What’s Wrong with Sansa’s Wedding

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post but this new job has been hell. You know what  I have to do? I have to go into work and sit at a computer all day!

Oh God, I have to spend all day at a computer? My life is hell.
Oh God, I have to spend all day at a computer? My life is hell.
Ahhh, home at last.
Ahhh, home at last.

So I haven’t had time to play through any other games yet, though I’m currently working on Witcher 3 so you can expect a review of that soon. But I have been watching Game of Thrones, and you may have noticed everyone seems to be really mad about that last episode.

So if you haven’t seen last Sundays Game of Thrones, turn back now, because there’s about to be spoilers.

Game of Thrones:

What went wrong with Sansa’s Wedding?

Sansas wedding

Lots of people are angry over Game of Thrones latest episode, in which Sansa gets raped by Ramsey Bolton after their wedding. Other people are angry that they’re angry, because the honest truth is that we’ve seen far worse on this show. Season 1 basically starts out with Daenaerys getting raped by Khal Drogo and eventually succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome. Then there was the Red Wedding, where we literally watched a pregnant woman get stabbed in the baby.

So why are people upset by this? Why are some people saying this is where they draw the line?

I’m going to tell you why and… I can’t believe I’m saying this…

They hated it because it was badly written.

Yes you heard me. And I don’t mean it was bad dialogue or badly acted, both were great, I mean the situation itself was born of bad writing.

See people aren’t upset that there was a rape scene in the show, that’s what everyone is focusing on but that’s just the swollen red skin in their blister of anger. The hot gooey pus of the matter is that the scene added nothing to the story and derailed the character arcs of Ramses, Theon, and Sansa. And without a good story to back up this rape scene, it becomes violence for its own sake. Shock value is all that’s left.

And believe me, GoT, you already have plenty of that. You don't need to force more in.
And believe me, GoT, you already have plenty of that. You don’t need to force more in.

See the rape of Sansa does absolutely nothing for the story, and in fact hinders several important character arcs. You see we’ve watched Sansa suffer already, in fact it was getting kind of repetitive by the time she finally reached the Eyrie. But when she did get there, we finally got our reward: watching Sansa slowly begin asserting control over her life.

Little Finger is despicable and disgusting, but there’s no denying he taught Sansa how to survive. Like him, Sansa isn’t a warrior, she can’t survive on strength. What Little Finger teachers her is to play the strong against one another, and move in when both are weakened. She uses these skills beautifully and helps cover Little Finger’s ass after he kills his wife.

So now we come to the wedding, and several things happen that aren’t at all in keeping with what the story has been telling us so far. First of all, all of Little Finger’s obvious affection for the girl goes right out the window, not to mention his meticulous planning. He of all people must know about Ramsey’s sadistic insanity. Yet even though Ramsey might accidentally kill the girl he loves, he just dumps her off and goes tearing back to King’s Landing. (Where he arrives after using Westeros’s first automobile, seriously how did he get there so fast?)

How about I give you a ride in my Benz and we call it even?
How about I give you a ride in my Benz and we call it even?

Now this scene was the perfect opportunity to make Sansa’s character more than a victim. Think about it for a moment, Sansa has all the information she needs to turn this situation to her advantage. At dinner she heard about Lord Bolton’s  expecting wife and if she pays even a miniscule amount of attention to Ramsey, she would notice how much this upsets him. It wouldn’t take a genius to realize his greatest ambition is succeeding his father.

Then she’s confronted by Ramsey’s girlfriend and Sansa shows off that cool controlled poker face, showing us she’s capable of standing up for herself. She also gains another piece of valuable information, that Ramsey uses women like a five year old’s toys… he uses them and eventually breaks them. So she’s not going into this situation blind, and Little Finger has taught her how to use information to manipulate people. He straight up told her that she was the key to controlling the North, she was one of the most powerful pieces in the game.

So what could she have done? Pretty much whatever she wanted.

Really all she had to do was say something like this:

“You lay hand on me and I’ll throw myself out the window [or any other method of suicide/disfigurement]. Everyone knows you’re a monster, and they won’t believe for one moment you didn’t do it. Ramsey Bolton killing the last Stark; every banner man in the North would rise up in revolt and now that your father has a real son, he wouldn’t hesitate in flaying you alive to regain control. So here’s what gonna happen, you’ll wait in here for ten minutes and then return to your own chambers. And that’s it. From now on I’ll be your wife, but you will never touch me.”

