Walter White, Jamie Lannister, and How We Morally Process Murder and Rape Differently
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Walter White, Jamie Lannister, and How We Morally Process Murder and Rape Differently

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | April 23, 2014 | Comments ()


(Spoilers for Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad below).

By the final episodes of Breaking Bad, there was no doubt in most people’s minds that Walter White was a bad man. He was no longer an anti-hero. He was a straight-up villain. He’d murdered many, and in cruel ways (such having a man burned alive in prison). It wasn’t just bad people that he’d killed, either. He’d let Jesse’s girlfriend die. He’d seriously endangered the life of a child, whistled after dissolving another dead kid in acid, left Jessie to be tortured, and murdered Mike for little reason other than pride. He was a terrible person who’d rained down destruction on everyone around him, including those he loved. He was no longer redeemable by the end.

And yet, there was still some debate over whether it was OK to root for him, and even those of us who wanted him to die found some satisfaction in the fact that he took out others along the way and ultimately died in a kind of peaceful and fitting way. It wasn’t satisfying in a revengeful way; it was satisfying in an almost romantic way.

Likewise, Justified’s Boyd Crowder has killed many. He pushes drugs, and he runs prostitutes. He was at one point a white supremacist. He turned his back on the love of his life, and he threatened to take down the hero of Justified, Raylan Givens, for whom we all have immense affection. And yet, there’s nary one among us who doesn’t still root for Boyd Crowder in some way. When there’s enough charm and swagger, bad deeds can be overlooked.

We could say the same thing about several Sons of Anarchy characters, Dexter Morgan, Nucky Thompson, or Francis Underwood: Characters who have done reprehensible things that we allow ourselves to overlook or somehow justify because we love those characters.

But this Jamie Lannister situation is different.

Let’s say for the sake of this argument that there was no ambiguity about that scene between Jamie and Cersei this week, and that — despite protestations to the contrary from the director Alex Graves — Jamie raped Cersei. Jamie also killed a defenseless King Aerys, he pushed a child out of a castle window with the intention of killing him, he has three children from an incestious relationship with Cersei, and he strangled Lord Rickard Karstark’s innocent son to death. Yet audiences have been willing to overlook all of these bad deeds because we’ve become smitten with Jamie over the course of the last season due to his relationship with Brienne.

But what’s interesting here is that the audience processes these other moral crimes in such a way that allows us to continue to sympathize with Jamie Lannister, but instead of attempting to process the rape of his sister next to the corpse of his oldest son in such a way that might allow us to continue sympathizing with him, the response has been to reject the rape. Murder, incest, and sex next to your dead son are all somehow excusable in our minds, but the rape crosses a line that makes it impossible to further sympathize him. So, our answer is to basically vilify the director of the episode and the showrunners for allowing a terrible person to do something more terrible than our minds will allow us to forgive.

It’s not that I don’t get it, either. If Walter White or Boyd Crowder or Jax Teller or Francis Underwood had violently forced themselves upon someone sexually, it would’ve become impossible to root for those characters. That’s where the conflict comes with Jamie Lannister. It’s not the rape itself that is the problem — there have been other instances in Game of Thrones in which characters have been sexually abused, and in some cases, in far worse ways, but that hasn’t stopped us from watching the show. It’s the idea of losing Jamie Lannister as someone with whom we can root. That, we cannot abide!

So, instead of accepting what it might mean for Jamie had he raped Cersei, we reject the act as a blunder on the part of the director, and in the episodes to come, we will probably retcon out of our minds and continue rooting for a murdering, child-killing, incestuous character. Why? Because sexual crimes are just worse, that’s why.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • katherineguigan

    nice post for watch ..

  • Coolg82

    One part about it is that there is the sense that murder on some level can be justified, where as rape is not. Murder is not always a end of its own, I would say that it often is not, but rape is always intended to be rape and is done for no other reason that to actually violate someone. However, murder can be intended just as such. The I don't think the murder of a child can be compared with the rape of a woman on an emotional level, because it will always be determined by just how close someone is to the crime. Even so far removed, judgement is based on what little experience one has with the consequences of such crimes. As for Jamie Lannister, he never really stopped being a villain, he just stopped villaining for a little bit and suffered a series of humiliations while forced to associate non-violently with a foe for an extended period of time. Just because you saw a little more into his character does not make him less a villain, just a three dimensional one. Most of the "Draco in Leather Pants" stuff comes from Jamie being played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is a dashing and attractive man. The rape scene did not make him a villain again, just reminded you that he still is.

  • Maddy

    I initially didn't view this scene as rape in the books, but now I'm rethinking that and my view of Jaime with rose-coloured glasses. But leaving aside the books and viewing the show as its own entity (which has left out or completely changed book scenes and storylines plenty of times, changed whole storytimes, even had their own original characters that didn't appear in the book) I am still uncomfortable with this choice on a storytelling level and not just what it does to Jaime but what it does to Cersei. If they wanted to give a reason for a falling out between Jaime and Cersei, there was enough already established in the show universe for that to happen without going this route. Regardless of what happened in the book, they are responsible for the depiction of this scene and there are legitimate reasons people are critical of it beyond just fangirling Jaime (although I will admit that is a big reason why I initially was horrified because it so went against my reading of his character as a man who, for all his many faults, would NEVER rape anyone, specifically Cersei).

