Looking Forward, Game of Thrones Ep. 603: BREAKING NEWS… Violence in Game of Thrones may persist until the end of Game of Thrones

Ramsayy Walda

Good Lord. Do I have to write about this?

No. No, I don’t. No one threatened an unleashing of hounds or a knife in the general direction of a man’s midsection as I sit with the trusty laptop in the middle of the night.

Sick of hearing about it? Me too. But when a colleague made me aware of some new op-ed pieces thrashing Thrones for its use of violence, well, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

Feel free to skip, or come join the fun. All are given free will here, as are the people who make a conscious decision to turn the dial to HBO on Sunday nights knowing good and damn well that NO ONE is safe…

Disclaimer: I have the utmost respect for (most) opinion/editorial writers. They are either tasked by employment or by a passion for a topic enough to voice those feelings and emotions for the world to read, regardless of the repercussions associated with the gig. If they don’t already have thick skin, then it either develops quickly or they run for the hills.

However, respect doesn’t always equate to concurring. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. With that, allow me to retort…

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Let’s get this out of the way… I don’t watch Game of Thrones purely to attain satisfaction from observing violence. I’ll take it a step further and would venture a guess that the majority of other viewers don’t either. There are plenty of outlets to ingest gratuitous murder depicted for no good reason if that’s your thing.

I tend to avoid that type of programming altogether. And I definitely don’t need to pay HBO a monthly fee to gain access to it.

Game of Thrones tells a story. And unfortunately (for some), that story is set in a medieval fantasy world encompassing real-world type characters that are endlessly trying to survive. It’s a concept that is perplexing as much as it is dangerous, and there are many that just can’t seem to grasp it.

But the environment is what it is. Do you change the environment of the entire show simply because the audience has “gotten the point?”

Walda

In many of these opinion pieces, the authors are quick to point out perspectives in regards to reaching “our limits” as viewers. However, the translation refers more pointedly to their own personal limits. And there is nothing remotely wrong about having personal limitations when it comes to on-screen violence and bloodshed and the ages of those involved.

When the hounds were unleashed on Walda and the baby, Ozzette promptly covered her eyes and exclaimed, “Tell me when it’s over!” I don’t blame her for that, no more than I blame others for doing the exact same thing.

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In another contradicting sentiment, that author seemed to switch gears in regards to the violence and would have been more apt to accept it had it been done in a new fashion that somehow enhanced the story.

But criticizing a scene simply because the death of someone didn’t transpire in a new and unique way is not necessarily a fair criticism, especially when the initial criticism is based on an overabundance of violence. It’s essentially saying “yeah, we knew the dogs would tear them apart and I already knew that’s what they would do and I’m bored with that so let’s do something original because the dog thing makes me uncomfortable.”

RamsayB

Now, is the murder-by-puppy idea somewhat redundant? Yes. This is not the first time Ramsay had dogs do his dirty work. It’s not even the second. I’d be tempted to ask “where have you been,” though I’d prefer not to come across as an ass.

When the Mountain bashes the head of “bragging schlong guy” into the brick wall, it was not overly shocking. We’ve seen him smash heads before. But when you take away guns and ammunition in a world where a large percentage of the combat is hand-to-hand, there’s only so many ways to kill a man, or a woman, or a baby. And for the Mountain, smashing heads is by and large incredibly effective.

RamsayDinner

And we ARE talking about Ramsay here. Ramsay is supposed to make us uncomfortable. His whole existence is based on provoking cringe. He is self-centered and ruthless, all of which will make it that much sweeter when he meets his end. And that death, I dare say, will probably be obnoxiously violent.

But his death, as horrifying as it will be, will likely be celebrated with joy and exuberance.

GoT18Ramsay

“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Apparently, some of these folks haven’t been paying attention. At all. One of the pieces relating to violence in GoT that was passed my way stated that the show “violated the last sacred rule of television” with the killing of Walda’s baby.

Really? Because if that is the case, this rule had already been violated on multiple occasions by GoT alone. Remember at the beginning of S2 when all of King Robert’s bastards (save one, bless his rowing soul) were slaughtered, including a BABY?

Queen Talisa at the Red Wedding

Or when Talisa’s baby was killed in utero? Wait… does that one count since you couldn’t actually see how cute and cuddly the baby was yet?

joffrey

And who had Robert’s bastards killed? Joffrey. The same guy that another writer argues was a child, and that child killing in Game of Thrones is merely a thoroughfare set in place for the sake of continuing to shock its viewers. According to some of them, it’s the only reason we watch it anyway.

Roose

Who was responsible for the death of Talisa’s unborn? Roose. The same guy that deservedly got the business in the abdomen thanks to Ramsay. Thanks, Ramsay! Oh, but then he killed a mother and her newborn. Bad Ramsay.

Ramsaysheepish

Make no mistake… Ramsay is bad. So was Roose. And so was Joffrey. But they were killing to protect their claim as an heir or for power or for the throne, all of which is of vital importance in the context of the world in which they live.

The age of the victim really had no bearing on the decision. Joffrey went after all of Robert’s bastards. Not just the young ‘uns. Roose formed an alliance with the Freys and the Lannisters to be warden of the North. In order to ensure his stronghold, he needed to kill Robb and anyone else that might hold a claim (including the unborn Ned).

What exactly did you think Ramsay was going to do? I guess he could have slipped some poison in the baby formula (if they had such a thing). Such an act would have made the death undeniably more bearable. But that’s not Ramsay.

Ramsay

I understand that what may appear as an ongoing reiteration of the presence of violence in GoT may seem repetitious. It’s also fair to say that many of us (myself included) have simply had enough of the character and his immorally playful killing hijinks.

Does that mean that Ramsay should cease being Ramsay for the sake of those who don’t appreciate his methods or identify with his ethics or are just sick of observing his twisted antics?

He’s a character in a fantasy world that is in turmoil. And he is malicious. And every time he lets the dogs out or stabs someone or flays an old woman, the fandom grows more emotional about his character. And it’s not because they love him. It’s most likely because they can’t wait to see him die a deservedly horrible death. But even then, it’s not a quest for viewers just to simply observe violence (although my guess is that it will be brutal, so plan accordingly). It’s part of the world in which they live… the same one that Melisandre referred to as “Hell.”

Cersei Mountain

And it won’t be just him either. Cersei will indeed choose violence soon, and winter is coming. The dead are coming with it. And the dead don’t care how old you are. This is the environment, and “Breaking News:” it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

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With all due respect, while those writers may believe that they are “getting the point,” the truth is that they might be missing it altogether.

Then again, maybe it’s all just for clicks.

Feel free to discuss. There are no right or wrong answers here, and I can guarantee you that a man is regularly wrong about a great many things. Differing opinions make the world go round. So be respectful of each other.

See you lovely shitheads Monday morning! And regardless of your perspective, may there always be peace in your realm…

–Oz

“Unbowed. Unbent. Unsullied”

Follow Oz of Thrones on twitter.

REMINDER: This is an Unsullied post. Book and filming leak spoilers are strictly prohibited, including those using spoiler coding. Thank you!

168 Comments

  1. Hodor!!!

    I’ve only read the intro., but I can already tell this is going to be a good piece!!!

  2. Yes, it’s for clicks. GOT is the low hanging fruit of TV controversy. If not murder, then rape. If not rape, then nudity.

    Lame editorials are lame.

    People who are offended are not forced to watch.

  3. The bittersweet ending will be like the Lord of Light resurrect everyone to kill each other again.

  4. People who keep whining about violence have no business watching the *sixth* season of a show that has always been violent. It’s not like the past five seasons were all friendship and rainbows and magic, and now we have sudden, horrible violence.
    The way I see it, it’s like bitching about RDJ making quips and being snarky in Marvel movies: that’s not going to go away anytime soon.
    Don’t like it? Don’t watch it. It’s that simple: I really don’t get the writers who take on the task of writing entire articles lamenting “how can people enjoy this show”, “do we really have fun with this?” Talking about “epidemics”, boohoo, etc.
    At this point it’s just white noise to me, tbh. Complaining about it is just giving them undeserved attention (and clicks). So yeah. I’ll just keep enjoying the show.

  5. Well I agree completely with this writeup: I mean it didn’t seem out of keeping with the show or character arcs for Ramsay to do what he did to Walda. It was meant to be as disturbing as, yes, Janos Slynt killing a baby.

    I wonder if Walda won’t actually die in such fashion in the novels, exactly, but even if that is the case, the TV version didn’t seem drastically different from the general tone GRRM set.

    Like, I think we’re more annoyed at how Doran and Trystane died – not for their graphic violence, but due to plot structure criticisms. But we saw a young man get impaled through the head from behind with the spear coming out his face – was this not more violent?

    It’s fine for TV and movies to show a man’s skull being smashed open with an axe in graphic closeup detail, but somehow it is taboo for the TV series to show two men having passionate consensual sex with each other, in flagrante? But I digress….

  6. Life in a feudal society is nasty, brutish, and short. It has been said that by the end of the show, the dead will be the lucky ones.

  7. Some people just want to be offended. Like when Sansa was raped by Ramsey – a terrible, gut-wrenching, enraging moment. Many reviewers and watchers were upset because it took her “agency” away, it was gratuitous, etc. Well, Ned Stark got his fucking head chopped off; I can’t imagine many greater examples of victimization and loss of agency than having your head and brain severed from the rest of your body.

    Westeros is a fucked up place. Sure, as a viewer you may not want – or need! – to see some of this stuff happen. But hell, the people of Westeros don’t want or need to see this stuff happen – or have it happen to them – either! But it does because that is Westeros right now. Do you want a window into the world or not?

  8. Thank you, Oz, well said!!!

    Personally, I’ve been avoiding reading articles like the ones you mention, as they short-circuit my brain a bit. Everyone has their own personal threshold, but as horrible as the deaths of Walda and the baby were, it isn’t as though horrible deaths are something new. I understand the point of some of the op-eds seems to be “enough with the horrible deaths,” but, quite frankly, this story is riddled with them, both in print and on screen. I also understand there is a difference between reading about something, as opposed to seeing it. However, anyone who tunes in to this show knows what they’re getting into.

    I’ve seen many people make the point it is now the fashion to bash the show. When something becomes too popular, there’s an inevitable backlash. I suppose I just wish I felt the backlash was justified. The world of GoT and ASOIAF is a brutal one, to put it mildly, and to shy away from that would not just change the story, it would change the world in which the story takes place.

  9. “Then again, maybe it’s all just for clicks.”

    Yep, and to give the SJW’s on Tumblr something to whine about

  10. To complain about the violence in GoT in S6 doesn’t make any sense to me. The show was consistently violent from E1.

    I can absolutely understand why it can be hard for someone, but I can’t understand why you are watching season 6 of a violent show if you can’t stand violence?

    It is just stupid and pointless. And I like how people in every comment section of those articles think the same.

