If you didn’t see last night’s episode of Game Of Thrones — Season 4 Episode #3 “Breaker Of Chains” — then you missed out on one of the most-talked-about scenes in the history of the show. It’s got everyone talking and those involved responding, including the episode’s director Alex Graves and author George R.R. Martin, the creator of the Game Of Thrones universe.
Below is a recap of the controversial scene, as well as the quotes about it from Graves and Martin, so spoilers ahead for Episode #3 “Breaker Of Chains”…
Last night’s episode began with the immediate aftermath of the events of the “Purple Wedding,” which saw the young King Joffrey poisoned at his own wedding! Joffrey’s mother, Cersei Lannister, cradles her son’s dead body as her brother/lover Jaime Lannister sits helplessly on the other side also grieving the young man he knows is really his son. Cersei points to her younger brother Tyrion, demanding he be taken into custody for the murder of her son.
Later on, we see Cersei in the sept, which is the Westeros version of a church. Her son is lying in state. She’s not crying, but she’s obviously distraught and still in shock over the loss of her firstborn. She suffers in silence as her father, Tywin, councils the new King Tommen (Cersei’s youngest child, who was also secretly fathered by Jaime), noting that Joffrey was not a good king. Finally, Cersei is about to get some time alone to mourn her son, when Jaime enters the sept. Here, we think that the two will grieve together for their son, but what happens next is what shocks the audience — Jaime ends up raping Cersei!
Cersei begins the conversation saying that she wants Tyrion to pay for Joffrey’s death and that Jaime should be the one to kill him. “Avenge our son,” she tells her brother, who is appalled by her demand. Since Jaime’s return to Kings Landing after losing his right hand, he and his younger brother have gotten closer and he tells Cersei that Tyrion will get a trial. In their grief, they begin to kiss — which is the first time we see them in an intimate situation since Jaime’s return. Every other time we’ve seen them, it appears that Cersei is not only over Jaime, but she is clearly disgusted by his status as an amputee. So, when they start to tenderly kiss, we think that Cersei still does want to be with him. But then as they’re kissing, his steel hand touches her face and she gasps and recoils in disgust, which wounds Jaime. “You’re a hateful woman,” he spits at her as he grabs her by her hair. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?” He begins to kiss her again, but roughly this time, pushing her up against their son’s funeral altar. She protests, but he continues, ripping part of her dress and then taking her down to the floor, where he forces himself on her, all while she says things like “No,” “Stop,” and “It’s not right,” with Jaime responding “I don’t care” several times.
There’s been several responses to this scene from fans:
— Anger because the scene in the TV show differs from how it played out in the book.
— Jaime was seemingly on the road to redemption, but now he’s become a rapist.
— Some viewers (not the majority) say that it wasn’t rape, as Cersei at some point seems willing.
In the book, the sex is consensual. Unlike on the show where Jaime has been home for a while and Cersei has been putting him off the entire time, in the book, when Jaime enters the sept, it’s the first time the lovers have seen one another since Jaime’s captivity. The scene is told in the book from Jaime’s point of view, which is one not only of consent, but one where Cersei is saying outright that she wants him.
The episode’s director Alex Graves told HitFix that the sex eventually becomes consensual.
“Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle. Nobody really wanted to talk about what was going on between the two characters, so we had a rehearsal that was a blocking rehearsal. And it was very much about the earlier part with Charles (Dance) and the gentle verbal kidnapping of Cersei’s last living son. Nikolaj came in and we just went through one physical progression and digression of what they went through, but also how to do it with only one hand, because it was Nikolaj. By the time you do that and you walk through it, the actors feel comfortable going home to think about it. The only other thing I did was that ordinarily, you rehearse the night before, and I wanted to rehearse that scene four days before, so that we could think about everything. And it worked out really well. That’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever done.”
Graves has a point because these two characters have always shared a forbidden love and it did seemed for a while that the hiding and sneaking around was a major turn on to them (remember how Jaime tossed the young Bran Stark from a high window, crippling him after he caught they together — and yet that didn’t seem to put a damper on their libidos). But, if you watch the scene in the episode, there is a part where it seems like Cersei is giving in — you see her holding his face in her hands, not pushing him away. The problem with the episode is that they set it up to begin with that she’s repelled by his missing hand and the golden steel prosthetic she had created for him; he then spits out venom towards her, which leads to him forcing himself on her. In the book (you can read the scene here), Cersei only protests because she’s afraid to be discovered, but eventually she’s caught up in the moment and gives in to her brother. In the episode, she consistently says “No” and by making her say “It’s not right” and him saying he doesn’t care, it really makes it appear that he is raping her.
The big question now is why did the showrunners decide to take the character off his road to redemption? It appears that author George R.R. Martin has been bombarded with this question from fans wanting to know why this scene was changed in the show to one of non-consensual sex — even though Martin did not write the episode (he did write the previous one though). So, Martin felt compelled to respond in the comments section of his blog, basically saying that he was not consulted about the change (note – there’s no obligation for this consultation).
Here’s Martin’s full response:
Re: Jaime’s changes in Breaker of Chains
This is off topic here. This is the section for comments about Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the Cocteau’s author program.
Since a lot of people have been emailing me about this, however, I will reply… but please, take any further discussion of the show to one of the myriad on-line forums devoted to that. I do not want long detailed dissections and debates about the TV series here on my blog.
As for your question… I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. 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.
Now, if you please, I’d appreciate it if we could get back to Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the subjects of the original post.
What do you think of this scene? Do you think it was consensual? Does this act signify the end of Jaime and Cersei’s intimate relationship? What does this mean now for Jaime’s redemption?