Apr 21 2014 10:05am

Game of Thrones Episode Review: “Breaker of Chains”

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Dany Daenerys

Last week’s Very Special Episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a tough act to follow, but “Breaker of Chains” provided only slightly fewer betrayals, Dornish burn victims, and dead kings. Well, actually, the dead king count remained at one. The actor must’ve had a really easy last day of work on set.

What this hour lacked in all of the above, it made up for it with more terrifying cannibals, some very tarnished buried treasure, and another case of non-book readers probably enjoying this episode way more than book-readers.

Episode spoilers after the jump and book spoilers very likely in the comments. Tread carefully.

Hooray! Joffrey is still dead. He didn’t come back as a sadistic asshole zombie or anything. Score one for the good guys. If the good guys don’t include Tyrion, because his situation remains shitty. Awaiting trial in the cells of the Red Keep, he’s finding himself very, very alone. No one will stand for him in his upcoming trial. His dad and sister ensured that the judges are stacked against Tyrion and anyone who might’ve been an ally is bribed or “investigated.”

Pod looked very guilty when Tyrion called him the most loyal squire in the world. That can’t bode well. This does look to be a trial Tyrion can’t squirm away from. It’s a dark time to be an Imp.

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Podrick

Maybe Jaime will help his favorite brother out when he’s done raping his sister in front of the corpse of their firstborn child? In case you forgot how loathsome most Lannisters are, this scene was here to remind you. While the action was true to the book, the act was in no way consensual on the show. And that’s a big problem for people who were starting to like Jaime. Like me.

I haven’t been this pissed off about a departure from the books since the pilot scene on Drogo and Dany’s wedding night.

In the books, Jaime took Cersei in front of her dead son immediately upon his return to King’s Landing. Here, Jaime has complained about Cersei being withholding prior to this encounter, so it came off less desperate and confusing for both parties and more just flat-out selfish and cruel on Jaime’s part. This, too, coming after Cersei already suffered witnessing the death of her son, listening to her father shit on his memory while he turns her surviving son into a puppet for the small council.

We get it, Cersei should be punished by the Story Gods for being a crappy mother. But to have even Jaime take his piece of her? It just felt beyond twisted and part of a larger problem for most women in Westeros. We nearly forgot that Jaime was that same mean, entitled prick that defenestrated an eight-year-old. But in this rape of Cersei, Jaime committed an act so vile, it negates all the heroics we’ve seen during his travels with Brienne. Why root for Jaime anymore? This is a bit more than a little misstep on the road to redemption and I don’t see why it was necessary. To give Jaime more man-pain and guilt in the future? To make Cersei more sympathetic?

While we’re talking about the reality of women and rape in Westeros, we may as well mention Samwell’s really stupid, selfish plan to hide Gilly and her baby in Mole’s Town, the village south of the Wall where many a crow has broken his vows. Yes, so to protect Gilly from rape, hide her in a brothel full of horny johns and whores? I’d be giving Samwell the side-eye, too. Especially after seeing my shit-stained bedroll and new housemates. Are we sure it’s not called Meth’s Town? Those teeth. That bad skin. Yeesh.

Sam, you killed a White Walker. Stand up for yourself.

With so much to be annoyed by in this episode, at least my beloved Dolorous Edd is back. Never change, Dolorous Edd.

Lest you think Edd and Grenn were the titular breaker of chains, having escaped the late Craster’s Keep to the Wall, the big climax this week belonged to Dany, once again kicking slavemaster ass.

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Dany Daario

Again, as a book reader, I bemoaned the lack of Strong Belwas and his fight against Meereen’s champion. But that’s a change from the book I can at least understand. So: Daario 2.0. Still not really a fan. He’s just so generic-looking and without charisma or chemistry. But I guess I’m relieved I didn’t have to watch him poop on a battlefield. There’s only so much grossness I can take in an hour.

Are we not touching on all of the issues Dany would/should be having with a gigantic marching army of freed slaves, i.e. largely civilian and starving and prone to terrible diseases, internal exploitation, and in-fighting? I hate to keep bringing up Starz’ Spartacus, but at least they dealt with the logistical nightmare of managing an army without much experience. Dany must be magical. She’s really just that good.

