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Much has already been written about Sunday’s controversial episode of Game of Thrones. The episode itself was actually rather dull—a lot of exposition and little action—but one particular scene has already garnered thousands of keystrokes, hundreds of outraged tweets, and dozens of confused attempts at rationalization. Viewers will no doubt know exactly what scene I mean.
In the Great Sept, next to the dead body of their first born son, Jaime Lannister rapes his sister, the mother of his three children.
Immediately after this scene aired, fans were at their keyboards crying foul. Jaime Lannister would never! That’s not how it happened in the book! How could they?
I had waited anxiously for that scene. In the books, it was the first time Jaime and Cersei were reunited since he went off to war. It was an emotional, passionate, and bloody (period sex, fuck yeah) reunion. I assumed it wouldn’t happen since Jaime returned early on the show’s timeline and their reunion was less than enthusiastic. I was wary when they revealed that Jaime has been back for two weeks on the show’s timeline and they still hadn’t had sex. In the books, they were fucking within a matter of minutes.
“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. JaimeJaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him.“Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei’s heart beating in time with his own, and the wetness of blood and seed where they were joined.
Imagine my surprise when Jaime shows up to visit Cersei in the Sept then. Excitement stole through me. They were going to be true to the story after all. This would be their reconciliation, their grief would bring them together. They would fuck on the altar of their dead son as he lies in state, and then Jaime would try to convince her to run away with him, to live as husband and wife, to replace their murdered son with new, trueborn children, just as he had in the books.
Instead, he rapes her. Instead of guiding him inside her, she is forced onto the ground and begs him to stop. Instead of futility trying to convince her to join him in a folie à deux where they can have their happily ever after, he calls her hateful. He growls that the gods have made him love a hateful woman. And then he rapes her.
Immediately fans pointed out how completely out of character this was for him. Jaime loves Cersei. Jaime has devoted his entire life to caring for her, to protecting her, to enabling her every whim. Not only that, he is decidedly not a rapist. In a country where rape and murder are so common they’re expected, Jaime Lannister stands out as a man who actually…doesn’t do it. Just the season before, he shields Brienne of Tarth from the grisly fate when they’re captured by Vargo Hoat’s men. He doesn’t rape, he doesn’t whore, he doesn’t even sleep around. He is utterly devoted to his sister-lover.
So why does he do it on the show? Better yet, why do D&D have him do it when it seems to go against all of the careful and painful character development he received in the last season? How does Jaime go from protecting Brienne of Tarth from gang rape and jumping into a pit to save her from a bear, to raping the woman he has devoted the last forty years of his life to?
As many fans pointed out: Just what happened to that inspirational redemption arc of his? How could they possibly think this was in character?
I think the key to this mystery is in the dialogue:
"You are a hateful woman. Why have the gods made me love such a hateful woman?"
The rape scene is tangential to Jaime’s “redemption arc” in that it is Cersei’s punishment for making him need redemption in the first place.
We know how hard Jaime’s had it, how everyone mocks and hates him for the impossible choice he made when he earned his nickname, Kingslayer. We know he’d given up being honorable because no one saw him as honorable. And, because of his relationship with Brienne, we know that, deep down, under the gold cloak and the shiny hair and attempted murder of a child. All he ever wanted to be was a knight like Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the He’s really just a noble guy whose been lead astray.
And whose fault is that?
David Beniodd and D.B. Weiss say it’s Cersei’s fault. Not explicitly. At least, not yet. But that’s why the sex scene in the Sept became the rape scene in the sept. That’s why, despite hundreds of pages of painstaking character development that make it entirely illogical for that to happen, they wrote it that way for television.
Because on the King’s Road with Brienne, Jaime was beginning to get in touch with the boy-knight still inside himself, the one who still believed in the words he said. Her honor made him want to be more honorable too. But now he’s back in King’s Landing, outside of Brienne’s sphere of good influence and back in Cersei’s corrupting one. Instead of welcoming Jaime home with open legs, D&D’s Cersei is standoffish and unresponsive.
He stands in the previous episode, pathetically pleading for a modicum of her affection, but she spurns him, telling him he’s too late, that things have changed. D&D’s Cersei cares not a whit for Jaime, though he has devoted his whole life to her, has allowed her to mold him into the man who stands before her. And what better way to show how corrupting she is, than to have that love turned against her?
The show uses rape as Cersei’s comeuppance, her poetic justice for tainting the honorable Jaime’s good honor. That’s why the show’s writers didn’t see it as an out of character action, because Jaime isn’t Jaime when he’s with Cersei, he’s just some pitiful victim of her machinations. When he assaults her, she’s only reaping what she sowed.
I don’t think I have to explain why this is a fucked up, misogynistic, and ethically wrong narrative choice, do I?
The god’s may have made Jaime love a hateful woman, but D&D were the ones who made him rape her.
have arya decide to become a lady because she wants the dresses and the embroidery classes back. make dany kill one of her dragons to make herself a purse with its skin. write about sansa killing people left and right and about twyin adopting puppies. bring joffrey back from the dead as the second coming of christ. all of this makes as much sense in canon as jaime raping cersei.