tyrell conflict.

    I LOVE that Cersei does the same thing to Olenna as her father did…. but BADLY

    LOL at Eminem reference

    The Godswood scene was BEAUTIFUL. That made my innner Stark very happy, despite what was happening. I want to see more Weirwood trees!

    Regarding the ending Sansa scene…. They could have shown it a LOT worse and I’m glad that they handled it at least this well…. We all KNEW this was coming when Littlefinger started this arc. We hoped that it wouldn’t happen, but we KNEW. We’re off book for Sansa, so it came as a surprise to me as well and I am just as disturbed. I agree that Sansa had BETTER get her revenge soon, as a tortured woman is MUCH harder to watch than a tortured Theon and that was extremely difficult to watch also.

    • Oh, there’s no question that Littlefinger knew about Kevan. He’s the gee dee MASTER of the Long Con.

      I, too, want to see more of the Weirwood trees! What we show watchers (non-book readers) know about them can fill a thimble, so I’d love more. Then again, most religious detail (from any of the religions) is barely tapped on the show, so I guess in a way that’s fair? But yeah: GIMMIE MORE.

      • Anthony Gitto

        I’m sure that you’ll be filled in to the details during some scene with naked people in it ;)

        • HAHAHA!! As long as they’re consensual naked people, I’m 100% for it! ;)

  • debijl

    That whole wedding scene was an obscenity. Sansa was beautiful…like a princess…like a lamb to slaughter….like a fractured fairytale. And her marrying that nutter at the Weirwood tree where we saw Ned thinking, and master Luwin dying is a kick in the face. I feel like I watched my own daughter get raped. I cant believe they went there.

    • SAME. Enthusiastic THIS comment as I flail towards your words.

  • MaxwellJames

    Generally speaking, I like to keep my comments here short and humorous. That’s partially in keeping with the tone of your site, of course, and partially because it gives me a way to talk about the show without getting into any book spoilers.

    But, it’s time to get serious. I’m about to write far more words than usual, but to get to the point immediately: I think that scene was as strong an argument as I’ve seen for never, ever cutting women out of the writer’s room.

    There’s been several scenes of sexual violence in GoT thus far, and purely from a filmmaking standpoint this was probably the closest they’ve come to getting one “right.” By that I mean it was portrayed unambiguously as horrific, a ripping away of power and agency from someone we’ve come to care about & will not stop caring about. Unlike the previous scenes with Dany/Drogo and Jaime/Cersei, the man was not portrayed as being overcome with lust. It was clearly an act of power and aggression.

    (This is tangential, but I also read the zoom-in on Theon’s face at the end somewhat differently from you. I don’t see it as setting up his redemption arc or diminishing Sansa’s importance, but rather engaging him as the face of victimhood. Theon too is a victim of sexual violence, and I think in a way the cut to him reinforced that rape is a crime that harms men as well as women. It also spared Sophie Turner, still a very young actress, from having to act out quite as much of a terrible scene, and so in a way I think it was a responsible move).

    BUT. All that said, I still think including this scene was a terrible decision.

    First, because the showrunners of GoT have already squandered some trust in this regard, by handling the aftereffects of earlier rapes very poorly. Dany’s E1 rape by Drogo was all but forgotten by E3, and she ended up falling in love with him very easily. He becomes a romantic figure with little ambiguity. Similarly, it became clear after the Jaime/Cersei scene last year that they didn’t even know or agree it was a rape, despite being depicted very clearly on screen as one. So again they asked us to try and forget (without ever really acknowledging fault), and go on thinking of Jaime as in the process of redeeming himself, and Cersei in the process of becoming more and more corrupted.

    Second, because there’s a difference between showing the cruelty of this world, and wallowing in it. I’ve never faulted Martin or the showrunners for depicting a dark world in which these things occur – indeed, I see the darkness of Westeros as an important corrective to older fantasy stories that present evil as largely supernatural and something that can be vanquished through war. But I do fault them, in somewhat different ways, for not recognizing when enough is enough. Especially for a long-form narrative such as this one, there comes a point where we get it already – Westeros is a terrible place for women (and men), patriarchy is horrible, etc. The constant one-upsmanship of trying to outdo the last shock reaches a point of diminishing returns.

    What would really be shocking in Westeros is for something good to happen to somebody nice!

    And Sansa is a particularly poor choice to put in this position, however “realistic” it might be, because she has already been victimized _so_ much. Unlike Arya, Dany, Tyrion, or Jon, she has barely been able to claim even a shred of agency throughout the entire series. The end of last season raised faint hopes that she might finally be on the verge of doing so. Pulling that away so soon just seems like cruelty for cruelty’s sake.

    Anyway, what I’m getting at is that is that GoT has always had a male-dominated writing staff, and in fact cut loose their only female writer, Vanessa Taylor, at the end of season 3 (why I don’t know). However well Benioff, Weiss, and Cogman may mean, they are clearly limited in their ability to depict sexual violence in a way that actually honors real-life victims’ experiences. And there are still far too many real life victims. Their inability to see this and correct it is a significant problem with the show.

    • *applauds*
      I’ve raged capslocked in other comments to many of the points you’ve made, in that yes, showing Theon is VERY MUCH the better option, if the only other choice was to show Sansa. DO NOT WANT. Showing Theon was also him representing us. (SO SAY WE ALL.)

      I’m a HUGE fan of dark worlds. Give me dystopia, give me the ugliness that Man can do, and give me a reason to want to keep fighting. My main issue with how they handle rape–while I point out that I agree with everything you’ve said about how they’ve squandered our trust without understanding why/when to show sexual violence–my main issue is that it’s all about the man.

      I know Ramsay’s a steaming pile. I know it. I don’t need anymore proof. I know Theon is triggered by the younger Starks in peril, as we saw when he was forced to apologize for (not) murdering Bran and Rickon, and again his shame when he saw Sansa. I know Sansa is in peril. Her being raped adds NOTHING I don’t already know, and only serves to upset the hell out of me for no reason other than to be upset by a show I want to trust completely.

      And I can’t. Keep in mind that I freaking love this show. I love the characters, the story, the setting, the WORLD it is, but I cannot trust D&D. I love that you point out how badly they need a female writer. They DO.

      They think they’re doing something noble (sometimes) and something “raw and real” on the other hand. NOPE. A rape scene? [insert gif of Meryl Streep saying drily, “GROUNDBREAKING.”]

      Thank you as always for being so reasonable.

      • MaxwellJames

        Yeah, I hadn’t read the other comments when I wrote my screed – we are on the same wavelength re: Theon. And JP hit most of the points I wanted to make anyway.

        I do think the contrast here with Mad Max (which I haven’t yet seen) is fascinating. Since that movie’s producers actually brought in Eve Ensler to consult on issues of violence against women in their world-building. That seems like a sensible approach for male producers who want to treat this issue seriously.

        I noticed a critic on Twitter saying that if Martin’s books were fantasy’s equivalent of THE WATCHMEN, then the show is the extra grim, dark & macho graphic novels that followed in its wake. I don’t fully agree with that – other than its issues with rape, I think GoT still does as well by its female characters as any show on TV. But I do get the sense that if there’s a way to make this story grimmer, darker and more depressing, these writers will take it.

        • I haven’t seen Mad Max either, but most of my circle of female friends have and can’t stop talking about how refreshing and amazing it was with respect to its treatment of women (something that has made me a huge fan of Tom Hardy’s for a long time).

          And I have to agree with you completely about the show giving women some wonderful roles to play, roles that are rich and honorable and forward thinking. Brienne defeating the Hound comes to mind, for example. I think that’s why scenes like last night feel like such a sucker punch. The show has elevated the art form so much that to go backwards (for me, it’s an old, old trope and a painful one at that) stands out in shocking detail.

  • Ah, Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër… Hee! And welcome aboard!

    Oh my gosh, to give us the scene where she stood up to Myranda “You cannot frighten me” and then do what they did… I mean, I get that things aren’t linear in real life (great point, btw) and this show is very much wanting to depict “shit happens, life ain’t fair.”

    But as storytellers, they have a responsibility to their viewers, too. We have couples like Missandei and GreyWorm who represent the goodness that can come, the dream of having something good, rather, when they’re no longer at war. We have to be reminded that things are worth fighting for, or what’s the damn point? Part of me wonders why everyone doesn’t commit mass suicide. What the hell is there to look forward to? The show needs to give us that.

    Just as a woman, and as a woman who has been at the Bad End of sexual assault, I’m fucking exhausted with rape as a tool to be used to show life sucks, life is hard, or even worse, how does this affect the men around her? Just tired, tired, tired of it. Women don’t need to be pitied: we need to be seen as humans who are also equals.

    ON TO HAPPIER THINGS, oh my gosh, how freaking hilarious was Lady Olenna and her shade throwing? “We both know you’re not writing anything.” I would have loved a shot of that piece of parchment with “C + J = DADDY WHY DIDN’T YOU LOVE ME?!!?” Hahahaha

    • Lucia Scarpati

      “I would have loved a shot of that piece of parchment with “C + J = DADDY WHY DIDN’T YOU LOVE ME?!!?” Hahahaha”
      Just saw this on twitter ahahhahah

      -fellow first time commenter but long time reader and lover of your recaps :)

      • OH MY GOD THAT IS GLORIOUS!!! Ahahahaha, that is awesome. You are the BEST. <3

  • AndyStreet

    It’s very difficult to comment on the wisdom or otherwise of the final scenes and exactly what the intent was without going into what happened in the books. Suffice it to say that I have been dreading how they would handle that particular scene ever since it became apparent that Sansa was going to Winterfell. If it’s any consolation, it could have been MUCH worse – it was relatively sensitively shot and not sadistic or exploitative. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and see where they are going with it.

    • Oh, there’s no question that I’m grateful that they didn’t zoom in on Sansa beyond her BEAUTIFUL DRESS BEING TORN, come on, Ramsay, that probably took forever to make!!

      I’m squinting my eyes from here on out, ngl. Oh, please please let Sansa pin Ramsay to a Giant X and slowly peel his skin off and feed it to the dogs. PLEASE SANTA/GOD/WEIRWOOD TREE/MARGARET ATWOOD. (Hey, you have your gods, I have mine.) ;)

  • Oh, it’s not often used as that tool, it’s almost EXCLUSIVELY used as that tool. Hence me and many many other women up at arms for once again being pulled back down as set dressing or plot device for a male character.

    I just don’t know if D&D has a track record to warrant me holding my breath on that moment being about Sansa and triumph in the end. There are a thousand other storylines we could have had without going there. But. I’m going to keep watching, but my faith in these male writers for letting women have bodily autonomy (or learning from their past mistakes with regard to that) is gone.

