One Tweet Sums Up Everything Wrong With the Latest "Game of Thrones" Episode

One Tweet Sums Up Everything Wrong With the Latest "Game of Thrones" Episode
Source: HBO
Source: HBO

On Sunday night, Game of Thrones fans were subjected to a scene which will rank up there with the Red Wedding in terms of sheer brutality.

In "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," Sansa Stark is raped by her new and unashamedly evil husband, Ramsay Bolton, while he forces his slave Theon Greyjoy to watch. 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) summed up what many people were thinking about the episode in one tweet expressing disgust that once again, Game of Thrones had thrown in a seemingly needless and exploitative rape scene:

A similar scene happens in the original A Song of Ice and Fire book series by creator George R.R. Martin, but that encounter did not involve Sansa. It is not the first time the show's producers have injected a rape into the show that didn't happen in the books, either.

The issue here isn't whether it's acceptable to depict rape on TV. Instead, fans like McCaskill are growing weary of HBO's apparent reliance on sexual assault as what some are calling a lazy way of reminding viewers just how demented its villains are. 

The show has gone out of its way to show Ramsay torturing people at virtually every opportunity, so this scene shouldn't come as a surprise. But it has nonetheless struck a nerve with many viewers, who have apparently had enough Bolton torture porn and would prefer that the show stop subjecting its strong female characters to an endless series of sexual assaults.

The episode has its defenders, too, and show producer Bryan Cogman has given a pretty thorough justification of the scene and its role in the plot to Entertainment Weekly.

"This is Game of Thrones," he said of Sansa's decision to marry into the Boltons in the first place. "This isn't a timid little girl walking into a wedding night with Joffrey. This is a hardened woman making a choice and she sees this as the way to get back her homeland. Sansa has a wedding night in the sense she never thought she would with one of the monsters of the show. It's pretty intense and awful and the character will have to deal with it."

With winter rapidly bearing down on Westeros and Stannis Baratheon's army descending on Winterfell, the Boltons' reckoning may soon be at hand as well. And, if you ask some fans, the show's may be too.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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