Do you hear it? Do you hear that sound? The raw, despairing cry of disbelief, pain and abject body horror?
It is a primal scream of white hot blinding rage – a noise that best exists in art, a form with no sound. Look to your loved ones, look to your ladies, and hear the grinding of the souls wracked by demons in Hieronymous Bosch's The Last Judgement, hear the cries of the innocents bombed by Nazis in Pablo Picasso's Guernica, hear the sound of the twisted, groaning face in Edvard Munch's The Scream.
Ramsay Bolton must be destroyed. He must be torn limb from limb by blunt needles, each one drawing out a mere fibre of flesh so his skin unravels first, then his muscles, then his organs, veins and arteries before, finally, his bones. It will be a long and bloody process, but eminently satisfying. It will only end after a starved and rabid rat gnaws off his testicles and he watches his brain being scooped out through his nose with a rusty ice-pick.
Other than that, great episode, huh?
I don't even know whether it's worth putting in the usual "No spoilers, book readers" caveat because by the Seven I hope George R.R. Martin didn't write that scene and because hopefully the takeaway from my opening gambit this week is that I can get a little angry.
Let's steel our girdles for another instalment of Raven On, the only Game of Thrones recap to have restraining orders taken out against it by characters on the show.
In the interests of trying to provide you with the most comprehensive recap, my beloved Throners, I will endeavour to put aside my INCANDESCENT RAGE at the concluding scene of this episode for now. We shall all then indulge our RIGHTEOUS ANGER later in the essay.
It's somewhat ironic that the title of episode 6 is the motto of House Martell – because it seemed to feature most characters getting bowed, bent and broken all over the damn place. It was the most game-y Game of Thrones episode for a while, and only the Boltons and Cersei effing Lannister finished with wins. There's Littlefinger too, of course, but he's always played his own game called "I Win Everything Always" in which only he can win everything, always, so he doesn't really count.
Arya is still washing dead bodies in the House of Black and White in Braavos. Frustrated with her lack of progress, she tries to find out more from the older serving girl, the one who beats her and tells her to get back to work. In what seems like a rare moment of connection, the older girl tells Arya that she too was a daughter of a Westerosi lord who poisoned her stepmother with help from the Faceless Men, to whom she is now indentured. But that too is a game, as Arya must guess if it's the truth or a lie.
Jaqen H'ghar then develops this version of Guess Who?, demanding Arya relate to him her life story. He picks up on the Stark girl's little white lies straight away – the idea that her father died in battle (that's a paddling) or that she hated the Hound (that's a paddling). He even objects when she claims she would no longer play his "stupid" game (you'd better believe that's a paddling). Tsk, tsk, silly girl. You can never stop playing the game.
This last piece of advice seems to make the brain metronome finally tick in time for Arya. In what we soon realise is her big test, a desperate father brings his dying daughter before the Many-Faced God, begging for help to end her suffering. Arya must comfort the girl, but moreover, the girl must be comforted. And the girl must believe it. Arya cannot tell her own story: there is no comfort there. But she can lie, boldly, calmly, sensitively, and allow the dying girl some peace.
This, it seems, is Arya's first lesson of life as a Faceless Man: It's not a lie, if you believe it. The House of Black and White is training people how to be George Costanza.
As a reward for her success, Jaqen allows Arya to follow him into the mysterious room where they take all the bodies she washes. This turns out to basically be the Medieval Matrix: a cross between the Wachowskis' futuristic human body farm and that scene in Return to Oz where Dorothy meets the many-headed Princess Mombi. Towers of faces, kept in some kind of fantasy cryogenic storage, no doubt ready to be adopted by fully-fledged members of the order.
If the Game of Faces is anything like Texas Hold 'Em, or indeed, an '80s sitcom, then Arya just scored a full house.
The knights and jokers of the pack are represented in this episode by the twin storylines of Jorah and Tyrion in Slavers' Bay, and Jaime and Bronn in Dorne.
Having failed to find a village, a new boat or food of any sort, Ser Jorah and his charge are forced to walk to Meereen. Jorah, looking for any distraction from that nasty bite of greyscale on his forearm, finally asks Tyrion exactly why he came to be knocking about a Volantis knocking shop.
