Arranged Marriages: The Fall Out (Recap E6, S5)


The name of episode six, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” refers to House Martell’s words. But, it also refers to this episode’s journey for the Tyrion and Jorah, the Tyrells, Jaime and Bronn, Theon, and Sansa. In fact, most major characters have a hard time in this episode, even if they aren’t in outright danger. Given this is the end of Act 2 (in the fifth season story arc), their problems aren’t that surprising. Act 3, where the character’s biggest problems and the climax occur traditionally, is just about to begin. And, given tonight’s episode, it promises to be a bumpy ride.


Braavos: The House of Black and White


Arya discovers what they do with the dead at the House of Black and White. (c) HBO.

As Arya and the blonde girl (“Waif,” Faye Marsay) wash the bodies of the dead, Arya impatiently demands to know why they are cleaning the dead. Arya also demands to know when she will get to play the game of faces.

The Waif tells Arya that she has tried already and failed. Waif then asks Arya who she is. Arya replies, “No one.”


Faye Marsay plays the Waif. (c) HBO.

Arya turns that question on Waif, who replies with a test. Waif tells Arya:

“I am from Westeros, just like you. I am the daughter of a lord, just like you – except I was an only child, heir to his fortune. My mother died. My father and his new wife gave birth to a girl. My stepmother didn’t want any rivals for her precious daughter so she tried to kill me with poison. I found out. I sought help from the faceless men – and my father was widowed again. I’ve been serving them ever since. Was that true or a lie?”

Arya replies, “What?”

“Did you believe every word I said?” asks Waif.

Arya is clearly stunned. She didn’t expect to be conned. Determining that Arya’s ability to dissemble is still weak, Waif commands, “Get back to work.”


While Arya sleeps, Jaqen H’ghar comes into her chamber and asks her who she is and where she came from. When she tells Jaqen her real story, he slaps her and tells her she lies. This happens over and over again. Until Jaqen finally tells her that she is lying about wanting to be faceless and lose her identity.

Incidentally, Arya reveals that she didn’t kill the Hound and left him in the mountains to suffer and die because she hated him.

Arya tells Jaqen that she doesn’t want to play the “stupid game” anymore. Jaqen replies they never stop playing.


Later, Arya is scrubbing the floors when a weary man comes into the House of Black and White and sets a girl with violet bruises circling her eyes down by the pool.

The man has taken this girl, his daughter, to every healer in Braavos and spent every penny he has. She suffers every day of her life. The man just wants his daughter’s pain to end.

Arya walks over to the girl, attempts to console her, and lies. She tells the girl about how Ned prayed to the Many Faced God and how drinking the water in the pool healed her. Arya says that she has since devoted her life to the Many Faced God.

Jaqen watches from a distance as Arya gives the girl “the gift.” Perhaps he is impressed by her compassion or perhaps by her ability to lie so convincingly. Either way, Jaqen decides Arya is ready for the next step.

Later, Jaqen finds Arya in the “morgue” washing the sick girl’s corpse. He leads Arya down into a huge room with massive columns that store faces, presumably of all those who drank the water.


The incredible room with the masks. (c) HBO.

As Arya admires the masks, Jaqen warns her that “a girl is not ready to become no one” (and presumably wear a mask). Jaqen does, however, say that Arya is ready to become somebody else.

Jorah and Tyrion


Jorah and Tyrion chat.

Having lost their skiff, Jorah and Tyrion are now wandering, hungry, and irritable. As Jorah washes his hands, we see that Jorah’s greyscale is spreading. The two men begin to talk as Jorah finally succumbs to bored Tyrion’s demands for conversation.

Jorah finally asks why Tyrion travelled to Pentos in a crate. Tyrion explains how he killed his father. He also mentions that he met Jorah’s father, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

Tyrion accidentally reveals that Jorah’s father is dead. In that moment, Jorah’s conflicted feelings about his father rise to the surface.

Jorah says little, but his voice thick with emotion, he demands to know how his father died.


Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. On his death, the Night’s Watch proclaimed, “We shall never see his like again.” (c) HBO.

Jorah can’t reveal the pain this news causes him. After Ned caught Jorah selling slaves, Jorah’s relationship with his father collapsed. But he isn’t going to discuss this with his captive.


