Game of Thrones has always been up front about the type of show it is – happy endings are nowhere to be found. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” the sixth episode of Season 5, continues this mantra right up to the very end, leaving me with such a feeling of revulsion that I needed some time to cool down before tuning into the Mad Men series finale. (Takes a gulp of Coke…)
The episode’s title is derived from the words of House Martell and are representative of the Martells refusal to bend the knee when the Targaryens conquered Westeros atop their dragons many years ago. However, in this episode, it seems no one was able to live up to these words.
Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to struggle with shedding her identity. In order to fully become No One, Arya must learn to lie convincingly, but her inability to do so leaves her bloody. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) wander blindly into a menacing gang of pirates — led by Lost’s Mr. Eko, Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje! Thankfully, and due to a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Tyrion, the pirates are going to fast-track the duo's trip to Meereen in hopes of cashing in on Jorah by forcing him to enter the newly-reopened fighting pits.
Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) returns for a bout with Cersei (Lena Headey), armed with all the wit and sarcasm we’ve missed, but it was Cersei who had the last laugh, as Olenna watched both Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Loras (Finn Jones) get dragged off by the Faith Militant after a farce of an inquest.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) waltz into Dorne’s Water Gardens and right up to Princess Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) in an attempt to bring her back to King’s Landing. But the Sand Snakes, who clearly inherited their father’s love for a good monologue, arrive at the same time, looking to kill Myrcella as payback for Oberyn’s death. A sluggish battle ensues, briefly, before Areo Hotah (DeObia Oparei) shows up and ends it, but not before Bronn is slashed by one of the Sand Snake’s blades. We all know how much Oberyn loved to poison his weapons, so I’m afraid that Bronn may have just been dealt his final blow. Hopefully he can fit in a few more insults before his time ends.
In the second episode of Game of Thrones, Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) direwolf, Lady, is killed. Since then, it’s been one slow, torturous trip to hell for her, and her circle of allies has all but shriveled up. Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) wastes no time in reneging on his promise to Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) to not hurt Sansa, as he not only rapes her on their wedding night, but also forces Reek (Alfie Allen) to watch. This is hardly the first time that we’ve seen Sansa violated, but this is the first time where I have faith that she’ll get stronger. Sansa may have been forced to bow, and forced to bend, but she’ll no longer remain broken. Stay resilient, Sansa. The North remembers.
Riser of the Week: Petyr Baelish
It was slim pickings this week, as everyone else seems to be trending downwards, but Littlefinger more than made up for that with his masterful scheming with Cersei. Currently, Littlefinger controls possibly the strongest, certainly the most rested, army in Westeros. Due to his close proximity to Wintefell, his support would surely swing the upcoming battle to whichever side he decides to back. And he knows this. What he doesn’t know is who will win the battle. But after his newest deal with Cersei, it doesn’t matter, because even when you win a battle, you still lose. You lose supplies. You lose money. And most importantly, you lose men. Varys (Conleth Hill) hit the nail on the head a few seasons ago when he said that Littlefinger would gladly burn the realm to the ground if it meant being king of the ashes. When the dust settles at Winterfell, one side will have won, but it shouldn’t be long until Littlefinger, with the army of the Vale behind him, is able to take the castle. And after the deal he just made with Cersei, he himself will be the Warden of the North, and he won’t need to rely on someone else’s last name in order to rule. Baelish will be just fine. Ashes be damned.
Honorable Mention: Cersei, who suddenly finds herself as the lone queen once again.
Faller of the Week: Margaery Tyrell
Margaery pulled a reverse Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry) this week – from royal ruler to sudden prisoner, and as a result, is this week’s Faller of the Week. Margaery committs blatant perjury in attempting to keep Loras out of prison, and the tables are quickly turned on her. The Tyrells have carefully plotted their way to the top, but it looks like all of that could be undone with a simple lie and a turncloak named Olyvar (Will Tudor), whose only visits to Dorne were of the birthmark-shaped variety. Margaery has been a solid player in the game of thrones, but it’s going to be difficult to smirk her way out of this one.
Honorable Mention: Tommen. Say what you will about Joffrey, but he’d have never let his queen get taken away by the Faith Militant.
Backstory of the Week: The Dornishman’s Wife
This episode was pretty straightforward, and rather than discuss The House of Black and White again, I’ve decided to help Bronn out and give you the end to his favorite song, “The Dornishman’s Wife”:
The Dornishman's wife was as fair as the sun,
and her kisses were warmer than spring.
But the Dornishman's blade was made of black steel,
and its kiss was a terrible thing.
The Dornishman's wife would sing as she bathed,
in a voice that was sweet as a peach,
But the Dornishman's blade had a song of its own,
and a bite sharp and cold as a leech.
As he lay on the ground with the darkness around,
and the taste of his blood on his tongue,
His brothers knelt by him and prayed him a prayer,
and he smiled and he laughed and he sung,
“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done,
the Dornishman's taken my life,
But what does it matter, for all men must die,
and I've tasted the Dornishman's wife!”
Songs, in general, pop up throughout the books, and I always grin goofily when they make their way to the show. Except when it’s “Rains of Castamere.” Screw that song.
Item of the Week: Tyrion’s Little Lion
“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.” Talk about a line that wouldn’t work on any other television show. That, paired with Tyrion’s convincing tale of Jorah’s fighting prowess, proves that there’s still plenty of ingenuity left in him. Hopefully this merchant proves elusive, and if I were Tyrion, if I saw Grey Worm and a bunch of Unsullied lining up outside a shop, I’d turn the other way.
- Alfie Allen is a fantastic actor, and he’s done a masterful job these past few seasons with the transformation into Reek. Watching him as he was forced to watch Sansa’s rape was beyond unsettling, and I’m hoping this is the final straw. Reek can never be fully redeemed for his crimes, but helping Sansa would be a good place to start.
- I love the idea of Arya donning a new face and exploring Braavos, but I’m a bit upset that it will rob us of more Maisie Williams screen time – something that’s already been scarce this season.
- I’m still waiting for the Dorne storyline to pay off. Right now, all I’m thinking of are the awesome chapters where Jaime travels the Riverlands, discovers he has the head not just for fighting, but also for ruling, and encounters both Edmure Tully and the Blackfish. Instead, we’re being force-fed the clichéd Sand Snakes who look like they jumped right off the screen of a 1980s B-Movie. We get it, you’re Oberyn’s daughter and he taught you how to wield the spear. Can we move on?
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
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