Be Ser Nigel Overstreet
So, I was wrong. Sophie Turner wasn’t naked.
But about everything else…
Salon.com, who a little more than a month ago, declared “HBO throws out George R.R. Martin’s books — and saves the show,” now defames “Another Vicious Rape.”
The good people at Vanity Fair, who less than a month ago wrote that deviation from the books was “ultimately, good for the show” has now changed their minds, saying Game of Thrones Absolutely Did Not Need to Go There with Sansa Stark
Slate.com, on the other hand, was completely consistent in their wrongness. This time around, they have no problem with the rape scene because it was “serious.”
I don’t know when it’s not serious. I watched the Jamie/Cersei sept scene, and The Smothers Brother’s it was not.
Here’s io9 admitting that deviating from the books, something they praised the show for last month, is becoming a frankly insane idea.
I’ll get to what is soon to be known as “that Sansa scene” soon enough, but there are so, so many other problems with the show. So let’s get to those first!
Tyrion and Mormont are on a road trip. Tyrion tells Jorah his father died in a scene not in the books and is given no beats. How does he even know about all this? Is he on Westeros Twitter, and does that work in Essos? We are robbed of a pretty heavy moment and a good opportunity to talk about fathers and sons, a big theme for the series. Instead, Jorah explains that his meeting Dany was a religious experience. He can’t just say that he’s in love with her, so we’re robbed of Jorah’s primarily redeeming characteristic. No, it’s far more important to tell, rather than show, once again, that “Khaleesi is BAE.”
When the person who knows her best cannot explain why she is a good ruler, it shows that Dany has no personality, depth, arc or character. She is simply the idea of a redeemer and nothing more. Or perhaps, much less.
Emelia Clarke’s wigs are Jesus. We can all go home.
I have no real issues with the House of Black & White and their version of the Lying Game. It’s not how I’d have done it, but this could have been screwed up so much worse. Does anyone even remember the hall of faces was shown this episode? For this show “good enough” is simply good enough.
Littlefinger. Once again…NOTHING! MAKES! SENSE!!!
Is there no one else in Westeros who could have told Cersei about Sansa? She was traipsing all about The Vale & North. There was an entire episode devoted to her being seen at the inn, and Briennse was none-too-sly about it, neither. Aren’t there supposed to be ravens and stuff? Tyrion knows everything going on in the North, Sam knows what’s happening all the way over in Meereen. Somehow we’re supposed to believe the queen of the realm didn’t know where the biggest fugitive in the country is?! Isn’t Cersei supposed to have all these spies? Is there no pot shop owner or sellsword who thought “Oh, I could tell Queen Cersei about this. A Lannister always something their somethings.”
And, once again, why would Bolton marry Sansa and risk the ire of House Lannister? Whom he just aligned himself with, let’s say, two weeks ago. To “secure the North.” No, it’s about as secure as it gets. Marrying Sansa nets him no new alliances and earns him the wrath of The Iron Throne.
Why on Planetos would Baelish think he controls the Vale? What happens if he shows up on Bronze Yohn Royce’s house, says “Alright, let’s march on Winterfell!” and Robert Arryn says “No. Make him fly!”
Who’s going to save Lord Petyr then? A non-existent-in-the-show Lothar Brune?
What happens if Lord Royce just runs him through? Who would care?
Come to think of it, who would care if Lancel just arrested him on 3 counts of being a creeper and 1 count of being an accessory to being a creeper?
Show Littlefinger has no power. All his machinations do not drive his ambition, they only drive the show plot. The only reason to believe Baelish is doing anything is because he’s read the script.
Speaking of the Faith Militant, boy do they make the Kingsguard look like pansies. They just stood there while their Queen, whom they’d sworn to protect, was arrested right in front of them. Does House Tyrell have no household guards? Heck, isn’t Loras a pretty good fighter? Is no one in the Seven Kingdoms a match for some guys in robes with sticks? In the books, Margery was taken by surprise and locked in a tower. A show of force wasn’t reasonable. But here, it makes no sense. Again.
Dorne. Oh, boy.
I’m going to get into some sword fighting stuff here. If that’s not your bailiwick, I apologize, but it’s bugging the crap out of me. Why does Trystane have an epee blade with a fancy guard and wrapped quillons? Surely he doesn’t, because that style of blade was only invented as heavy armor came out of use due to the advent of firearms! Nope he does. For some reason. Why an epee? Why not a million other fancy swords of that era? Like so:
Or one of those scimitars everyone else is carrying? Or a falchion because those are just cool? Nope. Epee blade. Like an 18th century fop. He might as well be carrying an AK-47. The show doesn’t just fail at regular book stuff, and regular storytelling stuff, it fails at regular history stuff.
And then they fight. Poorly.
So, so poorly. I’ve seen better fights at rural Missouri Renaissance Faires. These actors are so clearly uncomfortable in their own skins with these weapons, and this sequence, that it’s painful. There are so many rough cuts from the horrific form of the principles, that you have no idea what is happening. Which Sand Snake is fighting Bronn? No idea. The one with the knives? Which one is that? There is a whip somewhere, I think. Also, they’re all dressed alike, which doesn’t help. Who is Jaime and who is Bronn? It’s all just a big, unwatchable cluster of poor planning.
