‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 6 Roundtable Review: ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’

Each week, Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,’ but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:

Tywin Lannister In Memoriam Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Littlefinger

Honorable Mention: The High Sparrow

Eddard Stark In Memoriam Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Tommen of the House Baratheon, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm

Honorable Mention: All of the Tyrells

Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Arya and her assortment of dead bodies

Honorable Mention: Arya and her dull rivalry with Creepy Girl

Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: Bronn and Jaime vs. Oberyn’s kiddies

Honorable Mention: Sansa and Myranda’s bathroom catfight

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DS: Wow. That heavy, fast-paced episode did not contain one weak scene, and its theme is all too clear: a loss of control. Suddenly, longtime characters in Thrones have become as helpless as the viewers who watch them. Jaime and Bronn are in prison, Jorah and Tyrion are in prison, and Loras and Margaery are — hmmm — in prison. Disregarding physical chains, the real loss of control demonstrated in this episode goes much deeper. Olenna — the Tyrells’ knight in shining armor and someone whom I consider to be a real player — has failed to help her family, Tommen has proven yet again that a crown does not give you power (as Tywin once so eloquently stated… RIP), and Sansa has remained a mess. To her credit, she does have a war chest of snooty one liners (watch out, Myranda), but not much else. Think of the contrast between her and Arya. One wants to be an assassin, the other wants to be a player in a political game that has so often played her. While Arya has come a long way, having killed others to protect herself, Sansa has remained a pawn. Sure, she is less naive, but the only time she ‘played the game’ was to save Littlefinger. I’m afraid Littlefinger played her then and is playing her now. Fortunately, the show has seemingly set Sansa up to help Stannis in the war to come by undermining the Boltons from within. I’m hopeful.

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AS: Stop being so mean to Sansa — she just had to go through the worst wedding of all time. She got walked down the aisle by a man she believes to have murdered her two younger brothers (note: he didn’t actually kill them, only pretended to), and was received by Roose Bolton, the orchestrator of the Red Wedding. It’s a shame that Joffrey is dead because he would have fit right in. Sansa is officially zero for three when it comes to spouses — Joffrey, Tyrion and Ramsay — but it seems that she saved the worst for last. Sansa’s predicament is especially heart wrenching because the writers show what Sansa could be experiencing with her array of arranged marriages. Myrcella Lannister and her future husband, Trystane Martell, seem to truly be in love. He cares about her, and we can tell that the love is mutual by the way she kneels at his side after Bronn strikes him to the ground. But sadly, if Game of Thrones could be described in one phrase, it would probably be “The Tragedy of the Starks,” so Sansa does not get to have a loving husband, but rather one that rapes her on their wedding night. That was one of the saddest endings to a Thrones episode (obviously not as sad as the Red Wedding though), and we as viewers can only hope that Sansa will light a candle in the highest tower at the first chance she gets so that Brienne can come to her rescue.

DS: Brienne was right — Sansa was in danger, and now she knows it. Right before Sansa’s dreadful last scene, we had the chance to see Littlefinger climb the ladder once again. What the hell is he up to? If there were one character whom I would argue is in control, that character would be Littlefinger (though I loved watching the staredown between him and Lancel). Perhaps I feel that way because Littlefinger is the character that we understand least. Before this episode began, I wondered how he would avoid Cersei finding out he brought Sansa to Winterfell. The answer: tell Cersei that Sansa is in Winterfell. Now he has the chance to take the North and unite the Vale and Winterfell, which might spell a fourth husband for Sansa. As Varys warned Olenna back in season three: Littlefinger is one of the most dangerous men in Westeros.

AS: Olenna, Queen of Thorns, made her season debut this episode, returning to King’s Landing to come to the aide of her grandchildren. Olenna’s opening remark was a perfect summary of what was in store for her: “You can smell the shit from five miles away. But why have we stopped, go on!” Shit was exactly what Olenna had waiting for her — religious fanaticism, show trials, and not one, but two Tyrells taken away in chains. But she knew that her time in King’s Landing was not going to be pleasant, which is why she told her carriage to “go on.” The last time Olenna was involved in “the game,” her turn ended with a Lannister dead at his own wedding. The most dangerous enemy is the one you don’t see coming, and while Cersei is well prepared to put Roose Bolton, Sansa and Tyrion’s heads on spikes, she does not realize that her most dangerous adversary is the one that was sitting right across the table from her.

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DS: You’re giving Olenna too much credit. I agree that Cersei has failed to recognize her own worst enemy, but that enemy is not Olenna. It is herself. The Cersei we have seen this season bares little resemblance to the Cersei of season one. She used to loathe Robert for his drunkenness, but now she is the drunk. And her mind is too fogged to recognize that her perilous arrangement with religious fanatics might be exactly what leads to her seemingly inevitable downfall. Loras is gay and Margaery lied to protect her brother, but Cersei is guilty of far more monstrous crimes. Remember the conversation between Tywin and Olenna in season three? Tywin criticized Loras for his homosexuality, and Olenna countered with Lannister incest. What is stopping Olenna from doing the same now? I previously described the many characters who lost control this episode, but I did not mention Cersei, because for now it appears that she is still in control. But with one Queen taken away in chains this episode, it does not seem farfetched to assume that the Queen Mother might be next. She has turned Tommen — her shield — into a powerless figurehead who cannot stop the High Sparrow. And the High Sparrow is bound to come for Cersei, which leads me to wonder: will anyone be left to defend her?

AS: Random thoughts to close the review —

  • How did Arya get so boring? Answer: she is with boring people. I miss the good old days when she was trading barbs with Tywin and traveling the countryside with the Hound. She can’t get away from Creepy Girl and those dead bodies quickly enough. Why can’t she just be an assassin already?
  • Tyrion can’t catch a break these days. First the unlucky bathroom run-in with Jorah, and now the friendly rendezvous with a travelling band of pirates. Pirates! I guess a man that kills his own father in cold blood was bound to have it all catch up to him.
  • I miss Varys.
  • I wish Prince Doran’s gigantic Ax-Man had used his monstrous ax to chop off Ellaria’s head. She is so annoying. The whole “avenge Oberyn” act has already gotten old.
  • Speaking of which, was that not the worst planned kidnapping EVER? How was that ever going to work? I’m talking to both Ellaria and Jaime/Bronn right now. Were they planning to just casually walk out with Myrcella? Prince Doran’s throne literally overlooks the water gardens — there probably isn’t a better protected place in all of Dorne.
  • At least no one died at Sansa and Ramsay’s wedding! That is the one bright side…right?
  • Let’s talk about that moment when Myrcella calls the Kingslayer “Uncle Jaime” and everyone watching at home sniggers knowingly. Seriously, Myrcella’s not knowing that Jaime is her father is almost as dumbfounding as when Tommen asked Margaery last episode in genuine shock, “Aren’t you and mother getting along?” I got to say, Myrcella and Tommen seem like great kids, but they are either really oblivious, or just really stupid. But hey, at least they aren’t Joffrey.

M.I.A. this episode: Jon, Samwell, Gilly (thank the Old Gods and the New), Stannis, Daenerys, Varys & Brienne.

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