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Game of Thrones: The Sons of the Harpy

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The Sons of the Harpy was an episode with a lot of violence, and not much cohesive action. It felt like a collection of scenes that reflected on the past and prepared for the future, rather than an episode that moved things forward, and although the scenes were enjoyable in isolation, they didn’t come together in any cohesive way.

This was unfortunate, because there were some very good scenes, and some very important plot developments — they just got muddled by the episode’s segmented nature. All in all, it felt like a lot of attempt at drama, without much actually taking place.

Sansa in Winterfell

As a semi-joking proponent of “Sansa, Queen in the North,” the idea of Sansa becoming Wardeness is beyond intriguing to me, and I really hope that this plot goes somewhere interesting. But again, and I really don’t think this can be said too much, this is not yet a story about Sansa’s empowerment. Yes, “Wardeness of the North” sounds like a powerful title, but it’s not something that she’s pursuing for herself. Sansa didn’t even know that was Littlefinger’s intention before this episode, and the plan involves nothing except her simply being there when Stannis attacks. When Sansa hears the title, she is shocked and says no before she thinks about it more, and although I hope that that thought will motivate her in coming episodes, she isn’t taking control and fighting for power herself yet.

Even the assumption that she’ll be safe when Stannis’s men attack, and that Stannis will make her Wardeness after she was first married to a Lannister and then to a Bolton, is pretty flimsy.

And her instructions for how to gain power? To seduce Ramsey Bolton. To make him fall for her. To play the Margaery role, in fact — something I want to talk about more extensively another time, since the show seems to consider female power as either “girls suck, I like fighting with swords,” or seductive manipulation. If Sansa is going to have a narrative about gaining more power for herself, of course she will have to follow the second.

There was a subtle comment on Sansa’s “power” in this scene too, although I’m not certain whether it was intentional. We finally got more detail about the tourney and the crown of roses, in an episode littered with missing backstory, and the story’s conclusion gave Sansa a powerful opportunity to comment on choice. All of this happened, Littlefinger tells her, because of Rhaegar’s choice. “Yes, he chose her,” Sansa says, “and kidnapped her, and raped her.” The not-so-subtle implication being, of course, that Lyanna chose nothing at all. Someone else made a choice, and she could do nothing except be swept along by it, and killed in the process.

I wonder about this parallel to Sansa’s situation — to the way that Lyanna could be misconstrued as powerful, because “her love” started a war, because she was chosen by the prince, because so many died to save her.  To what extent does that echo Sansa’s “power” now — her power to be forced into a marriage alliance for revenge, her power to be rescued and potentially made Wardeness, her power to have people die over her. Her power to be kissed by Littlefinger against her will, and still ask him not to leave her, because he’s the closest thing to a protector she has.

Events at the Wall

The Wall this week was host to both the very good, and the very bad. First, the very good — how wonderful was Stannis’s scene with Shireen this week? I love that the show chose to give her a bigger role, because her interactions with people at the Wall and the backstory of her greyscale is adding so much emotion and depth to the show. I have nothing insightful to say about this scene, except that it nearly made me cry, and I think it’s good to show Stannis’s softer side as well as his stern pursuit of justice. Stannis might seem quite cold at times, but he is fair to the very letter of the law, and I think it’s good to have scenes like this to let us connect with him beyond his “rightful king” spiel.

And then there’s the bad. I’m not certain what is happening with Melisandre and Jon, and whether she’s making a powerplay or just has a crush on him, but it’s another example of how women in this show either gain power through swordfighting or through sexuality. There is no other way, not even if you’re a prophecy-reading agent of the One True God who can summon shadow demons to kill your enemies. The “you know nothing, Jon Snow” line is one of my favorite moments in the book, in part because it raises so many questions, but I don’t understand the show’s decision to take the scene’s slightly sexual undertones and make them so overt.

King’s Landing and the Faith Militant

I’m loving the exploration of the Faith Militant this season. I don’t remember much about this plot element in the books, beyond how things end, but I think this is building up to be a fascinating exploration of power, and of Cersei’s self-destructive attempts to hold onto it.

