Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6 Recap

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 6 Review: Another Terrible Wedding.

The use of sexual violence as plot device is not new to “Game of Thrones” and it’s not unique just to this show, either. It may not have been as shocking or out of the blue as the Red Wedding or Ned Stark’s death, but Ramsay raping Sansa Stark on their wedding night while forcing Theon/Reek to watch comes pretty close.

At the House of Black and White, Arya Stark (or, “no one,” if you prefer) continues to wash the bodies of the people who have come to die at the mysterious temple. But while on each occasion in the past it’s been plenty disturbing, tonight’s closing scene with Ramsay Bolton and Sansa was just flat-out disgusting. But the brutality Sansa Stark suffers at the hands of Ramsay Bolton is a horse of a different color. [Spoilers] Sansa Stark has tumbled helplessly from one torturer to the next for four seasons now, from Joffrey and Cersei’s abuse and humiliation, to her Aunt Lysa’s unhinged jealousy, to Ramsay Bolton’s gleeful sadism. If nothing else, it certainly sets the stakes very high for Sansa and those around her: Brienne of Tarth and Podrick, who are so nearby yet so far away; Theon himself, who is broken almost completely (but not entirely); Stannis and his armies on their slow march south to Winterfell; and her half-brother, Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Even if you’ve never read the books (myself included and that shouldn’t limit anyone’s enjoyment of the show) it’s hard not to know that what happens to Sansa in this episode doesn’t happen to Sansa in the books.

Ramsay is basically Joffrey on steroids—what Joffrey could have been if he’d lived just a little bit longer and had even fewer moral and behavioral restraints. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons now seem a natural storyline fit for Game of Thrones’ walking misfortune magnet—which is the last thing Sansa deserves. When he asks who she is, she responds with her true identity as the youngest daughter of House Stark, dropping the “no one” pretense—Jaqen knows she isn’t ready to give up her true identity. Alyssa Rosenberg has a smart take on the scene, and the sensitivity of its filming, and how it leaves Sansa with a bit of dignity in how it is presented. In Sunday night’s episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” Sansa and Ramsay were finally wed, in keeping with Littlefinger and Roose Bolton’s political maneuverings.

The family is famed for their claim — unique among everyone else in Westeros, including the Lannisters and the Starks — as a house that has never been conquered by another. In the Targaryen dynasty that set the stage for the events of Game of Thrones, the Martells were only brought under the Iron Throne’s control by a political double-marriage, fortifying their reputation as a family that will not compromise, surrender, or be defeated.

In a broader, more thematic sense, that refusal to yield runs through this week’s episode, which forgoes bigger set pieces to focus on a few individual characters as they struggle to remain stoic in the face of pressure, scrutiny, and trauma. But as scenes like this have continued to be a common occurrence through five seasons, it feels like some viewers may have reached a point of no return. As the pair discuss Daenerys’ abilities as a ruler (or lack thereof) and the Targaryen family’s reputation for insanity, they are captured by a group of slavers.

They want to send Jorah to labor on a galley or in a salt mine, and they want to kill Tyrion, cutting off his head as well as another body part that the Lannister lord holds very dear (and that apparently fetches a hefty sum for its supposed magical properties). The manner by which Tyrion successfully begs for his life is unexpected to say the least, and “The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant” has to be one of the strangest phrases uttered throughout the series. Ramsay’s jealous plaything tries her hand at intimidating Sansa, telling her about all of Ramsay’s past lovers who he got bored of, including that one who ended up becoming dog dinner. On the strength of his testimony, both Tyrell children are seized and imprisoned, with Margaery finally losing her cool and screaming through the halls as she is taken away. When the slavers mention that Dany has reopened the fighting pits in Meereen, Tyrion tells them that Jorah is a veteran of “a hundred battles,” and that he would be better suited for the blood sport of the pits than hard labor.

In Season 2, Sansa became a glorified hostage in King’s Landing, where she was denied her own identity: She was forced to wear Lannister clothing, denounce her family as traitors, and profess undying love for her psychopathic King Joffrey. Getting to Meereen by ship will certainly be quicker than walking, but when they get there, they’ll have a hard time meeting with the Queen as slaves. She quickly knocks Myranda down a peg — “What was your name again?” — before exposing her obvious jealousy and pulling a “do you know who I am??” (The exact words were: “I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. A scene that felt excruciating at the time looks tame compared to what Sansa endured last night: “Leave her face; I like her pretty,” Joffrey had said, as he ordered Meryn Trant to strip Sansa naked and beat her in front of his entire court, supposed retribution for her brother Robb’s recent military win.

