Friday, June 5, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.06: "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

“We both peddle fantasies. Mine just happen to be entertaining.”

If I had to pick a theme for this episode of “Game of Thrones,” it would be lies and manipulation. Sure, there is a fair amount of lies and manipulation in any episode of the show, but this was seemed to have a heavier concentration than most. Arya learns how to lie about her past from the Faceless Men. Tyrion puts his verbal skills to use to save himself and Jorah from slavers. Cersei puts events into motion to put Margery in jail, and that plot centers around lies Loras has told. Littlefinger also reveals his true motivations behind setting up the wedding between Sansa and Ramsay. Speaking of, that wedding is the other big headline from this episode. The internet was abuzz with how “Game of Thrones” had depicted yet another rape, although I’m hesitant to call this rape for reasons I’ll talk about a little bit later.

This episode was the first time we had seen Arya in a few episodes, so I was happy to check in with her again. When we first see her, she is still washing corpses, and she’s getting fed up with it. She wants to prove she can really be a Faceless Man. She isn’t ready, though, because her personality is still too strong. The girl she is working with finally teaches her how the game of faces is supposed to work. She tells all about how she was a highborn girl who joined the faceless men in exchange for their dealing with her stepmother. Arya believes this hook, line, and sinker, and the girl says she shouldn’t. That’s what the game of faces is all about – being able to pass off any personal history as your own. Jaqen wakes up Arya to play the game with her at night. She tries telling her real story with slight alterations, and Jaquen slaps her every time she tells a lie, including when she says she hated the Hound. Eventually, Arya gains some acceptance when she calms a terminally ill girl and gets her to drink the Faceless God’s poison fountain water.

We next pay a visit to Tyrion and Jorah, and I really enjoyed this sequence because it was a return to Tyrion at his manipulative best. During a brief break by a stream, Tyrion tells Jorah exactly why he left Westeros, down to the murdering Tywin part. He also says he admired Jorah’s father, the late Lord Commander Mormont from the Night’s Watch. Up until that point, Jorah hadn’t realized that his father was dead. The conversation is interrupted when some slavers arrive on the scene. They think Jorah will make a good slave, and as for Tyrion, apparently dwarf penis is very valuable. Of course, when his penis is on the line, Tyrion goes to work at manipulating the situation to his advantage. He convinces the slavers to take them to the recently reopened Meereen fighting pits (since that’s where they were trying to go when found by the slavers). He has to really play up Jorah’s past to get the slavers to believe he could make them money. As for himself, he convinces the slavers that nobody would believe his penis belonged to a dwarf unless they saw it attached to him. So the slavers will let him live for now.

Littlefinger has returned to King’s Landing, and much has changed since he left. First, he has an unpleasant conversation with Lancel, who says flesh peddling will no longer be tolerated. Then there’s Cersei. Littlefinger tells Cersei of Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay, and Cersei is understandably angry. Littlefinger pledges all the Knights of the Vale to take back Winterfell in exchange for one thing. He wants Cersei to make him Warden of the North if he succeeds. And there it is. Littlefinger always has an angle. I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew exactly how psychotic Ramsay was before setting him up with Sansa. Cersei also meets with Olenna Tyrell about Loras’ situation. Olenna threatens to stop financially backing the Lannister regime, and Cersei convinces her that she really doesn’t want to do that, because it would plunge Westeros back into war. She says that Loras’ hearing will be simple and the whole matter will be cleared up quickly. At first, the inquest goes well. Loras denies everything, as does Margaery. It all goes downhill, however, when Loras’ squire shows up and testified that he has had a relationship with Loras. He says that Margaery even walked in on them once. He correctly identifies a birthmark on Loras’ thigh, so he is believed. After this revelation, Loras is held pending a full trial, and Margaery is held as well for perjury. Tommen, again, continues to be a pushover and let all of this happen.

We also get a little Dornish drama in this episode. Myrcella and Trystane Martell are walking in the garden talking about their upcoming wedding. Prince Doran watches them and remarks to his bodyguard that they need protection. Jaimie and Bronn have stolen clothes from deceased Dornish soldiers, and the use their disguises to find Myrcella and Trystane making out, which is hella awkward for Myrcella, I’m sure. Bronn knocks out Trystane while Jaime tries to pull Myrcella away. This plan is complicated, though, when the Sand Snakes arrive on the scene and start fighting Jaime and Bronn. Eventually, Prince Doran’s bodyguard puts a stop to all the foolishness and arrests everyone involved, including Ellaria.

Finally, we pay a visit to Winterfell. Myranda draws a bath for Sansa and tries to warn her about Ramsay’s psychotic tendencies. Sansa correctly guesses that Myranda is Ramsay’s lover, and she assures Myranda that since Winterfell is her home, she will be just fine. Then it is time for the big wedding. Theon escorts Sansa down the aisle at Ramsay’s insistence (because Ramsay, as we’ve established, is seriously messed up). The wedding itself is quick and simple, and the wedding night is every bit as twisted as you’d expect with Ramsay involved. He makes Theon watch him have sex with Sansa, and neither Sansa or Theon are enjoying it at all. This scene has caused a bit of an uproar among the fandom. Was it a horrible sexual experience and likely very traumatic for Sansa? Definitely. Was it rape? I don’t think so. Sansa made the affirmative choice to marry Ramsay to have a chance to win back Winterfell. She knew this would be part of the deal. The character I am most angry with in all of this is Littlefinger. He had to have known about Ramsay, but he set Sansa up for this, giving her the hope she could win back her home (which now seems unlikely given all the other people gunning for it). Sansa is a strong woman, though, and I have no doubt she will emerge from this even stronger.

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