However, I’m both intrigued and nervous about how this plotline fits in with my other discussions about female sexuality and power in this show. Book readers will know how badly Cersei’s attempts to use the faith to gain power backfire, as their moral military turns its attentions on Cersei’s own “sins” and indiscretions, and I wonder how this will all unfold. This is one of the show’s few attempts to show a woman fighting for power without using either a sword or sexuality, and it’s going to completely fall apart — and one of the reasons for its failure is Cersei’s use of her sexuality to gain power in the past. I’m not sure what I think about this yet, but it’s an interesting thing to note, at least.

Meanwhile, I’m a little confused by what they’re doing with Tommen’s age. They’ve clearly aged him up, but how much? Old enough to have this plotline with Margaery, assumedly, but young enough to be incredibly naive and unable to assert himself as king. So… 14? Older? Younger? And are we supposed to sympathize with him, or are we supposed to roll our eyes with Margaery? His sweetness is endearing at times, but they’ve made him naive to the point of idiocy too — “aren’t you and mother getting along?”, for example.

I do think that we’re supposed to side with Margaery, married to a king who’s not sadistic but is useless, supposedly powerful but powerless to help her brother, forced to be sweet and try to woo him when she’s absolutely furious inside. But I do feel sorry for Tommen too — he’s been thrown into this role as king, he’s being manipulated by everyone around him, and he’s too young to properly understand what’s happening. Even though they aged up the actor, they didn’t age up his mindset, making scenes between him and Margaery uncomfortable at best.

And as much as I adore Natalie Dormer, I do wonder about the decision to make Margaery so overtly manipulative, using her sexuality and false-sweetness to win over the king while clearly not respecting, if not downright disliking him.

Side note: is Cersei trying to kill Mace Tyrell? Because I definitely got that vibe when she sent Ser Meryn on a voyage with him.

Dorne and the Sand Snakes

The Sand Snakes only got a brief introduction here, but again, they demonstrated the idea that a female character can either have sexual power, or violent, spear-throwing power. They’re brutal, they’re out for vengeance, they’ll throw a spear at a helpless man’s head without flinching, and so they are badass. I don’t remember if this is representative of the Sand Snakes in the books — someone please remind me! — but it rubs me the wrong way in the context of Ellaria Sand’s dramatic character transformation and the rest of the show’s attitudes to its female characters.

That said, I actually am enjoying Jaime’s plotline in Dorne. Turning his fake hand into a visual gag was in poor taste, but Jaime has a good dynamic with Bronn, and it’s providing the opportunity for some interesting character commentary. Plus there’s always the fun of seeing a new plot unfold with familiar male characters, since they’re likely to have interesting development and actual character struggles, rather than the things we’ve seen with characters like Sansa so far.

The Sons of the Harpy

So, the show has killed off Ser Barristan. His death scene was one example of “violence not plot” for me — I was so tired of fighting and bloodshed without any actual development this episode that I tuned out and so half-missed Ser Barristan’s death scene.

I do think he basically got reverse-fridged for Daenerys’s sake — without him around, she’s lost her last reliable advisor, at a time when she needs his steady wisdom and experience the most, and the fact that he was killed by the Sons of the Harpy is likely to send her on a revenge kick that could set her on the same path as “the Mad King.” An interesting plot development from that perspective, and one that I think will service the plot well, but the death itself seemed rather random and pointless.

And on the downside, we’ll no longer get any scenes where Ser Barristan shares his wisdom and tells us tales of the past — a shame, because I was really enjoying that dynamic.

Overall

All in all, this was something of a muddled episode, too segmented to feel cohesive. Its strongest message wasn’t one about the plot, or even about the characters, but about the show’s own attitude to its female characters, and to their “empowerment.” If a female character is to be powerful in this world, they must either be brutal with a weapon, or they must use their sexuality to manipulate others, even if they’re still only young teenagers themselves. Any other approach is doomed to fail.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing that develop more as the season progresses, but I think it’ll give us a lot to consider, at least.

