Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones is sure to get people talking…and possibly screaming. With fewer stories in play, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” was streamlined into focus, but did that make for a stronger result? Check out my thoughts on tonight’s episode after the break.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
At the House of Black and White…
Arya’s training in the House of Black and White reaches the next level. But initially she’s as impatient and curious as ever in her corpse-washing duties. The Waif introduces the game of lies to her, with Arya unable to judge if the other girl is telling the truth or not.
Jaqen visits Arya later and challenges her: who is she? And she is forced to admit, she is still Arya. Among the truths he forces from her in their game of lies, it seems she may not really hate the Hound. She calls a halt to the game, but the Faceless Man observes that they never stop playing the game.
Another day, Arya is back on floor scrubbing duties in the main temple when a poor man brings his dying daughter in. He pleads for help in ending the girl’s pain and suffering. Arya eases her passing by lying to her about how she once was ill, and how the waters of the fountain cured her. She shares the poison waters of the fountain with the sick child as Jaqen watches from the shadows.
As she looks after the girl’s dead body, Jaqen invites her deeper into the House of Black and White, into a room where the walls are adorned with hundreds- thousands- of faces.
No, Arya isn’t ready to become No One. But Jaqen explains she is ready to become someone else.
Somewhere in Essos…
Due to the run-in with the Stone Men last week, the Jorah and Tyrion Boat Show has become the Jorah and Tyrion Foot Show. Or Jorah and Tyrion, The Not Traveling Companions™. Either way, it’s a long walk to Meereen, they’re just getting started and Jorah is already tired of Tyrion’s chatter. In conversation, Tyrion accidentally is the first to inform Jorah that his father (Jeor Mormont, the late Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) has died.
Continuing their journey, the men trudge across fields with Tyrion asking some valid questions about Jorah’s choice to support Daenerys and her claim to the throne. (Because really, having dragons and surviving magic fire doesn’t mean you’ll be a good queen.) The men run afoul of a band of slavers led by Malko (who pretty much everyone will be calling Mr. Eko or Adebisi, I’m guessing), played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
Tyrion’s fast talking keeps both of them alive, and convinces the slavers to bring them to Meereen instead of Volantis since the fighting pits have been reopened. (Solid book reference: the tourney at Lannisport!) Jorah may have to fight for his life and Tyrion’s in danger of losing his favorite toy (spoiler alert: it’s his penis) but they’re alive for now and headed in the right direction.
In King’s Landing…
Littlefinger arrives in King’s Landing (makes your own jetpack joke, I’ve used all mine up) to find the Lancel and the Sparrows interfering with business as usual. Is it just me or is Lancel like the Percy Weasley of the Seven Kingdoms in this episode? Littlefinger lays his wit on the Sparrow and take himself off to Cersei.
The Queen Mum continues to deny it’s her fault that Loras was arrested, fooling exactly no one. Cersei and Littlefinger engage in a nice fit of sparring to get to the point- can Cersei rely on the Knights of the Vale? Littlefinger says that the knights will be loyal to the throne. Of course, he didn’t say which throne or which king, did he. (I see you, Petyr.)
And then he reveals that he knows where Sansa is, and that she’s marrying the Bolton boy, completing ruining the Bolton/Lannister alliance. Well done. His plans are becoming more evident now. He recommends letting Stannis and Roose fight it out before stepping in.
He also wants to be named Warden of the North if his knights help out. Naturally she wants Sansa’s head as part of the deal.
Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns returns to King’s Landing after learning of her grandson Loras’s arrest for his sexual deeds. Her tart-tongue is unable to bring Cersei down a peg, and the preliminary trial of Loras Tyrell will carry on.
The High Sparrow questions Loras and Margaery, with both siblings denying any “buggery” or any knowledge of it, in Margaery’s case. It seems like they’ll have no evidence until the prosecution brings in…Olyvar, aka New-Ros. Remember when he admired Loras’s birthmark that was shaped like Dorne? And then Margaery walked in? Yeah we knew that was coming back to haunt them somehow. Given that he can identify Loras in the buff, they decide there’s enough evidence to go ahead with a trial. And since Margaery lied before the holy court, she’s going up on charges too.
