Reaction to “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (Game of Thrones: Season Five, Episode Six)
by Corwyn Johnson
I debated writing this reactionary article as a letter directly to David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman (who wrote the episode), and Jeremy Podeswa (who directed the episode). Because I don’t get it. This episode was absolutely atrocious, with an appalling ending scene that is nowhere to be found in the books. Partially, I feel that Game of Thrones suffers from what I like to call The Walking Dead syndrome. Exciting beginnings to seasons that lead into relatively boring middles and rely on shock value and over-the-top finales to draw you back in. I had hope that Season 5 would prove wildly different from the previous season, and the first four episodes certainly had me maintaining that. Instead, the past two episodes have dashed those hopes entirely, and really have me questioning just what the showrunners have going on in their heads. But enough with the vague descriptions, let’s talk about “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”
The beginning of this episode shows Arya Stark in training, and gives the viewer a very cool glimpse into what is to come for the youngest female Stark. Sadly, this is the largest plot and character development you get in this episode. Jorah and Tyrion get captured by slavers after some witty banter and Jorah finding out his father was murdered in a mutiny. The Sand Snakes have a less than epic confrontation with Jaime and Bronn, who manage to sneak into the Water Gardens. (I will profess to being profoundly disappointed at this particular fight. The choreography seemed clumsy and slow, at best.) King’s Landing politics kick into overtime as Margery and Loras are suckered into an inquisition that produces a surprise witness. And Sansa Stark marries Ramsay Bolton in the Godswood at Winterfell. The ending scene of the episode is Ramsay brutally violating her while forcing Reek to watch.
To say that this episode was horrible is to provide an understatement. In general terms, the pacing and plot were awful. The fights were clunky, and the acting in certain scenes (pretty much everything in Dorn) was subpar. There were many different scenes this week, and yet, not that much happened. We’ve come to a crawling halt despite this season starting off at a relatively fast pace!
Perhaps, the most disturbing aspect to me is that the show runners once again used rape as a means to “add” to a female character’s story. There is nothing about the rape of Sansa Stark that sat well with me. It’s a massive deviation from the books that added nothing substantive to the show’s or characters’ story lines. We are all aware of how tragic Sansa Stark’s life is. We know how evil and vile Ramsay Bolton is. Nothing was added by having the rape happen. Instead, viewers received a scene that was completely out of the proverbial left field. A scene that was brutal, vicious, and not in anyway necessary.