Twitter Was Not Okay With the ‘Black Wedding’ on Game of Thrones

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Everything you need to know about Sansa Stark.

Game of Thrones is famous for its tragic weddings, but last night the show pushed that into even darker territory with what fans have dubbed ‘the Black Wedding.’ In the closing scene, Sansa Stark—whom viewers have watched grow up on the show—was forced into a second marriage against her will. The sixth episode of the fifth season, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” concluded with one of the darkest moments in the show’s history: Young Sansa Stark being brutalized on her wedding night by the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. But this time, the wedding night took a stomach-turningly grim turn as Sansa was raped by her new husband, Ramsay, while the brainwashed Theon was forced to watch, unable to intervene. While we’ve become somewhat conditioned to endure a hefty dose of violence in every episode over the years, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” took the story line into some of its darkest territory yet. The character of Ramsay is no stranger to barbaric acts – who can forget the grim scene where he cut off Theon Greyjoy’s penis as part of a torture ritual?

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. Thrones producers shifted this minor character’s ordeal to Sansa to get the Stark heroine back to her home of Winterfell and to give actress Sophie Turner a challenging and compelling storyline this season. “Let me reiterate what I have said before,” Martin told his readers. “How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have? Based on Ramsay Bolton’s past, no one who has followed the series should have been particularly surprised by what happened to the virginal bride, but it was perhaps a bit shocking how much of the graphic scene (which veered far from the course of the books) played out on-screen. 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. Yes, plenty of other things—including several serious power plays—happened in Westeros and beyond in episode 6, but to be honest they all paled in comparison to what befell poor Sansa (Sophie Turner).

The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story … There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. 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. It’s Sansa’s wedding day, and her barely concealed frenemy Myranda arrives to draw her bath and give her “helpful” warnings about making sure she pleases Ramsay so that he doesn’t murder her with dogs. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes.” Martin then went on to defend producers David Benioff, Dan Weiss and Bryan Cogman’s overall faithfulness to his novels. “There has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material, by and large (if you doubt that, talk to the Harry Dresden fans, or readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the fans of the original Walking Dead comic books),” he wrote. “But the longer the show goes on, the bigger the butterflies become. Not counting the dozens (and dozens) of characters sent to an early grave, she has been uniquely brutalized – and that was long before clapping eyes on Ramsay.

Last week, it was hard to watch Ramsay (Iwah Rheon) announce that Theon Greyjoy, aka Reek, (Alfie Allen) would be forced to walk Sansa down the aisle. As my co-host Marc Faletti and I discuss in House Slate, our weekly take on the series, the point of Game of Thrones-—and A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series this show is based on—is to subvert and complicate the standard tropes and narratives of fantasy fiction. Sansa’s no fool anymore, and immediately sees the game being played; she asks Myranda how long she’s been in love with Ramsay, and tells her to get out. “I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell,” she says, sounding more like Catelyn than she ever has before. “This is my home, and you can’t frighten me.” She breaks down a little after Myranda leaves—which is fair enough, since she is in enormous danger—but it’s still a wonderfully fierce moment where we see her projecting the kind of strength we’d expect from her father, her mother, or any warrior we’ve seen holding a sword.

Sansa witnessed the sadistic execution of her father on the orders of cackling fiancé Joffrey, then had to live among her enemies, concealing her hatred behind a smile that seemed to turn sharper at the edges with each fresh humiliation. This week, after their marital vows were complete, Ramsay uses Theon as a weird sort of sexual surrogate before he jumps in to rape his new wife himself while Theon watches.

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. David and Dan and Bryan and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can … but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.” GRRM’s full post can be read here. After spending even more time scrubbing dead bodies for no apparent reason, she loses yet another round of the Game of Faces to Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) when she admits her passionate hatred for the Hound. Her failure to conceal her feelings for the dead man (which obviously include some strange affection that Jaqen could see, even if Arya couldn’t) earns her several whacks with what appeared to be some sort of switch.

