Game Of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
After last week’s highly focused episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” returns to a number of the other storylines. Arya in Bravos and Jamie in Dorne have been the two least developed storylines of the season and while both move forward this episode, only one them is hitting the mark. Without Jon’s storyline, arguably the season’s strongest, or a highlight moment like Drogon in Valyria, this episode feels like a bit of a mixed bag. Full spoilers ahead.
I’m still processing the final scene and what to make of it. It’s disturbing to say the least. I do think it’s clear that the writer’s intention is to depict Sansa getting raped. The fact that this is her wedding night which she knew was coming and that Ramsey is now her husband doesn’t make it right. I think that’s a important distinction in light of last season’s controversial scene with Jamie and Cersei.
Another reason it’s a difficult scene to watch is that Sansa’s been relatively protected up to this point. Tyrion never layed a hand on her and the Hound saved her from getting raped during the riot. We’ve also seen Sansa make some strides last season in handling Lysa’s death at the inquisition and in holding her own against Myranda during her bath. So it feels like we’re taking a step back in terms of her character’s agency though I’m not really sure what she could have done.
Going into this season there was speculation on seeing a Dark Sansa, perhaps as an instrument of vengeance for her family but what we’ve seen from her is sadly a powerless pawn. Perhaps then having Sansa going from dark hair back to red is symbolic in some way. Sansa is a character that we’ve seen grown up and go through so much pain, I can’t help but to feel bad for her. Alfie Allen’s facial expression is excellent, adding to the horror of it all.
I used to think that Littlefinger’s creepy attraction to Sansa meant that he’d keep her for himself or at least protect her from harm. Instead, he’s thrown Sansa into the lion’s den, using her for his own ends. Compared to other characters, this slime ball is playing the game many moves in advance.
The middle section focused on Dorne from which the episode title gets its name. Unfortunately these scenes felt rather disjointed. Usually checking in on characters gives insight or something of substance to chew on. Here both Prince Doran and the Sand Snakes have yet to feel like fully formed characters. The buildup to the fight between Jamie and Bronn versus the Sand Snakes was rushed. I also didn’t completely buy that Oberyn daughter’s were these bad ass fighters. I’m still curious how the Dorne plot will unfold but so far it’s not living up to its potential.
In Bravos I’m liking the latest developments with Arya. Unlike the other storylines, Arya’s has nothing to do with political machinations or on learning how to be a ruler. It’s a different kind of character evolution that is both incredibly intriguing and at the same time feels true to who Arya is.
One aspect of the face slapping truth game that I liked is that we got to learn something about Arya, specifically lying about wanting to make the Hound suffer. I also liked how she earned her way to the lower levels of the House Of Black and White. Like Jaqen said, she’s not prepared to be no one but she’s ready to become someone else. I can’t see Arya abandoning her quest for vengeance which is something she would have to do to truly become no one. I think Jaqen sees that in Arya and wants to help her become a faceless assassin anyways.
I do like that the drama and danger in King’s Landing continues to escalate but compared to last season it isn’t as compelling. Bringing back the Queen Of Thorns is a good move by the writers and I’m looking forward to how she’ll maneuver to save her grandchildren. The last thing I’ll say about what’s going on in King’s Landing is that silly scene about Loras’ Dorne shaped birthmark back in episode 1 actually has a pay off here.
Overall, like last episode, the middle section wasn’t as strong as the other storylines. However, I think it’s the final scene that will be most polarizing to viewers. What happened to Sansa is obviously disgusting and I can understand if book readers have a strong reaction to how things played out on the show differently. In the grander scope, Game Of Thrones has always had terrible things happen to both their male and female characters. So I don’t see what happened to Sansa is the show having a hidden agenda to demean its female characters. If you didn’t see Sansa’s wedding night coming, I guess what happened might be shocking to you but I don’t think it was the show runners intent to depict her rape solely for the shock factor.
What do you think about Sansa’s wedding night? What did you like or dislike in this episode?