    I’m with you re: that being about Theon and Theon only is a big fat helping of NOPE pie.

  • I’m going to wait until we get it on the show, because things from the books are what I consider spoilers if not explicitly outlined, detailed or shared within the episodes. Thank you for wanting to share, though! I’m excited for when I can come back and watch (I hope–I assume we’ll get the song at some point, since it was presented as some epic foreshadowing.)

    • barkusmollingmo

      Oops sorry, I didn’t think it would be spoilery. I guess I saw it more as world building.

      • No worries!! I got the impression from the episode that the song might tell us where the show is going, so that’s why I’m being so skittish, but the great thing is that now I’ll have it to listen to after the fact, thanks to you!

  • Dave, you sound like good people. :D

    And yes, marital sex would have been different. MUCH more different. Sansa clearly was prepared for it, as you said, and we the audience knew it because she began unlacing her sleeves. But Ramsay had to tear her dress and force her down, reminding her that she’s property, and the whole sicko Reek watching bit. It still would have been awful, we the audience still would be on TeamSansa, but we all wouldn’t be traumatised.

    Ugh, why I can’t upvote your comment fifteen times, HOW ABOUT IT, SCIENCE?

  • Deceptively Calm Scientist

    Oooooooh boy, this is a tough one.
    Fist, let me talk about how disappointed I was in the Sans Snakes. I mean, here are these three Warrior Women, each trained for years in their chosen weapon, and between the three of them they can’t take out 2 guys, one of whom has one hand? The Benny Hill tune might as well have been playing during that entire Water Gardens scene. I’m sad.
    Arya, King’s Landing: all awesome.
    So, to Sansa. First, I was making the Theon face as well. I mean, she’s such an endearing character, and we all want Sansa to finally get a break. When Sansa turned into Sansa the Player we were all cheering! Yay! No more Sansa the Victim!
    And now we’re back to Poor Sansa. Or are we?

    As repellent as that whole scene was, I can see one way of regarding it as Sansa’s finest moment, and that is by assuming she knew almost exactly what she was getting into. This world is loosely based on the Middle Ages, and very few aristocratic women married for love in the Middle Ages, and I suspect wedding nights were not fun for any of them as a result. Ramsay is pushing the envelope of how awful the groom could be expected to be, but not by that much. I’d like to believe Sansa walked into this with her eyes open, that she was willing to do this to position herself for her own ends.

    But in the end, the Poor Sansa aspect just overwhelms me.

    As for Theon, I have no idea if this scene is supposed to be Theon’s Redemption. If so, I share your disgust. I guess we’ll see.

    • Sansa never had that coming (I hate victim-blaming but even though everything points in the other direction): She perhaps prepared herself mentally to “lay back and think of England” but Ramsay made sure to make it extra humiliating and painful as he made Reek watch as Ramsay raped Sansa. Rape in mariage remains rape (even if not all countries acknowledge that in their laws).

      • YEP. She absolutely was going to lay back and think of England (hahahaha, I’m mad I didn’t think of that phrase when posting!) but Ramsay just HAD to go there, didn’t he?

        And yes. Rape in marriage is still rape. Enthusiastic consent is sexy, guys.

      • Deceptively Calm Scientist

        Absolutely agree on rape in marriage being rape, period. That’s how we think about it now. But try floating that idea in the Middle Ages and see how far you get.
        And of course Ramsay made it far worse than average, even for the Middle Ages.

    • “I’d like to believe Sansa walked into this with her eyes open, that she was willing to do this to position herself for her own ends.” Ugh, from your lips to the episode’s ears, you know?

      I actually liked the Sand Snakes, but that’s because a) I only know that they’re young girls, b) I have no idea if they’ve actually been tested in real battle or have just been to the Tae Kwon Do studio next to the Dornish Do-Nuts, and c) Jaime is still formidable, just not as much as he once was. Bronn is still a freaking badass, and well-tested in battle. So eh, for me it worked, but then, I have no idea (and don’t want to know yet!) what’s in the books.

      And upvote/plus one/YAAAASSS to the rest of your comment, for sure.

      • Zack

        I can’t believe the writers would do this to that poor child simply to show the evil of Ramsay and to bring Theon to his senses. I have to believe and hope that they have love and respect for the character of Sansa Stark (never Bolton!).

        So if Sansa is actually acting with her agency, trying to appear meek etc, biding her time until she can spring her revenge…that’s how I’m going to interpret everything that happened. Because if that’s not the case and they just want to take her back to being a perpetual victim/pawn, I’m going to be consumed by rage. She deserves more. So I will hold final judgment until the season is up.

        • Deceptively Calm Scientist

          What he said!

        • Lyanna Mormont

          Well, one can hope. Their past treatment of Sansa hasn’t always been stellar – sheep shift, anyone? – but then they used to say Stannis would “obviously” make a horrible king, and look at the way he’s been written this season.

    • Eddie H

      I don’t have that much trouble with the Sand Snakes not being able to take down Bronn and Jaime. Bronn has shown several times that he is up to fight just about anyone (except the Mountain) and Jaime used to be the most renowned swordsman in Westeros. Sure he’s having some pains learning to use the left hand but he had been practicing and I don’t think someone like him would lose absolutely everything because he had to switch hands. He’s also figuring out how to use the gold hand itself at least to give him a little more edge. It’s not as if the Sand Snakes were completely outmatched either. It seemed to be a fairly even fight.
      My biggest problem with the wedding night thing isn’t whether it’s accurate societally. The problem I have is with the producers. This isn’t the first time that their changes to the source material have worked things in this direction. I don’t like the pattern of violence against women that D&D work into the story as a means of getting a reaction from the audience. The scene in S1 with Dany is from the books. Most other instances have been written into the show. We now have Sansa to add to the list of women who have been victimized. Worse, the pattern demonstrated makes it seem they don’t understand why it’s a problem. Especially when they react to the public being upset with a particular scene by saying “That wasn’t how we meant that to be interpreted!” If they don’t understand what’s wrong with the scene with Jaime and Cersei in the sept, than there’s something really wrong with their thought process.
      Everyone also seems to forget about Ros when discussing the violence against women portrayed in GoT. That was a perfect example of a woman being used as an object, basically to make the point of how gross Joffrey was.

      • Deceptively Calm Scientist

        Fair points, although I would remind you that THREE Sand Snakes (badass warrior women, etc.) should have been able to take out one and a half men fairly easily. except Nymeria was too busy going SNAPPITY ineffectually.
        I wonder if the faintly ridiculous writing of the Sand Snakes is also emblematic of some sort of deep-seated problem with the show’s producers. Women get raped, women are depicted as powerless against a smaller number of men…Hmmmmmmm. *strokes chin*

  • magnusk_98

    Alright, here are my ten cents: I don’t give a flying crap about Theon. If they would kick him off the battlements of Winterfell, I probably still would cheer the Boltons on. He’s void of personality, when he had one it was insufferable and the endless torture porn they put him through during the last seasons was fast forward time for me. So please regard my further comments from that direction.

    Bad things were going to happen to Sansa. That was clear as soon as Littlefinger left her with the Boltons. I am not saying her getting raped by Ramsay was a good thing (because rape never is good), but it was the most likely thing which was bound to happen from every indication we got from the psycho character whom Ramsay is. He is an insecure, sadistic prick with Daddy issues who wants to dominate other people. So, while I am upset with the deed itself, that it was going to happen was logical story progression and I can’t quibble with that.

    What I can quibble with is that the writers put Sansa again into the position of being the suffering piñata, which was definitely on their heads, since we are way into uncharted territory as far as the “official” lore goes. I think I can say this without doing spoilers, but Sansa is in a totally different and much better position in the books right now. So, yeah, although her storyline overall is much more involved and interesting than what GRRM himself did with her, the writers are (momentarily at least) putting her again into the position of suffering silently until she gets rescued. I hope I am wrong here and they give her some agency very soon, beyond “Suffer with dignity and wait for someone to rescue me”. :-/


      And I’m definitely going to need a different story than Sansa being rescued. ESPECIALLY if by Baelish. Oh my god, I will fly into a rage so high and so red that I will eclipse the sun.

      • magnusk_98

        Yeah, she at least should stab Roose Bolton through the eye.

        I really am tired as hell with Sansa being the one made to have to suffer and have a lack of agency. We got great examples of women who have agency and use it, Olenna Tyrell, Arya, Margaery, Brienne of course, the Sand Snakes and so on. Why does it always have to be Sansa who is used to suffer terribly? Why can’t she get a storyline where she actually does something beyond consent to being abused and used? Grumble.

        • Deceptively Calm Scientist

          Olenna is an interesting example. She’s a widow – I think her husband accidentally rode his horse off a cliff – and that put her into a commanding position in her family, particularly since the titular patriarch is now her son Mac (“Not now, Mace!”) who she easily dominates. So she has agency because she got lucky. As for Margaery’s agency, I think she just ran smack dab into the limits of it.

          • magnusk_98

            Only because Cersei is a loose cannon who thinks she is more clever than she really is. Maergery was playing by the rules which she knew were acceptable and she didn’t foresee how little foresight Cersei has.

            • Also, I think Cersei is going to be confronted with how much the people of KL loooooove Margaery. Not to mention Tommen.

  • I don’t know anything about the other plotline (and don’t tell me! *panicked fingers in ears*), but you and I are DEFINITELY of an accord that this could have been excised. I mean, the show has more story to tell, yadda yadda, but yeah. Rape as a plot point — or worse, character development FOR THE MEN — is something D&D and GRRM need to move away from.

    • Steph

      I mean, GAWD, we had a ridiculously drawn out season long torture scene with Theon to establish that yes, Ramsey is the WORST. WE GET IT. Welp, we can only cross our fingers and hope that Sansa exacts some glorious revenge!

  • Lyanna Mormont

    They gave us the Mormont connection. They gave us the faces of the Faceless Men. They gave us The Dornishman’s Wife. They gave us Lady Olenna.

    Then they went and raped Sansa.

    Nope. Not my favorite episode by a long shot, despite all those good and fascinating things that happened before those last few minutes. I’ve been dreading this Winterfell storyline since I heard they were sending Sansa up there – well, I’d’ve been dreading it even without Sansa if I knew it was going to happen – and they honestly didn’t do that scene half as gratuitiously and horrifyingly as I feared they might. That doesn’t make it okay.

    (And it’s not character development, for crying out loud. People don’t “grow” from being raped or otherwise victimized. They don’t “become better people” or “learn” from it. Trauma is not educational.)

