Published on May 19th, 2015 | by Bean0
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
Likely much will be said about the final scene of Game of Thrones’ 56th episode. For my own part, I find it hard to finish this sentence, let alone discuss the rape of Sansa Stark. The ordeals each character in this story must live through – an endless onslaught of suffering, subjugation, abuse, brutality and ruination – play upon our minds once the curtain falls on each chapter. Few people have endured more than Sansa; she is remorselessly punished for her naivety, for her inability to protect herself, for her family name and the pride it gives her. The purpose she tries to find in duty serves only to pinion her further, and the fact that she walked down the aisle to her doom rather than be dragged makes the horror of her wedding night no less real, no less a violation. Beyond that, I have no more words.
The rest of “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, a bitterly incongruent title, revolves around the central them of seizure. The motto of House Martel may claim proud strength and moral rectitude, and their sovereign Prince Doran holds the line against brutality for now, but Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s erstwhile lover, is a woman of vengeance, and her Sand Snakes descend upon Myrcella. Thus unfolds the first of several apprehensions. Both Jaime and Bron and the Sand Snakes attempt to seize Myrcella from Prince Doran’s ‘protection’ in as pitiful a manner possible. However badass you consider your fighting prowess, two or three against dozens just doesn’t add up.
Loras and Margaery face a similar fate, putting too much store by their titles and position. It is disappointing that Margaery didn’t anticipate the arrival of Loras’ latest lover at her brother’s inquest. He was in the custody of the Sparrow, but the Queen is resourceful, and surely could have seen him slipped a little something deadly. Cersei may be crowing inside at the devastating blow to House Tyrell, but I’m still not sure her smugness is prudent. With the Sparrow and his Faith Militant annexing more and more jurisdiction, she risks being next in line for the inquisition. Alienating herself from those who feed her city is foolish at best, and her statement to Olenna Tyrell that “House Lannister has no rival” barely warrants refuting. Her fall cannot be far off.
Littlefinger remains at large, always one step ahead of the amateurs and their petty schemes. His grand plan eludes the minds of his enemies, as he eludes Brother Lancel’s attempt to seize him. Tread carefully? Nobody dances the steps of the game of thrones with more skill and foresight than Baelish. His line to Cersei as she feigns affront at Loras’ proclivities, “One’s choice of companions is a curious thing” gives her pause, but she has no come back, other than snide comments about Lysa Arryn. His own true penchants – power and chaos – are just veiled enough by each new innuendo he spouts. “Loyalty to the throne”, not to the Lannisters, mind…
He weaponises the news of Sansa’s forthcoming marriage into the Boltons, bidding for a war upon whoever conquers Winterfell – the Boltons or Stannis – and cooly counsels his own support when the Queen Mother reveals her tactical isolation and weaknesses. His price? Warden of the North, finally taking Ned Stark’s old seat of power, after years of yearning. Just another rung on the ladder, of course, and what he’ll do with Sansa, who knows?
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Tyrion and Ser Jorah briefly share their grief; Tyrion for his recent foray into violent revenge, and Jorah for the news that his father was murdered by his own Black brothers north of the Wall. They start to realise each other’s depth and capabilities as they are, wait for it, captured! This time by slavers, initially intent on death and dismemberment until Tyrion’s quick thinking saves their skins to live another day, presumably in the fighting pits at Slavers Bay. Nothing like making an entrance when returning from banishment, though at least they’re heading back in the right direction.
Arya seems to be faring better in the House of Black and White, ascending beyond her corpse-bathing duties into the ‘hall of many faces’ (provisional title), having satisfied her mentor that her skills at dissemblance are improving. The telling scene where she is confronted by her real emotions toward The Hound – not the hatred she presents – is a breakthrough, though her silent fear and awe in the mighty hall speak volumes, and Jaqen concurs. She is not ready to relinquish her Stark identity yet, but a transformation of sorts is now possible.
Her sister’s own transformation remains elusive. Ramsey claims the harrowing seizure of her virginity (along with all her agency and rights) will make her a woman, but her true sense of self will only be restored or engaged by extrication from the hands of those who force her down. I truly pray her metamorphosis is soon. Who Reek will become next remains a mystery.
Review by Nina Clark
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