Game of Thrones Season 4 is only on its third episode but already it's ignited controversy online (and presumably in other venues where people still actually talk to each other face to face).
As has become customary with any [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) article, I must start off with a spoiler warning. If you haven't seen either episode 2 or 3 of Game of Thrones Season 4, then I suggest you head elsewhere for the time being.
The third episode, titled Breaker of Chains, primarily dealt with the fallout from King Joffrey's wedding feast death. It answered a few questions about who might have been behind the dastardly-but-let's-face-it-better-for-everyone-deed, but that's not what's got people talking.
The episode also featured what appeared to be rather disturbing rape scene between Jaime and Cersei in Joffrey's tomb. The scene has certainly engendered some conversation online, especially regarding whether or not the sex was consensual. From a straight forward viewing, it appeared to be non-consensual as Cersei continually asked Jaime to stop. However, book readers will know that in the original text the scene plays out differently, with Cersei having some brief initial misgivings about the location of their intimacy, but then rather quickly consenting to her brother's advances.
Now, Alex Graves, the director of the Breaker of Chains episode has emerged to give his two cents on the issue. In an interview with Vulture, he stated that the finer details of the scene point to the sex being consensual:
What was talked about was that it was not consensual as it began, but Jaime and Cersei, their entire sexual relationship has been based on and interwoven with risk. And Jaime is very much ready to have sex with her because he hasn’t made love to her since he got back, and she’s sort of cajoled into it, and it is consensual. Ultimately, it was meant to be consensual. [The writers] tried to complicate it a little more with her rejecting his new hand and the state of things.
It’s my cut of the scene. The consensual part of it was that she wraps her legs around him, and she’s holding on to the table, clearly not to escape but to get some grounding in what’s going on. And also, the other thing that I think is clear before they hit the ground is she starts to make out with him. The big things to us that were so important, and that hopefully were not missed, is that before he rips her undergarment, she’s way into kissing him back. She’s kissing him aplenty.
I'm not sure where I stand on this. I think a re-watch of the scene could perhaps vindicate Graves' opinion, although Cersei's dialogue (perhaps the clearest indicator of consent) was continually negative and did seemingly present the scene, rather unambiguously, as rape. However, as some people online have pointed out, her final phrases of “It’s not right, it’s not right,” are not the same as "I don't want to". We're certainly in tricky territory here.
Of course, in a television series partly about the avarice and barbarity of Medieval times, rape can be expected, but for many fans of the show this scene may be even more controversial by its apparent lack of context, plausibility and accuracy with the original books. Throughout the last few seasons of Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister has been on a redemptive storyline, taking him from one of the most hated characters to most beloved. This scene has potentially thrown a spanner into Jaime's character arc. Perhaps it was partly designed to remind us that Jaime is a man, who deep down, has done some pretty terrible things (he did try to murder a kid, remember?) and isn't the leather-jacket-wearing-wounded-hero we are starting to think he is? Or could it simply be, as Graves' comments suggest, that a lot of people were just weren't watching the scene correctly?
In either case, it will certainly be interesting to see how this potentially non-canonical scene is worked into the wider story.
What are your thoughts on the scene and Graves' comments? Let us know below.