Disturbing doesn't even being to describe it.
Game of Thrones had to really push to top how upsetting the Red Wedding was, but Sunday's episode, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," presented the most horrifying scene to date: the rape of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) on her wedding night.
From the beginning, the marriage between Sansa, the rightful heir to Winterfell, and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) was always meant to be political, and therefore we never had any romantic notions about it. In fact, based upon the Red and Purple Weddings before it, many of us expected (and in hindsight would have welcomed) a far bloodier outcome. But by the end of this episode, nobody died, except for perhaps that child inside of us.
Instead, after the outdoor wedding ceremony, Sansa and Ramsay retired to their chambers where the groom decided to brutally take his new bride's virginity. To increase her humiliation and take the entire scene to an entirely twisted, appalling level, he forced his servant Reek/Theon (Alfie Allen) -- who had grown up with Sansa when he was a ward of Winterfell -- to witness the entire process.
Why, on a show full of murder, torture and other rape, is this scene that much more disturbing... and disappointing? Here are some thoughts on the matter:
We feel protective of Sansa On the show, Sansa is supposedly old enough to be wed several times over, but we can't help remember her as the wide-eyed child who thought Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) was her sweet, golden-haired prince. Yes, we've seen her mature and survive, but no matter how it's presented, this is the rape of someone we've grown to care for. It's personal, and therefore, even more traumatizing.
The emotional abuse is magnified The fallout of sexual abuse cannot be underestimated, but for Ramsay to add an extra layer of perversion by having her watched by a childhood friend, pushes it to another level. We shouldn't have been surprised after seeing the prolonged tortures he put Theon through, but it's still more than anyone should ever have to bear.
This is a setback for Sansa The eldest Stark daughter has not just survived, but thrived. This season, it was her choice to marry Ramsay -- the son of Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) who betrayed her mother and brother at the Red Wedding -- in order to avenge her family. Has she endured so long just to experience pain at the hand of her enemies? How will she go forward after experiencing such abuse?
We are positioned as voyeurs This, really, is one of the most unsavory parts of the whole affair. But the way this is shot is one saving grace. Just as Ramsay forces Sansa to submit, the camera pulls away to only show Theon's face and his reactions, and it is a mirror of all of our suffering -- he cries, he's anguished, he cannot help someone he cares for from being hurt.
This is not the end of Sansa This is only the sixth episode of 10 this season, and therefore, we hold out hope that Sansa will be able to call on the strength that she's built up all of these years to fight back somehow. Theon and Sansa have perhaps suffered the most on the show in terms of physical and psychological pain, and yet have proven to be resilient -- if a bit twisted, but hey, that's Westeros.
What did you think about Sansa's treatment? Will you continue to watch the show?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.