"I killed my father," the little lion replies, prompting the first real look of surprise on Jorah's face since he caught Maario leaving Daenerys' chamber pants akimbo (FYI, my porn name is now "Pants Akimbo").
Tyrion goes on to play a Who Had The Best Dad competition, admiring Ser Jeor Mormont's kindness and care for his charges in the Night's Watch. "We shall never see his like again," he reflects.
Trouble is, Mormont jnr didn't know Daddy was pushing up daisies north of The Wall – well, as much as any corpse can push up a daisy in sub-zero temperatures. It prompted the first real look of sadness on his face since being exiled from Meereen, and before that since he caught Maario leaving Daenerys' chamber pants akimbo.
Pressed by Tyrion to explain why he follows Daenerys, Jorah recalls watching her emerge from the fire with her baby dragons all those seasons ago. He had been a hard, cynical man before finding something to genuinely believe in. "It's hard to be a cynic after you've heard the singing of baby dragons," he explains. Awww. I feel the same way about my the mewing of my two younger foster kittens, Tormund and Tarly (I know right? Way cool cat names).
Sadly all this chit chat distracts Jorah, allowing slavers from Volantis to snatch the pair. They decide Tyrion is not worth keeping and threaten to slit his throat and sell his, um, significant other for its magical properties.
Tyrion, the nine-time Balderdash champion of Casterly Rock, knows how to bluster in a crisis. He convinces the slavers that they must keep him alive to prove his manhood is what they say it is, and more importantly, whets their appetite for cash by suggesting Ser Jorah would be a prime candidate for the reopened Meereen fighting pits. "Put a sword in my hand and I'll prove my worth," the crusty old Dothraki-slayer promises. Oooh, goody. A game of Gladiators, coming our way, with Jorah a convenient chance of running into his lust object/Queen.
Meanwhile, I don't know whether to be happy or concerned about the fact the slavers were played by black men. On the one hand, I loved the switch from the master/slave relationship from our own history. On the other hand, was it suggesting black guys are baddies? Perhaps The Internet will tell me what my opinion should be.
Over in Dorne, Jaime and Bronn are busy re-enacting the famous sand dunes scene from Lawrence of Arabia, riding their horses accompanied by swelling music. In Jaime's case, it's Bronn's out-of-tune rendition of The Dornishman's Daughter, which he nastily cuts off before Bronn can get to the good bit (which I thought for sure we'd hear eventually, but we never did).
Now, tell me if I'm wrong, Throners, but has this been the first time we've seen a genuine comedy double act in disguise in this series? Things almost got a little Carry On Up the Water Gardens there as Jaime and Bronn, decked out in Dorne & Gabbana, snuck in to steal back Myrcella from her good-looking fella, Prince Tristane.
The Martell heir and the Lannister princess seem to really dig each other; certainly Jaime has to cough quite loudly to interrupt their macking sesh and ask Myrcella to leave with him immediately.
But Tristane is suspicious, and despite Bronn's warning ("Let's not do something stupid"), draws his sword ("That was something stupid") and is promptly punched in the face. Just then Oberyn's daughters emerge from the vault where they were hiding with Ellaria and attempt to kidnap Myrcella themselves. It's Snakes From a Drain!
The girls are obviously keen fighters as they manage to avoid being killed by Bronn, who after all, is insanely freaking effective at killing people. Jaime too manages a solo-handed effort. He also fights off one of the Snakes, heyoooo!
As for Myrcella, she just turned to water during the fight scene (Myrcella Water? That's one for the ladies). Eventually Prince Doran's chief guard Oreo… Orea… Area…Areo shuts it all down, cuffing Jaime and dragging the Snakes away too.
If anyone was still searching for Bobby Fischer, look no more. He's wigged up and is hiding out in King's Landing under the name of Cersei effing Lannister: Queen Mother, Chess Master.
Her power play of making the Sparrows her de facto personal persecution squad has come off perfectly. Slow Lorus is under investigation and she looks like the injured party, having been betrothed to a so-called "pervert", rather than the guilty-as-seven-hells one responsible.