  11. About Ramsay though …

    He is self-centered and ruthless, all of which will make it that much sweeter when he meets his end. And that death, I dare say, will probably be obnoxiously violent

    And I dread the day that scene airs. I don’t know why but I have this really unhealthy thing about good-looking psycho characters in movies and tv shows, where I get extremely shaken by their (oftentimes gruesome) deaths (to the extent I never ever do with upright protagonists).

    Like – I don’t condone their actions (god knows I love Sansa) and I understand they are horrible people – but it’s just such a visceral thing. I’ve actually had it since my childhood, I think. Anyone ever had any similar experiences?

    I don’t know, maybe it’s because that level of evil has to go hand in hand with insanse levels of confidence and that’s actually what I’m so drawn to?

  12. Oh my goodness! How did I never notice how horribly violent Game of Thrones was, before reading this article?

    From now on I’m going to watch only wholesome programs on television, like the evening news!

    So long, you savages!

  13. i noticed there was much less outcry about the demise of lady walda than there was about what happened to sansa, this shows just how shallow many people really are – you get much more sympathy if you are slim, pretty and popular.

    my wife and i kept away from GOT for a while when it started because we dont generally go for extremely violent TV or films, i dont like pulp fuction for instance because i dont like that ‘cool’ style violence.

    but when i started watching GOT the i found that i accepted the violence because it was absolutely authentic to the world and times being portrayed, it gave it an edge and a realism that really works.

    and i think that many people just want it easy, they want all the drama and glory and intrigue without being made uncomfortable by the violence and cruelty that often achieves that, stuff that normally you can pretend doesnt happen. i think it is one of the great strengths of the show – that it is challenging to watch in that way.

  14. Oz, you are officially the R’hllor of Game of Thrones editorials. Thank you for writing that.

  15. I can recall a character who would seek out such shows, to complain about everything she found didn’t agree with her moral values. The ever-wonderful Mary Whitehouse was so puritanical. You could tell she went out of her way to view any show that had potential to be controversial. Somehow, she forget where the on-off switch was, or how to change channels. (These were days prior to remote control being a standard feature.)

    Curiously enough, she always knew how to grab headlines, put interviewers in their place – all the ‘qualities’ attributable to a busy-body with an ego bigger than Colossus.
    Does this mirror or parallel anything today? Does it sound familiar?

  16. GOT is only show that does show the medieval time how it really was…brutal, all i will say this is the best tv show ever beacuse it shows us everything how it is and how it was in that time, i really like when show or movie shows things how they are, all i wanted to say, this much blood and all this happening uncensored is really good to the show, and all that differs it from other shows !

  17. I understand people who don’t like violence and nudity. I have no problem with them.

    But it is beyond ridiculous to complain of this in the sixth season of the show.
    In episode 1 of season 1, we had nudity, we had a guy getting his head chopped off, we had incest and a little boy almost getting killed.

  18. Thank you for this piece, Oz… You’ve said it much more eloquently than I ever could what has been bothering me about many op/ed I’ve read after the infamous scene with Walda and the baby (gut-wrenching as it was).

    I do think many of those article are merely “clickbaity”… I understand people being truly upset with the level of violence of this show, but it has been like this since day one. What did they expect for season 6, a sanitized version of GoT?

    As Alyssa Edwards would say: Get a grip, get a life and get over it!

  19. I didn’t think we needed to see that scene. I thought Ramsay telling the Maester to go get her and the Maester’s reaction was enough to get the point across and give us time to be uncomfortable about it. We know who Ramsay is and our imaginations can come up with rest. We didn’t learn anything about Ramsay. So I don’t object to the scene because it was too violent or violent for the sake of having violence. I object to it because screen time for characters is a precious commodity and it could have been better spent somewhere else. For some true torture they could have show us some more Sand Snakes.

    Also consider that since we already know what Ramsay is going to do and they’ve shown us a little humanity in him reacting to the death of Myranda, maybe he’s not going to do what we expect him to do since they are going to the trouble of showing it to us. So they have him hold the baby and then give it back. But it’s just a long drawn out fake out towards the inevitable. And then the episode culminates in another long drawn out fake out from the inevitable. One too many for one episode.

  20. Breaking news: Walda Bolton and her newborn heir are fictional characters set in a fictional world of violence and subterfuge where people have been routinely dying in horrible fictional ways for 5 seasons already. No actual babies have been harmed in the filming of this series…….ever.

    Also viewing has now been made optional, so if you can’t take it anymore change the channel instead of trying to ruin a show enjoyed by people adult enough to know the difference between fantasy and reality.

    Back to you Bob………

  21. Leuf,

    We didn’t learn anything about Ramsay? And why we need to “learn” something in every scene?

    Ramsay telling the Maester to go get her and the Maester’s reaction was not enough to get the point across and give us time to be uncomfortable about it. We were uncomfortable because we saw that.

    Just like they didn’t cut RW when that Frey closed the door.

  22. Leuf:
    I didn’t think we needed to see that scene.I thought Ramsay telling the Maester to go get her and the Maester’s reaction was enough to get the point across and give us time to be uncomfortable about it.We know who Ramsay is and our imaginations can come up with rest.We didn’t learn anything about Ramsay.So I don’t object to the scene because it was too violent or violent for the sake of having violence.I object to it because screen time for characters is a precious commodity and it could have been better spent somewhere else.For some true torture they could have show us some more Sand Snakes.

    Also consider that since we already know what Ramsay is going to do and they’ve shown us a little humanity in him reacting to the death of Myranda, maybe he’s not going to do what we expect him to do since they are going to the trouble of showing it to us.So they have him hold the baby and then give it back.But it’s just a long drawn out fake out towards the inevitable.And then the episode culminates in another long drawn out fake out from the inevitable.One too many for one episode.

    Except if death is implied, we will get all these people theorizing if she really died or not. We already have them now with people theorizing Stannis and Syrio they are still alive. The death of the Hound was also implied but in the backs of our heads lingers that he most likely is still alive.

  23. I’ll be honest. The violence didn’t bother me. If anything I was kind of pleased that that sad sack Walder Frey still doesn’t seem to have any luck with marriage alliances with other noble houses. So much for marrying his daughter (or was it granddaughter?) off to the putative new power in the north.

    I do find myself getting a bit bored with the whole Ramsey storyline. Not sure why but it just doesn’t interest me much anymore. Which doesn’t bode well for me because he looks primed to be the main antagonist, at least in the north storyline for awhile.

    I’m sure we’ll get some impetus to the story out of it – will the Freys buy the “poisoned by our enemies” line? Do they even care about the north anymore? And we’ll get the other northern houses lining up/taking sides and the “gift” to Ramsey with probably a twist or two along the way. And hopefully some of that stuff will bring some freshness and rekindle my interest.

    I will say that I found the Balon death and the potential ramifications from it very intriguing. We got to see characters we haven’t seen in awhile and a fresh character. So I’m liking that one

  24. I know it’s not the done thing to talk about the b**ks on an unsullied thread, but I did read a compilation of GRRMs writing of deaths ( virtually all of which have been in the show) – and as you’d expect it was pretty gruesome reading. And just read Maurice Druon’s narrative on the torture and death of Gautier and Philip of Aunay.

    Can the writers of the articles truly justify why these should be sanitized on screen like some other series? It’s not like it’s real after all, and if people find it disturbing then it’s probably a compliment to the SFX that make it look realistic. It certainly doesn’t seem to me to be any more violent now than earlier seasons.

    You only need to read true accounts of torture, violence and prolonging death in the middle ages to understand the cruelty that mankind is prepared to inflict on others.

    And with so much violent death doesn’t it only help to underscore the sadness of a death from natural causes such as Maester Aemon?

  25. Have I missed a new government edict forcing us to watch GOT? No? Then my brief advice to those delicate hothouse flowers who wilt at the thought of fictional violence, please don’t watch, no one is forcing you to!

  26. I think we’ll see Ramsay at his worst just before he dies – sort of how we saw Joffrey at his most vile before he died.

    I did think Roose was the most intriguing part left in Winterfell. I hope we’ll see Ramsay try to deal with politics in the coming episodes and not just him being a murderous bastard.

  27. Leuf,

    Ah, but we also have posters who insist that they have to show us every kill: otherwise, they will assume that the character is alive.

    I think that they achieved the right balance here. They made it clear what happened. However, the violence was not shown.

  28. Long time lurker, first time commenter – and it’s odd to me that THIS is what brought me out of my shell…

    When I hear people say “we get the point” or “we didn’t learn anything new with that,” it reminds me of the ivory-tower-level naïveté of certain Mad Men characters, or those types of folk who got bored of hearing about Ferguson or police brutality because they “got it” already.

    It’s a privileged thing to be able to say, “I don’t want to constantly view violence I don’t like,” and there is nothing wrong with that privilege. But isn’t it the person’s responsibility to look away, rather than make it their mission to admonish what they seem to be unable to fully grasp?

    Opinions, while liberating and helpful in making us feel unique, are not facts or gospel.

    Edit: Now that I see the comment “first world problems,” I realized I could have said my whole spiel in three words. Now that’s succinct!

  29. Great article Oz!

    In GoT there is purpose in the violence. War and turmoil is terrible time for most of the folk. Good time for the psychopaths though. Chaos is a ladder and thus presents the opportunity to climb for those who dare.
    Thrones is very unique TV in that sense that it doesn’t shy away from the consistent characterization. How Ramsay dealt with Sansa, Roose and Walda was the logical chain of events.

  30. Wimsey,

    “Ah, but we also have posters who insist that they have to show us every kill: otherwise, they will assume that the character is alive.”

    You mean like a certain kingsguard once attached to a malevolent young monarch? 😀

  31. For my part, it’s worth considering this isn’t merely violence for violence sake, everything that occurs does so as part of a wider narrative

    Thing is, the rules of the universe in which it is set is different to the rules of contemporary – or rather Hollywood – PC society

    I would dare to suggest that people enjoy just because of that, there is nothing that isn’t safe which is what makes the stakes so high as a viewer. This was made clear the moment Jaimie pushed Bran out of the window at the end of the S1 pilot

    There are rules within the Universe though to anyone who pays attention, eg Bread and Salt, only death may pay for life etc and then there is of course kinslaying

    As for Ramsay, if people watch the Purple Wedding Episode, he features in the beginning along with Myranda when hunting Tante(?), this was a kind of nod to the fact he was replacing Joffrey as the contemptible villain of the entire series. It has been interesting to note Eurons introduction in this, the episode where Ramsay goes too far and delves into the realm of kinslaying.

    Of course it is worth pointing out that he has evidently failed to heed Roose Boltons attempts to teach him the sophisticated points of leadership which is a prelude to the fact he’ll make a hash of it – as a Butcher King ironically

  32. Tim of House Deddings,

    That is exactly what I was thinking. So many of the same people say that if we don’t see a death it probably didn’t happen say we don’t need to see scenes like Ramsey/Walda because the results are implied due to past behavior.

  33. The Bull:
    Tim of House Deddings,

    That is exactly what I was thinking. So many of the same people say that if we don’t see a death it probably didn’t happen say we don’t need to see scenes like Ramsey/Walda because the results are implied due to past behavior.

