Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

In Braavos

Arya is still washing bodies and losing patience with it as she rants at her fellow body-scrubber. Arya’s arguments eventually get her fellow.. apprentice? To reveal her story of poisoning her wicked stepmother with the help of the faceless men.

It does stop Arya from continually claiming she’s “no-one” like she can reach the end of her training by insisting it’s true – and next time Jaqen H’ghar asks who she is, she responds with her name. She recounts her history and he hits her every time she edits her past until she reaches the point where she says she hated the Hound and he hits her several times while she insists it wasn’t a lie. And he hits her again when she claims to truly want to be no-one.

Later she is scrubbing the floor by the well of death when a man brings in his sick daughter. He’s spent every penny he has on healers and they’ve failed to cure her – now she just suffers constantly and he wants it to end. Arya goes to the girl and lies to her – comforting her with the belief that the fountain will heal her. She gives the girl the water while Jaqen watches from the shadows.

later as she tenderly tends the girl’s body, Jaqen silently leaves the door open where she’d always been barred, where they take the bodies. She follows to a vast, vaulted room filled with many heads, Jaqen asks her if she’s ready to give up all she is to become no-one – and he thinks she isn’t. But she is ready to become someone else.

In Valaria

Jorah hasn’t been cured in the time between episodes and still has the patch of stony skin, making this the fastest onset disease ever. Tyrion annoys Jorah sufficiently until Jorah finally asks why Tyrion is even in Essos and hears about Tywin’s death. Tyrion credits Jorah for having the better father – the former commander of the Night’s Watch. Which is a bit of unfortunate praise because Jorah wasn’t aware of the “former” part.                                   

As they walk Jorah describes how impressive and awe inspiring Daenerys is while Tyrion asks some pointed questions – like how is it just for a woman who has never lived in Westeros to rule it? What makes her the rightful heir? Her cruel and sadistic dad? His interesting analysis of politics is interrupted by slavers who kidnap them – planning to kill Tyrion but instead they decide to sell his cock because there’s some kind of market in dwarf penis

Really? I get that Game of Thrones wants to establish the derision and revulsion that Little People face in this world but this runs to the level of parody

Jorah protests that Daenerys is against slavery, but the slavers have heard that the Fighting Pits are open again so clearly slavery must be back on again. Tyrion, always quick, leaps on the idea and sells Jorah’s excellent fighting prowess as a way of making them a fortune in the pits.

Kings Landing

Baelish returns to the city to find the Sparrows with Lancel waiting for him. They don’t like Baelish and all his brothels though Cersei’s name still carries weight. He has the best come back “we both peddle fantasies, mine just happen to be entertaining.”

Baelish tries to convince Cersei what blood stupid idea everything she does is – and she responds with lots of homophobia. She also pretty much openly acknowledges that Baelish virtually controls the Vale and wants to know if the Vale will stand with the king (worth noting at this point that, other than Dorne, the Vale is the only land to have been completely neutral in the war of a gazillion kings – and to have suffered no losses). Baelish reassures her while promising nothing, Cersei, having lost so much of her wit, doesn’t seem to notice it.

Baelish tells Cersei about Sansa in Winterfell – ready to marry Ramsay with added poking that the Lannisters were out of their ever loving minds to put so much trust in people who were so quick to betray their lords. Cersei responds with emotion while Baelish tries to encourage her to at least try to think if strategy he also neatly exposes that Cersei doesn’t actually have that many resources (The Tyrells won’t, Kevan controls the Lannister armies and doesn’t like her and Jaime is away…) so offers the Vale knights. In exchange for being Warden of the North. She accepts.

Remember when Cersei was a cunning political operative? Or… well… at least half way decent anyway?

Lady Olenna arrives in the capital to meet Margaery. In between crude and insulting ways to reference Loras and gay men (because even his supposed champions can’t dredge up an ounce of respect), Olenna decides she will deal with Cersei. Cersei tries to trade barbs with Olenna and Cersei tries to dismiss Olenna’s “veiled threats”. “What veil?” Cersei insists on the “inquest” for Loras.