Rhiannon

Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

30 thoughts on “Game of Thrones: The Sons of the Harpy

  1. – While I am still weirded out by Ellaria’s change in character and don’t like it, I decided to give the Sand Snakes a pass since in the books they are the ones pressing for revenge (as in, Prince Doran has to keep them under house arrest precisely so that they don’t start a war). I’m not a fan of what is probably going to happen to Myrcella, but for the Sand Snakes at least this vengeance thing isn’t a complete about-face.
    – GREEEYYYY WOOOOORRRRRM!!!!
    – I mostly just feel sorry for Tommen. I know he seems almost stupidly naive, but I don’t think we can blame him for that any more than we can blame Sansa for her Season 1 naivety. He wasn’t raised to be king, he was always the baby of the family and now he’s not, I’ll bet my left arm Robert never paid the slightest bit of attention to his education or upbringing, and Cersei has never done anything but smother him to keep him out of everyone else’s control. Now, with no training, no experience, the only person who could give him competent advice AND had a vested interest in Tommen’s kingship with the political power to back it up is dead, no connections to other people in power except his mother, who is drastically going over his head. He is completely unprepared to deal with any of this, and I don’t want to call him “weak” when he’s just a normal, barely-adolescent boy who has just been thrown in WAY over his head and is only just starting to realize it.

    At first I thought it was kinda fun to see Natalie Dormer seriously channeling some Anne Boleyn, but now that you mention it it does seem weird that she’s suddenly falling back on a”don’t-you-love-me-tantrum”, when this might have been a prime opportunity to worm her way into Tommen’s sympathy like she did with Joffrey.

    I will be interested to see how Lancel joining the faith militant will play out. By which I mean: poorly. For Cersei, since I’m guessing that’s how they’ll handle the lead up to the end of the season.

    1. then again, Margaery slipping out of her mask into anger in front of Tommen is probably just a good sign of how much she cares for Loras, since nothing else has broken her cool before now.

    2. No, Greyworm! I thought he had survived — I think I was so shocked by Ser Barristan that I didn’t register what happened to Greyworm after his death, and I WANT to hope he’ll still be around next week.

      And that’s a good point about Tommen and his similarity to Sansa. I do feel sorry for him, and I think ageing him up was a mistake, especially if the only reason was so that they could shoot those scenes with Margaery.

      1. Wait, did he survive? I saw him flop down next to Ser Barristan so I thought he died, but maybe I’m wrong…I hope so, because Grey Worm and Missandei all the way!

  2. The Sand Snakes in the books are very different. Obara wants a war directed against Oldtown because she hates the city, no one there had anything to do with Oberyn’s death. This would however not cause more innocent deaths than Robb Stark’s war of vengeance. Nymeria wants to murder Lord Tywin, Jaime, Cercei and Tommen, to which Prince Doran objects that the boy has never harmed them. Nymeria answer that the boy is the result of treason, adultery and incest of Stannis can be believed. The Sand Snakes can be ruthless, but they are not worse than anyone else, throwing a spear at a helpless man is scary, but the westerosi often execute people without real trial, like Jon Snow executed Janos Slynt.

    In the books the Sand Snakes are more different than each other, and act more independent of each other. I also don’t imagine the book Doran say something like: “He was my brother before he was anything to you.” I might have forgotten something, but the book Doran is kind and gentle.

    I think Lyanna followed Rheagar of her own free will, since Ned Stark seemed to have a quite high opinion of Rheagar and mentioned to Arya that Lyanna caused her own death. Ned Stark was the last person to speak to Lyanna, so he must have known the truth.

    I mislike the Faith Militants new interest in sexuality and brutalizing people. In the books they want to protect the people nobles and kings didn’t care about, and they preach against prostitution, to Cercei’s dismay, but they doesn’t take any violent action. Neither does the Faith Militant seem to care about homosexuality. The westerosi in general seems to despise homosexual people, like saying that Loras isn’t a real man, and let it stay with that. The show also gives Cercei a greater role in their creation, thus making her downfall more of her own doing. I guess the shows obsession with sexuality makes them see the Faith Militant more as a treat against sexuality than a socially conscious factor of power who cares about the starving and the defenseless.

