‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’
After five episodes of entertaining yet slow-burning posturing, finally it felt as if episode six was the one where everything started to really move forward. On every front featured this week we saw major developments, making for a good change of pace. ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’ was also helped by a real sense of depth, stemming from its many links to episodes long passed, from Jorah learning of his father’s death at the hands of the Watch mutineers, to Loras’ inquest, with a few other moments to boot.
Amongst all that occurred this week, we’ll start at that most disturbing of ends, when Ramsey showed his true colours to Sansa on their wedding night, as Theon was forced to watch. It might not have been as visually explicit as the show often is, but there was no escaping the horror befalling poor Sansa. The scene in general made me think back to Sansa fretting to Margaery about marrying Tyrion in season 3, seeing him as the worst possible husband. The parallel between the two wedding nights – Tyrion waiting on Sansa’s permission or lack thereof, and Ramsey forcing himself upon her – is the sort of reality check the show thrives on, taking characters and revealing to them the horrifying true nature of the world they live in.
This was aided by the preluding scene, as Sansa and Myranda both tried to manipulate one another, with Sansa once again showing how shrewd she has become. In addition, it seems as though her presence is slowly forcing Theon back out of his shell. Certainly the look on his face as he saw his stepsister raped said a lot. Maybe not enough to genuinely change his behaviour at this point, but it feels as though we’re building towards the reveal that he didn’t really kill Bran and Rickon. Saying that, the truth that he did still behead Ser Rodrik and burn the two orphan boys isn’t any more noble.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei’s grenade in the form of the Faith Militant is starting to claim victims. As much as it was exciting to see something as simple as a birthmark betray Loras, and cause him and Margaery to be ‘arrested’, it does seem like there’s a fairly obvious path that this arc will take. Cersei seems to be pleased her power-play is paying off, weakening the only true challengers to her influence over Tommen and the throne. Yet if the Faith frown upon homosexuality, one might imagine that they don’t take kindly to incest, not least if their King is a product of it. And with someone like Olenna Tyrell (welcome back Diana Rigg!) on the other side, perhaps Cersei has inadvertently sunk her own ship.
To the south, Bronn and Jaime made it to the Dornish Water Gardens just in time to fight the Sand Snakes. As much as it was a well choreographed fight, showcasing the team mentality of the Sands, the fortuitous timing of everyone reaching their destination simultaneously was a bit clichéd. Alas their combat was over almost before it had begun, as they were all carted off to Dornish jail. We also got the first dialogue from Trystane Martell and the newly recast Myrcella, who are the Game of Thrones edition of Romeo and Juliet, sneaking kisses, warring families and all. It’s an odd one to recast (did Nell Tiger Free perform any better than Aimee Richardson would have?), given most recasting on the show has accompanied a significant change in characterisation, so I presume we’ll see a bit more of Myrcella during this season.
Across the Narrow Sea and Arya is actually being forced to question why she wants to become a Faceless Man. She’s been fighting and persevering with her work at the House of Black and White, but as Jaqen points out, does she really not want to have a future? After running from her identity this season, being forced to confront it marked a turning point in her, freeing her from parts of it almost. Following her comforting a dying child, Ayra was invited into the supremely creepy Temple of the Many-Faced God, a sign that perhaps she will get what she wants after all.
Finally, we caught up with Tyrion and Jorah, still on the road to Mereen, as they were captured by a group of slavers to be shipped to the fighting pits. Why they didn’t just explain, ‘hello, I’m Tyrion Lannister, this is Jorah Mormont, if you ransom us you could make absurd amounts of money’ I don’t know, but instead off they go to Mereen, in a storyline that seems to be going much the way of Gladiator – honourable knight, exiled and captured to fight as a slave. The question is how Dany will take Jorah’s return, and whether Tyrion will still be alive once the humourously named ‘cock merchant’ is found. Oh, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje seems like he was born to play a massive, laughing madman of a slave ship captain.
All in all, episode seven is going to have some fallout to deal with, and we’re firmly set towards the inevitable episode nine anarchy to follow, with the season passing in a flash.