Game of Thrones Tries to Reckon With Its Unrelenting Rape Scenes, A Little

“The Door” was one of those benchmark Game of Thrones episodes for the powerful and heartbreaking way it ended—but before we get to that, let’s discuss the way it began, with an increasingly resolute Sansa taking back her agency inch by inch.

In its first five seasons, the main complaints from fans and critics were its copious rape scenes (many of which were not included in the books) and embarrassment of nude women versus a drought of nude men. During Season 5, it was the violent and sickening rape of Sansa Stark at the hands of the sadistic Ramsay Bolton that drew protests from loyal viewers who were sick of seeing women characters abused in an outsized fashion relative to the men.

As Sansa’s grown up, she’s been exposed to a series of horrific encounters with terrible men, beginning with serial killer-in-waiting and OG fuckboy-king Joffrey Baratheon, but the one that truly broke her was with Ramsay, as horrific a character as Game of Thrones has got—and underscoring that pain was the fact that she was basically sold out by Littlefinger, pretending to be her ally, for a small-brained but conniving bit of power.

Yet since she and Theon leapt from the wall at Winterfell (apparently surviving in a deep and powdery snowbank that gently cushioned their fall, or some shit), she’s seemed as spiritually reborn as her brother Jon. So when Littlefinger requested her presence at some shack outside Castle Black, she was ready for him, and delivered one of the most satisfying speeches I can remember—and one that implies the show’s writers, possibly even GRRM, have heard our complaints.

“Did you know about Ramsay?” Sansa asks stupid Baelish, her eyes burning. “If you didn’t know, you’re an idiot. If you did know, you’re my enemy.”


Littlefinger hems and haws and spits out some garbage, but Sansa wants him to say aloud what he thinks Ramsay did to her. He beat her, yes. He cut her, yes, but not her face, for he needed a Stark visage intact for political purposes.

“The other things he did to me, ladies aren’t supposed to talk about those things, but I imagine brothelkeeps talk about it all the time,” she says, referring to Littlefinger’s former empire of brothels in King’s Landing. Sansa never outright says that he raped her, but she doesn’t need to—she knows Littlefinger knows, and those words may resonate with survivors, too:

“I can still feel it. I don’t mean in my tender heart, it still pains me so—I can still feel what he did, in my body, standing here right now.”


It’s so satisfying to watch her sling these words at Littlefinger, and take back some of what she’s lost just by uttering them, and leveling that he cannot protect her; I truly wish she’d asked Brienne to give him the old slice and dice, but that wouldn’t do much by way of a plot advancer, would it. So unfortunately, after this glorious moment, this scheming shithead offers her the knowledge of an army, the Blackfish at River Run, and tries to plant in her mind that Jon Snow is just her half-brother, at which point she should have smacked his smarmy little Tommy Carcetti face. All for power; he’ll take it wherever he can get it.

Bye bitch

Of course, she ends up lying to Jon Snow about how she knew about the River Run troops, which speaks to the fact that she’s still a bit skeptical of his position in her family and, perhaps, his ability to lead them back to Winterfell, given that she had to persuade him.

All in all, the Hodor narrative is already dominating the headlines for its implications—that Hodor is dead, that his name pointed to his demise all along, that somehow warging can affect the events of the past, which means I still think Bran is Jon Snow’s dad, fight me—all the women of “The Door” truly had banner moments and powerful scenes.


GOD can Benioff and Weiss please spare us any more of the fucking Arya stick fighting scenes? They’re so boring and that sourfaced other A Girl sucks as a character; at least A Man is allowing Arya another chance to prove whether she is truly loyal to the Many Faced God, who by the way seems like an asshole if its followers can be commanded to kill whomever, good or bad, for a little bit of money. By asking Arya to kill the Cersei actor in the goofy farce of her family—which might be the first time she discovers Sansa was betrothed to Tyrion—he is not just gauging her truthfulness about the abnegation of her identity, he’s also gauging what level of morality might remain.

Also, we saw Game of Thrones’s first dick of the season, though it’s not a boner and it’s warty. I don’t believe this is equitable, my friends.

By the sweat of this actor’s balls

Yara Greyjoy should have been queen of the Iron Throne, and almost made it after a Theon cosign—typical that a man has to cosign to get her rightful due—but then their idiot Uncle Euron swept in and took the Drowned God Challenge, which gave our heroes time to steal away with a load of ships, hopefully towards Meereen to join up with Daenerys. Who, by the way, commanded Ser Jorah to find a cure for his greyscale through tears; back at the ranch, Tyrion summoned Kinvara, the High Priestess of Volantis and a clear connection between Dany’s imperviousness to flames and the worshippers of the Lord of Light, to assist them in the rule of Slaver’s Bay.

This is my look for summer

So much happened in this episode? The Children created the White Walkers in order to protect them against Man, who was killing them off? Tormund is still in love with Brienne? Bran made contact with a bunch of wights and the Night’s King, who killed the man in the tree? Hodor’s name is “Hold the Door” and he did until his untimely—or, depending on how you look at it, timely—demise? Summer, Bran’s direwolf, is dead? What an episode.


However, despite the action, I’m not sure if it was one of Game of Thrones’s best. The thread was so clear as to be almost simple—religion as insidious force, for one, but the opposition of the elements (fire! ice!) and the chess pieces of power (Man! Children! Zombies!) are ever shifting. No one is wholly good. “Everyone is what they are and where they are for a reason,” Kinvara tells Varys, shook for the first time in the series. This has always been true, but it’s also the first time an endgame for these characters is in clear sight, particularly because the episode felt like the writers trying to wrap things up. Valar morghulis, I guess.



Images via screenshot/HBO

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