    1. It’s strange because the High Sparrow is DEFINITELY shown to be focused on caring for the poor, and brushing off Cersei’s comment of “all sinners are equal before the gods” etc…the new Faith Militant seems surprisingly brutal, given that he set them up and is in charge of them.

      Given how this season is going to end for Cersei and Margaery, I have a pretty good hunkering for why they were focused on sex purging…they needed to arrest Loras for plot reasons further down the line, since Ser Kettleblack doesn’t seem to be appearing much in this show (not to mention the ironic Anne/George Boleyn parallel/Cersei hypocrisy)

      1. I really wonder where they’re going with the High Sparrow — are the Faith Militant out of his control, is his caring and peaceful attitude just a front, or is it just that no one thought through the discrepancy?

    2. I’m largely in agreement, but I think there’s a difference between what Jon Snow did (and what Dany did in the same episode) and Obara throwing a spear at the captain’s head. The former are about dealing with lawbreakers in an honorable way. The latter is about revenge for the sake of it.

      It bothers me that in order to give Ellaria more to do, the show has turned a plotline that was essentially about Prince Doran putting his family under house arrest (under the guise of protecting them/keeping the silly women from doing something cray) into ‘yep, these crazy ladies must be stopped/look at them being all irrational about revenge’.

      I’m not saying the drive to avenge Oberyn isn’t there in the books because it totally is, but barring a few introductory shots most of the book plot re: Sand Snakes focuses on Arianne Martell, whose idea of retaliation actually involves returning Myrcella to King’s Landing – hardly a warmonger’s first move and yet a crime that also gets her locked in a tower by dear old Dad.

      To me, the only way the Dornish plot makes sense in the book is if I read it as proof of Doran Martell being not much different to every other lord in Westeros. Sure, the Dornish pay lip service to free love and let their women fight, but at the end of the day, they’re every bit as patriarchal as everyone else. Arianne runs into the same roadblocks Cersei did simply because her actions contravene Doran’s plans. Of course, since Arianne is absent from the show, we’ll get a different dichotomy in Dorne: Doran & son = good, Ellaria & Sand Snakes = bad…

      Also, I would have loved it if they could skip the accents. They’re all Westerosi. Yes, even the non-white folks.

      1. That’s a really interesting point about Doran and how he puts them under house arrest for being “dangers to themselves.” The show has such a huge problem with trying to make female characters “stronger” and in doing so, destroying the entire point of their original plotline.

    3. In all fairness, the Faith Militant always had an interest in sexuality–that it, female sexuality. All of it. IIRC, they were attacking (though not to the show’s extent) the brothels and, as Cersei’s punishment was all about her sexuality. It’s one of the main reasons I can’t find anything cathartic about it, because its all about punishing and shaming her as a woman and not as a terrible person.
      I do think, though, that the ‘religious fanatics attack homosexuals’ is a tired, tired trope to pull, especially since there’s no evidence of it in the books (admittedly, GRRM probably would have it that way, just to make Westeroros a worse place, but so far it hasn’t been addressed at all. Only the Ironborn don’t like gay men, iirc).
      As far as Lyanna goes, she was a fourteen/fifteen year old girl (alright, probably sixteen or seventeen in the story) running off with a mid-twenties father and husband (who was probably plotting a coup in the midst of all this, so soon-to-be ruler). If she that wasn’t enough to call into question whatever possible consent she can give, she was also a girl who was reportedly a bit wild, who ended her life locked in a tower. Even if Ned is okay with Rhaegar, that doesn’t mean we should be, The situation was sketchy in its most positive light.
      Good point about the Sand Snakes and their comparative brutality (though I question ‘ This would however not cause more innocent deaths than Robb Stark’s war of vengeance’, considering his war started as ‘get father and sisters back’ and, after one battle, became a battle of ‘gain independence and get my sisters back’. Vengeance, of course, was a goal, but not exactly the top priority. And it wasn’t exactly like he started the war (that would be Tywin’s invasion of the Riverlands) and had sole responsibility for the causalities).
      I would say Doran is the best part of the Dorne plot, and most book like, atm. And I wouldn’t call him kind or gentle, to be honest. He is peaceful, or appears to be, and patient, but not without his rage or his edges. His entire relationship with Arrianne is prickly at best, and he shoulders a fair share of the blame for that.

