By James Hibberd
July 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Despite the absence of some major stars and producers — and despite not being able to reveal anything about the mysterious upcoming sixth season — HBO’s Game of Thrones team delivered a breezily entertaining panel at Comic-Con on Friday. And though moderator Seth Meyers lobbed knowledgable and playful questions to the cast, the toughest queries came from fans in the San Diego Convention Center’s cavernous Hall H, as a few Thrones viewers pressed the panel on the show’s difficult season 5 scenes that depicted violence against female characters. 

First, Sophie Turner was asked about Sansa Stark’s wedding night rape by a fan who wanted to know why the camera stayed on the reaction of Theon (Alfie Allen) and even suggested that the scene diminished the strength of her character. 

“The one thing that Sansa still is, despite what happened to her, is strong,” Turner replied. “She’s not to blame for that. I don’t know why the camera was focused on Theon — because I was giving a great performance! Sansa, yes, has gone through a lot, but she’s developed some skills from Cersei and Margaery and others and she’s still just as strong. What she’s been doing this whole series has been just getting by without doing anything totally radical because she could die — with the Boltons, that’s a big risk to take. She thought it through, and she could have fought back [in the wedding night scene]. But she didn’t. She does her scheming in her mind rather than outwardly.” 

Then two fans asked whether season 6 will show that violence against women on Thrones is the result of “patriarchy, rape culture and other forms of oppression.”

“I think [the showrunners are] trying to put together the best and — ‘realistic’ would be wrong word — but [the most accurate reactions] of those people during this mythical time,” said exeuctive producer Carolyn Strauss. “Things are not great for a lot people, male and female.” 

Conleth Hill, who plays the eunuch Varys, chimed in: “Girls aren’t the only ones to lose something. First season, I was the only eunuch in the village. Then there was Theon and then the Unsullied — [I’m a] trend setter.”

Of course, the cast didn’t say anything about the big cliffhanger surrounding the fate of Jon Snow, though Maisie Williams joked, “We couldn’t wait for him to be gone. That hair, so annoying!” 

We also asked Turner about the intense online reaction to the wedding night scene while she visited the studio at Comic-Con. Here’s what she said: 

More from the Game of Thrones team at Comic-Con:

— Thrones director confirms that Stannis Baratheon is also dead

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'
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