Luckily, their grandmother — Olenna “Queen of Thorns” Tyrell (Diana Rigg) — has returned to King’s Landing to try and smooth things out, and she’s an absolute, ruthless pro at playing the game. Anyone too bored by the show won’t be after tonight’s episode (though lots of people will pretend to quit watching, no doubt, as we’ve seen so many times before.) This is also hardly the first time that the show has introduced sexual violence and rape. She unwittingly wore a necklace containing poison that Lady Olenna Tyrell slipped into Joffrey’s wine, making her, yet again, just a passive observer in her own affairs.

Remember, though, that he promised support to Roose Bolton against the crown, and told Sansa that he was betting on Stannis Baratheon beating Roose and becoming the new Warden of the North. Notable is that Theon is able to refer to himself as Theon of House Greyjoy, the first official acknowledgment of his past, and perhaps a springboard into reclaiming his identity. But even Olenna Tyrell might bow to the intricate, strategic web woven by Littlefinger, whose plan is even more far-reaching and complicated than it first appeared. Back in their quarters, you get the feeling things are going to bad — Ramsay is involved, so it almost goes without saying — but at first there’s hope that it will just be more of his uncomfortable line of questioning and will end there. Littlefinger soothes Cersei outrage with a simple promise: Let Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton slaughter each other in the oncoming battle of ice, and he will send his Vale knights in to clean up the mess so no Lannister men are harmed.

But femininity has never precluded agency in Westeros. (See: Margaery Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen.) When will she shed her “bystander to tragedy” designation and rip the Boltons a new one? It’s a bold endgame, and — presuming Littlefinger had a hand in his employee Olyvar’s damning testimony of the Tyrell family — an extremely complicated one. In Dorne, Trystane and Myrcella walk through the Water Gardens, kissing, making out, and planning to ask Trystane’s father, Prince Doran, to have them wed sooner rather than later. There’s been much talk of his former ward, Sansa Stark, going “dark” this season — and after last week’s unfortunate trip to Winterfell’s dog pound, it seemed like Ramsay’s former flame Myranda was only there to rattle Sansa’s cage.

Happily, after watching her administer her first in-temple death sentence, Jaqen H’ghar deems Arya ready to take on her first disguise—probably the old woman Arya seemed taken by in the sanctum. Her experiences have given her confidence; where once she was content to marry Joffrey and become a Lannister, Sansa is now hellbent on retaining her identity as a Northerner.

The raging Sand Snakes, dead-set on starting a war with the Lannisters to exact revenge for their dead father, Oberyn, clash with the sneaks in a battle that, ultimately, feels a little disappointing. Bronn punches Trystane out when he draws his sword, and it turns into an all-out melee when the Sand Snakes show up—Obara with her spear, Nym with her whip, and Tyene with her daggers.

Myranda is sent scuttling off after her scare tactics don’t work, and later, when Sansa is dressing for her wedding, she is similarly cold to Reek, who has come dressed as Theon Greyjoy. Though he’s been tasked with giving her away, Sansa refuses to link arms with him, something which sets him off into a twitching mess as he worries what Ramsay will do to him. She is great at doing that thing where she’s obviously lying and taking delight in lying straight to someone’s face and they know she’s lying right to their face but can’t do anything about it. Finally they get to the point: She wants to know if the Knights of the Vale will support the crown in battle and Littlefinger says he has always counseled loyalty to the throne, which isn’t quite a straight yes, is it?

Tyrion and Jorah encounter Agbaje as Malko, a cutthroat slaver who almost chops off Tyrion’s “dwarf cock” to sell it to someone whose job description is literally “cock merchant.” (“A dwarf’s cock has magic powers”; the more you know!) Tyrion manages to talk his way out of his dismemberment by pointing out that a merchant would have no way of knowing whether the penis actually came from a dwarf. “It will be a dwarf-sized cock,” one of Malko’s lackeys tries. “Guess again,” Tyrion snarls. Leaving aside the questionable loyalties of the lords of the Eyrie and the unknown outcome of the battles in the North, there are plenty of problems facing Littlefinger. He’s been teased as a cautious and wise leader, and has expressed his desire to avoid war—but he also lost a brother and sister to the Lannisters. Myranda tries to scare Sansa with stories of Ramsay’s horrible behavior with past lovers, how he hunts them down with dogs for sport once they become “boring” to him.

