Monday, May 18, 2015

[Impressions] Game of Thrones 5.6, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

Holy defecation, I know I sound like the needle skipping but come on, how fast do these weeks fly by? I was sure to have done at least two re-read chapters this week and here I am, with another episode of Game of Thrones instead.
Life is meaningful and has way too few hours a day. Oh well.
Things are looking up in terms of finding some writing time in the coming weeks, so there's that. And I really need to tune down the time I've spent gaming the last weeks. I usually play videogames in short bursts, a couple of weeks where I'm hopelessly addicted and then *pop* I lose interest for a long period. I'm still playing Pillars of Eternity, though my gametime is down to less than an hour a week; it's still bloody brilliant, but I kind of lost the story somewhere and want to start fresh, so it's been languishing.

More time has been spent playing actual tabletop RPGs over the Internet, using a nice free utility called Roll20, which I highly recommend to anyone who would like to bring back some of those glory days rolling dice until the hour of the wolf (or whatever) in a slightly different way. Beware, though. It eats time. So, yeah. Not much reading. The Red Knight...I read a little every night, but I've also added a short story anthology to the schedule so I read one short too before the eyelids fall down. But I really need to pick up speed with my A Feast with Dragons re-read, especially with Game of Thrones altering my perception of certain events and characters at a pace never before seen in the world of Westeros (certainly not seen in Santa Fe). Without further ado, a quick look at the sixth episode of the season, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken". I have a feeling this episode will feature House Martell. Or, if they're being ironic, Theon Greyjoy, Heh.
I haven't actually seen the episode yet, as I am going to stream it and try to pop down some thoughts simultaneously so I can clear the rest of the evening for, well, some reading and perhaps if I'm fast enough something geeky to fill that ever-emptying cup of nerdity. Haven't seen or read any reviews or comments either. I am curious...

I had to lol at the preview where the Stone Man drops onto the boat and Ser Jorah so casually informs us that these are "Stone Men". Heh. The rest of the preview, like the other previews, sure broadcasts loud and clearly what we'll see in the episode, but this is a problem for readers, not for viewers I guess. Not that it bothers me. Just an observation. Bronn sums it up well, though. "The Dornish are crazy." And we'll probably learn what they do with corpses after they wash them.

I wonder how The Winds of Winter is coming along. That was another random thought. Just wondering, George. don't get riled up. Take your time, like the intro of Game of Thrones does.

Here we go.

Scene 1.
A corpse is being washed, very tenderly, almost lovingly. Arya, with new hairdo (or did I miss it the last time she was on screen) is being meticulous. It's quite a gloomy scene. Two servants arrive with a stretcher. Corpse is taken away. Arya still wonders what's going to happen with the corpse. Honestly I can't remember if this is a plot point in the book or not, but now I'm curious. But just a little. Ooh, she walks to the door. Whoa, waif stops her. "Get back to work." Arya wants to know what they do to the corpses, but she is still not allowed to know. The waif is the daughter of a lord?! Or is she just making it up. What the heck. No I don't believe it. Arya learns a lesson - that she must learn to separate lies from truth?

Scene 2
Arya sleeping. "Who are you?" Jaqen asks because he just happens to stand next to her bed. "Arya," she replies. I don't understand. Doesn't Arya get it? Oh, cool. She says he died in battle, trying to lie to Jaqen. He whips her for it, lol. How does Jaqen know so much about Arya? Boy, now it's not funny anymore. He whips her a bit too much. Jaqen has become so serious now that he's a priest. Or whatever he is. Still, interesting scene. I liked trying to catch Arya's attempts at lying. But I am confused as to how Jaqen can know those lies to be lies, even a lie Arya believes is true (that she hates Sandor Clegane).

Scene 3
Jorah and Tyrion have a chat, sitting on driftwood. Tyrion explains what's happened to him. I assume they want to make Jorah care about Tyrion? Tyrion mentions having met Jorah's pa and that he (Lord Commander Jeor) is dead. I can't actually imagine that Jeor is Jorah's papa. Not with these actors. Both solid, but so unlike each other in every aspect of their character. At least in the books Jorah looks like a bear, to parallel his dad's nickname the Old Bear. Short scene, little impact. Jorah hears for the first time of his father's death but it was not an emotional scene. At least not for me.