    I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - depiction doesn't necessarily mean endorsement and we will see how they handle the Jaime-Cersei relationship from here. It has definitely made me interrogate myself as I always thought of myself as progressive and sensitive on this issue but maybe I have implicitly bought into that 'blurred lines' culture that I thought of myself as rejecting.

  • amberdragonfly

    Am I the only person that never rooted for Walter White? I loved the show, but I really wanted to see him get what he deserved. As the seasons went on he just became more and more unlikable to be. I never once felt any pull for his character, although I did feel really sorry for Jesse.

    As for Boyd, he should definitely go to prison, but I'd love to have a beer with him first.

  • stryker1121

    I'll continue enjoying the show and I'm still interested in what Jaime does next. Not going to undergo any inner turmoil on whether I should be 'rooting' for Jaime or not. That's more energy than i can muster. The amount of internet ink spilled on this topic has been frankly insane.

  • nobcarajo100

    Haven't there been a lot of shitty things happening in this show? Like a massive amount of murders, kids being tortured, castration, limbs being torn off, etc.?

  • Cree83

    I think the audience can generally forgive a pretty wide range of egregious acts depending on the motivations of the perpetrators. If Jaime had maliciously killed a child for no reason, just because he enjoyed killing, the audience would probably turn on him in a similar way - he'd be like the Mountain that Moves. Jaime didn't push Bran out of the window for the fun of it; he did it out of self-preservation. If Bran had told people what he witnessed, Jaime would be dead. Probably Cersei too. Maybe their kids. Jaime's killing is not that different Arya killing the stable boy, or some of her other murders, although her self-preservation killings are usually done in more immediate life threatening situations. She's also motivated by revenge, which isn't exactly a noble reason, but it's one the audience can understand and get behind. I haven't yet seen Breaking Bad, but I imagine most of Walter White's actions are done because his life is on the line, etc. Dexter enjoys killing, but he also enjoys getting rid of terrible people, so we can deal with it. We just need something understandable to hang our hat on.

    But there's no "reason" to rape that can be justified in any way. The motivations only make the perpetrator seem more cruel.

  • Eilis Monahan

    Speaking for myself, its not that the rape is so much worse than anything else Jamie has done. What's so infuriating about that scene is that it completely betrays the character arc. Those of us who are permanently spoiled, because we've been reading the books long before the show came out, we know where Jamie's character is supposed to be heading. Brienne is the start of that. But this rape interrupts, and quite frankly ruins, the very distinct moral path that Jamie has been set on by his experiences of his year in captivity and his relationship with Brienne. At this stage in his character arc he shouldn't be capable of this rape. Yes, he would have been in the past, but not now. Jamie is the great redemption story... and its not that the director has made him more irredeemable than he was, its that the arc of the redemption no longer makes sense. When events unfold in the coming weeks with Tyrion and Tywin and Sansa, they aren't going to fit with what the viewers of the show know about Jamie's character development. THAT'S what sucks about the rape.

  • Wilma

    I felt sympathy for Jaime in the books, but I actually liked him in the show. I'm sort of happy with the choice the writers made here. In the book it was easier, for me at least, to keep in mind that Jaime had done some reprehensible things, some morally ambiguous things and some good things and that it was okay that one person could go from one end of the moral spectrum to the other and back again. In the show it's somehow harder to do this, maybe because of the visual aspect of it? The way your brain doesn't always register visual lies? It was good to be remembered that this character does not exist in a moral vacuum. Also, with this one act the writers show us so much of the dynamics between Jaime and Cersei for the second part of the books.

  • The rape scene from this past week's episode is difficult to process, given the attempts by the show last year to show a more human side to Jaime. In retrospect, the scene reminds the audience that although he may have his charms, Jaime did push a child out of a window to protect his incestuous relationship with Cersei a secret.

    Having read the books, I was wondering how this scene was going to play out. How they choose to show it left a sick feeling in my gut, which is how such a scene should be shown. I'm wondering how Jaime will be written for the rest of this season and how they use that scene to build on.

  • Guest

    It is very strange how audiences are willing to forgive murder but not rape. I think the former is worse.

  • George

    I think people are just desensitized to seeing people get murdered (fictionally) because it happens constantly in film and television. Rape is rarely ever shown, so it's more disturbing when it is. I think murdering a person is worse than animal abuse, but animal abuse bothers me more when I see it in a movie.

  • hapl0

    You see guys, your morals, your code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. You all are only as good as the world allows you all to be.

