Game of Thrones, Season 5 (USA, 2015)

GOT-S5-Poster-720x1066Created by: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. This is another one of those TV shows where I’m not sure why I do reviews for each season. I’m locked in, I have to see it to the end, no matter what happens, etc, etc, etc. But at the same time, I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed in this show or anything. They’re working in more of the zombie guys, and even though it was only one big battle at the end, it was pretty fucking great. These guys aren’t dummies, and maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating—they know how much we love those fucking zombies, and they know that they have to parcel that shit out bit by bit, very fucking slowly. As for the major bombshells, my reactions are pretty predictable: it was terrible to see the poor girl burned at the stake obviously, and yet I was kind of sad to see Stannis and his whole army get wiped out (even if it was kind of satisfying to see Brianne of Tarth finally get to uphold her mission and everything). I’m glad old Davos (Liam Cunningham) is safe (for now). As for the other stuff, I don’t really care too much about the weird shit going on with Arya and the Many Faced God and everything, and I didn’t care too much about the subplot with Jamie and Bron in Dorn, although I was really interested to see the character arc with Sersi hit a high mark and finally get to develop some sympathy for her (in a plot with Jonathan Pryce of all people!), and I really don’t think that Jon Snow is dead, so I’m not worried about it at all.

Then there’s the issue of the show and its continued rapey-ness, which in this season really blew up with poor Sansa’s predictably awful and horrifying wedding night with the sadistic Ramsey. I read a bunch of stuff, not all of it. One writer was upset that the camera is on Theon crying as he’s forced to watch, and we’re hearing the horrible sound of Sansa’s crying, etc—the argument being that this choice relegated Sansa to the sidelines and made her assault appear more damaging to the male supporting character than to herself. And I didn’t really feel that way when I saw it—I took the show’s decision not to view the rape head-on in all its graphic detail as the filmmakers avoiding what they thought would outrage people even more, revelling in the graphic depiction of the demeaning violation of one of the strong female leads. If you were going to film that scene, it’s a bit of a softer blow if you only see it indirectly I guess.  But of course, this opens the question of why the show felt the need to include that scene in the first place, especially when it’s not in the books. And I guess, as someone who hasn’t read the books, I took this awful turn of events as a certainly terrible and sickening and dread-filling, yet, begrudgingly I have to admit, a fairly consistent plot development in this show set in a ruthless, brutal, fake medieval setting. In this world, everyone is brutal, no one is safe, and if the threat of rape is always in the air in this show, a bit too much to some people’s liking, to me it always fits with this messy, violent, brutal world they’ve concocted. I know this isn’t history—obviously—but Martin didn’t pull this stuff out of thin air: medieval Europe (the ancestor of the modern Western world) was a pretty terrible place to live in, and, though I’m no historian, (nor a Vice columnist), but I’m pretty sure it was a super rotten place to live in especially for women.  So I guess for me, it wasn’t a totally useless, extraneous, problematic symptom of the ignorance of our culture in handling rape. But then again, I totally see how some could feel that this show—completely fictional and choice-based—is pretty shitty for going out of its way for demeaning a character that’s already been through a lot of shit by subjecting her to even worse shit, by tossing off rape as just another plot device. While I didn’t think that it was a plot device to enhance a male character arc—as I mentioned above, I read the focus on Theon as just a storytelling device and self-censoring, and that overall, Sansa’s arc is made more grave and her bravery more brave for undergoing that horrible ordeal—but I’m open to the idea that I’ll change my mind on that if the show actually doesn’t precipitate in Sansa’s character overcoming all that horrible shit in the long run. This is a big issue and I’m sure I’m overlooking a lot of stuff. In the meantime, I consume this show cautiously, knowing that I can’t 100% defend it, just the same as when I eat at McDonald’s, or buy clothes from Superstore, or play air guitar to a Jimmy Page riff. The world—this one—is full of terrible things, and we have to navigate it as best we can, whatever that means.

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