      1. Right. It’s impossible to say what actually happened between Rhaegar and Lyanna, so it’s difficult to argue about how much choice she may or may not have had, but I think that even if she “chose” to run off with him, she couldn’t have had complete agency in that situation.

        As for the Sand Snakes, you’re right that they’re not more brutal than a lot of other people in Westeros (although I think the scene differs quite a lot from Jon’s execution of Slynt, e.g.), but I think that they’re going to lose any subtlety to their characterization, and also any sense that they might have a point. It’s possible that we’re meant to sympathize with their fight for revenge, but considering how they’re focussing on an innocent girl, and we’re seeing familiar characters fighting to save her from them, I think we’re mostly meant to see them as vengeful and violent, nothing more.

  3. I’m a little less skeptical about Sansa’s plotline than you are (mostly because I’m desperate for her to become the great character I think she could be) but I agree that it’s not about empowerment per se.

    I don’t think this show is very good at empowering women (and maybe all the gratuitous boob shots should have tipped me off sooner) but especially with Sansa, the writing has been very hit or miss. On the other hand, even in the books, her trajectory is very much that of a naive young girl becoming a prisoner and a pawn… and remaining one up to the point where the books leave off.

    I know certain sections of fandom have this idea that Sansa begins to learn how to play the game of thrones and I’m all on board with that but it never actually happens on the page.

    And maybe that’s to be expected. She’s probably traumatized and she’s got PTSD like nobody’s business. Expecting her to dye her hair and wake up a mini-Margaery is naive. At the same time, I don’t really understand what the show is trying to do with her in terms of the Bolton storyline? She doesn’t have Margaery’s knack for seduction because she wasn’t raised with that in mind. And now Littlefinger has up and left her so… is she supposed to make it up as she goes along?

    1. I agree. I don’t think Sansa’s plotline has been particularly empowering so far in the books, although she has shown a lot of strength, and it’s difficult to imagine how she could become a player, considering both her personality and the impossible situation she finds herself in. And I would love love love if the show pulls off an empowering storyline for her. But I’m not seeing it yet, and I am definitely doing some mental evasive manoeuvres to prepare myself for whatever horrors the Ramsey Bolton plotline may have in store for us soon.

  4. “Plus there’s always the fun of seeing a new plot unfold with familiar male characters, since they’re likely to have interesting development and actual character struggles, rather than the things we’ve seen with characters like Sansa so far.”
    Ouch.
    Thanks again for your analysis and concise summaries of the problems I’m having with the show, particularly the problems with Sansa’s story (I actually saw an article about how this season is ‘fixing her character’ and I’m just… ugh.). And you make a good point about the random set-up nature of this episode, particularly in Barristan’s fight scene. Though there is a lot of good plot that can come of that.
    I’m also worried about the Marg/Tommen plot. On one hand, I’d love it if they actually address the abuse of the relationship. On the other, I have very little faith that would ever be addressed.

  5. Littlefinger’s plan doesn’t make any sense to me. So he bets on Stannis taking over Winterfell and making Sansa Wardeness of the North. How does this plan require Sansa being married to Ramsay? The plot relies on many assumptions – 1) The Boltons won’t hurt Sansa, 2) Sansa will survive Stannis’ siege, and 3) Stannis will indeed make her Wardeness of the North. None of this is a given. If Littlefinger thinks that Stannis would give Winterfell to Sansa, why does she need to be there? She could be waiting anywhere else, and if she needs to be close to the action, she could easily hide in the castle of one of the loyal Stark bannermen. And isn’t it much easier to send a raven to Stannis beforehand, and to offer him the North in exchange for his support instead of blindly relying on him coming up with the idea to support Sansa?

