George R.R. Martin explains ‘rape scene’

The ever-popular Game of Thrones has crossed the line many many times since hitting television screens three seasons ago, and there has been no shortage of shocking and disturbing scenes. The public has often responded with awe and bewilderment — but never quite how they did after Episode 3 of Season 4 on Sunday night.

(Spoilers below)


As Page to Premiere reports, based on a Hypable feature, George R.R. Martin felt compelled to respond to fans after the “rape scene” between brother-sister lovers Jaime and Cersei.

The scene on last night’s (season 4 episode 3) Game of Thrones between Cersei and Jaime sparked a huge debate online, since in the books Cersei says “yes,” however in the show she did not. This means it was rape, especially since she was yelling her dissent.

However, the author himself George R.R. Martin responded to these complaints in the comments section of his blog, saying that the scene was always intended to be disturbing, and that the circumstances on the show are different so the scene needed to be altered.

These were Martin’s words:

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.

Personally, I think the scene was perfectly in character with many of the other depraved sequences on this show. Witnessing any sexual assault is going to create a visceral reaction in those who have suffered or are empathetic to sex crimes, but these are the ways of Westeros. Shouldn’t we be equally put off by mass killings, cannibalism, decapitations, forced prostitution, and many of the other horrendous acts that have taken place?

Sure, a societal nerve was struck here, but it shouldn’t be viewed any more controversially than previous scenes on the show. What do you think?