I did like the siege scene though - very Pelennor Fields. Dany’s war theme music is fantastic. Tywin had best be afraid of Dany, if he knows what’s good for him.

But is Littlefinger already winning the war?

Littlefinger, that son of a bitch, how I missed him these last few episodes. I fear for Sansa, big time. “We’re all liars in the capital... but you can trust me.” Yes, because it worked SO WELL for Sansa’s dad. Maybe she would’ve been better off running away with the Hound when she had the chance.

Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, it’s still crappy and rainy and Stannis is believing in Melisandre’s magic. If only she could perform a spell that would give him some soldiers and money. Luckily, Davos has some sort of eureka moment with his adorable tutor that might solve his king’s problem...

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Arya Hound

Final Thoughts:

  • A Hound without ale is marginally less angry than a Hound without his fucking chickens. Just when we thought Arya “Are We There Yet?” Stark and her protector were bonding, she gets to meet a bizarro version of herself and Sandor that subsequently ends with a painful reminder that Sandor is still a Bad Person. Game of Thrones: Everyone Is Bad Except for Maybe Hot Pie.
  • “Would you like to sit down [on my bed where group sex was just taking place, Lord Tywin, Killer of Boners and Starks?]” I love Oberyn.
  • Speaking of Tywin, I did like his “What makes a good king?” lesson, badly-timed as it was. Tommen looks way older than he was in the books, old as Joffrey almost. But he’s definitely getting the character’s sensitivity across.
  • Worst last words: “No one boils a potato better than yer ma.” Shame on you, Ygritte. You really fell in with a bad crowd. Making it very easy for Jon to stop missing you.
  • Wouldn’t killing the mutineers at Craster’s not really do much to protect the Wall? Mance is gonna find out the Night’s Watch is weaker than Jon said they were once the arrive at the Wall eventually, right?
  • Lastly, here’s an entertaining interview with Aidan Gillen about Littlefinger’s involvement in Joffrey’s poisoning.
  • Here's an interesting interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on what was going through his head and Jaime's during That Scene. I'm sorry, but I'm not really feeling for Jaime being equally powerless in that scene, but it gives some persepctive.


Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. She’s also the resident Hannibal fannibal at Boing Boing. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci

1. Ri
"We get it, Cersei should be punished by the Story Gods for being a crappy mother."


No. No. NO.
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
I'm raging at HBO for the Sibling Rape.

OMG - In the Book the thing that made it so "eww" (beyond, hello, siblings) was how "Yes, do it!" Cersei became during the act. She said no for about 1 minute, then was just as eager for Jamie to F**k her in the church next to their dead son, as Jamie was.

But they've totally messed that dynamic up by bringing him home weeks earlier already.
So mad they made it a rape. Totally ruins a lot of great character development they’ve done to redeem Jamie.
Theresa DeLucci
3. theresa_delucci
@1 Did you continue reading? I'm in no way implying that Cersei deserved to be raped for her crimes against the kingdom and her inability to control her twisted firstborn son. She is a crappy mother. Much like Catelyn wasn't such a great mother either. But just because both women demonstrated a lot of bad judgement on behalf of their kids doesn't mean they weren't fiercely protective and loving towards them. (Except for that bastard Jon Snow, of course.)

@2 Your username cracks me up. Also, exactly my sentiment.
Jonas Schmiddunser
4. Jineapple
Overall, the episode was good, but yes there were some moment definitely wrong here.

The scene in the show was rape, period. I've seen some people argue that Cersei was sometime kissing him back and that they've known each other long enough to know where to stop, plus apparently Bryan Cogman said the scene was meant to be ambigious, but if so, then imho that was a fail on the director's part. As it was shown to us, it was rape, and I don't see why they would do that.