    I pitied Reek already, and already wanted him to find his way back to Theon. Sansa didn’t have to be brutalized in front of him for that. Sansa didn’t have to be brutalized in that way at all. Although if anyone tries to tell me LF never considered the possibility and deemed it less important that what he stood to potentially gain from the situation, I’ll kindly suggest they think again.

    So. Jorah has greyscale. Jorah and Tyrion have been captured by slavers. Loras and Margaery are facing trial. Jaime and Bronn have been captured, after Bronn was cut with a possibly poisoned dagger. Arya is becoming someone else. Cersei is digging herself in deeper and deeper with the Faith. And Sansa is married to a psychopath. Cheerful, innit?

    • “People don’t “grow” from being raped or otherwise victimized. They don’t “become better people” or “learn” from it. Trauma is not educational.”

      THIS TIMES FORTY MILLION. And I’m taking a lot of deep breaths every time a guy tells me what I need to understand, or how I’m just not seeing the big picture here. OH REALLY OKAY. *chin fists*

      And yep, LF TOTALLY knew this could happen and didn’t mind bargaining on Sansa being damaged to further his agenda. And his eye twitch down in the catacombs when Sansa called it rape means something TOTALLY DIFFERENT to me now.

      But all of the things you pointed out as being awesome still remain awesome. I’m clinging to that, personally.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        I’m going to cling to the hope that the episode title wasn’t just a reference to the Martell family Words.

        Unbowed, unbent, unbroken. Stand tall, Sansa. We know you’re a survivor.

      • Deceptively Calm Scientist

        Here let me WhiteMaleSplain it to you..

  • Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken was my least favorite episode (mostly due to that last scene) but there was some great stuff in there:

    I liked the Jorah/Tyrion stuff. They had a telling dialogue about the Jorah’s relationship with his daddy (nice character development here). I already like the slavers – no, I don’t like slavers but I love Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Tyrion showed his skill of talking himself out of situations yet again. He needs this ability since seems to get captured very often.

    The Sand Snakes seem to get much hate in the book reader section of WotW but I like them. Dorne just needs longer scenes for character devolpment. The fight was brilliantly executed IMO and it was nice to see a fight with that many different weapons (swords, whip, spear, daggers and a giant-ass axe) and I like that they were evenly matched though the Dornish guards most likely saved Jamie’s and Bronn’s ass.

    Ugh, that scene. At first, I’ll say that the rape is handled better than in the books (in a similar scene Ramsay forced Reek to “participate”) but that doesn’t justify the inclusion of that THAT in the first place. Why do you need to make Sansa a victim again and again after 5 seasons of that stuff? Even if you had to traumatize her you shouldn’t do a rape scene (as character progression). Well, maybe you could but then you must go all the way to show the aftermath to victim and devote much time into it (which the show likely won’t do). All arguments point towards the exclusion of such a scene (well, there’s the shock value but just NO!) but they did it nevertheless. Now, I want Sansa at least participate in the death of Ramsay if she doesn’t kill him herself. Opening the gates of Winterhell for Stannis would be a good idea.

    • Oh my gosh, I love love LOVED the Tyrion/Jorah scenes. I’ve enjoyed all of them, truthfully, and of course I agree completely that Ian is knocking it out of the park with his understated (and emotionally powerful for it) acting. Hahahaha, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is so freaking delicious, right?! He’s a perfect pirate/slaver. Smarmy, strong, cock-sure and forward thinking.

      I like the Sand Snakes, too, and I suspect it’s because I haven’t read the books. But I, too, feel Dorne needs longer scenes and better development for us to feel the emotional connection there. And YES, THE MULTIPLE WEAPON USE!! I loved that Bronn was able to maintain with all of that around him (but as you said, he probably would have fallen eventually. WAS THE BLADE POISONED?!)

      • Steph

        Well, I don’t think the issue for some people is that the sand snakes are worse than they are in the books, but that they were included at all in the show. I think a lot of book readers felt like they were super cheesy in the books, and that they are translating equally well (i.e. poorly) on the show.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        Tyrion/Jorah scene, yes! I did a mental fist-pump when I saw the previouslies of Tyrion and the Old Bear – I would’ve done a real one but I wasn’t alone – because I figured we’d get something like that. But oh, Jorah’s face. (Again they do that, let the actors say everything with just their face. I love that!) I know all too well that dads are not immortal, and that moment really hit home.

        You don’t hire someone like AAA for just a tiny part, so I’m betting we’ll be seeing him for the rest of the season, at least. He should be somewhat on the level of a Tycho Nestoris – who I bet will be seen again if Mace makes it all the way to the Iron Bank – or Beric Dondarrion, or Fookin’ Karl Tanner.

  • Tiffany

    For two weeks, I’ve read and wrote
    comments and never posted..but this week, I started early and I’m ready to
    post. So many thoughts…so many hugs. I literally
    made my husband give me a hug after this episode.

    This week’s theme was unbowed, unbent, unbroken which is the
    sigil for House Martell (interestingly enough, I thought Ellaria was only
    Oberyn mistress, not necessarily his wife? If she’s not his wife, is she supposed
    to be saying those words?) and I think I
    feel bowed, bent and broken after watching that!

    I feel Arya’s agitation; let’s get this murderous, faceless
    party started, if we’re starting something. It was crazy to see the room of all
    the faces and I think the whole concept of the many-faced God is very
    interesting. My take (please tell me
    your much, better-educated takes on this) – everyone has a God, the Seven, the
    Drowned God, Fire Crotch Mage’s god, etc. etc., but all of those Gods are just
    ways for people to accept the only true god, the “Many-Faced God” of
    Death. Those who choose to come to the House of Black and White have basically
    stripped all pretenses and have accepted Death, and therefore get to live
    forever through the face chamber we saw Arya enter tonight. It’s kinda like heaven, but more grounded in
    reality and magic. WHEW..I didn’t know I was articulating that thought until it
    rolled from my fingertips?? What do y’all think?

    I love Jorah and Tyrion – everything about their interaction
    made me want to give them both hugs. But I loved hearing Jorah’s conviction (aka
    silent longing) about/for Daenarys and what he witnessed with the birth of dragons.

    I am completely and utterly unmoved by the fight in Dorne.
    Seriously, I LIVE for girl-power moments and this just didn’t satisfy any of
    them..Le Sigh!

    Also Petyr and Lady Olenna returning to Kings Landing was the
    cats meow! RAWR.. (that’s my catty cat sound). Even despite the turmoil and his
    whorehouses gone, I think Petyr’s return was VERY pimpish..he just walked up
    like “Ohh hey fellas heard a bit about this faith something or the other…excuse
    the Queen Mother has called for me..” Now I did take a moment to scream at
    the TV when he started giving all his plans up to the dumbest queen mother this
    side of the ocean..BUT we all know above all else, Petyr likes the “Game
    of Thrones”…and I think I see what he’s trying to do and I think your
    right Laura..

    As far as Cersei is concerned, I honestly don’t think she
    understands how much she has backed herself into a corner. I’m going to be
    honest – I didn’t even expect that little “trial” to happen, I
    thought Lady Olenna would be like “Okay enough with this, pack my
    Grandson’s things and let us return home…”, but it went down and they
    grabbed Margery too?!??! You know that’s not going to fly. And beside Cersei’s
    own incestuous dealings, she seems to have forgotten how much the people of
    Westeros love Queen Margery. What is going to
    happen when the people find out Cersei has imprisoned their queen? I don’t want
    to be there when the thorns come out..well I do, as long as I’m not actually in
    that Garden..

    NOW…now…whew..Sanssssssaaaaaaaaa!! Much like you Laura, I was
    initially upset. Usually when the
    episode ends, I turn to my husband and I’m like brimming with words…this
    episode ended, I didn’t speak through the credits I watched the “next
    on” like 4 times than I turned to my husband all watery in the eyes (who
    keeps cutting onions this late at night) and basically leaped into his arms
    across the couch.. BUT with all that said I have to agree with the commenter
    who said we knew bad things were going to happen to Sansa. In that time,
    marriage was a way to stop/start war, kidnapping was a way to stop/start a war,
    beheading people is a way to stop/start a war. Even in season 1, Caitlyn talks
    about how she got really lucky actually falling in love with Ned and Ned being
    an honorable person. So unfortunately, there is no expectation that were this
    someone else, the same exact thing wouldn’t have happened to Sansa. What I do not want
    to happen is for Sansa to get terrorized for the last 4 episodes. I want this
    “happening” to be the catalyst for her to STOP waiting for someone to
    save her, STOP hiding in her room..and go find Myranda for a change…I mean
    Sansa would know the castle better than anyone (except Reek) and so gets to
    sneaking and plotting and planning.

    Last thought – interesting how even miles and miles apart,
    both the Stark girls remain, unbowed, unbent and unbroken. We know Arya is
    strong, but to see Sansa say “This is my HOME and I’m not afraid of
    you..” even though after the girl left she was shaking like a leaf…especially
    after the girl washed the dye from her hair, which was essentially stripping
    Sansa of her “armor”…

    Trying not to cry here people…and STOP WITH THE ONIONS

  • JCDavis

    ME: Does anyone have the website for a good cock merchant?
    THE UNIVERSE: Google is your friend.
    I think the episode has been beaten worse than Rodney King, so I won’t go there. For all the whining about “not enough Arya” on the webz, we get lots of Arya and what? Still complaining. I liked her parts last night, especially the room of faces. Now there’s an explanation I didn’t see coming.
    Going forward D & D really need to tighten up the Dorne parts. Yes, we get it…you are doing it for Daddy, I loved him too! And maybe hire a better fight choreographer. Other than that, Dorne is beautiful. I fear for our dear Bronn. *worried look – I am sure my face will stick this way as mom always predicted*
    The best and worst that I can say about the Sansa story arc and what happened last night…is that it is over. All the build up and wondering is over. Now can we move on to her getting Theon to cut off Ramsay’s cock and sell it to the highest cock merchant? (only fair since he got his Johnson snipped off by Ramsay) ((I guess there is a market for cocks in the land of GoT))
    Okay, I am just going to say it and get it out. Little Finger? I used to love ya and want to see what you would do next…but since you became a cold blooded murder, child abuser and out and out in our face liar? You are dead to me. *turns back and walks away* I shun you harder than Beverly Lewis!!
    May next episode leave us more anxious to see the next episode which will leave us more anxious….you get the point.
    *Waves to Laura* Got your book on my NOOK. *nods*

    • I freaking LOVED the Hall of Faces. Loved. The whole idea of people willingly (or otherwise) sacrificing themselves for the Faceless Men is so damn cool.

