Games of Thrones on Sunday depicted Lannister twins Jamie (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) mourning the loss of their eldest son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) over his body in the sept. Before long, Jamie was forcing himself on his sister at the base of the altar on top of which rested their dead son.

Game of Thrones Rape?

Fans of the show were made uncomfortable by the scene, and many fans of the books were outraged by the scene, claiming that it departed from George R. R. Martin’s book in all the wrong ways. In the book, many claimed, things went down in a far more consensual nature that what David Benioff and D.B. Weiss put forth in the HBO show.

However, book readers may have been exercising their selective memories as Cersei says, “No,” to Jamie in the books as well.

‘No,’ she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, ‘not here. The septons’…,” goes the scene, as written by Martin. “‘The Others can take the septons.' He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned,” the scene continued in the books. “Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother’s altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her.”

Alex Graves On Jamie, Cersei Scene

Director Alex Graves had maintained that the scene isn’t rape, or at least it doesn’t end up as rape. “It becomes consensual by the end,” he told HitFix. It was perhaps a poor choice of words by Graves, who later gave a more articulate response. “It was very tricky,” Graves admitted to Vulture about choreographing the scene. He goes into detail about what both Jamie and Cersei were feeling in that moment and how he tried to show that she wanted him back.

“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,” Graves added to Vulture. “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."

In his own poorly chosen words, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also addressed the now infamous scene. “There are moments where [Cersei] gives in, and moments where she pushes him away. But it’s not pretty,” Coster-Waldau said, answering the question of whether or not Cersei was raped by saying, “Yes and no.”

George R. R. Martin Weighs In

Martin, who claimed to not have been intimately involved in the rendering of the book scene’s reinterpretation on the TV show, weighed in on his blog. He explained that the circumstances in the book were slightly different, with that scene being Jamie and Cersei’s first reunion since he’d returned from his long kidnapping. Though he expressed his “regret” for the scenes affect on viewers, Martin maintained it was always meant to be “disturbing.”

“The scene was always intended to be disturbing,” wrote the novelist. “But I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with the scene in Episode 3 of Season 4 of Game of Thrones is that the directors and writers failed to flesh out the characters and their emotions in the scene as clearly as Martin was able to in his book. There’s no question that just about everything about the scene is wrong and uncomfortable, but there’s more context and less room for outrage that the subject of rape – let alone “rapecest” next to an incest-born son’s dead body – was handled cavalierly.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9/8c.

– Chelsea Regan

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