The sixth episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones, as well as many other episodes of Game of Thrones, will be discussed below.
As someone who has religiously watched Game of Thrones since its inception, I have to admit to being more than a little amused by the throngs of outraged viewers following this Sunday's episode. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, well, Sansa Stark—first promised to the wicked Joffrey, then treated delicately by the kind-hearted Tyrion, before being pressured to marry the even-more-wicked-than-Joffrey Ramsay Bolton so as to reclaim her home of Winterfell—was raped on her wedding night by Ramsay.
People were very, very upset. Oh my they were vexed. "Game of Thrones' latest rape scene made viewers very angry. And rightfully so," wrote Jen Trolio over at Vox. Over at Salon, Libby Hill tutted, "Welcome to cable drama, where a woman's rape is an opportunity for a man's character development." And The Mary Sue proudly proclaimed, "We will no longer be promoting HBO's Game of Thrones."
Trolio's was almost certainly the most amusing of these whingey pieces. A (very liberal) friend highlighted the following passage as especially funny:
There's so much riding on what comes next, and on how Sansa's story is handled going forward. I'm a bit frustrated that "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" ended on such a contentious note, because future episodes might provide valuable context. But that's the nature of episodic television — go out with a big moment to keep people talking until next week. Either way, I hope the series won't dishonor Sansa by reducing her to a pawn.
"ENDING AN EPISODE ON A CONTENTIOUS NOTE IS SO PROBLEMATIC. ARGH, THIS DRAMATIC TV SHOW IS SO TENSE I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY WOULD STUMBLE BY DOING SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME WANT TO KEEP WATCHING ARGH."
Mostly, though, I wondered what people thought was going to happen when Sansa agreed to marry Ramsay. If they've watched Game of Thrones this long, certainly they knew what was going to happen. The show runners weren't, like, going to smash cut to THE NEXT MORNING where Sansa and Ramsay are sleeping in their separate twin beds, chatting about the day's upcoming duties in Winterfell. This isn't a 1950s sitcom.
Just consider the following, abbreviated list of awful things that have happened:
- A woman was sold into sexual slavery by her deadbeat brother so he could raise an army to take back Westeros; she was raped in literally the first episodes of the show.
- A small child was thrown out of a tower and crippled by an incestuous pair of twins.
- Those twins would later have awkward, kinda-rapey sex on top of their dead son's grave.
- A pregnant woman was stabbed in the womb about 57 times as a way to punish a man who broke his vow to marry a psychopath's daughter. That man was stabbed in the heart moments later.
- A man seeking vengeance for the rape and murder of his sister had his head crushed like a melon.
- The only good person in the entire seven kingdoms was beheaded while his daughters watched.
- A man was murdered on a toilet. (He probably had it coming, though.)
- A man was tortured for literally an entire season, eventually having his penis and testicles cut off.
- A prostitute who we came to know and love was killed just for funsies at the close of an episode.
- A man had sex with a witch in order to give birth to a demon who then murdered that man's brother.
- A whole bunch of awesome dogs (well, Dire Wolves) have been killed, in at least one case just for spite.
I could go on. The point is, this isn't a show known to delicately hint at evils done to people. It's a show where we see the evils. Evils that are done to men and women alike, it should be noted. If you can't handle that, fine, stop watching. But quit acting surprised when you see something that offends your delicate sensibilities.
Update: See, this sort of thing goes beyond amusing and into actively annoying:
Ok, I'm done Game of Thrones.Water Garden, stupid.Gratuitous rape scene disgusting and unacceptable.It was a rocky ride that just ended.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) May 19, 2015
This is such grandstanding horseshit. So, senator, you were cool with, say, a woman being sold into sexual slavery by her brother and then falling in love with her rapist and also were cool with every other terrible thing that happened, but last week's episode was finally too much? I wish I had a PAC; if I did, I'd fund a whole round of "CALL SENATOR MCCASKILL AND ASK HER WHY SHE WAS COOL WITH RAPE ON TV UNTIL TWO DAYS AGO" ads.