“Video” Podcast on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 6, “Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken”

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Just in case you’re not completely burnt out on talking about this week’s episode, here’s this week’s podcast, where SEK and I furiously debate that scene and dissect the rest of the episode looking for the good.

39 thoughts on ““Video” Podcast on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 6, “Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken”

  1. Petyr Patter says:

    Yeah, I with you Steven. If a character is being raped, they are not “winning the game.”

    And, Sansa arrived at that point by ignoring all the evidence that she should get out of there. She isn’t going to play Ramsay, he is a psycopath. Get out of there. If the plan is for Stannis to win, run to Stannis and help him win. LIGHT THAT DAMN CANDLE.

    Sansa’s “development” has been poorly done since she on her own volition gave LIttlefinger a get out of murder free card because “she knows what he wants”? Huh? All she had to do was be honest, and boom, dead Littlefinger, and perhaps some allies willing to keep her safe.

    Its as if Sansa has learned NOTHING in 4 and a half seasons.

    • Sean C. says:

      Sansa’s “development” has been poorly done since she on her own volition gave LIttlefinger a get out of murder free card because “she knows what he wants”?

      The logic behind her deciding to back LF was kind of sketchy, in that she supposedly doesn’t trust Royce and co. enough because she doesn’t know what they’ll do with her, but the plan she implements hinges completely on all of them being “Woo! Team Stark!” when she tells them who she is. But I’d have been willing to overlook all of that if, as it seemed at the time (even to the actress, if you look at her interviews), they were setting up a complex dynamic between Sansa and LF where she’s onboard with his schemes in the hopes of getting ahead, but also on guard against him and trying to keep him off-balance by making use of his desire for her. That’s clearly what season 4 was saying was going to happen.

      Season 5 drops that, completely. Sansa just obediently does whatever Littlefinger says, allows herself to be transported halfway across the continent with little to no information, doesn’t make any use of his infatuation, really just does nothing at all.

      • Petyr Patter says:

        “Sketchy Logic” does not nearly summarize it enough.

        The first rule of playing “the game” should be DO NOT TRUST LITTLEFINGER. It is probably the only honest thing he has ever said. As of yet, the only person on the show who passes this first rule is Varys. Sansa, despite having ample evidence to know she should not trust Littlefinger goes out of her way to trust Littlefinger.

        Season 5, well, you already summarized it enough. Playing the game isn’t about staring at people and vague promises. The moment they reached Moat Caitlin, Sansa should have been all like, what is the plan? You want me to walk in and marry a Bolton? That is crazy talk. I need to hear the plan.

        Hope Stannis wins? He has the numbers and the battle experience meaning he is likely to win? Why are we stopping over in Winterfell then? Let us do so at the front of Stannis’s army and I can use my name to rally further support.

        Bad, Bad, Bad.

        • The 13-year old book!Sansa does not trust Littlefinger, knows he is lying to her, would rather be anywhere else, but sees him as her “only friend” because she is in hiding and isn’t sure if anyone else would turn her over to Cersei.
          But the “empowered” and “mature” show!Sansa does everything Littlefinger tells her to, even though she doesn’t have to – the Vale Lords knows who she is and would protect her, and apparently she doesn’t even have to worry much about Cersei, so WTF?

    • Lann says:

      That’s assuming that the candle thing is genuine. Putting up a fake escape plan is absolutely Ramsey’s style.

  2. WestorsiMelanieGriffith says:

    I appreciate the self-awareness of your book snobbery, but didn’t think your case holds up. Plus another point if Harry the Heir is Robert Baratheon 2.0, Cersei was sincerely in love with Robert on her wedding day and Robert was a handsome war hero that even his enemies would toast to him (I’m a fan of the character like most folks) yet he martially raped repeatedly so I don’t get why people acting like Book Sansa is in some medieval fantasy version of “Working Girl” rather than any kind of danger.

    • Sean C. says:

      GRRM has said he’s not interested in writing POV rapes.

      And beyond that, Harry the Heir is introduced as a bit of a cad, but one that Sansa manages rather quickly to get a decent handle on. He is not Ramsay Bolton.

      • WestorsiMelanieGriffith says:

        Well bully for him. Harry the Heir isn’t Ramsay Snow, but what about Robert Baratheon?

        • Sean C. says:

          See the above POV rape comment, as well as the tenor of GRRM’s own comment on the subject of this plotline.

