I've explained that when it comes to "Game of Thrones," I prefer to read the books after I've seen the latest season. The upside is that makes everything in the television series all the more shocking/exciting. The downside is that I am totally unprepared for its most depraved and depressing moments -- the kind of moments that make you want to take a break from a show for a bit maybe, because how much misery can fans endure and still call this entertainment? But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We're officially past the halfway point of Season 5, and after five episodes of questions, we're finally getting some answers. Like what do the devotees of the House of Black and White do with the bodies after they wash them?
"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" gave us the "Game of Thrones" equivalent of an '80s training montage to escalate Arya's apprenticeship. And what did we learn? That other apprentice either had an evil stepmother or has a wicked sense of humor. The dead donated here are added to the potential shapeshiftees of the Faceless Men (at least I think that's what the columns of faces mean). Arya's not ready to be no one (duh), but she is ready to be someone else (also duh, she's been doing that since Season 2).
Most curious, we've learned Arya did in fact have feels for the Hound. OK, you'd have to be blind not to know that … or blinded by feelings of vengeance, family loyalty and general Arya pigheadedness. But the Hound (alas!) is gone. Or, y'know, probably. It's "Game of Thrones," after all. People do rise from the dead sometimes. Probably not the Hound, though. Sorry. Rough ep. I'm trying to remember the good times. And they include a child murderer who loved eating chickens.
"The dwarf lives ..."
Anyhow, the next big question the show dared to answer was "Why Daenerys Targaryen, Jorah?" At the beginning of the season, I was positively reveling in the banter between Tyrion and Varys, what with their wit and shared affection for cynicism tinged with hope. But Tyrion with Jorah makes for a fairly fascinating combination all its own. They challenge each other's ideals, even though they have a lot in common, being disgraced lords seeking meaning in redemption. But what an odd couple. One is all strong, silent and broody, the other is Tyrion. While Jorah may loathe the Half-Man's garrulous nature, it did get them out of a tight spot with those devil-may-care slavers.
It's a fascinating turn of events. Although it doesn't promise any major advancements in the Meereen plots (le sigh), Jorah being pitched to the fighting pits does open a few new possibilities. One, we'll get more Jorah fighting, which this episode so cruelly robbed us. (I get that the show is expensive enough without all battles being on camera, but this jump cut from "Slavers!" to "We're captured" felt especially sloppy.) Of course, it's also crazy dangerous for Jorah to be rumbling with a mass of men when he has a horrifying disease that's transmitted by touch. But hey, fighting pits!
Another perk, having his life threatened by something other than alcohol poisoning has kicked Tyrion back into gear! Instead of wallowing in sullenness and self-pity, he made some very thoughtful points about the merchandizing of his junk, preventing an unceremonious death that would have had fans taking to the streets in outrage. And I'd be willing to bet these scallywags will be won over by the Imp with the gift of gab. As basically all but Cersei are eventually.
"As for your veiled threats--""What veil?"
Oh, Cersei. "What power does a Queen Mother have" was answered tonight as she managed to get Queen Margaery arrested for perjury. King Tommen definitely didn't see that coming. This poor kid: He's grown up in King's Landing, as Joffrey's little brother, Cersei's son and Tywin's grandson, yet knows nothing of betrayal and political underhandedness. Was he raised by a nanny? Confined to a bubble? How did this happen?
Cersei leveled up this episode. She beat Margaery, and now faces the Boss Level: Olenna Tyrell, Queen of Thorns. The "famous tart" versus the "famously tart." It's going to get ugly.
Subtitle that parting look from Olenna to Cersei as Margaery is dragged away, it'd read, "Bitch, war is on." Alliances be damned. The Tyrells have money, troops and way less people that hate them than the Lannisters. The Lannisters have … Tommen on the throne and Cersei going full-on Mother of Madness. Her fall is going to be gruesome, right? It has to be. (I'm being rhetorical, please don't tweet me spoilers. Thanks.)