SO we have to have the whole disgusting homophobic inquest. After many denials they bring in Olyvar who testifies against Loras. He uses a birth mark as proof of his claims (um… he just claimed to be Loras’s squire? As in the man who would help Loras dress, would help him remove his armour and – as we’ve seen with Jaime and Brienne, likely shared communal bathing). This leads to Margaery being accuses of perjury as well.


Mycella and Tyistane are all lovey-dovey and romantic while Doran looks on oddly indulgent of his son and the daughter of his greatest enemy.

Jaime and Bronn arrive at the Water Gardens, just as Ellaria dispatches the Sand Snakes. Jaime gets to his daughter/niece first and Trystane is suspicious – so Bronn knocks him out. Mycella is not happy and then the Sand Snakes arrive. They fight dramatically before Doran’s guards arrive.

Everyone is dragged off, including Ellaria.


It’s Sansa’s wedding day and Myranda arrives to help her get ready while trying to throw as many spanners in the works as she can. Sansa’s not a fool and can see through Myranda’s jealousy. Theon leads Sansa to the Godswood for the ceremony. Most notable in the ceremony is Theon using his real name. And Sansa marries Ramsay

And on the wedding night, Ramsay asks after her virginity (since she was married to Tyrion). And he insists Theon stay and watch as he abuses and rapes Sansa

Do I need to comment on this episode? Or should I just glare?

Let’s start with the brutalisation of Sansa. Again. Why? Why is this even here? To show Ramsay is a monster? Well thank goodness for that, I’m sure the audience was convinced he was the Lord of Kittens and kindness and sweet little orphans! It was so damn essential the writers cleared up that confusion!

To show how women are weak and powerless and sexualised in Westeros? Oh well it’s not like the 80 squillion breasts for no damn good reason didn’t already make that clear! It’s not like we don’t already have more than enough rape staining this damn show. And it’s not like Sansa IS powerless here! The Bolton’s have openly declared that they cannot hold the North without Sansa – they need Sansa, they need her on side. They don’t need her rallying a rebellion, Roose even told Ramsay not to hurt her. By every shred of logic, Ramsay should have kept his inner monster on leash and played nice.

This also undermines everything Sansa has been heading towards, a woman escaping from one abusive relationship now more political adept and capable and ready to take the world by storm…. Aaaand no. She’s back to being the abused, helpless waif, powerless, surrounded by enemies, unable to do more than endure torment. AGAIN.

But not only does it derail her character development – it’s also pretty clearly entirely for THEON’S development. Oh don’t tell me this isn’t going to be what finally sets “Reek” back on the path of redemption as he decides he simply must rescue poor, raped damsel Sansa. A grossly unnecessary, gratuitous rape thrown in just so a female character’s suffering can inspire a man – there is no place for this, no need for this, no excuse for this – it should not be there.

And on to Loras. Knight, commander, general, heir to a great house? No, he’s none of those things. He’s the gay lord of gayness whose every damn storyline (if the brief moments he appears on screen can be called that) is all about how gay he is (never mind him supposedly being on of the finest generals and warriors in the Seven Kingdoms) accompanied by lashings and lashings of homophobia. The book rendered his sexuality almost invisible but that’s preferable to this ongoing homophobia gay joke split by pointless, dragged-out-of-nowhere homophobia because how else are the writer’s going to write a gay man? And he’s not even important enough to go after in his own right – he’s just a pawn to get at his sister.

And remember when the Sparrows were originally about feeding the poor? Or is commentary about the poor starving and being abused without justice while rich people play silly games just a bit too controversial when you can throw in some gay bashing instead?

Oh and let’s top this all off with a bunch of Black slavers capturing and planning to sell two white guys – because slavery in this world is clearly and evil and wretched institution that POC engage in but the white characters are far too good and honourable to tolerate. Seriously, every POC society seems to embrace slavery – all of Essos loves its slaves – but the one society who doesn’t approve? Westeros. The person running around Essos stopping slavery? The fairest of them all, Daenerys, a Valerian which I Westeros for “people so white even Hitler would insists they tan a bit”.

I would say “do better” Game of Thrones but, really, “doing better” would be setting the bar far too damn low. It’s not hard to do better when this is the standard.