[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from the Game of Thrones episode "Kill the Boy." Read at your own risk!]
If you think Jon Snow is the worst dinner conversationalist ever, you haven't heard the Boltons' version of small talk.
On Sunday night's Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) sat down to break bread in her ancestral home of Winterfell with her future husband Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and father-in-law Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), who had betrayed her mother and older brother at the Red Wedding. As if this weren't enough to spoil one's appetite, Sansa also had to deal with another unwelcome presence: Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the former ward of the Starks who overthrew and sacked Winterfell and — as she erroneously believes — killed her two younger brothers.
"It was fun shooting the scene because there are so many different motivations in the room at a time," Allen tells TVGuide.com. "It was was interspliced with bouts of spontaneous laughter that day to deal with the intense emotions."
While it's clear that Sansa may have mixed emotions — she wants to avenge her family but must first endure this political marriage — Theon's state of mind is far more complex. As a young lord, he was an insufferable, womanizing prat who then betrayed the Starks while trying to impress his estranged father. But after Ramsay flayed, tortured and emasculated Theon, his subservient alter ego Reek was born.
It was therefore Reek, suffering from the twisted effects of Stockholm Syndrome, who served the food at this fateful dinner with Sansa and the Boltons. In one of the many excruciatingly awkward moments of the evening, Reek was ordered to look her in the eyes and apologize for allegedly murdering her little brothers. "I would say that he doesn't mean it," Alfie says. "It's just sort of his mind of being Reek. So, the apology is a way of keeping himself safe at that point in time."
That doesn't mean that Theon has disappeared completely. "In the first scene of him in Winterfell... he definitely has that moment of looking at the two bodies that have been flayed and strung up," Allen says. "The memories are all flooding back — of being there, the shame, the guilt of betraying the Starks and burning down Winterfell."
Before the dinner, when Sansa had initially run into Reek in the dog kennels where he sleeps, bits of Theon began to peek through his new, dog-loyal behavior. "I definitely wanted to have some mannerisms creep into Reek after spending so much time with the dogs," Allen explains. "In the kennels, he's almost wanting her to leave. He wants her safe. I think it's kind of a touching scene. There's a lot of Theon bubbling back to the surface without a doubt."
Imagine his dismay then, when the masterful sadist Ramsay announced at dinner that, as Sansa's closest kin, Reek will have a part in the wedding: giving away the bride. "It's a horrible prospect for Reek to try and do something like that, to be faced with that," Allen says. If you ask us, it's the emotional equivalent of wearing her dead brother's skin in a grotesque masquerade as a loving family member. The actor adds, "That's something they definitely share in common now: constant fear of being punished. Sansa hasn't seen the extent of what Ramsay is like yet, but I have, so I'm wanting to have that brotherly sort of connection with her again."
He may not have to worry that much about Sansa though. Although Ramsay had initially promised to "never hurt" her, his perverse nature can't help but emerge at dinner. After all, he was the one who brought up Sana and Theon's bloody history. As a Stark with revenge in her heart who has returned to her rightful home, however, Sansa more than matched every one of Ramsay's verbal jabs and continued the pretense that she's all-in for this marriage.
As Roose's recently legitimized bastard, Ramsay actually needs this marriage to solidify his place in the North as much as Sansa does. Also, there was one other bombshell at that eventful dinner: Roose and his new wife Walda (Elizabeth Webster) are expecting a child. And if this child turns out to be boy?
"Ramsay will possibly lose his lordship," Allen explains. "That's what I mean about there being so many different motivations going on in that room at that point in time. There's Roose needling and refereeing the whole thing and then Ramsay being poked and prodded by this news of the pregnancy. And then you've got Sansa poking and prodding him with that. And then you've got the wife Walda Frey there in the room being kind of funny, and then you've got me sort of shivering in the corner."
How delightfully distressing! We cannot wait for the wedding.
What did you think of the episode? Will Theon find it in him to help Sansa in her plot? Could Sansa outwit the Boltons?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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