We discussed it immediately after the episode aired. We revisited it again this morning after an uncomfortable night’s sleep. And then we heard from the director of the episode, who was apparently more concerned with sending Jack Gleeson off in extraordinarily weird fashion than anything else. That should just about do it, except for when the creator of all things Westeros who actually wrote the original scene weighs in.
As many of the readers have pointed out the scene is considerably less rape-y in the books, which makes George R.R. Martin’s opinion even more interesting the day after it aired on HBO. So of course he made his thoughts known in the most obvious of places: the comments section of his Live Journal blog in reply to a question on a post about a completely unrelated subject that he wrote hours before the episode aired.
I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.
The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.
Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his 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.
If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.
That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.
So there you have it (except for the end where he hilariously asks that the comments section now return back to discussing the subject of the original post). I haven’t read the books because, but GRRM does seem to share pretty much all of the same concerns as his literary audience. Once the series is complete I demand an oral history of the Game of Thrones “butterfly effect” be released within at least a month. Just all too fascinating.
Check back tomorrow for what feels like Weiss & Benioff’s inevitable response.