  • Maddy

    To me it's because there is a specifically problematic way we talk about rape that is different to the way we talk about murder in the real world. There are not nearly as many people in the real world saying 'that person deserved to get murdered'. Which is why I think writers/ creators need to think very carefully about how and why they want to do it, especially since there are so many frankly sexist things in art that reflect and contribute to the messed up thinking around this issue. And maybe this is being unfair or premature, but I really don't think the writers thought carefully or sensitively about this at all. Maybe I'll change my mind in future episodes, but right now I just can't wrap my head around why this was necessary. There are plenty of ways to drive the plot forward or demonstrate character progression without using rape.

  • OzellaBonham

    Both are Look like Murder in directly and Indirectly because Rape is effect in the respect of woman to feel as a woman dead whenever Murder is directly effect in the life of woman .

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    I think people are mainly trying to ignore the rape scene because it didn't happen that way in the books. I feel like the show is making cersei and tywin too sympathetic and doing the contrary with Stannis and Jamie.

  • George

    I'm really confused by the people who keep bringing up what happens in the books. Who the hell cares? Since when are film/TV adaptations faithful to the source material?

  • Alicia

    Some are, some aren't. The last adaptation I watched was "House of Sand and Fog", which follows the novel's plot really closely until the ending.

  • Ben

    Yeah sorry fuck that. Jamie was ALWAYS irrideemable, the fact that you can write off him pushing a kid out a window in an attempt to kill him and paralyse him for life. And still have him as this 'morally grey' character who could be redeemed, but rape is suddenly a 'nope too far'

    That's fucked up man.

    Jamie is an evil selfish, dude who is willing to kill, maim do anything he wants to get his way. The fact that he was able to show a little humility or decencey with Brienne doesn't negate that, it makes him human instead of a 1 dimensional cartoon character. It's like watching the footage of Hitler being a big dork and flirting with Eva Braun, it's kinda cute and endearing, but that doesn't negate the fact that Hitler is clearly evil as fuck.

    The bath scene with Brienne where he opened up and showed some tenderness, doesn't negate the fact that Bran is paralyzed for life because Jamie couldn't keep his dick in his pants.

    Honestly him raping Cersei seemed completely in character to me. Because he's been shown time and time again to be prepared to do awful awful things to get his way because in his mind he's the center of the universe.

  • Steve

    Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

  • Gibler

    I think the interesting divergence is that IN THE BOOK **spoiler**, Jamie's character becomes more and more multi-faceted, introspective, and relatable while Cersei's continues to devolve into this shrewish unlikable power hungry bitch. I feel like this is a very familiar a narrative when dealing with women and power. Cersei is not allowed to be a bad-ass player for the throne like her male counterparts even though she is just as shrewd Instead, she is vilified. Even Danny has this riotous social justice kick and is a sympathizer to children, women, and slaves which is a much easier thing for us to understand when dealing with women and power. As ugly as this was, at the very least this opens the door for us to have very complicated and sympathetic feelings for Cersei in the future as opposed to her becoming another Jeoffry.

    Basically, Team Cersei. Anyone is welcomed to sit next to me in the bus, there is plenty of room.

  • BootlegGinger

    I have to say I agree. It seemed to me that it demonstrated how little power Cersei really has in this world. She's played the game well with the hand she was dealt, but when it comes down to it what can she do?
    Not to mention, she has just watched one son die, and her next "taken away" by her power-hungry father before Joffrey's corpse is even cold. (Lena Headey's acting in this scene was also amazing, and I'm kinda pissed it's getting overlooked b/c everyone is mad they feel icky rooting for Jaime). She is severely limited by being a woman in this world, and that seems to be a hell of a recurring theme in these stories. I wonder what GRRM is trying to say....

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I might join you, I like Headey's Cersei.

  • I just can't understand how people are thinking that the rape fits in with the arc that's been built around Jaime through the last two seasons. Yeah he's still a jerk in a lot of ways--a bastard who'll still have sex with his sister next to the body of their son, but he would just NOT rape a woman. I just can't reconcile the two. It goes against everything they've been telling us about the changes in Jaime. It's like he took two steps forward then fell back a hundred, and dismissing it as just "Oh, it's just him being a dick again" is a huge disservice to the character and the story so far. And I don't even LIKE the guy that much, but he'd been going somewhere good! It was supposed to be a story of redemption (that gets more traction in the latter books) and it felt like they fucked it all up for shock value.

    It's like I've been watching a different show from some of the commenters here.

    Also, Walter White was dick and I never liked him.

  • J4Sho

    Who says it was supposed to be a story of redemption? That's just your interpretation of what you were watching. Others interpreted it differently.

  • Others interpreted it wrong.

    *throws greatsword on the ground, stomps out*

  • foolsage

    I think that in this case, some alternate interpretations are worth considering. Maybe Jaime's time with Brienne changed him, or maybe it just gave the audience time to understand how he views himself. His relationships with his family continue to evolve, but it's hard to say how much of that is driven by Jaime and how much comes from external forces.