Scene 4
Back to Arya again, scrubbing the floor. Guy walks up to her. He's got a girl (a daughter) and he has spent all his money trying to cure her disease or whatever she has, and now he's come to the House of Black and White to end her life. So why is he telling this to a floor-scrubbing girl? Did he think her a priest? The girl looks just fine, though. I think she's just playing her dad. Perhaps she doesn't want to go to school. But I guess she's taken the game a step too far now. Nah, this is a healthy young girl. All she needs is a pep-talk from Arya. Oh wait. Arya gives her water from the creepy indoors fountain. That's like the embodiment of "the gift of death" (or mercy). Ooh, Jaqen is spying on her. He's become such a miserable stalker in this season five. Remember when he was like the Boba Fett of Game of Thrones, used sparingly but so cool when he appeared? I guess him watching Arya give the gift leads to a decision, though - that maybe she is ready to play the game of feces? Or was it faces? Did they ever mention this "game" in the books cause I sure don't remember.

Scene 5
Right. So Jaqen takes her down into what I can only call a dungeon, and it's a pretty fricking creepy one, too. I do love dungeons. And dragons. And look at those pillars, with all those masks! Dead skin masks! Is this still speculation in the books? I've always suspected them of taking the faces of the dead, the books do hint at such, but this is outright spoiler territory if I'm not mistaken. This means that we will probably see Arya putting on the faces of any number of interesting dead characters in the future - how about Robb Stark's face? Tywin? Ned? Anyone can rise from the dead - well, their faces at least, plastered onto Arya's - this will be interesting to see. Kind of weird way of storing these dead skin masks, though. "Let's build huge pillars with recesses for masks." It doesn't save space, the masks are subject to the probably damp cool air deep down below, it's just silly. They went for an arresting visual image over something more practical here. And I don't approve, no I don't. Also I feel dirty for having this revealed to me. And still...and still a part of me thinks this was cool.

Scene 6
Tyrion and Jorah wander. And the angle makes it look as if they are walking back to the shore, the shore where they were having a chat two scenes ago. That's weird. I'm convinced many people will be confused by this. But not I. I know they are headed for Meereen. Jorah is talking about hearing a baby dragon cry and Tyrion wonders if that is enough for the devotion the exiled knight has to Daenerys. "No," Jorah says. Oh, OK. Jorah is dreaming of Dany conquering the world? Tyrion has a healthy skepticism toward Daenerys and Jorah, and I like it. And he puts into question her claim to the Iron Throne as well, as do many of the readers of the series. I like it. Whoops! Pirates. Jorah gets a fist in his face times two. "Salt mines? Galley slaves? What about the dwarf? Cut his throat". Whoops. But sell his cock, it has magic powers. Tyrion talks his way out of getting immediately murdered. Dwarves don't have dwarf-sized cocks. I like that we see Tyrion doing what he does best - fast-talking his way out of a situation, reminding me of how he got himself out of the Eyrie's sky cell, and how he survived the meeting with Shagga Son of Dolf and the Mountain Men. It's basically the same tactics employed here, when Tyrion claims Ser Jorah is a fabulous swordsman and that it would be best for the pirates to take him to the fighting pits of Meereen. Awfully convenient, and it speeds the two on their way (but man, their scenes needs some more comedy).

Scene 7
Littlefinger arrives in King's Landing, and is stopped by Lancel who basically explains that his crew are running the city now. I don't know, I liked Lancel a lot more as Robert's bumbling squire. But I do appreciate the way he's changed; so many characters remain rather stagnant personality-wise (Littlefinger, Cersei for example) while Lancel is spectacularly different now. And much more threatening, too. Gone is the foppish fool.

Scene 8
Littlefinger and Cersei chat. I'm curious to see why Petyr had to travel all the way to King's Landing. Cersei asks if the Vale will fight for the King. And that's it? Couldn't she just ask him in that letter? Whoa, he reveals that he has found Sansa Stark and that she is at Winterfell! What the heck. He explains the marriage planned for Sansa and Ramsay Bolton; what game is he playing now? That was a surprising move, and I think I like it. Is he setting up a new war between the north and the south? No; he wants to have Bolton and Baratheon slaughter each other. He wants her to prepare for war against the faction that wins; then he suggests to use the Knights of Arryn for this fight, and that he should be named Warden of the North (the moment he mentions this, the music goes all ominous so wowie Petyr's plan is the Iron Throne, after all. Kind of disappointing.)

