It’s very hard to give a star rating to this episode. The majority of "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" is Thrones at the top of its game. The end, however, pushes the show’s edginess a little too far, far enough that it feels wrong to rate it out of five. So for the excellence of the rest of the story episode six is worth of 4.5/5. But for the end? No stars.
I love Game Of Thrones, and before that I loved A Song Of Ice And Fire. I respect them both as separate entities – see George RR Martin’s explanation here. My love for the world of ice and fire has carried me through some book-to-screen changes I didn’t necessarily like or agree with: Daenerys’ wedding night, Jaime and Cersei’s reunion in the Sept of Baelor, Karl Tanner’s "Fuck ’em ’til they’re dead" line. The books aren’t devoid of rape and in a world as unforgiving and bleak as Game Of Thrones they were going to include it one way or another.
But Sansa’s wedding night is not something that we needed to see. You can argue character development until The Wall melts, but no one in that room needed character development through rape. We already knew Ramsay is a psychotic bastard of the highest order, that Theon is a broken spirit and Sansa has motivation enough to hate and fear the Boltons.
So what, then, did this scene achieve? Presumably Theon will turn against Ramsay and aid Sansa in escaping. Did Sansa get raped on screen just so Theon could muster up the courage to say “hey you know Bran and Rickon are actually alive. Should we go live somewhere else?” It strongly seems that way – especially since it’s Theon’s face we watch as we listen to her cries of pain. If you’re going to make us present for this scene, why not show us Sansa’s face throughout? Is Theon’s pain in this moment more important than Sansa’s? Surely not.
They Said The Thing!
Ellaria Sand intones this week's episode title "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" before sending the Sand Snakes off to kidnap Myrcella. They're the words of House Martell, so it's very fitting.
After the joy of watching Sansa grow into a much more confident, assured woman this feels like a very cheap way of telling her story. The way she stands up to Miranda while in the bath is a glorious new, confident Sansa. Brave – fearless even. To undo it all in this way… I thought the show was better than that. It wasn’t even shocking, we’re no longer shocked by Ramsay’s behaviour. Whether it's entirely meaningless remains to be seen – the next few episodes could be pivotal in showing us that there was absolutely no other way for the Winterfell story to go down without that happening.
The rest of the episode, well, it's brilliant. Dorne provided a very neat parallel to Sansa’s storyline. Myrcella is essentially a political hostage like Sansa, but instead of misery she has found love, and her tryst with Trystane is delightful to watch. All sun and bright colours, a stark contrast to Sansa’s beautiful, yet dark, wedding and harrowing consummation. Jaime and Bronn are a match made in heaven, and their fight against the Sand Snakes is well choreographed. It’s still not certain whether they’ve made it out alive – that cut on Bronn’s arm is probably poisoned. These are the daughters of Oberyn Martell, after all.
Lady Olenna being back in King’s Landing is everything you could want it to be, and her tart comment to Cersei is exactly why everyone loves the Queen of Thorns. Arya’s storyline meanders a little – but the room of faces is breathtakingly creepy and her storyline is definitely building to more exciting scenes. Jorah and Tyrion’s talk about Jeor’s death was a nice thing to see on screen and their capture by slavers has set them on the right path.
The episode looks great, the set design and the costumes just keep getting better. The script is excellent. But all of it is overshadowed by the end scene. I love Game Of Thrones, but there’s only so many times you can forgive something you love. This week has left me feeling broken. I’ll watch next week’s, but right now I can’t help but wish I hadn’t watched episode six.
Jorah's got mad skills
In case you forgot, Jorah did actually kill Qotho, bloodrider to Khal Drogo, at the end of season one. Fingers crossed he's still got those fighting skills.
He looks awfully familiar...
If you think you recognise Malko the slaver then it might be because you're a Lost fan. That's right, it's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, aka Mr Eko. If you didn't watch Lost then you might have seen him in Pompeii alongside Kit Harington (Jon Snow). Of course nobody would admit to actually seeing i>Pompeii... You'll also see him as Killer Croc in DC's Suicide Squad.