I'm also bothered that apparently Gays and Bis cannot have a scene in this series that does not involve their sexuality, as if that is the only thing defining them?
Renly was made into a wimp, Loras jumps in Bed with Olyvar quite soon after Renly's death and he's been giving Oberyn the looks too - and instead of talking about his prowess as a warrior, or about his daughters, which would be important setup for later, we again spend time in a brothel to watch Oberyn's bisexual orgy.

Other thoughts:

Why are they so eager to get Dany to Meereen this quickly? Why not focus a bit on the problem of feeding all the freedmen, setting up the problems to come?
Also, as much as I like Dany talking in High Valyrian, Dany being this close to the walls was ridiculous. She was just a few meters out of bowshot (and imho realistically would have well been within bowshot, considering the height difference)
I don't see the point of the Thenns being made cannibals...The raid should be brutal as it was, but that's over the top for no good reason.
I don't get what's so bad about Mance learning there are fewer men at Castle Black. He's gonna attack anyway, and the wildings don't care that much for strategy...Sure, the less they know, the better, but it's not worth risking going to Craster's again just for that.
Mike I
5. MikeyRocks
I am happy that the show at times differs from the books. What made the books great were the shockers and gut wrenching twists of emotions you felt towards a myriad of characters. Why shouldn't you feel this watching the show even though you read the books?

Maybe GRRM didn't want people to start to like Jamie at this point in the books and this is his chance to present it this way. Maybe just maybe, GRRM and the producers of the show have something in the works to completely shock the book readers and non-book readers alike.

I think what the world GRRM has created has thought us to not feel too confident in what we think we know. Just enjoy the ride folks and stop watching the show with your novels comparing scenes.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
I don't really see Jaime's actions any different here than they were in the book. In the book, Cersei was reluctant and repeatedly said no.

@2 & 3, I guess I just remember the scene differently, because I never once felt that Cersei was into it. The relationship was always borderline rapey to begin with, IMO, because consent could never be meaningful. They never could say no to one another, why would Jaime accept no now? Just as Cersei isn't accepting of Jaime's "no" about killing Tyrion.

I agree that it's a bit of a departure but to me it works because it illustrates the screwed up power dynamics of their relationship, in case we forgot in all the time that's passed since Jaime tried to kill Bran.

In re the Dany Drogo scene in the pilot. See I liked that interpretation, because the book makes it clear, while she said yes the first time, all the times after when she's sore and hurting from riding she says no, and Drogo ignores her denials to rape her anyways. I disliked that in the books, the initial scene shows that her consent matters, when it doesn't later. I liked that they showed from the beginning how little power Dany has in that relationship.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl

My thought is that because Oberyn and Loras will hook up at some point, through him Loras will learn that Olyvar works for Littlefinger.

As far as Dany's slaves, I guess they are whitewashing all that away, because they don't want Dany's story to be "You can't force enlightenment on people because you think you are better than them" and instead want it to be something better. All those people who felt that the show was going to be tone deaf to Dany's flawed white savior
storyline after that terrible season ending moment last year were right.
Theresa DeLucci
8. theresa_delucci
@6 I can see your arguement for Dany and Drogo and think it's fair. More fair than this. This scene felt different. They had Jaime home for too long before Joffrey's death. In the books, creepy as it is, Cersei starts out saying no for fear of getting caughts, but she's very vocally, literally saying "Yes!!" She even go so far as to say "You're home now." Totally different tone. And I do think they are consenting. Or were. It's gross as it gets, but I can see how in their heads, they are consenting.

I just really question why the director/showrunners/whoever decided "Oh yes, hate Jaime again!" And if they did want us to hate him, why make him a rapist? Couldn't you maybe play up how little grief he feels over the death of his son. He doesn't mourn Joffrey even a little bit. He only wants Cersei.

Why victimize yet another woman? Makes it seem like a very specific kind of punishment for Cersei being aggressive. Like rubbing her nose in how powerless she really is. and I don't think we needed like that.

