[Spoilers for Game Of Thrones season 8, episode 4 below.)
Sunday night’s episode of Game Of Thrones was a disappointment to many, with its lackluster plotting exacerbated by the writers’ poor handling of its female characters. As our own Danette Chavez wrote in her review, the combination of Dany’s abrupt downturn, Brienne’s out-of-character sobbing at Jaime’s departure, and Sansa claiming that the assaults she endured were character-building resonates as “another example in Thrones’ long history of underdeveloping female characters or using sexist tropes as shorthand.”
Jessica Chastain, who stars alongside Sansa actress Sophie Turner in the upcoming Dark Phoenix, agrees. On Monday night, Chastain took to Twitter to voice concerns about a scene in which The Hound tells Sansa she’d have avoided such torture had she left with him in season two, leading Sansa to reply, “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would’ve stayed a little bird all my life.”
“Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” Chastain wrote on Twitter Monday night. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The little bird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.” Accompanying the tweet is a GIF of Turner assuming the Iron Throne.
Game Of Thrones has long been a hotbed of debate, with the show’s creators having a long history of poorly handling scenes of sexual assault. Chastain, meanwhile, has been known to call out sexism in Hollywood, having previously spoken out against troubled networks like CBS and alleged abusers like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bryan Singer, all while being asked by male colleagues to “calm down.”