Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the latest Game of Thrones, stop reading here—we talk about an especially dark and upsetting scene from last night's episode.
Last night, Sansa Stark was finally married to Ramsay Bolton, and the Thrones showrunners decided to close out the episode with a rape scene. It's not that rape doesn't happen in George R. R. Martin's books, or that Ramsay isn't a scumbag (he even forces Theon Greyjoy to watch)—but this scene just comes across as brutal and totally unnecessary. This doesn't actually happen to Sansa in the books, though—it happens to a minor character, so why would producers feel the need to cut down one of the show's strongest characters, just when she was getting some sense of control back in her life?
Fans were understandably pissed, and went off on the producers on Twitter:
Sansa Stark has grown into a smart, courageous and strong female character. Why did the #GOT show runners need to invent that rape scene?— Jennifer Gasbarro (@JenGasbarro) May 18, 2015
@barfqueen DON'T BE LIKE SANSA IS SLAYING AND THEN CASUALLY DROP THIS RAPE BOMB— sam. (@vigilist) May 18, 2015
Really, another rape scene? Horrible direction for the show to go in. The list of awful things done to Sansa keeps growing #GameofThrones— Armando M. Perez (@ArmandoMPerez) May 18, 2015
SURE LET'S RAPE SANSA. THAT'S TOTALLY OK. #NOTITSNOT— Osha (@OshaTheWildling) May 18, 2015
there are people who still think game of thrones is the best show on tv?? they're just ignoring the use of rape as a plot device?? how??— sophie (@maryscrawley) May 18, 2015
Game of Thrones: Using a woman's rape as a sympathy building character moment for a male character. Wrong, gross, and bad storytelling.— Ben Samuels-Kalow (@bensk) May 18, 2015
I've read the books. No wonder GRRM is distancing himself slowly.— Gaby Dunn (@gabydunn) May 18, 2015
Maybe if Martin isn't happy, fans will turn their back too? Only time will tell.
UPDATE, May 18, 1:00 p.m. ET: Plenty of people are upset about Sansa's rape scene, but Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, isn't one of them. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Turner said that she "secretly loved" doing the scene. "I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching," she said. "It was all so messed up. It’s also so daunting for me to do it. I’ve been making [Bryan Cogman] feel so bad for writing that scene: 'I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!' But I secretly loved it."
Even author George R. R. Martin defended the scene, explaining that while it strays from the books, it is a necessary and reasonable change.
"There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one," the Thrones author wrote. "And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes." He assures fans that the TV show and the book series are just "Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose ... but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place."