@7 Edited to add re: Dany. Maybe they're really sink into some of those issues in Meereen? That's what I'm hoping for. Right now Dany's an unstoppable war machine, but Meeren gives her an opportunity to really learn about taking the time to learn how to rule.
9. Gregor Lewis
Not to make the arts of acting and production sound too much like a thoroughbred stud operation, but the need to 'service' actors, who in turn must 'serve' the story, which in turn must be 'served well' by writing and direction, 'best served' by enabling a pacing blend in a ten episode season, that deftly combines the extremes of gentle to resolute meandering ... all the way up the scale to action/dialogue packed annihilating rhythm ...

Well, I've barked - partially in jest - before, that the D's have messed unnecesarily with scenes that didn't need messing with. What was on the page could be recreated, if not slavishly, at least faithfully.

IMO the whole Jaime timeline cockup was unnecessarily implemented, to capitalise on Coster-Waldau's bravura performance post hand-lopping, which led to a magnetic chemical sizzle between Jaime and Brienne reaching its slavering payoff in 'The Bear & Maiden Fair'.

From there though, the mistakes begin, culminating in the unmitigated disaster of turning something that induces discomfort in the books - both expected (Incest? Again? Here? Ewwwwww!) and unexpected (Why am I so moved by Jaime's all-encompassing love & need for his sister, disgusting though it's physical manifestation may be, nonetheless expostulating just how 'unmanned' and 'unmoored' Jaime had felt, thus needing such a moment of unmitigated release?) - to something so skin-crawlingly disgusting in the TV show.

And this comes after Jaime has had pretty much nothing to do of note since being returned early to King's Landing, at least nothing that wouldn't have had superior impact later, in a corrected timeline.

But this brings us back to 'servicing' the actor in a linear episodic series on a hot streak. Once they hit that annihilating rhythm, producers are loathe to let them resume meandering, especially for the equivalent of half a season (including a season break that makes it almost a year in viewer time).

Yesterday's disgusting 'turn' of events is just the unfortunate, unnecessary culmination of that. For mine, it positively reeked, not just for what it cost the viewer in the moment, but the lost opportunities it signals for Jaime's occasionally subtle redemption journey, book readers know lies ahead.

What a waste!

Genevieve Williams
10. welltemperedwriter
Maybe they're really sink into some of those issues in Meereen? That's what I'm hoping for.

I have a feeling that's the plan. In this episode Tywin reminds Tommen that just because Robert was good at winning wars (because he was strong), that didn't mean he'd be good at ruling afterward. In the very same episode, we see Dany well on her way to winning her war. But how well will she rule? We've still got quite a few episodes to find out, and somehow I don't think it's going to be so easy.

And, from the preview from next week: she's going to answer injustice with justice, is she? What did Tywin say about justice?

Yeah, I know Tywin's real purpose in that scene was to get influence over Tommen (after which they apparently went off to have The Talk, imagine having that conversation with Tywin Lannister!), but the show does this a lot, have one character state something thematic and set up resonances with other characters' actions. I think we're seeing this season's theme unfold.
11. Cass314
Re: The Scene. It's pretty damn bad in the books, too. Like, really bad. Like "no", a list of reasons why "no", Cersei beats on his chest trying to make him stop, and if they're caught by the wrong people they'll kill her children, bad. He literally shoves her legs apart and pushes up her skirts while she hits him. What happens next is hazy because it's in Jaime's PoV, not hers, and we can't know how earnest it was and how "get it over with" it was because we know from later events that "get it over with" was Cersei's normal response to assault when it was Robert.

Can you even imagine if they had all that happen as it began in the book and then had her start moaning yes? "Rape is great, as long as you can make her like it, kids" is the message you risk portraying there. I can see why they made the change, even if it does change the audience's perception of his "redemption arc" (which I put in scare quotes because despite his change in behavior, he never even expresses remorse for the act that made us hate him in the first place).
Deana Whitney
12. Braid_Tug
@6: I double checked the chapter, SoS, Jamie VII, Chapter 61 on my Kindle but 63 according to ToH, who also call it "forcing."

"No," she said weakly,..."not here. The septons..."
"Hurry," she was whispering now, "quickly, quickly, now, do it now do me now. Jamie Jamie Jamie." Her hands help guide him. "Yes," Cersei said as he thrust, "my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you're home now, you're home now, you're home."
But no sooner were they done that the queen said, "Let me up. If we are discovere like this..."

