Game of Thrones S. 5, E. 6: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Anyone else really expect to see eyes open when she poked that face? Image source: HBO Viewer's Guide

Anyone else really expect to see eyes open when she poked that face? Image source: HBO Viewer’s Guide

Well… that was week 6. First things first – these are just my opinions, in no way are they meant to be offensive, and they might not match your opinions (and please note, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other lovely writers of Ladies On The Shelf). I’m aware that this episode was highly controversial, and I plan on discussing this honestly and invite you to do the same!

So… Let me just say that I’m a bit frustrated with some of the reactions I have seen. I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND that the final scenes of episode six were extremely upsetting – as I was watching them I, too, scoffed in disgust. I do think that the show could have handled it differently.

That being said… Many bloggers I follow are crying foul at this scene – while at the same time saying they love the books. The Mary Sue did just that while stating they’ll no longer even discuss Game of Thrones. Here’s my issue: this act occurred in the books, but with more violence and humiliation. Jeyne Poole was forced to wed Ramsay, who abused the hell out of her – he made Theon physically degrade her, he made her engage in sexual acts with dogs, and he raped her multiple times. She was bruised and beaten and raped and known for her sobbing. I’m confused as to how you can love the one, while saying the other was so much worse, for essentially the same act done by the same character?

And this is neglecting to mention the other heinous acts of sexual violence throughout the books. Mirri Maz Dur was raped, her people killed and later set on fire. Tywin had a whole host of guards rape Tysha before making Tyrion do the same. Ramsay himself was a product of rape. This isn’t to say there’s any condoning sexual violence. It just happens to be an aspect of medieval period fiction, which is what A Song of Ice and Fire aims to be, in addition to being a horrifically violent, brutal and unforgiving series.

In the past, I have totally agreed that the show has misused rape (particularly in season 1 with Drogo and Daenerys and in season 4 between Jamie and Cersei). Those instances felt more like adding controversy for the sake of controversy. This… I certainly didn’t want to see poor Sansa abused so horribly. Yet at the very least, I don’t think it should have been a surprise that Ramsay would have done such a thing. For those saying they’ve flipped the tables and are using this to develop Theon’s character while cutting down Sansa – we don’t know that yet. Personally, I believe she is already a much stronger character than the one we have known in the books, and I can see her developing well beyond being a victim, and instead taking power into her own hands. I think (hope, anyway) that that is the direction the show has been steering her in. This comment has some additional thoughts on this that mirror my own.

A final thought: I do agree that stuff like this makes it hard to recommend Game of Thrones to friends and family. Why do I watch it? Because I enjoyed the study of the complexities of the nature of good and evil in the books, and I enjoy (sometimes) watching a show that tries to interpret these complexities for a mass audience. Do they fail sometimes? Often. But it’s still (at least based on) compelling storytelling, and compelling stories are not necessarily always meant to make you feel happy. It’s definitely not for everyone.


Speaking of failures… Can we talk about how fucking lame that fight scene in Dorne was? That was some pretty Laurel and Hardy-looking shit from Jamie and Bronn. Don’t get me started on the Sand Snakes. Is that seriously the best the writers could do? I AM A DAUGHTER OF OBERYN MART… Ah who gives a fuck. Just… Ugh. UGH.

Still in the category of failures… “Cock merchant”? COME ON. THIS is why I have started to dislike the show – the systematic pandering. Tyrion is often just a mechanism for one liners. Jamie and Bronn are BFFs. Loras isn’t one of the best fighters in the realm, he’s a pretty boy who has open affairs. A whole scene dedicated to Lady Olenna pausing to comment on the smell of shit?!?!?!?!?!? Are we adults, or are we children who laugh at dick jokes? (Okay, sometimes we laugh at dick jokes. But seriously.) I’m a little frustrated with Game of Thrones at this point in the season, okay?

I digress…

At one point while reading the series, I did find that I really enjoyed Arya’s adventures in Braavos. Here, there’s something a little too flat about them. Perhaps it’s because I can’t discern a greater purpose? If Arya Stark becomes no one, as she is currently striving to do, what will be her place in the world? Will she forever abandon Westeros? Will she have any role in the game of thrones?