      And you have an EXCELLENT point about Sansa–the tension is done. Now it’s just another day at Craster’s, right? Storytelling wise, the whole thing stinks to me.

      I say Theon finds a wet cock merchant–maybe that’s how you get it sewed on? GAH WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN? Hhahahaha.

      LF IS DEAD TO ME TOOOOOO. For the same damn reasons. He can’t be redeemed to me. Neither can the Boltons. The actors are phenomenal, but their story? Nope. DEAD END. Evil and awful. (But understand that I will delight in seeing what happens.)

      I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!! And hahaha, if you don’t, I hope you don’t yell at me. :D

      • JCDavis

        I have a feeling I am going to love your book. There needs to be MORE well written romance books from a gay perspective. I am a sucker for the gushy stuff. ;)

        What a crazy few days on the webz. I haven’t got much of my work done and time for me to put my little nose to the grindstone. ‘Til next week, see you then.

  • Moriah Gemel

    I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said before. I hate that this happened. Narratively, I see why it happened, even if I wish it didn’t and think it didn’t have to. But where I end up is–at least they didn’t romanticize it. It was framed as being awful and terrible and we’re supposed to hate Ramsay for it. It’s very unlike the time they made Jamie rape Cersei, which was romanticized. And it wasn’t sexualized, like so much other violation on this show is. Is that bad? Like I’m grateful a rape wasn’t framed as a good thing, that’s something I *have* to be grateful for, so you know these showrunners are *doing something wrong*.

    Otherwise, I’m very into Jorah’s story, and Arya’s story, and I loved seeing Olenna back on my screen, even if I wish she would’ve told Cersei her place a little better. I’m upset about these religious zealots and they make me extremely, extremely uncomfortable. To have that kind of power that Cersei gave them–like this makes me hate Cersei. I sort of got her up to a certain point, but this puts her beyond me I think. My own *thing* with religion definitely plays into this, she’s gone outside my comfort zone and is persecuting people religiously and like…I am not okay with that? LOL I’m okay with her being awful and perpetrating murders and being vile in general, but enabling religious zealots is what’s outside my comfort zone. The more we learn about ourselves, right?

  • If you can bear reading through comments, you’ll see that several of us had that same idea. They could have done this differently. THEY COULD HAVE.

  • Tim Ward

    Well, perhaps if they hadn’t spent what felt like the majority of season 4 going “rape, lol” in every other scene people might be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt over *this* scene.

    But they did. And now they won’t. And that serves them right.

    Will the pay off be worth it? We’ll see. But previously when the show has deviated from the books significantly they writers haven’t scored high on, you know, making sense or going anywhere (see: Yara Greyjoy’s attempted rescue of Theon). I cannot see what Sansa could possibly hope to actually *achieve* by being at Winterfell. And if Baelish’s sole purpose for dumping Sansa there was to get Cercei’s leave to attack the North then… she doesn’t need to physically be there, he can just lie, which is something he’s quite good at.

    Screenwriters are inherently short-sighted compared to novelists. They structure their work in order to put scenes in front of their audience which will elicit certain reactions; anger, horror, fear, or triumph, affection etc etc. Thus even your idea that the scene exists simply to further Theon’s character development may be generous; the scene may exist simply for it’s own sake.

    On the other hand, I do believe there’s a decent chance the last scene of the last episode will depict Sansa Stark sat on the Iron Throne. Or possibly ruling as Queen in the North.

    • There isn’t one thing in this comment I don’t want to offer a hearty HEAR HEAR to, so I’ll just enthusiastically nod and point at it screaming YES. (And LOL at me being generous. I have to temper my rage sometimes here, and I fall back on my Southern Lady Graces.)

      OH WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE TO SEE SANSA AS QUEEN IN THE NORTH. Fuck King’s Landing. Rule with your people supporting you, Sansa.

  • Zack

    Your featured post this week, from Maxwell, is a very, very strong post. I’d like to leave something of a counterpoint to consider along with it though. He mentions ‘a ripping away of power and agency’ and it may not be quite so easy to lay out what transpires as that, exactly.

    I was watching a video recap (What the Flick, highly recommend)….and a comment was made regarding Sansa’s agency or lack thereof that made a lot of sense to me. Littlefinger tells her, ‘you don’t have to do this if you would rather not’….and she decides to risk it for a greater gain down the line. She’s playing the game, and she’s a relative novice to boot. If her choice to trust Littlefinger didn’t cause her any pain, it would’ve been the easiest decision ever, and wouldn’t have felt true. I mean, she’s in Bolton territory. She knew she was to wed Ramsay, and that she would be expected to bed him immediately after. That’s Westerosi culture. I’d never argue that what happened shouldn’t be considered rape, because at the end of the day she’s in a perilous situation with her life threatened if the mood strikes Ramsay. So it is clearly a rape scene, even though she willingly put herself there knowing what was to come. To me that shows the writers are trying to show that Sansa does have agency, and is willing to suffer in the now for payoff down the line.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m being too forgiving. But that’s why I’m not exactly in a rush to stone the writers just yet. It’s all going to depend on where it goes next, what Sansa does going forward. Her revenge will be sweet. I hope.

    • UM. I feel where you’re trying to go here, but consider that the idea of Sansa knowing marital sex was a thing that would happen that night doesn’t mean she’s basically now Ramsay’s plaything with no agency or autonomy.

      He marries her, ergo he gets to brutally fuck her? Or rather, she should just deal with that? I don’t think that’s where you want to go with this, but unfortunately, that’s where you’re going with this.

      Protip: ladies need, um, warming up before you jam it in, hence her groaning and crying. Being married doesn’t give Ramsay the right to force himself on her. He wanted it painful. I can guaran-damn-tee that she didn’t. That is rape. That was also not necessary to further the story in any way, shape or form. It really, really wasn’t.

      • Zack

        Nononono, I’m not saying that rape can’t happen in marriage. Consent is required from both parties at every step of the way or it’s rape. If sex has begun willingly but midway through one partner wants to stop, if it doesn’t stop right then, it’s rape.

        Sansa was raped. I’m just trying to say that the writers might have been trying to show us her agency in that she probably knew it was going to happen when making her decision to stay at WF and marry him, and yet she made that choice anyway, in the hope that if she did and said the ‘right’ things she would be in a stronger position than if she didn’t go through with the marriage/rape. Like Dany marrying Drogo in the very first episode. She knew what was coming, and went through with it in a plot to gain an army. Doesn’t make what Drogo did not rape, at all, and when it happens to 4 seasons later it’s still rape.

        This issue is damn thorny. Damn thorny. I hope I’m not offending anyone, but just in case let me just say that I’m quite prone to being wrong. And this may be one of those occasions.

        • It IS damn thorny, as you say, and I love how open and considerate all of the discussion has been. I seriously have the best readers on the ‘net, ngl. (And as you may have guessed, I get a bit… passionate about this topic.)

          My issue I think is ultimately that there’s too much that I, the viewer, am expected to intuit from these scenes, and I don’t get the same thing the writers/creators hope. The Jaime/Cersei scene from S4 is a great example of the disconnect with their intent vs. the audience’s inference.

          My sense of all of folks around the web crying foul is that we’d hoped the show-people would have learned a lesson in responsibility to the audience. If I was supposed to get from that scene that Sansa was consciously making the choice to be used to gain power then I didn’t get that AT ALL. Like, missed it by a mile.

          And it matters. It matters that the show that was originally set apart as a vehicle to show female strength and power, a show that was touted as turning misogyny on its head is falling into old, familiar, and incredibly damaging tropes.

          Perhaps it’s just because the show set the bar so damn high, you know?

          • Zack

            I understand. And though I may be trying my damnedest to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, the skepticism from others is also very easy for me to empathize with. And they might let me down where in a couple episodes I don’t see any major improvement in Sansa’s position….and I’ll just know I was wrong to trust these guys. I just hope they’re better than that, I guess. They have a pretty good track record. Not a perfect one, but pretty good. We’ll see.

            Anyhow, thank you for fostering a community where doofuses like me can say something ‘unpopular’ and still feel entirely welcome. You do have a great group here. See you next week!

            • I forgive a lot of things myself, and I think I’ve gone on record as a complete dork who loves things I probably shouldn’t, ha. I TOTALLY get trying to see the POV of the showrunners, because we love GoT. We’re passionate about it! That’s why we’re here!
              I struggle with being critical of things I love, because I know some people see criticism as bashing, and not just “Well, but this could have been…” etc.
              And every single week I’m so, so grateful to my awesome folks that have built up this community. Smartest, best readers there are. <3

        • MaxwellJames

          I don’t necessarily disagree with you, though I’d put it a little differently. Rape is inherently act of taking away power and agency – choice. That’s what makes it so terrible.

          But – as you and others have pointed out here, it’s entirely possible that Sansa (and therefore the writers) has a plan to take agency _back_ after being so violated. And that’s great if it’s in the cards, though I’d still prefer it happen without her getting raped first. Again: she’s suffered plenty already.

          But the very least, it would be a sign that they are learning.

          Finally, I’ll say that the writers have not bungled every storyline when it comes to this topic. In particular, rape was a constant threat during the Brienne-Jaime storyline in season 3, and that was one of the highlights of the series. Moreover, Dave Benioff handled the issue of men’s fear of rape with great sensitivity in his first novel, the 25th hour. That’s part of why I hoped for better from them on this issue so far.

          • Zack

            Fantastic point. Thank you. I realized suddenly from re-reading what I said before that it may have come across as though I was trying to turn ‘consensual rape’ from an oxymoron into an actual thing. And…ick. No.

            Going into a situation, knowing full well what could happen and being mentally prepared for such a horrible outcome, is different from welcoming and hoping it happens. So yeah, I agree with you, it can’t be seen any other way than a ripping away of agency.

  • doctorscience

    In my opinion, as someone who knows the show only from recaps like yours, and who only knows a little about the books —

    at least one of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss is a rapist. I truly think that’s what the evidence says.

    Their minds go to rape. Like, a lot. More than GRRM’s mind does.

    It may be both of them, this may be one of their bro bonds. Or it may be only one, and the other is an enabler. I have no way of knowing which, or which of them is the physical rapist. I don’t actually think it matters.

    I think movie & TV culture attract rapists, especially ones with enough intelligence to favor coercion over outright violence. If the estimates are right, that maybe 5% of men are rapists (as long as you don’t use the “R” word), I suspect the proportion among the men who have power in Hollywood is 10-20%. It’s probably not higher, but that’s enough to make Hollywood a world capital of rape culture.

    • Okay, because I don’t wanna get sued, I’ll just say that we do not know if one of the show runners is an Actual Fact rapist. But they sure seem to be cool with it.