Tommen is helpless to act against the power of the church. Cersei casts a fantastically smug glance in the direction of the Queen of Thorns. No more subtle sparring between these great ladies- this is all-out war.
Meanwhile in Dorne…
Trystane and Myrcella walks in the gardens having a romantic moment, planning to get married, while Doran and Areo Hotah look on.
Just outside the Water Gardens, Jaime and Bronn pull up (with Bronn delivering a fantastic, episode-highlight version of “The Dornishman’s Wife”) and get ready to rescue the princess.
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes prepare to strike, knowing the men are coming. Jaime and Bronn sneak onto the grounds, and find the young couple kissing again. Their attempt to get Myrcella away from the prince is stalled by Trystane (satisfyingly punched out by Bronn)- and Nymeria’s whip. The Snakes have arrived.
Obara and her spear take on Jaime Lannister, while Bronn fends off the other sisters. Nymeria grabs Myrcella to run off but their escape is thwarted by Areo Hotah and his men. The Sand Snakes and Jaime and Bronn are all forced to surrender, along with Ellaria.
Ramsay and Sansa’s wedding day has come (landed with a thud, really) and Myranda presents herself to the bride as help. She assists Sansa with washing the black dye from her hair, and then shows her real cause for being there- casually mentioning more of Ramsay’s misdeeds, including his past lovers and sketchy mentioning of “hunting.” But Sansa’s onto her game, after their last interaction. She’s Sansa Stark of Winterfell, and she sends this creep packing.
Sansa refuses to hold Theon’s arm, walking down the aisle. He looks nearly as miserable as she does. Everyone waits in the godswood, even Myranda glowering from the sidelines.
And this is the point at which I think most people were hoping Sansa would go kamikaze on Ramsay and stab him in the throat. Unfortunately that did not happen. They were married, with Reek barely able to speak the name of Theon as he played his role in the ghastly proceedings.
Reek accompanies the newlyweds up to their chambers, and Ramsay orders him to stay, to watch. After ripping Sansa’s dress and throwing her down, Ramsay rapes her but we don’t actually see it- we only see the horror and breaking in Reek’s eyes as he watches.
The Dornishman’s Wife: Finally a new song in the show world! And sung by Jerome Flynn, who has the pipes for it. I couldn’t stop grinning in this moment.
Learning to lie: Arya had a lot of great development in this episode with even her lie to the little girl holding some pieces of sad truth (the mentions of her father, for instance), and it was interesting to see the Hound brought up (hmmm) and to see which things Arya chose to lie about. The moment when Arya goes into the room of faces was a jaw-dropper for me- that’s an incredible piece of work there, exactly how I envisioned it.
Tyrion & Jorah in conversation: these are two intelligent actors who play off each well. I love that Jorah learned about his dad dying, so there was a human moment there between them before the slaver shenanigans went down. The dwarf cock business was a bit silly but I always like seeing Tyrion talk his way out of trouble.
Dorne in action: I enjoyed the fight sequence. I love a good bullwhip and Obara was kicking ass with that spear. It was chaotic with two fights at once but it was well done. What I’m really looking forward to: I need to see Areo Hotah using that longaxe.
The Queen of Thorns: welcome back!
Sansa’s wedding dress: absolutely beautiful Northern style. Too bad about the groom.
Young love: Trystane and Myrcella are pretty tepid. Trystane doesn’t seem like he belongs with the rest of the Martells either.
That finish. So yeah that thing with Sansa. I’m probably going to have to mull over it a while longer to work through my feelings on the matter. In-universe, I understand who Ramsay is and that this is in his character, to do these things. I also understand if Sansa is playing the role of Jeyne Poole, she’s taking on the plot aspects of Jeyne and that includes rape. The larger question is then, if the show is making the adaptation choice to remove significant chunks of storylines and shift timelines, as they do, why was it necessary to keep this part? Why decide that Ramsay’s torture and rape-soaked storyline is more significant than Sansa’s book storyline? I’m sure the show writers have their reasons for why they do what they do, they are not whimsical choices, but I think that in this case, the show should consider whether they really needed to add more rape as a dramatic device. Because ultimately I think that’s what this is: adding in rape to make Sansa and Theon more likely to revolt, and flip on the Boltons. But I think the writers are clever enough to pull that off without a scene like the one we had tonight.