    On Cersei wanting to kill Mace Tyrell – I thought it’s more like she wants him under her control, as a trump card to play later. Now he is in the middle of the sea, with Meryn Trant guarding him. If the Tyrells start misbehaving, she only needs to give the order to get him killed. Also, she wanted him out of the way, so she can freely go after his children.

    I thought keeping Tommen’s original age would have made a more compelling story. A woman gaining power through sexually manipulating a powerful man is such an overused trope. How about this – Margaery is prepared to seduce men, but she’s resourceful and adaptable, and when seduction doesn’t work, she comes up with alternatives. So far it has worked for her – she tries to seduce Renly and fails. Fine – she wins him over with honesty and understanding. She tries to seduce Joffrey and fails. No problem – she wins him with pretending she is as cruel as him. Now she tries to seduce Tommen and it doesn’t work. No problem for Margaery – she wins his affection with kindness and kittens. Instead, we see her manipulating Tommen through sex, which is a story we’ve seen dozens of times. Besides, even though poor Tommen is aged, he’s not old enough to make the scenes not creepy. It’s almost painful to see the naive kid manipulated like this.

    Completely agree on Melisandre. She is a powerful priestess, and yet she can’t think of any other way to gain control?

    I was looking forward to the Sand Snakes, but the introduction was disappointing. So far they are just “badass”, bloodthirsty warriors. They are indistinguishable, and all their motivations are the same. In the books we get different goals for the Dornish women – Ellaria wants peace, Arianne wants to go with the Queenmaker plot, and the Sand Snakes want revenge, but each of them has a different plan how to go about it. Now they all want the same, and it makes no difference whether we get four characters or just one. I hope they are better developed in the future episodes. I love Dorne, and I was really looking forward to that storyline.

    1. I really don’t understand why Sansa needs to marry anyone. She is a Stark. Winterfell is hers by blood. She could have a Septa examine her to determine she is a virgin and then also declare the marriage false because it was under threat of death. In addition, Littlefinger should have either taken her directly to Stannis or kept her safe in the Vale until the fighting was over. She loses everything by getting into bed with the Boltons. At least with Stannis, she knows he is fair and honorable. The Boltons are known traitors. Stannis would help Sansa and her Stark name would get all of the North to rise for Stannis, if she asked. He would feel indebted to her and gladly make her Warden of the North because of Ned’s sacrifice and her aid to his cause.

      1. Well, there’s the posibility that Littlefinger is liying to Sansa. As everyone pointed out, this plan is bad for her. There’s no need for her to marry. But I want to stretch that. For her. Littlefinger’s plans might require that Sansa loses power so she’s dependant on him. So he lied because he can’t tell her that and expect she complies.

        Also, who said he wants Sansa to be warden of the north? He’s greedy, so he probably wants everything for himself. And Stanis would never accept Littlefinger. Stanis would marry Sansa to some of his men. Or to someone he thinks that deserve it. And that someone could not be open to Littlefinger’s eschemes. So, I don’t think that Littlefinger has been honest to Sansa about his intentions and plans. Won’t be the first time that happens.

        He’s not trustworthy and by now Sansa should have learnt that. What I hope is that Sansa pretend to trust him and said nothing because she doesn’t need to tell him that she don’t trust him anymore. I wish she’s just biding her time until she can escape both Bolton and Littlefinger and she just think that in the north there’s more chances to find allies.

  6. Or you could have dragons, that could give power too (joking).

    I think that we are supposed to emphatice with Tommen, not Margaery. From the begining we know she is cunning and manipulative. But at the same time, I think that while she uses Tommen, she likes him. She’s not in love with him, but she likes that he’s kind and naive. Anyway, I didn’t get the feeling that we should side with Margaery.

  7. The Sansa storyline is just so stupid. I just feel like if they were never going to properly introduce Jeyne Poole in the series then why even continue with that storyline? When they didn’t introduce Jeyne, I was thrilled, because I didn’t want to see the continual rape and torture of a young girl. They could have created some other subplot that got Jon Snow wanting to go against Ramsay and propel Theon to finally escape. Why has a main female character, that has a lot more agency in the books, been given a secondary character’s storyline that is only included to bolster a male character’s story arc?

