Previously on recapping Game of Thrones… We handed out completely
arbitrary accurate and deserved Mid-Term evaluations. This week…
Season 5, Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
If last week it was hard to believe that this season of Game of Thrones is already half-way over, this week, it’s even harder to believe that Mad Men, one of the best television shows that I have ever had the pleasure of watching, is over forever. What will fill that void in my heart now? Sure, Game of Thrones is good, but is it Don Draper, Peggy Olson, tap-dancing Ken Cosgrove good? The only logical way to find out is to take a look at this episode, and this episode alone, and render a final judgement that I will then have to stand by forever. Can Game of Thrones, a show that has somehow tricked the masses into loving a hard fantasy story about medieval political machinations, fill the Mad Men shaped hole in my life?
Up first, Arya Stark, still washing dead bodies, still going through her bizarre training regiment in the House of Black & White. Her responsibilities seem to have been expanded though, and I personally cannot wait to see what secret fighting moves “Clip the Finger Nails” and “Rinse the Hair” turn out to be. On the other side of things, Arya is not able to advance too far in her training until she completes something called the Game of Many Faces. Only, she doesn’t seem to know the rules this “game,” nor when she is playing. And, the solutions to those problems seem to be that 1)There are no rules and 2) She is always playing. This is not to mention all the mental and physical abuse. YEAH. There’s an abuse portion to the rules of the game. Answer truthfully, or untruthfully, or with some intent to tell the truth, and Jaqen whips you in the face. Right now, this game seems more difficult than a first-person shooter to someone who hasn’t played video games since Pong. Later, Arya’s fortunes change when a man brings in his ill daughter, to drink the water of the Many-Faced God and die a (I think) peaceful death. So, to comfort the girl, Arya spins her most intricate web of a story yet, a story any of the many faces of Jaqen H’ghar would approve of. The girl drinks the water, and Arya gets to go through that mysterious door into what I can only describe as a gallery of people’s faces. Turns out, the secret to beating the Game of Many Faces is not to tell the truth, and not to lie, but to manipulate what is real, to construct a new reality that will best serve your purpose. (OH! Just like Don Draper does when he’s creating ad pitches in Mad Men! We’re off to a promising start!) While she’s not yet ready to become no one, Arya is ready to become someone else. This makes me hopeful that my BOLD Prediction from a few weeks ago about Arya’s arc this season may partially come true. I could be a partial genius!
Washed ashore and still plagued with a patch of flaky grey scale skin, Jorah continues to frustrate Tyrion, his would-be captive. Jorah is unmoved by Tyrion’s story of murdering his father after he sentenced Tyrion to death for a crime he did not commit/had sex with Tyrion’s love. As a result, Tyrion labels Jorah the least charming man he has ever met, before unknowingly breaking the news to Jorah of why they showed the entire Mormont family history in the “Previously On…” segment this week. It’s because his dad, Jeor, is long dead, killed by mutineers of the Night’s Watch. I bet Tyrion wants to take back that “least charming man” remark real quick. But, before they can start bonding over their shared experience of having dads who are dead, a bunch of slavers show up to spoil everything! Dammit you guys, could have been headed for a new spin-off there! (Working title: My Dead Dads.) For Jorah, now it’s off to those fighting pits we’ve been hearing so much about, because nothing is more entertaining than an older man trying his hand at murdering young men for sport. Tradition! This also means he’s finally going to get to see his darling Khaleesi again which, eh. At least Tyrion successfully negotiates his way out of having his non-dwarf sized dwarf cock chopped off and sold to the nearest cock merchant. Yes, those are things that could happen in Game of Thrones, just in case you were curious about how the market for severed penises worked in this universe.After spending all of Episode Five on the road, Petyr Baelish, on urgent Raven business, finally arrives in King’s Landing. He runs into Brother Sparrow Lancel and comes to the realization that, wow, this neighborhood sure is changing! Seems like just yesterday that there was a family-owned bodega on that corner; now it’s populated by zealots with strange emblems carved into their foreheads. Cersei wants to know if Little Finger’s inherited army in The Vale will fight for King Tommen. Not only does Little Finger give her his word on that, but he also reveals to her that he knows where Sansa Stark is. Dude. How you gonna do Sansa like that? Everthing for Little Finger is a play within a play to further his own status. Now he’s parlaying this “knowledge” of Sansa’s whereabouts into becoming Warden of the North (provided his army can defeat the winner of Stannis v. Roose.) We should have known better than to assume that Little Finger assisting Sansa wasn’t all just a part of his dastardly, mustache twirling plan.
