Has 'Game of Thrones' Finally Gone Too Far? Latest Episode Leads to Online Outrage

by Zach Seemayer 1:17 AM PDT, May 19, 2015
Photo: HBO

Game of Thrones is known for its bleak and frequently disturbing portrayals of violence, sex and occasionally sexual violence. But according to some fans, the show's most recent episode crossed the line.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" caused a firestorm of controversy online when the episode concluded with the brutal attack and rape of Sansa Stark by her new, sadistic husband Ramsay Bolton, while Theon Greyjoy was forced to watch.

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It was a horrendously dark scene, to be sure, but for a show filled with five seasons of soul-cringing murder and depravity, was it beyond anything the series has depicted in the past?

Well, many fans felt that the show had gone too far, and took to Twitter to vent their anger.

Many commenters and critics pointed out that the brutal scene wasn't featured in the books, stressing that the HBO show's writers added the sexual assault arbitrarily.

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin took to his LiveJournal page on Monday to respond to fans who are criticizing the show for altering the books.

While Martin didn’t comment directly on the controversial scene, or the outrage directed toward the episode, he did defend the show's creators, saying, "David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] and Bryan [Cogman] and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can."

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Martin explained his position, in part:

“How many children did Scarlett O'Hara have? Three, in the novel. One, in the movie. None, in real life: she was a fictional character, she never existed. The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story.”

“There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds…”

“…Prose and television have different strengths, different weaknesses, different requirements.”

As the series progresses, the show's creators and writers have explained that they will differ from the novels in a number of ways, as Martin's sprawling Game of Thrones series is far from being completed.

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However, the creators have worked closely with Martin and know the direction the author plans on taking his book series. According to the creators, the series will follow the same path, which means it's likely the show will spoil the books for anyone who is a fan of both.

It's hard to say what impact the episode's disturbing conclusion will have on the show's popularity. Only time will tell if viewers offended will follow through on their promises to quit watching, or if the engaging storytelling that's enthralled audiences since its premiere will carry the show through a few more seasons to its conclusion.

What did you think of the controversial episode?