I’m not rewatching that right now to write up the State of Play.
In and of itself, as a story element, it was justified. There was never anything that could plausibly keep Sansa safe from it, any more than there was anything that could have saved Ned from Joffrey. Given who Ramsey is, there was no other way for it to be played.
Except, of course, that this is a lie. There were an infinity of ways for that to be played. And they chose to do it this way. They chose specific alterations to the books that made this inevitable, and so it happened.
Yes, those decisions, as we’ve discussed in previous reviews, are a dramatically intelligent way to handle the particular relationship of plot threads that the show had. And it is of course not the end of Sansa’s story. I have little doubt that five weeks from now Sansa will be in a very different place. Honestly, I suspect that in one week Sansa will be in a very different place. With reasonable fealty to the tone of the books and a little help from Brienne they could have Ramsey dead by the end of the next episode.
In that regard, at least, I disagree with a lot of the instant reaction I’m seeing. I don’t think this undoes Sansa’s growth. I don’t think it undermines her as a character. I expect her to react and react strongly next episode.
Nevertheless, Benioff and Weiss decided to leave their audience on that note for a week. They decided that image was where to end, and what to make people linger on. Inasmuch as Game of Thrones is a ten week long event, the brutal rape of Sansa Stark is 10% of it.
And if you want to argue that it’s not rape, fuck off. We’re not even doing that.
It seems perversely necessary at this point to say that it was a very tasteful rape of Sansa Stark. I mean, especially for HBO. So, you know, it’s just close-ups of the traumatized faces of Sophie Turner and Alfie Allen. And hey, they kill it. Great work, guys. Everyone did great, really. It’s a fantastically upsetting scene. Benioff and Weiss must have been so happy when the edit came in.
And hey, that’s the Mad Men finale counterprogrammed. Way to seize control of the headlines. A real fucking coup, that one. Congratulations, Benioff and Weiss. So very clever of you. You figured out how to rape Sansa Stark perfectly. It’s a triumph of… whatever the fuck it is.
At last, the justification for Theon’s Season Three plot? The perfect scene for the Buzzfeed era of media criticism, ready-made for every clickbaity slide-show of the most horrific moments in television? A horribly successful attempt to outdo the Red Wedding for the most shocking cliffhanger of the season? A petulant response to the outcry over Jaime raping Cersei last season – “shut up SJWs, this is what a rape scene looks like”?
I don’t know. Ultimately, I just don’t. I don’t know why you’d do that scene in 2015. I don’t know why you’d think that was something the world needed. That the aesthetics of rape culture needed to be pushed that little bit more. That “the most awful rape scene ever” was a record worth going for.
Am I surprised? No, of course I’m not. Why would I be surprised that Game of Thrones did this scene. It’s the most Game of Thrones scene ever to Game of Thrones. Like I said: inevitable, really. The natural consequence of all that came before.
Hell, let’s just nominate it for a fucking Hugo and call it a day.