I love how Twitter/the internet practically explodes at the end of every Game of Thrones episode. The main thing is that the show enjoys the controversy by putting you on the edge of your seats. Season 5 Episode 6 is no exception to that rule.
Most people are sympathizing with Sansa Stark, a character who had been the recipient of a great deal of vitriol since the beginning. Although she mostly has been played as a stupid little girl (okay, tall lady) growing up taking lessons in a politically toxic environment, Sansa, in this episode, suddenly has become an extremely pitied character, especially by many females due to what people might call a rape scene.
The book’s version is a lot different as her best friend Jeyne Poole plays fake Arya and is married to Ramsay Bolton. More than that, her entry into womanhood is probably more vile as Ramsay orders Reek/Theon Greyjoy to partake in the event, whereas the TV show only forces him to become a spectator. We do not see the actual rape occurrence but only hear the implications through her screams and Reek’s mandated voyeurism. Yet psychologically that aspect is more horrifying as the actual details are left up the imagination of the viewer (which tends to be a far more powerful story telling device).
That being the typical shocking end to the end of the episode, we also see a great deal of setup for the remainder of the season. First, we have Arya Stark evolving into what we presume will be her career as an assassin. We see how she is learning to lie in playing “the game” and will compliment that aspect with the masks provided in the lower dungeons of the House of Black and White.
Then we have the story of Jamie Lannister, Bronn and Dorne where Jamie and the Sand Snakes are attempting to rendezvous with Myrcella as she is one of the most important game pieces around. Finally, we get to see some action from the Sand Snakes while Ellaria Sand’s own storyline begins to take shape. Absent is the core viewpoint character of Arianne Martell, whose role seems to be fulfilled through Ellaria’s presence. Also, another notably absent viewpoint character is Quentyn and some are speculating that he might be substituted through Trystane. At any rate, the plans of the Snakes and Jamie are thwarted with both sides, including Ellaria being taken hostage. Since Jamie has an entirely different role in the books, it’s difficult to guess where his storyline will travel at this point.
Also, we see the return of Tyrion and Jorah with Jorah contemplating his illness. The main point of their storyline moves them as prisoners of slavers. Tyrion manages to convince them of Jorah’s fighting prowess, which seemingly will circumvent the entire introduction to the Golden Company storyline and move Tyrion straight into the presence of Dany.
Next, we see Littlefinger returning to King’s Landing and speaking with Cersei amidst the new chaos created through her empowerment of the Sparrows. Littlefinger deftly avoids confrontation and pledges his service to Cersei using the men of the Vale to eliminate the remaining army of the upcoming battle between the Boltons and Stannis.
Cersei’s plot of taking charge over King’s Landing continues where she makes her move to eliminate House Tyrell, mostly through implicating Margery in her lies during her testimony for her brother Loras. Obviously, the true seat of power in the Tyrells through Olenna is not thrilled nor is she castigated during the trial.
At this moment, I don’t want to discuss the preview for next week’s episode. However, I do want to look at the bigger picture using the possible seeds that have been planted in this episode.
First, the most obvious thing is that Cersei will gradually be caught in her own lies. This pretty much is a given as the books already have her pinned. However, the question becomes which lie will be her downfall. At this juncture, it’s highly doubtful that she will reveal her incestuous relationship with her brother. However, if they continue going along with the book’s narrative, we still will see her fall from grace (my guess is that this will occur either in episode 8 or 10). If anything Margery’s sly, subtle smile in the previews (okay I’ll give you this one), does indicate that she’s not out of the game just yet.
Next, with regards to the Tyrion – Jorah storyline, I do feel that we’ll see Jorah become severely shattered. Already, the grayscale aspect will impact him as a character. In the novel, he is given a tattoo on his already ordinary and less-than-handsome face. That combined with the irony how he will end becoming a slave (just as he had done in the past) will break him.
However, one thing I’ve come to realize is that part of the ongoing theme is that you can only fix what is broken. I feel that characters must be broken in order to see redemption and that seems to be what we’re seeing here with characters like Jorah, Sansa, Reek, Margery, Loras and Lancell. Characters might have some small flaws or hidden desires at the beginning that become exacerbated nightmares such as Sansa’s early idealisms that now are becoming distorted horrors. Part of what the creators of the show and novel seem to be asking is what happens to completely shattered people? Perhaps only through the complete destruction of the self, can one move on and play the game for what it is.
And I think that’s how and why Littlefinger is able to play the game so well. He is so broken as a person that he doesn’t care and only goes for the biggest, riskiest bets. We now see part of his plan to become the Warden of the North, something that isn’t too shocking given his ambitions for power. He practically owns the north just through his plays, except he does receive recognition at this point. One has to ask will he stop there?
My answer is no.
Littlefinger’s thesis and ultimate character motivation has always been blatant. His monolog early on about wanting to “fuck them” in how he plays is the pinnacle of his desires. I believe he wants to spit on everything from society, to titles, to structure, to life and to the Gods. He doesn’t trust anyone and makes all his moves independently.
With regards to Sansa Stark, Littlefinger, in my view, simply wants to “break her in” and that he’s completely aware of Ramsay Snow’s psychotic demeanor. In fact, that’s the reason why he suggested marrying her to Ramsay in the first place. Even though at the end of Season 4, we had a brief glimpse in what seemed like a darker, more manipulative version of Sansa, the truth is that she has made virtually no moves this season thus far. Part of that in my view is that she still clings onto her past life, hoping that somehow she will be able to escape her nightmare through an external mechanism.
But with her virginity being stolen in tonight’s episode, Sansa’s last element of true innocence to what made her the “stupid little girl” in previous seasons now has been eliminated. Sansa Stark is now wholly broken in body, spirit and mind. And like others in this show, once someone is completely broken, they are left to whim and remove all hesitation in taking risks for entering the game. Littlefinger needs Sansa to become a major player and realizes that she has to be born anew, just like Arya, Jon and others.
Similarly, Sansa needs to start using the lessons learned in King’s Landing from Cersei. Littlefinger has made it clear that the Boltons, while extremely dangerous, are not at the same level of the political mind field that existed in King’s Landing. Miranda, for instance, seems to fancy herself a player but she’s still too simple and a mere pawn as she cannot cope with her emotional distress. I foresee Sansa easily taking advantage of either Miranda or Ramsay in creating an escape for herself and possibly Theon/Reek.
Another really critical topic I want to bring up is the dialogue between Tyrion and Jorah where Tyrion proposes the hypothetical scenario of Dany’s triumph and Jorah aiding her cause. Most people in the world of Game of Thrones are too bound by honor and allegiance to recognize that they are simply small pieces on a very large board. Tyrion is one of those people who can see the ultimate picture around them and points out the pointlessness of Jorah’s endeavors.
And Jorah is fighting someone’s else’s fight just like most people in this series. Most people in the world do not have their own causes and enslave themselves to their family’s, lord’s, god’s, etc. Take Dany as an example. Why does she want the Iron Throne? In the book, her true desire is to be back inside the comfort of a house with a red door and lemon tree outside. The only real reason she has set her sights upon Westeros is because her brother beat the idea into her. And in turn that idea was ingrained into him through Illaryio (sp?)
You can even contrast this scenario to the reason why the Free Folk/Wildlings have stayed beyond the Wall. People like Mance Rayder understood that the fight of the Kingdom’s are not their’s and that involving themselves in such matters would only harbor doom. Characters like Tommen, Sansa, Ramsay Snow, etc. are mere tools for their parents and everyone has become utterly blind to the world around them.
In turn, the world that exist revolve around petty squabbles. King Robert Baratheon even pointed that out at the very beginning of the series. However, idiots like Cersei chose not to heed him nor see the bigger picture. The bigger picture really is the threat of the White Walkers and it seems the only person that can see is Jon Snow.
But again, that’s where the chaos that has been created by Littlefinger I believe has been done on purpose. I did propose that Littlefinger is quite aware of all these events. Certainly, he has enough spies and money (not necessarily his own) to be able to hear everything that goes around the realm. Similarly, I do think he is working alongside the White Walkers. If not with them, then he certainly is about to help feed their army. The only other group I can think of him aligning with are the Maesters and the Citadel. At any rate, his goal is to fuck the realm as hard as he can and destroy everything in it.
The big question, if this, indeed, is his course of action is why? Why would a person destroy everything when he has been able to achieve power in his own right? Why not be content with the level of success that he has been able to enjoy?
I think Littlefinger represents the common man at the very core. He starts his life out with nothing but somehow manages to receive the cruelty of knowing unattainable love through Catelyn Stark. The way the world works prevents someone of his means to ever attain something that he truly treasured in his heart. And on top of that, the world mocks him, which is why he uses the Mockingbird as his own sigil as a big ironic middle finger being shoved into the anuses’ of the world.
I am certain that at some point early in his life he prayed to the Gods to give him the strength, the answers and the ability to get what he loves. Instead, he received a scar as a reminder of who and what he is. Since that moment, he had a single minded purpose of getting redemption against the world and tearing the whole thing down.
We see part of that belief come out in his speech with Sansa Stark in how he describes the world as having no justice except that which we make of it. Littlefinger does not equate justice with honor as honor has been shown to have real pragmatic value in the Game of Thrones. Instead, justice is profitable as one can manipulate others’ feelings into shredding each other apart and indirectly filling the coffers of another.
I think that Littlefinger wants to eliminate the world and carve himself out a small spot where he can live out the rest of his days in peace. He knows that gaining power is futile as it converts people into monsters as seen through most characters in the series. So he wants freedom and control so he no longer is forced to bow to this lord and that. Only through the utter destruction of the kingdoms will he be able to obtain that ideal. The big question is if his gamble will eventually pay off?