‘Game of Thrones’: Fans outraged by brutal Sansa Stark scene

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Closer Look at Game of Thrones Season Five Episode Six.

This week, the panelists discuss the episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” (Read our recap here.) Participants include medieval-studies scholar and science-fiction writer Susan Shwartz, playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie, and Dr.

And fans are taking to social media to express their outrage following the latest atrocity inflicted on Sansa in last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones.” Sansa, portrayed by 19-year-old Sophie Turner, has survived horror after horror in the hit HBO fantasy series. For many fans who were appalled at the horrible scene of Jaime Lannister raping his sister/lover Cersei last season, it felt like the showrunners had only doubled down, putting Sansa Stark into the hands of sadist Ramsay Bolton and, to add insult to injury, making her former foster brother Theon Greyjoy watch. While we were hopeful that she was starting to get some agency in her story, she instead got brutally raped by her new husband Ramsay Bolton, while her family’s former ward, Theon Greyjoy, watched in distress.

From losing her direwolf Lady, to witnessing the beheading of her father Ned Stark, to suffering the brutality and humiliation inflicted by Joffrey Lannister, to being attacked by a riotous mob, Sansa’s lot only seems to worsen over time. Just as last year, accusations that the show takes sexual violence lightly and declarations of breaking up with Game of Thrones forever populated social media. The scene of course sparked all kinds of outcry for the disastrous way the show has treated Sansa (who in the books, is rape-free and nowhere near Winterfell or Ramsay at this point). But while I agreed with the critics of the Lannister rape scene last year, this time around, I believe that, while it was horrible to witness a beloved and innocent character like Sansa get raped, it didn’t feel gratitutous or unserious.

As we’ve done with every episode far this season, we’ve put together a list of scenes, references, and characters that deserve a special comment or mention. There’s no way we got all the good stuff (and we might be wrong on some of the things we’ve left below)—so please help expand our appendix. “I’m from Westeros, just like you. This was a choice and the choice was to marry off a teenage girl, rape her, and not even have the dignity to care primarily about her feelings about her fate.” “When I read that scene, I kinda loved it.

Until Sunday night that is, when Ramsay, the current reigning champing of Worstness in Westeros, did what he does best and completely obliterated any sense of innocence and decency this show had left. (At least Tyrion is back, because I don’t think I could have survived the dourness of this episode if it didn’t involve him saving his own life by describing the best way to sell his most valued possession: “You can’t just hand a dried cock to a merchant and expect him to pay for it.”) But I’m getting ahead of myself—this episode is full of worst person all-stars: we have Cersei getting her way by incriminating Margaery and we have Littlefinger betraying Sansa Stark—seriously, that girl cannot catch a break. This activity is an ancient one – much space in “The Iliad” is given to cleaning the body of Achilles’s slain comrade Patroclus while shrouds and ceremonial cleanings are popular in most religions, as a way to prepare the dead to meet the divinity. For once, rape is being portrayed accurately, as an act of sadism instead of just an overabundance of passion. (It was also, as writer Bryan Cogman explains in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, much worse in the book. Joshua Keating: I didn’t think that anything could top the season-long transformation of Theon into Reek as a deeply unpleasant viewing experience, but that final scene may have just done it, particularly the last lingering shot on Theon’s anguished face that leaves you hoping in vain that he’ll overcome his programming until the second the credits finally rolled.

Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, on which the show is based, it is another young woman Ramsay weds and assaults, in a scene even more graphic and twisted. Bodies mortify quickly after death as the wondrous dance of living mitochondria, immune systems, and intact cells quickly dissolves into an inept pool of chemicals. I’ve been making [producer Bryan Cogman] feel so bad for writing that scene: “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!” But I secretly loved it… After Joffrey, she’s escaped him and you think she’s going to lose her virginity to a guy who’s really sweet and takes care of her and she’s thrown in with a guy who’s a whole lot worse.

Equally troubling is the fact that the scene focused primarily on Theon, leading viewers to wonder if the show’s writers planned Sansa’s rape for the benefit of Theon’s character arc. In traditional fantasy, the Stark family would be the conquering heroes, their great honor and love for one another rewarded as they triumph over their corrupt enemies to save the realm.

My father remarried, and his new wife gave birth to a girl.” It’s a bad idea to trust anything the Waif tells Arya, but given that some portion of this story is likely true, let’s ask: Who is the Waif? (Besides “The Westerosi Lena Dunham.”) Westeros succession practice operates under male-preference cognatic primogeniture—i.e., woman inherit after all of their brothers but before their male uncles or cousins—so she could be from anywhere, though that she specifies her status as an only child may imply that she is not from Dorne, which practices absolute primogeniture. (That she is pale and fair similarly makes Dornish heritage unlikely, unless she is a so-called “stony Dornishman” from the Andal-influenced north.) Assuming the Waif is, like her book counterpart, in her 30s (and young-looking because of the poisons she deals with), and that the Waif was at least 12 when she contacted the Faceless Men to off her stepmother, we’re looking for a rich, non-Dornish, Westerosi noble house with a disappeared or disinherited female heir born 20 years before Robert’s Rebellion, and another female heir, no older than 30, with a dead mother. Though there may be relief that so many bacteria are being buried, far from contagion, in general the bacteria that thrive on dead tissue are not the ones that cause infectious diseases.

HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds. Yes, anthrax and Ebola and a few others exploit a newly dead body, but actually the need for a quick burial is less about disease control than the need to assure that a town doesn’t stink like the back of an unemptied refrigerator. From a quick glance at a map and listening to the dialogue, their confusing journey, which started two episodes ago in Volantis, seems to have involved them traveling east from Volantis (on a river, even though the only direction the Rhoyne goes from Volantis is north), then to the ruins of Valyria (nearly a thousand miles, as the crow flies, though Jorah and Tyrion appear to have hugged the coast), and through a suspiciously narrower smoking sea. And then that night everything gets so f–ked up.” Speaking to Vulture, the Welsh actor who plays the sadistic Ramsay Snow was hesitant to talk about what transpired between them, saying “It’s a really horrible thing to talk about!

In King’s Landing, Margaery’s attempt to manipulate the besotted tween king into sending his own mother out of town backfired in spectacular fashion. The best I can figure is that they’ve wound up near the Black Cliffs on the western edge of Slaver’s Bay, near the city of Tolos—from where Meereen, Yunkai, and Astapor might be visible, and where villages are likely to be found.

Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose… but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.” This is hardly the first time “Thrones” has stirred up controversy with its depictions of rape; last April, a sex scene between Cersei and Jaime Lannister was interpreted by many viewers as nonconsensual. The only other candidate for their location is the Isle of Cedars, which would be a quicker trip from the Smoking Sea, but which has by most accounts been abandoned and would therefore be free of settlements. For many viewers though, it wasn’t about loyalty to the books so much as loyalty to the character and integrity of Sansa Stark, who seems like she was handed a rape storyline to make her more sympathetic or give Theon the push he needs to lash out against Ramsay. One final possibility for Tyrion and Jorah’s journey: They traveled northeast up the Rhoynish tributary Volaena, which connects somewhere unmapped to the Sea of Sighs, where they encountered the Stone Men.

The formidable Sand Snakes give Jaime Lannister and Bronn more than they asked for until they are called off by Aero Heath whom they respect as the leader of their uncle’s guard. I’m allowed to do whatever I want,” which is one of the horrible realities of that era, or the era that’s being represented in this made-up world. While the Targaryens themselves loved to play up the myth of Targaryen madness—connecting it implicitly to their greatness, and sometimes wielding it as a kind of threat—it’s not necessarily the case that the family has a genetic predisposition to insanity. Notwithstanding Rudyard Kipling’s aphorism, “the female of the species is more deadly than the male…” the deadliness is temporary because women “must command but may not govern.” Because “She warns him, and her instincts never fail, that the Female of the Species is more deadly than the Male.” Arya, on some kind of strange journey, washes a dead body tenderly, though she still questions what happens to the bodies she washes.

There have been hundreds of Targaryens of whom only a handful are generally understood to be “mad,” and even these are not necessarily insane in the way the mad king Aerys II was. Prince Aemond, Prince Aerion, and King Maegor, for example, were cruel and violent but not properly “mad”; while King Baelor and Prince Rhaegel were, while maybe not entirely sane, not deranged. Cersei has her issues, but I will argue, not necessarily convincingly, that the terrible things she does in this episode are, in theory, for her son, so she’s not in the running. (She won a few episodes ago because she was a terrible parent.) Ramsay’s motives are … to please his father? Because Westeros is a horrible place, essentially. “This is ‘Game of Thrones’… This isn’t a timid little girl walking into a wedding night with Joffrey.

Jorah, who had distinguished himself in battle during the rebellion, and who was at this point the Lord of Bear Island, defeated eight knights, the final being Jaime. (In the books, he never unseats Jaime, just breaks nine lances.) Jorah declared Lynesse Hightower his queen of love and beauty and married her soon after; eventually, her demand for luxury led Jorah into the slave trade, and, ultimately, exile. (At least: That’s how Jorah tells the story.) Qotho was one of Khal Drogo’s three bloodriders—the Dothraki warriors bound to Drogo and serving as his immediate protection. Slave traders capture Tyrion and Jorah– not an unusual scene in a historical fantasy but Tyrion’s lines here are, as always, witty and pungently delivered.

When Drogo fell ill and Daenerys attempted to have the witch woman Mirri Maz Duur heal him, Qotho attempted to stop her, shoving Daenerys to the ground and sending her into labor. This show has taught me to never hope for the best-case scenario, but even if I wanted to believe that Littlefinger is just hedging his bets, he’s betrayed Sansa in a way that he hasn’t betrayed Cersei, right? It’s a testament to Tommy Carcetti … I mean, Aiden Gillen’s performance, that viewers even entertained the notion that the man who betrayed her father could have Sansa’s best interests in mind, no matter his feelings for her mother or, it’s seemed in the last few episodes, his attraction to her. Westeros is looking more like the Westboro Church as we find ourselves suddenly in an anti-gay trial presided over Thrones’ version of Savonarola, the barefoot High Sparrow.

