Game of Thrones – Episode 5.6 “Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.”

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Synopsis: Arya washes a body as the Waif (ugh, the Waif) showed her to do. It’s every bit as boring as it sounds. Two men come to take a body away and when Arya follows, the Waif (ugh, the Waif) stops her. Arya blasts some questions to her, and she recounts her history that involves a little step-matricide. When asked if it’s true or not, Arya isn’t sure what’s happening. Later, Arya is visited by Jaqen who asks her who she is. She says Arya, and tells her story and Jaqen slaps her every time she lies. Then Arya shouts she’s not playing anymore, and it’s really a terrible way to open an episode. Tyrion and Jorah continue their tour of Valyria, and Tyrion recounts why he’s on the run. He tells Jorah he knew his father when he went to the wall, and also that he’s passed. Jorah didn’t know, and he’s disheartened to learn he was killed by his own men, and oh god, we’re already back to Arya. In the well room in the House of Black and White, Arya is scrubbing the floor when a man enters with his sick daughter. He tells her he didn’t know where else to go. Arya talks to the sick girl and lies to her about her past, convincing her to drink from the fountain. She does as Jaqen watches. Then, Arya is with the dead girl as Jaqen walks in, inviting Arya to follow him. They go to a room in the basement where thousands of faces are stacked in columns. Jaqen asks her if she’s ready. Back on the road, Tyrion asks Jorah why Daenerys, and he tells her of the birth of her dragons. Before they make it very far, they are captured by some former slaves. The men plan to take Jorah to sell him to the fighting pits, and to sell Tyrion’s cock to a merchant since dwarf cocks are like rabbit’s feet in Valyria.

Baelish arrives back in King’s Landing, but has a run-in with Lancel and the Faith Militant before he makes it to the castle. When he makes it to Cersei, she questions his loyalty to the throne. He confirms it. He adds that he has found Sansa in Winterfell and that she is going to marry Roose’s son. Littlefinger sows to the seeds of discord with Cersei, but calms her by telling her that Stannis is planning to battle the Boltons, and she should wait until one of them wins and then take out the victor. He offers to take the North with the Knights of the Vale in exchange for being named Warden of the North. In Dorne, Myrcella gets shmoopy with Trystane, the prince of Dorne she is to marry as Doran watches. He cautions his guard to be protective of the couple. Jaime finds Myrcella, but before they can convince her to leave the sand snakes attack. The fight is broken up by Doran’s guards. Both sides as well as Ellaria are taken prisoner. Lady Olenna returns to King’s Landing, pissed off at Loras’ arrest. She tells Margaery she will deal with Cersei. Olenna rips into Cersei, who maintains her innocence, says there will be an inquest, not a trial, and the alliance between the Tyrells and the Lannisters will continue, and bids her adieu. The High Sparrow questions Loras and he denies all charges, saying he never lay with Renly or any other man. Loras is dismissed, and then Margaery is called to testify. Margaery reiterates that Loras is innocent. She is dismissed and then Olyvar is brought in. Ruh roh. Olyvar testifies that he banged it out with Loras and that Margaery caught him. And he tells of a birthmark Loras has. Loras is held over for trial. As is Margaery for lying. Check and mate to Cersei. Myranda draws a bath for Sansa, and washes her hair. Myranda talks about Ramsay’s exes that he grew tired of, and how they’ve all ended up, hunted mostly. Sansa dismisses her, in more ways than one. Once she’s dressed, Theon arrives to take Sansa to her wedding under the godswood tree. It would be a sweet wedding were she not marrying a sadist, but they are wed nonetheless. Theon escorts Sansa and Ramsay to the honeymoon suite and Ramsay can’t help but show his true self. He asks if she’s still a virgin. Then, he forces Theon to watch as he rips Sansa’s wedding dress off and then rapes her.