      I would also like to say that given some of the comments on Sites That I Love (WotW), I continue to love the folks who hang around here. My dudes are good dudes, and I appreciate you all.

      (Now, rape culture in Hollywood and the predators who benefit from it? Yeah. That’s a thing. An ongoing, powerful thing.)

      • Zack

        Eek! Can I quibble with this line of reasoning a smidge? I absolutely cannot see how the rape scene as portrayed Sunday night is an indication that these guys are ‘cool with rape’. Ramsay is a villain, has been consistently portrayed as a villain with few or any redeeming qualities….the rape scene is depicted pretty accurately as a horrific, traumatic event not to be inflicted upon anyone. Villains are gonna do villainous things, and hurt the characters we love. They make us anxious for payback.

        Now….to be fair, after the complete botching of last year’s J on C rape (“ohh, she may have started out resisting, but she gave in and enjoyed it eventually! not rape!”…..GRRRRRRRRRRRR get a woman in the writers room ASAP)

        if that was the scene being used as an indication that the writers were clueless about (or even cool with or dismissive of) rape, I’d be first in line to agree. But this scene was unambiguously cruel and evil.

  • Lisa

    Granny Tyrell had better destroy Cersei. I need this. (Can’t even discuss Sansa ::cry:: Die, Boltons! Die, die, diiiiiiiiiieeeeeeee!!!!

  • Just finished watching and hoo boy… I knew, KNEW what they were gonna do with the Sansa/Ramsay/Reek storyline. I hoped they would turn away. But no. They still went there. I had a hard time trying to decide what the slow zoom on Reek was meant to do: spare us from actually seeing Sanda, or feel bad for Reek. I’m really hoping there was more reason for that scene than just to serve Theon’s arc. It could be the last loss of innocence for Sansa, but there are other ways to do it. None as horrific to a character we all seem to love, but still other less transitive ways. There’s a lot from the books I want to say, but I’m refraining per the rules. As was pointed out by the other commenters, there are more “tactful” ways to imply what was going to happen. What we knew would happen once Sansa married that bastard.

    The Queen of Thornes isn’t one to be trifled with. I think a lot of forces are aligning against Cersi. She’s pretty much alone.

    Good catch on the purposes of the dead in the House of White and Black. I really like how they focused on the ritualistic cleansing. And Arya getting wrapped for lying about hating the hound: priceless.

    • (thanks you for your thoughtful contribution to sanity re: Sansa)

      Oh man, if ever there was a woman who demanded respect, it’s Lady Olenna. Cersei is a fool to mess with her, and up until now, I’ve not really considered her to be a FOOL. But man. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…


  • Colleen

    First off: NOT COOL. Second, I’m looking forward to that little shit Ramsay getting a Brienne sized ass whoopin. Third, I request Sansa sticks a knife through Littlefinger’s eye.

    That all being said… I read through the comments, and I’m not sure that anyone’s brought this up, but there are so many, forgive me if it has been. I don’t believe the crimes against Sansa are for Theon’s development, or for Sansa’s development (though obviously it will shape them both deeply). I think it’s bigger than that. I think what Ramsay did/probably will continue to creepily do to her will have implications throughout the realm.

    First, let’s go back to the crypts of Winterfell, when Littlefinger was talking about her aunt Lyanna getting kidnapped (or maybe eloped with, depending on who is telling the story) by Rhaegar Targaryen, it started a war that brought down the Targaryens.

    The North Remembers. Obviously, from Brienne’s convo with the inn keep, the Starks who ruled for thousands of years were well loved. Now the usurping, flaying, creepy ass Boltons hold Winterfell, and word is bound to leak out that they’re torturing the last surviving Stark. Ned’s little girl. How’s that going over? Probably not well, which will make all the surviving Lords from King Robb’s (may he rest in peace) army over to… #TeamStannis. Sure… he burns people and has FCM, but he’s a good guy that doesn’t rape and pillage, and he’s trying to liberate the North while Tommen is playing with Ser Pounce.

    Just like with Lyanna, it’s war all over again, and my bet is whoever wins the North wins the Iron Throne for a time being too.

    That being said, if they ever show anything like that again, this show and I are breaking up. Great recap Laura, sorry I haven’t been commenting.

  • cleverlittlekit

    Look, I’m not even going to touch in the ending of this episode, because it’s been done already and just thinking about it right now is making me nauseous. So, I’m just going to leave a short comment about something I am consistently LOVING this season: Arya’s arc!

    Yeah, I get that leaving who she is (was?) behind is difficult, but what I truly adore about it (aside from Maisie’s performance, which is, in a word, STELLAR!) is that she is starting on the road of life that she always wanted. She is working to become a strong, efficient, respected (if a bit cult-y) warrior that she always told her father she would be. And she has found herself in a place where, it seems, gender is a non-issue. And I’m loving it!

  • LEW

    Well. I’m just going to say three things about the episode:

    First and foremost, I still believe in Sansa, and I always will. I believe in her ability to overcome anything, continue to forge her own agency, and always find herself again. She is Sansa Stark of Winterfell, and she’s a goddamn survivor.

    Secondly, a lot of my weariness with every side of this debate comes from my knowledge of the books, which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say, it is both frustrating and fascinating to me that so much of the anger comes from the fact that this happened to Sansa, specifically, and not a minor character seen through another’s eyes. This kind of wedding night is an established part of this world (THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT OKAY, and its ubiquity in the fantasy genre in general is like, a whole other thing), but seeing the evidence of its prevalence impact Sansa is what angers us most?

    Finally, most importantly, I have to commend you for your bravery, and this comment thread you’ve cultivated for its civility. The Mary Sue has quite publicly pulled its support for the show, and my brother’s fiance wrote a piece (fairly visible) about her disappointment, disgust and disapproval in light of this episode. In both cases, the comments have been needlessly vitriolic. I don’t fully agree with either but they are entitled to their opinions and reactions, and it is so shameful that expressing that so often leads to vicious attacks. Thank you for speaking your mind, even if it’s not what people want to hear about their favorite show.

    That’s all from me, this week. I hope you’re not too discouraged, because even though I am so bored (hoo boy) of this “trauma as narrative device” bullshit, I believe in Sansa Stark. And Arya Stark. I believe in Brienne of Tarth. And I believe in Daenerys Targaryen. I believe in all the strong women of Westeros, and that Ramsay Bolton is too evil to live for long.

  • Deceptively Calm Scientist

    Okay, After some thought I’ve decided why the Sand Snakes make me sad.
    Here are three daughters of the fiercest bad-ass in Dorne. When they’re kids they get to choose a weapon.
    Obara: “I choose the spear, so I can stab pointy holes into my enemies from a safe distance.”
    Tyene: “I choose the twin daggers so that I can stab pointy holes in my enemies with one while the other holds off their weapon.”
    Nymeria: “I choose the nerf gun because leadership.”
    Obara & Tyene: :-/
    Nymeria: *pout* “Okay, how about a whip instead?”
    Obara & Tyene: :-/

    I mean, seriously. How is a whip a useful weapon when your opponent has sharp pointy things? Nymeria just stands there making snappy sounds and looking great while modeling the Dorne Spring 2015 Beachwear Collection and she’s about as useful as a wall painting in that fight. How about a FREAKIN’ BOW AND ARROW? Nooooooo, you had to choose the whip because leadership. I’m sure that whole whipping-a-bucket-off-someone’s-head was a popular party trick during Dorne Spring Break but that seems to be all she learned how to do with that whip. “Look, I can whip pasties off a stripper!” Can she also tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue?

    I have no complaints about any of the actresses playing the Sand Snakes. From the interviews I’ve seen they all seem like nice young women who are trying to get into the steaming pile of shit the writers have given them.

    I won’t even go into the inaneness of their plan: grab Myrcella from a garden which is overseen by literally every balcony in Dorne, since Jamie & Bronn had the same plan. *sad trombone sound*

    • MaxwellJames

      Yeah, even leaving the Sansa scene aside, I had some significant problems with this episode, and this is #1 on the list. That fight scene was utterly incoherent – which is particularly striking because most fight scenes on the show have been pretty good. Some have been downright great, particularly those featuring the much-missed Rory McCann.

      And the Dorne plot overall makes no sense, and is proceeding _much_ too quickly. It seems like GoT always has one bad storyline every season, and this year Dorne may be it. I hope it recovers soon.

    • Deceptively Calm Scientist

      Sand Snakes = badasses, right? Ready to get into a fight, right? Okay, Tyene’s weapon of choice is the dagger. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but a dagger, unless you’re throwing it (which she doesn’t do since that would make too much sense), is a weapon for close-in fighting. Fortunately, Tyene isn’t worried about any injuries she might sustain since she’s wearing armor…oh no wait, she’s wearing scarves. Scarves.
      The only Sand Snake wearing anything like armor is Obara who’s wearing a leather breastplate thingy, which will certainly stop any concerted attack from a butter knife, and not much else.

      I want to like the Sand Snakes, I really do. I think the actresses chosen have the potential for doing a great job, but whoever’s writing this shit is just not taking them seriously as warrior women. They’re little girls play-acting. “We has the scary!” And they’re also a rare case of the costume department being a little too focused on Cool Dorne People and not enough on badassery.

      Also a lucky thing that Ellaria Sand (who has the IQ of a hamster in the TV show, apparently) not only announces that “The Sand Snakes are with me!” but then quietly waits in the palace for their, I’d call it half-assed but it’s more like quarter-assed caper to succeed.


  • padaeum

    First: I love your reviews. (This is my first time commenting, but not my first time reading.) :)

    Second: I adore Sansa.

    Third: While I don’t think anything should be off-limits for fiction, I do think creators have the obligation to depict violence in a serious and sensitive way. (This goes for all types of violence, not solely rape.)

    Fourth: I’m not ready to opine on the story-relevance of Sansa’s rape. For me, a lot of it depends on where her story goes from here.

    But I guess I have a somewhat unusual perspective on Sansa’s agency? In that I don’t see her as losing her agency (yet again) in this episode, so much as claiming it more forcefully than she’s ever done in her life. Not because I think she “consented” to what Ramsay did to her — consenting to marriage is not the same thing as consenting to brutality — but because I think her refusal to “seduce” Ramsay and play Littlefinger’s game is an act of profound courage.

    I mean, a lot of people want to see Sansa become a real player. I understand why, but that’s not what I want to see. The game of thrones is terrible, the people who play it are mostly terrible, and Sansa is not a terrible person.

