Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Remember the episode last season, where Jaime and Cersei got to know each other next to the corpse of their son, Joffrey, about one day after his death? There was some public outrage regarding that scene, which was understandable, whether or not it was warranted. The final scene from tonight’s episode, “Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken,” may draw some similar outrage. We will end our review with why it should not draw such anger, but let’s get to the rest of the review first. In addition to that scene, we got some great character development, a few fun verbal jousts, and one underwhelming fight scene. Time to travel around Westeros, just like the show’s intro, to see what worked and what did not.
We jumped around a bit more this week than we did in last week’s episode, but characters made much more headway and character development this week. It resulted in a much more intense and interesting episode. The theme of this episode seemed to be “the truth,” as every character learned the harsh realities of either learning or telling the truth. Every location we visited resulted in some key reveal or character movement, so no time seemed wasted. Arya finally moved forward, and we got to learn much more about her character and exactly what is going on in The House of Black and White. It was great that we got to see Arya’s personality still on full display: her curiosity still reigns supreme, as she is drawn to all open doors. She is still a defiant liar, being struck multiple times for claiming to hate Sandor Clegane. By episode’s end, she has learned to tell the truth, even if that truth is a bold-faced lie.
However, she is learning. Watching her “win” the game of faces by weaving her tale to a sick girl was a satisfying moment with an even more satisfying payoff. It is interesting that Jaqen H’ghar is filling in right where Ned left off (four seasons ago) by seeing something in Arya, even if it is not quite what is expected as her. Seeing the vault of faces underneath The House of Black and White was a great, magical moment in a show that occasionally has to remind us that there is legitimate magical (at least mystical) energy in this world. It will be interesting to see just what Jaqen means when he tells Arya that she is ready to become someone else.
Jorah was also given some doses of the truth this week, as he struggled to continue hating his captive dwarf. Tyrion described his hatred and murder of his own father, then expressed regret over the death of Jorah’s. Watching actor Iain Glen’s face as he reacted to the news from Westeros, a place that he desperately wants to return to, gave his character a pain and depth that we have not seen in quite some time. Tyrion gained his respect, and usually, that turns out well to our silver-tongued, youngest Lannister (see also: Bronn). This new-found respect came in handy just a bit later, as the two were captured by slavers and they immediately tricked their captors into taking them exactly where they want to go. And many people immediately found a new career calling in the appraising and selling of dwarf penises. It is probably a fairly competitive field. Once you’ve found a trusted dwarf-penis vendor, I imagine you always return to the same guy. Mr. Eko (Adawale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who surely goes by an alias when making a restaurant reservation) recognizes this, and here’s hoping the Lost veteran sticks around for a few more episodes as Jorah and Tyrion’s captor.
Over in Dorne, we received the aforementioned “underwhelming fight scene.” I like what they have done with Princess Myrcella and Prince Trystane, as those two have somehow made grenades out of lemons and fallen in love. Any banter between Jaime and Bronn is always appreciated. And maybe, just maybe, Jaime is ready to be a father to his daughter. But, by far, the weakest scene this week was the showdown between our two spies of Westeros and the sandsnakes. It is almost as if the show cannot make up their mind how badass some people are and some people are not. I can understand Bronn not wanting to kill a woman (but from everything we’ve seen, if he was threatened, I think he would have no problem there). Aren’t these women supposed to be outrageous, merciless fighters? I have severe doubts that Jaime Lannister could last five seconds in a one on one fight with a sandsnake, let alone outnumbered. They are somewhat suffering from Unsullied Syndrome; the audience has been told how formidable they are, but the numbers do not add up. Maybe there are other factors at play, or maybe I was just upset that my prediction from last week (a Jaime or Bronn death) did not come true. However, this scene was a disappointing one among a pretty excellent episode. But, of course, Bronn filled his quota of great lines for the episode.