    You left your sword. Bet you're going to want that later. I'll get you a cloth and some oil.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    You said it better than I've been trying to get across.

  • Marc Greene

    Does anyone else find it weird that the picture I've seen pulled for reviews and articles discussing this scene tend to be the one above... from episode 1 you know, where they were having consensual sex?

  • JoannaRobinson

    I'm so sorry I don't have time to read all of the WONDERFUL comments here right now. I hopped into here WAY too late. But something someone said to me yesterday made me think about this rape vs. murder subject in a way I hadn't before. There will always be people who have suffered when their loved ones were killed. And there certainly are people who have been almost killed and survived. But on a basic level, sexual assault has survivors and murders don't. So, the statistics say, there are survivors of sexual assault reading this right now. Maybe that's a wrong-headed way to look at it, and please feel free to tell me if this is an idiotic comment, but it just sort of cracked something open for me about the delicacy and sensitivity required here.

    Also I 100% agree that in addition to any outrage of a rape scene mishandled (as most of them are) much of the outrage in this instance is a result of people mourning the loss of Nice Jaime and resenting having the narrative rug pulled out from under them when they thought they understood where his character arc was going.

  • mzbitca

    I also feel like there are two dynamics here: One is book purists and one are people whoare sensitive to the fact that sexual assault is often added to movies to "spice them up" I don't generally mind adaptations but in a show that has already added some pretty sexually abusive situations (almost anything with Roz) where they didn't exist It's interesting. Maybe if they start t hrowing in the male rape of characters that wasn't in the book it would be different, but the other thing to remember is that, unlike murder victims, victims of sexual assault are watching and reading and are seeing this discussion. And when accusations of "she was clearly okay with it" when it's obvious by a large majorities interpretation of the scene that it wasn't clear. It hits a cord as this is often what sexual assault victims hear. Also, when Walter White murders someone it's "he had his reasons" When someone rapes someone it's always "it wasn't rape" which again means that the victim was complicit.
    You can say it wasn't rape, but be aware that saying that is going to sound a lot like rape apologia. You can say it was rape and you are okay with the change. You can say it was rape in the book and the movie. But I don't really think anyone has the right to tell anyone else they shouldn't be "upset" by it

  • JustOP

    Dustin this is one of the best pieces of writing I've read on this site. It simply dismantles the criticism of this scene at its most fundamental level. Bravo.

  • John G.

    Jamie also killed a defenseless King Aerys

    This doesn't change much, because he still pushed a defenseless kid out a window, but the defenseless King Aerys was about to burn King's Landing, and everyone in it, to the ground when Jamie killed him. He also had just recently burned Ned Stark's father in brother alive in front of Jamie.

    I think the pushing the kid out the window thing was because GRRM was writing a 3 novel series at that point, and he didn't intend to expand on Jamie's character as much as he did, but it's still there, and it's pretty damn unforgivable. However, Robert was still king then, and if he'd found out about Jamie and Cersei, he would have killed them both.

  • Maddy

    I don't judge Jaime for killing Aerys I judge him for pushing Bran out the window.

  • _Alexander_

    It's the same old story. As long as the villain is handsome and charming people are willing to forgive absolutely anything. And yes this includes rape. He could have viciously raped Cersei while she was screaming for mercy and I assure that if they given him another sweet storyline and had him make doe eyes while shirtless he would be forgiven after five episodes

    It happens all the time. The vast majority of the time it's male characters but we also get some females one as well. Just look at the fans of Regina from Once Upon a Time.

  • mzbitca

    I also think that the changes they made prior change the way we view the scene. IN the book, this is the first time they've seen each other, Jamie hasn't been beat down/disowned by his father, we don't have an instance of him acknowleding Cersei has been rebuking him. In the book, this is the first time they laid eyes on each other and the scene read as way different. So even if they felt they shot the scene similarly (although they missed the key part of the book scene which was cersei's both physical AND verbal enthusiastic consent later in the scene) we are walking in to a different situation. This is not a Jaime home after a desperate attempt to get back to Cersei in which he's been physically and emotionally changed. This is a Jaime who seems angry and spurned by Cersei, who was there when there son died etc. The whole dynamic was changed already. The actions are going to be read differently no matter what. I

  • competitivenonfiction

    What I find really interesting is the amount of sheer bile that gets spewed towards Sansa (and some of the other relatively harmless female characters on the show - e.g. Gilly or Penny), while people will argue about whether or not a character like Jaime is really all that bad.

    Sansa made mistakes that had completely disproportionate consequences because she's in a really fucked up world, but at least they were from being naive. Jaime straight up threw a kid out a window for witnessing him screwing his sister. And that's just the first horrific act we've witnessed Jaime committing.

    I'm starting to suspect that the writers needed to make Jaime even more reprehensible to get the point across: this is not a good human being. I imagine this might be something that we need to remember going past even where the books left us.

