‘Game of Thrones’ recap: ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Stark Reality.

If you think about it even just a little, Jaqen H’ghar is right: No one in Game of Thrones ever really stops playing the game of faces. Horrifying things have happened on this show before, and the bad guys often win, but the conclusion of this episode is sure to leave viewers feeling queasy.

Across five seasons, audiences have watched as the character—played Sophie Turner—grew up on screen, with Sansa shifting from a naive innocent pining for a storybook marriage to gradually evolving into a hardened survivor. Sansa Stark may not go to Winterfell at all in the novels, but Jeyne Pool—Ramsay’s poor bride in the books whose place Sansa has taken—does get sexually assaulted. But on Sunday night, the character lost her virginity in just about the worst way imaginable—at the hands of the psychotic son of her mother’s killer, while her former childhood friend Theon was forced to watch. We talked to Sophie Turner back in October about the Ramsay storyline and Sunday’s scene—which the actress had not yet filmed but definitely had an opinions about.

All that makes these characters who they are is communicated by a glint in their eyes, a tremor in their cheeks, a tug up or down at the corner of their mouths. And after Alfie Allen (Theon), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay), and Sophie Turner (Sansa) all hinted that something awful and controversial was coming this season, fans who lived through that Cersei/Jaime mishegoss last year were very afraid for Sansa Stark. We heard about this scene while on the Thrones set in October and were able to briefly discuss it with producer Bryan Cogman, who also wrote the episode (in addition we have an interview with Turner where she gives us her thoughts about the scene).

But, as Jaqen H’ghar and The Waif are all eager to prove, simply cutting your hair and pretending to be a boy does not make you worthy of joining the Faceless Men. There’s something that happens about halfway through this season that is really going to make huge waves, and people aren’t going to be happy about it. Most of this episode’s characters — from Jaime, to Tyrion, Jorah, Sansa and Arya — are where they’re supposed to be, but they’re on a more difficult path than they originally intended. Cogman seemed to take this question very seriously and took a moment to consider his response. “This is Game of Thrones,” he said soberly. “This isn’t a timid little girl walking into a wedding night with Joffrey. It’s hard to know precisely how long Arya has been scrubbing corpses by the time she confronts The Waif in the episode’s opening minutes, but Maisie Williams’ hair is certainly a bit longer and she seems to have grown at ease with the process.

Cersei made perhaps her biggest power play yet, Arya Stark made progress in her quest to become no one, and Jorah and Tyrion may have gotten a free, if arduous, ride to Meereen. We get a great shot of her rapping her thumbs along the scrubbing table as her most recent patient is taken away, but learning what happens to the bodies clearly isn’t knowledge acquired simply through impatience. When he interrogates Arya to see if she’s prepared to leave her old self behind, he’s so good at recognizing her tells that he detects a lie she doesn’t even realize she’s telling: She hated the Hound.

I bear witness to this thing, and it’s crazy, sort of having to portray how messed up everyone’s situation is through my own reactions to what happens. Sandor Clegane was just the latest and greatest of the series of surrogate warrior-fathers with whom the Stark girl formed attachments, but it’s clear she’s not ready to examine what this says about the severity of her loss. “I’m not playing this stupid game anymore!” she shouts. “We never stop playing,” H’ghar replies, in what could well be the motto of the entire show. Martin’s books, the smaller empathy we feel for her does nothing to lesson the horrors of her marriage bed, where Ramsay uses Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) as a kind of sexual surrogate before raping his new wife himself. It’s pretty intense and awful and the character will have to deal with it.” I also asked whether the scene would be as sadistic as the version in George R.R. Martin’s books, which saw Ramsay marry a girl impersonating Arya (Maisie Williams), so no one knows how bad things could get for Sansa. “He is a horrible human being.

When it became clear that “Game of Thrones” was going to marry the real Sansa to Ramsay, I wrote that I wasn’t sure I could bear to watch this scene play out with a character we’d come to know so well; the heightened emotional pain might have simply been too much. As The Waif concludes her tale, a faint grin appears along Arya’s lips — one that rather resembled her initial reaction to meeting Brienne in last season’s finale. He’s capable of anything, really,” Rheon told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the episode. “Because of who she is, I don’t think Roose Bolton will stand for too much slapping around. As he learns the terrible truth — the patriarch was killed by his own men in the wild beyond the Wall — the camera lingers as grief, shock, horror and love ripple across his weatherbeaten face like the sunlight on the water behind him.

After one too many lashings, Arya verbally lashes out, shouting at Jaqen that she doesn’t want to play “this stupid game.” To that, Jaqen cryptically responds, “we never stop playing.” Later, a man approaches Arya scrubbing the floors imploring her for her help for his sick sister. But Arya Stark is not one to be easily deterred, and sees the opportunity to simultaneously practice her lies and impress Jaqen when she convinces a terminally ill girl that drinking the water from the enchanted pool will heal her rather than kill her.