Our crew at King’s Landing also got some truth served to them. Cersei is still sitting in her smug land, where smug looks are apparently in full bloom. Her verbal battles this week included Olenna Martell, the Queen of Thorns, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, and sitting in on her unfolding plans with the High Sparrow and his Faith Militant. Cersei’s quick conversation with Olenna actually went surprisingly well for the Queen Mother, as Cersei deflected the veiled barbs thrown her direction…
And managed to put Olenna in her place a bit. Cersei’s conversation with Littlefinger again showed how out of tune Cersei is with politics and how in tune Lord Baelish is. Watching him play Cersei, appealing to her emotion and anger, showed how much experience he has with her. He discovered the truth about the Lannister military minds – notice how he discovered both Kevan and Jaime are out of the city before he made his play. When he made his play, Baelish wanted to upjump even further by claiming the title of Warden of the North. Although Baelish’s endgame remains unclear, he has certainly made some strides. If he became Warden of the North, that would essentially give him power over three of the seven kingdoms (his seat at Harranhal and his pseudo-command of The Vale being his others). He surely will not kill Sansa, right?
But Littlefinger is anything if not unpredictable.
How about that Faith Militant? This scary group is making a lot of noise in a hurry. They threatened Lord Baelish after destroying his brothel, they’ve threatened the King himself, they’ve arrested a member of the Kingsguard, and finally complete the power play by arresting the Queen herself. Even though it was obvious what was going to happen to Margaery once she was called to the stand, it was still sad to see the Tyrells get taken down so hard. Meanwhile, Cersei sat back with false denials, and Tommen sat back and was Tommen. He is such a wimp.
Although, it will be interesting to see what develops now, as Margaery has some dirt on Cersei that she can surely spill. And I seem to remember a certain member of the Faith Militant that is totally aware of Cersei’s incestuous crimes, plots to murder, and general bitchiness.
We will see what happens when Lancel’s new found faith is surely put to the test.
Finally, we arrive at the end scene. Surely one of the most disturbing scenes we’ve received from Game of Thrones, as Ramsay proved he is not all that taken with Sansa’s name and beauty. The build up was great: Sansa again bared her fangs and threatened away Myranda without batting an eye. We were later treated to a teary-eyed Myranda watching the wedding. She also flexed on Theon Greyjoy, wanting nothing to do with his feelings and pain due to his betrayal of her family. Naturally, she would flex on Ramsay Bolton too, right?
Of course not! Ramsay claimed his bride on their wedding night, whether she wanted to or not, and Theon (who had once again become Reek) was forced to watch and cry. This scene could cause some more uproar (as most scenes involving sexual violence on TV do), but it really should not. First off, it was done much more tastefully that the ill-conceived “Jaime rapes Cersei” from last season. Second, this is, essentially, a medieval, political marriage. An heir is supposed to come from it, whether or not one party wants it (remember when Margaery tried to sleep with Renly? “You could start on my brother as long as you finish with me”). Third, this was obviously going to happen. Sansa clearly is not ready to stand up to Ramsay on her own; if she did, she would lose immediately. The show led us to believe she had found her strength. However, Sansa stood up to a peasant and a broken man. Nothing good was coming of this wedding. Sansa did not need to be assaulted in order to make us root for her. Not everything on Game of Thrones happens because it needs to happen. I am not condoning what Ramsay did; on the contrary, he obviously deserves a horrific death. With this action, he has inconceivably passed Joffrey on the list of “All time people we want to die in Westeros.” Luckily, there is an ever growing list (I count Sansa, Myranda, Theon, Stannis, Jon Snow, Cersei, Roose, and Littlefinger) of people who are going to be at least somewhat interested in offing the newly legitimized heir to the North. Here’s hoping Sansa recruits the allies she needs and enacts some sweet revenge. In a show not known for happy endings, Ramsay has reached the point where he needs to be brought to justice.
Overall, this episode did a much better job with character movement and holding interest than the fifth episode did. Arya, Sansa, Littlefinger, Cersei, and the Tyrells all have clear purposes to push them towards the end of the season, and there are only four weeks left to figure out where they are headed. Hold on tight.
– Cersei’s conversations
– Arya’s “graduation”
– Jorah and Tyrion bonding
– The Faith Militant strikes out
– Building up with the final scene
– Fight in the Water Gardens