Later on, Jorah and Tyrion – the two advisers — get philosophical.

Jorah tells Tyrion how seeing Daenerys give birth to the dragons cured him of his cynicism. This is a borderline religious experience for him.

Tyrion warns him that birthing dragons doesn’t mean Dany will be a great queen. Targaryens are notorious for being crazy. What if she conquers the world? Then what? A thousand years of peace and prosperity?

“First we have to conquer the world,” Jorah replies.

Even if Dany conquers Westeros, how will she understand its culture? “A woman who has not spent a single day of her adult life in Westeros becomes the ruler of Westeros, that’s justice?”

Jorah replies, “She’s the rightful heir.”

“Why because her father who burned living men for amusement was the king?”

Before Jorah can reply, he grabs Tyrion and tells him to be quiet. A slave ship is not far, down in the water.

The slavers find them. This is not good.


Galley slaves in a diorama at the Maritime Museum, Barcelona. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

They evaluate Jorah’s strength by beating this half-starved man. They condemn Jorah to the rowing galleys of a ship. This is a veritable death sentence, since slaves who rowed all day did not live long.

As Wikipedia describes the rower’s fate, “Galley-slaves lived in unsavoury conditions, so even though some sentences prescribed a restricted number of years, most rowers would eventually die, even if they survived the conditions, shipwreck and slaughter or torture at the hands of enemies or of pirates. Additionally, nobody ensured that prisoners were freed after completing their sentences. As a result, imprisonment for 10 years could in reality mean imprisonment for life because nobody except the prisoner would either notice or care.”

Tyrion is to die immediately so they can sell his “dwarf cock,” which supposedly has magical properties.

Tyrion’s quick tongue gets the duo a temporary stay of execution. To get Jorah out of the galleys, Tyrion pitches Jorah as a great warrior and mentions that he killed a Dothraki in single combat.

(The slavers, incidentally, take Daenerys’ decision to reopen the fighting pit as a sign that the abolition against slavery is soon to fall if it hasn’t already.)

King’s Landing

When Littlefinger arrives in King’s Landing and goes to his brothel, “Brother Lancel” of the Faith Militant greets him. Lancel warns him to tread carefully: “There is little tolerance for flesh peddlers in the New King’s Landing ((~25:00) .”


Littlefinger meets with Cersei, and he warns her that House Tyrell won’t tolerate the insult of having their heir arrested. Cersei continues to pretend she had nothing to do with Loras’ arrest, but notes that she is the insulted party given that her fiancé preferred the company of boys.

“One’s choice of companion is a curious thing,” replies Littlefinger, clearly meaning Cersei’s own incestuous choices.

Cersei doesn’t miss a beat and slams Littlefinger’s deceased wife, “House Aryn, for instance, thoroughly repellent women.”

Just when Cersei dismisses Littlefinger, he plays his gambit.

Littlefinger reveals that he has found Sansa alive and well and living at Winterfell.

Cersei is furious at the Boltons, but realistically the impoverished queen hasn’t the armies to retaliate against the Boltons or capture Sansa.

Littlefinger counsels patience. Stannis is about to attack the Boltons. Cersei should wait and then seize Winterfell from whomever survives.

Even if Cersei had the men, “Winterfell is a thousand miles away and the weather has already begun to turn.”

“That is why it is critical to strike soon while the victor is still licking his wounds,” Littlefinger advises.

Littlefinger offers the Knights of the Vale, who have training fighting in snow, to fight the victor of the Stannis-Bolton war. His price? If Littlefinger succeeds, he wants to be named Warden of the North.

Cersei agrees; she will speak to the king and have him issue a royal decree authorizing the mission.

Littlefinger professes he will not rest until a lion flies over Winterfell.

To which Cersei replies, “I will know that you’re a man of your word when I sees Sansa Stark’s head on a spike.”



Olenna Tyrell (c) HBO

Olenna Tyrell arrives in King’s Landing and pays Cersei a visit. The Queen of Thorns sees right through Cersei’s claim that she had nothing to do with Loras’ arrest.