    What I want is to see Sansa become a real leader with real courage, wisdom, and compassion — not just another savvy manipulator who uses people for her own ends. What I want is to see Sansa freaking Stark, who’s suffered more from the game of thrones than almost anyone, absolutely and irrevocably destroy the game of thrones. If Sansa’s story isn’t about the development of a leader who is learning first-hand how tragic, empty, and downright evil the game is — and who isn’t ultimately going to prove that there’s a much better way of doing things — then this story is a lot more nihilistic than I’ve so far given it credit for.

    That’s why I think there’s a real storytelling purpose for Sansa’s refusal to play the game by seducing (or trying to seduce) Ramsay. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Sansa’s wedding happened in the same episode as Margaery’s arrest. What’s happening to Margaery shows just how limited your options are when you hitch your wagon to someone else’s star. It shows that everyone, no matter how clever, no matter how shrewd, is probably going to lose the game of thrones. (I haven’t read the books, but I have the feeling that Cersei’s going to regret empowering the Westerosi Inquisition very, very soon.)

    Littlefinger basically told Sansa, “Your power as a woman is limited to your power to seduce and influence a man. You must operate through him. That’s the only way you can win.”

    And I see Sansa’s refusal to play along as calling bullshit on that. Calling bullshit on Littlefinger, on his way of doing things, on his view of her and on his view of the world. She went along with the marriage to put herself in a position where she can do something she wants to do. But I think she decided she’s going to do it her own way. Not Littlefinger’s way. Hence her coldness to Ramsay and Roose; hence her spectacular bath scene with Myranda; hence her willingness to consummate the marriage (signaled by her undressing) on her own terms, not on Littlefinger’s “seduce him” terms, and not on Ramsay’s terms.

    Of course Ramsay made her suffer for it. But I think Sansa refused to play knowing full well what it could mean for her. (Again, witness the scene with Myranda. Sansa knew the consequences of being “boring.” She still, through her refusal to seduce or go along with it, essentially told the Ramsays and Littlefingers of the world to go to hell.)

    Which shows just how brave Sansa Stark is. She made a decision on principle and was willing to suffer for it. Because being Sansa Stark of Winterfell, not Ramsay’s plaything or Littlefinger’s pawn, is worth it to her.

    Do I think the suffering had to be rape? I’m not sure. Like I said, I’m withholding judgment on that for now. Though I do think it’s in character for Ramsay.

    Do I think this makes her rape any less horrific? No. Do I think it makes it “consensual” and “not-rape?” Good God, no. But do I think it would’ve been better if Sansa suddenly started acting like Margaery with the crossbow or Myranda biting Ramsay’s lip? No. No. No. I think Sansa’s refusal to seduce Ramsay was tantamount to her refusal to play the thrice-damned game of thrones, and that, in this story world, is probably the bravest decision a person can make.

    (Sorry for the length of the comment. Clearly I have a lot of feelings about this episode.)

    • I fully welcome lengthy comments!! (And newbies chiming in, hi!)

      “While I don’t think anything should be off-limits for fiction, I do think creators have the obligation to depict violence in a serious and sensitive way” Oh man, THIS THIS THIS. Yes. A great example would be Craster’s. No one could have watched those scenes without knowing 100% who the villain was, and feeling absolute repulsion for the man and everything he was subjecting his “women” to. And yet, there’s not a real consensus on J/C of S4 or this scene. Why? They KNOW how to frame and shoot scenes of violence to tell a narrative.

      ” I think her refusal to “seduce” Ramsay and play Littlefinger’s game is an act of profound courage.” Oh my goodness, let me love you. I couldn’t agree more (and I’m angry with myself for not writing that, hahaha!) I’m balking at the folks talking about Sansa’s agency being stripped from her, because it reminds me of the narrative of the “soiled woman,” as if Sansa is now forever tainted.

      But as you so eloquently put it, we need to see where she goes from this. We need to see what Sansa will become, how she will handle this to form a complete picture. I think it’s positive and healthy to express outrage as people have done, but the story isn’t over. God, I just hope they don’t let me down with her. I’ve been Team Sansa from the beginning. She represents something so important and precious, and I want the show to honor that (since they’re the visual creators of it!).

      So happy to have you chime in!!

      • padaeum

        Thank you so much! I love the tone of the discussion here. It’s so thoughtful and respectful.

        The scenes at Craster’s are a perfect example of being way too cavalier in the depiction of rape and other horrors. You’re so right that there was no need to illustrate so vividly the sheer amount of awful that was going on there, both with Craster himself and with the Night’s Watch mutineers. We get it. We’re not stupid. We don’t need to see rape as background scenery. That’s not treating violence with the gravity its victims deserve.

        It’s like, I can handle watching rape, I can handle watching murder, I can handle watching maiming and torture and every other awful thing that happens on this show — but I want to see it treated as something that’s important, something that matters. The loss of Jaime’s hand, for example, has been handled beautifully. He is living with the consequences of it every time we see him. It’s something that changed him, that made him have to grapple with the world in a way that he never had to before, and that’s fascinating. But would it have had quite the same effect on us if we were seeing minor characters and extras get their hands chopped off every episode? In a world where swords and axes are common weapons, you know Jaime isn’t the only man who’s lost his hand. But we really get to feel the impact on him, because it’s treated as something with real, lasting consequences. It’s not something merely unpleasant happening in the background while our focus is supposed to be on valiant Jon Snow or whatever. (Not a dig at Jon, who I love — I just find the sort of “background rape” that was going on at Craster’s really irresponsible and off-putting.)

        Rape as a real, consequential part of the plot doesn’t bother me nearly as much as rape as world-building, if that makes sense. We don’t need to see constant rape to remind us that this is a world we wouldn’t want to live in. WE GET IT.

        Honestly, I wish the showrunners had more faith in their ability to convey this world’s magnitude of suck to viewers without having to beat us over the head with it. Not when they’ve handled so many hard things in such subtle, beautiful ways. (To me, the most heartbreaking moment in the Red Wedding wasn’t the lingering and gratuitous shot of Talisa getting stabbed repeatedly in her very pregnant stomach; it was the way Robb said “Mother” right before he died.)

        I 100% agree with you that the outrage people are feeling is healthy — that’s EXACTLY how we should feel after we witness a teen girl getting raped. The scene did its job. And I think one reason some people are directing their outrage at the show itself, and not just feeling it on behalf of Sansa, is because they’ve now seen just how well the show can depict something that it’s been so careless with in the past.

        Now, I don’t agree with the people who think the showrunners are doing this malevolently. I think this show, like a lot of premium cable shows, can sometimes mistake excess for profundity. (I have the same problem with how the show handles sex and nudity. Those moments when Dany stands naked in front of Daario, and Brienne stands naked in front of Jaime, are supposed to be stunning moments of power for those women, moments that have very little to do with sexual desire, but it’s easy to miss that when viewers can mistake it for just another Obligatory Naked Woman Scene.) And I’m too invested in this story and these characters to give up on them, especially when I do think this particular scene was handled responsibly. (Thank God thank God thank God the focus was on Sansa’s crying face, and Theon’s crying face, not on Ramsay’s face or Sansa’s boobs.)

        But I’ll change my opinion pretty fast if this turns out to be just a “crap on Sansa” scene instead of a cosmic shift for her. It should have just as much impact on her story and her character evolution as Dany being sold into marriage had on her, or Jaime being maimed had on him.

  • Lee No

    Wow, what a fantastic and considerate discussion (so much more than on any other board). And I’m 100% with you, what needs to happen is SANSA taking action (hopefully Willow Rosenberg vs Warren style), otherwise they (writers) have not learned a thing from all the criticism of the Jamie-Cersei rape scene and following discussion last year.

    Elsewhere in an otherwise fantastic episode:

    -Cersei Lannister: How to ruin a kingdom in 5 minutes
    a) Piss off your biggest ally and money source for personal reasons
    b) Arm and support religious fanatics
    c) Send the head of your Kingsguard to a suicide abduction mission against the only region that is not yet involved in the war

    -Littlefinger makes his move for the North: No matter if Cersei, the
    Boltons or the Tyrells win, he makes sure noone knows he screwed
    everyone over (espeically Cersei) multiple times.

    -Somehow I don’t really feel the Sand Snakes yet. They need more personality than just “badass and vengeful” at this point

    -I love Arya so much. That is all.

    • Lee, I’m so disgusted by what’s happening on other boards. (And I know their mods are extremely bothered, too.) HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH I LOVE MY GROUP, YET?? Because I do. I really do. I mean, you pull out a Willow Rosenberg reference. (I seem to have picked up a Geek Trio Types from Other Sites who want to explain rape to me, but fortunately that just gives me an IP to block. :D)

      And let me love you for changing the topic!! I just don’t know HOW Cersei can think she’s doing the smart thing here, I really don’t. That religious fanatic move is going to blow up in her face HARD. I don’t see how she can’t see that. WOW.

      LF is the slipperiest canniest, most conniving man in all of Westeros. Maybe Essos, too. I wouldn’t trust him with anything, not one thing. (But goodness, does he make for engaging viewing!)


      • Eddie H

        May your boards forever be a focal point for the evolution of social consciousness! Mazel Tov!

  • Mike

    1) Portraying Rape Won’t Create Rape In Real Life. I know it’s easy to be reactionary to something as disturbing as an on-screen rape, especially to victims of rape, but think of it this way: We went for decades before something this violent/sexualized could be on screen, and murder, rape, and war still happened. This scene will not create rapists, anymore than the Red Wedding created murderers and pregnant-woman-stabbers.

    2) This show takes place in a Medieval world. Certainly, it’s a fantasy world, but it’s fairly rooted in history. Like it or not, the idea of a woman’s right to choose her husband – hell, most of woman’s rights – are fairly modern inventions, (disgustingly enough.) This sort of thing happened ALL the time. It’s horrible, but it’s realistic.

    3) GOT has never been pleasant. Murder, war, baby-killing, incest, overwrought sex scenes, prostitution, etc. Saying that this one scene – which, by comparison, was hardly what I would call “gratuitous” in that it showed very little – is the one that will destroy your enjoyment of the show is a strange claim.

    4) The show wasn’t portraying the rape as a positive thing. It was supposed to be reprehensible. Now, I’m all for arguing that it’s too much, specifically for that character. I’m all for arguing that the show is borderline exploitation. But don’t act like sexy jazz music or the Benny Hill theme was playing with a laugh track during the scene. It was horrible, and it was played as such.

