***Warning: Discussions of Rape***
I am unforgivably behind with my review/analysis of this compelling and very controversial episode. I should be flayed. I suppose it is arguably better than Sansa’s fate…speaking of which it is very likely that that’s the very thing which has kept me from this task. While I did write up an article concerning the particular situation found here, I did not do a full write up of the episode itself. That shall be remedied today, and I will attempt to get the others out as well. Due to time constraints, I will not be able to catch up before the end of the season, but we have a long time between our next drink for discourse and discussion; therefore, I see no true loss in the lateness. Thank god I take notes.
Since I’ve already written an entire post about the Sansa Situation, I will not be touching on it in depth here. I may bring it up in regards to what others have said, but I’ve spoken my peace and I’ll let it lie. I will say that I love my favorite theorists even more since they were some of the few who were able to not condemn it, but argue ways for it to fit within some master plan, and while I still stand by my view that it was not necessary, I can still see/respect their point.
I’m a little annoyed with some of the commentators. While I didn’t see the specific ones, Bar had to make another video about this since she was being bombarded with awful comments essentially saying she was a rape apologists. She is very clear in the videos of saying that in this particular society what happened to Sansa wasn’t rape. They wouldn’t see it like that. Obviously, it is; there’s no argument there, but Bar was giving the point of view of that world, which we already know from prior experience is not one we should support.
Then we have Maester Payne and Clare Grey’s offering. Clare was one of the prime people who made me feel better about Sansa’s scene. Her breakdown of it is so compelling and thorough, and I really love her for that. I’m hoping MP and her are doing okay. To date this is the latest video they’ve put up.
There’s Tony who is always on point and never minces words.
If you want the funniest/snarkiest review, look no further than Preston Jacobs.
And off course there is the illustrious Small Council. I shouldn’t pick favorites and I love them all, but I want to be LaDonna when I grow up ❤
I will be referring to some of these videos heavily throughout this analysis/review, and try to remember whom I heard what from. I apologize if I screw this up.
To the title!
The words of House Martell give us our moniker for this week, which unfortunately means we need to deal with Dorne *sigh* The title does refer to numerous situations. Arya in Braavos remains unbroken by the waif’s beatings and her inability to play the Game of Faces, which may arguably be the beginning level to the Game of Thrones. Since the object of the game of faces is to lie and the object of the game of thrones is to lie well enough to win a crown, I think it’s a fair point to make.
Petyr Baelish remains unbowed in his resolve to have it all regardless of the cost to others. Cersei remains unbending in her resolve to destroy Margaery despite Olenna’s threats, and of course Sansa is the most obvious reference to this name in the most ironically cruel way. In all sense of the words she is bowed, bent, and broken; however, she must internalize these words and align them with those of her late mother’s house: Family, Duty, Honor. Her familial obligation to vengeance is unbowed by what has happened to her. Her duty to taking back Winterfell is unbent, and though her maidenhead is broken, her honor is not.
The three topics this week will be Faceless in Braavos, Less “Valed” Threats, The Dornish Disappointment and The Rape of Sansa, which as stated I’ll only touch on briefly as it’s covered in total in a separate post.
Need it be said, but yes there are…
…for you non-readers of the books.
Faceless in Braavos
Books readers were definitely rejoicing when the waif told her tale, which put me in the mind of Cinderella with a twist. An evil step-mother tries to poison her unwanted daughter so that her own blood can inherit the wealth. As in the source, the waif mixes the truth and lies, which is a meta reference to Martin who does the same. The author deals more in lies of omission, but the absence of information functions the same as the misinformation as we must then speculate on what is so, but GRRM is not averse to giving half-truths and lies and making us weed out what is significant and what is dross.
Arya does learn how to lie, but not before we find out that she didn’t hate the Hound, to which again book readers would be privy, and the idea of the game is again mentioned. This concept cannot help but be meta when we are watching a show entitled Game of Thrones, and Arya insisting “I’m not playing this stupid game” is indeed laughable. Jaqen is right, “We never stop playing the game.” Even the Night’s Watch, which takes no part in the politics of the realm, is playing the game. We all are; we all must. To stop playing is to die, and then your children may or may not take advantage of your dead bones and name to continue the game in your stead.