Although Olenna threatens to pull House Tyrell’s financial support (which is all that is keeping King’s Landing afloat), Cersei won’t bend.

She smoothly distances herself by claiming she has no love for the Faith Militant and that she is only the queen mother.

Olenna comments that although she didn’t trust or like Tywin, he knew how to work with his rivals.

Cersei’s arrogant reply? “House Lannister has no rival.” Tough words from the family who only sits on the throne because of the Tyrell’s money.

The result? Cersei brushes off Loras’ arrest – she claims that it is only an inquest to see if the charges against Loras have merit. Olenna leaves, but I highly doubt  that she is bent, bowed, or broken.


At the inquest, the High Septon probes Loras’s relationship with Renly Baratheon.

The High Septon calls Margaery to the stand. Although Margaery protests that she is the queen and not subject to the Faith’s authority, Olenna indicates she should cooperate. Big mistake.

The High Septon makes Margaery perjure herself. He forces her to swear that she has no knowledge of Loras’ homosexual relationships.

The High Septon brings in Olyvar, who testifies that he had a relationship with Loras. He weaves Margaery into his testimony. To “prove” his claims, Olyvar tells the Faith about a Dorne-shaped birthmark on Loras’ upper thigh.


The Faith arrest Margaery. (c) HBO.

The High Septon pronounces that there is enough evidence to bring a formal trail against Ser Loras and Queen Margaery. The Faith arrest Margaery as she screams for Tommen.

Olenna glares at Cersei as the faintest smile appears on the queen mother’s face, and the scene ends.


Princess Myrcella and her betrothed Prince Trystane Martell stroll in the Water Gardens. He tucks a flower behind her hair. These royal children are smitten. Trystane is eager to marry the lovely Princess Myrcella and plans to ask his father, Prince Doran, for permission.

Myrcella is concerned that he wants to marry her simply because it is arranged. Trystane reassures her that he cares.

Prince Doran and the head of his guard, Captain Areo Hotah, watch the scene from the prince’s balcony. He warns Captain Areo Hotah that they need to protect this lovely couple.


Aero Hotah

Aero Hotah (c) HBO.

Disguised as Dornish guardsmen, Jaime and Bronn follow a herd of travelers into the Water Gardens. Meanwhile the Sand Snakes begin their assassination attempt, urged on by the grieving Ellaria.

The Sand Snakes sneak into the Water Garden just as Jaime and Bronn arrive. Jaime finds his “niece” making out with Trystane.

Jaime implores her to leave with him, but Myrcella hesitates. Her feelings for Trystane are too strong.

The Sand Snakes attack.

Just as one of them pulls a dagger on Myrcella, Aero and his men arrive and stop the fight. Aero commands Obara to drop her weapons. Aero marches all of them off but not without Bronn getting the last word, “You fight pretty good for a little girl,” he tells one of them.

The scene closes in Dorne as Aero’s men arrest Ellaria.



Sansa weds Ramsay. (c) HBO.

Sansa hears a knock on the door. It is Myranda, who claims Ramsay sent her there to bathe her.

Reluctantly, Sansa lets Myranda enter.

As Myranda washes the black dye out of Sansa’s hair, she warns Sansa not to let Ramsay get bored.

Myranda describes the fates of the women who bored Ramsay: Kyra, the blacksmiths daughter; Violet, the mother of Ramsay’s child; and Tansy, whom Myranda helped him hunt.

Sansa quickly figures out that Myranda is trying to frighten her: “And, how long have you loved him Myranda? Did you imagine that he would be with you forever, is that it? And then I came along and ruined it. I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home and you can’t frighten me ((47:00) .”

Sansa dismisses Myranda, telling her she can finish bathing herself.


Winter is now beginning. As the snow falls outside Sansa’s window, Theon arrives to escort Sansa to the Godswood for her marriage ceremony.

When Sansa refuses to take Theon’s arm, he pleads Ramsay will punish her.

To which, Sansa coldly (yet fairly) replies, “Do you think I care what he does to you?”


The Godswood is beautiful and sad. Lanterns illuminate the snow-swept pond where Catelyn once sat with Ned as he cleaned his sword.

The gathered witnesses appear to be mainly a dozen or so Bolton retainers.

Theon gives away Sansa and recites the traditional lines.

Roose asks, “Sansa do you take this man?”

“I take this man,” she replies.

Ramsay looks thrilled. Everything is falling into place.



Ramsay touches Sansa’s face in the marital chamber. (c) HBO.

Sansa and Ramsay arrive in the marital chamber. Dozens of candles glow everywhere in chandeliers and candelabras.

Ramsay asks if she is still a virgin. He proclaims the need for honesty.  Ramsay says “We are man and wife now. We should be honest with each other.” And, then, Ramsay the charming psycho emerges.

Ramsay instructs Sansa to take off her clothes while he makes Theon watch.

Ramsay tears off the back of her gown and rapes Sansa as she cries out in pain. Theon doesn’t dare look away, but he cries the whole time.

Arranged Marriages

In many ways, tonight’s episode is about the fall out of arranged marriages. As the showrunners note in the series extras, arranged marriages are primarily political institutions. This may be stretching it, but Cersei targets Loras because of his attitude towards his arranged marriage with the queen. It certainly didn’t help that he didn’t keep his relationships with men quiet.

Myrcella is in Dorne (and vulnerable) because of her arranged marriage to House Martell.

Ramsay rapes Sansa ostensibly to consummate their marriage. Sadly, this was not an unusual event in the Middle Ages.

Given the misery of unhappy arranged marriages, it’s interesting that the other two themes in tonight’s episode are slavery and death.



Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • Reply May 18, 2015


    There is a technical error at the dorne section of your review. I believe you meant to say Prince Doran Martell , not Oberyn.

    • Reply May 18, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks! Yes, I don’t get “screeners” (preview copies) so I end up writing these recaps very quickly and very late at night.

  • Reply May 18, 2015


    One of the main differences between the plot of the show and the book is that the show frequently changes the plot lines to present parallel stories in the same episode. Sansa’s involuntary arranged marriage this week contrasts with Danny’s voluntary choice (but not her husband’s) last week.

    Note how similar the shots of Arya washing the hair of a corpse and Myranda washing Sansa’s hair to prepare her for her wedding. Thats a pretty good clue as to what will happen to Sansa if she doesn’t get out quick.

    Waif and Myranda are both teaching the Stark girls their intended roles by showing rather than instruction. Myranda does not tell Sansa what to do, she treats Sansa as Ramsay’s women have to treat other people if they are going to survive. Waif does not tell Sansa how to play the game of faces, she shows her how to play it. And both are of course analogies to the Game of Thrones itself: nobody tells you how to play.

    It is now apparent that Littlefinger has lied to Sansa, the Boltons and Cersei. We don’t know his endgame but he is setting things up so that he comes out on top regardless of whether Stannis beats the Boltons or vice versa.

    Another study in contrasts is the scene with Tyrion and Jorah. Both their fathers are dead, both were disappointments to their father.

    • Reply May 18, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Hallambaker, yes, this is a very interesting comment.

      I strongly agree about the grouping – you see it in the Purple Wedding episode (e.g., when they grouped the show around the Botticelli painting).

      As far as I can tell, like you point out, the show groups scenes and storylines thematically – the name of the episode is often a clue IMO – so as to emphasize characters who are foils for each other, themes, foreshadowing, etc.

      All of your observations are quite intriguing.

  • Reply May 18, 2015


    While Game of Thrones is rooted in the middle ages, the Loras plot is based on rather more recent events. The High Septon’s perjury trap against Margery is essentially identical to the perjury trap set by Kenneth Starr against President Bill Clinton.

    • Reply May 20, 2015

      Watcher on the Couch

      HB, your comment about a more recent trap than a medieval one is thought-provoking. Somebody (I can’t remember who) noted that GRRM was writing about Dany having her trials keeping control of Mereen at the time that certain Western countries invaded Iraq.

      I’m not sure about medieval laws. If Ramsay is mad (as I think he is – only dangerously so) would Sansa have a claim for dissolving the marriage as if he were not of sound mind, Ramsay could not make a valid marriage vow.