    • 1) Sounds like the sort of thing a rapist would say. Also, you’re completely wrong, but now I got your number.
      2) we don’t live in a vacuum. Art is meant to be internalized, discussed, explored, applied in some manner.
      3) WHY THE FUCK DO YOU CARE ABOUT MY ENJOYMENT? Wait, you don’t! You don’t care about MY enjoyment of the show, you care about YOUR enjoyment of the show. And when someone (particularly a woman, but if I was a man, then it would be a betrayal to your code) says they patently disagree with something, in my case: I don’t want to see any more fucking rape on my TV, it somehow reminds you that your opinion isn’t the only one, I suspect.
      Or think of it this way: you want me to lie back and think of England during these scenes. You want me to just “enjoy the ride.”
      You’re blocked and banned. I don’t want any more of this WoTW shit over here.

      Also, LOL X Infinity at you upvoting yourself. Why, yes, I DO agree with myself! WOW, DUDE. GTFO.

  • tessa

    I so totally, one hundered percent feel you. I was so angry after that scene. I was raving, crying, feeling fucking miserable. And even now, after cooling down a bit, I can’t shake the feeling that so much is going wrong with the way the show is developing.

    Honestly in the last season the Cersei/Jaime scene had me reeling. I am a book reader, and I just couldn’t understand why they would chose to take this path but to scandalize it. It had no reason, no character development, no influence for the story whatsoever. Sometimes I can’t understand how something like this can happen on a show with such a big budget and a room full of (otherwise fantastic writers) and two people (D&D) who supposedly love the books and know them from the inside out.

    And I mean they didn’t even fucking adress it afterwards, honestly? So the show went on and you kinda forgot it even happened, because Cersei is a cunt anyway… Which of course makes it ok to be raped by her brother who is her lover anyway and by that has a right to take her whenever and wherever he wants. Right? Well at least that seems the consensus. Insensitve fucking pricks.

    So I had a bad fucking feeling about the whole LF/Sansa arc from the beginning, the reveal of Sansa as some kind of “Dark Lady” or whatever last season was just plain stupid. I hated the way the story was heading. LF is a creep that makes me cringe whenever I see him now. The way he touches her and invades her pesonal space is just painful to watch.

    Show Littlefinger is a dissapointment anyway. He is supposed to be some kind of a puppet master that has his little puppets dancing around without them knowing he pulls the strings. He acts in secret and nobody views him as a danger. In the booky anyway. This LF just plays every side wide out in the open and hopes he doesn’t get caught in the lies. Which won’t happen because he IS Littlefinger and as everybody knows he is a mastermind so his plan has to work out. Right.

    And yeah I agree with eerything you say about the scene. It is such a faux pas in every imaginable way. It just seems they had to raise the stakes of the show again. To make a new scandal. I felt so unbelievably angry. Again rape is just a instrument to further the horror of the Game of Thrones reality. The whole storyline felt in no way natural. Sansa agreeing to this whole ordeal was just plain stupid, in no way empowered as we were lead to believe. They just butchered her whole development, she might as well be S2 Sansa again.

    I also don’t get the logical reasoning behind marrying Sansa to the Bastard of Bolton from LFs PoV. He coulda told Cersei anything and she would have believed him. Does he want the North to rebel after witnessing what the Boltons do to the little precious innocent Sansa? That would just be sick. Sansa is too important a key to the north to be put in such a high risk in my opinion. He knows a war is coming to Winterfell and puts Sansa (at the moment his only trump card) in harms way. Naah. he should be smarter than that. “Trusting” somebody with a flaied man as a sigil, yeah right. And the director saying LF didn’t know how much of a sadist Ramsay is, just seems again like a lazy justification to put Sansa in the position she is in now. Never would he leave Sansa (any feeling he might have for her s Cats daughter put aside) with people he didn’t know every last bit of information about. She is too important for that.

    Grrrm, what’s to do now? Oh yeah reread the books and imagine Sansa being more or less safe at the Eyrie where a truly master-pupeteer waits for the story plays itself out, while subtly furthering his schemes.

    • I really appreciated what Maxwell (my featured comment this week) had to say about That Scene, responsibility in media, and why D&D REALLY NEED A WOMAN ON THE WRITING STAFF. They clearly have a massive disconnect when it comes to filming scenes of a violently sexual nature and walking the line of being overwrought with passion and, well, rape. There is no sensitivity to a large portion of their audience, and it’s incredibly upsetting.

      As far as LF masterminding this whole thing, I actually CAN see why he’s doing this. The North Remembers, and when it comes out that their beloved Sansa has been treated cruelly (and they’ve been there, they know JUST what the Boltons are capable of) my hope, and what I’m sure LF is counting on, is that they’ll rise up in support of her, join with Stannis, maybe, or just wait out the Bolton/Baratheon hullabaloo and join with the Eyrie to take the North back.

      And now I wonder if D&D were hoping that WE would have a reaction like The North/Winterfellians? Eesh.

  • mrspidey80

    Let me preface my post with two important things:

    First of all, I fully agree with you, Laura, that rape should never be used as a means to build up another male character. If that’s the show’s intention here then they deserve to get shit for that.

    Second, was it rape from our modern western moral standards? Yes, absolutely.

    That being said, I’m a bit uncomfortable with people getting riled up so much about this scene
    Can or should we even judge this by our standards when we know that Weserosi culture doesn’t even have those?
    In Westerosi culture, what Ramsay did with Sansa is viewed as nothing out of the ordinary.
    Rape is a crime, even in Westeros. Just ask Oberyn (sorry). It’s the persecution that is lacking.
    However, would people in Westeros view this wedding night as rape? I imagine about 80% of beddings after political marriages go down almost exactly like this. From what we’ve seen he had straight intercourse with her but since she obviously wasn’t aroused, she was in pain.
    The only element here that was truly twisted even from a medieval cultural standpoint was to have Reek, of all people, be the eye witness for the consumation. Anyone else and we would still be within medieval moral standards.

    And Sansa knew what she was getting into. She grew up in this world.
    She knew what was gonna happen the moment Littlefinger proposed this marriage to her and she made the very concious choice to go through with it.
    She accepted this as a consequence. It’s a means to an end for her that she’s obviously willing to endure in order to get her revenge.

    And now that she knows Ramsay better, she might start getting a handle on him. It’s all about figuring out what people want and Sansa now has a better understanding of Ramsay’s desires.

    • So you’re a book reader, okay. PLEASE CONSIDER that you are viewing this through a lens that I don’t have access to, because of that. (Your Oberyn comment tipped me off. Oberyn? Rape someone? That didn’t happen in S4, ergo I know nothing of it.)

      I am not going to explain any further why I, a woman, do not wish to see rape on my TV. BTW, I’m having the same reaction to Outlander. Because I don’t want to see rape.

      I, the viewer, live now. I, the viewer, am filled with all of my understanding of both historical and modern morals and ethics. I, the viewer, would cringe to see a child being beaten with a rod outside of my house. That shit’s in the Bible: spare the rod, spoil the child. So I shouldn’t cringe if I turn on the TV and see it on a Civil War documentary? Because, hey, that was the norm. Slavery shouldn’t make me cringe and be upset because it was legal? …is this seriously the argument?

      WE LIVE NOW. We make and consume art NOW.

      And please, for the love of god, you guys, STOP TELLING ME ABOUT THE LOLITA SEDUCTRESS SANSA KNOWING AND PLANNING. That didn’t happen on screen. It didn’t. The fucking closed captions as it was happening were detailing rape. That’s the script.

      HEY! OTHER THINGS HAPPENED! Arya’s story moved along nicely! No one? *crickets*

      • mrspidey80

        I’m sorry. You completely misread my Oberyn comment. I should’ve been more clear that Oberyn’s agenda in S4 clearly showed that rape IS considered a huge injustice even in this grimdark world.
        And I was using that as a contrast to how, at the same time, this society does not view forced intercourse during a wedding night following an arranged marriage as rape. Because in a way, it almost always is forced and often on BOTH participants.
        Back then, there was a certain disconnection made between romanticism, love and the pure mechanics of the act itself as an instrument to legalize a marriage and I’m not sure we’re even capable of making or fully understanding that distinction nowadays.
        Should we even? I don’t think so, honestly. But it helps viewing the scene within the context of the setting it is embedded in.

        I think it is unfair to blame the showrunners for depicting medieval marriage customs realistically in a show that has ALWAYS been known for it’s realistic and detailed depiction of a medieval society. Of course it is your prerogative to say you just don’t want to see rape on screen and that’s perfectly fine but then you have to ask yourself why you are still watching a show that had an underage girl raped in its very first episode. (Also, don’t ever watch American Horror Story; so much more rape there…and on males, mostly).

        • Eddie H

          You honestly can’t say that was simply the consummation of marriage vows and nothing else. He intentionally made the situation as painful as could be for Sansa, and he made someone who (she believes) MURDERED HER YOUNGER BROTHERS STAND THERE AND FUCKING WATCH JUST TO HUMILIATE HER FURTHER!! Such misuse of a highborn lady would certainly be looked down on by anyone decent in the culture of the time. Hell, I’m sure sleazebag Roose would even be somewhat put off. His purpose in allowing his son to marry Sansa is to try and illicit loyalty from the North, people who love and admire the Starks.
          This may even turn out to be the final straw for Roose. I totally see him setting up a situation in which his inconvenient bastard will die “gloriously in battle, defending the family name and lands and whatever”.

          • mrspidey80

            “He intentionally made the situation as painful as could be for Sansa, and he made someone who (she believes) MURDERED HER YOUNGER BROTHERS STAND THERE AND FUCKING WATCH JUST TO HUMILIATE HER FURTHER!! ”
            I pretty much said that in my initial post.

            • Eddie H

              Right, just saying this definitely falls well outside what would be considered the “rights of the husband”. Especially a high born lady.

              • Eddie H

                *when the victim is a high born lady

  • Johan Kristian Milde

    I honestly believe people’s reaction to this scene would have fallen much more to the side of waiting to see how this progresses before making the final judgement if D&D hadn’t screwed up the Cersei/Jaime-scene last season. Now that they have a perceived track record of not treating rape seriously, no-one will give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I for one will believe them when they say the intention of the C/J scene was not a rape, but the what ended up on screen was a clear and unambiguous rape scene – and that is an almost impressive feat of fucking up your depictions of sexuality. They accidentally raped one of their main characters, completely ruining the redemption arc of another, as well as removing any trust the audience had with their ability to handle those matters.

    Going by the rule to never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by sheer, utter incompetency and stupidity, I see the complete lack of recognition in the show afterwards that there ever was a rape as a sign that the best thing would be to mentally replace that scene with something – anything – else and judge various character’s arcs as if it hadn’t happened, as otherwise it creates a plot-wise black hole that makes little sense other than to shock and destroy character progression. The likely intended scene – where both consented, but Cersei also recognized how twisted their lust was – would require *extremely* careful handling, acting, filming and editing, and instead they crashed and burned on the runway without realizing their mistake until after the episode aired.