Though Lannister’s older brother Jaime and his buddy Bronn are bogged down in a somewhat contrived confrontation with the vengeful Dornish women known as the Sand Snakes. If Stannis is victorious over the Boltons, Littlefinger believed he would name Sansa Wardeness of the North in gratitude, and that seems like a likely scenario. But it’s not the extreme torture and humiliation that scene in the book is.” Cogman added that the scene is also “an important turning point” for Sansa. “She’s seen Theon and hated him and thinks he killed her brothers and betrayed them but she’s very conflicted by what she’s seeing there,” he said. The High Sparrow — now the High Septon, though his clothes are no fancier and his followers just as fanatical as ever — orders Loras Tyrell to stand trial for fornication. Other than a shot of Ramsay ripping Sansa’s dress open, we don’t see her body during the rape: just her face, and then Theon’s contracting in agony and fear and horrible sympathy.

The writer producer also confirmed that, for those suspecting Littlefinger might have known about Ramsay’s sadism, that Baelish was definitely ignorant of the situation. “The difference between the Ramsay Snow of the books and the show is the Ramsay of the show is not a famous psycho,” he said. “He’s not known everywhere as a psycho. She was at the height of her power earlier in the episode when, stripped back down to her red-headed Tully roots, she told Myranda in no uncertain terms that Winterfell was her home and she would not be intimidated. Loras’ squire Olyvar (Will Tudor), who had a sexual relationship with Loras, testified that Margaery had walked in on them, while both Margaery denied ever seeing such a thing.

Again, the faces say it all: the older queen’s triumph, the young lord’s terror, King Tommen’s uncertainty, the queen’s surprise, the holy man’s blessed certainty, and — most ominously for the prospect of peace in the city — Lady Olenna Tyrell’s utter fury. What she and Theon–and yes, there are two victims, though of very different crimes, in this scene–feel about what’s happening is what’s important. But with her true identity revealed, her dyed hair stripped from her head by her betrothed’s psychotic mistress and Baelish back in King’s Landing, Sansa was left an ultimately powerless teenage girl — certainly no match for the savagery of Ramsay Bolton.

Later, Tyrion (who seems to be in an endless rotation of some demented buddy-cop comedy), argues with Jorah over the merits of Daenerys as ruler of Westeros. 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.

Their wedding ceremony was every bit as ominous as expected, though compared with previous weddings attended by the Starks and Bolton’s, it was a rather tame affair (and the band likely asked to skip its rendition of “The Rains of Castamere.”) What followed, however, was an entirely different story. And Sansa’s rape is a powerful, dreadful scene because it comes at an episode that is full of small kindnesses and emotional cruelties that cut deeper than knives or whips. It’s no mistake that this episode begins with Arya Stark tenderly washing a body in the House of Black and White, and doesn’t quite end with the scene of Myranda (Charlotte Hope) washing Sansa’s hair with the same care, but with an added dose of malice.

Later, when Arya is preparing the girl’s body, Jaqen leaves open the mysterious door in the embalming room so Arya can see where the bodies are taken. 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. Allen said in an interview that this story would position Ramsay as “the new Joffrey in town, and then probably me followed closely after that.” But haven’t we had ample time to understand the depths of Ramsay’s depravity? In this week’s episode, he gained Cersei’s permission to take the soldiers of Vale to Winterfell to cast out either the Boltons or Stannis, depending on who wins the coming battle.

If, best case scenario, Sansa and Theon (and probably Brienne and Pod) band together to take down Ramsay over the next few episodes, did we really need this rape scene to drive that engine? Tyrion again talks himself out of getting killed, this time a little miraculously, and convinces them to take them to Mereen’s fighting pits by telling them Jorah was one of the greatest warriors in Westeros. The disgraced knight and Tyrion are still bickering, but Jorah’s main rival is the disease he contracted in his battle with the Stone Men of Valyria. But by involving a multidimensional main character instead of one introduced primarily to suffer, the series has a chance to grant this story the gravity and seriousness it deserves. Petyr Baelish (who is still using that magical jetpack that cross-country in one episode, I see) has a heated encounter with Lancel Lannister, who threatens him with the help of his fanatic religious order.

Cersei unsurprisingly does not take well Petyr’s news that Sansa is in Winterfell set to marry Ramsay Bolton, but Petyr somehow manages to convince her that letting Stannis and Roose battle it out will get both their enemies out of the way. Sansa has a story of her own, of which this is now an admittedly excruciating chapter — but she, not Theon, is the real victim here, and it remains her story nonetheless. For as long as we’ve known him, Loras Tyrell has been tasked with keeping his sexuality a secret, but he has grown increasingly careless as the seasons have dragged on, as though playing this particular game of deception was no longer of any concern to him. They still chat on the road to meet Daenerys, and Jorah shares with Tyrion why he has come to believe in something greater than himself: witnessing Dany emerge from a fire bearing three baby dragons.

