Fans Are Angry "Game Of Thrones" Added A Rape Scene Involving Sansa
Here's how the plot has been changed from the books and why it's being criticised.
The most recent Game of Thrones episode, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken", ended with Sansa Stark being raped at Winterfell by Ramsay Bolton after their wedding.
Many viewers tweeted about just how brutal the sequence was.
Some pointed out that it was another instance of rape occurring in the show where it didn't in the books.
In George R.R. Martin's original books, Sansa's entire storyline is very different.
She never leaves the Vale, continuing to live there as "Alayne", the alleged illegitimate daughter of Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger.
After the death of Lady Arryn, her aunt, she becomes the Lady of the Eyrie (in fact if not in name) and learns the ways of courtly intrigue from Petyr.
Petyr and Sansa's plan is for her to eventually marry Harrold Hardyng, the Arryn heir after the sickly Robert, claiming first the Vale and then Winterfell.
In the TV show, however, Sansa posed as Petyr's niece rather than his daughter — and has now been sent to Winterfell, broadly against her will.
Her storyline has now clearly been conflated with that of another character from the books, Jeyne Poole.
Jeyne was a friend of Sansa's when they were growing up, who went to King's Landing at the same time as the Starks. She was actually portrayed onscreen in the first season.
In the books, the Lannisters use Jeyne as a stand-in for Sansa's sister Arya, in a ploy to gain a foothold in the North and cement their relations with the Boltons.
It is Jeyne who then suffers through Ramsay's sadistic attacks.
She is raped on her wedding night, at which point scars from where she had been previously whipped are also revealed, while Theon is forced to join in as well. She later stays confined to her room as her weeping is heard around Winterfell.
Combining Jeyne with Sansa meant her rape became the latest example of sexual violence on Game of Thrones that wasn't in the books.
Last season, Jaime Lannister raped his sister (and lover) Cersei in front of their son's corpse.
In the first season, Daenerys was raped by her new husband, Khal Drogo, something that emphatically doesn't happen in the books.
The first book builds up an expectation that she will be raped by the savage horse lord, but this cliché is undercut by a surprisingly tender sequence that revolves around his knowledge and acceptance of the word "no".
George R.R. Martin wrote a blog post explaining why he wasn't commenting on the changes, and reemphasising that the series is a separate entity from the books:
David and Dan and Bryan and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can.
And over here I am trying to write the best novels that I can.
But they have been poorly received by many viewers.
This apparent trend has led other viewers to question why the producers of the show have changed female characters in this way.
Some have described it as lazy writing, pointing out that it seemed unnecessary...
...or even made suggestions that they say would have avoided it.
Bryan Cogman, producer of the series, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the scene:
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.
He later clarified elements of that interview on Twitter:
The "choice" I was referring to was Sansa's choice to marry Ramsay and walk into that room with him. She feels marrying him is a vital step in reclaiming her homeland. Not trying to change anyone's opinion of the scene (negative or otherwise), but that is what I was referring to.
In NO WAY...NO WAY was that comment an attempt to "blame the victim". If it seemed that way, I'm deeply sorry.