Sansa's rape was for Theon's character development because Hollywood continues to deny the female agency and perspective and instead myopically focuses on the male. I hated the rape aspect as a whole, but from an objective standpoint it is part of GRRM's world, rape in general and marital rape specifically. But during a time when we're supposed to be focused on Sansa's trauma, heartache, and pain...they went to Theon and instead we focused on how Sansa's rape was affecting him. That's a big no-no for me. And in the end, it is Theon who is the hero to poor defenseless Sansa. Nothing about the rape of Sansa and her situation furthers her character. It makes her pitiable but after 3 seasons with Joffery, Sansa is already pitiable. It makes Ramsey a monster but after watching him flay and slice up Theon, he is already a monster. It makes the Bolton family the enemies of the Starks, but after Roose betrayed Robb at the Twins and then took Winterfell for himself, the Boltons already are the enemies of the Starks. In other words, packing Sansa off to Winterfell and having her married and raped by Ramsey Snow served no purpose in furthering Sansa's arc or the arc of the grand narrative. I'll just keep reminding myself that Sansa is really in the Vale, eating lemon cakes, and toying with Harry the Heir at Littefinger's insistence.
Her walk back to Meereen is all about "vs": Peace vs War, Dragon vs Harpy, Meereen vs Westeros, Monster vs Mother. And all of that--ALL OF THAT--was cut from this "adaptation." They want Dany to be a badass except when it comes to the really important non-dragon, non-fire and blood moments when they clearly find her boring or something (or maybe they don't get her). If I look back I am lost, to go forward I must go back, dragons plants no trees, sitting next to Drogon waiting for the Dothraki, remembering that her house words are "fire and blood...." ALL of those are so incredibly important to who Dany is: she is the balance of life and death, the harmony of the never ending cycle of rebirth and loss of life. She is the Mother and The Dragon. She is war and she is peace. She is Brahma and Shiva. She can create a new world ONLY after she has destroyed the old one. But if you were just watching the show you'd only know that 1) she's hot 2) has dragons 3) has a lot of men that are in love with her and 4) is in deep shit cause oh no! the Dothraki found her! I bet they are mad or something! Golly, I hope those two men who love her so much find her quick cause otherwise she's doooooomed! Poor Sad Female!
Fun fact: in the books, Shireen and Stannis are about 1,000 miles apart from each other. While I've always seen Stannis as an Agamemnon figure, I've also seen him as someone who subverts Agamemnon, especially where his daughter is concerned. Where Agamemnon kills Iphigenia, I've often predicted that Stannis will arrive too late to save his daughter from his own wife and his Red Woman (who has stopped wearing red in the show...odd). Once again, Stannis burning Shireen at the stake without so much as a blink is a disconnect from what was previously established for the character of Stannis. A few episodes prior to the conflagration, Stannis gave the most passionate speech I think we've ever heard from him about how Shireen is his child, two weeks ago he sent Mel away for even suggesting that they hurt Shireen. And then he decides to burn his only child--his heir--why? It doesn't make narrative sense for Stannis to go from point A to point Z without a layover in point B-Y. How did he get to that emotional point? HOW?! Just because of the lack of food? Because in ADWD, they are at that point and know what Stannis says: "pray harder." Also, they aren't lacking food given that Stannis orders the slain 100+ horses to be cut up into meat. In the books, those he burns are traitors or his enemies, not his own men and not his own family. If Stannis were to arrive back to Castle Black (where Mel and Shireen are in the books) it would be just right after Mel sets Shireen ablaze. That's Stannis's tragedy. He's always just off by a bit. So why have Stannis burn Shireen? Because the writers don't want us to cheer for anyone except Tyrion, Jon, and Dany. Those are their three big damn heroes and everyone else be damned, never mind the very carefully layered book construction that paints all three as far more grey than white hatted heroes. So Stannis burns his child because it's shocking; because it would set the audience's heart aflutter and make them talk and tweet and watch next week to see if the sacrifice was worth it--never mind the fact that R'hllor does not actually exist in Martin's universe. But it was an unearned scene; the situation was not that horrible, no more so than it was the previous episode unless I am willing to suspend all my disbelief and accept that Ramsey Bolton really stormed into an entire army encampment with 19 men and killed hundreds of horses and burned all the foodstuffs without anyone noticing (really...not one person noticed or captured one of the Northmen?) And finally to have it be Selyese, who all season has been Queen Burn-All-The-Things, be the one to suddenly turn into the considerate parent who doesn't want her daughter burned and then kills herself in the finale. It was like watching a Greek farce in which one bad thing happens, one right after the next: Stannis burns his daughter, men desert him, his wife kills herself, and Mel leaves. Why did Mel leave exactly? Mel in the books wouldn't abandon her Azor Ahai (even though he's clearly not Azor Ahai). The writers on GoT just straight up hate Stannis for some inexplicable reason and don't seem to understand him. It isn't ambition that drives Stannis; it's duty. His final words to Brienne (whom I'll be skipping since she is so far removed from Book Brienne I don't even think we can call her Brienne) "do your duty" are actually perfect so I applaud the writers on that, but otherwise they don't get that Stannis is the best commander in Westeros, knows how to conduct war and what it takes to win a war and win a siege, and doesn't actually want the Throne but feels that he has to take it because it's what his duty requires of him since he is Robert's true heir.
The other and last aspect I am going to talk about are the events of the Wall (because I can't touch Dorne with a ten foot pole). If I just said go read the books would that be enough? No, probably not. There was no build up, no time spent on why the men of the Night's Watch are angry, why this is "for the Watch." In the books, there is a moment--a singular moment--in which Jon chooses something that casts him as an Oath Breaker. Up until that point, the men under him are upset with Jon's decisions but they don't oppose him violently. But when Jon makes his decision to, essentially, break his oaths to the Watch, that's when the men decide to kill him. And it's powerful and sad--the men doing the killing are actually crying. And of course Jon's not really dead but you wouldn't know this from the show. In the books it's clear based on clues to what--or who--Jon really is and it is his final words, "Ghost," that indicate that Jon has most likely warged but we don't even know where Ghost is here in GoT! Does Ghost still exist for Jon? He appeared once this season for Sam..... There was none of this Emo Olly nonsense in the books and this "Olly" insertion is the best example of something that is straight from the minds of the show runners that just abysmally fails. But what angers me more than the messed up For the Watch moment were the final moments between Sam and Jon. In what universe does Sam leave Jon willingly? In what universe does Sam ask to be sent away from the danger? None. There is no universe in which that is true. It is so so so so important to both characters that it is Jon who orders Sam to go to Oldtown and become a Maester. He does it to keep Aemon Targaryen (already dead now) and Mance Rayder's son (who does not exist on the show) safe from Melisandre and her obsession with King's blood. Sam goes to learn more about the Walkers, but it is Jon making a very cold, hard decision that is all about killing the boy so that the man can live. But Sam asking to go to Oldtown reeks of desertion and fear and being a coward. And while Sam might be a coward, he'd never willingly abandon Jon Snow. It just goes to show that the show runners don't understand the characters GRRM handed them on a silver platter.