    Imagine if the scene stopped with Ramsay asking the Maester to fetch Walda and the baby. And we never revisited it again. It will get annoying when people will keep bringing up “What happened to Walda and the baby”, just as annoying as whenever someone mentions Gendry’s status

  34. Totally agreed. To complain about violence in a show whose first scene included severed body parts and first death by chopping someone’s head off (which is actually considered mild in this show) doesnt even begin to make sense!!

  35. I understand that some people may not want to watch violence. That’s OK. But I don’t understand those who think the violence is gratuitous and unnecessary. One of the reasons the show is so gripping is that the stakes are so high. People are fighting and making decisions so they don’t end up on the wrong end of a sword (or dog) or taking a naked walk through the city.

    People who think the sexual assault and violence scenes are too much should try backpacking alone through a foreign country. Or, for that matter, being a woman on public transportation. Or going to a bar in the wrong part of town. Or being small boy. Violence and sexual assault are common and when people complain about them on Game of Thrones, I often wonder what on Earth they’ve been doing with their lives that they don’t realize this.

    During the Walda scene, I couldn’t watch after Ramsay opened the first dog gate. But something that struck me even more than the violence was that there was zero reference to Walda’s weight. Roose married her because of her weight, but other than a line in an episode long ago about that, there has been zero mention of her weight…

    This is a great example of why I love Game of Thrones. The characters are complex and interesting and aren’t about the usual stereotypes. I can’t imagine watching an episode and only focusing on the violence and sex when there’s so much more to appreciate.

  36. mau,

    It is clickbait bullshit. The best thing to do is to simply ignore the articles, and not click on them, because that is all they are trying to make you do and all they care about. This is the only website you need if you are a GoT fan. I do read a couple of other reviewers whom I trust, but I ignore all the mainstream media whose articles are (usually) complete trash.

  37. Oz, I will grant you guest rights anytime you visit. I’ll have extra musicians and wine on hand to celebrate.

  38. I’m of two minds about this. Part of me appreciates that GoT does not avert its eyes (or ears) from the horror of violence and – most importantly – its consequences, rather than glossing it over or romanticizing it. But I don’t believe that the show is entirely innocent of the charge of indulging in some unnecessary gore to amp up shock value. I guess my main criterion for distinguishing between the appropriate and the gratuitous is: Does the scene make sense, storywise, characterwise?

    In the case of the murder of Walda, I didn’t have a problem with the gruesomeness of Ramsay’s favored method, or with the fact that a baby was killed. But in retrospect, considering that Ramsay had just taken steps to ensure that he was not blamed for his father’s killing, it seems a little bizarre to me that he would then go right on to a very messy murder that could scarcely be covered up. Who would believe that the mother of a newborn would get up and wander into the kennels with all the cages open?

    Unless Ramsay is completely detached from reality at this point, it would have made much more sense for him to feign grief for Roose and bide his time until he could kill the baby in a way that makes it appear accidental or due to illness. They had high infant mortality rates in those days. Walda herself was no threat to his inheritance once Roose and the heir were out of the picture.

    The decision makes Ramsay look either not too bright or completely unhinged. If his impulsivity does not turn out to be his undoing, then I would say that this scene was poorly thought out by the writers, and perhaps classifiable as gratuitous.

  39. My first post here. Lurker a long time.

    It is terribly annoying to hear people complain repeatedly about the violence in this series. If it is too much for you then stop watching. I have a few colleagues who have stopped watching, others like me just are too hooked on to the story to stop. But to say that We watch just for the violence is crazy.
    Usually when I can guess something extremely violent is coming I will mute the TV or look away or leave the room for a few minutes. The violence is a part of the story and essential to the truth of any war.

  40. So I’m about as much of a “SJW” (stupid term BTW) as they come, but I don’t take issue with anything in GoT. I don’t particularly *enjoy* the sexual and physical violence, but within the context of the show, it’s necessary and IMO drives the story (most of the time). We wouldn’t have the GOT we all love without the brutal and nasty bits too.

    There’s just a way bigger spotlight on it now, it’s a bonafied cultural phenomenon. I really didn’t believe it until Hardome aired, but with the masses eyeballs come their unsolicited opinions. I just let it roll off my back.

  41. LastKiss:
    ***
    and i think that many people just want it easy, they want all the drama and glory and intrigue without being made uncomfortable by the violence and cruelty that often achieves that, stuff that normally you can pretend doesnt happen. i think it is one of the great strengths of the show – that it is challenging to watch in that way.

    This right here is why those particular op/ed b-tards are a waste of space. This is the pov of the entire western world. That this violence is part of the medieval world is acceptable; but what of our present world? Is it so different hundreds of years later? Is it not just as violent, unfair, demeaning? Are children not beaten, trafficked, used and murdered every minute of every day? Are religious zealots of all stripes not judgmental, cruel and homicidal? Are the masses not swayed by rhetoric to blind hysteria and violence? Yet, here are these people with a space to say something that will reach millions, and they devote the space to jealously protect the happy bubble that surrounds the western world. Violence on the scale depicted in the world of Westeros happens every day in the world of Earth, and the privileged few (and I am among them) ignore it and focus instead on who may have sent an email on the wrong network and when the latest iPhone will be available.

    Perhaps GoT’s depiction of this violence can act as a catalyst for the pampered, protected, oblivious inhabitants of our bubble to try to extend a hand through the that shimmering wall to those cripples, bastards and broken things on the outside and welcome them in. Make the bubble bigger and more porous, rather than harder and more brittle. Take a good, hard look at the feelings that the violence on GoT evokes and do something about that violence in the real world! Or, condemn the messenger and go back to the cat memes on your iPhone…

    Eternal:
    Ugh, first world problems.

    Indeed.

    Thanks for the piece, Oz.

  42. AAuteur,

    Womenofnorthrock,

    Welcome to the Wall!!! 🙂

    Another thing I don’t understand about the complaints of violence as far as the kennel scene goes is, um, well, yes, we knew what was going to happen, but, and to me this is really important…

    They didn’t show it!!! Had they shown the dogs brutally savaging Walda and her baby, had they gotten graphic with it, I would be far more likely to understand some folks saying, ok, I’ve accepted the violence to this point, but that was really just too much, yes, even though we know we’re going to see some horrific thngs by virtue of tuning into the show. However, again… [b]they didn’t show it!!![/b]

  43. First of all, love Oz write-ups! Cheers!

    So, I’m not a literature connoisseur, but maybe – JUST maybe – we are meant to be disturbed by all the violence? These op-ed pieces (none of which I’ve read, to be fair) complaining about the violence and bemoaning the unfortunate ways in which some characters meet their end are simply stating the obvious. Psychopaths, rape, gratuitous violence…it’s awful. Wouldn’t it be worse if we DIDN’T think so? I’m not sure why there are articles reiterating this as if it’s a news flash.

    There is plenty of programming out there for those who prefer a story with a happy ending. This show has never made allusion to being one of those…in fact, it quite pointedly and succinctly told us that it wasn’t.

    Critical thinking, people. It’s a thing.

  44. I stopped in to my local watering hole and read this very well written piece and it sparked a conversation with the young hipster next to me about the show which he loves because of the all the T&A. I asked him if he was kidding and he responded the political intrigue and scheming were all pointless because the main story is the war to come. So enjoy the T&A for what it’s worth, which I certainly do. But that is just window dressing on a story that has layers upon layers of “frivolous”,his word not mine, plot line that will certainly lead us to a new dawn, so to speak, in Westeros. My opinion is, that the characters are what drive this story. We love them, we despise them, we want to be them. Do I love a good sword fight, slugfest, jousting tournament? Sure. But violence doesn’t keep me coming back. That delusional hope for justice does. I’m not a sweet summer child, so don’t bother chiding me, but an eternal optimist who enjoys the good things in life while I’m here to partake in women, drink, and the occasional bar room tussle. Am I perfect? Is anybody? I don’t judge judge I try to enjoy the moment for what it is. Take care friends.

    PS I just came from a funeral so I’m a bit liquor’d up and rambling. I apologize

  45. You have to admit, despite all the violent flaming havoc dragons cause they do have a cuddle factor, so there is that.

  46. thorne garnet:
    don’t like the violence, sex, nudity? Don’t watch.

    I’ve been following message boards and the like for a long time (2nd part of my name probably gave me away that I’m pretty damned old) on a variety of subjects and media types. And I’ve never really understood the “if you don’t like X, don’t watch/read/play/otherwise consume it”.

    That argument would seem to me to say that only people of one view (100% positive reaction) is valid. It also seems like a non starter for meaningful dialogue or conversation to me. I like the give and take of people who have divergent views, particularly if it is presented in a respectful and intelligent manner. It has always struck me as a lot more fun.

    Also, there may be people who like one aspect or several aspect of a thing but not every thing about that thing. Should they only watch/read/play/consume only bits and pieces of said thing? Or should they just keep silent about the parts they don’t like as much? Should all discussions of said thing be limited to “I love every single thing about this thing”?

    Just my 2 cents.

  47. a flayed man none:
    Yes, it’s for clicks. GOT is the low hanging fruit of TV controversy. If not murder, then rape. If not rape, then nudity.

    Lame editorials are lame.

    People who are offended are not forced to watch.

    WORD.

  48. I watched Wun-Wun kill that Night’s Watchman over and over again. I watched it in slo-mo; and, I froze the frames. That Night’s Watchman might have been a very nice fellow; but, I don’t care. I want to see the giant sling him around like a chicken wing on a Saturday night…because it’s awesome.

    Don’t judge me.

  49. Ok, I see a lot of you being blindly defensive. I love GoT, and am not a casual viewer. I will watch to the end.

    However, it simply cannot be denied that there is a level of violence that is not necessary to the narrative, the plot and the character development. For but one example, Cersei/Jamie incest rape near Joffery’s body. Not in the book. Destroys Jamie’s character development, and Cersei’s. Changes the plot for no apparent worthwhile reason. That’s just one example.

    Arguably, Sanas was the same thing- a backward march on her character development and not real point in cite. Further, Ramsey just keeps getting closer and closer to a mustache twirling trope villain.

    D&D make very tropey, “Hollywood” like mistakes. That’s just the real. Overall they helm a gigantic show under extreme scrutiny very well. But, they make many cringe worthy mistakes too.

    There is some truth to the conversation, and it is a conversation worth having. Just like many of you say those who do not like GoT should stop watching, those who do not like the violence conversation, should not participate.

    As an aside, for those who have not yet seen Wolf Hall, I highly recommend it. I was surprised at how fantastic and enthralling it was. Its on Amazon now. 6 parts I think. Anyway, its about Henry VIII looking for his first divorce. It’s fantastic. And, pretty gruesome. HOWEVER- not one bit of violence was shown on screen. They way they achieved that is almost magical. I am not saying all shows should refrain from violence. But, Wolf Hall should be watched just for that magical feat alone.

