SPOILERS: Not for the weak.


I know my reviews usually focus on plot advancements and character arcs, but today we have something more important to discuss – the ethics of adaptation. Or, more precisely, what it means when consensual sex is rewritten into rape.

While HBO’s “Game of Thrones” could never fully encompass the scope of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy world in his series, “A Song of Ice and Fire” and has occasionally strayed from the original plot, Sunday’s episode featured a scene rewritten and exploited perhaps for the wrong reasons.

In the scene, brother and sister Jaime and Cersei Lannister mourn the body of their dead son, King Joffrey. They share a tearful embrace, which leads to a passionate kiss before Cersei backs off. Then, Jaime grabs her, rips her clothes, drags her to the floor and rapes her next to their son’s corpse.

In a show that has literally raped and murdered everyone, this scene might take the cake for the most disturbing yet, and that is not even my biggest problem with it. What bugs me is that the rewrite of a scene of obvious consent in the books transforms a character we are supposed to hate into a victim in a time of need. Cersei, a seriously complicated and downright evil character, suddenly gains this new dimension of sympathy when instead of saying, “Do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime,” she’s crying, “Stop stop.”

Granted, Jaime and Cersei are both such despicable wretches that basically nothing they do at this point would surprise me. We should also take into account that these stories exist in a world that is at best brutal toward women.

But, what leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that this was a conscious decision motivated not to develop her character, but simply to exploit stereotypes of female victimhood.

“Game of Thrones” is all about twists and turns, plots falling out from under you and characters getting axed at whim. But this move doesn’t feel fresh, and while definitely shocking, it’s for reasons we have seen before. For a moment, we are charmed to imagine that Cersei, very much responsible for the demonic tyrant that was Joffrey, is a helpless mother kicked while she’s down.

The original scene is in fact more grotesque and shocking, where Jaime and Cersei are so depraved they can’t stop themselves from desecrating their son’s wake. It is way easier to blame one character for a rape: it’s less complicated, and in many ways, it’s cheap.

This scene doesn’t gross me out as much as disappoint me. The sad truth is that sexual violence is depicted all the time for the sake of good TV – so often we don’t even notice it sometimes. And it’s not like we shouldn’t write about it or watch it, but maybe we should just think about the context in which it is being deployed and ask ourselves if it was done for reasons which seem to advance the plot in a way that is most thought-provoking and true to the characters. I don’t feel that this instance fit Cersei’s character, who now suddenly revokes Jaime’s advances after years of being in a passionate secret love affair. In a moment like this, we would expect her to give in to her darker impulses.

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