That sounded like a "I don't want to be caught" no to begin with. Then she was just very happy with the sex during the act.

The total opposite of what HBO showed. If they had started with her saying no , and Jamie "I don't care" - fine. But they never changed the narrative. They cut away with her still saying "no" and him still saying "I don't care." Thus - it was rape. Not the same as the book - and totally the opposite point of the book.

@3, Theresa, what can I say? I love Ny from WoT. :-)
Theresa DeLucci
13. theresa_delucci
Here's an interesting interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on what was going through his head and Jaime's during That Scene. I'm sorry, but I'm not really feeling for Jaime being equally powerless in that scene, but it gives some persepctive.

Added it to the main post, too.
Preston Stafford
14. Pigasus
Quote of the night: "Your father lacks an appreciation for the finer points of bad behavior."

I guess I have to go back to the books. Because I saw the rape scene as a real clinker. Did not like it one bit. I get what it allows the Ds to do with Jaime. I still don't like it.

I can see a writer's logic behind Dany's McSavior plotline: it gives her further to fall when that time comes.

Mance has wargs. Mance has forces south of the wall who (presumably) can count. He does not need prisoners to interrogate in order to realize that Castle Black is an understaffed shambles. This all seems to be a mechanism to get John north of the wall.
Lauren Hartman
15. naupathia
@4 - I don't think it's fair to act like gays and bi's are the only ones being represented sexually. There's been plenty of promiscuity for everyone. It's just a lot of gay/bi right now because those are the main characters for this season (which, btw, is right out of the books as well). It's not like Theon didn't have his share of nekkid scenes before... well, you know.

@5 - Just no. It's fun to compare the show vs books, to analyze why GRRM or the show producers would change things. It's just a thought exercise, philosophy, or what-have-you. If you don't want to go deeper fine, you don't have to read any of the comments then.

As far as the rape scene, I didn't like how it departs Jamie's characters from the books either. As @6 said I think the Drogo change made sense. This one... eh. I felt like they meant it to be a bit more ambiguous but it did not come out that way at all with Jamie chanting "I don't care!"

But as much as I didn't like it, I think it will have a purpose in the show. Maybe they did feel Jamie's "redemption" was too fast in the books. Basically you get in his head and you realize, oh okay he's just misunderstood - and somehow you manage to forgive the whole Bran thing without a second thought. And I'm not disparaging people who did that, I was one. But the show does sort of bring it back to the forefront that Jamie's not really a good guy. As much as we want to like him, he's still messed up and comes from the most messed up family in existence now that the Targs are dead. So yeah... As little as I liked the scene, I think I understand it and can accept the change.

I also did feel bad for Cersei, so I think it had a double purpose - Cersei has just been becoming more and more unlikeable (in the love-to-hate them kind of way). I'm not saying I think she deserved the rape -at all- but it does add a bit of "jeez this family" and remind you that Cersei has it pretty bad too.

Re:Daario: Ugh yea I just can't get into this new actor. He has no charm, no swagger, no charisma. He's so normal. And book Daario was anything but normal.

I liked the fight scene but I definitely missed Belwas. And they sort of touched on it, but I liked how the books Dany specifically says that she sent Belwas to fight because 1) if he loses, well he was just a slave fighter, it means nothing and 2) if he wins, well he was a slave and he just kicked your ass. So basically it was win-win for her. In the show they try to show that I guess with her "But you're so important to me" speech to each person, but I don't think it was as well explained. The scene in the book makes Dany seem a lot more tactically thoughtful. The show makes it look like a random accident, or just her being "mad" at Daario.

