So, that was awful. And by “that”, of course, I mean having to watch that closing scene. Just brutal. Anyway, let’s just get right into the good, the bad, and the ugly of this episode.
Let’s take a moment first to recognize how wonderful Alfie Allen’s acting has been not only in this episode, but throughout this season. He does an amazing job of conveying the inner turmoil that is plaguing Theon – the guilt he feels for betraying Robb, the pity he has for Sansa as she is forced to marry a man that he, more than anyone, knows is a monster, and the debilitating terror that he suffers from as a result of Rthe torture he has endured that prevents him from doing anything that might displease Ramsey. The final scene was as gut-wrenching as it was not only because of the pity the viewer felt for Sansa, but for Theon as well, a fact that is completely owed to masterful acting on the part of Allen.
There were other great moments in this episode as well. For instance, the interaction between Cersei and the Queen of Thorns was priceless. Olenna Tyrell is a welcome addition to any episode thanks to her dry wit and calculated barbs directed at her enemies. And who doesn’t enjoy seeing Cersei take a good verbal beating? Another moment that stood out was the moment that Tyrion accidentally broke the news to Jorah that his father, Lord Jeor Mormont, had been murdered by his own men. It was clear that Tyrion had genuine sympathy for Jorah despite the fact that Jorah was holding him captive. This was a great glimpse of the thing that makes Tyrion such a likable character (in addition to his wit, of course) – the fact that he is so unlike his father and sister.
However, this show was not without its fair share of weaknesses. First of all, the scene in Dorne where Jaime and Bronn attempt to “rescue” Princess Myrcella was so unintentionally comedic that it bordered, at times, on farce. Not only was the fact that the two of them were allowed to get so close to Myrcella and Trystane Martell completely ridiculous, but the fact that the Sand Snakes happened to be there at that exact moment was downright unbelievable. Also, I don’t want to be too harsh on the actresses that portrayed the Sand Snakes, but I’ll just say that they are on the end of the spectrum opposite Alfie Allen and Peter Dinklage. I also felt like the episode was hurt by spending too much time focused on Dorne, which is definitely the dullest storyline it has going – even duller than Daenerys in Mereen, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.
This episode was especially frustrating for those viewers who have read the novels, as the show runners continue to stray further and further from the plot as it was outlined by George R. R. Martin. The biggest culprit here is the story involving Sansa and her marriage to Ramsey. I won’t spoil the books for those who might be planning on reading them, but I will say that this simply does not happen. There is an arranged marriage to try and solidify the Boltons’ hold on the North, but Sansa is not a part of it. So in addition to producing the most uncomfortable scene in the show’s history, this storyline has many book readers pulling their hair out as the show is becoming almost unrecognizable to them as far as certain characters are concerned.