    • Cersei, the one in the book, was never in love with Robert Baratheon, so even your starting premise is wrong.

      • Chad says:

        I could be mistaken but wasn’t Cersei sort of attracted to Robert at the very start of the marriage. Robert was tall, had the highest of status as the King and was in great shape. However, Robert being Robert then got really drunk at the wedding and said the Lyanna name during the bedding and blew any chance that marriage could have had.

        • No, in the books she never really liked him, she remarks she didn’t like his coarse black chest hair, and she resented him for killing Rhaegar, who she had a major infatuation with and had hoped to marry.

  3. Sean C. says:

    I was astonished at how amateurish the Dornish sequence was. I’d previously thought people were being too harsh on this plot, but yeesh. The worst fight choreography the show has ever had, all the parties involved look dumb, and the introduction to Trystane and Myrcella being delayed til this moment totally undermines the stakes (Steve is totally right there). This is really not promising for the future of this plot. Can you imagine these versions of the Sand Snakes as heavies in King’s Landing, going up against people like Cersei and the High Sparrow?

    While, granted, there’s four episodes left, I almost wonder if the showrunners realized how bad these scenes come off and that there’s more, even worse material on the cutting room floor somewhere. Of the Snakes, only Obara has gotten any characterization so far, and we know that their scene in episode 4 was cut down at least somewhat.

    I liked the scene with Sansa and Myranda, but once you know what comes afterward, it becomes apparent that it’s not actually meant to be a demonstration of Sansa’s character growth — rather, it’s setting up that Sansa is deluded and that Myranda will be proven right by Ramsay. Much like every other Sansa scene this season, she’s a victim who incorrectly thinks she’s a player.

    The Braavos sequence is going for slow-build atmosphere/mystery, which you don’t generally see on this show, but I think it works on the whole, though it started out a bit ponderous. Also, Mace must be on the slow boat to Braavos, considering Baelish traveled from Winterfell to King’s Landing in one episode.

  4. Son of Fire says:

    Does’nt Loras have a trump card of trial by combat?hopefully Ser Robert Strong ain’t around yet!
    Loras also only had a blunted toury sword when he was taken.
    I think Sansa never had a hope of seducing ramsay…either does myranda,he just keeps her around for rough sex.
    You forgot to talk about the face room & becoming SOMEONE ELSE!
    You also failed to mention bronn being slice with an obviously poisoned blade!
    Oh & the sand snakes suck,how dare they make my beloved tyene be the one to maybe kill bronn,i hope she cures him to show viewers their not just one dimensional bad gals!

    • Winnie says:

      I am hoping that Loras INSISTS on trial by combat *before* Ser Robert gets ‘activated,’ since that’s the best way of securing his and Margaery’s release. I don’t want House Tyrell to be extinguished, but get the Seven Hells out of KL and back to Highgarden.

      Of course once they *do* things are really gonna go bad in KL…

      • Son of Fire says:

        With aegon the VI & arianne written out it will be hard to predict how events play out in KL but i expect the high sqarrow to take control of the crown,i hope margeary bows out instead of sharing whatever horrible fate awaits tommen…poor kid…none of it is his fault!

        • winnie says:

          Yeah I’m betting before or after Tommen dies Margaery just heads home to the Reach, cuts her losses, and in the future settles down with one of her family’s bannerman forgetting all about the damn throne.

          But poor Tommen and Myrcella are both doomed. He’ll go first then her I’m betting.

  5. Lars says:

    Steven,
    I’m surprised by your response to the Sansa scene, and I have to side with SEK on this issue. A well done scene that is disturbing because it INTENDS to be disturbing – and it was as tastefully done as it could have been.

    But in general I just want to comment on your reaction. My quick analysis from other reactions that mirror yours seem to indicate that you don’t like it because the character involved in Sansa. Am I right? Because What happened to Jeyne Poole in the books was far worse, and you and others don’t seem as upset by that. (forgive me if I have missed it)

    Yes, there are lots of complaints about rape as a plot device (and yes last years Craster scene was very problematic), but this is something that GRRM falls back on a LOT in the books. So I guess I’m wondering how you stand on this issue in the books.

    • Maybe Tyrion could get randomly gang raped in Essos. After all, it happened in the books, and worse, to Maester Kerwin, so by the same logic, why not? Characters and arcs are interchangeable, why not violate the logic of story and character development for a main character to shove them into a minor character’s storyline.

      • Lars says:

        I’m afraid you missed my main point. (Things considered OK in the books, but AW HELL NO if D&D shows anything like it)

        But economy of characters in storytelling does come with both upsides and downsides.

        And what violation of “story and character development”? Did you expect that only good things would end up happening to Sansa with Littlefinger? (book or show?) I’m afraid you have forgotten what kind of story we are being told.

        • I’m afraid you’ve forgotten that characters are supposed to have plausible motivations and their actions are meant to make some sense. Otherwise, what you’ve described is just badly written torture porn/exploitation movie. Nothing that Littlefinger, Roose Bolton and especially Sansa did in season 5 made any sense.

          • Son of Fire says:

            I kinda think littlefinger wants to be a stark…brandon scarred him,ned took his cat but more than that he wants power and if sansa dies in pursuit of that power then fine & if he can manage to swoop in and save sansa then he can have his cake and eat it too.We still don’t have all the pieces of his plan yet but he gambled on ramsay being normal & lost,he’s making friends with everyone & playing them against eachother.Then theirs Stannis and the lord of light,i’m sure the Vale as the landing area of the andals & the faith of the seven don’t much care for the lord of light….plus the faith militant could be a potential friend in that holy war!

    • jpmarchives says:

      To put it in the plainest terms, Jeyne Poole is a character designed from the first as a victim to throw relief onto Theon’s character. As unpleasant as we might find her scenes, they are nowhere near as hideous as the same scenes involving characters we a thoroughly emotionally invested in.

      It’s hypocrisy in a way, but hypocrisy that every reader of fiction indulges in.

      • And it’s exactly what the show runners have been counting on. They have admitted they wanted one of the main female characters to be raped and abused in Jeyne’s place because they think people would care more.

        So, to use “but why don’t you care as much about Jeyne?” argument to defend the storyline is extremely hypocritical.

  6. Winnie says:

    As always Steve, you and Scott delivered.

    I think both of you had good points to be made about That Scene. I will be watching to see how the aftermath is handled, to see if that helps make sense of it all more.

    Moving on…

    Arya at the House of Black and White *was* perfect. I think Arya is becoming the embodiment of the Stranger.

    ITA about how great PD and IG are together. Two brilliant actors who are just magical together. And no one can fast talk his way out of peril quite like Tyrion.

    LF was totally all, “I knew you were never that bright but dear gods I never thought you were THIS dumb,” at learning about Cersei’s new bedfellows. And yeah this was kind of a evil master stroke for LF…though I think it *will* backfire on him. (Kinda OT but did you read Amanda Marcotte’s take on LF as a “Nice Guy”? It’s brilliant.) And it is good that *Cersei’s* attention is now on Winterfell too…all roads lead to Winterfell.

    And sadly I disagree with SEK-Cersei *should* be smarter than this but she isn’t. Not in the books or the show. She has completely engineered her own doom on this one. “Her as Icarus taking a selfie in front of the son.” LOL to that analogy!

    I loved the return of BadAss Loras, all grimy and combative! Wowza. Very early Law and Order indeed. God I loved the early years with Michael Moriarty.

    I think Olyvar may have been promised clemency and possibly even rewards by *Cersei* in exchange for his ‘confession’ and was just desperate to think it might be true.

    I agree that this episode actually had a lot to offer, (even the mess of Dorne at least had Jerome Flynn singing!) but of course the ending overshadowed everything.

    • TakeTheBlack says:

      Maybe Olyvar will be sent to Castle Black? They can always use more familiar faces and are not that many familiar faces there now and looking like even less soon (don’t think the baby switcheroo stuff is required to have Samwell, Gilly and Aemon sail to Oldtown)

      • Son of Fire says:

        I think olyvar will be the one thats gets whipped to within an inch of his life by the faith just before cersei gets mobbed by a group of elderly septa’s.

  7. Erin says:

    I’m with you, Steve. Even in the context of the changed storyline, I don’t think the rape scene added anything. Wish they could have cut to something like Sansa “accidentally” showing her bruises to the North Remembers lady. I don’t know. Something. It doesn’t remove the fact of rape from the storyline, but at least it wouldn’t be rape-as-shock-value.

    I actually think the changes to Sansa’s storyline are doubly infuriating and offensive because this is the season where Lady Stoneheart got written out, Arianne Martell got written out, and Asha/Yara Greyjoy got written out. Three significant female characters, just gone from the narrative, and Sansa’s original storyline is gone too, explicitly to beef up Theon’s arc. Not to mention Margaery’s statutory rape and sexual manipulation of Tommen a few episodes back, which was played for laughs rather than creepiness.