  50. Cn’t edit anymore, but HAVE to add – Dany and Khal Drogo in season 1. In the books he was the first person to show her respect, and she found power in that and love. In the show he raped her and yet she still fell in love? why?? why change this? why create an unbelievable narrative like that when you already have a pretty great story in front of you. questions worth asking. It’s a worthwhile thing to call Hollywood on their bullshit. IMHO

  51. Forty-seven years ago, many critics said much the same things as “those writers” when “The Wild Bunch” was released. Same old same old.

  52. Some people NEED to be offended in order to define who they are. They use it as a way of drawing distinctions between themselves and those they feel are beneath them.

    These articles feed into this need, nothing more.

    Agreeing with them is vindication, proving you are not alone and adding weight to your offense. Yet, there is nothing solid to it. Offense is a personal pursuit, something taken on to boost your own flailing self-esteem.

  53. My two coppers – I’m sure we all saw this coming once Walda’s pregnancy was announced, and Roose used the opportunity to needle Ramsey. It was completely consistent with the character, and the world he lives in. That said, once he sent for Walda, I muted and turned away – couldn’t stomach it. After five seasons, it’s still harder to face the torture and death of innocents, than that of vicious psychos, and even some of the psychos elicited some sympathy. I suppose we should all be glad that we haven’t become completely inured to violence, either real or fictional.

  54. mau:
    Leuf,

    We didn’t learn anything about Ramsay? And why we need to “learn” something in every scene?
    Ramsay telling the Maester to go get her and the Maester’s reaction was not enough to get the point across and give us time to be uncomfortable about it. We were uncomfortable because we saw that.

    Just like they didn’t cut RW when that Frey closed the door.

    Well it was enough for me. What sets everything in motion is the news that Roose has a legitimate male heir. Obviously he’s not going to leave it at Roose. The Red Wedding was a pivotal event in the story and we did NOT know what Walder Frey was capable of before it happened. Maybe the death of Walda Frey #16 ends up being somewhat important in its own right, but unlikely very important in the grand scheme of things.

    I will give them this much, there is a definite element of be careful what you wish for in this world because you might get it. When Theon betrayed the Starks I wanted something terrible to happen to him. Okay! Watch him get tortured for episode after episode. The Freys betray the Starks. Kill all the Freys! Okay! Let’s start by feeding a Frey baby to dogs. They are not just going to give you vengeance in a nice clean way. It’s going to be ugly, as it should be.

    As far as the if we didn’t see them die then we don’t know if they are really dead stuff, well you have to have some degree of common sense. A potential heir many years from now to House Bolton has no bearing on the story whatsoever. So it really doesn’t matter if he does it or not. Stannis or the Hound being alive could matter.

  55. Izatty,

    She’s a stronger character in the show because she doesn’t wait to be “shown,” but rather makes her own way. That agency helps us recognize the future ruler in her in the brevity of the on-screen world.

  56. Well said, Oz! You’ve summed up a lot of the frustrations that I’ve felt towards all of the thinkpieces devoted to this subject that have been circling around the show for years, but particularly since last Sunday. And you rebutted all the arguments made by those pieces strongly but respectfully. Excellent work!

  57. Ashara D: Perhaps GoT’s depiction of this violence can act as a catalyst for the pampered, protected, oblivious inhabitants of our bubble to try to extend a hand through the that shimmering wall to those cripples, bastards and broken things on the outside and welcome them in. Make the bubble bigger and more porous, rather than harder and more brittle. Take a good, hard look at the feelings that the violence on GoT evokes and do something about that violence in the real world!

    That is my hope as well. For me, the ideal ending to the series would be having no one (not even No One) on the Iron Throne, but instead a peek at a society taking its first baby steps out of the Dark Ages and into some non-hereditary, at least slightly representative form of government, like Tyrion coming up with the idea of a Parliament. As dark as this series is, I think that the ultimate message needs to be ‘People and society can change for the better,’ rather than something despairing like ‘Human nature will always be cruel, horrible, violent and depraved.’

  58. I loathe the criticism that something was done for shock value. It’s an inherent part of storytelling to play with the audience’s surprise or disbelief, so saying a storyteller was only going for shock value is akin to saying they were just going for entertainment value. It has no value as a critique against the story or the creators without also discussing if the attempt was a success.

    As a culture we’ve got Rule 34 (if it exists, there is a porn of it) and shit like the Saw movies, so it’s not like you can accuse the show of taking sex and violence to new extremes. Considering the gruesome precedent the first episode set, it isn’t even the violence itself that shocks. The shocking element isn’t Ramsay killing via dog, it is that he murdered his newborn brother. That point is hugely important to the story and the character, and I’d argue that “going for shock value” was the laudable thing to do.

    Criticism of the goals of a show isn’t actually about the quality of the show, it’s an indictment of the people who think the show succeeds in its goals. I could, for example, say the Saw movies are terrible because they’re nothing but torture porn, but what I’m really saying is that I don’t get people who like torture porn. I could also say the Saw movies are terrible because of story structure or bad acting, but I really can’t say because I haven’t actually seen them.

    Because, you know, I get to choose what I watch or not.

    Which brings us back to a common sentiment on this thread: who the hell has gotten to season bloody six of Game of bloody Thrones without getting used to the violence or just quitting?

  59. The violence has to be disturbing, at least to show the essence of it, something you do not really want to watch or even happen. Even when you know it is going to happen, it still brings the message across of what is right and wrong, unlike in the certain “acceptable” violence scenes (like nobody cares about that archer smeared into the wall, that is kind of well, yeah, happens every day). Sure, they could have come up with some new and even more disturbing way to kill Walda, but really, when someone asks for that (which I had an impression from that original article), it is kind of a one step from starting to google up really disturbing stuff in the bowels of Internet.

  60. Remember when the nicest thing Ramsay ever did was allow a woman to bite off her own fingers in an attempt to avoid (unsuccessfully) starving to death?

  61. Oh the irony…there are far worse things happening everyday in real life and yet people feel offended because of fictional characters getting killed in gruesome ways.
    Its hard to dont find violence disturbing and if people dont like it, then they shouldnt watch it.

  62. Dolorous Methuselah,

    That argument is mainly a “if a certain aspect or certain aspects of some media you consume drives you actually angry or upset in a bad way time after time after time, it’d probably be a good idea to consider giving that one up as it isn’t doing you any good” thing, but much shorter.

  63. A flayed man none:
    Izatty,

    She’s a stronger character in the show because she doesn’t wait to be “shown,” but rather makes her own way. That agency helps us recognize the future ruler in her in the brevity of the on-screen world.

    I have to disagree. First, Dany gets “shown” stuff a lot in the show. Jorah, Selmy, Tyrion, Missande and Greyworm, hell even Daario are all there showing her stuff and teaching her what to do. I’m not sure there is anything wrong with being taught stuff. Bran is being taught. Arya is being taught. I think there are talents and skillz involved. talent is of birth, skill is taught.

    and yet, I do think that someone showing you respect is necessary at least once for you to understand that you should always demand it, take it if necessary in life.

    so, yeah. I stand by the fact that the Khal/Khaleesi bit in season one was a mistake. IMO.

    And, I would believe that the writers THOUGHT what you said above. But, that just begs the question – how many female writers are in the room providing input?

    Again, I believe Hollywood needs to be questioned.

  64. Dolorous Methuselah: I like the give and take of people who have divergent views, particularly if it is presented in a respectful and intelligent manner. It has always struck me as a lot more fun.

    Also, there may be people who like one aspect or several aspect of a thing but not every thing about that thing. Should they only watch/read/play/consume only bits and pieces of said thing? Or should they just keep silent about the parts they don’t like as much? Should all discussions of said thing be limited to “I love every single thing about this thing”?

    Well-said indeed. Lively discussion with many points of view represented, both pro and con, makes groups like this interesting and mind-expanding. If I wanted to hear ‘Everything about [insert fandom of choice here] is perfect’ I could go back to when I was 13 years old, reading about boy bands in Tiger Beat magazine.

    I make part of my living writing film criticism. Readers who enjoy my work have told me that they do so because I am analytical, raise questions about a movie that they might not have considered before and try to put it in a broader sociopolitical or cultural context. I’ve found from practice that there are always many more angles to approach a work of art besides ‘This is great’ or ‘This sucks.’

    On a fansite as elsewhere, I enjoy it when others show me new ways of looking and evaluating. Sometimes that will consist of being very critical of the artwork indeed. The vast majority of films, TV shows, books etc. succeed on some levels and fail on others. I guess what I’m saying is that people who raise questions about how GoT depicts violence do contribute to our understanding of it and deserve to be heard, not dismissed out of hand as ‘SJWs’ or whatever. We should be respectfully debating those questions instead of trying to shut them down.

  65. Good article Oz. I don’t understand why they are watching the show. It is a violent show, get over it.

  66. Izatty:
    Cn’t edit anymore, but HAVE to add – Dany and Khal Drogo in season 1. In the books he was the first person to show her respect, and she found power in that and love. In the show he raped her and yet she still fell in love? why?? why change this? why create an unbelievable narrative like that when you already have a pretty great story in front of you. questions worth asking. It’s a worthwhile thing to call Hollywood on their bullshit. IMHO

    She let Drogo enter her, to put it politely, only after being married against her will. She accepts the situation when they first have sex (she’d be dashed against a rock or violently raped if she resisted) — then in her next chapter we find her being savagely assaulted every night by her otherwise inattentive husband/master, and is agonised to the degree that she begins wishing for death. Why do people forget this?

    Funnily enough the book version of Dany’s marriage is similar to Sansa’s marriage and bedding in the show (which book sticklers hated).

  67. Valaquen: Funnily enough the book version of Dany’s marriage is similar to Sansa’s marriage and bedding in the show (which book sticklers hated).

    Not quite. In the book, Drogo strokes and caresses Dany gently first, long enough for her to get aroused. What was so brutal about Ramsay’s bedding of Sansa in the show was that it was entirely devoid of any show of affection.

  68. Izatty:
    Arguably, Sanas was the same thing- a backward march on her character development and not real point in cite. Further, Ramsey just keeps getting closer and closer to a mustache twirling trope villain.

    If you think character development only goes in a straight line and you expected her to only have triumphs after she decided to enter Winterfell and marry Ramsay.

    I’d also suggest that you re-read the first paragraphs in the chapter in AGoT following Daenerys’ wedding night. She was raped repeatedly, and then managed to turn it around to respect and love in the book too.

  69. Johan Sporre: If you think character development only goes in a straight line and you expected her to only have triumphs after she decided to enter Winterfell and marry Ramsay.

    I’d also suggest that you re-read the first paragraphs in the chapter in AGoT following Daenerys’ wedding night. She was raped repeatedly, and then managed to turn it around to respect and love in the book too.

    Character development having ups and downs is not the same as putting your character through the same shit over and over. Sansa sliding backwards or not learning what she “should have” by a point is portrayed by HER actions, not those of her abuser(s). Also, by giving Sansa the Ramsey story line they missed out on giving her other lessons – on politics- during that same time like the book. And now, I worry because I believe she is about to get political and yet it MAY seem like its unearned.

