April 24, 2014
Rethinking The Game Of Thrones Rape Scene
The hit HBO series Game of Thrones remains hugely popular, so much so that the season premier this month actually crashed HBO Go.
However, this week the show has created a firestorm of controversy hotter than wild fire on the Blackwater (that’s a reference to the epic battle at the end of season two). This week’s big moment (spoiler alert) saw one-handed knight and Commander of the King’s Guard Jamie Lannister rape his sister Cersi Lannister.
What made this scene so much worse was that it happened mere feet from the dead body of their son King Joffrey – who was lying in state after being poisoned at his own wedding!
For those who don’t know the series my description of brother raping twin sister probably is a lot to take in, but the soap opera twist that he is secretly the father of the young murdered king is probably enough to get those to watch it or skip it forever!
Fans are torn by this scene. Those who read the books – and for the record this writer has read all the books – find this scene too much of a departure from the book version of the act. In the book A Storm of Swords, Ser Jamie actually arrived at King’s Landing after a journey that saw him imprisoned and tortured – during which he had his sword hand cut off. He arrived to find his sister mourning the death of Joffrey, and after a protest not to have sex in the room of their dead son, she finds comfort in his arms and his embrace.
The way it played out on TV is far different. Jamie actually was present for the wedding and failed to protect his son and king. Jamie also had his advances to his sister spurred repeatedly. Now of course this doesn’t justify the rape in any way, but I for one applaud the TV writers for this subtle difference from the book.
Cersi remains one of the least likeable characters in the TV series. She cheated on her late husband, King Robert, with her brother. Not that Robert was a saint – he admitted he wanted to drink, eat and — put delicately — have sex with prostitutes until it put him in an early grave. Cersi kind of helped on the matter and had her cousin ensure Robert was so drunk during a hunt that a boar killed the king.
She could be blamed for starting a war that tore apart the fictional land of Westeros and leave destruction everywhere. There are plenty of hints of young woman having their virtue lost as a result – as that thing happens in all wars, real or fictional.
So Cersi’s rape plays into that. She has become a victim. There is also the fact that she is a character that has little sympathy. Joffrey was a true monster, which fans of the book and series know all too well. His death was widely cheered online with comments of “finally” beginning many.
Thus Cersi as the grieving mother received no compassion, certainly not in the TV version. Her rape scene in a way restores some sympathy and compassion.
It also shows that Jamie isn’t the hero he could become. He is after all in many ways an anti-hero at this point, but in the books he’s still a bit of a villain. It is he who likely killed the true born son of King Robert at some point in the distance past. He even tells Cersi’s would-be suitor that trying to lay with her wouldn’t be in the suitor’s best interest – but given the sexual preferences of that character that is another story.
The point is that Jamie needed to be villain’d up a bit again. Viewers need to remember he’s not a hero. He along with Cersi started a chain of events that caused much of the conflict and suffering. That scene should have reminded viewers that Jamie has a long, long way to go to redemption.
Image Credit: HBO