Showrunners [David Benioff and Dan Weiss] must have been like, “Okay, let’s do everything we can to make her the most abused, manipulated character!”http://www.ew.com/article/2015/05/17/game-thrones-recap Right, because you can’t get on his level. She likely expected some unpleasantness from her association but, based on how Turner played the scene two weeks ago, it seemed as though Sansa believed Littlefinger when he told her she had Ramsay wrapped around her finger. (There’s a special hell reserved for Littlefinger in all this.) So whatever horrors Sansa Stark of Winterfell was prepared to face in order to avenge her family, we can safely assume that this wasn’t one of them. An unpleasant wedding night was in the cards—she told Littlefinger she’d be a married woman when she returned—but not even goth Sansa could have seen this dress-ripping, Reek-watching indignity coming. Their capture has some serious diplomatic implications, as the leaders of Dorne will not be happy that the Lannisters tried to steal back their princess. Their claims are rendered moot once Olyvar enters the High Sparrow’s interrogation room, revealing to the assembled everything he knew about Chekov’s Dorne-shapped tattoo.

Drake will celebrate his self-proclaimed “second home,” Houston, Texas with his second Houston Appreciation Weekend, set to take place over Memorial Day weekend, Vibe reports. They bring in the male prostitute who slept with Loras, who confirms Loras’ “sins,” causing Margaery and Loras to both get imprisoned and Cersei to finally achieve her goals.

The boy king proves just as useless as he’s shown himself to be since ascending to the throne, sitting there dumbfounded as his wife is dragged off. The weekend will reportedly feature several charity-driven events, though the centerpiece will be a celebrity softball game on Friday, May 22nd at the University of Houston’s Cougar Field.

But given that the show runners have seen fit to change so much of the book plot this season, “it happens in the books” really isn’t any kind of defense. Drake will take the field alongside a number of athletes and entertainers, including local talent like former Astros stars Chris Sampson and Brandon Backe, the Houston Texans’ Duane Brown and Darryl Morris Jr. and Houston rapper Kirko Bangz. You could easily be forgiven for expecting that the Tyrell matriarch had something up her sleeve for the inquest, but all she could do as her grandchildren were dragged away was shout objections. The episode was titled after the words of House Martell: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” Sansa may not be broken, but two out of three is still very bad.

Despite Bronn’s hilarious plea to “not do something stupid,” Jaime knocks Trystane down and he and Bronn are forced to face off against all three Sand Snakes, who have infiltrated the palace to kidnap Myrcella. He senses in Mormont a desire to hear more of his father, and gives Jorah a good report from his long-ago visit to the wall. “At least your father was a good man,” Tyrion tells Jorah. “He actually cared about the people under his command. I’m interested in whether Doran will bring Jaime and Bronn into his plan, since they will probably be forced to work together to retrieve Myrcella, but for now, their story is still fairly far removed from the rest of Westeros.

How do they put it in the Watch? ‘We shall never see his like again.’” When Tyrion realizes he’s inadvertently become the first person to let Jorah know his father is dead, he could be cruel. In a repeat of that uncomfortable bath scene between Theon and Ramsay, Sansa gets a bath from Ramsay’s fellow psycho Miranda, who tells Sansa about all of Ramsay’s other conquests who he hunted and killed. Despite her completely vulnerable position, Sansa doesn’t waver under Miranda’s veiled threats and forcibly tells her to leave (and Sansa finally lives up to her “skin turning to porcelein, to ivory, to steel” line). As Drake’s debut mixtape, So Far Gone, was gaining traction in 2009, Bun B told Rolling Stone, “It’s just one of those moments in time, where the right person comes with the right music to the people. And there’s quiet dignity even in the middle of the farce that is Sansa’s wedding. “Theon, of house Greyjoy,” Theon announces himself when he’s asked who gives Sansa in marriage. “Who was…who was her father’s ward.” That quiet admission of who he is, and by extension, what he did in conquering Winterfell, is a far more meaningful apology than the one Ramsay wrested from him last episode, using the words as a weapon against Sansa even as he dressed the scene up as a gross parody of reconciliation.

The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth. Olenna confronts Cersei over the arrest, but the Queen Mother insists she had nothing to do with — even as the Queen of Thorns threatens to hold up the shipment of wheat and crops to Kings Landing. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. If only he could have arrived at Winterfell sooner; whether Petyr shows regret or not, if and when he and Sansa are reunited, it’ll be hard to take him seriously, knowing that he was willing for her to suffer this fate in service of his great game.

Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. The only moment when she seems threatened is a similarly intimate one. “Put the pen down, dear, we both know you’re not writing anything,” Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), who has come back to King’s Landing to save her grandson, tells Cersei, puncturing the latter’s facade. “Ah, yes, the famously tart Queen of Thorns,” Cersei tells her. “And the famous tart, Queen Cersei,” Olenna replies. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. The battle brewing up at Winterfell may be more violent, and depending on the outcome of Jon Snow’s mission north of the Wall, may end up changing Westeros’ society forever. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn.

While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Myranda, of course, takes this chance to taunt Sansa with tales of how Ramsay disposes of his girls when he grows bored of them, eventually telling of the Bolton bastard’s “hunts” with his dogs. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. This is my home, and you can’t frighten me.” Later, Reek/Theon arrives to escort Sansa to the Godswood, where she will marry Ramsay, but she refuses to touch him at all.

From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place.

Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

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