  • Maddy

    There's plenty of sexist crap in the fans of the books and the show. And you could argue that some of that is in the text itself. I really don't get all the Sansa hate - I get why some people might not find her interesting, everyone has different characters they connect with. But outright hating her is weird to me. Also all the Catelyn haters can sit the hell down.

  • Ejic

    So this is appropos of nothing (at least that's not my intent anyway) but I was just rereading Game of Thrones and in the first instance of Cersei and Jaime having sex at the Winterfell keep, it's written as "'Stop it," she said, "stop it, stop it, stop it. Oh, please[ital]..." But her voice was low and weak, and she did not push him away. her hands buried themselves in his hair, his tangled golden hair, and pulled his face down to her breast. Bran saw her face." Dahn dahn dum!!!! What if this was just their [psuedo-rapey] way of having sex? Full disclosure: the way it was filmed in the show was rape IMO.

  • And the way the director and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have talked about the scene, that kind of encounter is what they think they filmed. In which case, the director is terrible at his job.

  • Ejic

    I just don't understand why there's conflicting opinions from the writers (show and books) and director and actor. I don't like ambiguity in my fictional rape scenes!

  • Me either. And all this ambiguity makes me think that they really had no idea what that scene was actually communicating, and they weren't expecting such an immediate and vocal backlash, so they didn't have a chance to come up with a coherent, "official" explanation.

  • Maddy

    I think the fact that the director and the writers (and possibly the actors) were at such cross purposes about this scene is actually more concerning to me than the scene itself

  • Dumily

    I was sort of thinking the same thing. I need to give the prerequisite RAPE IS BAD statement, but part of having a taboo relationship is being unable to resist it. I think a mature conversation would include acknowledging that couples, especially couples who have known each other and been intimate for years, can have sex where one is "convinced" by the other and it's fine. Consensual, not rape sex. The scene did not show Cersei eventually consenting and therefore was a rape. But I'm not ruling out the possibility that had we been privy to the whole sex act, she might have consented after being "convinced."

  • Sara_Tonin00


    Ok "soulmate" sounds creepy, but yeah, I just don't understand the lack of nuance in this discussion. I mean, I know it's a hot potato of a topic, but I really am surprised at how much so. And that people can view murder through Westeros world eyes, but not this interaction. Based on others' comments, I kinda feel like I should feel like a bad person for not being up in arms about it...but I'm not. I just had big "so that happened" eyes at the end of the scene.

  • Dumily

    Do you listen to and read a lot of Dan Savage? Because he's taught me so much. Specifically, "consent: it's the magic number."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I DO read Dan Savage. He has also been very instructive to me on sexual ethics (and on a whole lotta topics I don't intend to explore, but which are entertaining to read).

    One of the other things I'm intrigued by is how important it is to people to label the act as rape, and now to label Jaime as a rapist. "He wouldn't be a rapist." As if there is a list of characteristics we can draw that show who would and wouldn't rape, regardless of the situation. And as if once you have committed an act you are are always that thing. It's not necessarily relevant to this conversation, but it has me thinking. (tell a lie and you are always a liar? steal and you are always a thief? what are the acts that define a person. are they only bad acts?)

  • Dumily

    I LOVE that guy. Even when his advice doesn't apply to me, I love hearing it.

    That "he wouldn't be a rapist" has been getting to me too. Because rapists aren't one specific thing. Most people who are rapists don't seem like they're rapists. But it's weird to try to judge fictional characters with our morals. Like what the scene showed was a rape. But the first season of the show also showed the hero arranging a marriage between his prepubescent daughter and a sociopath. I would judge real life Ned Stark for that pretty harshly. But GoT Ned Stark was just doing what lords do. So if I'm going to accept Sansa's marriage to Joffery, can I still judge Jaime's attack on Cersei the same way I would the same attach in real life? Can I let some things slide as just what Westeros does, but not others? I've seen a lot of comments on Jaime and Cersei being totally in love. But in real life, if you found out twins were banging and procreating, you would not be interested in how that love story started. I'm just not getting the disconnect between "these things are part of their world and fine" and "these things are totally unacceptable."

  • J4Sho

    This conversation right here! This is why I love Pajiba's comment section.

  • logan

    What's this "we" stuff? I haven't forgotten he pushed a kid out a window. He's an asshole the only difference is he's a one handed one now.
    He repaid Brienne because she helped him that's it.

  • mzbitca

    How about this, in order to show that Jaime is the reprehensible man we needed to make a woman a victim of sexual assault. I have a lot of critiques of this writing but the other piece that comes from his is that we took a female character in the books, who has been very clear that she views her sexuality as her one weapon and who was willing to kill herself rather than be raped before and we made her a sexual assault victim to what end? There were two people in that scene and we have talked a lot about how it derailed Jaime's arc, but what about Cersei. In a lot of people's minds, she has now been raped by her brother, and there has been plenty of critique about the use of rape and sexual violence against female characters to what avail? Did we need to remember that Jaime did horrible stuff? Why? and if so, Why does it come at the expense of a female character who has her own pretty arc and story that is now changed because of this.

