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In new 'Game of Thrones' episode, women control the action

The latest episode centered on a big battle and female character Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) played a big part in the outcome. In a smaller scene, two female characters (Emilia Clarke and Gemma Whelan) made an important alliance.

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    'Game of Thrones' stars Emilia Clarke (l.), Alfie Allen (center), and Gemma Whelan (r.).
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The latest episode of “Game of Thrones” included not only a massive battle but various female characters taking center stage and influencing the action. 

Most of the most recent “Thrones” installment, which is the second-to-last of the HBO fantasy show’s sixth season, centered on a battle that took place between the forces fighting for Jon Snow (Kit Harington), former commander of the military group the Night’s Watch, and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), who had taken over Jon’s childhood home of Winterfell and abused Jon’s sister, Sansa. 

(Spoilers follow for this “Thrones” episode…)

When it comes to female characters on the show, viewers no doubt cheered Sansa’s pivotal role in the battle after she wrote to her acquaintance, Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen), and secured more soldiers for Jon. Those forces showed up at an important moment in the battle and helped Jon’s army secure a victory. 

The rest of the episode included even more female characters taking center stage and influencing events. After Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) returned to her kingdom of Meereen, Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) arrived at her court, asking for her aid. Daenerys and Yara agreed to support one another’s claims to their respective thrones – Daenerys for the throne of Westeros, Yara for the throne of the Iron Islands – and stand against Yara’s uncle, Euron, who thinks only of marrying Daenerys.

In addition to this seemingly positive development, Daenerys secured a promise from Yara that the residents of the Iron Islands would stop attacking others. The forces from the Iron Islands had committed rape and many other acts of violence in the past.

These plot developments involving female characters are notable given the criticism in the past over the plot lines involving women on “Thrones,” particularly Ramsay being sexually abusive to Sansa during last season. 

Some viewers may question the involvement of female characters in the action while making morally dubious decisions. For example, in addition to her crucial aid during the battle over Winterfell, Sansa also was the one to decide what to do with the defeated Ramsay, her husband. She chose to make him suffer a gruesome death.

A.V. Club writer Brandon Nowalk wrote of Sansa's decision, "I wonder how much [Ramsay] has rubbed off on her ... surely this counts as cruel and unusual. It’s hard to imagine [Sansa's father] Ned concocting such a scheme," though he added that he found the actions to be "understandable for Sansa." "More than likely, this will be the most merciless Sansa will ever be as a queen," Mr. Nowalk writes. "More than likely her life through the end of the series will trend upward. It’s just that 'Game Of Thrones' keeps preaching non-violence while practicing violence."

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