    There were many other ways to go here. For one example, Ramsey COULD HAVE had a soft spot for Sansa and she would have had to learn how to politically maneuver around her sick POS of a husband while not showing her hand. Ramsey gets more nuance, Sansa get more lessons, the creep factor remains as does the need to escape etc.

    All I am saying is there are other ways, ways that provide more narrative and less shocking violence, but no less brutality.

    I liked the recent VOX article on the topic. It didn’t say stop the violence, it said in the beginning the voilence was earned and a fresh way of telling a fantasy story, which has since devolved into nothingness, but can be re-earned. I do not think that is unreasonable at all.

  70. Firannion: Well-said indeed.Lively discussion with many points of view represented, both pro and con, makes groups like this interesting and mind-expanding.If I wanted to hear ‘Everything about [insert fandom of choice here] is perfect’ I could go back to when I was 13 years old, reading about boy bands in Tiger Beat magazine.

    I make part of my living writing film criticism.Readers who enjoy my work have told me that they do so because I am analytical, raise questions about a movie that they might not have considered before and try to put it in a broader sociopolitical or cultural context.I’ve found from practice that there are always many more angles to approach a work of art besides ‘This is great’ or ‘This sucks.’

    On a fansite as elsewhere, I enjoy it when others show me new ways of looking and evaluating.Sometimes that will consist of being very critical of the artwork indeed.The vast majority of films, TV shows, books etc. succeed on some levels and fail on others.I guess what I’m saying is that people who raise questions about how GoT depicts violence do contribute to our understanding of it and deserve to be heard, not dismissed out of hand as ‘SJWs’ or whatever.We should be respectfully debating those questions instead of trying to shut them down.

    OMGosh. SOOOO well said. What’s the point of art if we cannot discuss it from every aspect and vantage point? And make no mistake television is art.

  71. i think what I hate most are people like Chris Orr at The Atlantic, who constantly carps about the show’s rape and violence, but he’s also a book reader, and never mentions that it’s a 1000X worse in the books. In fact, Vulture has an article up listing all the depravities that Ramsay commits in the books, and its so long and repulsive, I could barely get through it.

  72. Izatty:
    There were many other ways to go here. For one example, Ramsey COULD HAVE had a soft spot for Sansa and she would have had to learn how to politically maneuver around her sick POS of a husband while not showing her hand. Ramsey gets more nuance, Sansa get more lessons, the creep factor remains as does the need to escape etc.

    All I am saying is there are other ways, ways that provide more narrative and less shocking violence, but no less brutality.

    I disagree that they could have done that. Ramsay is the guy who rapes, murders, and flays women, with the only consideration for the ones who gave him a good hunt being the order of murdering and flaying. He had a soft spot for Myranda, he fed Myranda’s corpse to the dogs. It is essential to his character that he lacks the slightest empathy. That’s a guy who holds back with a pretty wife about as much as his dogs would with a raw steak.

    The notion that violence has to be earned is flawed. It assumes violence has no value itself, or even a negative value, and that the only reason to ever include violence is that it is necessary to reach a valuable element of the story. Really, though, every element of a given story is essential to that story or else it would be a different story. The tapestry that is Game of Thrones would utterly disintegrate if the violence thread were pulled.

    The show’s violence has remained consistent. The only thing that has “devolved” with the show’s violence is the novelty of it, and if that’s the only thing that lets one see past it in the beginning, well, maybe one never liked the show as much as the novelty.

  73. I understand where people derive their ideas that the show overplays the violence and may use it for the sake of it, but isn’t that the same as most television shows?

    Yes, GoT uses violence to tell much of the story and aid the emotion within the scenes, but isn’t this exactly why we love it so much? Not necessarily the idea of how these people die as an individual entity, but the part it plays in telling the whole story? I personally feel that if this still shocks the audience then the writers are doing a great job at being able to develop their characters after 5 seasons.

    I think that the scenes in themselves, when viewed as an individual piece, should be with some discretion. However, when considered as a small piece of a whole jigsaw, the graphic nature should be accepted as an essential part of the story, perhaps with time, just as it has been with all of the previous scenes that people up-roared over (Red Wedding, Sansa’s and Cersei’s rape scenes, etc).

  74. Izatty,

    I disagree. If you have Ramsay fall in love with Sansa that would completely change the story.

    First of all, her rape will be one of the reasons why she is going to turn on LF. He used her as a pawn, she wasn’t her partner, as she expected.

    Then you will loose Theon’s redemption. You will loose Sansa’s interactions with Jon and Northern lords, because we she would stay in WF with her good husband.

    And without Sansa’s escape Roose would never die.

    Brienne wouldn’t have anything to do.

    And they are many other examples. Cutting Sansa’s rape would change so many storylines.

    It would not be the same story anymore.

  75. I’ve honestly been bewildered by many of the thinkpieces. Discussion is good but so much of the stuff I’ve read is petty or hypocritical or full of contradictions. It’s hard to not write it off as clickbait when it’s so poorly thought out.

    Ditto some of the reviews. There seemed to be a real disconnect between fans and reviewers about episode 2. Most fans were very positive, a fair few reviewers weren’t. Maybe not getting episodes in advance anymore has something to do with it. Are they miffed about losing the privilege and having to watch it with the rest of us plebs? Or grumpy that EW is getting inside info to the exclusion of other media outlets?

  76. Dolorous Methuselah,

    I agree with you. But violence is the essential part of GoT. It is not like for example SS or something like that. You can hate them and still love the show.

    But hating violence in GoT is like hating zombies in TWD. It is very important element of the story.

  77. I don’t care about violence
    If yo don’t like it don’t watch. It’s a violent show

    I do though, draw the line at Rickon
    Hahahaha ughhhh

  78. msd:
    Maybe not getting episodes in advance anymore has something to do with it. Are they miffed about losing the privilege and having to watch it with the rest of us plebs?

    I think that is the reason. I never saw than the many differences between opinions about GoT from fans and critics until this season/episode.

    When HBO refused to send them episodes in advance it send a clear message that they don’t care for their opinion.

    It makes no sense to me that first two episodes of S5 had better reviews from some reviewers that the first two episodes of S6.

  79. Izatty: Character development having ups and downs is not the same as putting your character through the same shit over and over. Sansa sliding backwards or not learning what she “should have”

    The political lessons are important, but they are not the central point of her character development IMO and thusly were brushed aside at the beginning of S5 by LF saying something like “You’ve learnt a lot while you were with me…”

    Since the beginning, I think it’s themes like identity that are much more important to Sansa’s character and I think the showrunners chose to use that in S5. People have always wanted to rid her of her Stark identity while at the same time using that aspect for their own gains. Looking back, first Sansa was to be married to Joffrey to form an alliance and become a Baratheon, then to Tyrion, making her Lady Lannister, reducing her to her Stark babies producing uterus and disregarding her as a person. The rape by Ramsay is IMO a culmination of these issues that she as a noble woman faces and it is also a brutal visualization of the attempted destruction of her identity and her as a person altogether. (And after the birth of an heir, they even wanted to rid her of her uterus, the only value that has been ascribed to her, reducing her to noone really in their eyes). In that regard, it’s important to note that the rape scene is preceded by the bathtub scene in which she asserts herself and her identity as a Stark.

    That’s why I think the Winterfell storyline worked. It’s not just more of “the same shit”, it’s the end of the second act, the next step in her heroine’s journey, if you will, and she behaves differently compared to her time in King’s Landing. And to show that someone has evolved, you put them in a similar situation, so that it becomes evident that they are behaving differently (apparently not to all viewers). Trying to recruite Theon to help her escape was the key for both of them. The Winterfell storyline for me was about going into the lion’s den and facing your ennemy head on. The catch was that she was coerced by LF to do so (again “guided” by a man) and that she was totally in over her head. What logically follows, is the Ordeal, the death of dreams, loss of innocence, and the final and ultimate realization that other people only want her as a pawn and if she wants to change that she needs to find loyal supporters (Theon, Brienne, maybe Jon and Davos soon?) and formulate her own goals (NOT hoping that marrying Loras will help her or that LF has her best interest at heart). That will be the beginning of the third act (Emergence), which started on a hopeful note two weeks ago.

    But honestly, if there won’t be a traumatic event like Jon’s stabbing, Arya’s blinding or Cersei’s walk of atonment in Sansa’s storyline in the next book, then I’d be more than surprised!

  80. mau:
    It makes no sense to me that first two episodes of S5 had better reviews from some reviewers that the first two episodes of S6.

    It´s Season 6 of a very successful show. We are entering the stage where people start dumping on the show because it is hip to do so now, no more, no less.
    D&D are right to try wrapping this in another two half-seasons.

  81. I do not have a problem with the violence in Game of Thrones. Not even slightly.

    I don’t think these critics and writers have a problem with the violence either. It’s not that the show is violent; it’s is that the violence is directed at their favorite characters. When Joffrey gets poisoned and it’s disgusting and we see every bit of it, we cheer because we hate Joffrey. When Walda gets fed to the dogs and it happens off screen, the show is too violent.

    No one complains when the villains get tortured and killed. That violence is just fine. So the problem isn’t the violence in Game of Thrones. It’s the choice of victims.

    So sorry, critics and writers, your favorites aren’t winning. That doesn’t mean the show is too violent. So why not argue what you really want to argue: That it’s about time some of the favorite characters got a win.

  82. Dolorous Methuselah,

    The thing is,D&D already said they aren’t going to change anything based on lame whiny bitches complaints so what’s the point in doing it ? Nobody is going to hear you and all you do is annoy the rest of us who actually don’t give a crap about all this shit and just enoy the show,i just don’t get it,it’s like talking to yourself in the woods,so why do it ?

  83. mau,

    I think i predicted that was going to happen when they announced they aren’t going to send screeners,i said that these reviewers are priviliged posers who will bash the show for this petty reason and i was attacked by some people here because they said these critics are “professional”,well all i could say to those people is screw you,i was right,you were wrong !

  84. HotPinkLipstick: I do not have a problem with the violence in Game of Thrones. Not even slightly.

    I don’t think these critics and writers have a problem with the violence either. It’s not that the show is violent; it’s is that the violence is directed at their favorite characters. When Joffrey gets poisoned and it’s disgusting and we see every bit of it, we cheer because we hate Joffrey. When Walda gets fed to the dogs and it happens off screen, the show is too violent.

    No one complains when the villains get tortured and killed. That violence is just fine. So the problem isn’t the violence in Game of Thrones. It’s the choice of victims.

    So sorry, critics and writers, your favorites aren’t winning. That doesn’t mean the show is too violent. So why not argue what you really want to argue: That it’s about time some of the favorite characters got a win.

    This is a very interesting point. I had to examine this within myself during Sansa’s plot in S5 vs Jeyne Poole in the books. Basically, I just didn;t like that this was happening to Sansa. Nowadays, my criticism of that storyline is only termed by its effect on Sansa’s arc. Otherwise, I’d be a hypocrite tbh.

