Game of Thrones is never one to shy away from controversy, but have they taken it too far this time? We know the writers sometimes place shock value over storytelling, but many of the fans have taken to the Interwebs to shout their anger over a particular scene that took place in the most recent episode.
For those who haven’t yet caught up on Game of Thrones, please be advised: SPOILERS ahead. For those who did watch Sunday’s episode Breaker of Chains, then you’ll probably know what scene we’re referring to.
Obviously, placing a rape scene in the narrative is going to bring controversy, regardless of what was in the books. However, this particular rape scene [with Jaime Lannister forcing himself on his sister lover Cersei Lannister] has created an explosive backlash, largely because the scene was changed from the novels – and for reasons that remain unclear to us.
In the books, Jaime returns from his trip after Joffrey’s death, and although a sex scene does take place next to Joffrey’s corpse in the sept, it is absolutely a consensual sex scene. Jaime does not force himself onto Cersei and although she’s initially hesitant to have sex next to Joffrey’s body, she quickly changes her mind. On the show, they have completely changed that scene, making it so that Jaime forces himself on Cersei despite her repeated attempts to stop him.
Why the change? It didn’t add anything to the story, it was already pretty disturbing in the books, and it certainly didn’t shed any new light on the characters. In fact, it completely undid all the hard work they put into developing Jaime’s character over the past season, only to be like ‘Ha! We got you, Jaime’s an asshole rapist murderer after all!’ If only Brienne knew.
Anyway, George R. R. Martin has weighed in on the controversy, and although he doesn’t outright say anything negative about the decision to change the scene, he does distance himself by adding that he didn’t have any input in it.
He also explains, “The reader is inside [Jaime's] 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….. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”
Eh. It’s obvious that the showrunners were trying to show the twisted nature of Jaime’s and Cersei’s relationship, and imply that while Jaime may have changed, he’s still a loose cannon and not to be trusted. However, they could have done it with something better than an invented rape scene between him and his sister/lover. Seriously, the scene was plenty disturbing in the novels, they didn’t need to change anything to make it more shocking.