Scene 9
Tristane Martell and Myrcella. She's very lovely-looking and very not like her mother. They do indeed make a lovely couple, even though they are a Lannister and a Martell. The Prince watches them from his balcony, and tells Areo Hotah to protect her.

Scene 10
Bronn and Jaime riding. Bronn singing. Hey, they are both dressed as Dornish. The Water Gardens are in sight, and their plan is..uhm. To take Myrcella? Inside, Ellaria Sand is sending out her three comical daughters to, I don't know, I didn't catch that - are they going to kill Myrcella? "For Oberyn"? Mm. Well that is kind of what happened in the books, no? Someone tried to kill her? LOL at Jaime arriving around the corner and Myrcella making out with Tristane. Trystane? Fight ensues! "For fuck's sake." Again, Bronn sums it up neatly. "Uncle Jaime? What are you doing here?" Myrcella says as if she met him at the 7-Eleven on the corner, lol. But fight! Bronn and Jaime versus the Sand Snakes! Tristane gets knocked down by Bronn. The Sand Snakes, well one of them at any rate, tries to kidnap Myrcella. Against her will. It is clear she is taken with Tristane, and the irony of course is that the two would be excellent for each other - two young pretty kids in love, but oh no. Areo Hotah arrives and stops the fight. Bronn riles up one of the Snakes (sorry I can't keep them apart names-wise here). Ellaria Sand's plans are thwarted before they got very far.

Scene 11
What the hay, that's Olenna Tyrell! In a wagon for some reason. Now walking with granddaughter Margaery for some reason. Lots of flowers..are they in Highgarden? King's Landing? I'm confused. What was the point of that quick wagon scene where she talked about the smell of shit?

Scene 12
Cersei sitting at her desk, writing. Olenna on the other side. Oh aha she's come to get Loras freed. Cersei is way out of her league against Olenna, but she composes herself after a few moments. I like the gradual sliding here from uncertain, to almost speechless, to regaining her composure. Which, by the way, is a great element of Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying game, where Composure is a vital element; there's a system for intrigue the same way most RPGs have a system for combat. Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of the story.

Scene 13
Loras, the High Sparrow. The High Sparrow interrogating Loras, and we are taken all the way back to season 2 and Renly Baratheon. Loras refuses to have slept with any man, ever. He's a great liar, Arya, you could learn from him. Queen Margaery is called forward; she tries to refuse, but the High Sparrow is having a holy inquest so there's that. Lol, I bet she isn't as good a liar in this scene, but she's pretty good at it in every other scene she's in. Oh. She's doing just fine here as well. Whoops here we have Olyvar the Gay Guy. He's next. The music tells us that we should be biting nails now, for Loras. Olyvar (if that's his name) tells the truth; he says he's been having sex with Loras, and that Margaery walked in on them once (that would be the Dorne-map scene) oh and here it comes up. Loras tries to assault Olyvar. The Faith decides there will be a formal trial for Ser Loras...and Queen Margaery. Whoa! And Tommen is sitting there like a fool (and he still has to outlaw beets!). Well that was interesting and quite different from anything in the books, but at the same time very "medieval" in the sense of these people's views on sexual deviation. In a way this suits the "medieval fantasy" feeling more than just sending Loras off to die (or whatever) at Dragonstone. And I guess that Loras will be executed.

Scene 14
The episode has kept to a few characters (like last week) but now we're suddenly thrown off the scent with Myranda knocking on Sansa's door. She's still playing her game. She bathes Sansa for some reason and viewers will probably wonder if she's going to drown or choke Sansa. Instead she uses words to intimidate Sansa. I like how Sansa asks how long she's loved Ramsay; it shows that, after last episode's failure, she has some insight. "I'm Sansa Stark and this is my heuuum, and you can't frighten me." But I know a guy who can. So be careful out there all alone and cold and stuff.

