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Sansa Stark and the Hound reunited on Sunday night time’s Recreation of Thrones episode, “The Final of the Starks.” The pair hadn’t spoken since season 2’s “Blackwater,” when a drunken Hound gave Sansa the choice to go away King’s Touchdown with him, and she or he refused.

The Hound hides his personal trauma behind a gruff demeanor; his brother burned his face as a toddler, and now he’s terrified of fireside. Sansa has been by way of her personal hell. She begins the sequence as an idealistic teenager, however the “recreation” grinds the naïveté out of her. The Sansa of season Eight is far more world-wise, guarded, and crafty.

When she approaches the Hound after the military’s victory over the Evening King, they’ve so much to make amends for. The following dialog polarized viewers, a few of whom noticed it as a reminder of Recreation of Thrones’ poor monitor report with ladies characters, and Sansa particularly.

[Ed. be aware: This text accommodates dialogue of rape, and likewise, spoilers for Recreation of Thrones by way of season 8, episode 4, “The Final of the Starks.”]

‘Little hen’

“Heard you had been damaged in tough” is the Hound’s clumsy line. He’s talking particularly in regards to the rape and abuse Sansa suffered by the hands of Ramsay Bolton in season 5. He tells Sansa that if she’d left King’s Touchdown with him, she would’ve been secure.

“With out Littlefinger and Ramsay and the remainder, I might’ve stayed a bit hen all my life,” she replies.

Setting apart the far-fetched notion that Clegane may’ve someway protected Sansa (Arya leaves the dude for lifeless in season 4), many noticed the interplay as Sansa excusing her personal abuse. Followers and critics expressed disbelief that Sansa, of all individuals, would say that the ends justify the means. It equates sexual assault to character improvement, and plenty of critics side-eyed the best way the scene performed out.

“The writers’ choice to have Sansa seemingly attribute her sense of price to a person who raped her is upsetting,” wrote Julia Alexander at The Verge.

“I can’t assist however really feel disillusioned within the male writers’ understanding of Sansa,” Caitlin PenzeyMoog wrote at The AV Membership, “which abruptly doesn’t really feel nearly as good as I’d thought.”

Even Jessica Chastain weighed in with a strongly worded tweet, saying, “Rape just isn’t a instrument to make a personality stronger. A girl doesn’t must be victimized with the intention to grow to be a butterfly.”

Recreation of Thrones has come below fireplace for any such characterization earlier than. When Ramsay raped Sansa in season 5, critics debated whether or not the assault was obligatory for the narrative. Ramsay was already well-established as an abusive sadist, viewers argued, and Sansa’s rape didn’t complicate our understanding of him. For Sansa to now say that she’d nonetheless be an idealistic waif if it hadn’t occurred is seen as a tacit approval of this storyline — one which hinges on the notion that ladies characters must be punished to be fascinating.

Thrones has made errors

Maggie McMuffin, a burlesque performer and educator, has carried out as Sansa for years, giving her a singular perspective on the character’s journey.

“I come out as completely satisfied princess Sansa after which act out her watching her father’s execution, being held captive,” McMuffin says. The act culminates with Sansa lastly expressing herself in a scream. After the deaths of Ramsay Bolton and Littlefinger, McMuffin up to date the efficiency, “to honor the character’s development.

“I made it a tribute to Sansa surviving. It’s a strip from her previous costume and placing on her Woman of Winterfell look, and on the finish I smile and simply breathe.”

McMuffin sees extra potential for nuance on this episode’s interplay between Sansa and the Hound.

“She’s proudly owning what occurred to her,” McMuffin says. “She’s transferring on from the preliminary trauma of it and making peace with the girl she is now. It’s her selecting to be who she is.”

For McMuffin, and albeit for myself, it’s tempting to interpret the narrative in a means that respects the character. For a lot of longtime viewers, the present’s fumbling monitor report makes that troublesome or inconceivable.

“This was positively a scene the place I credit score the actors greater than anybody,” she says. “I feel the showrunners have made terrible selections with ladies.”

In earlier seasons, nude ladies are used as set dressing in “sexposition” scenes. Intercourse employees are sometimes collateral harm in scenes that remind us who’s evil — as when Joffrey orders Ros to whip one other girl, or when he later murders Ros, and her bare physique is proven strung up, stuffed with crossbow bolts. Sansa’s rape is proven by way of the prism of Theon Greyjoy witnessing it. Her rape turns into about his ache.

Time and again, moments of girls’s struggling have been dealt with with all of the delicacy of Oberyn Martell’s cranium in Gregor Clegane’s palms. Followers of Sansa are notably protecting. It’s a part of what drove McMuffin to create her act.

“How a lot individuals hated her simply made me need to defend her,” she says. Critique of Sansa typically revolves round grudges over her season 1 errors as a 13-year-old woman, and may veer into misogyny. (“Sansa has no ethical compass, she is disloyal to her family members, and she or he is actually all the time crying,” this viewer wrote helpfully, again in 2014.)

That’s why each scene that discusses Sansa’s rape will all the time be pored over by followers, and weighed in opposition to each misstep the present has made. For a lot of viewers, the present hasn’t earned their belief.

Sansa has discovered to guard herself

The Hound’s main reminiscence of Sansa is a scared baby he met in King’s Touchdown — the “little hen” who was below Joffrey’s thumb. Through the use of the nickname, he references her struggling with out remarking on her development. She’s the Woman of Winterfell now, and she or he’s removed from ignorant about Westerosi politics.

sansa in game of thrones season 8 episode 4


“In all of the reunions, males maintain anticipating her to nonetheless be a bit princess. Jon does it essentially the most and it’s annoying,” says McMuffin. “It’s widespread for males to assume supporting a girl as she grows up means all the time treating her the identical means they did when she was a woman. [Clegane] was all the time protecting of her, at instances when nobody else was. She could not hate him the best way she does different individuals, however he’s nonetheless a connection to her early abusers.”

On this context, Sansa’s remark will be seen as a reminder to the Hound to not patronize her.

“I’ve seen some individuals condemning the writers for making Sansa ‘chilly’ and that it is a betrayal of her earlier, girlier self,” says McMuffin. “Truthfully, I feel it’s one other means individuals are saying she’s not a really perfect survivor.”

There’s wiggle room for Sansa to acknowledge that she’s a survivor of very public abuse, and that she hasn’t been cowed by it. However with the season finale looming, McMuffin hopes that Sansa can pull off yet another transformation.

“I would like her to have a second of triumph. I don’t assume the present will try this. However it’s an enormous a part of overcoming trauma, studying to be completely satisfied once more. She simply wants a free second to understand she’s made it.

“It’s the story I want. That’s egocentric viewing, nevertheless it’s true.”

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Why Sansa Stark & the Hound’s episode Four scene challenges Thrones followers 1

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