  • That is my main problem with the scene - it's another major instance when the showrunners took away a female character's agency in a departure from the source material. The inexplicable victimization of Cersei in that moment is disturbing, especially when you remember that the writers also took away Dany's consent on her wedding night to Khal Drogo.

  • Paisley Poppins

    This is what I'm not getting (now granted I was a late starter so missed comments at the very beginning of the series) - why the outrage here and lack thereof with regards to Drogo (unless I've missed it somewhere)? It wasn't just on their wedding night that he raped Dany - it was every night until she took the "if it's going to happen I might as well enjoy it" route. Which is ALSO a pretty questionable plot choice as well, no?? The whole scenario actually made it hard for me to get into the series at all as I found it really troubling. I NEVER liked Drogo at any point because of this.

  • Maddy

    There definitely were people who had problems with it actually - but it wasn't as 'loud' because Game of Thrones wasn't the phenomenon then that it is now. I always had problems with the Dany-Drogo relationship in the books because even if you accept that he didn't rape her on their wedding night (despite the fact that a 14 year old can't consent) he definitely raped her plenty of times after that, and I've always thought Dany's 'love' for Drogo was more Stockholm Syndrome than anything romantic. I more had problems with the show's depictions of Dothraki as racially problematic (some of which is from the books, but they made even more troubling on the show).

  • Paisley Poppins

    Hmmm, Stockholm Syndrome. Interesting point.

  • mzbitca

    Also, maybe i've missed it but if I had it's because a lot of sites are choosing not to highlight it but I've heard about how the author feels, about how the actor feels, about how the directyory feels. What about Lena? What were her thoughts about that scene?

  • As far as I know, Lena hasn't made a statement, and she's the person I'm most curious to hear from. I want to know what she thought she was portraying versus what she saw when it aired.

  • mzbitca

    I also can't help but wonder about her lack of speaking out because of some of the rumours/truths that have come out about the way they have treated female cast members who have not been happy with their nude scenes

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Yeah, that really bothered me. Granted, it's been over ten years since I read the first book, but I remember their wedding night as being romantic and pretty sexy. The show turned it into another rape. What's the deal with these writers?

  • I mean, it's about as romantic and sexy as a sexual encounter between a 14 year-old sold into marriage and a much older man, with no common language, can be, but at least Dany gets to consent.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I never could envision the characters as the ages stated... I pictured them on a planet with a much longer solar year. Dany seemed more in her late teens.

    But then I thought the bedroom scene with Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo and Juliet beautifully done and they were both legally minors.

    But hey, thanks for the sarcasm.

  • Heh, you're welcome.

    I always pictured Dany as older, too, keeping in mind the medieval inspirations for the books and typical marriage age and life expectancy and all that.

  • BootlegGinger

    it's very clear in the book she and jon snow are 14 at the beginning of A Game of Thrones

  • Additionally, I have a problem with (and this is a weird thing to say) creating sympathy for Cersei.

  • Maddy

    I go back and forth about this but to me it's like they thinks it more important for her to be sympathetic than for her to have agency or complexity. I don't mind that they have fleshed her out, as by this point in the books we only see Cersei from the perspective of other POV characters. I actually don't really like how in the show motherhood is the defining character for both Catelyn and Cersei while taking out a lot of their political agency. Catelyn just sat in the corner looking depressed and occasionally having a monologue in season 3.

  • mzbitca

    I have a problem creating this type of sympathy for Cersei, There is a big problem with making someone a sexual assault victim so people feel sorry for her. and Ironically, a lot of the arguement i've seen about this scene basically plays out in any accusation of rape: aka: yeah she said no but look at all these vague and non-verbal ways she said she wanted it

  • I think if there's one thing the show has done well (before this week), it's creating, if not sympathy, at least a way to understand why Cersei acts the way she does: she wields whatever petty power she has because it's *all* she has, and she's refused to just sit back and take whatever shit gets thrown her way.

  • That's true, but I'm not certain any more than reason should apply. We're meant to despise her.

  • mzbitca

    yep and I want to despise her feeling that she's a creature of her own making as much as anything.

  • Absolutely. But I enjoy despising TV Cersei more than I enjoy despising Book Cersei, if that makes sense.

  • Fair enough.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Agreed. Book Cersei was even less sympathetic than her loathsome son.

  • Dumily

    I actually think that's a much more interesting discussion. Cersei's been used before because she was a woman, she feels overlooked because she's a woman (although Tywin disagrees) and she's been unable to decide her own fate because she's a woman. I don't think a rape scene is a good way to manifest the ways in which she's powerless, but I do think it could add another explanation as to why she is the way she is. I think her reaction to the rape will be more important than Jaime's.