    Good write up. I think pieces can and should critique the way things are shot and directed and they should examine things like the point I came to regarding Sansa vs Jeyne but that requires more nuance than I usually see.

  85. It will get annoying when people will keep bringing up “What happened to Walda and the baby”, just as annoying as whenever someone mentions Gendry’s status

    Gendry is training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he aims for the gold in the solo-rowing categories, it is known.

  86. Great post, Oz – your POVs are always thoughtful, passionate and welcome. Please keep them coming!

  87. We all have our limits. In season 1, when the Mountain cleaved his horse with a sword, I nearly died. I’ve learned to look away just before particularly gruesome scenes. I did exactly what Ozzette did but from the moment Walda handed the baby to Ramsey (I thought he was going to throw him in the fire!)

    And I have watched season 4 at least five times and have yet to see Oberyn’s head get crushed like a grape. Hearing it is bad enough for me.

    But I love the show and get the context for the violence. The medieval setting is what drew me to it in the first place. (The early seasons gratuitous sex is another story! Im a book reader and I nearly gave up on the show in season 2 after that horrible scene in Littlefinger’s brothel.)

  88. I had a MAJOR problem with the Walda / baby death…the problem being that it was not gruesome enough.

  89. mau,

    Yes, the difference was really striking after episode 2. I can’t recall such division before. If anything, reviewers were sometimes more positive in their response than the fans.

    Maybe I’m being unkind. No doubt it’s easier for reviewers to produce well written, thoughtful reviews when they aren’t under the pump. And viewing a few episodes in a row probably makes the whole story flow better. (I often find this when I rewatch GoT).

    However, I have sensed a new undercurrent of resentment in some of the reviews. If it has to do with not getting episodes in advance then, well, they’re just going to have to suck it up.

  90. There’s a very good Game of Thrones blog on The Guardian’s website, and in it’s most recent piece it said that the character of Ramsey Bolton just isn’t as interesting as the showrunners seem to think, and perhaps that’s more the problem.
    Feeding other characters to him, some of whom we did find interesting (Stannis, Sansa, Roose) in increasingly unlikely or horrific ways ( part of next episodes “gift” will probably be on the receiving end of the flaying knives he was playing around with in the trailers, so you can expect more of those articles) to try and make us more invested in him and his eventual comeuppance isn’t really working, it’s just making a lot of people uncomfortable with watching.
    Maybe this is just one of the series few misfires, like Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, who it’s not controversial to say are showrunner favourites rather than viewer ones.

  91. Louis:
    Dolorous Methuselah,

    The thing is,D&D already said they aren’t going to change anything based on lame whiny bitches complaints so what’s the point in doing it ? Nobody is going to hear you and all you do is annoy the rest of us who actually don’t give a crap about all this shit and just enoy the show,i just don’t get it,it’s like talking to yourself in the woods,so why do it ?

    I respect what you’re saying. But I disagree with this logic pretty much across the board.

    First, it seems to be akin to saying that the only purpose of criticism is to make the creator of the original work “change” something. I’m no expert on the history or workings of art criticism and commentary but I can’t believe that is accurate.

    Second, it seems apparent that many people do “hear” them and do “give a crap” based on the commentary and sometimes vitriol that is directed to them. Heck, I think that the comments just on this thread are now over 100. And there are people that care enough to resort to ad hominem attacks against the critics themselves as opposed to their positions. I mean “lame, whiny bitches?” And elsewhere in this thread I’ve seen people referred to as “bastards” etc.

    I love the show and as I’ve said above, the violence doesn’t bother me. And it’s good to see that people are very passionate in their defense of it. But the form some of the defense takes seems, to me at least, to leave a little to be desired.

  92. I don’t think a lot of people here have read these articles, because hardly any of them are as simple as “this show is too violent”.

    I will admit I’m not a huge fan of this series anymore. I loved the last 2/3 of season one, but since then it’s been greatly hit or miss with me, especially these last few seasons. And yes, the way the show uses violence is part of the problem (hardly the only problem I have with the show but one of them). If you look at GoT as the epic-sized pulp fiction it is the unrelenting violence makes sense. But the way it constantly uses violent outbursts to shock the audience and remind us what a horrible world these characters inhabit or to propel the story forward is mildly annoying. It’s less about being offended or feeling squeamish and more about violence replacing actual storytelling. We’ve spent about four minutes in Dorne this season, and half of those four minutes was watching people get stabbed. The most screen time “Fat Walda” ever got was in a scene where she gets torn up by some dogs. The first time we’re introduced to Euron he’s killing off a character we haven’t seen in several seasons. Roose’s death was just lame. It would have been far more fascinating to see Ramsay get more and more uncomfortable with not being the heir and eventually deciding he needed to kill his family. Instead, all that supposedly happened off-screen and as soon as his brother is born (no idea Walda was that far into her pregnancy) he offs them all. Elleria apparently got enough support to get away with offing Doran, but we didn’t get to see her get any of that support. The politics, the game part of the show has been replaced by a bunch of “shocking”, random offings. There’s no build up to any of this. There’s no real craftsmanship to it. These past couple of seasons killing has been used merely as an artless way of cleaning the slate and wedging the story down. They’ve replaced actual storytelling with violence and surprise reveals.

    GoT is worth watching because it’s so big and epic. But it often (especially over the last two seasons) unwieldy and offers copy and paste type storytelling. The meat of the show is now big moments and exposition. In that type of scheme violence becomes more numbing than anything else.

  93. Love the violence in GoT and I am glad that Walda/Baby did die but I had actually hoped that it had been more gruesome and it had shown more detail to be honest. As others have probably said so many others have died a gruesome death (such as Trystane with a spear through his head) yet what Walda/Baby should be spared? Ridiculous! GoT is still the most refreshing show around and I am loving season 6 and the fact that no one is safe which is so rare in TV today.

    On a side note I really like Ramsey’s character as he has his own reasoning and drive for what he does and it is fasinating to witness what he will do next. His death scene will hopefully be glorious as well.

    The day GoT ends will be a sad day indeed 🙁

  94. I honestly think this particular article is pointless, because actual real discussion on critiques of this show on what is essentially a fan page is very unlikely. And based off the petulant comments and the dismissive nature of the article my suspicions were spot on.

  95. JohnJohn:
    I honestly think this particular article is pointless, because actual real discussion on critiques of this show on what is essentially a fan page is very unlikely. And based off the petulant comments and the dismissive nature of the article my suspicions were spot on.

    Translation: people here are too fanboy/fangirl to discuss the show the way I want to discuss the show. lmao that’s condescending af. But, you do you.

  96. Lisse: Translation: people here are too fanboy/fangirl to discuss the show the way I want to discuss the show. lmao that’s cute.

    In a way, yes. I was actually kind of interested in having some discussion on this with fans of the show as opposed to haters, but most of the comments are pretty much “the show is violent. So what?” The article itself also doesn’t even try to argue against the real critiques the show has received, and has narrowed things down to “the show has always been violent”. It was the same way fans tried to dismissed the critiques of Sansa’s rape last season, simplifying the argument. I just don’t see the point of posting these type of articles if you’re not actually going to offer some real rebuttal to the real critiques.

  97. Well done Oz!

    There’s a certain insufferable, holier-than-thou element when these arguments are made – when a controversial scene is declared to be “not necessary” or that it “didn’t add anything”, or that it’s good old “gratuitous”. Well, what you mean is you personally didn’t like it or didn’t get anything out of it, and purporting this to be objective fact.

    It’s certainly OK to debate these points as a critic would any art piece, but I think people object to the condescending and moralising attitudes most of all. It’s morally wrong to have fictional violence against fictional babies! Or we’re watching it wrong – how dare we be “entertained” by such base content! But guess what, most people don’t like to be told what’s acceptable to like or not.

    Meanwhile a great many fans clearly loved it and disagreed. The scene beautifully added dread with each second – you kinda knew it was going to happen (even after he held the baby), but desperately wanted Walda to get herself out of it somehow. So tense! We got to see Walda maintain her innocence to the end, and try to protect her new baby from the hounds. We saw how Ramsay dealt with the situation, revel in being the new Lord, and quickly maintain control of his potential heir-problem, even in his usual nasty way.

    Great television. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t like it.

  98. mau:
    Dolorous Methuselah,

    I agree with you. But violence is the essential part of GoT. It is not like for example SS or something like that. You can hate them and still love the show.

    But hating violence in GoT is like hating zombies in TWD. It is very important element of the story.

    Very valid point. The violence is a part of the texture of the show and as I’ve said it doesn’t bother me.

    I will say that the main thing that drew me to the show (and yes, the books) primarily was not the frank depiction of violence (in what I think in the old days was called a “gritty” manner).

    It was the promise of trope busting (there is a better phrase for that but it escapes me just now) insofar as they would minimize the familiar “good guys” v. “bad guys” paradigm and show all sides as guilty of atrocities at times and sympathy or at least understanding of motives at others.

    They’ve done this very well at times. Though of course I think deep down we really want to root for someone so the Starks have become kind of the “good guys” or at least the protagonists to a large extent. That may have just be unavoidable.

  99. I haven’t read many comments yet but I think I can guess a lot of what’s been said. I typically ignore articles that I can tell are going to complain about this subject. In conversation with people it’s difficult to avoid. (I also don’t know how people have watched five plus seasons of this show can claim they might quit watching because of this past week’s (not shown) dog attack. They must have been fine with the City Watch killing all the Baratheon bastard babies and children to start season two.) I don’t even want to get into a discussion about how so many things are offensive to people these days. I’m not sure how standup comedians can even exist in the world today.

    What is the show if you take out all of these elements that upset/offend people? It becomes a cheesy network television channel drama. How well have those been doing these days? NOT WELL! Clean and nice is especially terrible for shows of this genre. Doing it in a way that is most realistic to the world in which we’re watching is the only way.

  100. Seven Hells! It’s a violent world. Why aren’t these people advocating a Bible rewrite – it’s even more violent.

    I honestly don’t get why these people go on about it. Do they think it will cause the writers to CHANGE THE STORY??

    STHU

  101. Fancy word for a sellsword,

    Hee, really, I just never noticed it before either, funny thing about that

    Usually these kind of articles are concerned about how such viewing would affect children who happen to be watching (sounds familiar) Not sure if thats what they are getting at, but if so – take a look at the rating for the show.. If you as a parent have concerns about the violence, don’t let them watch it. Or let them read the books which is just as violent but not as visual iykwim. Otherwise, what right do you have to tell adults what they can and should watch/read/play.

    Ultimately GOT is a story, with excellent actors telling us the tale as story tellers have done forever. We may not like the violence (I’ve closed my eyes or muted the sound on several occassions) but its part of the story telling. And its the discussions that we have about the violence here that enhances the story and gives the violence some meaning in a larger context of the story. S

    So to the critics I say let people alone please, and find something else to write about. Oh I know, write about the violence that happens every day on our streets, in our homes, our towns…..Let that be the focus of your energy and maybe you will find a way to lessen it and perhaps change the world.

