What? More fanboy nonsense? When, oh when, you ask, will you write something literary again! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! All those energies are still being poured into my novel, which is in revision E now, but between drafts/edits, I play Destiny and watch geeky stuff.
Last night’s episode will go down as one of the most gut wrenching episodes in a series that is known for such turns. But, as the roundtable over at the Atlantic points out, this time it’s entirely different. Last night was arguably the worst episode ever for Game of Thrones, and not just because of the lame Xena Warrior Princess fight choreography ending the laughable rescue-the-princess from safety and adoration subplot. No, it disappointed for far greater reasons.
Obviously, spoilers abound from here on out…
The other painfully memorable moments in the show’s history like the beheading of Ned Stark and the Red Wedding were, unless you’d read the books, shocking because they caught the viewer off guard.
Last night’s horrific scene in which Ramsey Bolton deflowers Sansa Stark in a humiliating fashion after their arranged wedding is in stark contrast. We all saw it building with a sick inevitability, all hoping that this would not come to pass. It lacked the shock value and affected the emotions in a far less seemly way. Unlike the jarring events of seasons past, it left the audience sickened and repulsed, with many considering their attachment to this series in a new, dimmer light.
The Twitterverse rightly erupted with moral outrage following the scene, with a few people telling the rest of us that it might have been worse.
Apparently in the books, Theon gets in on the action despite his lack of genitalia (again, thanks to Ramsey). But of course, in the book it is not Sansa Stark who is subjected to this horror. It’s a completely different character never introduced to the series.
Which means this time, instead of being traumatized by George RR Martin, it’s show runners Benioff and Weiss who are to blame.
And “blame” is the word, because they have, indeed, betrayed this character, and the audience.
Yes, Game of Thrones takes place in a brutal world, one where we are cautioned again and again to snuff out our expectations for rosy outcomes. But shock value ultimately is not all that rich a currency and I for one would not urge the show runners to continue striving for “Holy Crap” moments like the duel between the Viper and the Mountain or the Red or Purple weddings just for the sake of that shock value.
But the problem here is that the scene they cast Sansa into lacks narrative value as well.
We know Ramsey’s a sicko. We gain nothing in our understanding of his human depravity by having to sort of witness him raping Sansa.
Sansa, though, has been on an arc, growing into a player in this game. Earlier in this same episode, she chides Ramsey’s lover, telling the girl that she is not afraid and that she belongs in Winterfell.
This is a character coming into her own, finding power.
And then they just have her roll over for Ramsey. When Ramsey insists on letting Theon watch their consummation, she says nothing.
When he starts barking sadistic orders, she does not resist.
This is not the same character we’d seen in the lead up to this episode.
Why would Sansa not show the same spine she showed with Miranda in the bath scene, when she was literally naked but armored in the Stark’s birthright all the same?
Why would Sansa not say to Ramsey, “No, I am not one of your stable girls. I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. Your father did not arrange this marriage so you can toy with me and then grow bored. Go back to that chamber girl if that’s what you need. I am your wife now.”
Where did her strength go?
Now, none of us know where Sansa’s storyline is going. I’m told that in the books, she just stayed at the Vale. But even if Sansa is not destined to retake Winterfell and rule as Queen in the North–no, especially if she’s not, her mistreatment at the hands of Ramsey (and the writers) serves no purpose.
Is it going to melt Theon? Who cares! He might just as easily have been inspired by seeing her stand up to the man who broke him.
There’s been a worrying trend this season as Game of Thrones‘ strong female characters have withered. Dany putts around and missteps in Mareen. Whats-her-face Sand launches a lame non-plan for vengeance on behalf of Oberan. Cersei plummets toward self-destruction in King’s Landing. (Duh, when you are the mother of a king born of incest and former lover to your own cousin, you should not empower a bunch of Puritans, moron!)
Sansa was the exception. The last known Stark growing wiser and stronger in the North.
Now, though, she’s been brutalized and victimized without purpose. Whatever resurgence we might see next week will be cold comfort.