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This week’s Game of Thrones is a rather difficult watch, and it’s already got fans blowing smoking holes in comment sections all across the interwebs.
Let’s get the really grim stuff out of the way first. Sansa (Sophie Turner) gets her red hair back and puts on a white dress to marry Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) in the snowy Godswood at Winterfell. Turner looks seriously stunning in these scenes, but they’re still incredibly uncomfortable to watch, because we know they ain’t going to end well. In a scene which will once again split fans of GOT into various factions, Ramsay rapes his new bride while forcing Theon (Alfie Allen) to watch.
Now, here’s where it gets a tad complicated. Before this season began, I can remember warning the showrunners that if they didn’t tone down the rape they were going to have some serious trouble on their hands – trouble in the shape of a lot of viewers swearing off GOT altogether and deciding to do something else with their Monday nights. A large portion of the outrage is due to the fact that writing duo Weiss/Benioff have a habit of putting rape scenes where no rape scenes were ever meant to be – i.e., George R. R. Martin didn’t put them in the book, and they add nothing to the plot (see the Drago/Daenerys rape, the Jaime/Cersei rape, and now the Ramsay/Sansa rape).
To be fair, the Ramsay/Sansa rape isn’t in the books because in the books it isn’t Sansa who marries Ramsay (BOOK SPOILER: it’s a minor character called Jeyne Pool who is pretending to be Arya at the time, but I guess they wanted to streamline the plot a little for the show). In the book, I’m told, the scene is also much more harrowing. Even so, it’s still an incredibly difficult watch, not least because of Allen’s distressingly skilful performance (which is in itself pretty damning, as it makes Sansa’s rape about Theon instead of about her, and suggests that her character development is now going to be sidelined in favour of his).
It’s also a scene we really didn’t need to be shown. We know the score by now – Ramsay’s a gleefully insane serial killer. We didn’t need to actually see what he chose to inflict on two of the most already abused characters in the entire show on his wedding night. A closed door (followed by a cut to black) would have been far more effective; most of us are intelligent enough to work out what’s probably happening on the other side. And even if the showrunners had decided to go down that road – well, rape as a plot device; it’s never a good idea. It’s up to each viewer what they decide to do, but I suspect that this episode might be the final nail in the coffin for some.
Moving on, let’s talk about Jorah (Iain Glen) for a minute. Now, Jorah doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would be ‘that dude’ in the zombie movie – you know, that dude, the one that gets a tiny infected scratch and doesn’t tell his friends about it in the hope that everything will pan out fine, and then ends up going full zombie at a really awkward moment and chowing down on his best mate. And yet, here we have him wandering Westeros like Typhoid Mary with that patch of greyscale on his wrist, and now that he and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) have been captured by slavers, who knows how many people he could be about to infect. Is that how winter is finally going to come? Not from the White Walker zombies of the North, but from Jorah bleeding Mormont and his army of greyscale spreading slaves?
In other news we got some truly great interaction between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Olenna (Diana Rigg), the two queen bitches of the universe, when they went head to head over the imprisonment of Loras (Finn Jones). At the end of the day Cersei proves she’s still top dog when she engineers the imprisonment of Margaery (Natalie Dormer) too, while ‘King’ Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman) looks on in helpless horror. Now things are looking seriously screwed for the Tyrells, and unless Olenna can come up with a totally AH-MAZING plan to get them out of trouble, it might be goodnight, Highgarden.
In Dorne, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) finally get to the water gardens and prepare to kidnap Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), who doesn’t appear to be at all keen on being kidnapped, judging by the fact that she’s sucking the face off Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian) when they rock up. And of course, by some happy coincidence, they arrive on exactly the same day (at exactly the same moment) that Ellaria (Indira Varma) and the Sand Snakes have also decided to try to kidnap Mrycella.
‘Oh for fuck’s sake,’ sighs Bronn, speaking for us all as the Sand Snakes whirl out of nowhere. Seriously, I couldn’t be more bored out of my mind by the Sand Snakes. Aren’t they supposed to be Oberyn’s badass bastard daughters? They don’t seem all that badass to me; that poorly choreographed fight scene was a bit of a let-down, and the fighting style of the Sand Snakes seems very reminiscent of Oberyn’s – lots of prancing about with little substance. Are the Dornish all mouth and no trousers?
No Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) this week, and no Jon (Kit Harington) at the Wall either, which is probably a good thing as the show has been spending rather a lot of time on both of those storylines lately. Instead we get another eerie glimpse into Arya’s (Maisie Williams) life at the House of Black and White; she finds out what’s been happening to all of the dead bodies she’s been so carefully washing, and also how the faceless men can be so, well, faceless. They’ve got an entire hall of magically preserved dead faces to choose from, and the shots of Williams wandering wide-eyed among them is one of the most arresting images of this season so far.
It’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen next week, but I for one would like to see Stannis (Stephen Dillane) get his kingly ass to Winterfell and start raising hell from without while Sansa burns it down from within. It’s time for the Boltons to reap the whirlwind.
Best Scene: It’s a toss-up between Arya entering the creepy hall of faces and Cersei and Olenna chucking not-so-veiled insults at each other
Best Line: “Guess again” – Tyrion Lannister