GAME OF THRONES 5.06 ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’ Review
GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Episode 5
Episode Title: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
Writer: Bryan Cogman
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Previously on Game of Thrones:
There are full spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of Game of Thrones! You’ve been warned.
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” had perhaps one of the more shocking endings in Game of Thrones history, as Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was raped on her wedding night by Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). It was an incredibly disturbing scene to watch, and it was made even more so by the fact that the audience has followed Sansa from the very beginning of the series. We’ve watched Turner onscreen since she was fourteen years old.
Thankfully, the series didn’t linger on Sansa’s body during that sequence. The Game of Thrones creative team has already been accused of fetishising Sansa’s rape, which is a conclusion that I don’t agree with. At no point does the show invite its audience to take any pleasure in this and it wasn’t filmed to titillate. Instead the camera lingered on Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) aka Reek as he was forced to watch Sansa’s ordeal through his own tears.
Whether the show should have depicted this scene will likely be debated for a long time. However, the sequence had a powerful impact that continues to linger. I’ve no doubt that Ramsay will eventually get his comeuppance, even if it’s not going to happen immediately.
I do feel that we (the audience) were mislead about Sansa’s character progression. Sansa’s time at the Veil seemed to imply that she had a better idea of how to play the game. Instead, it’s hard not to think that Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen) deceived Sansa into thinking that she could control Ramsay and avenge her family by marrying him. Ramsay seems even more unhinged than Joffrey was. There’s no defending the former king, but at least Joffrey’s cruelty was held somewhat in check by his family. Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) certainly doesn’t care enough about Sansa to intervene.
Despite the ending, Sansa did have her moments of strength when she dismissed Myranda (Charlotte Hope) and when she told Theon how little that she thinks of him. Theon was even forced to openly acknowledge who he was during Sansa’s wedding. I’m not sure that there’s any redemption possible for what Theon has done on the show, but saving Sansa from rape would have been a good start. I’m not sure where this story is going, but only Littlefinger seems poised to win. He’s betrayed Sansa’s location to Cersei (Lena Headey) and he’s set in motion a plan to let his enemies kill each other first.
Cersei certainly seems to think that she’s having a good week in King’s Landing, as she sees both Loras (Finn Jones) and Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) arrested by the Faith Militant. Sure, Cersei is smug now, but if the queen can be arrested then there’s really nothing that the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) can’t do. King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) didn’t even try to help his bride, because he’s too cowardly to order any type of violence… even for the sake of his own wife.
It’s an incredibly bad idea for Cersei to antagonize the Tyrells, especially with Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) back in King’s Landing. As pointed out in this episode by Lady Olenna herself, the seven kingdoms need the Tyrells and the Lannisters can’t hold on to power without their support. Cersei can’t wish those realities away just because she thinks that she’s winning this power struggle.
Meanwhile, Cersei’s brothers both wound up as captives in their respective storylines. The arrival of Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his “companion” Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in Dorne landed with a thud as they immediately fought the Sand Snakes for the fate of Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free). Their fight scene wasn’t very interesting and the story didn’t accomplish much beyond getting everyone locked up, including Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). There was one good moment, when Trystane (Toby Sebastian) noted the blood on Bronn’s uniform as a warning, but the rest of the scene didn’t live up to that brief tension.
As for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), he ended up arguing for his life (and his cock!) after being captured by slavers alongside Jorah (Iain Glen). Dinklage and Glen have been unsurprisingly fun to watch, especially when Tyrion and Jorah were given the chance to share personal history with each other. I didn’t think that the show would ever get around to letting Jorah know when and how his father died beyond the wall.
The other major plotline of this episode focused on Arya (Maisie Williams) and her quest to become one of the Faceless Men. Essentially, the man formerly known as Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) is trying to teach Arya how to convincingly tell a lie… and he had no tolerance for the lies that she told herself. Arya doesn’t even recognize that she didn’t hate the Hound, but she refused to accept that truth even when Jaqen repeatedly struck her. The more alarming aspect of Arya’s training is that the Faceless Men apparently give up their own faces (literally!), but it seems like Jaqen is making an exception for Arya… at least for the moment.
It was Sansa’s storyline that elevated this episode above the average installment of Game of Thrones. If nothing else, it served as a reminder of just how brutal and visceral the show can still be. A few hundred outspoken fans on social media are already claiming that “they’re done” with the show… but they’ve always said that during the bleakest moments of Game of Thrones. They’ll always come back.