  • mzbitca

    Which then the argument is why? Why did they feel the need to include a sexual assault in her arc? She's a broken jealous petty creature and has pretty humiliating and sexually degrading scene in the books where in she views Jaime as her only hope and saviour. I'd argue that this rape changes Cersei's arc even more than it changes Jaime's

  • Dumily

    Well, as much as I'm interested in seeing how she reacts, there's no love lost on my end for the demise of Jersei. I think their relationship is creepy, and I don't buy that they love each other. If she considers him her only hope and savior, then it's sad that he was ruined for her. But I think he was ruined for her when he wasn't able to get home to her right away and undamaged. He changed for her when he came home months later without his hand. He couldn't threaten to kill any of the guards that stood in his way of her. I think her being raped was terrible, but I don't think this is when she lost Jaime.

  • mzbitca

    This is kind of my point, they had already established there was a wedge between her and Jaimie. What was the rape if nothing but terrible?

  • Dumily

    I can't say yet, but I'm not willing to say it's nothing. At least not for a couple more episodes.

  • nosio

    Ok, I know this sounds terrible, but when Jaime kills the Karstark's the middle of the war. It's not like he crept up to Karstark during a picnic and killed an innocent man for the fun of it; he was a captured soldier killing another soldier of the opposing army.

    As for killing his cousin during his escape - this also sounds callous - they didn't have a relationship. They didn't know each other at all. When Alton tells Jaime who his mother is, Jaime has no idea who he's talking about. This doesn't make Jaime's actions excusable, obviously, but it feels dishonest to frame these deaths out of context, considering that Jaime's killed hundreds of other men in combat.

    One might say that killing someone is killing someone regardless of the context, but that person probably has no business enjoying Game of Thrones.

  • foolsage

    Nuance matters.

  • BlackRabbit

    Jaime Lannister is a guy who does what is needed to be done based on the time and place he's in, the rape of Cersi aside. Killing the king? Had to be done. Throwing Bran out the window? The alternative was a lot of death (quite possibly that of Robert himself). If he could magically have wiped Bran's mind or bribed him, I think he'd probably have done it if he thought it would stick. Having kids with Cersi isn't in itself a crime. It's pretty damned weird, but not a crime. Killing Karstark's son-he's a prisoner during a war. He's not a nice person and the product of a screwed-up family. I don't like him (well, I do on the show because of the great acting) but I understand him. Most of his bad deeds boil down to "Needs Must."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I actually don't process rape by a character differently from torture or maiming. The goal, I think, is the same: to wound, to cow, to humiliate, to psychologically damage your victim. It is a malicious act, rather than one with the simple goal of stopping or defeating an adversary.

  • BlackRabbit

    Which Jaime himself has suffered, interestingly.

  • Maddy

    I'm sorry I have to be that annoying book person - it's Jaime not Jamie

  • I think the main problem people have with Jaime's rape of Cersei (and if the director is too dense to understand what he filmed and the cut that he signed off on, he needs to find a new job) is that it completely distorts a scene from the book that was already disturbing but was still in line with both Jaime's and Cersei's characters and their arcs. As gross as it is that Cersei and Jaime have sex in a church next to their dead son's body, it makes a certain kind of sense, given what we know about them. Jaime raping Cersei, on the other hand, comes out of nowhere. Watching Jaime accuse Cersei of being a hateful woman and then forcing himself on her while she protested and tried to push him away, I remember thinking that I have never seen a scene go from right to wrong so fast. It makes no sense.

    I am curious to see where the showrunners go from here, and what this alteration does to both Jaime and Cersei moving forward. The great thing about Jaime as a character is that as the series goes on, you learn to like him because he exists in gray; yes, he does the "wrong" thing sometimes, but he does it for the right reasons (killing the king, for example). There is no gray about what he did to Cersei. I want to know how they come back from that, or if they'll even try.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I disagree with pretty much all of this. It didn't come out of nowhere (it just didn't go where you expected) and no way does Jaime go about "doing the wrong thing for the right reasons" unless you count the goal of maintaining his position, power, pride and secrets as "the right reasons."

  • What do you mean, it didn't go where I expected? There is literally nothing in Jaime's history which would suggest that he would rape any woman, much less his sister, the only woman he's ever loved. This is not about the showrunners exposing an unexplored side to Jaime's character, this is about them changing a scene for no apparent reason and undermining three seasons' worth of character exploration.

    And yes, maybe I should have been more specific: Jaime does things for the reasons he believes are right. But so does every single character on the show.

  • Aubenabee

    I wrote this up above, but it was kind of a weird place in the conversation, and it applies here, too, so here's my take:

    "In general, I agree. However, the one confounding thing about your
    assertion (and this entire discussion in general) is that while we think
    we *know* how book Jaime would act, the one person who *knows* book
    Jaime best is GRRM. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be willing to bet that he
    saw the script and knew the plan here. If he approved it, that makes me
    hesitate to say that the showrunners/writers/directors "got it wrong". I
    think the series deserves a few more episodes to flesh out the
    consequences of the act before anyone decries them for doing it wrong."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't mean "right" as self-justified. That is not what "right" means. Right implies a moral stance, and that is not the basis if Jaime's actions. Tyrion chooses not to harm. He is selfish, but he's growing beyond that. He does not act for power or prestige, but to prevent abuse. Jaime has some heroic acts in saving Brienne, but then again, a Lannister always pays his debts.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    He wouldn't rape "any woman." I do think he would try to force his way back into the connection he had with Cersei. It's a very specific reaction to her rejection, to the tremendous losses he's dealing with, and it's him trying to reclaim something he had before he left the capital. In all those ways it makes sense me, does not surprise me, and from a storytelling point of view, sets him up for some interesting choices.

