WE recorded Game of Thrones season 5 on DVR, and then watched the whole thing over two or three days. Well, to be honest, we watched up to episode 5 together then Kate watched the last five episodes back-to-back while I was asleep because she had to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, GODDAMMIT.
To get to the point, I’d already heard about the scene with Ramsey and Sansa, so I wasn’t surprised when it happened. And you know what? I don’t really see what the fuss was about. Was it graphic? I didn’t think so. Mostly what we saw was the look on Theon’s face. Was it necessary to the story? That’s a bit tougher. The story needed something that would start moving Theon back to the land of the non-zombies, and there were probably other options. He’d grown up with Sansa to the point where they were almost brother and sister. Something that hurt her would have to hurt him. Could Ramsey (or even Roose, for that matter) have done something less nasty to hurt Sansa in a way that would still be enough to give Theon the kick in the brainpan that he needed? Like I said, that’s a tough question, and I’m not sure how to answer it. As it is, though, I can’t imagine writing such a scene in any of my own work—I think I would try very hard to find an alternative. [Update: A small clarification here. What I’m saying here is that the writer of the scene—whether that was GRRM himself or the episode’s scriptwriter—could, had he wanted to, have done something different, including not having the scene there at all and relying on Sansa telling Theon, in a later scene, what Ramsey’s doing (which, actually, she does, although it’s almost in passing). It wouldn’t have had the same gut-punch but all the same the point would have been made, so the scene was almost certainly not necessary.]
But that leads to another observation, which is that we’ve seen much worse treatment of people over the course of the series. Daenerys and Drogo’s wedding night. Locke’s men attempting to rape Brienne. Joffrey and the the brothel girls, and his torture and murder of Ros. Those are just a few that stand out; there are certainly more. And they were all painful to watch. So I have to say that, while the Ramsey/Sansa scene was in the same league, I don’t quite understand why it received quite as much attention as it did when those other scenes didn’t. You want controversial? What about burning Stannis’ young daughter Shireen alive? I don’t recall seeing a lot of uproar and hand-wringing over that one, and it was horrific, guys.
So, will I stop watching the show in protest? No. My biggest concern is, now that the show has overtaken the books, that the direction the story takes will be more driven by the showrunners and less by GRRM, and that as a result we start to see some really unjustified crap. But that’s a wait-and-see.
Until next time . . .