(The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones debuts on April 14th, marking the beginning of the end for HBO’s cultural touchstone. Over the years, we’ve covered all 67 episodes of the series, and are revisiting those original reviews in our new retrospective series titled, “Winter is Coming”. We’re pulling these straight from our vacuum sealed digital time capsules, so step into the virtual time machine with us and read our impressions from way back! With the benefit of hindsight, there is plenty of reasons these reviews will raise some eyebrows)
We all knew that an arranged marriage between Ramsay and Sansa was never going to go well, but I underestimated the level of discomfort that awaited viewers this week. Her marriage to Ramsay Bolton, not only led to the most depressing moment of the entire series so far (and that’s saying a lot), but it is also one of the most unnecessary scenes of the series. We’ve seen enough pain and suffering born on the aftermath of weddings since the first season, starting with Daenerys’s marriage to Khal Drogo; later the Red Wedding, Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion, and eventually Joffrey’s famous Purple Wedding. Some have tried to step in and defend the plenty of already notable scenes that were criminally mishandled – but this week’s scene, however, was deliberate, and I don’t think any of us anticipated it being so callous. Sansa and Ramsay’s union went too far, even by Game of Thrones standards. We all watched Sansa get raped and I’m not entirely sure what it brings to the show. As I’ve stated many times on our podcast, the problem when reviewing a weekly television series is that we don’t know how certain decisions will impact the story moving forward. But is there a reason for Sansa’s rape scene to exist other than to shock viewers? Maybe there is. Maybe this will lead to Sansa giving birth to a son – a son born of rape – much like her husband was born of the same sin. But that just isn’t enough to redeem a series that has been a repeat offender when insisting on raping their lead female characters time and time again, without any interest in exploring how this emotionally impacts these women. I have to ask: Is it worth my time to continue to watch a show that makes me feel so terrible once the credits roll?
If there was to be a wedding, then there was going to be a consummation? No, this isn’t true. The writers have full creative control in deciding the events that play out in the series, so much so, that in the book, Sansa Stark is never raped by Ramsey Bolton. It isn’t a secret that season five has deliberately veered away from the original source material, so why insert yet another rape scene in a show that seems to feature rape on a weekly basis? An even bigger slap to the face, is that it comes directly off the heels of the best moment of the episode in which Sansa Stark musters up the courage to stand up to Myranda – a moment that gives viewers a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, Sansa could buy time until finding a way to escape this ugly fate. I get it… Westeros is a world where women are often forced to have sex on their wedding nights without giving consent; however, we as viewers are already well aware of this fact. We need no more reminders, so why do the writers insist on punishing us?
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” – another wedding, another rape
Even worse – If this scene had to exist, the show’s version of it, written by Bryan Cogman, and directed by Jeremy Podeswa is shown in a way that manages to place all of the focus on Reek’s agony and not on Sansa. Yes, there are two victims in this scene (although in very different ways), but the camera lingers on Reek forcing us to watch how it impacts Ramsay instead – as if his continued emotional torture is more important than that of Sansa Stark.
Season five, in general, has been somewhat underwhelming. No longer do we have the pairings of fan-favorites such as Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth or to Arya Stark and the Hound. And while some can point to Bronn and Jaime or Brienne and Pod, we’ve barely seen much from either pairing. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” may have taken its name from the words of House Martell, but the Sand Snakes and the battle down in Dorne came across as very rushed. Jaime and Bronn’s arrival to the Water Gardens is perhaps, the biggest anti-climax in the show’s history. Meanwhile, how disappointing is the verbal spat between Lady Olena and the Queen Mother? And why exactly did Cersei request the return of Petyr Baelish? Considering that Kings Landing is a long way from Winterfell, a brief two-minute conversation didn’t really do justice in explaining the urgency of having him return.
Ending on a positive note: The traveling duo of Tyrion and Jorah, who this week find themselves at the mercy of slavers, found time for an interesting conversation when Tyrion senses in Mormont a desire to hear more about his estranged father: “At least your father was a good man,” Tyrion tells Jorah. “He actually cared about the people under his command. How do they put it in the Watch? ‘We shall never see his like again.’” When Tyrion realizes he’s inadvertently broken the news to Jorah that his father is dead, he regretfully apologizes for the mistake. Once again, the quieter moments of season five stand out, as do the actors, in this case, Peter Dinklage and Iain Glen whose performances speak volumes.
– Ricky D
Tyrion and Jorah’s conversation was a nice little reminder for those who may have forgotten that the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was Jorah’s dad.
Arya’s story continues to stretch small bits of material over the course of the season. While her scenes this week were by far the best all season, it still feels displaced from the rest of Westeros. Hopefully her character arc this season will unravel faster in the upcoming installments.
Last week we were given a bit of exposition about Loras’ birthmark which of course comes back to see here as key evidence in his trial.
“Oh, you can smell the shit from five miles away”— Queen of Thrones.
Jaqen: “A girl lies to the Many-Faced God.”
Jaqen: “No. A girl is not ready to become no one, but she is ready to become someone else.”
Tyrion: “Targaryens are famously insane.”
Slaver: “A dwarf’s cock has magic powers … the dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”
Littlefinger: “We both peddle fantasies, Brother Lancel. Mine just happens to be entertaining.”
Littlefinger: “One’s choice in companion is a curious thing.” Cersei: “Most curious.”
How beautiful was Sansa Stark tonight? And wow, what a dress!!!
Game of Thrones, Season Five, Episode 6: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by Bryan Cogman
Featured music Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography by Gregory Middleton
Editing by Crispin Green
Originally published May 17, 2019