TRIGGER WARNING: This review discusses possibly triggering aspects of Game of Thrones, Season Five, Episode Six, including sexual assault and violence.
Rukma: Nothing good happens in this episode. King’s Landing becomes homophobia central. The Sand Snakes don’t get their revenge. Arya gets whipped. This episode luxuriated in its ability to torture the characters and make the viewer squirm. Remember how Ramsay turned the erstwhile Theon Greyjoy into Reek? Thrones might be turning us all into Reek.
Dylan: Yeah, this episode was difficult to watch for a number of reasons. I love Game of Thrones for being edgy and unafraid to shock its viewers, but the amount of suffering this episode was frankly excessive, especially because aside from Cersei and Olenna’s face-off, there was basically no entertainment value. Arya seems to be the only character doing okay. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the Wall; at least nothing bad ever happens to Jon Snow. As a result of the seriously traumatic content of this episode, Rukma and I have altered the format of our review to include more individual commentary and less hilarious banter.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season Five, Episode Six, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”
Finally, we’re back at the House of Black and White! Not much has changed, though Arya seems to have washed her face and gotten a new haircut. After losing the Game of Faces once again, she lies to a terminally ill girl and is rewarded with a trip to the dungeon, where all the faces of the faceless men are kept. Creepy as fuck.
Dylan: Arya actually seems to be progressing with her transformation into a faceless (wo)man this episode, which is exciting. I kind of can’t wait to see how completely badass she is in like, a season and a half as a legitimate assassin bent on avenging everyone who’s ever harmed her and her family, a list which grows by the hour (sup, Ramsay Bolton?). My only question is why Jaqen H’Ghar is just chilling at the House of Black and White, personally monitoring Arya’s progress. Isn’t he one of their best assassins? Shouldn’t he be out in the world killing bad people? (Like, I don’t know, the High Sparrow…?) Trade in your robes for some armor and get out there and fight for justice, which could definitely use a competent warrior on its side.
Nothing dramatic happens to Tyrion and Jorah, unless you count the slow spread of grayscale within Jorah’s body. A slave ship captures the Imp and his ‘travelling companion,’ resulting in some classic Tyrion negotiation. As usual, Tyrion wins, and the slavers agree to take them to Meereen instead of cutting off their heads (of both kinds)
Rukma: Jorah and Tyrion continue their snippy banter, but moments of true empathy emerge between the two unlikely travel buddies, particularly after Tyrion tells Jorah of the Old Bear’s death at Craster’s Keep. Tyrion calls him out on his Dany fantasies, and the two get captured by a group of slavers who are intent on, ahem, ridding Tyrion of his member. Tyrion’s impressive negotiation skills kick in, and he manages to retain (both) his heads. He even convinces the slavers to take them to Meereen, where Daenerys has re-opened the fighting pits, by pitching Jorah as the greatest fighter that never was.
Olenna is back (may she never leave again) and rightfully pissed at Cersei for imprisoning her gay grandson, Loras. The High Sparrow orders an obviously rigged hearing for Loras and ends up holding both him and Margaery (his sister, the queen) for trial, which infuriates Olenna even more. Tommen, weaker than ever, does nothing while Cersei just smirks. Watch out, Cersei: the Queen of Thorns is going to fucking destroy you.
Dylan: The action in King’s Landing this episode made me squirm, and while Rukma assures me that both Loras and Margaery are still alive in the books, I am terrified for their safety. Also, given the fact that Cersei has as least as many sins to her name as the imprisoned Tyrells combined, she’s got to be scared, too. (Plus, isn’t Brother Lancel, formerly Lancel Lannister, just as guilty for sleeping with his cousin, Cersei? I see you, religious hypocrisy.) I think we can all agree that the High Sparrow, who came out of literally nowhere, is the worst. Oh well, at least we got to see this AMAZING confrontation between Olenna and Cersei:
In Dorne, Jaime and Bronn arrive at the Water Gardens just in time to stop the Sand Snakes from kidnapping his ‘niece.’ A pretty little romance between Trystane Martell and Myrcella Lannister sets up the climactic fight between the Snakes and Jaime’s gang.
Rukma: The much-awaited (maybe?) showdown between Jaime and the Sand Snakes gives this episode its name. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” are the words of House Martell, although, it seems to me that Doran’s slower strategies might end up more representative of Dorne’s revenge than the Sands’ plans for bloody retribution. The question we’re all asking, though, is whether Myrcella wants to go back with ‘Uncle’ Jaime. Her boy toy is pretty, the water gardens don’t smell of shit, and she isn’t bending the knee to one of her idiot brothers; why would any girl want to leave all this and go back to a control freak mother, a city ruled by religious fanatics, and a father pretending to be an uncle? The actual fight sequence underwhelms—Areo Hotah and his soldiers break it up easily, imprisoning the scheming Sands along with Jaime and Bronn.
Up north, Sansa readies for her wedding to the deplorable Ramsay Bolton, but not before telling off his desperately jealous ex, Myranda. You go, Sansa! Unfortunately, the soulless, hellbound Benioff and Weiss can’t go easy on Sansa ONE FUCKING TIME and Ramsay rapes her on their wedding night (off screen, mercifully), forcing Theon to watch.
Rukma: This episode should have come with a trigger warning. I know Thrones is dark; I know Thrones thrives on being dark. But never, in my five seasons of devoted viewership has an episode disturbed me to this extent. I wish I could unsee that last scene. In a way, Theon mirrors the viewer in the scene. We witness Sansa’s trauma through Theon’s eyes. Ramsay’s order to stay, to watch, to feel Sansa’s pain with no recourse to recuperative action is an imperative to the viewer. We stay, we watch, we cry, but there is nothing we can do. The episode ends on a close-up of Theon’s tearful, horror-struck eyes. His eyes fade into the reflected image of ours on the black screen, and for a second, we are Theon. Ever since Ilyn Payne’s sword sliced into Ned Stark’s head, way back in Season One, Thrones has systematically brutalized the innocent and the good in ever more imaginative ways. I can’t help but asking, what’s the point? I get it, life isn’t fair. I get it, Westeros reflects our world which is pretty horrible. I get it, shock value sells. I get it, George R.R Martin. I get it, Benioff and Weiss. Except I don’t.
Dylan: Sansa is one of my favorite characters and she’s experienced nothing but pain and suffering over the past four and a half seasons, so all I can say is Game of Thrones can go fuck itself. Why must bad things happen to good people? Can Arya hurry up and become an assassin so she can track down Ramsay and flay the shit out of him? It’s not even episode nine yet, for crying out loud. Next week better be nothing but lighthearted fun and—who am I kidding, Game of Thrones is relentless in its attempts to emotionally scar us all. I would say I’m fucking #overit, but we’ve got four more reviews to go.
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