  102. Well said.

    I don’t want to talk about GoT as if it’s this perfect masterpiece that can’t be criticised at all. There’s flaws of story adaption that can be optimised, but the essential spirit of main plots and major characters are well preserved. I’ve seen adaptions in which the original works are hardly recognisable – aSoIaF is actually lucky enough.

    True there are so call gratuitous elements here and there, on the show and in the novels, but I like how it just easily show them as they are, as they do exist, in the past and present of our world. Honestly at least malicious characters do get karma in return, though many many seasons later lol, but in reality, a lot of them happily live on without any problem. Real stories from our world are much darker than Westeros, in both developed and developing countries, pay some attention to history and news and one will see.

    aSoIaF and GoT are still stories with morals, the heroes are not perfect, yet they grow and pursue goals that we sympathise with, at least with one or another. Cruelty is shown but not praised. Women are oppressed in Westeros, okay, exposing their bodies willingly or not, fine. However, I remember none of them by their tits (and I’m not obsessed with dragons, enjoy process of VFX though), but their unique personalities. I have to admit, there are other shows with sex/violence/whatever gratuitous stuff and claim to be deep but I don’t enjoy each and every of them. The balance GoT has, is still working for me at the moment.

    One more thing, regarding several posters arguing about Dany and Drogo’s beginning. I would like to express that I much, much prefer the show version in which they don’t have a dreamy perfect first time by modern standard then revert back to non-consensual barbarian marital sex soon afterwards. the book version’s development, is being kind to Dany personally, but not linear for character development in my eyes. Comparing Drogo to Ramsay on this isn’t fair as the former is not sadistic, just not knowing how to sex without ‘riding a woman like horse’. She learned the power then he learned being consensual, I personally really love this change.

  103. Izatty,

    As an aside, for those who have not yet seen Wolf Hall, I highly recommend it. I was surprised at how fantastic and enthralling it was. Its on Amazon now. 6 parts I think. Anyway, its about Henry VIII looking for his first divorce. It’s fantastic. And, pretty gruesome. HOWEVER- not one bit of violence was shown on screen. They way they achieved that is almost magical. I am not saying all shows should refrain from violence. But, Wolf Hall should be watched just for that magical feat alone.

    One of my fav book, show and broadway production! And you are right. There are many ways to tell stories and very good writers will find ways that work for them, and Mantel managed to tell her story without much violence. But that has little to do with this story, this writer, this show. This is the story they are teling. Its a very popular show, but I don’t think its because of the violence; its because its a compelling story with excellent acting and dialogue and background.

  104. CatspawAssassin,

    And 100 years ago in germany, certain religious teachers were condeming the new books of poetry that was damaging the minds of the children . And so it goes…

  105. Rygar,

    That was a book ref! And btw, that particular story has always nagged me in the books. Millions of people starve to death each year. No one tries to eat themselves. Sometimes, even GRRM writes utter shite.

    I hate to watch violence and I do wish there was less of it in a Game of Thrones, but the characters, the universe, the storylines are too compelling, so I just turn my head when violence is in the air.

  106. Wolf Hall is awesome. What makes it great is that it’s the story from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey’s lawyer, who became one of the main advisors of Henry VIII. So you see HIS Henry, HIS Anne, not a general God-like worldview, it’s like ASOIAF in that they’re both told through a character’s own personal viewpoint/biases.

    The other thing that makes it wonderful is, these are normal people, in extraordinary circumstances, just trying to get through their day and survive.

    So brilliant, and Mark Rylance is a Master Class in acting.

  107. Singedbylife: that particular story has always nagged me in the books. Millions of people starve to death each year. No one tries to eat themselves. Sometimes, even GRRM writes utter shite.

    I have to agree on that point. It makes no sense at all. Whatever caloric values a starving person obtained from eating some of their own flesh would be burnt up many times over by blood loss and trying to heal the wound. And why would they choose fingers, which have hardly any meat on them? That goofy little horror story definitely was not one of GRRM’s better ideas.

  108. JohnJohn,

    Lumping disparate examples together and then implying people are sheep isn’t really going to start a productive conversation.

  109. Great post Oz! I agree with you very much.
    I also very much agree with this quote from Jeremy Podeswa in The Hollywood Reporter.

    One comment I’ve heard is that it’s an uncomfortably long sequence. You know Ramsay is taking Walda to the kennel, and you know what’s going to happen next, and you’re forced to watch it all play out. Would you say that discomfort was part of the goal?

    Horrific things should be presented as horrific. I think, to me, it’s when you take something that is horrific and you make light of it or you don’t give it its due, or you use it for exploitive purposes. I think here, dramatically speaking, the show quite consistently shows people suffering in a way that I think is good and doesn’t diminish what violence actually is. You’re not making it more palatable, or making it pure entertainment. The things that are horrific are horrific. I think the show consistently shows that there are consequences, feelings and human beings who are undergoing things. In this show, everybody experiences the gamut of things that are possible in life — great things and horrible things. I think the show represents these things very fairly by being authentic in how it’s presented, and not taking an attitude that’s slight, or doesn’t give it its due.

    So much this! What GoT does is showing us the effects and consequences of violence, and that is horrifying and shocking. It has consistenly done so since the beginning. Even with a cool cinematic moment like the wildfire explosion in season 2 we get to see the consequence of that explosion. Soldiers burning, screaming and dying in pain and agony, we even get the horrified look on Tyrion and the Hounds faces (and a smiling Joffrey, which should tell you something). This show isn’t like say The A-team where they blow things up and empty their guns seemingly without consequence(to me thats actually glorifying violence).

    Game of Thrones is an adult show. It’s not an adult show for showing violence, it’s an adult show for being HONEST about violence. And yes that is horrible and make us feel uncomfortable just as it should. I don’t enjoy it(far from it), but I do appreciate it.

    And the people who say “We get the point already” I ask, has violence ever stopped in our world?

  110. Firannion: I have to agree on that point.It makes no sense at all.Whatever caloric values a starving person obtained from eating some of their own flesh would be burnt up many times over by blood loss and trying to heal the wound.And why would they choose fingers, which have hardly any meat on them?That goofy little horror story definitely was not one of GRRM’s better ideas.

    I don’t think Lady Hornwood really tried to bite off her fingers because she was hungry. It is far more likely that she tried to bite them off to stop the pain because Ramsay had flayed them. Theon thinks about wanting to bite off his own flayed fingers, but Ramsay wouldn’t let him remove his own parts. Iirc, Ramsay wanted him to beg politely and recite his Reek rigmarole before he could have them removed. In Lady Hornwood’s case Ramsay probably wasn’t so diligent. He probably got bored and left her to die of starvation. Whoever discovered her body probably noticed that her fingers were missing skin and had lots of teethmarks and then they just jumped to the wrong conclusion.

  111. Addy Stark: Peace in our realm? No where is safe. Great job, Oz

    I love that Oz ends his pieces with that phrase about peace in our realms; one of the great lines of Ep 2 was Balon raging at Yara that when she was the ruler she could “Wage all the peace you want.” I’ll drink to waging peace any day.

    As far as the violence. Yeah, I don’t love it either, but it’s part of this show and after all these years, I usually know, especially with Ramsay, when the worst is coming. I get up and leave the room – as I did the minute he directed Walda toward the kennels. I don’t know what kind of comment I’m making by this, except that there is enough good and interesting going on in the rest of the stories to make me want to stick around. I get grossed out some days just watching the news, and sometimes need to turn that off, too. This is life, real and fantasy. Violence is the underside of it.

    I just hope the authors don’t resort to thinking of ever more farfetched ways to murder, just to top the ones already done. It’s when they (and George, tbh) spend too much time making each villain that much more monstrous that the story begins to unravel to the point of no repair.

  112. I agree with Oz. However, I’d like to present a counterpoint to his essay: “….but gratuitous nudity may not”. We’re nearing Episode 3, and the only warning this one has is “*Brief* Nudity”. E1 obviously had Nudity for the Mel scene, but, judging from Twitter reactions, this wasn’t…. particularly titillating to the parts of the audience who like to be titillated. E2 had no Nudity warning at all.

    Now, caveat: don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of these people who hated sexposition in the previous seasons; I thought it had its use, and I didn’t mind it. However, I find it an interesting question whether, now that the show is speeding up towards its end, it will consider this previously highly present nudity one of the things to drop. I actually do think so.

  113. Wimsey,

    You’d think it would be common knowledge, but apparently folks are complaining about violence in an appropriately-age-restricted TV show.

  114. Yaga,
    Addendum to previous post: Actually, I’d argue that if the nudity content drops in these final seasons, it would support the claims of ‘it serves a function, it’s an interesting way to do exposition’. Exposition over => less nudity needed.

  115. Critics are going to criticise … They aren’t necessarily fans of the show… It’s their job. Some fans give too much importance to them. The show doesn’t need defenders. Their opinions won’t reduce the audience nor change the story …

  116. Izatty:

    As an aside, for those who have not yet seen Wolf Hall, I highly recommend it. I was surprised at how fantastic and enthralling it was. Its on Amazon now. 6 parts I think. Anyway, its about Henry VIII looking for his first divorce. It’s fantastic. And, pretty gruesome. HOWEVER- not one bit of violence was shown on screen. They way they achieved that is almost magical. I am not saying all shows should refrain from violence. But, Wolf Hall should be watched just for that magical feat alone.

    Wolf Hall was great – BUT it is shown from a sympathetic Thomas Cromwell’s POV and if he did not personally witness torture or violence then there is of course no need to show it. What Hilary Mantel is writing is Thomas Cromwell’s “side” as opposed to the more critical historical writing where he is often made out to be rather more malevolent, at least in terms of his machinations.

    So no, there is no need to show graphic scenes, because TC could well be playing “see no evil” and he had others to do his dirty work – out of sight, out of mind.

    The intention of the show was very different to GoT.

  117. Izatty: There were many other ways to go here. For one example, Ramsey COULD HAVE had a soft spot for Sansa and she would have had to learn how to politically maneuver around her sick POS of a husband while not showing her hand. Ramsey gets more nuance, Sansa get more lessons, the creep factor remains as does the need to escape etc

    So you want Ramsey’s character to be changed but not Dany’s? If they incorporated your changes, he wouldn’t be Ramsey anymore. Ramsey doesn’t care about anyone or anything but Ramsey. That would have turned him into something he wasn’t, whereas changing a very small part of Dany’s history with Drogo helped her character on the screen and took nothing away from it.

    Maybe you just want “Hollywood” to be called out on their bullshit because you don’t agree with the changes D&D made. Are you a screenwriter? Because unless you know how to do their job better than them, I don’t see the constant complaining from people about this issue over and over again.

  118. For those who think that the violence is too much, there’s always the off switch, but for most who complain, it’s probably a love to hate relationship. It tunes in to our primitive selves, who would probably commit murder if we thought we could get away with it. In the days portrayed in Game of Thrones, you can get away with it. Some of the awful characters or the ones who are neither completely white or black in character will be alive at the end, unless it is the end of that particular world. Even today, far worse things do happen than what happens in Game of Thrones. I love it, it is a fantasy, after all, so we can indulge in being primitive and murderous, without actually doing anybody any harm.