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Comments: Okay, first, the big stuff. Much has been said about Sansa’s rape and the suggestion the show glorified it, and glorifies violence against women in general. To the first point, it didn’t feel exploitive at all. The only skin that was shown was her back as Ramsay ripped her dress open. The rest was handled via audio as the camera focused only on Theon’s crying eyes. It was depraved, to be sure. It was a depraved act. This is the world of Game of Thrones. It’s unfair to say they glorify violence against women, when they really glorify violence against everyone. Heads are chopped off on a semi-regular basis. There are two eunuchs walking around. Swords have gone through faces, babies have been murdered, and skulls have been crushed. This is the nature of the world the show has brought us and they’ve not been shy about that. To call out this violent act but not the others is a bit disingenuous. While the rape of Cersei served no storyline purpose, it was weirdly handled and neither Jaime nor Cersei were affected by it or ever even brought it up again. That was almost completely unnecessary. The only purpose it served was to help prepare the audience for this, in my estimation. Rape is a much bigger part of the world of Game of Thrones. That doesn’t make it right, any more so than a twelve-year-old girl murdering people is right, but we cheer Arya on all the same. I think using rape as a plot device is generally weak, but that comes from having seen nearly every female character on every soap get raped as a means to victimize a character in order to get sympathy. The argument doesn’t work as well here. Sansa has been a victim her entire tenure of the show. She’s a kid that has been shuffled around since her father was appointed Hand, and has always been fucked over for it. Her direwolf was the first one slain, her fairytale prince proved to be a nightmare, her father was beheaded in front of her by said prince, and Littlefinger has dragged her across the rest of the kingdom using her as a pawn in his own evil plots. One of the major character arcs of the entire show has been having this spoiled brat of a character come into her own as a true leader of men. Part of that journey is her survival of Ramsay, but it was in play before then. To have such a vile, depraved sadist such as Ramsay on the show and to have him not torture Sansa would have been a cheap copout. She survived Joffrey, marriage to Tyrion, and her aunt trying to kill her. It would stretch the realm of believability to have her escape her tenure with Ramsay unscathed. Thankfully, the show didn’t wallow in it, or force us to. The known world of Game of Thrones is not black and white, and never has been. Jaime has shoved a kid out a window, banged and raped his sister, and killed the man he was sworn to protect, and he is one of the heroes. Game of Thrones is messy and uncomfortable, and this act fits right in with the world we’ve seen from day one. That being said, this wasn’t a particular good episode for other reasons. For one, the Arya stuff is just interminable. As much as I love the character, easily top three for me, this sidetrack to becoming a ninja just doesn’t play well on the show. They really should have rested her with Bran. Additionally, the editing, jumping back and forth between Arya and Tyrion’s stories and then getting into the action was a bit jumbled, especially when the final chunk of the episode was only on Sansa. Cersei’s plots against the Tyrells escalated with Margaery getting dragged off and poor Tommen watching like a deer in headlights. At least we got Olenna back. The side story of Jaime and Bronn heading to Dorne and facing the sand snakes also feels a bit rushed. The setup makes sense, but we barely have an idea of the sand snakes, or Myrcella for that matter, when the fight breaks out. This was the first season the show got an Emmy for Best Drama Series, and it does feel like the one least deserved. Don’t get me wrong, lesser Thrones trumps a lot of other TV, but even compared to itself, season 5 feels a bit lackluster compared to the seasons that surround it, but more than halfway through the season and I can see why a lot of this stuff didn’t fully stick with me. It’s also interesting that this was the season that really moved beyond the books and took on a lot more liberties with the storytelling.

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Quotes:
Tyrion: You can’t just hand a dried cock to a merchant and expect him to pay for it. He has to know it came from a dwarf. And how could he know unless he sees the dwarf?
Slave: It will be a dwarf-sized cock.
Tyrion: Guess. Again.

Jaime: I like to improvise.
Bronn: That explains the gold hand.

Cersei: Well, if it isn’t the famous tart-tongued Queen of Thorns.
Olenna: Well, if it isn’t the famous tart, Queen Cersei.

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Foreshadowing: The Faith Militant continues to be built up and Cersei’s hubris is nearing Joffrey level. Sansa’s scene with Myranda shows that she’s beginning to figure people out. 

Title: The words of House Martell, which Ellaria says to the sand snakes before they take on Jaime and Bronn. 

Deaths: The young girl that Arya gave the water to. She went from being ill to having her face in the hall of faces.

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