“It all goes back and back,” Tyrion thought, “to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads.” – Tyrion in A Clash of Kings
Jaqen is like an incarnation of the Many-Faced God; he’s always watching. Also it must be noted that the Many-Faced God has far too much in common with Joseph Campbell’s concept of The Hero With a Thousand Faces for such parallel to be considered a whim. This concept aligns eerily with the old gods of the north and their heart trees with faces through which greenseers can witness. The whole concept of watching is very big in this narrative. The Night’s Watch (while not only having it in their title) are the “watchers on the Wall,” and watchers is another name for the nephilim who were also known as the grigori or literally “watchers.” The nephilim are often considered fallen angels, fallen as they came to earth and “knew” the daughters of men. This is the twisted version of the Night’s Kings story as he was a man who chased and love an Other woman, gave her his seed, and was cast down out of grace for that and subsequent crimes. He sought to raise himself above others, and that is integral to the highest fall.
Side note: in researching this I learned that Seth was the third son of Adam, born to replace Abel so slain. Well, I’ve always like that name, and I knew it was religious in origin, but I can honestly say I did not know that.
To become a Faceless Man is to be no one but your face, the face you borrow, the face you wear. It is the Braavosi form of warging. Instead of you slipping into someone else’s head, you slip into someone else’s skin. It is literal skinchanging (and I believe it’s James from the Small Council who mentions that). The House of Black and White is like an extra creepy funeral home that you can quite literally and personally choose, and the black water from that pool made me think of the waters of Lethe.
Lethe is one of the rivers in the underworld where the dead are forced to drink in order to forget their earthly life. There is a huge implication in ASOIAF/GOT that there is no afterlife save for the ones we’ve seen in warging or resurrection. Once you are gone, you are gone with everything you were lost to oblivion. What ultimate way to forget than drinking of such waters? Though you yourself are not forgotten as you leave behind the face slough off by the water of death. Though I do wonder who Jaqen was before he donned his many faces. Is he someone from the past that we’ve met before or heard about in the histories? The story has over a thousand characters. Who could he be, and does this mean in the books that the Kindly Man himself is really Jaqen H’ghar unrevealed?
Less “Valed” Threats
I would love to warg into the mind of Littlefinger for just a minute to see what the hell his end game is. Did Varys speak true when he called him “King of the Ashes?” I can’t imagine the finale being good for anybody but Littlefinger. It’s odd to imagine that one incident with Brandon over Catelyn would make him this ambitious, but that seems like it was his turning point. It was the defining moment in his life like the prophecy was with Cersei. The grandson of a Braavosi sellsword vowed that he would bring the great houses to heel and play the most dangerous game of all. Speaking of warging, it almost seems like Littlefinger himself can do so. The deft way he handled both Lancel and Cersei seems almost magical. Now granted Lancel is pretty much a puppet of the Seven/High Sparrow right now so outsmarting him shouldn’t be a mean feat, and LF told Cersei exactly what she wanted to hear. Littlefinger seems to always be in the position to play with the most petty and of players. Beginning with Lysa. Lysa. Lies. Lysa’s lies started this entire wheel again with Littlefinger at the helm. The Queen Regent was still on her high from ousting Lady Olenna who honestly seems to be all bluster and no blow this season. Has the Queen of Thorns lost her prickle? She didn’t really do anything but call Cersei a whore, which we all thank her for, but honestly Grandma Tyrell seemed about as useful as Tommen, and I’m not using that as an insult either, though I wish the king would play some cards.
A few theorists have stated that Tommen didn’t make a move when Margaery was taken away, but I disagree. He held up his hand to stop the kingsguard from acting, and you could see the turmoil on his face. He wanted to act, but he also doesn’t want bloodshed. Sadly, sometimes those two motions may not be mutually exclusive, and I think Tommen and Theon are supposed to be compared/contrasted this episode. We have a royal boy with all the power in Westeros and a beaten dog with no power at all put into positions where they could act, yet they do nothing. One for fear of consequences to others and the other in terror or consequences to himself
Another comparison is Olly and Olyvar. They are both treacherous boys who need to be neutralized. Now if we want to extend this to names we need to throw Olenna into there as well as they all have names starting with Ol-. We have the past, present, and future all right there. Olenna is one of the only people left who was alive prior to Robert’s Rebellion when it all began (again). Olyvar is in the midst of a current royal coup, and Olly is waiting in the wings to take part in one of his own with the slaying of Jon.