  • The Sansa marital rape has provoked much outrage in the show/books fandom. I’m wondering if it has to do with the outrage of the rape itself or if the audience has grown so fond of Sansa that they can’t stand anything bad happening to her. Maybe a bit of both.

    Was there any “precedent” in history of such a scene ? I know when noble families married their offsprings, there was the consummation of the marriage in front of witnesses even with a curtain drawn on the couple. Many noble girls were married without their will and I guess some of them resisted their bedding and finished by just being raped by their new husband. Do you have any example of such an occurence ?

    PS: Love this blog. Keep it up.

    • Reply May 20, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks, Anas. I love your avatar. I’m actually working on an editorial about the rape. Yes, there is definitely historical precedent, which I think is why I didn’t find the scene so offensive. I think it would do medieval women a disservice to omit marital rape completely from a story that is so clearly grounded in the middle ages. With that said, I **hated*** watching the scene and I would have been happy with out it.

      I think people were upset as much by the fact it was Sansa than by the rape. The scenes with Ramsay torturing Theon were far more violent, but you didn’t hear the same level of outrage. I also wonder what the reaction to the scene would have been if it had been Myranda (Ramsay’s lover) who was raped or an anonymous girl. I think because we know characters like Sansa and Cersei it feels much more personal. We are almost sexually assaulted while they are being raped.

    • Reply May 20, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Sorry I didn’t answer your question. I do not know of specific instances where women resisted their wedding night. Perhaps it was par for the course or went unrecorded. I don’t know. In America, we didn’t even necessarily perceive of marital rape as a concept until the 1970s and in some states it is only considered marital rape if it is violent.
      Would medieval people have thought of rape as something that could occur within the context of marriage? I don’t know.
      I think, however, it is highly likely that it occurred often – depending on how you define rape. If a woman has no choice but to say yes — if her context is such that she has to consent – to me that’s rape. Margaret Beaufort was married at 12 and pregnant at 13. She was so small that she almost died giving birth. Would she, as a 12 year old, have welcomed sex with her 24 year old husband? I doubt it.

  • Reply May 20, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    There is a Scottish ballad (though I have no idea whether it was based on fact or not) called “Eppie Moray” where the eponymous heroine fights off her would-be husband successfully – here is the leak to the Wikipedia entry on the ballad

  • Reply May 20, 2015


    The upset around Sansa’s rape has largely to do with how the show treats rape in general and the use of it as a plot device.

    Rape has never been treated seriously on this show so why would they start now? Jaime raped Cersei last season and nothing came out of that. The audience is just supposed to forget it even happened.

    There is also rape being used as a set dressing last season with the women at Craster’s Keep. Their sole purpose was to take up space in the background. Some of the women’s faces weren’t even shown; only their bodies were on display to titillate the audience.

    All Sansa’s rape does is tell us things we already know. Ramsay is evil and needs to be stopped, and that it’s hard to be a woman in Westeros.

    I predict that this scene will be used to make Sansa a “stronger” person and seek revenge (despite already having the means and motivation to already do so).

    It’s a massive trope under the disguise of historical accuracy.

  • Reply May 20, 2015


    I would also like to add that your dismissive attitude towards people criticizing Sansa’s rape is really gross.

    The comparison being made between sexual violence and other forms of violence is one that shouldn’t be made. People don’t treat them the same way at all and that is a huge problem. Rape isn’t taken seriously at all which is why the cheap way it is show on Game of Thrones is a problem.

    Do you know anyone that has been murdered at a wedding? Anyone that has been torture both mentally and physically for an extended period of time?

    The reaction to rape is completely normal due to how many people have experienced it. It’s not the same as murder or torture for that reason.

    I only wish that rape wasn’t used so carelessly in tv and film. If rape is portrayed in a intelligent way it could impact society in a positive way. Instead rape and sexual assault is being used as some form of instant character development and to propel the plot forward.

    I know that this blog is about historical influences in Game of Thrones but you have to consider how our world is currently when discussing the reactions of viewers.

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      So, I don’t mean to sound cavalier. I don’t feel that way, and I’m not insensitive to people’s outrage about the rape scene. I’m actually working on article about it right now. To be honest, it has been hard to gather my thoughts. It is a complicated issue. And, you are absolutely right. Rape is personal, prevalent, and may provide a PTSD-type flashback for any victims watching the scene.

