Spoilers are coming.
While the regular GoT fan is no stranger to misery, gore, and all sorts of social and physical filth, last week’s episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” – the words of House Martell – managed not only to surprise and disgust, but also to disappoint us. More than halfway into season 5, this past episode received the lowest ratings yet.
— Watchers on the Wall (@WatchersOTWall) May 18, 2015
Most of the shocked reactions and gritty feelings from Sunday’s episode revolve around the final scene in which Ramsay Bolton consummates his marriage to Sansa Stark by raping her, all the while forcing Theon “Reek” Greyjoy to watch.
Reek actor Alfie Allen had warned us a while back that, much like winter, a disturbing scene was coming:
“There’s something that happens about halfway through this season that is really going to make huge waves, and people aren’t going to be happy about it. It’s hard to watch. I bear witness to this thing, and it’s crazy, sort of having to portray how messed up everyone’s situation is through my own reactions to what happens. Get ready for it … It can be tough to watch for some people, without a doubt.”
Naturally, countless viewers were upset by this scene for myriad reasons. Dedicated readers of George R. R. Martin’s books (like myself) were probably upset to see this actually happen to Sansa instead of Jeyne Pool (who you could argue suffers a worse fate). Fans who weren’t expecting to have to witness something so terrible were forced to watch the rape and go to bed that night with a foul taste in their mouths. Decent people everywhere sat through as a horrible human reality was broadcast before us, violently projected upon a young girl who has endured only hardship.
Worst of all, we were not bystanders to this scene: much like Theon, we were forced to watch, and I would even argue that we were forced to participate in the rape itself. But were we Sansa or Ramsay, victim or assailant? One thing is for sure, it was an unpleasant, even infuriating experience for all involved.
All of us, that is, except Sophie Turner, the 19-year-old actress who has played Sansa since the show’s inception. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Turner admitted:
“When I got the scripts, it was bit like, dude, I felt so bad for her. But I also felt excited because it was so sick, and being reunited with Theon too, and seeing how their relationship plays out. [….] When I read that scene, I kinda loved it. I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching. It was all so messed up. It’s also so daunting for me to do it. I’ve been making [producer Bryan Cogman] feel so bad for writing that scene: ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!’ But I secretly loved it.
At least one person was happy about the rape scene!
Yet while the decision to include the sexual assault may have been upsetting for viewers and fans, it makes sense from the actress’ point of view that the scene is a reason for her character to grow stronger. Many Game of Thrones enthusiasts hate Sansa Stark because they view her as shallow and weak, a description that may have been fitting in the first few seasons. Sophie Turner plays Sansa with a subtle brilliance, however, and is clearly waiting for the right moment to take all the anger from her royal imprisonment in the Red Keep, her abuse at the hands of Cersei and Joffrey’s men, and now the assault from Ramsay and turn it into something greater. The she-wolf is home now, and she even showed off some of her acquired King’s Landing sass after being threatened by Myranda during her bath.
What I love most about Sansa’s story is that it’s the complete opposite of a fairy tale. Since birth, she was raised to be the poised daughter of a lord with the promise of a happy and luxurious life ahead of her, including the near reality of becoming Queen of Westeros. As the dream turns into a nightmare time and time again, we can all agree that George R. R. Martin and especially Benioff, Weiss, and Cogman are going out of their way to break Sansa both mentally and physically. This only gives me more hope, however, that she will turn into a strong and powerful female character moving into the future.
Then again, this is Game of Thrones, and we know that such happy endings rarely come to fruition.
See what else Sophie Turner had to say about THAT Sansa scene on last week’s “Game of Thrones”!