I am in the midst of writing my Good Guy vs Bad Boy article.
I have to stop though to address, or redress, or just expound on something that bugged the hell out of me after last night’s Game of Thrones episode. I will be discussing, to varying degrees, ideas and scenes as they were depicted in the books and as of the television show Season 4, Episode 3. There will be spoilers. You have been warned. (Although, book spoilers will be kept to a minimum. Just a few insights that are key for certain characters.)
Still with me?
Okay, so last night we have Cersei Lannister standing vigil over the corpse of her first born son. We have a magnificent scene with Tywin Lannister and Tommen before it segues into a Cersei and Jamie scene. Let it be said now that I am a huge Jamie fan, given his portrayal in the books, and not much of a Cersei fan. (I do find her a compelling character to read about, but I don’t really like her.)
As you well know after last night’s episode, Jamie forces himself on his sister while they in the midst of a holy sight, standing beside the corpse of their lovechild born of incest. It’s profound (in a bad way), obscene, and the heighth of depravity. It is also not how the scene was portrayed in the books, and I am upset with the way it was changed. It takes a strong female character and twists her into a victim in the midst of a horrible tragedy. (No matter how much I rejoiced over the loss of King Joffrey Baratheon, First of his Name, Cersei lost her firstborn son. A mother losing a child is a tragedy, especially since she loved him despite his being a monster. So, a blessing for the realm is a tragedy for Cersei.)
Had the scene in the book been depicted the way they shot it for the episode, I would have found it almost impossible to like and root for Jamie Lannister. Yes, Jamie is a flawed person, with many sins to account for, but in the books, we are given a chance to see how he thinks, and learn that not everything is at it appears. The show has given the viewers of glimpse of this with dialogue Jamie has had with Brienne, but it expounds so much more on this in the books.
This particular scene in the book is still is one of the more disturbing scenes because there is a sex scene between the twins in the middle of the Sept, beside their dead son. It is one of my least favorite scenes in the books, but it serves a tremendous purpose on multiple levels. First, in the books, Jamie finds Cersei in the Sept beside the dead King immediately upon returning to King’s Landing. He is not present for the wedding, and he has not been spurned by her. This is the moment of their reunion after being separated by war and his capture. Emotions are running wild between the two upon being reunited. Second, it reaffirms that little is sacred and holy about the relationship between the siblings. For as much as either tries to claim that they are meant to be with one another, the scene underscores that they are a poison to one another. Cersei does initially protest the advances of her brother, but they are less fearful and more mindful about where they are, and if they might be caught. (It also had part to do with her “moon blood” being present at the time in the book.)The entire scene ends with her “feeling whole once more”. Cersei is a consenting partner in what happens. Some people might find it on that ambiguous line of did she really consent if she protested at the beginning. However, at worst, you have that gray area of if a character crossed a line, rather than a glaring leap across it. Finally, I find that the scene really showcases how far Jamie has sunk in his esteem and ego, as he’s very much a broken man in the book. He’s reaching for anything to try and make him feel whole once more, to be who he was. It also fails to work, and he has to find a way to start anew.
The nuances that GRRM layers into the scene are not felt, at least not by me, to any real degree in the episode. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey do a tremendous job with what they are given, but at the end of the day, it was rape on the show. Jamie raped his sister. There’s no sugar coating it; there is no chance of ambiguity. Jamie demanded what he wanted from his sister, and she had no choice – instead of the twisted way they fed off each other’s affections in the books. It was almost like they were addicted to one another at times. They craved the other, and they went to great lengths to maintain their relationship. In the book, their union in the sept was no different.
Book Jamie abhors rape. He makes several mentions of this fact, and he hates the fact that he feels Robert (Cersei’s dead husband) raped her more than once. To have Jamie do the same act to his sister, whom he beloves and treasures, is a travesty. This is not the Jamie that I’ve come to love from the books. This was a mere shell of the character with the same name. I fear for the kind of long-standing damage that will have been done to the character. Rape is something in many people’s eyes that you cannot atone from easily.
I take comfort in having known a far more nobler Jamie Lannister, and I hope that the future episodes do more than make feeble attempts at amends for his character. In the same light, I hope they do more to make Cersei more of the character she should be, and less a victim. Neither character deserves to be seen in the light that this last episode cast them in.