The Dornish Disappointment
At least it’s pretty…
Ughhhh, do I really have to talk about Dorne? I don’t wanna!
*sigh* I suppose if I must. At the very least I can give my opinion, which is I do not like how they are doing Dorne. The Sand Snakes have no bite and every single line just comes of as overacted and cheesy. I don’t feel as if this is the actors/actress’ faults. I think they removed characters, consolidated and changed things, took a very complex plot and boiled it down for mass consumption. I am curious what people think of it though. Are you okay with the Dorne scenes? Is this just my book snobbery coming through? Vote, vote, vote!
The best thing about the Dorne scenes was Bronn’s rendition of The Dornnishman’s Wife, which is only the second or third song we get to hear on the show. I think Rains of Castamere is the only other lay we’ve had, which is really a shame, because I’m pretty sure Jenny’s Song is tantamount to the entire narrative and may be the Song of Ice and Fire itself, but then the show is called Game of Thrones and not A Song of Ice and Fire so I suppose we must abide. Jaime doesn’t let his companion finish the song though to Bronn’s lament of “the best part of the song is the ending,” revealing more meta reference in this episode. The best part of the song is the ending…when everything is revealed, but we are not at the ending yet Bronn, and many more secrets must unfold. The game of thrones is a long game and many more kings must fall. Bronn himself may not be alive to see it as we witness him get cut on Obara’s (?) lance. The Sand Snakes take after their father with poison and if Bronn is so stricken it mimics the final words of The Dornishman’s Wife.
“What does it matter for all men must die,
And I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife.”
Bronn’s potential poisoning mirrors Jorah’s greyscale curse, as well. It’s the slow death paradigm, but “all men must die,” meaning life itself is a slow death. I believe that observation is from the Small Council video as well.
Jaime is asked, “Who are you?” which is his personal and quintessential question. He has been trying to discover who he is ever since he lost his identity of being a sword because of his severed hand. How interesting that at one point Robert was going to make him Hand of the King (or so he once threatened Eddard). If the theorists are right about Jaime being Aerys’s son then he doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. This ties him to Jon Snow insofar as they both believe a particular man is their father, but this belief is false.
I’m starting to wonder if Myrcella could be the “younger, more beautiful queen” that Cersei so fears. Wouldn’t that be another ironic treat? The daughter that she’s pining over and trying to recall is the queen mother’s downfall. How many potential queens do we have now?
Four queens. They could represent the seasons; they could represent the suits. Sansa is most definitely winter’s queen, which is an eerie comparison to the Night’s King’s corpse bride *shivers* but the Lady of Winterfell is fire kissed by her Tully blood, so let’s have that as our saving grace. Then Dany would have to be summer, but again we have a dichotomy as her hair and skin mimic ice so we’re back to the Other queen. Margaery would have to be autumn perhaps for her coloring or perhaps for the thought that I don’t think she will last. Per the prophecy Tommen is going to die soon 😦 and Marge’s power/position derives from him. That leaves Myrcella for the spring and if she is the one to dispose her mother that makes perfect sense as spring is the time of new beginnings and brighter dreams. Who would be her king though? I’m not really seeing the Trystane/Myrcella tryst going anywhere, and in the rest of Westeros outside of Dorne the queen’s power derives from the king and not the other way around unless the Dornish plot comes to fruition and non-gender biased primogeniture is put into affect.
Alright Dorne is done and wasn’t too terrible (to talk about). Now we have to move onto the part that I abhorred. I thought about softening the blow with the name, but no. I’m calling it what it is.
The Rape of Sansa
As mentioned several times above, I have an extensive article about this entitled Game of Thrones and the Rhetoric of Rape. I’m going to just touch on the points surrounding the incident.
Sansa is not an idiot. She knows Myranda is in love with Ramsay and calls her out on it while the kennel girl is washing her hair, the act of which, by the way, is very similar to what Arya is doing with the dead. This alone should’ve been a clue to terrible things to come. The wedding was the most somber affair ever. There was no music. There were no smiles (except perhaps from Ramsay). There was no joy. It did serve to show the difference between a southron wedding and a northern one, though I think they just skipped the feast to go to the horror of the bedding.
It must be noted that Sansa in her black dress with the feathery epaulets was safe.
But Sansa in her white, “pure,” “virginal” gown was not. It’s only purpose was to be peeled away like an overripe fruit. The Lady of Winterfell is associated with feathers and was even called “little bird” by the Hound. LaDonna in the Small Council video made a beautiful point in discussing the prefix San- meaning “firebird.” Let’s hope Sansa can rise from the ashes and burn everything to the fucking ground.
She is supposed to represent the Maiden. One by one it seems all of the paradigms of the Seven are being stripped away. We had the maiden in Sansa and Margaery, and I think they’re supposed to be paralleled in their bedding. Marge is delighted in it as is Tommen. It’s full of mutual enjoyment, and the king even asks his new bride if he hurt her. Sansa doesn’t get even an iota of such courtesy.
The Warrior could’ve been the Hound and/or Jaime. One of them is “dead,” and the other is maimed. We may see an abominable mutation of this paradigm in Ser Robert Strong as the perfect warrior, one that was created to do nothing else. Don’t even get me started on the Mother. They are all either missing, dead, dark, or an unholy combination of all three. The only Crone left is Olenna as the old woman in Winterfell was flayed, and Olenna’s powers seem greatly lacking in King’s Landing.
The Father, too, is missing. There was a major discussion about that with Tyrion and Jorah. Both of their fathers were killed by “their own men.” Jorah’s by his brothers and Tywin by his son. They were both killed in treacherous ways as other fathers, Eddard and Aerys, were as well. (Can I please, please point out the irony of Jorah and Tyrion, two white men, being enslaved by black pirates? Pretty please!) Also let’s not forget that Tyrion (in a way that Cersei blames him for) killed his mother…just like Daenerys is blamed for the same by her (dead) brother.
The Smith, Gendry, has been sent away so they have no way to gird themselves for war when the White Walkers come. In the books as well Donal Noye, the blacksmith on the Wall is killed in the wildling attack. The only one we have left is the Stranger, who is arguably another face of the god of death. The unknown the unknowable, the other…
And yet ironically despite all of these idols being broken, the Faith Militant has all of the power, but whence does this power derive? As Varys says, “Power resides where men believe it does.” They only have power because no one will take it from them, because Tommen doesn’t want to incite conflict, because Cersei has lost her allies, because she sent them all away.
I didn’t do a section on Tyrion and Jorah alone because there isn’t too much I want to say. I did like Tyrion’s challenge of Jorah’s belief that Daenerys was fit to rule based on her walking through fire and birthing dragons from stone…which is totally what Mel is trying to do, just thought about that. Tyrion’s skepticism is completely warranted. This is another display of faith versus reason. Jorah could be considered Daenerys’s most devout worshiper despite the fact she wants no part of him. Tyrion is a man of facts, and there is a critique to be made on accepting rulers because of a miracle they performed instead of the merits of their ability to lead. Dany has never even seen Westeros. What gives her the right to rule there? Her blood? Aerys had the blood of the dragon, but he was no fit ruler after his madness did descend. His son Viserys, too, was not a worthy king. The only definite issue of the Targaryen line that was worthy to sit the throne was Rhaegar, and Robert (supposedly) killed him on the Trident (fucking Robert…) From the Barartheon king Joffrey was the next in line, and we all know what he was. The commentary is neither blood nor miracles does a fine ruler make, and Tyrion is calling that out.
The Imp is not only good at branding bullshit, but also phenomenal at not being gelded. I’m not the first to bring up the hilarity of a “cock merchant.” I mean..they have those? Huh. Cock merchant. Littlefinger. “Ram” say. Ughhhhh terrible puns are terrible.
Alright that’s it. Once I’ve descended into terrible puns about tragic scenes, it’s time to end the blog post. I will try to stick with this schedule and post my review on episode 7 next week. I may be behind, but I won’t be unheard. Until then ave atque vale.