If we might revisit Winterfell once more… Those performances by Alfie Allen and Sophie Turner are just top notch, as hard as they are to watch. That walk up the aisle was captivating, in a horrible way. And Theon said his real name!

I’m a little confused as to a) how Littlefinger made it to King’s Landing so quickly and b) how it all worked out so well for him regarding his little tattletale. I feel like Cersei would be more eager to go after Sansa, and not placated by Stannis going to root her out. Sure, when the dust settles there will be fewer (thanks Stannis!) enemies to kill – but Cersei isn’t the most logical person we’ve met (as exhibited brilliantly by her alienation of all of her allies). She believes Sansa killed her son! But hey, Petyr Baelish is apparently some kind of word magician, skilled at making people do all kinds of uncharacteristic things. I suppose in exchange for his tattle, he could definitely expect some help setting up shop in Winterfell at a later time.

One more thing… Cersei vs. Margaery is one of my favorite rivalries in the books – and it’s just getting juicier and juicier on the show! I’m a little disappointed that Margaery was arrested for lying during trial (a crime she actually committed) instead of for indecency like in the books. That accusation made the whole ordeal much more interesting, I think. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens to the queen since she was basically proven a liar in front of a whole court of people. Certainly not good for her.

The end of the season is poised for some pretty significant scenes. Between Daenerys and the fighting pits (and wearing a white dress in the promos), Arya getting a new identity(?), Jon Snow getting ready to leave the Wall, Margaery on trial, and Stannis marching to take down the Boltons, I’m not sure what I think the traditionally pivotal episode 9 will carry. My guess: Boltons vs. Baratheons vs. Brienne. It will, however, be interesting to see what makes it into the rest of season 5.


  1. We’re pretty much on the same page when it comes to the final scene of the episode. I respect that people are angry that Sansa has been put in for Jeyne Poole, but as soon as she was betrothed to Ramsay, I knew. The show runners are faithfully adapting Theon’s story, and I’m not going to try to convince anyone otherwise, but I have always been very interested in his story.

    As a book reader, I felt for all of the characters, especially secondary characters who were caught up in events, and that included Jeyne Poole. Especially Jeyne Poole. So the current anger in place for Sansa, that is withheld for Jeyne seems misplaced. I can be upset about both instances, and still want to continue the story.

    Anyway, pretty much everything you said about the Sansa storyline, I agree with.

    Littlefinger appearing in King’s Landing did seem magical. At least the show paced it out with a full episode of travel. (Although Littlefinger is always popping around the map. Maybe he hitched a ride on a raven.)

    I was okay with Cersei’s reaction to Sansa. She called Littlefinger down to ensure she had his support when she kicked off a war with the Tyrells (who else would she be going to war with?) Littlefinger bringing up Roose Bolton’s virtual secession of the North by marrying Sansa to Ramsay must have been the last thing she wanted to hear, if she was planning on taking on Highgarden. So Baelish’s assurances that Stannis and the Boltons would mutually weaken one another would be a likely straw for her to grasp at.

    I think the reality of Dorne in the books has proved much too complex for them to adapt, unfortunately. They seem to have cut corners at every turn, which is sad since Dorne is so great, and you’d think dropping Jaime and Bronn in would be so badass. We still have a lot of Dorne scenes from the trailers to get through, so maybe things will turn around. We’ll see.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the episode. I do all of my Game of Thrones blogging in between seasons, so I’ll have a lot of time to come up with a suitable article about the Sansa/Theon storyline.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. brendantbewley

    Completely agree concerning the kind of hypocritical stance of book readers. I actually think it’s more problematic in the books, where a character is introduced just to be abused (and then rescued) by men. By making the rape part of Sansa’s larger story arc, which will almost certainly include retaliation on her part, I think they improved on the book version immensely.

    I have the flipped experience on Arya’s material…I found her chapters in Feast for Crows kind of frustrating and it didn’t really capture my interest. But I liked her training in the show. The game of faces they did early on was more interesting than any training scene I remember from the book, and the hall of faces was creepier and cooler on screen than in my head.

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: