On Ros and The Climb

So. Let’s talk about Ros.

In particular, let’s talk about her death. Many eloquent people have already spoken on the subject, and many people have also been arguing that her death isn’t problematic. Although the reveal of her death was punch-to-the-gut shocking, some of these arguments appear fairly persuasive.

So I’m going to talk for a little bit about her death scene (if we can call it that) and the general reasons why it was disturbing and deeply misogynistic. But then I’m going to address in more depth a lot of the arguments that I’ve seen against this perspective, and explore why they don’t hold up under scrutiny.

The scene

Littlefinger talks to Varys about all his Littlefinger schemes. Then he mentions that he gained more of Joffrey’s favor by allowing him to experiment with a toy he wanted to dispose of. This “investment” betrayed him, you see, by selling secrets to Varys. As Littlefinger gives his power speech, the camera pans over Joffrey with a crossbow, before settling on Ros, tied up to a bedpost, clothes falling off. She has several arrows in her, including in her chest and her crotch. The camera zooms in closer, panning up her broken, dead body. And then the picture changes, and Littlefinger continues monologuing.

Why it’s a problem

Ros dies an incredibly sexualised, brutal death, and she dies it off-screen, to tell us something about male characters that we already knew.

That’s it, in a nutshell. Ros is a prostitute, invented by the show for the purpose of sexposition scenes. She has been used, again and again, to develop male characters. Littlefinger expositions about his past while she’s naked on screen. Joffrey threatens her and brutalizes her, to show us just how awful he is (in case we hadn’t already figured it out). However, at the end of the second season, Ros starts to have more agency, as she begins to work for Varys and generally step up in the world. She even talks to Shae about Sansa, and warns her about Littlefinger. And then she’s killed, without ceremony, without a hint of what was coming, without a word of dialogue or a reaction shot or anything. She’s killed in a very sexual way, and we view her death from the outside, looking at her body as Littlefinger talks. We aren’t supposed to think about her and her death, but about Littlefinger, who he is, and what he’s saying.

She doesn’t get the chance to die. She just appears dead, grotesquely sexualised, so we can think, “Wow. These dudes REALLY suck.”

But lots of characters in this series die pointlessly. Why not her? (SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS HERE).

There’s a difference between a pointless death and what happened to Ros. Robb died an apparently pointless death, betrayed at a wedding, with his expected “boy king” plotline cut short. But his death was about him, about who he was and the things that he had done.

Assuming that he’s dead, Jon was also betrayed by his own men, because of things that he chose to do. Of course, lots of nameless people die in the series because of a war that they have nothing to do with, but once a character is named, we at least have some kind of emotional connection with their situation. Yoren died pointlessly… but he died for the Night’s Watch, protecting a bunch of boys (and Arya) that he barely knew. That says something about him. Ros wasn’t even really present in this episode. Her body was, strung up and panned over to say something about Littlefinger, but that body could have been anybody’s. They used Ros because she has a familiar face, and so it has more shock value. And her death was narratively pointless. We didn’t learn anything about any of the characters. It didn’t play a part in Ros’s own story. It was simple, pointless exploitation.

But Westeros is a misogynistic world. The show isn’t being misogynistic by portraying that.

I agree that the show can develop a misogynistic world without being misogynistic itself. I would argue that it’s something the books generally achieve, although they do have their problems too. But the key to this is perspective. Are these women fully developed characters of their own, with plotlines and goals? Do we see the misogyny from their perspective, or it is background noise, something only used to say things about others? Last week, we saw Cersei’s horror and fear when Tywin declared that she must marry Loras. The scene says something about Tywin (and how little he cares for his daughter’s feelings), it says something about the value of women in Westeros, but it also says something about Cersei and the things she’s struggled against. Tywin might be doing most of the talking, but we feel for Cersei. Similarly, Brienne’s almost rape a few episodes ago was horrific and really difficult to watch, but again it not only told us things about the Bloody Mummers and about Jaime, but things about Brienne as well. It was a part of her story and the development of her character. We sympathized with her, and were meant to see it partly from her perspective, to feel the horror that she felt.

Ros’s death gets no such courtesy. She doesn’t get a perspective here. She doesn’t even really matter. We didn’t see the moment when Littlefinger confronted her about her working for Varys. We didn’t see or hear her say or do anything. It could have been any female character with arrows in her. We see her entirely from the outside. The show is not criticising misogyny here, but using it.

Joffrey and Littlefinger are evil. This is exactly the sort of thing they would doThe show has to make that clear to the audience.

The books manage to tell us that Joffrey is evil without including scenes like this. And we already knew that Joffrey and Littlefinger were terrible people. We already had a horrific prostitute-torture scene with Joffrey last season. We’ve seen him both emotionally and physically abuse Sansa. We saw the way he tried to kill Ser Dontos. We see his psychopathic tendencies when talking to Margaery. We get it. He’s a horrible person. This scene added nothing to our understanding of that. And there are ways to suggest that a character is evil without exploiting female characters in this way.

And if he has to do these things on screen, at least give his victims a voice as well, instead of throwing them in as disturbing human window-dressing.

But what about Theon? He’s tortured in this episode as well.

I found the Theon torture scene in this episode horrific as well. To be honest, I have no idea what Ramsey was doing in the final minute or so of that scene, because I was struggling to cover both my eyes and my ears at the same time. In my opinion, that scene crossed a line for graphicness and audience manipulation, and I really wish they’d left it out, or at least filmed it in a different way. But part of the reason that Theon’s scene crossed a line is that, like many before it, it makes us feel for Theon. The scene showed us how psychopathic Ramsey is, but it was mainly part of Theon’s story, part of the horrific fall that he began last season, and part of a plot that will develop in the future and affect his character in fundamental ways. Theon has always been a fully-fledged character in the story, with relationships and goals and emotions and problems of his own, and his current situation has developed out of that. Ros has often been little more than background nudity, and this scene exploited and tossed her aside again.

Book fans hated Ros. Shouldn’t they be happy?

I’ve always been neutral on Ros, so I can’t directly address this one. But I’d like to that think at least some of the general hatred for the character was based on people’s dislike of pointless sexposition and brothel scenes. A Song of Ice and Fire is a sprawling world, and adapting it for TV means that some plotlines and scenes and characters must be cut out. I think that most readers would be frustrated at seeing pointless nudity instead of spending more time with their favorite characters. As Ros was the embodiment of this problem in the first season, this anger became directed at her. And easily so. Ros did have a little bit of character in the first season, a little bit of sass and strength (and that is to the actress’s credit), but how can people view her as a character with a plotline of her own when she is literally just presented as something for us to look at while other characters talk?

But even if people genuinely hated Ros, that doesn’t mean that we should enjoy the manner of her death. When I read A Clash of Kings, Theon was my least favorite character. Forget Joffrey; Theon was the character I thought most deserved to get his comeuppance. That didn’t change the fact that what happens to him is horrific, something that nobody deserves to go through. Disliking a character doesn’t mean that viewers want them to go through a torturous, misogynistic end.

Ros died as she lived: as a woman in the background, and a tool to further the development of male characters. Anger about that shouldn’t be directed at her, but at the writers who created her.

The arrows on Ros’s body mirrored the ones that Arya shot at the start of the episodeHer death is developing FEMALE characters as well.

I haven’t actually seen anyone arguing about this, but it’s been on my mind, so I’m going to throw it in. At the beginning of the episode, Arya practices shooting and hits where she intends to hit: “head, tits, balls.” Melisandre says there’s darkness in the girl, and that seems proved right when Joffrey’s merciless murder of Ros involves the same arrow shots. But this is still really problematic. Firstly, Ros still died off-screen to develop other characters, with her body trussed up during a monologue to show how evil they are. It might show that Arya has darkness as well, but it’s still using Ros as a sexual tool to make a statement about others. And if the scene was to show how evil Littlefinger and Joffrey are, the Arya connection somewhat negates it. Arya might become increasingly brutal as the story continues, but she has reasons to hate the people she wants to kill. She imagines killing Cersei, Joffrey and Ilyn Payne… and every one of those people did something to emotionally damage her and destroy her life. Arya’s arrows are about both Arya and the person she’s shooting. Joffrey’s arrows have nothing to do with Ros at all.

But what else could they do with Ros? She’s not a book character, she was just going to get in the way.

And this, I think, is the worst problem. The writers created Ros as a sexposition character. They didn’t need to have her around, but they decided that having another named prostitute character was worthwhile. OK. Fine. Then they used her to replace other characters, like Alayaya and Chataya. Again, fine. Problematic that they replaced some of the few non-white named characters with Ros, but it’s an adaptation, and simplifications have to be made. But if they are going to make a character, to name her, to have her appear everywhere, to begin to develop her and give her some purpose as the series goes on, they can’t just then toss her aside like narrative garbage when it pleases them. There are many roles she could have taken, and even assuming a pure interpretation of the books, there were alternatives to killing her off in this way. She could have stopped appearing in the show altogether. There are lots of characters, and not enough time for all of them. She could have been Varys’ voice when speaking to characters that Varys wasn’t likely to communicate with. She could have moved out of King’s Landing to somewhere safer. Varys could have sent her elsewhere. Or, in a worst case scenario, she could have died in a way that was about her. She could have been given even a shred of agency. Littlefinger’s speech was about how she failed the climb. Perhaps we could have seen her struggle, seen her fail, seen even a hint of what happened from the perspective of her as a living, breathing human being.

Or perhaps the show shouldn’t have created an original prostitute character in the first place if it wasn’t sure what to do with her and couldn’t handle her with some degree of humanity and respect.

35 comments on “On Ros and The Climb

  • hoover2001 , Direct link to comment

    I thought the scene was excellent. Brutal, disturbing and memorable with Littlefinger’s speech to an outmaneuvered Varys about the thin veneer between civilization and a Hobbesian nightmare. All the myths that bind society are based on lies and this establishes the difference between Littlefinger’s cynicism and Varys, who knows this as well, a man who actually appears to want to keep this chaos at bay. And poor
    Ros, martyred for the little people crushed under the feet of the more powerful, in a scene filmed like one of those unnerving Renaissance paintings (something this show is quite good at.)

  • Foxessa , Direct link to comment


    heon was the character I thought most deserved to get his comeuppance. That didn’t change the fact that what happens to him is horrific, something that nobody deserves to go through. Disliking a character doesn’t mean that viewers want them to go through a torturous, misogynistic end.

    St. Sebastian, is a very different kind of eroticized death by arrows, . For one thing St. Sebastian, well, as we see, he became a saint. As we see just from that, his death is about him and his narrative, which continues into present day. It’s been inspiration for all kinds of art, from the Italian Renaissance oil paintings, to film. His dead body — often also depicted in bonds — with a varying number of arrows in him, is as eroticized in postures as are the very many of crucified Christ.

    But none of this is operational when it comes to Ros, is it. As you say, we already know just how horrible and terrifying and evil are Joffrey and Littlefinger — pathological perverts who are also narcissists. We already know this. Couldn’t the writers come up with anything else at all that might move the story along instead of more of this waste of screen time?

  • Honey , Direct link to comment

    Ros could have actually fit quite well into the Dontos role, reluctantly helping Littlefinger lure Sansa away, but then reconsidering at the last moment and being killed. That would have been an incredibly easy solution that would have made sense and fulfilled the promise of her recent development, served the storyline, and – if he revealed he planned to kill her all along – shown just as well that Petyr is ruthless and amoral.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      That would have been excellent, and achieved all of the things this scene attempted, without its problems. But that would have taken too much forethought, I guess.

    • Amadeus , Direct link to comment

      This is the first time I have read that suggestion, and it sounds absolutely awesome! I’m even sort of sad now that the showrunners didn’t do that. Such a lost opportunity.

    • Em , Direct link to comment

      That’s an excellent alternative and it serves a purpose for the plot. Oh, shmerg. Headcanon accepted, as they say on tumblr.

  • Foxessa , Direct link to comment

    We were signaled that this would happen to some woman before long, in the previous episode’s scene in which Joffrey could barely contain himself, restrain himself from shooting Margaery.

    This, like so much in this series, brings to mind Robert Graves’s I Claudius, in which Caligula couldn’t refrain from having the most graceful, lovely white necks of his sister and other wives being chopped through — because he wanted to, and because nobody could restrain him (by this time Caligula had declared himself a god, more powerful even than Jove). It’s no secret that Graves’s Claudius series and the BBC Claudius series are among the many works from which the author has received inspiration. Just like that camp behind the water fall is out of LoTR — which also received it from a previous source — including the James Fenimore Cooper Leatherstocking series — which was so popular in Europe and which so influenced some of the writers that Tolkien was influenced by, including the Polish Nobel Prize winner, Sienkiewicz.

  • Angie , Direct link to comment

    The unfortunate part of this scene is that it is very REAL. These sorts of things do happen all the time. Joffrey’s power remained unchecked for so long that people have really come to harm. It is an unfortunate death, but honestly, it really showed how sick Joffrey is. There is a difference between ordering others to do violence and actually doing it yourself. This also shows how ruthless and vengeful Baelish is; honestly, Ros probably isn’t the first one to have come to this sort of fate at the hands of Baelish, but it is important to show the people who watch the show that he is not someone to take lightly.

    • Honey , Direct link to comment

      There are so many ways to show that Joffrey and Baelish are not to be taken lightly, such as ALL THE WAYS THAT THE BOOK DID SO. Did you think Joffrey and Petyr were darling little lambs in the book because they didn’t kill a prostitute by shooting her in the crotch with a crossbow? (this question is rhetorical) If you specifically need the violent, sexualized death of a prostitute to let you understand that a bad guy is bad, then either the bad guy is very poorly written, or you are not especially intelligent.

      • kaidynamite , Direct link to comment

        The thing is, you cant keep saying they could have done it the way the books did it. you CANNOT perfectly adapt a book into a tv show or a movie. they are two different mediums. theres a reason directors and writers make changes to stories and characters when portraying them on screen. if you were to exactly follow the books then i can guarantee that the tv show wouldnt be as popular as it is now.
        i agree they should have handled the death better but i think they were backed into a corner with ros with no other way out.

        • Honey , Direct link to comment

          I don’t keep saying that at all, thanks. I keep saying that the argument that Ros had to die this way in order to show how Joffrey and Petyr are is bullshit, because there are a hundred different ways that could have been shown – and the book provided tons of them – without using Ros as a disposable, boobtastic prop.

          When someone is creating something to put on screen, they are making hundreds of choices. We are allowed to question those choices when they’re screwy or sexist or fucked up. Because they aren’t something that HAPPENED, they’re something that was MADE and CREATED, and that says something about the people who created them and the world they’re creating them for. By arguing for the necessity of this scene, you’re arguing that the only way we can know someone is bad is if they casually kill a prostitute in a grossly sexualized manner. You’re arguing that it’s okay for a woman’s torture to be casually used to characterize a male character. You’re arguing that no critical gaze on the part of the show is needed. You’re arguing that it’s okay for the large female audience of the show to be subjected to constant scenes that reinforce the fears they feel every day, without any commentary from the show on how, hey, that’s kind of shitty. You’re arguing for women’s fears to be used for cheap entertainment value.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      I’m not sure that it’s part of their characters, though, at least in the books. Littlefinger is horrible, but he has more subtlety about it (at least as far as I remember), and I don’t recall there being any mention of Joffrey doing anything like this. They can show that they’re not people to take lightly without going to this length, and if they must do this, they can ensure that the female character involved is treated like a *character*, and not just as a prop in their story.

      • Ann , Direct link to comment

        I think there’s a very good argument that Joffrey’s behavior is OOC. He’s a monster, but not in this vein. I don’t believe Joffrey ever got his hands dirty in the books IIRC.

  • ok , Direct link to comment

    The death was hardly sexualized. It had sexual undertones because she is a prostitute. The arrows weren’t in her “genitals” – the arrow in her chest was quite clearly in her heart, and the lower arrow was in her abdomen. She was tied to the bedpost and dressed in revealing clothing, but the bedpost felt more convenient than anything else, and the clothing is to be expected because she is a whore.
    Ros’s character was always a storytelling device. Throwaway characters exist in every series. Her death was used for shock value, to take Joffrey’s cruelty a step further, and to solidify Littlefinger as a serious contender. She was simply a playing piece in the game. And yes, misogyny exists in the series, and the writers do use it as a plot device.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      The fact that Ros was always a storytelling device is precisely the problem I’m criticizing.

    • Em , Direct link to comment

      I looked at the episode again and nope, there’s quite clearly an arrow sticking out from between her legs. I was actually surprised they let her wear her (admittedly skimpy) dress, precisely because she’s a whore. This being GOT, I rather expected her to be naked…

  • boomshakalaka , Direct link to comment

    Not sure why everybody is so mad about Ros’s death, she was useless character that didn’t bring anything to the show.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      The fact that she was a “useless character” who brought nothing to the show is part of what we’re criticizing. I at least am not mourning a beloved character — if she had vanished from the show, I doubt I would even have noticed. It’s the way that she was “useless,” and the way the show disposed of her, that’s the problem.

  • Louis , Direct link to comment

    In previous episodes, we’ve been made to have great sympathy for Ros, such as when she was in tears and being threatened by Littlefinger. We also felt sympathy for her and the woman she was forced to beat by Joffrey. It seems to me that they simply ran out of time to show the scene (and had essentially already shown what happened in the previous scene I referenced).

    “Last week, we saw Cersei’s horror and fear when Tywin declared that she must marry Loras. The scene says something about Tywin (and how little he cares for his daughter’s feelings), it says something about the value of women in Westeros, but it also says something about Cersei and the things she’s struggled against. Tywin might be doing most of the talking, but we feel for Cersei.”

    We also saw Tyrion’s horror and fear when Tywin declared that he must marry Sansa. If forcing Cersei into a marriage shows sexism against women, then why do you ignore Tyrion’s similar plight? Doesn’t it also say something about the value of men in Westeros? Or perhaps it simply shows Tywin’s regard for his children?

    If you’re unhappy with inequality in society, do something important instead of inventing problems about TV shows. There is sexism in the world and it is a problem, but you’re focusing on the least important aspect of it.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      Regarding the Lannister family scene: I think it shows Tywin’s lack of regard for his children. This week we Edmure protest that no man can be forced to marry someone against his will… clearly this doesn’t also apply to women in Westeros. Obviously what is happening to Tyrion in that scene is horrible too, but as I wanted to talk about an example of a female character being sympathetic in the show, I obviously focussed on the female character in the scene.

      I don’t see how criticising sexism in media isn’t important. Media representation is shown to have a significant impact on people’s perceptions. There are enough problems in the world and in media without me “inventing” some. Why would I waste time imagining more? To piss off a few Game of Thrones fans, when I consider myself one as well?

      • Ann , Direct link to comment

        Seriously. Media perception IS part of the problem. Media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When I heard about those three women chained up like animals in Cleveland for more than a decade, and then I hear people in the GOT fandom tell me that nothing like what happened to Ros and how Joffrey treats the sex workers like animals could ever happen in real life, I shake my head. Media perceptions of women contributes to sexism 100% just as stereotypes about marginalized groups contributes to those stereotypes propogated in real life. Again, media doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    • Anne , Direct link to comment

      Yes please, do explain to us how we’re supposed to fight sexism. Entertain me.
      The thing is,this show is watched by millions and millions of people. So, I think we can safely infer that at least subconsciously, it will have an impact. If stories didn’t not have such power, why would the human kind waste so much time creating them and developing them? Telling stories has always been an incredibly big deal in every. single. society. Maybe that’s because they matter and deeply affect people!
      You can’t dissect sexism and differentiate between what happens in TV and in society in general or in such or such field. It’s inter-related. So, yeah, by analyzing such shows, by showing troubling implications, we are doing something, mind you. I refuse to accept sexism or to view it as something normal. It’s not. I am unhappy with it, in all its forms. Aren’t you?
      As for you’re “But do something!1!!”, it’s also incredibly dismissive of the reality we live in. Precisely because as a woman and as a feminist, I’m much more likely to be derided, disregarded, put aside, and altogether unheard. It’s not a matter of our own free will.
      As for the Lannister scene: I personally did not see fear in Tyrion’s reaction. Horror, yes, but not fear. Because in his marriage, he would be the one to hold the power, and have the authority, due to Westeros sexist standards. He would keep his agency.
      Cersei? Well, she faces the very real threat of rape, and the loss of the independence she strove to gain. So, no, they’re still not equal in the consequences and implications of marriage.

      • FloppyHair , Direct link to comment

        I agree with you on most of that (especially about the difference in what marriage means for Tyrion and Cersei), but I can’t resist one snarky point. Loras rape Cersei? Really?

        • Anne , Direct link to comment

          Yeah, I know. But it’s rather farfetched. But not impossible if we imagine he’d be pressured into making an heir to Highgarden, for instance. Or tries to fit in this new role.
          But mostly, I’d argue that even if I can’t see Loras raping Cersei, it’s most likely that she remembers quite distinctly the marital rapes perpetuated that Robert, and I think her perceptible fear when she learns she’s to marry Loras might be interpreted as those memories coming back!

  • Jessica , Direct link to comment

    So, you just have a problem because a female just happens to be a storytelling device and died?
    I didn’t exactly like Ros, but her death was not exactly “pointless” and shocked me a little bit.
    We saw Ros start to develop her character. She wanted to help Sansa, she had concern to her, so she risked her life to help her – by talking to Varys and to Shae. Ros knew that Littlefinger was a dangerous man, and that says something in her character that she would risk her life to ensure Sansa was safe. Ros died because she “betrayed” Littlefinger.
    We didn’t need to see Ros die on screen. I don’t think her last moments should have been her crying in pain, begging for her life as Joffrey practiced his crossbow skills. Her death offscreen was enough and she died as a repercussion of trying to help Sansa.
    Sure, she was convenient as a storytelling device, but with so much information in the books, someone has to take the plunge. Don’t be annoyed just because it’s a woman. She had development. It’s a shame it was cut short, but this is Game of Thrones. No one is safe.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      Ros had a lot of potential for story here. All that you said about Ros trying to protect Sansa is true… but it’s not entirely clear from the show itself. She warned Shae to protect Sansa, and then vanished for four episodes until she appeared dead. We almost have to make up her development to fill in all the gaps. I’m glad that we didn’t see a long, drawn out death scene for her, but I wish we had seen *something* in between those two scenes to show what was going on from her perspective, instead of an aside of “btw Littlefinger is evil.”

  • Louis , Direct link to comment

    And what about the deaths of all of Robert Baratheon’s bastard sons? Why wasn’t that scene sexist and the deaths pointless? After all, that showed more about Joffrey/Cersei than the boys themselves. They were just used as “storytelling devices” and that’s the problem you’ve been criticising!

    Well, my eyes have been opened. Truly it is the most sexist show on television.

    I think you have a bad case of bias.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      I never claim to be objective, and I don’t think GoT is near being able to claim the title “most sexist show on television.” I didn’t claim that it could.

      Robert Baratheon’s bastard sons weren’t named characters. And I addressed the difference between the deaths of unnamed smallfolk and Ros’s death in the article.

    • Amadeus , Direct link to comment

      They didn’t just kill the bastard boys, they killed the girls as well (at least the girl in the brothel, I see no reason to why they wouldn’t kill other girls). Therefore it has nothing to do with sexism. And like Rhiannon points out, there’s a big difference between unnamed characters and characters with actual screen time.

  • Caroline , Direct link to comment

    You say that the deaths of Robb and Jon had to do with their own choices or actions. How is Ros’ death then not directly related to her betrayal of Littlefinger? Just because he’s an antagonist character it doesn’t make their agreement less valid.

    If Theon to some degree deserves being tortured for betraying Robb, why is it unfair/sexist/pointless when Ros dies after betraying Littlefinger? I think this show is in a lot of ways about the empowerment of women, with all the strong female characters like Dany, Arya. Catelyn, Margaery, Olenna, Sansa, Cersei… I could go on. In a misogynistic world such as Westeros, it’s not realistic to expect every single female character to succeed. There will always be casualties, named or unnamed, and there was nothing pointless about Ros death. I really liked her, and I believe her death had a great effect on her own character as well as those of Joffrey/Littlefinger/Varys.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      I think someone could draw interesting parallels between Robb’s death (because he betrayed the Freys) and Ros’s death (because she betrayed Littlefinger), but only if we actually got to SEE Ros’s actions. Failure is fine, but I’d like to see some of her striving and failing onscreen, her navigating the problems of working with both Varys and Littlefinger, if she’s going to end up dead in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gratuitous shot at the end of an episode. My point was that Robb’s death tells us something about the Freys (you really don’t want to mess with them, they’re traitorous and horrific), but it also tells us something about Robb, and how he deals with honor. Ros’s death only told us things about Littlefinger and Joffrey, and they were things we already knew.

      I didn’t say Theon deserves being tortured by Ramsey Bolton for betraying Robb. I actually specifically said that I find those scenes horrific and, although I really hated Theon after the second book, he certainly didn’t deserve any of what happens to him.

  • FloppyHair , Direct link to comment

    I agree that there are valid readings of the scene as sexist, but I don’t think that’s by any means the only way to read it, and I take issue with a few of the points you raised.

    1. Ros being “discarded” doesn’t require sexism. Male characters are also “discarded”, e.g., Ned’s household guard (including at least one named character) when Jaime confronts Ned in King’s Landing. It’s not really a battle; they simply get slaughtered. I’m actually reminded of Cedric Diggory. He was an actual character, who had plenty of screen time, was well-loved in the school, and had boundless potential — but died wordlessly, pointlessly, because in the moment he was just an inconvenience to someone more powerful. He was quite capable of a heroic last stand, but wasn’t given the opportunity. It said something about evil, about war, about “fairness”. Ros isn’t mourned the way Cedric was, but then how could she be, given the secrecy surrounding what happened?

