We Need To Talk About What Sansa Stark Said About Her Trauma On "Game Of Thrones"
"For the millionth time, rape and abuse of women isn't just character development or a way to show a female character has matured."
This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4.
(As always, proceed with caution!)
A long-awaited reunion happened in this episode.
Sansa Stark, aka the Lady of Winterfell, was reunited with Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, after six seasons.
The characters hadn't seen each other since the Battle of the Blackwater in Season 2, when the Hound fled King's Landing — but not before offering to take Sansa with him and deliver her home.
It's been A WHILE, so here's that scene:
When Sansa sits down, the Hound remarks that she used to be too afraid to look at him, and she counters with the valid point that she's seen a lot worse since then.
The Hound then makes a crude remark about her having been "broken in hard," but she fires back by telling him about how she killed Ramsay by feeding him to HIS hounds. They then smile at each other — it's a somewhat nice moment!
Using his old nickname for Sansa, the Hound tells her how different she is.
After this, however, he appears to show genuine remorse that he wasn't able to protect her from the horrors she faced since that moment during the Battle of the Blackwater.
"None of it would have happened if you had left King's Landing with me," he tells her. "No Littlefinger, no Ramsay, none of it."
And then, Sansa takes his hand and delivers this line.
As a reminder, when Sansa says "Littlefinger, Ramsay, and all the rest" that happened since she last saw the Hound, she's referring to a pretty extensive list of shit that includes: two more seasons of Joffrey tormenting her; being forced to marry a man whose family was responsible for the death of her direwolf, father, mother, and brother; being forced to marry a sadist who raped and tortured her; and being the object of an older dude's creepy obsession and witness to his many murders, including the death of her aunt.
But Sansa seems to be particularly referencing her sexual, physical, and mental abuse at the hands of Ramsay Bolton — a storyline that's not present in the Song of Ice and Fire books and has generated A LOT of outrage since the episode in the show's fifth season where she is raped on her wedding night aired.
Viewers quickly pointed out that, uh, that seems like a pretty problematic thing for an abuse survivor to say.
This is far from the first time the show and its male writers have been called out for using sexual violence as a plot device.
Other viewers called the criticism unfair and argued that it was obvious what Sansa was TRYING to say.