I’d like to think that I’m a seasoned watcher of Game of Thrones, so I am usually indifferent to the violence, gore and generally disturbing images the show perpetuates.
But last Sunday night’s episode wounded me, and I’m not sure I can continue watching this show for a long time. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The barbaric start to Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton’s marriage ended the latest episode that was largely punctuated by boring storylines (other than Littlefinger, who I simultaneously loathe and admire…more on him later), and left much of the fandom distressed. The last scene, after Sansa has been made to be given away at her wedding by Theon/Reek, shows Theon/Reek watching as Ramsay brutally rapes Sansa. The scene is focused sharply on Theon’s face while you hear Sansa’s painful cries in the background.
Now, I know people are going to say things like, “This is Game of Thrones! What did you expect?!” and that’s totally fair. But I’m deeply over television that uses violence against women as an obtuse storytelling mechanism. What was the function of this scene? It doesn’t stay true to canon, so you can throw out that reasoning. While I can’t see into the future, I don’t really see the relevance or the purpose of Ramsay’s rape of Sansa in the story.
Many have said that the rape only reinforces how awful Ramsay is. But didn’t we already know that? We were introduced to Ramsay when he was having one of his former lovers hunted by dogs–as his lover, Myranda, told Sansa during her bath. To see Sansa push back and assert herself to Myranda only makes the rape more heartbreaking–Sansa Stark of Winterfell being raped by the son of her mother’s killer in her childhood home. It’s like the creators and writers are trying to damage all of us. Sansa, who was gaining more agency by the day, suddenly brought down so demeaningly. We know Ramsay is a disgusting sadist–do we really need more reinforcement at the expense of one of the most sympathetic characters in the show?
We know that Littlefinger doesn’t know the extent to which Ramsay’s psychopathic tendencies go, but why would he leave Sansa at Winterfell with the Boltons while he went to cozy up to Cersei? Oh, that’s right: because he’s cooking something else up. “I live to serve,” he tells Cersei, who makes it clear that she wants Sansa’s head on a spike. After he divulges that he knows where Sansa is (Winterfell) and that she’s married Ramsay (ugh), he negotiates with Cersei to loan her soldiers from the Eyrie to defeat the Boltons and make him the Warden of the North. Ah. What is this sneak really up to?
I’m afraid I may never find out because I’ll be avoiding this show for a while. The scene was deeply disturbing, more so because of the complete lack of sympathy for Sansa and the humiliation of having Theon (who is essentially her older brother) watch her rape.
What did you think of this episode? Comment below.