    You’re also right about the uneven quality being killer. Cersei’s disaster in KL is fun to watch. Peter Dinklage and Iain Glenn are fun to watch. Anya’s scenes, though slow, were excellent. Last week, the stuff at the Wall was great. But ugh, this week’s ending.

  8. Chad says:

    The last scene was brutal and shocking just to be shocking. It also could have been shorter could have cut as soon as Theon started crying we know what is happening and Ramsey is a monster.

    Also it really need something more from Sansa before it all went down. Sansa was just too passive after her season 4 arc and growth and eairlier bath scene. Felt that the show missed an opportunity to tell what Sansa wants and what lengths she is willing to go to get it. Any of Sansa trying to manipulate/charm Ramsey or get Theon out of the room or try to form some sort of anti-Frey pact with Ramsey would have made for a better episode.

    The Littlefinger playing all side against each other was really well done.

  9. Son of Fire says:

    Hey steve how far is a medieval league(distance)?,i assume its between 3 & 5 miles or as far as the human eye can see!
    In S1ep10 Yoren says there’s a thousand league’s between KL & the wall were as last sundays ep cersei states winterfell is a thousand miles away,is it me or is westeros on HBO shrinking???

  10. First of all, I should say that I hate, hate, HATE what they’ve done to Sansa’s storyline this year. And I knew I would hate it the moment it became clear that she was subbing-in for Jeyne. So it’s possible I can’t discuss this entirely objectively.

    However, I should say that I’m not necessarily opposed to the inclusion of rape story lines in the show. That’s not where my problem lies – rape is a horrific reality in the lives of women now, as well as in the past, and I’m not sure the taboo around depicting it is actually all that helpful. It’s actually NOT a rare or uncommon experience, despite what pop-culture would appear to tell us.

    However (and this is a BIG however), what I have virtually no faith in the producers of Game of Thrones to handle this rape in a remotely intelligent manner. They have shown a complete unwillingness to actually engage with what rape is, and what it does to people. The problem is not that Daenerys and Cersei and Gilly and the other women at Craster’s keep are raped – the problem is that the narrative brushes it under the rug almost immediately.

    I’ve seen a lot of comments saying “wait and see, this could be an important part of Sansa’s arc, we don’t know where it’s going,” but the problem is that we DO know where it’s going. The aftermath, and the effect of that abuse on Sansa will be all but ignored, with perhaps a fig-leaf of a mention in one scene – because that is the cack-handed way in which the writers have consistently handled sexual abuse. They want the thrill of showing the violation of women, without having to do any of the work that would demonstrate just why that violation is so terrible.

    I can understand the decision to show us this scene through Theon’s eyes, but that decision in a way encapsulates everything wrong with the way they handle rape – they want us to see it, but not really see it. It’s in the background or off-screen or somehow ‘not’ rape, because if we really looked at what was happening…it would be too horrifying to ignore.

    And the reason they should have paid attention when people reacted to this…look their handling of rape isn’t just puerile and politically-insensitive and vaguely misogynistic (though it is all of those things). It is BAD CRAFT. It is cheap, easy writing, that fails to engage with its characters as human beings and with what its audience knows to be true about the way people react to trauma. They want to show violence and bloodshed and sexual abuse, but they’ve been almost completely uninterested in the psychological impact on the victims. Which is both bad writing and deeply, deeply conservative. The impact of that kind of abuse on characters should ripple outward months and years later… And so far, it just doesn’t

    (Which is why I’d argue the rape in the books is less offensive – to me – because GRRM is interested in the impact of those acts on them victims, and doesn’t allow the reader to forget.)

    *sigh* and I actually LIKE the show

    • jpmarchives says:

      The biggest kick in the nuts for me was Sansa mentioning how sweet and gentle Tyrion was just prior to “it” happening. As if to make clear just how great Tyrion is and how misguided Sansa was for not loving him.

      Intentional or not, it smacked of the “that’ll teach her” attitude. Yuck.

    • Shadow says:

      To thebookofmaev – I completely agree with your comment and I appreciate that it is comprehensive.

  11. empire25 says:

    Hey Steven. You posted that talk directly after the show aired. Has your take changed at all with time?

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