There are no end of complaints concerning the last episode of Game of Thrones. (Episode 46, Unbowed Unbent Unbroken). The episode had some issues. Jaime and the Sand Snakes made crummy ninja, Alexander Siddig is being criminally wasted as Doran Martell, the silliness of wanting to kill Tyrion for his cock…
But none of that compares to the final scene in which Sansa is raped.
Now, let’s be clear. I am not against depicting rape in fiction. I want every subject under the sun to be available for discussion. What irritates me is how the rape was depicted. There is no reason for it. It serves no narrative purpose.
This is also not what we want to see from Sansa’s storyline. There were hints that she would have some help when the old woman told her that the North remembers. This brought some hope and promises of intrigue. Instead, we just see Sansa take it from behind. I guess that rape automatically makes intriguing drama in David and Dan’s heads.
What is even more irritating is that I initially favored the idea of the show deviating from the books. I thought that David and Dan were competent enough to modify the storylines while running out of book material to adapt. I guess I should have caught on when Jon’s storyline in season four was painfully stretched out to have him fight sociopathic rapists at Craster’s Keep. (Again, more rape.)
It would be wrong of me not to mention that the show has depicted rape before without the audience getting in a tizzy over it. In the very first episode of the television show, Daenerys was raped by Khal Drogo on her wedding night. And yet, people did not complain about that. (At least I did not hear any complaints.) There are a few differences here. For starters, Dany’s rape serves a narrative purpose and future events build upon it. Dany and Drogo’s relationship grew throughout the first season. They both came to appreciate and love each other. I don’t think anything is going to build off of Sansa’s rape. Unless she gets pregnant, but I doubt that will happen.
Another difference is the nature of the rapists. Drogo had no intention of humiliating Daenerys. What with Dothraki culture being, well, primitive, he saw no reason not to consummate his marriage to his new wife. In the books, Drogo also makes an effort to try and comfort Daenerys before gettin’ it on. Not that the effort entirely works, mind you, but it does show that Drogo has a modicum of compassion for his new bride.
Ramsey is not Drogo. He is a sadist who enjoys raping and torturing people. He knows for a fact that what he does hurts people. He is not simply consummating his marriage when he rapes Sansa, he makes the effort to take her from behind and to make Theon/Reek watch for maximum humiliation.
I doubt that anything is going to come from Sansa and Ramsey’s marriage. Is Sansa being raped going to advance her character? Is being raped going to make her grow in any way that suffering under Joffrey hasn’t already? Is she going to be the beauty to Ramsey’s beast and convince his two-sizes-too-small heart to grow?
What makes the situation worse is reading David and Dan’s defense of this decision. They claim that it works because this is not season one Sansa. She is no longer naïve. This is the new hardened Sansa who is much cleverer for being around Littlefinger. So, what do D&D have the new savvier Sansa do? Do they have her manipulate the people around her to her advantage? Do they have her escape her horrid predicament?
They have this new hardened Sansa raped by the biggest psycho in Westeros.
The writers decided to put Sansa through so much unnecessary shit. She suffers under Joffrey’s cruelty for seasons two and three. She is under Littlefinger’s creepy protection for a good chunk of season four. She still continues to be a victim. This is just rubbing salt and lemon juice into the wound.
George R.R. Martin has unsurprisingly refused to comment about the scene. He wants to remain on the good side of David and Dan and HBO. Any condemnation from him will drastically reduce rating. But honestly, having George not saying anything is just as bad as condemning the scene. Being silent on the issue just means that he cannot defend the show.
There is also the matter of the episode title: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. Yes, I know that the words are the motto of the Martells, but seeing Sansa having to bow to her new husband, get bent over by him, and looking broken at the end is pretty gross in hindsight.
I will watch the season to its end, thought I am not yet sold on season six. Hey, at least it gives me fuel to gripe about.
Well, after all that talk about rape and bad stuff, here’s a fun video of Peter Dinklage singing about Game of Thrones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1URvDyzh8uI