It would have juxtaposed nicely with her last encounter with a betrothed lover...
It would have juxtaposed nicely with her last encounter with a betrothed lover…

Of course after he leaves we could see Sansa break down in tears, because obviously it’s all bluff. But it’s a bluff that Ramsey would totally have fallen for, there is nothing more important to him than the approval of his father (or perhaps more accurately, succeeding his father), it’s his Achilles heel. What’s more it would be a woman that brought him down, someone he would never have seen as a threat.

This also opens up all new realms of possibilities for stories and situations. The delicate balancing act between Sansa and Ramsey could have lead to some tense scenes as Sansa keeps a tenuous grip on Ramsey’s increasing anger at her control over him. Or maybe they would strike up an alliance of convenience, conspiring to kill Lord Bolton in order to avenge her brother and allow him to succeed him. Each plans to betray the other after Bolton’s death though, and it becomes a tense game of cat and mouse where we’re never quite sure who’s the cat.

Oh who am I kidding, we all know who the cat would be...
Oh who am I kidding, we all know who the cat would be…

But the Sansa Rape story? The only possible story that can come from this is her signaling for Brienne to rescue her. It’s boring and predictable which is precisely what we don’t expect Game of Thrones to be. It’s why we love the show, because it surprises us so much.

And while I suppose Sansa could come out of this experience stronger and able to take control of her fate, here’s the thing:

You didn’t need to rape Sansa to make that happen.

Which means it was unnecessary to the story.

And that’s why people hated it.


  1. I can’t help but feel that the whole venture of “going beyond the books” is bound to end in failure. At least for me personally, it just doesn’t feel the same. Maybe that is placebo because I know they are going beyond GRRM script, but I feel that way nevertheless.

    1. They also could have broken Theon’s conditioning too, after Sansa knocks down Ramsey a peg she could be like “No, Theon stays with me you monster, you wont hurt him anymore” and then Sansa could make him her chief ally and spy in Winterfell so something along those lines.

        1. On a side note you know GRRM has killed a bit too many characters when the only dateable, straight, nice, young guy in Westeros is Tristain Martell and he is already engaged.

      1. Except she still believes he killed her brothers, so she doesn’t care about Theon. so why would she do that?? The rape REALLY bothered me, but I feel like it happened so that Theon would be motivated to snap out of it and help Sansa in the future.

  2. I saw this coming the second baelish asked sansa to Marry Ramsey. Seriously, did you think their wedding night was going to be romantically sensual? This was tastefully shot and fits into the story. This is the final offense for sansa which is what gives her the motivation to change that baelish wants. It’s tough to watch because we are invested in sansa and it’s like watching our sister,so yeah,it sucks. But to say it didn’t contribute to the story or is poorly written is dishonest. This scene will make the death of Ramsey that much sweeter.

    1. Bingo. I was not surprised at all at that scene. It was 100% in character with Ramsey. And I don’t see it derailing Sansa’s story arc in the least. I doubt, at this point, she is so weak as to take the fist out and abandon her home again. I fully expect her to find a way to get rid of the Boltons and keep Winterfell for herself. I also find this distaste for including rape in character development moronic. 1 in 4 women have crap like this happen to them. The incidence in fiction is like 1 in 20. It is a serious problem and by not including it in fiction, we are not addressing the problem. Yeah, it is tough to watch, but seriously, shouldn’t we be trying to get the message out there that you can get past such an event and get on with your lives? Sweeping it under the rug is wrong, and in the books Ramsey’s wedding night does end in him raping his new bride, it just wasn’t Sansa.

      Also, with GRRM not yet finished with the next book and with (hopefully) one book left after that, if the show is going to continue, it has to do something until GRRM pens the ending. Let’s see where they go and find out what GRRM thinks of their choices. He doesn’t seem to object too much to this one.

      1. Same here. Not to mention that we’re talking about a medieval setting in which “marriage right” is a real thing. Judging a setting by idealized modern values seems a little silly to me, and kind of bears the mark of viewers with fragile egos.

        I think it’s pretty horrendous for people who basically got started on this venture with the show are now dictating what is and isn’t :okay” in GRRMs world.

        The series was fine before this influx of nattering old grannies, and it’ll be fine without them as well.

  3. I do agree with most of the article but as the writer pointed out holes in the show there are also holes in his rewrite. But no matter what someone comes up with another can poke holes. If Sansa would have threatened Ramsey with suicide, what’s to stop him from having her chained to her bed and thus completely helpless and unable to do anything ever, and now she is a prisoner protecting Ramsey from the north. As to the heir part. Ramsey was declared by king’s decree to be Roose’s legitimate son and thus number one in line. Even if this wasn’t the case, does anyone honestly think Ramsey would allow his younger brother to threaten what will be his. It also wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Ramsey has a plan to remove his father from power, and I’m sure Roose has a plan to prevent it. I’m sure someone can still point out something to me. Ultimately I believe the writers went with the arc that they could best do without writing themselves into a corner.

  4. I was hoping Sansa would take Ramsey’s girlfriends advice by being more sexual and in control. Throw him on the bed, tie him up, and light fire to it. All those furs and all that candlelight just begging for an alternate ending than what actually happened.

  5. I’m struggling with the definition of “rape”. I don’t think there was anything non-consensual going on there. Sansa agreed to marry this guy and never, at any point, said, “no” in the bedroom. Now, I do agree that it was aggressive, unkind and despicable. Though, were we expecting anything different from Ramsey? For that matter, do you think Sansa was expecting anything different after hearing about how he gets bored with and kills women? I think this was a choice Sansa made, she’s got a plan and is finally becoming a “player” on the field of political intrigue.

    I think the scene lingered uncomfortably long for most viewers (myself included). It was hard to see anything bad happen to that poor girl after everything she’s already been through. Sansa’s storyline could have continued just as well by cutting out the scene and showing her distress the next morning (leaving more to the imagination). However, I think the writers kept this in and made it horribly uncomfortable because they are using it to change Theon’s storyline. Definitely need something big and horrific to break his conditioning. That may be why this scene made the cut.

    1. I think it can be dangerous to *not* classify it as rape in the modern sense – just because you don’t or can’t say no doesn’t mean you aren’t inherently being made to have sex against your “will”. Yes she knew that she would likely have to consummate with this monster but that by no means should imply that this was what she wanted. And isn’t that rape? For her it was a move in chess, sacrifice this for a better move or angle later on (hopefully), but it should still be considered rape overall. In the setting, however, this kind of wedding night was nightmarishly common and would likely not stand up to definitions of rape as she is now considered to be, effectively, Ramsay’s property and thus he is entitled to her body. Effin sucks, but sadly true. For our definitions of consent and all, it’s still rape. Please lets not forget that.

      Additionally, I don’t think you can assume Sansa could have handled it any other way. If she threatened Ramsay, an admitted sadistic psychopath, who is to say he wouldn’t have snapped and just killed and or tortured her? They were already wed, he could claim to have consummated (hell, he COULD have still consummated the marriage AFTER he did awful fatal things to her because he is THAT psycho!) and the North would still effectively be in the Bolton’s hands. Yes, he would sacrifice his chance at fathering an heir to really seal the deal, but he doesn’t seem to think things through anyway.

      This made 100% perfect sense in the story and with the characters involved and it still would have made sense if they showed him doing even worse things to our beloved Sansa. She hasn’t lost her power or her agency JUST BECAUSE SHE WAS RAPED. She can still be a strong and independent character who will rise above this bullshit she keeps enduring and STICK EM WITH THE POINTY END! Assuming they have ruined her plotline by showing her being victimized this most recent time does not undo all that she has grown into, it just gives her even more motivation for revenge. Not only did these people help take most of her family away from her, now they have taken away the last vestige of her former life that she still had: her maidenhead and innocence. For Sansa: shit just got real.

    2. Someone hasn’t heard “the yes means yes” campaign. It’s only consensual if you get a yes. So yes that scene was a rape. Everyone but you seems able to grasp this, and rape was the point of the scene that the show writers were going for.

  6. Also, wth? Littlefinger obviously wants Sansa but he has no problem wedding her off to the psychopath Ramsey? Whose father murdered her mother and brother?! I thought for sure, after the appropriate period of pretending to mourn Lysa’s death, he plotted to marry Sansa as she is the key to the North and would give him great leverage and the power he so desires not to mention she’s the daughter of the late love of his life/life long romantic obsession. The way he simply handed her over to the Boltons at Winterfell makes absolutely no sense and the writers don’t seem to feel the need to explain this departure from the character development because…?

    1. Bottom line, Littlefinger loves Littlefinger more than anything and so will do whatever is necessary, make any sacrifice for his own happiness.

      1. Exactly that’s why little fingers plan makes no sense because one wants to rule the north which means he needs Sansa as a wife. Into his happiness is always been centered around since Sansa’s mother and now her. Either way you look at it he needs Sansa alive and by leaving her with Ramsey there’s a good chance she’s not coming back alive.

        1. Perhaps this is to set Ramsy up, use his mistreatment of Sansa as a way to rally the North behind himself – Littlefinger, and come to Sansa’s rescue and set himself into a position to get rid of The Boltons altogether….hope you don’t mind me jumping in…..I’m new this 😊

  7. Actually the whole Sansa raped by Ramsay comes from juxtaposition of Jeyne Poole who gets passed as Arya and married to Ramsay, while Sansa is still in the Vale.

    The problem is while Jeyne is a SECONDARY character who stays weak and broken, Sansa was evolving into quite the opposite and a possible mayor force.

    Thus the story of Sansa is broken, the character making no sense. Which may mean she dies soon.

    As will the show ‘s intelligence.

  8. There is a purpose to the “Wedding Night Rape of Sansa Stark.” Sure Ramsey and Sansa were the catalyst, but it is Theon/Reek that the camera was on as the scene faded to black, it is his continued torture that was highlighted not what was going on off camera.

    Remember, he is the only one that knows that Sansa’s younger brothers were not killed and burned as everyone else has been lead to believe.

  9. I have no idea what is coming next in Sansa’s journey. But it seems clear to me that the rape creates massive hate and division between Sansa and Littlefinger. She had reason to distrust him before, but now she has reason to hate him for putting her in such an unsafe position. He lured her to Winterfell with the promise that she would be safe there. That promise is broken. So i think we’ll see Sansa ultimately go toe-to-toe with Littlefinger, and probably even bring down his ultimate downfall. (The “protoge befells the master” trope). And her rape at the hands of Ramsey is the spark to that entire arc. We *finally* got a glimpse of Littlefingers master plan, with his conversation with Cersei. But he is likely underestimating Sansa. I don’t think he taught her anything. The thing about Sansa is that she learns everything she knows on her own, through personal experience. I’m sure lightbulbs are going off for her regarding Littlefinger’s professed “concern for her”. Remember how she immediately followed Littlefinger’s lead in rejecting Brienne’s offer of assistance? That entire relationship dynamic, i’m sure, has now changed. Sansa will have changed (towards hate of Littlefinger) while Littlefinger will remain completely in the dark about how much she now hates/distrusts him now. And i assume in her character arc she will ultimately play *him* like a fiddle.

  10. Sorry but I disagree. Ramsey is NOT sane and thinking he would respond to a threat in the logical manner you expect is unrealistic. Never assume someone would make a decision for the same reasons you would. He will not accept insult from any but his father. If Sansa had stood up to and threatened him he still would have raped her but he also would have beaten her and chained her to her bed.

    People are upset because the rape scene was against someone they liked and felt sorry for and it is the first time THAT has happened.

    No matter how much people can agree rape is wrong everyone hates Cersei. Nobody wants to say it but everyone to some degree liked seeing her abused. If Jamie had beaten her people would have cheered but because it was rape nobody wanted to cheer so they gave a token rejection of it.

    Daenaerys getting “raped” by Khal Drogo I would argue is far different. Marriage in that culture and its expectations were different. Calling that a rape is not accurate. She was married and expected to have sex with her husband. She did her duty. While you may call it Stockholm syndrome I believe there was a real love between the two that developed and Drogo never mistreated her.

    As far as the path the series is taking… GOOD. The fourth book absolutely sucks. It is a chore to read and I have picked it up and put it down twice. I have read more than 20 books in the past year between the two times I have labored in reading it. Anything that makes the story more interesting is an improvement. Want to know how to kill GoT on HBO… Translate book four to the screen as it was written.

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