Later in the episode, however, Arya seemed to make some forward progress toward her ultimate goal when she ministers to a sick girl whose father brought her to the House of Black and White as a last resort. “A girl is not ready to become no one,” Jaqen mused before adding, “But she is ready to become someone else.” And with that, he leads his protégé down to a cavernous, underground room packed to the brim with dead people’s faces. It has a tendency to use rape sensationally and frequently, not to mention the troubling incident last season where a director filmed a rape scene and didn’t even realize it. In general, I’m not a big fan of people getting raped in entertainment as a manipulative way of heightening the stakes, but I’m even less of a fan of people getting raped in entertainment when it accomplishes absolutely nothing. The battle between the king’s wife and mother heated up as well when Margarery (Natalie Dormer) is called to testify in her brother’s trial. (As a refresher, Margaery’s brother, Loras, was arrested by that extremist religious group called The Sparrows for being gay.) Being the good sister that she is, Margaery defends her sibling, only to have her testimony undercut by Olyvar (Will Tudor), who swiftly convinced everyone in the room (excluding Margaery’s grandmother), that he did, in fact, sleep with Loras and that the ruling queen knew, making her an accomplice to her brother’s “crimes” who must be punished accordingly.

Sansa has spent most of the show suffering and being a victim, and her arc over the last season was satisfying because she finally achieved escape trajectory. Even in the books, where Sansa’s abuse at King’s Landing was more unpleasant, the gauntlet of humiliation and violence stopped when she finally got free of the place. Naturally, she calls out to her husband to come to her rescue, but even though Tommen is the king, he’s also 15, and so he does what pretty much any 15-year-old boy would do: absolutely nothing. That was the triumph at the heart of the moment last season when she emerged at the top of the stairwell in black, announcing her arrival as player rather than pawn.

The first hurdle, however, is that Mycella (Nell Tiger Free) is actually kind of into Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian), her bethrothed, and clearly doesn’t want to be rescued at all. She urged her parents to agree to Robert’s proposal and was thrilled when her father announced he was to bring his two daughters to King’s Landing, where (to his considerable reluctance) he would assume duties as Hand of the King.

After Ned’s execution, it’s implied that she’s sent to one of Littlefinger’s brothels to be prostituted; whip scars are found on her back before Ramsay ever gets to her. Fresh off his trip to deliver Sansa to her groom in Winterfell, Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) shows up in King’s Landing to tell Cersei (Lena Headey) of their wedding—only, he leaves out the part about how he orchestrated it and instead positions it as a back-stabbing move by the Boltons. So I guess the scene with Sansa could have been even more terrible, but that’s like saying it was merciful for the Bolton men to decapitate Robb Stark and sew the head of his direwolf on his corpse, when they could have taken his head and used it to play kickball outside of the Twins. In exchange for his support (which, to be clear, he also promised to Roose Bolton) he wants a guarantee from Cersei that she will make him the new Warden of the North, regardless of how things go down after the battle for Winterfell.

She received a valuable lesson in the random cruelty of life when Queen Cersei insisted Sansa’s direwolf Lady be slaughtered as punishment for Joffrey’s injuries, in place of Arya’s missing pet Nymeria. Now that their wacky road trip has been derailed, Jorah and Tyrion hike up the coast, and finally stop attacking each other verbally and physically, and start talking. However, this demonstration of Joffrey’s wickedness, did little to cool Sansa’s ardour for marriage and the escape it promised from provincial drudgery.

At King’s Landing, her head was turned by the glamour – as underlined by her cruel put-down of Septa Mordane, who had looked after her since she was a baby. After some mournful expressions, the conversation turns to something brighter: Jorah’s massive crush on Daenerys and why he follows her so devotedly. “Do you believe there’s a plan for this world?” Jorah asks.

Still infatuated with Joffrey, she inadvertently helped her father unmask the princeling’s true identity as incestuous son of Jaime and Cersei when she declared he would make for a great king and ‘Golden Lion’. Lady Olenna, meanwhile, has arrived back in King’s Landing to deal with the huge headache that Cersei created by getting Loras arrested for the crime of gayness.

In a conversation that feels like the verbal version of Minesweeper, Lady Olenna asks Cersei if she has really thought this through, since King’s Landing is still completely dependent on Highgarden for gold and food. But the moment you see Olyvar enter the room, you know how this is going to play out: He immediately sells out Loras as his gay sex friend, no doubt for generous compensation from Cersei.