Another Lannister question: When will Cersei discover Sansa Stark's whereabouts? Answer: As soon as Littlefinger opens his smug mouth. It's almost sweet how much these two longtime frenemies, Cersei and Littlefinger, enjoyed slathering out subtextual threats for each other. Still, it took me a minute to figure out why Littlefinger would risk giving up the actual location of his latest Stark paramour. But as Cersei points out, Winterfell is a thousand miles away and she doesn't exactly have the army to chuck out there, even for the girl who helped murder her son. (I mean, Sansa was an accessory -- or wore an accessory -- to Joffrey's last gasp.)
While I won't pretend all of Littlefinger's machinations make sense to me, I suspect this one is so that he can move his new Vale troops to Winterfell without worrying Cersei will hear about it. She'll think he's moving against Bolton. Bolton will think he's moving to help him defend against Stannis. Who does he really fight for? Himself ultimately, but beyond that … I don't know.
"You fight pretty good for a little girl."
When will Jaime and Bronn get to Dorne's palace already? Now! Dressed as guards, singing a presumably raunchy ditty. And after much teasing, we finally got to see the Sand Snakes in action! And it was … disappointing, right?
After we witnessed Bronn and Jaime take down a band of guards on horseback, I expected something more audacious from their showdown with the Sand Snakes. I mean, they are the assassin daughters of Oberyn Martell! Maybe it was the quick-cuts breaking up the action awkwardly. Maybe it was that the fight choreography wasn't totally selling me on these young women's reputation. Bronn was supposed to be impressed, but I was underwhelmed. Then the Dornish authorities showed up to break it all before it had barely begun!
I'd worried the season had taken and unfortunate turn. And then we went to Winterfell.
goddamn #GOT goddamn.
— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) May 18, 2015
"This is my home. You can't frighten me."
Sansa Stark. She survived in King's Landing longer than any of her family, even though she was the personal plaything of a sick little sadist who happened to be king. She leveled up with Littlefinger, going from victim of fate to maker of her own. And then she returned -- after so much pain and so much perseverance -- to Winterfell, where was promptly wed and raped by Ramsay Snow. And to make matters worse (because why not), she was raped by Ramsay Snow while Theon Greyjoy, betrayer of her family and (as far as she knows) murderer of her baby brothers, watches while weeping. Another disturbing choice by the show's creators, Theon's reaction shot -- not Sansa's -- is the final image of the episode.
Rape has been a recurring element of "Game of Thrones," often on purpose, sometimes apparently not. It's something the show tries to reserve for the most vile of its characters. And those characters usually get their comeuppance in an exceedingly brutal death. So, I guess we have that to look forward to.
I'm sorry. This just pisses me off. I know this show is full of brutality and soul-crushing moments. Yes. I remember Ned. I remember the Red Wedding. But after everything Sansa has endured, this?! We've seen her escape rape arguably twice on the show (who knows where things would have gone if Tyrion hadn't stepped in on Joffrey's cruel game of court-held show and tell). But then she gets home. She sheds her disguises. She's escaped the hold of Littlefinger. She's stood up to the psychotic servant Miranda, and this.
I have no insight here. I was still reeling from the grim kiss Ramsay spit on her lips, wondering if Sansa, who used to dream so fervently of a loving prince and a romantic happily ever after, will ever get a kiss that doesn't make my skin crawl. And then this.
Next week's episode is called "The Gift." I'm hoping it's Ramsay's head on a platter.
- "I'm not scrubbing one more corpse until you tell me why I'm doing it!" I hear ya, girl.
- Tyrion's usually so on point with social graces, but man he just dropped that dead-dad bomb hard on Jorah. Yeesh.
- Arya's walking down those long stairs with fire pits for lighting, and I think, "That's how I'd die in this world. My clumsy ass would stumble on a stair and then burst into flames. Unbowed, Unbent but burnt to a crisp."
- Cersei calls Roose Bolton a "turd clerk." I'm stealing that.
- The slimmest silver lining to this sham of a wedding, Sansa's dress may be might favorite of "Game of Thrones" bridal yet.
- Theon's not all gone. He's in there somewhere.
- The setting is pretty, the bride is beautiful. I want Brienne to storm in and separate the groom's head from his shoulders with her Oathkeeper.
- That Ramsay Bolton, what a turd clerk.
- The only thing that can lift my mood may be Muppets: