The title of the 6th episode of Game of Thrones Season 5, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” refers to the motto of House Martell of Dorne. House Martell has never been conquered by outsiders. Dorne may have remained protected from conquest, but exploitation, subjugation, and vulnerability is something that most in the world of Game of Thrones must live with.
[For the recap, continue reading—but if you want to go straight to the review analysis of this episode, click here.]
In the House of Black and White, Arya remains impatient to learn what’s done with the bodies of the dead after they’re washed. She asks the other serving girl when she will get to play the game, “The game. The game of faces.” When the serving girl asks Arya who she is, she responds, “No one.” Arya asks the serving girl what it was that brought her to The House of Black and White. The serving girl tells Arya that she’s a daughter of a Westeros lord who had her stepmother assassinated after the woman tried to poison her. When she is done with the tale, she asks Arya, “Was that true or a lie? … Did you believe every word I said?” leaving Arya uncertain how to respond.
Jaqen H’ghar comes to Arya’s room and asks her, “Who are you?” As Arya recounts her history of family, loss, escape, capture, and flight, Jaqen H’ghar hits her with a switch each time she tells a lie. The lies she tells include: her father died in battle; she stabbed a stable boy through his back; the man who kidnapped her was called Polliver; and that she hated Sandor Clegane. When Jaqen H’ghar hits her for the claim that she hates the Hound, she yells, “I hated him. That’s not a lie,” resulting in more hits with the switch. “The girl lies, to me, to the many-faced god, to herself. Does she truly want to be no one?” When Arya says she does, he hits her once more.
Later, as she scrubs the floor, Arya watches a man bring his very ill daughter into The House of Black and White. The man appeals to Arya for help. Arya tells the girl a tale about her own father taking her to The House of Black and White to be healed, in order to ease the young girl’s transition into death as she drinks from the pool. As Arya prepares the girl’s body Jaqen H’ghar arrives and she follows him through the door that she had previously been barred from. He leads her down to the third level, where the faces of the dead line the great columns of a vast room. Arya stares at the faces as Jaqen H’ghar says:
“Is the girl ready? To give up her ears, her nose, her tongue? Her hopes and dreams, her loves and hates, all that make a girl who she is, forever? No, a girl is not ready to become no one. But she’s ready to become someone else.”
Tyrion and Jorah have still not found a village, but wherever they are in Essos it’s breathtakingly beautiful. It’s a good distraction from the greyscale Jorah has developed since their fight with the stonemen in the last episode, “Kill the Boy.” As they rest on the shore, Tyrion tells Jorah that he escaped Westeros after murdering his own father, Tywin Lannister. When Tyrion explains that his father was going to execute him for a crime he didn’t commit and was sleeping with a woman Tyrion loved, Jorah appears to be slightly moved by his admission. Tyrion tells Jorah that he met Jorah’s father, Jeor Mormont, at the Wall, and that Jeor was a good man and a good Lord Commander. Jorah learns that his father is dead when Tyrion says, “We shall never see his like again.”
As they continue on their journey, Tyrion asks Jorah, “Why Daenerys? Why is she worth all this?” Jorah shares the story of Daenerys’ rebirth as the Mother of Dragons, admitting that up until then he had been a cynic like Tyrion, never believing in anything. Tyrion questions why Daenerys should rule Westeros, a land she hasn’t set foot in since she was a child. Their discussion is interrupted whey they are captured by slavers.
Tyrion manages to convince the slavers to spare his life, at least temporarily. When Jorah points out that Queen Daenerys has outlawed slavery, the slaver tells him they are bound for Volantis, not Slaver’s Bay, adding, “Besides, she reopened the fighting pits. I’ve never heard of freemen fighting in the pits.” Tyrion tells the slavers that Jorah is a great fighter: “He is a veteran of a hundred battles. They wrote songs about him.” They aren’t persuaded until Jorah tells them that he killed a Dothraki bloodrider in single combat. Jorah has caught on to Tyrion’s plan to get the slavers to take them to Meereen, adding: “Take me to Slaver’s Bay, put a sword in my hand; I’ll prove my worth.”
Petyr Baelish arrives in King’s Landing and is greeted by Lancel Lannister and the Faith Militant. Petyr tells Lancel that the Queen Mother awaits him, and Lancel warns Petyr that things have changed in King’s Landing but lets him pass. Petyr does not seem intimidated by the Lancel and the Faith Militant.
When he meets with Cersei Lannister, Petyr doesn’t think having Loras Tyrell arrested is the wisest course of action, but Cersei is committed to her path of using the Faith Militant to exact revenge on the Tyrell family.
Cersei: “If war comes to Westeros will the knights of the Vale fight for their king?”
Petyr: “Young Lord Robin heeds my advice and I have always counseled loyalty to the throne.”
Petyr informs Cersei that Sansa is in Winterfell, engaged to the recently legitimized Ramsey Bolton. He suggests that since Stannis Baratheon is marching on Winterfell, she should let Stannis and Roose Bolton fight it out and then afterwards take Winterfell. When Cersei admits neither her brother Jaime or her uncle Kevan will he able to help, Petyr offers to take the knights of the Vale. Cersei agrees to make Petyr warden of the North if he can take back Winterfell. It appears things haven’t changed as much as Lancel thinks, at least when it comes to Petyr Baelish’s ability to manipulate all sides.
Olenna Tyrell arrives in King’s Landing, telling her granddaughter Margaery she will deal with Cersei. During her visit with Cersei, Olenna is frank, while Cersei tries to keep up the pretense of politeness. Olenna tells her that Tywin Lannister understood that “sometimes we must work with our rivals, rather than destroy them.” Cersei responds, “House Lannister has no rival.” Cersei tells Olenna that the High Septon has called for an inquest of Loras Martell, not a trial, to determine if the charges have merit, ending their conversation. Round 1: Cersei.
The High Sparrow holds an inquest of Ser Loras Tyrell. Loras denies having an intimate relationship with Renly Baratheon or any other man. The High Sparrow forces Queen Margaery to testify, and she swears to having no knowledge of any unseemly behavior. Loras’s squire Olyvar is called to testify. Olyvar testifies that he and Loras have been intimate, adding that Margaery had walked in on them and did not seem surprised. The squire’s knowledge of Loras’s birthmark gives the Faith Militant all they need to move forward with a trial against both Loras and Margaery. No one expects the Sparrow’s inquisition. As they drag Margaery away, she yells to Tommen, who sits frozen with uncertainty. Round 2 Cersei.
Trystane Martell and Myrcella Baratheon walk through the gardens together. They seem to be genuinely affectionate with each other. Trystane plans to ask his father the next day if they can wed right away. They are watched by Prince Doran Martell, who tells his head guard, “They make a lovely couple—a Lannister and a Martell. They’ve no idea how dangerous that is. We must protect them.” He refers to Mrycella as a Lannister, rather than a Baratheon, referring to the conflict created when Tywin Lannister’s armies killed Doran’s sister Elia, wife of Rhaegar Targaryen, and her children during Robert’s Rebellion.
Unbeknownst to Doran, Ellaria Sand has released three of the Sand Snakes: Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene, into the water garden to capture Myrcella. Jaime and Bronn arrive in the water garden and find Myrcella and Trystane in an embrace. Though Mrycella recognizes her uncle, Trystane becomes suspicious, so Bronn knocks him unconscious. Before Jaime can convince Myrcella to leave, the Sand Snakes arrive. As Bronn and Jaime fight Obara and Tyene, Nymeria grabs Mrycella and begins to drag her away. Before she can take Myrcella far, Prince Doran’s guards surround everyone. The day didn’t go quite as anyone expected.
It’s the night of Sansa Stark’s wedding to Ramsey Bolton. Miranda comes to Sansa’s room to draw her a bath. She talks about all the girls that Ramsey has grown bored with and killed. After listening for while, Sansa responds:
“And how long have you loved him, Miranda? Did you imagine that he would be with you forever,? Is that it? And I came along and ruined it. I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home and you can’t frighten me.”
Way to put creepy Miranda in her place, Sansa. Theon later arrives to escort Sansa to the wedding, and she refuses to take his arm. Theon pleads, saying Ramsey will punish him, to which Sansa responds, “You think I care what he does to you?”
Sansa arrives the Godswood in her Northern-styled wedding dress and with her red hair shining in the falling snow. When Ramsey asks who gives Sansa, Theon sadly responds, “Theon of House Greyjoy, who was her father’s ward.” When Roose Bolton asks, “Lady Sansa, will you take this man,” Sansa pauses before finally saying, “I take this man.” Once she does, Ramsey smiles a horrible, disturbing smile.
After the ceremony, they return to the Castle, where Ramsey’s sociopathic nature becomes increasingly evident. Ramsey forces Theon to stay in the room and watch as he rapes Sansa. As Sansa screams, Theon stands by the door, crying. In Game of Thrones, weddings are never happy occasions.
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Review
Though Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has shown she is not willing to give everything up to become “no one,” she’s ready to play the role of another. She stepped forward to help the young girl find peace in death, but it doesn’t seem as though she quite fits in with the Faceless Men. Perhaps Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) was just sick of Arya complaining. Then again, he saw something special in her from the start to have given her the coin. We’ll be interested to see if she will be allowed to maintain her own agenda as she serves the Many-Faced God. The House of Black and White was mysterious, but in a dull sort of way, throughout “High Sparrow,” but seeing the collection of faces used by the Faceless Men in this episode helped make up for it.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) seem to be bonding, but their bromance may be short-lived with Jorah’s greyscale infection. During the entire series of Game of Thrones, it seems that Tyrion Lannister is going on a crazy journey that never seems to end. Tyrion uses his wits to stay alive and remain on the path to Meereen when captured by slavers, but these constant diversions get a bit tiresome. Both Tyrion and Sansa, formerly man and wife, seem to have very little control over their own paths.
The landscape at King’s Landing is radically changing with the presence of the Faith Militant. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) remains confident about the role of the Faith Militant despite the monarchy being rapidly undermined with both Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) and Margaery Baratheon (Natalie Dormer) being charged. Cersei seems to assume that her own family will be kept safe, yet we can see Tommen Bartheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) losing his already limited power before our eyes. It was fun to see the return of Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), and though she lost this round, we’re not convinced she has lost the game.
Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) was the highlight of King’s Landing. He wasn’t intimidated by the crew of Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) and was able to very effectively manipulate Cersei. If the Lannisters win out, will he actually kill Sansa? It seems unlikely, but then again, Petyr isn’t loyal to anyone but himself. Being a brothel-keeper and former Master of Coin gives Petyr a lot of information about the residents of King’s Landing and important figures in the Seven Kingdoms. As the Finnick Odair of Westeros, Petyr Baelish trades in secrets and lies.
Dorne gives us a Romeo-and-Juliet love story we can get invested in with Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian) and Myrcella Baratheon (Nell Tiger Free). It was surprising that Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) held their own so well in the fight with the Sand Snakes, but Bronn is a pretty kick-ass fighter. Though we were relieved that the Sand Snakes didn’t capture Myrcella, we can’t believe that this is the last we will see of their attempts to avenge Oberyn Martell. Jaime may yet be able to defend his actions with Prince Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), as Myrcella was clearly under threat and his efforts to protect her are justifiable.
Sophie Turner was impressive as Sansa Stark in this episode. Sansa’s strong character came out when she rebuked Miranda (Charlotte Hope) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). At the wedding, Sophie Turner was able to convey the inner turmoil that Sansa is experiencing but trying to keep hidden. The beautiful and peaceful setting of the wedding provided an excellent juxtaposition for the brutality the event represented. The Old Gods must have been just as dismayed by the wedding as any Northerners outside the Bolton family would’ve been. Sansa is not only enmeshed by those who have betrayed her family, namely Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) and Theon, but she now must find a way to deal with a sadistic husband in Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon). We love to hate Ramsey Bolton. Iwan Rheon plays the part of an abusive sociopath very effectively, sometimes appearing charming and other times horribly disturbing. We have hope that Sansa’s inner strength will prevail, as we desperately want Sansa to find a way to avenge the Stark family.
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” gave us a disturbing story set amongst beautiful scenery. Game of Thrones teaches us the same morality lessons each week, yet we keep hoping for a different outcome. Call us crazy, but we can’t help but wait for a day when good triumphs over evil. Game of Thrones certainly did not give us that in “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” but we still have four more episodes in Season 5.
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