    It even humanized Cersei to some extent as a mother and human being who doesn't feel comfortable having sex next to her son's body.

  • I'm interested in the last thing you said, much more than the idea of whether or not Jaime is capable of rape: how did you feel about Cersei (as a character, as a woman, as a person) before she was raped? I know a lot of people don't like her, but I think, before this week, one thing the show and Lena Headey in particular had done a good job with was delving into Cersei's psychology. It's not that she's just this inexplicably hateful bitch, but that she constantly feels ignored and passed over and treated like shit because she's a woman. Without getting into spoilers from the book, here's a question about Cersei: does she need to be victimized for people to see her as a person?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It was not a question of her needing to be victimized to be seen as a person. For me, it's a question of presenting it as her being unwilling in this situation shows greater humanity (greater truth to character, too, considering her previous monologue about how she reacted to the death of her first child) to me than presenting her as being willing. But I don't think that's the only point of the scene. It is very much a scene about their relationship for me; a relationship which has been changed since Jaime returned, and which he thinks he can get back to where it was. And this is a fumbling, flailing attempt to get it back to what it was. My one problem with the scene was merely that Jaime seemed too cool about it all, rather than desperate. I would've liked to have seen more of a break in his shell.

    I actually adore the character of Cersei. Not as a person I want to hang out with, of course. But she is smart and strong - not as much of either as she thinks - and she is trying to make the best of the terrible world she's in. I think this is one more terrible thing her world has thrown at her - but I also think it's part of the way the world works for women in this world, and that she's dealt with it. She's always been a victim fighting not to be one (that's why she's so bitter) - this is just one more victimization. It's a pile-on next to having one son dead in front of her and another son being Svengali'd away by her father. She asks one brother to kill her other brother and instead he takes her. This is everyone in her family. There is not a single person on her side, not even the one person closest to her, and that's because she'd pushed him away.

    It does not change or break anything for me in how I perceive her...but we'll see what happens next.

  • HelloLongBeach

    I feel like he might not even understand it was wrong. To me he is a narcissistic, hot piece with an inability to feel guilt. He has his own code but it's not society's code. In fact, having read the books, I think this rewrite is really kinda great.
    I think people feeling betrayed by a character committing an act of betrayal shows just how brilliant the writing is.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I agree. It's not any more wrong to him than a husband claiming his rights with his wife.

  • Dumily

    I myself haven't read the books, but The Mister has. He says that not only does he think Jaime is fully capable of raping Cersei, but he found their whole relationship to be vaguely rapey. He thought the spirit of the rape church scene was true to the book even if some of the details weren't.

  • Dumily

    There's no grey in what he did to Bran though. And no grey in what he did to his cousin. He did both of those things to save himself and the one person her cares about. He doesn't live in the grey, he sometimes does terrible things, and sometimes does not terrible things.

  • But isn't sometimes doing terrible things and sometimes doing not terrible things the meaning of gray? Yes, he pushed Bran out the window; he also saved Brienne from being gang raped. He killed the king - but it was to save thousands of people from being set on fire. I think the whole point of Jaime's character is to ask the audience to find a way to, if not root for this guy, at least understand why he does what he does. Really, that's the whole point of the series - everybody has their reasons, and we're being asked which reasons we can understand. Before the rape, Jaime was on his way to being understood. The writers, for whatever reason, decided to sabotage that. I want to know why.

  • Dumily

    I would argue that doing bad things for the right reasons is living in the grey. The anti- hero, lesser of two evils type of grey. Everyone on the show does some good and some terrible things. That by itself wouldn't make Jaime stand out.

    And I think I do understand him. I think I understand that he's an insecure narcissists who only uses his abilities to protect the things he cares about. And understanding his reasons and motives doesn't mean I have to think he's an ok person. I think he's a shitty person. I understand where he's coming from, and I think he's shit.

  • Three_nineteen

    He tried to kill Bran to save himself, the woman he loves, and his children. Is that not gray?

  • Dumily

    Not when he had to kill an innocent child because he was caught in the middle of a crime.

    ETA: In real life, imagine a nice couple were about to sit down and smoke some crack when some nosy ass neighbor kid wanders over. The guy knows that if his wife gets caught smoking crack again, she's going to go to jail for the rest of her life and their kids are going to be taken away. So the guy decides he needs to murder the ever loving crap of out the neighbor kid. Is any of that grey to you?

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