- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode four, “The Last of the Starks.”
- On Sunday’s episode, after spending many seasons apart, The Hound expressed regret that he couldn’t protect Sansa Stark from trauma.
- “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life,” she replied.
- Fans were frustrated with the line because it implies that women should be grateful for men who harm them, even their rapists and abusers, because it “builds character.”
- Many fans pointed out that “Game of Thrones” has often been criticised for its lack of female writers, which may explain why scenes like this are poorly received by women.
Season eight of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has featured many tender scenes between characters who were previously separated for years. But one such scene on Sunday’s episode, between Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Sansa Stark, wasn’t received as sweet or endearing but rather seen as disappointing and problematic by many fans.
Back on season two, The Hound fled King’s Landing and offered to take Sansa with him, to bring her back home. She declined. On the most recent episode, titled “The Last of the Starks,” he expressed regret that he couldn’t protect her.
“You’ve changed, Little Bird,” he said, using Cersei’s old nickname for Sansa when she was the royal family’s hostage. “None of it would have happened if you’d left King’s Landing with me. No Littlefinger. No Ramsay. None of it.”
“Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life,” she replied.
They’re referring to two men who abused Sansa for political and personal gain. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish betrayed the Starks, sold Sansa to an abusive husband, and tried to manipulate her at every turn. Ramsay Bolton was the abusive husband, who raped Sansa every night they were together.
But many fans found this line of dialogue rather disturbing, as it implies that women should be grateful for men who harm them because it “builds character” – or that women can be strong and empowered only if they have endured some form of abuse.
dan & david making sansa say that she needed to be abused in order to grow up is such bullshit,, a woman doesnt have to experience rape to develop as a character get out of here with your pathetic attempts to excuse your unnecessary violence against women
— lauren (@cosmickorra) May 6, 2019
d&d really made sansa say that all the abuse she endured made her strong, they really hate women
— lou (@starksrights) May 6, 2019
hate what the writers did to sansa last night. by making her “thankful” for her past abuse they’ve insinuated that the only way a woman could grow to be a strong, smart, character is if she endures brutality and trauma.
— ashleigh deCarr (@ashdecarr) May 6, 2019
Many fans pointed out that “Game of Thrones” has often been criticised for its lack of female writers, which may explain why scenes like this are poorly received by women.
Top three worst episode for sure. Brienne, Sansa (eff that little bird line), Dany, then the ending . . . WTF. Bet he dies avenging her in a true homage to toxic masculinity.
Bless Tormund tho.
— renee ahdieh (@rahdieh) May 6, 2019
Even as someone who likes #GameofThrones in general, I can't help but think about how much better this show would have been if they'd had more women, poc, and woc writing and directing it. Just, every part of it would have been improved.
— Alanna Bennett (@AlannaBennett) May 6, 2019
Others, however, felt that Sansa’s reaction to her trauma was realistic and relatable.
It’s bad that the season has no female writers or directors, but granting that, I think an abuse survivor (like Sansa) can decline to live in regret, accepting her life as it is, without thereby “expressing gratitude for her rapist.”
— ——— (@fatecolossal) May 6, 2019
Nope. From a rape survivor, some of us accept what we cannot change, while loving who we are despite and after such trauma. I felt what was meant here, and it ain't appreciation for Ramsay or anyone else.
— tweets to chill/study to (@vote_checkbox) May 6, 2019
She ain’t wrong tho… as someone who’s been thru bs like that I love a character who can go thru shit like that and come out of it stronger. If someone asked me that question I’d literally say the same exact thing.
— Julieta (@jay_tovi) May 6, 2019
What’s important to me, was the subtext that he is sorry for all the shit she went through on his watch and she’s telling him that it’s okay. She knows he tried and it all (including his harshness and failure to save her) made her stronger.#GameofThronesSpoilers pic.twitter.com/SY6pPGgk9N
— Fangirl Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) May 6, 2019
For her part, Sophie Turner has defended her character’s controversial and traumatic experiences, as well as Sansa’s reactions to them, many times.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.
- Read more:
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- There were dark hidden meanings weaved into Sansa Stark’s costumes on season seven of ‘Game of Thrones’
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