Damn. That was a disturbing episode.
As if George R.R. Martin's books aren't cruel enough, the writers of HBO's "Game of Thrones" keep adding in even more messed-upness.
In the books, Ramsay Bolton marries a fake Arya Stark. The show changed that plotline to have him marry Sansa Stark. Why? Because, I guess, Sansa hasn't suffered enough already.
I mean, I get this move: Sophie Turner is a great actor, and without these plot changes, she would get very little screen time. But still: For a girl who's had her father, mother and brother killed in horrifying ways, does she really need to get raped by a psycho? What's more, Ramsay forces the tortured Theon Greyjoy (who now goes by the name Reek) to watch the sex assault, further humiliating both him and Sansa.
Across the ocean in Braavos, Sansa's sister Arya is busying herself at the House of Black and White scrubbing corpses (!), though she doesn't know exactly why she's doing this.
In one of the darkest scenes I've ever seen on TV – and I mean literally darkest; I'm not sure how people could make out details on their screens – Arya goes exploring through the building, and comes across a room filled with dead people's heads (!).
A faceless man there tells her she's still not ready to become an assassin. I know what happens next in the books, but this season has diverged from them so much, I'm genuinely curious to see what the writers choose to do next with Arya. Hopefully, it doesn't involve the kind of tortures they've putting Sansa through.
On the road to Meereen, slave-traders capture Tyrion and Jorah Mormont. Things are being to turn very violent, when Jorah volunteers to wage battle in the fighting pits in Essos, where things will, I assume, turn very violent.
"Take me to Slaver's Bay. Put a sword in my hand. I'll prove my worth," Mormont says.
In Dorne, Jaime Lannister and Bronn attempt a rescue of princess Myrcella. But Myrcella is kind of into Trystane Martell, her betrothed, and doesn't want to leave. Simultaneously, the Sand Snakes also try to capture Myrcell and a big fight ensues. There are whips, and swords and, in the end, everyone gets captured by the guards of House Martell. This fight did not occur in the books. But I will never object to the writers adding in more action into a show that can sometimes feel plodding.
In King's Landing, Littlefinger plans to double-cross Sansa with Cersei. "I'll know you're a man of your word when I see Sansa Stark's head on a spike," Cersei says.
Meanwhile, that nutty religious group, The Sparrows, who have imprisoned Loras for being gay, also lock up his sister Margaery – the queen of Westeros (!).
Things could be looking just as bad for Margaery as they are for Sansa.
The episode had no Daenerys and no Jon Snow. That's OK by me. There are so many characters you can't squeeze them in every week. What is concerning to me is how far the plot is diverging from the books. But I'm willing to give David Benioff & D. B. Weiss the benefit of the doubt. They've done a great job bringing this complex story to the TV screen so far, and I see no reason why they won't keep putting out what's consistently been one of this era's best shows.
Episode rating: B+