  119. I mean this was a particularly stupid act of violence to criticize. Ramsey kills a baby that threatens his claim to the Dreadfort? No shit Sherlock.

    I will say that there have been parts of the shows violence that ended up feeling too much / gratuitous. In particular the Ramsey tortures Theon stuff – I complained about it then and I still think it was “too much”. Still I don’t envy the show runners their task. It’s a difficult balance between trying to show enough to drive the plot but not too much.

  120. We are talking Medieval times and along with not bathing regularly the amount of violence was extreme. They didn’t have guns to shoot people so they used an assortment of nasty weapons. This show is not violence for violence’s sake. I, too, avoid watching shows that are just that way. We know from history the Spanish Inquisition. Does anyone really think it was just a case of water-boarding? Honestly, condemning GOT for violence makes no sense to me. Those were tough times and violence did and will always reign it’s just nowadays I truly believe we hear so much of it on the television NEWS that we aren’t shocked with it like we use to be. I guess some writer’s think that using a gun isn’t a violent to see as bashing someone’s head in with a mace…violence is violence. It will always be part of our lives, unfortunately.

  121. Violence is part of this world–that being said, however–the show runners seem to try to off every person not tangible to the plot and it can get a little tiresome. The characterization of Ramsay (though somewhat true to the books) is overdone in the production. There’s a reason why GRRM made Ramsay a very small background (but important) character. We can only take him in tiny doses.

    Unfortunately, we get bucket-fulls in this version, and that is a problem. Ramsay could flay and eat a baby alive and I wouldn’t really flinch. It’s a shame we’ve gotten to this point.

  122. Didn’t the first episode end with a child being pushed to what should have been his death from a tower window for “love”…

  123. April May,

    To add another point. If violence bothers him, why isn’t he bothered by a little girl getting raped by dogs? Because it was so in the books of course.

    It is plain clear what his real problem is and it isn’t the violence.

  124. Moët,

    Mark Rylance is a Master Class in acting.

    Yes

    Ser Not Appearing in this Series,

    So no, there is no need to show graphic scenes, because TC could well be playing “see no evil” and he had others to do his dirty work – out of sight, out of mind.

    Actually the graphic scenes, and those that show his machinations, are in her second book. In fact, while the first book made me see TC in a much different light than in Man for all Seasons, the second book really rather horrified me, the lengths he went to.

    oh btw, just remembered the scene in the book where the Lollard woman is burned. Oh my.

  125. Well…at least the hounds will not be starving this Winter….

    They will have their bellies filled for a long, loooong time…

  126. Mister Stoneheart,
    I’m all for offing people not tangible to the plot. I prefer it to leaving them hanging about. The narrative will flow on.
    I hope we’ll get many, many more named character deaths before the end of the season, and a drastically downsized cast as a result. And I also hope this will continue throughout the next season, so that the last one opens with a manageable number of people.

  127. Mihnea:
    April May,

    To add another point. If violence bothers him, why isn’t he bothered by a little girl getting raped by dogs? Because it was so in the books of course.

    It is plain clear what his real problem is and it isn’t the violence.

    Oh, yes. Don’t want to talk book details (since we aren’t supposed to) but “her” story is one of the most tragic. Can you imagine the outrage if that part was included on the show?

    I think the books are far more violent than the show, especially when reading something so descriptive versus seeing it for a few seconds or minutes on screen. It stays with you longer.

  128. So here’s my two cents on the scene.
    I was furious. Exactly because I get the point. The scene was a lenghty, gratuitous piece of Ramsay being Ramsay. But the violence itself had no part in me disliking the scene, no. It’s because of all the things we could have had instead. Game of Thrones in it’s earlier seasons had great scenes that lasted barely two minutes that were full of plot and character developement and sometimes even world building. Since season 4 (and arguably since the beginning)we’ve had a lot of stuff cut out for time, and I get it. The show has worked well in spite of all the cut content. But this? The scene would’ve made it’s point clear in half the time. But I guess we need the shocks. I like seeing Ramsay being Ramsay and gory deaths are great when in service of story telling. This was simply treading old ground and sacrificing time from other storylines for it. Lead the lady to the dogs and be done with it. Some would argue Theon’s torture was also a similiar problem, but that actually was very useful in getting the audience to somehow relate to his transformation. It was a pivotal point in a main character’s story. This was feeding a side character to the audience that watches the show for violence.

  129. Ser Maynard Plumm: I don’t think Lady Hornwood really tried to bite off her fingers because she was hungry. It is far more likely that she tried to bite them off to stop the pain because Ramsay had flayed them…. Whoever discovered her body probably noticed that her fingers were missing skin and had lots of teethmarks and then they just jumped to the wrong conclusion.

    ::smacks herself in the forehead:: Why didn’t I think of that? I’m sure you’re right. It makes much more sense, and it upholds the GRRM tradition (which I adore) of constantly dropping us little reminders that popular belief is often false and conventional wisdom often foolish. Every bit of hearsay in Planetos (and in our world as well) needs to be taken with a large grain of salt, or it may come back around and bite you in the butt. It is known!

    Thank you for the “Doh!” moment. : )

  130. Thronetender: I just hope the authors don’t resort to thinking of ever more farfetched ways to murder, just to top the ones already done.

    At this point, I think that letting more people die by natural causes such as disease and old age, or by dumb accidents (like in the real world), would be the surest way to shock GoT audiences with the unexpected. It could be very dramatic, for example, to have Lady Olenna on the verge of toppling the Lannisters, once she has moved her Randall Tarly-led host into position, and then suddenly keel over from a heart attack or aneurysm. Or to have Tommen’s demise be a simple matter of being thrown from his horse and suffering a head injury: That would be ironic, with Cersei expecting foul play at any moment. To have such a high percentage of deaths come about through murder, treachery and battle is beginning to seem a bit unnatural.

  131. Firannion,
    I don’t think that most of the deaths right now are about being ‘shocking’, though – case in point, precisely the death of Walda. Rather, they are simply the logical conclusion of the characters of the people involved and the situation they are in.

    There are some deaths that, I think, could still shock. Cersei killing Tommen would be one.

  132. Inquisitor1961:
    GOT is only show that does show the medieval time how it really was…brutal, all i will say this is the best tv show ever beacuse it shows us everything how it is and how it was in that time, i really like when show or movie shows things how they are, all i wanted to say, this much blood and all this happening uncensored is really good to the show, and all that differs it from other shows !

    I agree. Medieval history is full brutality and GoT gives a pretty accurate and graphic account of what it was like. If we could travel back in time as an observer and watch battle scenes and massacres, it would be pretty much like as portrayed in GoT.

    Firearms didn’t come in use until the 15th/16th centuries so it was all hand to hand fighting with swords, spears, axes and so forth. Bows and arrows being the only weapons that could kill at a distance.

    If GoT had been filmed before the computer age, much of what we see would be left up to the imagination. With SFX, prosthetics, etc these events can appear so authentic as to look like the real thing. It really brings home how bad it must have been to have lived in those days!

    Tyrion killing his father with a cross bow bolt whilst taking a crap is not so far removed from events which actually happened in medieval times? King Edward II (1327) was supposedly assassinated by having a red hot poker shoved up his ass and James 1 of Scotland (1437) was murdered when found hiding in a shit pit! See…

    https://mikedashhistory.com/2011/03/17/they-dont-like-it-up-em-revisiting-the-sordid-deaths-of-edmund-ironside-edward-ii-and-james-i-of-scotland/

  133. Queenofthrones,
    See, to me this was exactly the same as with Theon’s torture season.
    I don’t mind the violence in this show. I have to admit that I even enjoy it sometimes. (like the Dorne kid’s death, in ep 1 : it was brutal and gruesome, and yet… nicely done)

    But the Walda thing was just boring and in bad taste. We all knew it was going to happen. We would not expect anything less than horrific from Ramsay. BUT this scene needed serious editing. We did not need all that lingering. The dialogue, the whole situation was annoyingly long.

    And for me, it ruined Rooses death, that was an actual crucial plot moment, and very nicely done cause we did not know immediately who was murdered here, father or son.

  134. I’m one of those people who were largely drawn to ASOIAF Universe because it seems to have a solid Social foundation. I’ve read quite a deal of sci-fi, and some fantasy, the reason of fantasy interesting me less being that much of it just fails on this aspect. But you can tell GRRM has studied his History, and has a good understanding of Sociology. Obviously, so do D&D, since I saw first two episodes of the series before binge reading the books.

    Medieval Societies tended to be, well, Medieval, and any fantasy World built based on Medieval Societies lacking the cruesome aspects would just come off as unauthentic. I may not be the biggest fan of graphic violence, but acknowledging the possibility there will be some is a very strong psychological motivator in events, too, and shouldn’t be unaccounted for.

    I may not be the biggest fan of Boltons – I don’t see any brilliance in Roose, neither in books, nor in TV, he is just a cruel than average opportunist, really -, but they have are accurate potrays on what it took to seize and keep power, in times violence was less clinical. Their actions have historical bases, too. Maybe not in Brittish Islands, but in Europe. I just saw a program mentioning Battle of Vaikal between Albania’s Nationalhero Skanderbeg and The Ottomans. Skanderbeg was victorious, but The Ottomans ambushed 18 Albanian noblemen. They were sent to Istanbul as POWs, skinned alive and fed to dogs. The Ottoman Sultans also did have quite a ruthless way of dealing with siblings and former concubines of their father seen as rivals, as someone mentioned here. So, I don’t think we have to look further for a historic counterpart for Boltons. Their way of doing things may not be “The Northern Way”, but I suspect the fact they are openly defying The Northern ways under Starks – which I see somewhat Danelawish -, will become a part of plot both in the series and novels yet to be published.

  135. Life in mideaval times was violent. Ever seen some ot the torture devices they dreamed up? ASOIAF is just a small fictional segment of life in those dark times and violence was a part of everyday life. Try this if the graphic depictions bother you, 1. Close your eyes, 2. Look away, 3. Don’t watch it al all, 4. Go to the bathroom. But DONT RUIN IT FOR THE REST OF US who truly enjoy the entire scope of the presentation. If you cringe because someone might die a rather gruesome death, go watch something tamer like Andy Griffith. No one forces you to view GoT.

  136. Annette,

    Actually, there were a few remarks about Walda’s weight — how Roose could find her vagina and how they could tell she was pregnant. But both were by Ramsey in his “eating a sausage in front of Theon after cutting off his penis” mode. I’m not sure whether it was a bit of a cop out to give the fat jokes to Joffrey 2.0 or if doing so actually villainized fat jokes. I tend to agree with you, though. It was certainly not a constant. Just as the rape and violence is realistic, it doesn’t bother me in this show. Also, so many women on this show are badass, in spite of rape, violence, and sexism. I don’t think one scene of violence, or even a lot, can undo what we see from Arya, Brienne, Dany, and it seems soon Sansa.

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