My guess is that on balance he would probably prefer an outcome without her head on a spike—Cersei’s line was a very dark callback to the last sadistic psychopath Sansa was betrothed to—but that it’s an outcome he could live with. The Sparrows, like Savonarola and the Essenes and all the other “Bonfire of the Vanities” practitioners through the centuries, are intent on rubbing out sensual pleasures, like sex and food and art. Originally from Norvos, he took up the city’s traditional weapon as a boy, when he was sold to the city’s ruling bearded priests (a sect so powerful and secretive only initiates know the name of its god) and branded with an axe symbol across his chest, taking the vow “Serve, obey, protect.” Hotah came to Dorne with Prince Doran’s wife, Mellario of Norvos, and when an unhappy Mellario left Doran to return to Norvos, the deeply loyal Hotah stayed behind. “The Dornishman’s Wife” is an old Westerosi ballad that tells the story of a man killed by a Dornishman for sleeping with the Dornishman’s wife. “But what does it matter”—the man asks as he dies—”for all men must die,/And I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!” The Reach, ruled by House Tyrell, is the wide area south of the Crownlands and north of Dorne. They also seem to want to toss science out with the earthly pleasures and return to a trudging paleolithic pace where fire and perhaps something to shave a beard are the only advancements allowed. It’s the breadbasket of Westeros, a populous area with a mild climate and fertile land, and without its people or food, the Lannisters—near-bankrupted by war—would find themselves in danger of the Iron Bank calling in its loans.

Given last week’s build-up, I expected something a little more dramatic than the brief fight scene with Bronn and one-armed Jamie that was quickly interrupted by Doran’s guards. It’s not entirely clear how the many different systems of justice in Westeros operate, but it seems as though the trials of Loras and Margaery will be overseen by judges of the faith and not by the king, a ceding of specific temporal power that Cersei will come to regret. Regardless, Margaery and Loras will both be given the opportunity to demand trial by combat over trial by judge—or, if they prefer, the even more intense Trial by Seven, a trial by combat in which each side marshals seven combatants. Sir Thomas Mallory, a knight prisoner with a bad reputation, follows many of the conventions of his “French book,” from the betrayal of the Duke of Cornwall to the Quest of the Grail and the illicit loves of Tristan and Isolde and Lancelot and Guinevere.

As discussed previously, Sansa has not reached Winterfell (nor is even traveling there) by the fifth book; rather, Ramsay has been married to Sansa’s old best friend and handmaiden, Jeyne Poole, who is being presented publicly as “Arya Stark.” As in the show, Jeyne is horrifically assaulted and Theon humiliated. Plus, one of them is an Academy Award nominee! (I’m still holding out hope that Arya befriends Obara—it’s also telling that in an episode with so much Arya news, she’s somehow the last story line worth talking about right now.) But speaking of being captured in Dorne, now that Jamie’s been caught, are we in for a repeat of “Jamie the prisoner”? Galahad’s humblebrag that “my strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure,” runs counter to the show’s alleged moral compass, with points deducted for bad tactics.

Ramsay letting him interact with someone from his former life and use his old name seemed overconfident even before what he was forced to watch in that last scene. Ancient Hindus and Buddhists often meditated sitting on the charnel ground – the area where dead bodies, sometimes rotting, were placed to be eaten by birds. And don’t forget Podrick and Brienne lurking in the hills, though given Brienne’s luck, they’ll probably show up three days after the climactic battle.

Only when we fully and emotionally recognize that we are each here on earth for a limited amount of time can we fully appreciate the preciousness of every moment. But as you noted at the top, we got a brief moment of quality time with Tyrion and Ser Jorah which seemed to be setting the stage for a showdown in the as-yet-unseen fighting pits/grayscale infestation in Slaver’s Bay/search for a reputable cock merchant. So Arya made to wash dead bodies is not only for the sake of getting the bodies clean but for Arya’s own spiritual advancement – so that she may make better use of the short while she has to live. Krule: Based on your equally fervent desire for a Reekolution (darn, that’s not as catchy as Reekvenge)—I think it’s safe to say that we’re in agreement?

I thought Amanda Marcotte made a great point in her post about the rape—last season’s twincest rape was … poorly executed by the show runners and confusing to viewers. Keating: Very true—this was unlike the Jamie/Cersei scene and the various horrors at Caster’s Keep in that the showrunners seemed completely conscious and intentional in how difficult it was to watch. It’s not like we really needed more reason to cheer for Ramsay’s death, Reek’s redemption, (Reekdemption!) and Sansa’s deliverance, but we’ve got it.

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