Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Review
*Full book and show spoilers.*
“Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons.” – G.R.R. Martin’s post on this week’s episode, which can be read in full here.
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” kicked off with Arya (Maisie Williams), still serving her time in the House of Black and White washing bodies and washing floors and trying to play some lying game that the show hasn’t really done a good job at setting up. Wack! Slap!
She ended up being able to lie eventually — to a little girl on the brink of death – and is rewarded with being shown all of the various masks she can purchase from the Happy Mask Salesmen.
As with most of her scenes this season, the show lingered at the last shot, making you think something else interesting was going to happen. Nope. Just enough to make you somewhat interested in Arya again, but not enough to actually move her forward in any big direction. Did love that ending shot of the whole room of faces, though.
We then returned to the love boat…without a boat. Jonah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage).
This arc, for better or for worse…well actually no, for worse, is starting to remind me a lot of the original story in the books. Tyrion walks around…Tyrion gets kidnapped…Tyrion gets kidnapped again….more walking, more sailing, with random bits of talking here and there. BUT, Tyrion’s reflections on Dany (Emilia Clarke) not being a good queen just because she was given magical dragons rings truer and truer every day, and I’m glad somebody in the show is smart enough to see it.
The pairs conversation — and reflection — on fathers was also interesting, given that they both are now fatherless, one by his one actions and one by the actions of others.
The biggest change we’ve seen in Tyrion is that he does seem quite intent on staying alive now, as opposed to the sullen drinking-himself-to-deat-pity-party note he started this season on. The pure fear on his face and terror in his voice when the slavers were about to kill him was amazing acting, to the point I was almost worried they actually were going to kill him right then and there.
Of course, they didn’t, and he was able to talk his way into getting him and Jorah passage back to…Mereen. What a waste of a (second) kidnapping.
(On that note, have we seen the last of Varys (Conleth Hill)?!?)
The editing between these two arcs wasn’t the strongest way to start off the episode, and it felt weird just cutting back and forth between the two of them for a few scenes while avoiding everything else going on.
Time also drags in the House of Black and White. It looks like they may be skipping Arya going blind, which is putting her even closer to the end of her material. It was fun to hear the non-book readers who I watch the show with go back and forth if the faces were going to be worn as masks or if they were going to be magical. They’ll find out!
After being absent last week we returned to King’s Landing. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) has made it back as well, just in time to fill Cersei (Lena Headey) — who still blames Sansa (Sophie Turner) for the death of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) — in on the new Starkess of the North who is in the hands of the Boltons.
Of course he leaves out the fact that he was the one who set that whole thing up. Must have slipped his mind!
One of the unique things about Littlefinger is that he (usually) doesn’t get his own fingers dirty. Him leading an army himself… well, I just can’t see him grabbing a sword and actually going to war for anybody. At least we are starting to see a little more of what he is working toward, but this seems mostly like whole cloth spun for the show. And Littlefinger might be selling tickets to that show, but I’m not buying them.
I don’t think book Littlefinger is eyeing the North as much as he is eying Sansa, and the further divergence of these two characters only heightens what he is actually working toward in the books. All that said, everything still seems a bit inconsistent, but he has to have some end game…right? Right?
One of my personal favorite show characters, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) also returned to King’s Landing, to spar with Cersei and to try to save Loras (Finn Jones). The show is shuffling things around a bit here: Instead of having Cersei put Margaery (Natalie Dormer) on trial directly she’s getting roped in as part of lying on Loras’s behalf (and making his being gay a much larger issue than I ever remember it being in the books). Cersei isn’t going to be enjoying that smile much longer! But, just with the pacing of how things are going, I almost wonder if Cersei may make it out of this season on top, and won’t have to walk through the streets until next season.
Dorne was also absent last week, and we see that despite all the warring and brooding and huffing and puffing and house blowing down of their respective families, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and Trystane (Toby Sebastian) actually like each other and want to get married.
“Uncle” Jaimie (Nijolaj Coster-Waldau) has a thing or two to say about that, but so do the fierce and feisty Sand Snakes.
The show is really starting to get into Peter Jackson Hobbit levels of fan fiction stuff here. How cool would it be if the Sand Snakes got into a fight with Jaime? Yeah! That would be cool! Let’s have them show up at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME and DUEL!
It wasn’t *that* cool (The scene just felt weirdly choreographed to me), and it’s a little too tidy how the arrival of both teams lined up perfectly, and way too confidential to be believable in anything except a TV show. Also, please, let’s see Hotah (DeObia Oparei) use his axe soon, mmmkay?
Out of all the plots this season that are getting trimmed, the most disservice seems to be happening to Dorne (well, beside the Iron Islands, but what is cut from the show may never die). There were so many interesting wheels turning in Dorne when it is first introduced in the books, and while reducing the plots is understandable, right now it seems to be simplified down on such a level that it’s removing what made Dorne interesting in the first place. And then we returned to Winterfell, in what is sure to be the most talked about scene of this episode, if not this season.
Before we get to that, just my two cents: I’m shipping Sansa and Myranda (Charlotte Hope), and everything else aside, that’s a fan fiction waiting to happen. It was also probably one of Sansa’s best scenes: Even though what Myranda was saying is true, Sansa let some of that inner strength out and put her in her place.
And then Sansa gets raped by Ramsay. So let’s talk about it.
“Game of Thrones” is fantasy. Unlike Tolkein’s Middle-earth, which is a world that is more escapist and ideal, Westeros is more grounded and dirty. It’s not a place viewers (or readers) should want to live. The problem is that it’s also a mirror to our own reality, despite the setting.
And the reality is that rape happens, and it’s awful. Ramsay’s rape of Sansa is supposed to be uncomfortable. What little softening of his character they’ve done this season is undone, and we’re reminded as to exactly what type of person we are dealing with here.
Look no further than Roose’s (Michael McElhatton) speech last episode. Because Ramsay’s mother didn’t ask for Roose’s permission before getting married he killed her husband and raped her under his dead corpse. This is a world of war, a world full of physical and sexual violence. People watching should react negatively to it, but it also serves as a reminder of humanity’s troubled past and current present.
Just because Westeros is an artistic mirror to our world, doesn’t mean we will like what we see. Rape and sexual assault are still social issues that need to be talked about and addressed. Even the worst parts of humanity need to be discussed and talked about and represented in art; that’s the only way we can hope to get better.
Regardless, it’s still a very dark and depressing note to end an episode on (and a little cheap, too), especially when the camera just sat on Reek for so long it almost seemed that he was actually going to finally lash out and try to stop what was happening.
There’s going to be a lot of talk surrounding this episode, and it’s impossible to remove the discussion of the rape scene from any talk surrounding the show. But all in all, it wasn’t that strong of an episode, and the show is running into pacing issues and also struggling to find interesting peaks in character’s stories that are pretty flat across the source material. It’s a challenge, but it’s one the show has known was coming since the start.
Until next week, when we all sell our hair to buy presents for our loved ones at Christmas in “The Gift of the Magi.” Or just ‘The Gift.” One of the two.
Notes & Quotes:
-“So those villages we were suppose to find?”
-“Doesn’t mean she’s going to be a great queen.”
-“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”
-“We both peddle fantasies, mine just happen to be entertaining.”
-“I like to improvise.” “that explains the golden hand.”
-“Smell the shit from 5 miles away”
-Did anybody else catch the Tansy reference? Interesting they would throw it in here now randomly of all places.