SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “GAME OF THRONES” S4 E3 EPISODE: “BREAKER OF CHAINS”
There has been a lot of debate over the past day over the scene in this past sunday’s “Game of Thrones” in which Jaime Lannister rapes his twin sister and lover Cersei beside the corpse of their dead child. Much of the debate hasn’t been about what’s shown but rather the implication of the scene and its difference to the book.
In the book, the scene is clearer that the act ultimately turns consensual. On the screen, the dialogue of the scene indicates rape, the body language isn’t so clear cut as Cersei seemingly kisses Jaime one second then struggles to get free the next. There’s also the issue the two characters are in a different place in their relationship in the book than they are in the show.
Adding to the confusion? The episode’s director Alex Graves who, in one interview, says the act “becomes consensual by the end” but in another interview with THR from the same day he said “Jaime comes in and he rapes her” and the act is “forced sex”.
The scene has lead to various online essays about not just the act here but the use of rape as a plot device and the portrayal of sexual politics in the world of Westeros, most notably an incredibly well-written piece over at The A.V. Club.
Now, author George R.R. Martin himself has weighed in on the issue through his LiveJournal site and the answer is quite interesting:
“In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/lover/brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.
The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.
Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.
If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression – but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.
That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”