Fight choreography is like a dance. It should tell a story. The story this told was that the actors suck at fighting. Which isn’t their fault, everyone does at first. Imagine it was like dancing and your actors had never danced before. You can’t just show them the steps and expect them to walk out there and be Fred Astaire. You would either use body doubles or, more likely, hire fighters to play the characters. You don’t get Danny DeVito to be in the Step-Up films, so you shouldn’t hire some random girl to play someone with 3 lines of dialogue and 3 minutes of sword fighting.
Shakespeare put a sword fight in nearly every one of his plays. Even Twelfth Night. Because it breaks up monotony, provides action and tells a story. This fight only told the story “People are fighting!” And it told it poorly.
Thank the gods Areo Hotah showed up to save us from any more.
But why is Jaime fighting and fighting well? Didn’t losing his hand redeem him? Didn’t it take away his whole identity? Isn’t he supposed to be rediscovering himself as someone other than a militant hothead? Nope. He just fights good now. Don’t question it. Bronn taught him how for, like, two episodes. The Kingslayer is back, baby.
Also, there was a really good point where Doran asks Hotath if he can still fight and it was a perfect time for a monologue about how Areo is married to his axe. We didn’t get that. Shame.
Are we at the rape yet? We’re at the rape. Well, in honor of Don Draper, let’s down some rye and do this thing.
I will say that I did not watch the Sansa rape at first, but was told it was far less gruesome than I imagined, so I did end up watching it. And, in the show’s defense, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. But there might be more to come. I suppose I should talk about how the Myranda/Sansa scene was supposed to show how strong and brave Sansa is. A point which was immediately revoked by the rape.Or how the marriage ceremony is so very different than the marriage ceremony we saw three episodes ago. Or Sansa’s last marriage. No cloak. No bedding. No feast. Or how Sansa agreed to the marriage willingly, in the exact opposite way she does when marrying Tyrion, making her an accomplice to her own assault in some way? We don’t even get a good Wesley from The Princess Bride “Did you say ‘I do’” moment.
Or how the white dress that has has never been a Westeros thing, except here because it had to represent Sansa’s purity. Or the audience’s. Or Theon’s. But I forgot all that. I forgot it all because one of my favorite characters was raped for no reason.
And I mean that. It adds nothing to the plot.
You know how they could have shown a horrible, horrible thing without showing a horrible thing?
They could have gone all Mad Men with it.
Just one sentence could have advanced the plot, frightened the audience and saved us from all this. One, lousy sentence uttered on Mad Men so much, it might as well be the title of the series. One sentence. Three words.
“Shut the door.”
Imagine how great that could have been. A frightened look on Sansa’s face. A joyful look on Ramsay’s. Theon cringing, closes the door on the audience. Fade. Credits. Very Hitchcock.
We would all know what happened, but we wouldn’t have to endure D&D’s torture porn. The inference could have been far more shocking, but without being traumatizing.
But, as it was, a crying Sansa in a ripped dress was the last digital image I saw before I went to bed. It was hard to sleep.
My wife doesn’t watch Game of Thrones and hasn’t read the books. She is, however, very into Harry Potter. Very. My father made her a custom wand. She owns a Ravenclaw football jersey so she can wear it to work on jersey day. I made her wizard robes because the ones they sell aren’t in the correct Ravenclaw colors. She’s very into it.
So she saw that I was upset and tossing and not sleeping well. Because she knows me she asked:
So I explained that I was really upset about the Sansa rape. She didn’t get it because Ice & Fire has rape in it, and none of that bothered me. She pointed out that I normally didn’t care about this sort of thing and didn’t even care that much about book changes in other things.
So I said “Imagine we went to see the last Harry Potter film. You know the point where they capture the three mains and take them to Malfoy Manor?”
“In Wiltshire.” She said, because she knows those books really well.
“Now imagine we went to see the movie, but in the movie Malfoy raped Hermione.”
She got very mad at me. “Why would you say that? Why would you even think that? That’s a little girl.”
Sansa is 3 years younger than Hermione was in that book.
She understood why I was upset.
Yes, there is rape in A Song of Ice & Fire. But it is there to provide a glimpse into the horrors of the world. It is not there for shock value. It is tonally relevant. In the world of Sansa, it is a shocking shift in tone, not to mention a complete reversion of her character arc as one of agency back to the victimized Sansa of Season 2. Its clear this was done for the “shock” factor and nothing more. Aren’t we all glad David Yates doesn’t take as much stock in shock value as D&D do?
In this case, the rape scene does not advance the plot. It does not add to the tone. It does not provide details for world immersion. It doesn’t even force the audience to confront a feeling to rouse them from apathy, which is what art should always do.
It doesn’t even shock, because we’ve seen it before. It makes a sexual assault banal.
And that thought, the idea that I could stop caring if characters I love are sexually assaulted, makes it hard to sleep.
When the show goes from making me angry, to making me not care, I don’t know if there is anything left to say.