Sansa feared the worst as Tyrion drank himself into a stupor at their wedding and Joffrey, crueller than ever, hinted at the humiliations the dwarf would inflict on his bride in the bed-chamber. In the books: Sansa never leaves the Eyrie and the girl who marries Ramsay is a fraud pretending to be Arya, but Cersei was completely on board with the deception to help her Bolton allies.

We haven’t seen Myrcella in a long time, but now she’s all grown up, and currently acting out her own version of Romeo and Juliet with her (non-sociopathic) fiance, Trystane Martell. He wants to marry her as soon as possible and consummate their love, and they’re making out in the Water Gardens when her uncle/father Jaime emerges in the bloodstained garb of a Dornish soldier, with Bronn at his side. With the wedding celebrations providing a noisy distraction, Olenna slipped the lethal trinket into the king’s cup and condemned him to an excruciating death. On a more mechanical level, the much-anticipated fight scene with the Sand Snakes feels oddly subpar, almost like it was ripped from the outtakes of Reign. This led to a confrontation between Sansa and a jealous Lysa, resulting in Littlefinger pushing the Lady of the Eyrie to her death through the Moon Door.

Rather than a plot to harm Myrcella, there was a plot to prop her up as a Dornish rival to Tommen, although this too failed spectacularly—and cost Myrcella an ear in the chaos. Jaime and Bronn never went to rescue her, although the Kingsguard knight assigned to protect her gets recruited into the scheme by Doran’s daughter Arianne, and killed by Areo Hotah while attempting to smuggle the princess out of Sunspear.

She dyed her distinctive red hair black and swapped her courtly finery for a functional dark ensemble. ‘Goth Sansa’ was born, the naive young girl who had swooned so helplessly over Joffrey gone, never to return. As they negotiated a rutted back-road in a rickety carriage, Sansa inquired as to their ultimate destination. “A land so far from here even Cersei Lannister can’t get her hands on you,” replied her protector, never one to speak plainly when twinkling obfuscation was an option.

In an underplayed irony, they passed a pouting Brienne of Tarth, plunged into an ongoing existential crisis since another Stark sister, Arya, refused her oath of protection last year. The severe blond-haired young girl slams it shut, and when Arya demands to know what they do with the bodies, she says that Arya will know when she’s ready, and not before. Having come teasingly close to meeting, Brienne finally crossed paths with Sansa – before crossing swords with the Stark heiress’s heavily armed retinue. Arya looks pleased to hear that she’s not the only one with a story of familial vengeance, at least until the girl finishes and her face turns cold. “Was that true, or a lie?” Arya looks confused, which is to say she’s lost the game again. She looks up indignant, insisting it was true, but he knows better: “A girl lies, to me, to the Many-Faced god, to herself.” Arya demands that they stop playing the game, but Jaqen offers a hard truth: “We never stop playing.” Just ask Littlefinger.

Rather than mercy killing a child, Arya undergoes a different sort of initiation before she is allowed to enter the chamber of faces, although it could still happen on the show as well. Chuckling, he announced to the Stark princess that the Ironborn traitor, whom she believed responsible for the death of two of her brothers, would walk her up the aisle. A servant informed Sansa that, should she ever be in danger, she had only to light a candle in the tallest tower in the keep – coincidentally the same tower from which Bran was pushed all those years earlier. Sansa was to marry Ramsay Bolton, a political alliance arranged by Littlefinger which she had agreed to on the understanding it would help the Starks reclaim Winterfell.

As she soaped down her romantic rival, Myranda reeled off the names of the paramours Ramsay had broken and cast aside after they had started to ‘bore’ him. He has taken Sansa under his wing and, judging by the several slobbering kisses planted on her lips, it’s an open question whether he sees himself as a munificent uncle figure or something more. It was his idea that Sansa marry Ramsay; now that the younger Bolton’s crazy side is coming to the surface Baelish is, characteristically, nowhere to be seen.

We got a sense of the young Sansa’s tremendous naivety when she conspicuously failed to do the right thing and tell the truth about Joffrey attacking Arya and the butcher’s son.

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