I am curious to see how the Mereen plotline goes. Throwing the shackles - does this mean she'll take Mereen because the slaves revolt, instead of sending Jorah and Barristen in? I feel like they ruined the whole "I send you into the sewers because you made me mad!" plot with the previous city's - if they do the sewer plot it seems like it might just be the same recycled plot of the last one. Eh, well, I have no idea. Guess I have to watch and see.
Adam S.
16. MDNY
This episode, and specifically the rape scene, totally lost the show for me. Damn you, HBO, this show started out so well....Why must you change things that could work just as well on screen?
Lauren Hartman
17. naupathia
Have to add more since I read the new comments:

@9 I think you said it perfectly - the original scene in the books with Jamie conveyed how much he needed his sister after his ridiculous ordeal, being completely unmanned, losing his identity, and also being fever sick. He needed validation. So even though it's definitely icky, you still feel sympathy. I also felt when reading that Cersei did want him but just was more worried about getting caught. To me, it wasn't rape. This is of course not a court of law so to each his own.

@14 - Well, Mance had wargs in the book too, even after Jon killed Orell much earlier on (and Orell was now just his eagle), he also had Varamyr. But they still did the whole straw-men-manning-the-wall deal. The book I think leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to whether that was effective - we never really get an answer. So maybe they're just trying to make it more explicit in the show? Although I think your conclusion that this is simply to get Jon/some of the Night's Watch north of the wall may be correct. Maybe there is another purpose here. It's a completely different direction than the books though, so if I had to guess I'd say it has something to do with the WW. Maybe they need the NW to find the deserters at crasters all dead/zombified. Maybe that's when someone else can kill one with obsidian, since no one witnessed Sam (another difference from the books that I really hate).
Chris Nelly
18. Aeryl
I agree that Jaime's not powerless in this situation, but I think it's mainly to illustrate how poisonous this relationship is, that he's allowed himself to believe he's powerless. This moment demonstrates the logical endpoint of the bullshit they've been feeding each other for years, about they are one whole being, destined for one another. Jaime isn't powerless, but if he didn't allow himself to believe that, that he is powerless to resist his love for his sister, what kind of person is he?
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
@17, I've seen trailer moments where the rapist brother from S1, the one that killed Mormont, setting a child outside in the snow. They aren't dead or zombified, they are paying the same tribute Craster did.
20. Colin R
I don't think you're supposed to feel for Jaime, but I do think his interpretation about power makes sense. Rape is always about power. Jaime has been entitled all his life--he resented being the 'Kingslayer', sure, but he was powerful and feared, and he had the woman that he wanted all the time. Now he's maimed and no longer fearsome, and he's been longing to get back to Cersei--the one person he thinks might make him feel powerful again. But Cersei is repulsed by him. He's losing his hold over her.

So he takes her back by force. It's a shitty thing to do; Jaime is a shitty person. I have read the books, only seen the first season of the show, but I don't think his character arc is supposed to be redemptive.
Jonas Schmiddunser
21. Jineapple
@15: I didn't say that. Most characters obviously deal with sex at one time or another. The issue I have is that gay and bi characters seem to be defined almost exclusively by their sexuality. Oberyn has spent most of his time in a brothel for now. Renly was portrayed as a stereotypical gay wimp and Loras as someone who jumps into bed with anyone he fancies when in both cases that was quite the opposite in the book.
And in both cases it feels like the writers (though I don't think it's intentional) paid more attention to the fact that this character's gay than to all his other character traits.
Elizabeth Doolin
22. mochabean
I'm still processing The Scene but I agree with Aeryl that it illustrates very well the extremely fucked-up nature of their relationship. I found the book version to ring false when I read it (maybe, as another poster mentions above, because it is a Jaime POV chapter) -- Cersei's utter devotion to her kids (esp. Joff) made it seem very off to me that in the midst of crying over Joff's corpse she would eventually consent to Jaime, or that her only objection would be "someone will find out." The show version seemed much more realistic to me in terms of what both characters would do. It is almost like the book version is Jaime's romantacized fantasy of their "love" and the show is the toxic realtiy.
23. Black Dread
Why exactly did they decide to cock up the story timelines in Kings' Landing, Dragonstone, and the North?

They had Sam slay an Other with NO WITNESSES! Completely ruining an entire story line. Never even explained it was dragon stone. Now that Sam is back to the Wall too early, he's trying to stash Gilly away somewhere before the battle. Why make this extra work?

