“I’m not playing this stupid game anymore.”
How have six episodes already passed? It feels like Game of Thrones‘s fifth season premiere was yesterday, not a month and a half ago. Like dragons, time flies when you’re burning people alive. Before “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” viewers were already treated to one wedding (as well as last week’s proposal) but it didn’t live up to Game of Thrones’ usual nuptial nastiness. The same can’t be said about Sansa and Ramsay’s. It was back up to the HBO fantasy series’ horrific standards...
“One’s choice of companion is a curious thing.”
Before getting to the ‘White Wedding,’ let’s check in on Game of Thrones’ most recent husband and wife and see how they’re getting along in King’s Landing. While King Tommen and Queen Margaery’s wedding night was far more pleasant than, well, pretty much every couple on the show so far, the royal relationship has been in trouble ever since, thanks to the feud between the Queen and the Queen-Mother. And when Cersei had the Faith Militant arrest Loras for being a ‘pillow-biter,’ the feud escalated to the point where Margaery had to call home for reinforcements. But even House Tyrell’s Queen of Thorns wasn’t able to outmaneuver the Queen-Mother (there are a lot of queens on this show) and both Loras and Margaery ended up failing the Holy Inquest before being taken into custody by the Faith Militant.
Well played, Lioness. Yet, it is only the sixth episode of the season. What goes around and all that. Not to mention that Littlefinger warned Cersei about going to war with the Tyrells during his visit to the capitol. Roose Bolton may have been able to read the words Lord Baelish sent to the Queen-Mother via raven but he wasn’t around to hear the in-person addendum. As usual, Littlefinger’s planning three or four moves ahead as he intends to swoop in and defeat the now-depleted winner of "Stannis versus Ramsay" and become Warden of the North. He also promises to deliver a certain someone's head on a spike. Just another promise the Lord of the Vale probably won’t keep. If she still has a head when he gets there.
“This song really is all about the ending.”
Highlighted during the episode’s stop in King’s Landing, this week was all about the curious case of companionship. At the time, the characters are talking about Loras and Renly (as well as Cersei and Jaime) but it can also be applied to relationships all over the known world, both those seen and unseen in “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” The list of this (and previous) season’s curious companions is quite long; Arya and Jaqen, Brienne and Pod, Cersei and Qyburn, Tyrion and Jorah, Doran and Areo, Jaime and Bronn. Lannister and Martell. I’m not sure ‘curious’ is the word I’d use for Sansa and Ramsay. We’ll get there.
In Dorne, Trystane and Myrcella are just a young, arranged couple in love but their future is in jeopardy (probably a good thing, considering the weddings on Game of Thrones), since both the Sand Snakes and Jaime are trying to end the budding relationship. Jaime and Bronn arrive in the water gardens just in time to stop the Snakes' plan to kidnap the ‘Baratheon’ Princess and a clunky and rather unexciting fight takes place. I was worried that Bronn might not make it out of the skirmish alive but Areo and his guards showed up in the nick of time to put a stop to the otherwise boring showdown. I do like how quickly Jaime seems to be mastering the art of hand-to-sword combat though.
“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”
On top of the episode’s focus on Game of Thrones’ many curious companions, ‘who are you fighting for and/or why are you fighting?’ were questions also posed to many of the characters in “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” Littlefinger is all about himself. Cersei, herself, her children and her family’s name. Same for Lady Olenna and Roose Bolton. Bronn fights for the highest price. I’m not sure Jaime knows anymore. Ellaria and (the so-far-underwhelming) Sand Snakes for Oberyn and Dorne. Areo for Doran and both to protect their Kingdom from attacks from inside and out. And Jorah? He fights for the mother of dragons because he witnessed something that knocked the cynicism out of him forever.
Tyrion doesn’t even have a clever retort for Jorah’s story, and he’s barely shut up since his captor removed the gag. They have bonded quite a bit since reciting some poetry and fighting off some stonemen together but they aren’t exactly best friends. Before anymore begrudging respect can be built by swapping stories about their daddy issues (not to mention breaking the bad new about Lord Commander Mormont), the travelling companions run into some slavers. Once again, Tyrion’s quick wit and silver tongue (as well as references to his cock) manage to save him from being killed by random marauders. What song will they write about them? The Little Lion and Big Bear?
”What are they doing with the bodies?”
Did anyone else think of Futurama when Arya was finally let into the basement of “The House of Black and White?” All I could see were the cartoon’s heads in jars. Sorry, it was a pretty cool looking chamber of faces with the steps on the way down looking a lot like the crypts of Winterfell. A home away from home for Arya. The episode opens with her storyline and I really like Ramin Djawadi’s score for the sequences that take place in the temple of the Faceless Men. It’s probably the only stirring thing that is taking place inside those walls.
Arya and the Waif (that’s what the blonde girl is called in the books) spend some more time cleaning bodies together and disliking each other, this time with the latter getting the former’s goat by proving her gullibility. It was a pretty convincing story, though. Just as convincing as the one Arya tells the little girl before euthanizing her with the fountain water. A little hope mixed with some mystery and you don’t have to hurt anymore. The deed proves to Jaqen H’ghar that, even though a girl is not ready to let go of Arya Stark, she is ready to put on some of those faces. Gross. I guess she fights for the Many Faced God.
“That would be a bad way to start a marriage.”
Think-pieces are coming. That's pretty much all I have to say about the White Wedding. And that the horrific sequence had a lot of parallels to Daenerys’ wedding night with Khal Drogo. Both of the marriages were arranged by the powerful and/or manipulative men, and the consummation was a brutal experience for bride. This time even more so, if we really want to get into weighing rape scenes. Yes, Sansa agreed to marry Ramsay before coming to Winterfell and therefore knew she would have to have relations with her new husband, but she did not sign on for that.
Game of Thrones never shies away from telling the difficult story and, you can argue that this is the logical outcome of putting these characters into this situation, but the writers didn’t have to create the situation in the first place. Sansa’s story is way off-book at this point and it’s odd to finally give her some agency only to subject her to an even worse fate than she had as the ‘silly little girl’ with Joffrey. She handled Myranda quite well before the beautiful (yet funeral-inspired) wedding in the Godswood. I keep telling myself that the episode ended, not the scene, and maybe Sansa manages to save herself (and Reek) from the sadist.
“We never stop playing.”
Game of Thrones continues with Episode 7, “The Gift,” next Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO. Based on the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R.R. Martin, the series was adapted for TV by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.