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Also, shabe612, I should add that you make a sensitive, intelligent, and thoughtful comment. Thank you for making it. If I sounded insensitive, I didn’t mean to.

  • Reply May 21, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    On Tuesday I was quite ill with a summer cold so I spent some time in bed surfing the web on the laptop – some of it about GoT and I did read some comments like “well they were married so it wasn’t rape”. That worried me (i.e. that anyone would think thus). On the other hand, I know that somebody who ran a podcast on “Game of Thrones” has said he’s not going to run podcasts on the show anymore and has cancelled his HBO subscription though he will continue to report if there is any news on the books. I won’t stop watching the show. It’s such a shame TWOW is taking such a long time in genesis because if it had appeared by now the show-runners would not have had to


    deviated from Sansa’s book story (as they have more or less caught up with it on the show) to find something for her to do. There WAS a nasty marital rape in ADWD but it didn’t happen to Sansa but a character who hasn’t been cast. (Sorry if this has already been mentioned).

    In England marital rape was only recognised in 1991 – 24 years ago. That probably seems a long time to a very young person but when you consider how long the planet has been existence, 24 years is not so long. I won’t mention any names but a couple of years ago there was considerable fall-out in the UK about a (by then dead) celebrity who had allegedly been a sexual predator but got away with it in his lifetime because he had friends in high places. Rape is a horrid thing but sadly I don’t think we can entirely remove it from society – just do our very best to discourage it by trying to educate people and by coming down hard on those who are found guilty (but of course sometimes they get away with it). Oh dear, I’ve gone off topic to a certain extent.

    To me, if the showrunners did include THAT scene for the sake of shock value, I think it would be counter-productive (well it HAS been counter-productive for whatever reason they included it). I found it a very upsetting scene albeit we didn’t (thankfully) see the full rape.

    Arya’s story seems to be remaining faithful to her book story except


    it is the Kindly Man who instructs her at the House of Black and White rather than Jaqen.

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      First of all, I’m surprised that somebody who is okay with the scene in the book would object to the TV scene so much as to stop his podcasts — although I certainly believe that violence on TV is much harder to watch than read about in a book.

      I think the showrunners are in a really tough spot. They have to merge storylines or create new ones to keep the acting cast employed. But, they also get flack for deviating from the books. A sort of compromise is putting Sansa in the Jeyne Poole role.

      I don’t know if they included the scene for shock value or because they were trying to be somewhat true to the series. But, I do think omitting it might have created dramatic/motivation problems.

      From a historical perspective, I don’t object to including rape in the series. But, I hate watching it, and I would have been relieved if they’d omitted it.

  • Reply May 22, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    Getting away from the horrendous Ramsay and Sansa arranged marriage, some people (though not on this blog) appear to be finding the Trystane and Myrcella relationship a bit too hearts and flowery [though really we haven’t seen much of them yet]. Some royal marriages (and therefore I presume – in times gone by at least – arranged marriages) worked out; mention has been made on another thread that Edward I for all that he was a hard man – and acquisitive of Welsh and Scots land – appears to have genuinely loved his first wife Eleanor of Castile. The UK queen Victoria (not medieval of course) likewise seems to have been in love with her prince consort, Albert, who died relatively young.

  • Reply May 22, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    I don’t want to “haunt” this website – but going back to an earlier scene than the controversial one in this episode, did anybody else think of the fall of Anne Boleyn when Margery was arrested?

    Of course


    the fate of Margery in both her book and show incarnations is as yet unknown.

    • Reply May 22, 2015

      Jamie Adair


      Last year when Olga and I did the series of articles about Anne Boleyn, the Cersei/Margaery plot was a major reason that we did it. But, then I had a d’oh moment and realized that the parallels between Anne Boleyn and Margaery weren’t as obvious on the TV show because some of the events in the books hadn’t happened yet. :< ( Now, it looks like the TV show is taking a different course, which is ironic since I think they cast Natalie Dormer for the intertextuality (between her role in The Tudors and her role as Margaery). Here is the link to an article that talks about the casting decision and links to an interview with Dormer:

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