Littlefinger preaches patience and suggests Cersei let Stannis and the Boltons fight each other, and when the winner of the battle is recovering and nursing their wounds, that is the time to pounce. She is not happy to be back in the capital for both the surroundings (“you can smell the s— from five miles away”) and the circumstances (her grandson’s ridiculous detainment). The scene isn’t exactly graphic, but it feels needlessly explicit — especially after the highly criticized incident last year between Jaime and Cersei. Their initial back and forth does not disappoint. “The famously tart-tongued Queen of Thorns,” Cersei greets her. “And famous tart, Queen Cersei,” Olenna replies. Given their role in the murders of her mother and brother, Sansa didn’t need more reason to seek revenge on the Boltons, but her rape will likely redouble her desire for vengeance.

In an interrogation overseen by the High Sparrow, Olyver, Littlefinger’s blonde brothel boy, spills the beans about his affair with Loras (including a damning detail about the Dorne-shaped birthmark on his thigh). It may also change Sansa’s relationship with Theon, as they connect over the abuse they are subjected to by Ramsay. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” leaves season five in a tricky place. She then gives Cersei a version of “I knew Tywin Lannister and you’re no Tywin Lannister.” See, he wasn’t likable or trustworthy, but he understood how the world worked. But for now, we’ll have to settle for watching the Queen Mother’s ever-cool facade start to slip. (The tiny, frustrated sighs she emits during a conversation with Olenna—in which she calls Cersei a tart!—are satisfying beyond measure.) But in the end, we’re left with Sansa’s sobs.

—Hotah recognizes Jaime, saying, “When you were whole, it would have been a good fight.” The guy’s never going to live down the whole “missing-a-hand” thing. This might mean he’ll play a part in freeing the girl from her newest captors (a teaser for next week’s episode shows Sansa telling him, “My family still has friends in the North”). Is Littlefinger simply shoring up all his bets, preparing for the inevitable—a winner he can side with, quite possibly even the young Targaryen, mother of dragons. Jorah is also inspecting his greyscale-infected arm, but the less said about that the better. (I think that is legitimately his strategy right now.) They get some good backstory in — Tyrion explains to Jorah he’s on the run because he killed his father and speaking of fathers, yours was a good man. “Was,” as in, is no longer with us. We don’t see Jon Snow this episode either, but it’s worth noting that Tyrion speaks of this betrayal now, just as Jon himself has taken on the mantle of Lord Commander, just as his own men begin to question his leadership.

He decided to pledge loyalty to Daenerys after he saw her walk into a fire with three stone eggs and emerge alive with three baby dragons. “Have you ever heard a baby dragon singing?” Jorah asks Tyrion. Tyrion isn’t exactly convinced that simply having dragons will make her a good ruler of Westeros, especially since she’s never actually set foot in Westeros and the Targaryens have a history of insanity. And sizes up Tyrion, who is worthless, except for Tyrion’s favorite part of his own body. (From a dwarf, that’s a collector’s item, apparently.) Some quick bargaining by Tyrion saves his throat (and his appendage). Sure, some of his victories have come at jousts — “a fancy game for fancy lads,” Eko says — but Jorah impresses them enough with tales of his feats that he earns himself a trip to Slaver’s Bay to prove his worth with a sword. Perhaps even someone wiser, now, who understands how useless the death of one Lannister thug is compared to the Mountain, or to Tywin himself, or to all her true enemies.

I wonder if that means he’ll have to engage in some combat later… Bronn and Jaime are approaching, with Bronn providing the travel soundtrack with his singing; he really loves music. Cersei doing her best (no matter how stupid her plan) to ruin the Tyrells and secure her own power over both Tommen and the throne—so sure she is of herself, so prideful, that she can’t even see what wildfire she’s playing with. What will happen at the Wall, and in Jon’s journey to save the rest of the Wildlings (thereby ensuring they don’t transform into an army of the walking dead)? She’s getting very good at cleaning dead bodies, but still doesn’t quite get the hang of abandoning her identity, which is a prerequisite for becoming a Faceless Man.

Jaqen H’ghar interrogates her, which involves some serious slapping, which unfortunately is not even close to the worst abuse to befall a Stark girl this hour. As Arya comforts a dying girl brought into the House, she does so by telling her a complete lie, fabricating a new life story for herself, saying that she, too, was once sick and dying.

It’s like a cross between that room in the FBI building where they keep all the files in “The X-Files,” except filled with “Futurama” disembodied heads.

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