HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

You know Game of Thrones had a terrible ending when the Mad Men series finale seems uplifting by comparison. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of George R. R. Martin—and I won’t because the books are his story—but I would really love to know why the showrunners changed so much of Martin’s novels in interesting ways only to negate all their work by not changing events enough.

Someone get me a refreshing Coca-Cola to soothe my stomachache.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

I feel like I’ve been duped by Benioff & Weiss. They really wanted us to believe this new Sansa was more powerful, smarter, less of a victim. And for a moment when Ramsay’s plaything was helping her in the bath, it seemed like Sansa was showing some teeth at last. I know she pretty much had to consummate her marriage to Ramsay in order to keep things going according to plan, but then why not let her have the upper hand in the situation, let her have a bit more control? (If you’ve ever read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart series, you’d know that which yields isn’t always weak. There are ways to submit and be strong.)

Saying “It’s Game of Thrones, people!” is a weak excuse.

Instead, Darth Sansa is reduced to a weeping, humiliated victim no different from Jeyne Poole in the books. That’s exactly what I was was worried about happening when we learned it was Sansa marrying Roose’s son and not an Arya impersonator. The best I can say is that at least Sansa’s wedding night wasn’t quite as stomach-churning as Jeyne’s was in the books.

And is this Sansa’s storyline or is she just a part of Theon’s redemption-seeking mission, a damsel in distress he must rescue? I guess we can only wait and see, but I’m definitely not looking forward to watching Sansa tortured at the hands of yet another twisted sadist for more episodes.

The reason Theon is fresh in my mind is because Alfie Allen is absolutely killing it as the misguided kraken. I want so badly for him to tell Sansa that Bran and Rickon are alive. It’s not going to make him any less of a shit for murdering two different innocent children, but maybe Sansa can look at him with a little less contempt. But honestly, he deserves it. He also deserves pity. The man looks as old as Ser Jorah now. My heart breaks for his broken state even while I hate what he’s done. Am I bad for kinda wanting to like Theon again? I just don’t want him to be solely responsible for getting Sansa the hell away from her new husband.

Elsewhere in Game of Thrones, a bunch of things happened that didn’t sicken my stomach, but also didn’t hold my attention so much.

Arya-GOT

This season’s missing some forward propulsion for me. I can’t imagine what people who haven’t read the books are thinking; I at least have the promise of some crazy events in Meereen and King’s Landing to look forward to.

As much as I loved going deeper into the House of Black and White, Arya could be be benched like her brother next season and it wouldn’t make much of a difference in the story at all. However, unlike Bran, I actually really enjoy all of her scenes, and learning to becoming an assassin is by its nature more interesting than learning to become a tree. “We are always playing the game,” Jaqen tells her. I’m just antsy to see how Arya might fit into the larger game.

Believe me, I’m in no rush to say so long to Jaqen H’ghar when we just got him back. Would you ever have pegged him for a spiritual advisor when we met him on the Kingsroad way back when?

I loved seeing the many faces kept for the service of the Many-Faced God. Will Arya take the face of the young girl she gave to Death with mercy (for a change?) Why couldn’t she hate The Hound and be grateful for what he taught her in their travels? Was that a lie by omission?

The other face I loved seeing this week belonged to Olenna Tyrell, naturally. She’s another scene-stealer. I can’t wait to see the Faith Militant turn on Cersei because, come on, they’ve now arrested the Queen! If that doesn’t matter to them, certainly the Queen Regent means even less. Sexposition can have dire consequences, no? I can’t believe they really made that goofy scene about Loras’ Dorne-shaped birthmark an actual plot point! Maybe it’s only female nudity that’s completely gratuitous? I think Margaery’s arrest will definitely be Cersei’s downfall—no way the crafty rose and her grandmother won’t think of a scheme to get the upper hand again. As much as Margaery was alone after the arrest of Loras, Cersei is even more isolated and she doesn‘t have a richer, smarter father to bail her out again.

tyrells-GOT

And all that is without Littlefinger and his army pretending to be on her side.

Final thoughts:

  • Line of the night: “You can smell the shit from five miles away.” —Olenna upon her arrival in King’s Landing, or “Guess again.” —an indignant Imp (tie)
  • The Sand Snakes’ big fight scene really looked sloppy. Maybe I was just ruined for any action scene this episode because since Friday night I have Mad Max: Fury Road on the brain. But the choreography was choppy and not a single thing made me go “Oh, damn.” Again, they’re supposed to fight as one?
  • I enjoyed Bronn’s rendition of “The Dornishman’s Wife.” Observant readers will know the last verse. Is this foreshadowing for Bronn’s ultimate fate?
  • Trystane Martell and Myrcella Baratheon sure make a gorgeous couple. How awkward to have your necking session interrupted by your father-uncle.
  • Tyrion doesn’t sugarcoat anything, eh? But there’s no nice way to tell someone that their dad was murdered by his own mutinous men, is there?
  • There are cock merchants. Mr. Eko from Lost knows some personally. He made me miss Salladhor Saan’s humor. Tyrion really is taking the express train to Dany. I wish I felt so certain Jorah would get to sit by her throne again one day.

Next week: “Hardhome.” Angry crows, an Onion Knight, and hopefully less sadism. But it’s Game of Thrones, people. What do you expect?

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.

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