Sunday, May 24, 2015

Game of Thrones (S5E06): "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

Episode 6 of Season 5 (S5E06) of HBO's Game Of Thrones is "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken." The title comes from phrase the motto of House Martell, which has become an important focus of this season as the show has expanded to the Martell's domain in Dorne. Fans of the books know that the motto reflects the fact that Dorne, has never been conquered by any external force (not even the Targaryens with their Dragons) while the Martell family has ruled it. However, it is possible that another interpretation of the title could be words that describe Sansa Stark, especially considering what happens at the very end of the episode.

I think the main theme of this episode (S5E06) is about lies and the impact of lies on the lives of people, as well as bad things happening to good people (but, wait, every episode of Game of Thrones is about that!). The good people in this episode are our usual fan favorites: Sansa, Tyrion, Jaime as well as "the Tyrell Roses" (Margaery and Loras). The bad things that happen to these characters are quite varied. Arya is also a fan favorite, of course, but it is unclear whether something good or bad happened to her.

What did happen is that she learned how to lie convincingly in the House of Black and White, and convinced a very sick girl to drink the poisoned water and meet the Many-Faced God. As a reward, Arya is shown the hidden underground chamber below the House and it turns out that it is filled with thousands and thousands of faces. This seems like a significant development in Arya's goal of becoming one of the deadly assassins known as the Faceless Men. But is this a good thing?

Here are just some of the bad things that happened to our favorite characters in this episode:
  • Jamie and Bronn were captured trying to rescue Myrcella Lannister (who clearly did not want to be separated from her hot new boyfriend Trystane Martell)
  • Jorah and Tyrion were captured by slavers in Essos and are likely to be taken to Mereen
  • Margaery and Loras Tyrell were taken away to jail by the Sparrows, accused of violating the "laws of gods and men"
  • Sansa was raped on her wedding night by the odious Ramsay Bolton, while Theon Greyjoy (formerly Reek) was forced to watch, after he had assumed the role of eldest male relative at the wedding 

Some of the lies that resonated in this week's episode were: Arya's lie to the sick girl that she had been brought to the House of Black and White by her father to be healed; Tyrion lies to the slavers who have captured him in order to spare the lives of Jorah and himself; Margaery and Loras lie to the High Sparrow while testifying in Loras' trial; Sansa is lying (presumably?) when she says "I do" during her wedding to Ramsay Bolton; and Jaime and Bronn are not lying per se but they are being deceptive when they break into the Water Gardens of Dorne (Jaime is still perpetrating the lie that he is not Myrcella's father).

Then of course there is Littlefinger's statements to Cersei that he knows where Sansa Stark is and if she makes him Warden of the North then he will bring her Sansa's head on a spike. Is that a lie? Does Littlefinger even know what the truth is anymore?

The best parts of the episode were:
  • The best line of the show (and possibly the series) was spoken by the anonymous slaver who captured Tyrion Lannister and Ser Barristan Selmy: "The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant!" 
  • A close runner-up  for the best line of the show (for the sheer magnitude of delusion it reveals) is Cersei Lannister's "House Lannister has no rival." Sadly, the statement by Sansa to her fiance's gielfriend is equally self-delusional: "I am Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home and you can't frighten me."
  • The verbal clash between Cersei and Olenna Tyrell was a delight; as expected the Queen of Thorns easily won the match and also learned that Lord Tywin's daughter is not as worthy an opponent or combatant as he was.
  • Another highlight of the episode was the buggery trial of Loras Tyrell, primarily for the clever way the show runners were able to set the perjury trap for Queen Margaery. The smirk that Cersei gives Olenna is priceless, but again demonstrates she is unaware of the danger of arming religious zealots and then blurring the lines separating Church and State.
  • The dress that Sansa Stark wore to her wedding to Ramsay Bolton was absolutely stunning.
The parts of the episode I could have done without:
  •  As many other recaps have noted, did the show really need to have another female lead character get raped in order to demonstrate the ubiquity and horror of sexual violence in Westeros? Sansa is the third one, following the rapes of Dany on her wedding night by Khal Drogo and Cersei by her brother Jaime next to the body of their dead son King Joffrey.
  • The Sand Snakes are simply unacceptably bad; their "plot" to capture Myrcella was laughable. It's really not clear how the entire Dorne subplot can be salvaged at this point.
Grade: 8/10.

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