CNN  — 

The moment is different for everyone.

Maybe it was when a young girl was burned alive while her parents watched complicitly. Perhaps it was the orchestrated slaughter of a family, a pregnant woman’s belly stabbed again and again like the film over a frozen TV dinner. Was it when a psychopath ate a sausage next to his freshly-castrated hostage? Or one of the uncountable, imaginative depictions of rape and psychological abuse?

Every “Game of Thrones” fan has had it, the moment when they looked away from the screen and wondered:

“Is suffering the only thing these people do?”

It’s exhilarating and exhausting, attending this renaissance faire from hell. But we are approaching the final episodes of the penultimate season, when plots converge and some of the more painful story lines are being resolve. In turn, the surviving characters have started down a fascinating and oft-neglected path: They are actually having to deal with the aftermath of their trauma. And we, for better or worse, get to watch.

Real life problems, but with dragons

“The Moment,” for many, happened two years ago in the fifth season when Sansa Stark, a teenage member of the show’s most sympathetic and suffering family, was raped and belittled by her psychopathic new husband, Ramsay, on their wedding night.

The story arc, which wasn’t included in the books, was a brutal nadir for the show. Sansa had already risen above several seasons’ worth of manipulation and abuse, and viewers were turned off by the regression.

Mercifully, in time, things got better for Sansa. She eventually escaped and fed her husband to a pack of starving dogs before returning home and reuniting with her scattered, broken family.

Where some narratives would treat this new chapter of her life as a clean slate, it’s clear Sansa carried her trauma with her, as a laurel on her head and an albatross around her neck.