Translating very long books, written in the first person (of many people) into a TV show with no voiceovers isn’t easy, and sometimes nuances get lost in that translation.
This week’s Game Of Thrones contains a scene that has caused more controversy amongst fans and bloggers than any other so far, but is the outrage justified?
That scene is Jaime Lannister having sex with his sister (would be shocking in any other show on its own) right next to their dead son. So far so horrific, but it was in the books, so that’s fine. But the way it was done…
In the books, Cersei’s consent is made clear, she wants it to happen, but in the show, it’s less clear. It looks and sounds a lot like rape, which isn’t something many would expect Jaime to do, and is being criticised as a cheap stunt at the expense of his character.
One flaw with this argument is that it takes a very naive view on human nature and ‘character arcs’. Jaime Lannister starts off as The Kingslayer, the kind of jerk who sleeps with his sister and pushes small boys off ledges to avoid public scandal. But then he loses a hand and grows into a more likeable character, especially after he tells Brienne his truth about the King he slayed.
So is a betrayal of his character if he has raped Cersei? No, it’s not, because character arcs don’t have to be all in one direction. That’s not how the real world works. Jaime has lost his sword hand, his purpose in life, the respect of his father and his sister/lover and now his son.
Added to that, his sister is telling him to murder his brother, so he snaps and uses his physical power to force her into sex with him, certainly at first. As for Cersei, her unwillingness to have sex next to Joffrey’s corpse is understandable, but does she start to give physical consent towards the end?
The director certainly thinks so, but where the episode gets it wrong is in not making this clear enough. Making it ambiguous and not following up on them later has opened Game Of Thrones up to this controversy. If it was on purpose, it was foolish and unneccessary.
Aside from the ‘rape’, it was a decent, fairly quiet episode. We flitted around lots of characters, with the imprisoned Tyrion getting all the best lines, Oberyn getting all the action and Aiden Gillen forgetting that he didn’t usually play Littlefinger with his own Irish accent.
Daario Nahaaris got to show off his cockiness and prowess by taking Strong Belwas’ role at Meereen, while Dany got to do one of her speeches before flinging broken chains into the city. To be honest, I’m looking forward to her storyline progressing beyond freeing slaves.
There was some nice ominous stuff in the North, with the Thenns new-found cannibalism offering some horrible moments and a good sense of the scale of the job facing the Night’s Watch. One disappointment so far is the lack of a sense of urgency at Dragonstone, where Stannis and Co seem to be a bit aimless despite the dramatic decision to go and fight the White Walkers and Wildlings at the end of the last season. I’m not really sure what they’re doing.
Overall, it wasn’t a classic Game Of Thrones episode, which is maybe why the Jaime/Cersei scene has garnered so much attention from it. It’s not a show that’s had many mis-steps, but hopefully it’ll be back on top form next week to get everyone back on-side.