Now that the dust has settled after the premiere of "Breaker of Chains" -- everyone wants to talk about that scene. Game of Thrones has been known for, shall we say, upping the ante on scenes from the original source material that were already insanely bloody or mind-blowing or disturbing, and last week was no exception. It seems HBO at times approaches the books' most anticipated scenes with a "What the hell! Let's make it crazy!" attitude.
Case in point: The Red Wedding, Theon's torture, and the scene last week between Jaime and Cersei. In order not to give too much away, I'll put in a SPOILERS WARNING right here. If you haven't watched the show (really?) and don't want to know anything about these aforementioned scenes, please move on to something else and let the nerds take over, thanks.
In the Red Wedding, book readers knew that Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark and Robb's entire army would be slaughtered, but they had no idea his pregnant wife Talisa would be viciously stabbed in the stomach to kick the whole thing off. Theon's torture in the book is also mostly just referenced, while TV viewers got an up close and personal look at the hell Ramsay Snow put him through -- from peeling off his skin to cutting off his most, well, prized possession after enticing him with some topless whores. Sigh.
And now we come to the moment from last week: Yes, in A Storm of Swords, Jaime and Cersei do get it on in front of Joffrey's body. But in the HBO version, Jaime essentially rapes Cersei after she repeatedly tells him to stop.
Here is what series author George R. R. Martin had to say about the controversial scene. It's a tad long but pretty fascinating:
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 [producers] 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.
A rather diplomatic, politically correct answer, wouldn't you say?
But I think what is putting fans off the most about this scene is the road to redemption we saw Jaime going on throughout the last two seasons. He couldn't be more unlikable at first -- having sex with his sister; throwing a young child out of a tower when they were caught; slaying a king he was sworn to protect.
Particularly last season, though, when he had his hand cut off and met Brienne of Tarth, he went so far as to save her life when risking his own and making us sympathize with him after explaining how he truly became the "Kingslayer" in one of the most moving monologues of the whole series. All this newfound humanity was taken away for a lot of people when they saw him force himself on his sister in front of their son's cold, dead body.
It seemed like HBO was more than willing to up the controversy and shock value while completely forgetting about this character's arc and how much he ends up redeeming himself after we first meet him. And his good deeds aren't done yet -- but can viewers still root for him knowing he's capable of this depravity? That he'd be willing to force his sister just because she was so disgusted by the sight of his metal hand?
No matter how disappointed I was that they went for controversy over character, I'm of course still going to tune in next week, and I believe Jaime will still continue to prove honorable. Though the director of the episode did say the sex was "consensual" by the end, let's hope they don't mess with Jaime's character further because he and Brienne were certainly fun to root for all through season 3!
Here's the scene if you want to watch for yourself (come on, it's obviously not safe for work):
Were you disappointed by the change they made to that scene? Did it affect your outlook on Jaime's character at all?
Image via HBO