    I really am dreading next week because it has been hyped by Sophie, Alfie, and Iwan that mid-season there is a traumatic scene for Sansa. I do not want to see her being raped by Ramsay or orally assaulted by Theon. I do not want to see her having continual baths that are followed by a rape. I don’t want any mention of her doing things with his dogs. I do not think I will stay with the show if that wedding night scene happens to Sansa. It just seems like Dan and David cannot fathom that a female character doesn’t have to be violently assaulted and dehumanized to finally gain some kind of rage or sense of revenge. Sansa already hates all those that killed her family did she really need this storyline to hate them that much more? Also Sansa never was focused on revenge. She just wanted to live in peace and one day be back in her home. What really sucks about this storyline is that whatever happens to her in Winterfell will forever taint the last place she considered safe. Even if she wins back the North, Winterfell will never be the same.

    I think seeing her be Alayne in the Vale, trying to be a bastard, and befriending Mya and Myranda would have been interesting character development. Again they could have added a dramatic subplot if they felt it needed more action since they’ve done it before. They don’t think twice about adding subplots for male characters.

    1. I’m sure that D&D haven’t even thought about the psychological consequences of Sansa being the victim of rape and abuse. They can’t even get their political plots logical, I doubt that they generally even think about things like trauma, psychological effects and character development. They probably just see rape as a neat plot device for a female character to get “empowered” in a rape-revenge scenario. (Because the murder of your family apparently is not good enough motivation.)

      1. This is a major reason why they needed women directors or writers for season five. They had only males in the writing room and behind the camera. When I heard that over the summer I thought, “Oh, crap, They are going to be out of control.” I think I’m going to be right. I think this whole storyline shows how little the males creating this show value a woman’s journey in that it only is meaningful to them, if it involves the women being victimized in a terrible way. There was no need to do this to Sansa. I think this does a disservice to her character and also relies on the old trope of the damsel in distress which GRRM seems to be subverting in the text. What was the point of accelerating her arc last season just to lead her here? I read an article, I wish I could remember where, that said this arc is very cynical. That is the word I was trying to pinpoint. It’s like they are saying, “We’ll let her think she knows what she’s doing but then we’ll teach her a lesson.” It’s cynical and it’s terribly sexist. It’s the implication that she should have never believed she could take control. Terrible message to girls and women.

  8. Obviously, when Sansa seduces Ramsay, Stannis will realize that she is a military genius and make her Warden of the North (which, lest we forget, is a military title). Stannis himself is currently preparing a full on sexy seduction attack on Winterfell. (How else do you win battles? That’s why Robb never lost one.) Roose should beware, Scary Sexy Stannis Seduction is coming!

    1. Minority opinion: I would read/watch the HELL out of the Scary Sexy Stannis Seduction episode. Maybe he can take a page out of Melissandre’s book? I mean he’s tried to lure Jon Snow to his cause in every other way…

  9. *Spoilers for future episodes*

    I scene that no one seemed to notice was the high septon having to to a walk of atonement. I don’t recall a man ever having to do a walk of atonement in the books at all? I didn’t think it was a really good decision to have the high septon do a walk of atonement in the show because it removes the gendered implications of the punishment. but if I recall correctly: I thought walks of atonement were a highly gendered punishment dedicated to women who are “whoring” or committing adultery? I feel like the show runners are making this some loosely done/frequent thing, which in return makes Cersei’s walk less significant to her arc and doesn’t shine light in general on treatment of women within westerosi society? yeah I understand the queen of westeros doing the walk is more significant than some priest, but the priest wouldn’t be doing said walk to begin with because he’s a man. all it serves for a man doing it is embarrassment and humiliation and being stripped of his religious title I guess, but in reality it’s SO MUCH more for the women who have to do the walk. like wow I didn’t think D&D could miss the mark THAT much, it’s such blatant misogyny.

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