    • “otherwise it creates a plot-wise black hole that makes little sense other than to shock and destroy character progression”

      Right, this precisely. And we talked a LOT about that over here when S4 aired. (And we also talked a lot about Craster’s and Dany. I’ve gone on record as being really disturbed by how rapey the show is, for any folks scrolling along.)

      • Johan Kristian Milde

        It might be my Scandinavian bias, but I would expect a Lisbeth Salander-style comeback at some point.

        After Sansa being propped up as a Little Miss Littlefinger, confident and scheming, at the end of last season, it would make no sense at all for her to be completely victimized now. Although it does seem bleak for her story; even lighting the Candle of Brienne-Summoning would be a major blow to her character at this point. She needs to get back on her feet and in control with Sansa at the helm, surely aided by others, but ultimately in control of her own fate.

        And this is where D&D would have benefited greatly if they had earned themselves some audience trust in their abilities to do such an arc. Their former mishandling leaves us second-guessing their intentions, wondering if they will fuck up again and in some cases questioning their very moral character.

        I would have liked to say that the show-runners have a reason for depicting this brutal assault in this particular way, but how could I with their track record. For it is a savage and brutal assault, not the “lay back and think of England”-form of marital rape. She is not held down by custom, gender role and cultural oppression, this is powerlessness in the face of physical savagery and a twisted mind. Yet, how can we know if the show-runners intended any of these connotations, or if they achieved whatever they intended? Analyzing a piece of media becomes much more frustrating when the authors have shown themselves not actually to be in control of the devices and themes of their own work.

  • Jamie Bell

    Since this is such a delicate topic, a lot of people are going to hate me immediately for what will seem to be – to any extent – an opposing viewpoint. So whilst these things SHOULD go without saying, I still have to preface this post with some very obvious statements:

    – Rape is one of the worst things humanity has ever spawned.

    – If the writers thought they could take a main character we were all invested in, and turn her into a plot device for another character, solely BECAUSE of her gender, then they are bad writers and most likely bad people.

    – Basically just, misogyny really sucks, and we as a society should not do it EVER.

    Okay so, with that out of the way, I just want to focus on this idea of a “WOMAN being used for a MAN’s development”. I personally dislike this take on the episode. I dislike it when people use gender labels as a method of criticising art pieces altogether, UNLESS said art piece is INDISPUTABLY making points about gender. But was this scene really doing that? Yes, I know it had a rape in it. And I’m not so stupid or devoid of empathy that I can’t understand why, in our society, rape affects women more than it does men. I understand WHY people look at a piece of art containing rape, and deem said art to be anti-feminist. Especially when the scene in question seems to be developing the male character more than the female – as it seemed to do in this case.

    What I’m OPPOSED to is people not even ATTEMPTING to consider the art from a point of view that doesn’t concern itself with genders AT ALL (man I wish I knew how to do italics with this thing, but I digress). Even if we come from a society that conditions us to look at the two genders as being unequal – and there’s no “if” about that, really – it STILL doesn’t give us license to assert our initial, gender-based viewpoints as being incontestably correct.

    So basically, is Theon under-going character development because Sansa is a WOMAN? I don’t think that’s the case at all. Theon is under-going character development because FOR ONCE, the TORTURE (not rape, torture – more on this later) is happening to someone besides himself. The whole reason Theon doesn’t develop as a character when he himself gets tortured is because that only serves to intensify his psychoses (I hate to be one of those dicks who slips a dictionary definition into his arguments, because it looks patronising, but in this case it seems useful: a psychosis is “A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality”). This is not your typical “Hero is motivated to save a female” trope, because Theon isn’t your typical hero – he is SEVERELY mentally ill. In order to have something deep within his subconscious jolted into action, he needs to see something so horrible that he actually reconnects with the outside world again. And that horrible, “outside world” thing is not a WOMAN; it’s someone HE KNOWS. Why do we have to make it about gender at all?

    Regarding Sansa, I hate that her character was used this way, just as much as you do. But not because she’s a woman. I hate it because she is a main character and this – as far as we can tell so far – should not have been a part of her arc. This was Jeyne Poole The Book Character’s arc. The truth is Sansa is more a victim of television adaptation than gender politics. At the end of the day, the show runners have ten hours to tell the story of not only ‘A Dance With Dragons’ (the fifth and longest book in GRRM’s series), but ‘A Feast For Crows’ as well (book four). In that sense, season five is uniquely problematic. And Sansa is one of the many now-condensed characters who took a hit from it. It’s unfortunate; maybe even bad storytelling, if you can think of alternative routes they should have taken; but it’s definitely NOT because of some anti-feminist agenda the show’s writers have. You know who else is taking a hit from the adaptation of the fifth book? Theon. Yeah, bear with me…

    Who would you guys say is the protagonist (or lets say viewpoint character) of the Winterfell story this year? All Unsullied fans would – understandably – say Sansa. Immediately, this explains so much of the backlash this episode has gotten, because the viewpoint character was seemingly stripped of all emotional development in order to develop the “side character”, Theon. However, in ‘A Dance With Dragons’ (the book containing most of the Winterfell arc), not only is Theon the viewpoint character, but he’s also a damn good one. I’m not saying this because of any particular action/event that happens in his story (I’m refraining from using spoilers). I’m saying it because of how marvellously George R.R. Martin writes his chapters; how he characterises him and explores the uniquely afflicted mind that Theon has.

    Meanwhile Sansa’s plot in AFFC/ADWD was entirely different. And, in some ways, bad. In fact, I think the show writers found her arc in books 4/5 to be boring, and undeserving of Sophie Turner’s acting abilities. In a messed up way, they were trying to improve her story for TV audiences. It has NOT paid off yet, but they are trying. And in trying to keep Sansa’s story relevant this season, they’ve sacrificed A LOT from Theon’s. So please bear this in mind: the scene at the end of episode six was in disservice of Sansa, but most of the season so far has been in disservice to Theon. Should men be angry about this? (No.)

    Sorry for the massive wall of text, but I do have some final points. Why is it so wrong for the scene to focus on Theon? Ignore the morals of OUR society for a moment and instead look at the requirements of STORY itself. Does anyone really WANT to focus on a second, “Reek-ification” process? Why is that needed? Surely at this point it is more interesting to focus on how it affects someone on the other side of that process. Adding to this the fact that Sansa is ALREADY a strong character, with strong incentives to hate the Boltons – what would have been the point of this scene at ALL, were Sansa its focus? Furthermore, I don’t understand why it is so wrong for a PERSON (Theon) to develop in response to a tragedy befalling another PERSON (Sansa). Stories do that all the time, between multiple men and between multiple women. Why should the MAN and WOMAN labels suddenly enter into it when it happens to involve both?

    And finally, I said a while back that I would come back to this point: “rape” vs “torture”. In some ways, the fact that it’s a rape is just as meaningless as the fact that it’s a man and a woman (indeed, my whole argument pretty much depends on this). Instead, as disgusting as this must sound, I’d like you to view the scene as torture, not rape.

    “Okay, so why didn’t Ramsay just flay her, instead of raping her?”, one might (disturbingly) ask.

    Once again, the reason is THEY HAVE TEN HOURS. Know this: the choice to use rape instead of flaying is more about efficiency than anything else. It’s actually elegant in a perverse sort of way, because they were able to get the wedding and the torture taken care of in a single episode.

    Look at this way: a wedding needed to happen, and torture needed to happen. If you’ve already got the former, then it makes sense for the latter to be rape.

    Okay, I’m done. I’m really sorry for the huge wall of text, but that was done out of respect more than anything; respect towards the important topics of rape and feminism. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve said, if you disagree with any of it, agree with any of it; or regardless of whether you agree or disagree, at least understand where I’m coming from.

    Thanks for reading all of this if you did.

  • moosesal

    I also want to know why all the faces are white. Grr. At least they weren’t all men. Is Arya ever going to get back to sword training?

    Lady Olena! I want her to adopt me.

    When they took Margery away and she was calling for Tommen I just sat shaking my head. If she’s relying on him to save her, I don’t know how well that’s going to go. But who knows, maybe he’ll get some fucking backbone and remember he’s the king.

    Dwarf dick! Peter Dinklage kills me.

    I’m not talking about anything else. I just can’t.

  • Unbeheld

    I am almost about to give up on this season. It’s extremely clear that D&D just shat the bed when there is no clear source outline to guide them. Characters being cut due to time/budget constraints, entire plot lines merged for a smoother narrative.. all makes sense when switching to a different medium.

    The choices these clowns have made however is downright infuriating. The next part is a bit spoilery but it involves the “actual” story that has passed so it won’t spoil anything from the show.

    1. Jaime in the show roams the Riverlands to bring the message that the rebels have lost so he’s offering them pardons in exchange of not being holed up in their keeps and start working again to pay their taxes. This is where he starts to understand the art of diplomacy. Instead we get him to replace ser Arys Oakheart (who was sent to Dorne already btw) in an attempt to rescue his niece.

    The issue isn’t how his narrative got changed, it’s how they executed it. Instead of trying to Ninja their way into the Gardens, why not go there officially and i don’t know, bring the Mountain’s head as a poor offering for Oberyn? Nope, Ninja time with poor disguises with clearly foreign accents is the way to go.

    *side bar*: WHO THE @#$@ is responsible for the fight choreography? The Sand Snake fight scene is becoming a meme of how terrible they are at fighting. If they can’t do the stunts, use doubles, if you need close ups then do some cheesy slow motion fight scene ala 300 (which Spartacus abused). Better yet why not hire the dudes who choreograph the fights from Banshee? People that actually know wtf they’re doing.

    2. Sansa; I really dislike the way the final scene was shot. Rape is terrible in any shape or form, but i think they could have shot it differently. Adding the sound effects of Ramsay dropping his belt/pants (not needed, this reminds me of the suction noise during Loras/Renly scene), then the camera focusing on Theon suffering… like are we to believe his torment is suppose to be equal to Sansa’s? Like are they smoking crack?

    I’m still foaming about how they butchered the Barristan line and this week just about put a nail to the coffin. One thing remains clear, when this is all said and done please read the books Laura, and forget this show ever happened.

  • Raja

    Laura, genuinely curious about what you think about this piece here. I don’t agree with all of it, but I do agree with it to some extent.

  • Raja

    The scene does have the potential to completely change the Sansa- Theon relationship, in my opinion. And I think that’s the route they’re going to go down.