Scene 15
Snow. Camera in front of window. Sansa inside. In white. Theon comes to escort her to the godswood. Tense little scene between the two; Theon fears punishment if she doesn't take his arm and she refuses to take said arm. Nice. I'm sure more than one viewer yelled at Theon to say, "I didn't kill your brothers". But he didn't say anything. Keepin' up the tension.

Scene 16
Wow, nicely lit wedding scene. Another wedding. The snow, the heart tree, Sansa looking fearful, the hoods, the banners...this is the most visually arresting wedding so far, in a sense. Of course it's more "visually arresting" to see Catelyn get her throat slit, but I'm talking about the environment of the scene. Beautiful. Solemn. Myranda looking out of place. She looks more like she belongs in Kröd Mandöön and the Flaming Sword of Fire. Fat Walda looks so innocent. Sansa looks both beautiful and endlessly sad as she agrees to take Ramsay as her husband. What do you know! Sansa has two husbands now. Ramsay Bolton and Tyrion Lannister.

Scene 17
Ramsay and Sansa and Theon enter a chamber. It doesn't look like a bedroom but there's a bed there all right. Ramsay says he wants her to be happy. He wonders why she's a virgin. "Afraid of dwarves?" Ramsay is showing his true self already...and he's already threatening her. Oh man I do not want to watch this...but I must. For completion's sake. And Ramsay kisses her!!! I definitely need to read the tweets for this episode (wow, I've forgotten to read tweets for all episodes except for the first - what's going on, I love reading GoT New Episode Tweets). He tells her to take off her clothes and for Theon to stay and watch. Why doesn't she ask for Theon to leave? Does she consent to get naked with her brother's murderer watching?!?! I don't get it. "Now watch her become a woman." And here we go with the doggy style again. And he actually takes her. Rapes her. And Theon cries. And the music gets louder. And Sansa whimpers. And...over.
Well well well.
I certainly don't want Sansa raped in the books if Martin can avoid it.
But they did give her a far easier time than Jeyne Poole got in the books, that's for sure.
But this just left a bad feeling in my mouth, and I wonder if this might just turn off a couple of viewers.
I hated seeing Sansa defiled like this, and yet I felt that Ramsay wasn't as disgusting and despicable and moronic as he perhaps should have been, but I guess they had to draw the line somewhere. It's weird how this scene makes me more disgusted than, say, the Red Wedding. It's kind of on par with Dany/Khal Drogo in the first season's first episode (or was it the second) - two young girls getting an entirely skewed lesson in sexytime - from behind, with all the tenderness and emotion of a wooden pole. Yay.
Oh, man, poor Sansa.
Her first sex was a quick one from behind. With Ramsay Snow/Bolton. While Theon Greyjoy watches.
I know I could never have sex while Alfie Allen was watching. There would be a sense of inferiority. Anyway.
At least this scene elicited feelings in me. Most of the scenes in this episode didn't. They were mainly transitional scenes, with a few interesting plot progressions.
The last four have to work really hard for me to make this as memorable as seasons one and three and partially four.
Perhaps, I admit, because there's so much territory explored that the books haven't, but also because it feels more static (lots of talkin' and even the fight scenes, like today's in Dorne, are a bit underwhelming) and feels as if it is has less humor (Tyrion/Varys was good though, really good.)

And now I know I won't be reading any book tonight cause I need to know how the world reacted to this episode. See you at WatchersontheWall, now the premier site for the TV show.

Not rating individual scenes this time; a man needs to get his sleep. I guess I'd give this episode a 7 overall. I didn't miss Meereen, but I kinda missed Dany a little. And it is just so difficult to watch now that the story is going in all kinds of directions that only barely - if at all- connect with the source material. I really don't care about the Dorne story at this point, Cersei and Jaime were both not very interesting today (as they usually are), Bronn was funny I guess, Littlefinger is Littlefinger, the plot just accelerates so fast at times while other scenes almost grind the episode to a halt. I both like and dislike many of the changes. My heart isn't really in it anymore, but I'm morbidly curious about the rest of the season, now. The pirates were way too convenient and they relied on an old trick (Tyrion fast-talking) which kind of breaks with his characterization at this point, where he's beaten; Sansa, oh Sansa. Dammit. Now I really must stop.

Did the episode deserve its title? Not really. It was mostly bowed bent and broken all the way here. Right! Hopefully a re-read post before episode 7!

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