Game of Thrones has been one of the most violent shows on television since its inception. It was less than halfway into the pilot episode that Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was chopping off heads. The show has also never shied away from strong sexual content, and in some cases has taken the content even further than George R.R. Martin’s source material. The season 5 wedding-night rape scene involving Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) is one of the most notable examples.
The scene, which went way off-script from Martin’s novels by changing the rape victim from a lesser known character to Sansa, drew widespread criticism after its premiere at the end of the sixth episode of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”. The scene was so controversial that it even led the show’s writers to publicly defend it. The show obviously did not stray from its vulgar, violent formula in season 6, even in the wake of the rape scene controversy. In fact, the writers almost threw a subtle jab at its critics.
A series of deleted scenes from the new box set of Game of Thrones season 6 has found its way online, through the We Got This Covered YouTube channel. One particularly striking scene, which Winter is Coming noted, appears to be a statement made toward critics of the show. It contains Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) watching the same play that she checked out on several occasions during her time in Braavos during season 6.
Depicting many of Westeros’ most pivotal moments over the course of the show, the performers employed the same kind of violence and vulgarity that has characterized the show from the beginning. While most of the crowd laughs gleefully at the performances, two spectators appear aghast at the performers’ use of foul language and content during the show. One turns to the other and sarcastically quips, “Violence and profanity. How original.” Arya, who is standing right next to them, quickly turns to them and snaps back, “Why don’t you just leave, then?”
Other deleted scenes in the video are the exchange between Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) and Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) that had already been released, as well as an extended version of the early scenes at Castle Black with Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) direwolf Ghost, pre-resurrection. But the scene with Arya was notable for its apparent self-referencing of the show in addressing critics of Game of Thrones’ graphic, sometimes over-the-top violence and sexual content.
Game of Thrones is certainly not for everybody, but Arya’s solution to the two spectators can also be applied to critics of the show’s content. If you don’t like the blood, guts, and nudity, then simply change the channel. But ultimately, the scene did not serve any meaningful purpose to the story and only existed for the writers to settle some kind of petty score with those who criticized them for their handling of the Sansa rape scene, among other violent moments. Still, it gives a glimpse as to how the writers really feel about their critics.
Game of Thrones season 7 debuts on HBO in summer 2017