Cersei needs to assure that Littlefinger is on her side (or whatever it is that he’s actually doing by saying that The Vale stands with the King,) because she’s got bigger problems to worry about. Margaery should have known better than to verbally smack down Cersei three weeks ago. Didn’t she realize that doing so would set off a chain of events by which Cersei would arm a group of religious fanatics, her brother would be put on trial for being basically openly gay, and that she herself would be arrested for bearing false witness before the Gods, never mind the fact that her husband Tommen would do nothing to help her out as she’s dragged away to the dungeons, and didn’t the High Sparrow seem so nice when he was first introduced? Seems like a pretty big oversight on Queen Margaery’s part. This makes her reign as Shade Throwing Champion look like nothing more than a fluke. Pa-THETIC. Call Cersei Lannister a Chess Grandmaster (Grandmaester?) because it looks like checkmate in this fight! That is, until Cersei’s own “crimes” against the Gods get the Sparrow Boys treatment, an inevitability she seems to be blissfully (which by her standards means she continues to smirk mischievously) unaware of. FOREBODE.
Down south, things continue to escalate very quickly. Rather suddenly Jaime and Bronn enter into the actual assignment of Assignment Dorne Beach: rescuing Myrcella. But, in a twist no man could ever see when he’s blinded by the prospect of rescuing the girl who is most definitely his niece, and not his daughter as a result of incest with his twin sister: Myrcella and Trystane (her prospective husband) look like they’re actually in love! Dramaaaaaaaa! If that weren’t enough to muck up a perfectly good plan wherein two white guys sneak into a foreign land in terrible disguises, to re-kidnap a princess, the Sand Snakes decide that this moment is also the moment when they will attempt to re-re-kidnap Myrcella, so they can start their war in the name of revenge for Oberyn. A fun, little fight breaks out between the two factions, but before things get completely out of hand, the situation is broken up by Prince Doran’s bodyguard. He has a big axe, so you know he means business. Everyone gets put under arrest, and a shadow of doubt is cast on the future of Assignment Dorne Beach. Jaime and Bronn have failed. Where do they go from here, and how quickly will they have to kill off Bronn to get there? Stay tuned.
Well I’ll say. Words being wielded as agents of change? Family drama? Acts of violence that seem to come out of nowhere? Absent fathers?Well, might as well pack it in. From everything I’ve seen, Game of Thrones can most definitely serve as my new Mad Men. What’s that? Oh right, forgot one segment. I suppose I should address it, though it seems rather pointless. It’s not as if one scene could sour me on the entire show! …
This whole recap venture is generally a light-hearted affair, and I tend to intentionally steer away from addressing the terrible things that happen in this show head on to keep things “funny.” But, there’s no avoiding this.
They just had to go there. We already know that Ramsay Bolton is a despicable person, and we have already seen Sansa tortured in countless ways, but they just had to delicately nail it home with a sledgehammer one more time. I think things like this, an innocent character like Sansa being raped, not to mention closing the episode with said rape, are part of the reason why I can never truly love this show. (The other part being cock merchants, of course.) Game of Thrones takes so much pleasure in torturing its ostensible heroes in increasingly terrible ways, that I cannot help but keep myself at a safe emotional distance from it. The real world is dark enough as it is without having to get heavily invested in fictional characters, only to see them cut down time after time.
This season, Sansa had been built up into this character who knows how to manipulate and maneuver with the best of them (she learned from the best, after all!) Yet, she gets raped by a Bolton, even though the fact that the Boltons murdered her family should be enough for her in story purposes to want to get revenge on them. It just feels pointless that this had to happen. Also, I get the point of focusing on Theon’s face as he’s forced to watch, to spare us from having to see Sansa’s face, but it does kind of give the scene a “Oh, what a terrible thing for a man to have to witness” vibe. Though the alternative would be to show Sansa as this happens to her? Gah! Why did they have to write this scene? Hopefully they can handle this better than when Jaime raped Cersei last season. Which is to say, hopefully it doesn’t just become an ignored aspect of Sansa’s character. Thanks, drive safe.
Spare thoughts to lighten the mood after that diatribe:
– In summation, Game of Thrones is not Mad Men, it will never be Mad Men.
– Am I alone on this, or does that face that Arya touches (seen in the image at the top of this post,) kind of look like Catelyn Stark? At the very least, Maggie Smith?
– Tyrion wonders why Daenerys, a girl who has never even been to Westeroes, should get to sit on the Iron Throne and rule it. That’s what I’m saying, man!
– I like how I can’t remember the name of the character that led the mutiny against Jeor Mormont, but that I can remember that the actor’s name is Burn Gorman. You never forget a name like Burn Gorman.
– This week in “No name is ever easy to spell”: Miranda is actually spelled MYranda, because of course it is.
– Glad to see Jerome Flynn’s Robson & Jerome talents aren’t being wasted in his role as Bronn.
– Olenna Tyrell: Great character, or greatest character on the show?
– I can say with utmost certainty, I would not like to buy Westeros a Coke, and keep it company. Westeros is just the shittiest.