Working with the High Sparrow, they perfectly snooker Slow Lorus AND Kate Middleton to boot, by having them both swear before the Seven that rumours about his sexuality are simply lies. But we all knew what was coming, didn't we? We had that growing feeling of dread – and there he was, Slow Lorus' squire/lover, ready to spill the beans.
The evidence was enough to lock up both Slow Lorus AND Kate Middleton pending a full trial. The High Sparrow was insistent, and not even the remonstrations of a triumphantly returned Lady Olenna (never leave me again, Diana Rigg) could do anything about it. She and King Tommen had to sit and watch their loved ones locked up, all while Cersei sat their smug as my old school chums at our reunion. Look, I'm sorry I haven't pumped out kids, OK, I've had things to do. Do you know what a commitment long form narrative TV drama is these days?
Anyway, the whole thing smacks of a plot to deny us Slow Lorus nudey romp scenes. Surely they wouldn't dare. Those are the stuff that dreams are made of.
Let's head to Winterfell.
It's Sansa's wedding day, and Miranda the Psycho Girlfriend turns up at her chamber to bathe her, rinsing out the black hair dye and freshening her up for her impending husband. Ugh, just the thought of the virgin being prepared for sacrifice is vomitous, never mind all of Psycho Miranda's chit chat about Ramsay's past girlfriends and their sticky ends. Double vom.
Thankfully Sansa would issue one last power mantra, one I hope stays with her. She chastises Miranda for trying to upset her: "This is my home and you can't frighten me." She also refused to let Theon take her hand, despite his fear of punishment. Sansa doesn't care what happens to him – will she rue those words? Either way she would face her destiny alone.
There were more references to the changing weather in this episode, and it culminated at the wedding, in brittle, snowy conditions in the Godswood. There was to be no warmth in this marriage, nothing alive.
Finally, Theon shows Sansa and Ramsay into the bridal suite, and almost straightaway the hated Bolton shows his true colours. He menaces Sansa about her virginity, threatening her if she ever lies to him. He orders her to take off her clothes.
And then as Theon goes to leave the room, he orders him to stop.
"You've known Sansa since she was a girl," he sneers. "Now watch her become a woman."
With that, he rips her dress, shoves her on the bed, and undoes his belt. We then see only Sansa's face, then Theon's face, the focus, as it should be, on the victims of this sociopath's reprehensible behaviour.
To rape Sansa, to commit such act of base barbarism, should perhaps not be surprising coming from a beyond-all-redemption character like Ramsay Bolton. And yet it still does surprise, which is testament to the show's commitment to shock and disgust its faithful audience.
No doubt there will be some controversy about this scene: its violence is palpable and it ranks up there with the Red Wedding and last year's Cersei/Jaime encounter as one of most distressing things the show has committed to film.
But it made us confront the reality of sexual violence, and it wasn't glamorous, and it wasn't fetishised. And here might be a good place to leave the link for the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service or urge you to consider donating to a local crisis service.
Yay! Best Moments
After delivering the cracking line "You can smell the shit from five miles away" as she approached King's Landing, Lady Olenna returned in fine form with a brutal game of (no) manners with Cersei, as the pair negotiated for Slow Lorus' freedom.
Olenna: Put your pen down, dear, we both know you're not writing anything. Cersei: There's the famous tart tongue of the Queen of Thorns. Olenna: And there's the famous tart, Queen Cersei.
What with bitchy rejoinders like "Is this a veiled threat?" "What veil?" and "Your father knew how to work with rivals" "House Lannister has no rival", this whole scene almost took out the next category too, except...
Zing! Best Lines
"The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant."
This line. T-shirt. My back. Now.
Littlefinger, man. Littlefinger. That guy … he is just playing everyone. Abandoning Sansa to her fate in the north (spit in his eye for that), he tells Cersei to let the Boltons fight it out with Stannis Baratheon's army, then he can go in with the Knights of the Vale and wipe out whoever's left, claiming the whole kit and caboodle for the Lannisters. Cersei is peeved at the news that Ramsay Bolton will marry Sansa (courtesy of his "close sources", pssshaw), and agrees to consider Petyr Baelish's one request – to be made Warden of the North. He is really playing the longest of long games.
Ramsay Bolton. We're coming for you. The North Remembers...