    2. Ros having no agency in her own death doesn’t require sexism. That was the point: she was a pawn who stepped out of place and was removed from the board. That’s what happens when you over-estimate yourself (or trust the wrong people) in King’s Landing. Also, as others have argued, it *was* her own choices that led to her death.

    3. Ros’s post-death montage was unnecessarily gruesome and sexual. Yes, but “unnecessarily gruesome and sexual” is sort of the theme of the show in general, and isn’t limited to women. Theon almost gets raped. “Arry” is threatened with similar, even though everyone thought she was male. Ygritte’s threats against Jon are sexualized, and plenty gruesome.

    4. The audience doesn’t need to be reminded that Joffrey and Littlefinger are evil. True. They also don’t need to be reminded that Cersei is a (violently) protective mother, or that Dany is an impulsive badass, or that The Mountain is heartless. But people don’t stop acting a certain way just because they’ve already sufficiently established a reputation, and neither do good characters. “Giving his victims a voice” would defeat the purpose. Sometimes a character dies like Hamlet, but sometimes they die like Cedric Diggory.

    • Rhiannon , Direct link to comment

      1. It’s a combination of being “discarded” and being discarded in a sexual way. It’s also her utter unimportance in the episode, and in the scene itself. Jory was never a character who was used a naked eye-candy backdrop while other characters said important things. It’s the combination of her life AND her death that makes it so problematic.

      2. It doesn’t require sexism, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. If her own choices caused it, perhaps we should have seen some of them. We haven’t seen her in five episodes, unless I’m forgetting something. We got no clue that she was in danger, beyond the fact that people who trust the wrong people die. Perhaps we should have seen her doing more of this work that got her killed, or seen a sign that things were going wrong, or *something*, instead of the writers basically thinking, “Hm, need to remind the audience about Joffrey and Littlefinger. Oh, that Ros character is alive… let’s kill her, that’s nice and simple.’

      3. I never said that the way some of those other scenes were presented in the series weren’t worth criticizing either. Tbh, that moment with Theon seemed unnecessarily gratuitous to me too. But it’s all in the presentation. And in this case, it’s the combination of the way that Ros died, the way it was presented in the story and by the camera, AND how she had been treated and used in the series up to this point.

      4. But we’re not reminded of the other things mentioned here pointlessly in the show. Cersei is a fiercely protective mother… in scenes where something is happening to her children, where the plot is progressing. Dany is an impulsive badass as she makes her way to Westeros, but her plot is evolving as she does it. She takes new cities, she liberates slaves, she sets fire to a maegi and brings dragons into the world. Once her plot stops evolving, and she sits in Meereen for forever and a day, her story is criticized. And this wasn’t an evolving plot for Joffrey. It was just a repeat of something we’ve seen him do before.

  • voodooqueen126 , Direct link to comment

    I hated Ros,
    I found her use in sexposition, her unproblematic portrayal of prostitution (the happy hooker) unrealistic, I was also secretly terrified that Benioff and Weiss, who seem to despise Sansa, would use Ros to topple Littlefinger, because the idea of a virginal, religious girl like Sansa being an active heroine, was incomprehensible to B&W… so I was frightened that Ros would fulfil the Littlefinger toppling role.
    Nevertheless I hated the way they killed her; it was cruel, unnecessarily mysoginistic, sexualised…
    Personally I wish they had killed her with Syphilis (during the earliest outbreaks in Europe, it killed quite rapidly) which would be a good way to demonstrate that prostitution is considered problematic (and awful) for a very rational reason.
    It’s also a less female specific death, since men can die of VD as well.

  • Gregg , Direct link to comment

    If you look hard enough, you’ll find misogyny and sexism in everything. I really don’t get the point of you singling out Ros’ death and saying the show or the creators are misogynists for having done something like that. In this show, countless of males are killed left and right and no one bats an eye. Bastard baby boys had their tiny necks sliced open and feminists remained quiet. Theon is tortured, no one cares. Several men are castrated, hell there is an entire army of ten thousand men who have had their balls and dick cut off, were slaves and were raised through a gruesome hellish training regiment, and I see you write nothing in their defense.

    The world of “Game of Thrones” is filled with cruelty, sexual violence and death. Very often might makes right throughout the series. For you to say that women in particular have it worse is laughably stupid.

    Good day.

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