Meanwhile, Davos is doing some Bravos banking BEFORE they head North (or is he going to White Harbor?). So they already know about the threat to the Wall but are waiting around for proper funding?

Watching this mess, I have gained a new appreciation for Martin's elegant and efficient story telling in the books.
Constance Sublette
24. Zorra
@5 --
Maybe just maybe, GRRM and the producers of the show have something in the works to completely shock the book readers and non-book readers alike.
This determination to believe, despite all evidence otherwise, it is touching! :)
25. REWaters
The Jaime/Cersei scene was bad IMO, the first really big blub that the show has made. A bad choice, pure and simple. I didn't have problems with them changing the Dany/Drago scenes to make them more rapey, because in context, it makes sense. It's very early in their relationship and why wouldn't a "savage" like Drago take her like a beast? Initially, she's just a thing to him. But here, it just didn't make sense at all. They've already had three children. I didn't remember at first that they had done it in front of their son, but now that I remember the scene, it makes no sense to me why they changed it. It was a bad call, but the show is still the best on TV.
Chris Nelly
26. Aeryl
But here, it just didn't make sense at all. They've already had three children.

In A Feast For Crows, Cersei remembers when they had sex that got her pregnant with Joffrey. It's pretty much the exact inversion of what just happened here(which is fitting, Joff went out the same way he came in), except that Cersei wanted it, and Jaime didn't. This is nothing new in their relationship. Neither one has the ability to say NO, which means they don't really have the ability to say YES. The show has only made this more explicit than it is in the books.
27. Littlefinger87
Littlefinger has not entered the war openly on anyone's side yet including his own. That's part of why he's so dangerous. Unless Sansa wants to give the throne to Stannis, she has nothing to fear from Littlefinger.

The Jaime Cercei scene was cut before its time. If they included the lines that Theresa expounded upon it would have come off very differently to the audience. Even in this form what Robert did to Cercei was more horrible than what Jaime did.Cercei's objections are to time and place and Jaime isn't drunk when he forces her. She's still attracted to him sexually but is mad at him for taking so long to get back to her. Whoever thought an incestuous relationship could not get more controversial is obviously very wrong.
Mike I
28. MikeyRocks
@24, I actually laughed out loud to that comment. One can only hope that GRRM tells hbo, "okay, let’s blow their minds, I have a show ending for your guys and a different book ending" I think tor, twitter and imgur will all combust.
29. Maac
@ 26
In A Feast For Crows, Cersei remembers when they had sex that got her pregnant with Joffrey. It's pretty much the exact inversion of what just happened here(which is fitting, Joff went out the same way he came in), except that Cersei wanted it, and Jaime didn't. This is nothing new in their relationship. Neither one has the ability to say NO, which means they don't really have the ability to say YES. The show has only made this more explicit than it is in the books.
In that case, they really need to put that in the show later, very blatantly, because ew.

Actually, I don't see WHY they had to make it more explicit than in the books -- I think that winds up being another way to say "they had to take all the nuance out of the dyamic."

(With Drogo and Dany they changed the scene because Dany was supposed to be underage, and having a 13-year-old having consensual sex on TV was supposed to be problematic. Okay, but Dany wasn't 13 on the show, so in retrospect I don't agree with that decision either. There was enough subsequent sex happening on the show between them that they could have shown the non-consensuality of it, although that would have resulted in less Drogo-Dany fanart on DeviantArt, but I would be fine with that.)

I also don't know how I feel about the idea that neither twin "can say no." What coercion is there? If this is a desire thing, or a mental instabilty thing, what's to say that it has to go a step further and involve violence? Surely there must be a better way to portray "I don't know how to quit you" on TV.

Messing up the timeline does the story no favors, for me. In the book the scene is not kosher (due to the nature of their relationship nothing between these two can be, even if they were nice people -- maybe if they were Targaryens, but I'm not cool with that either), but there aslo weren't several preceeding scene establishing lack of desire and a clear verbal not-the-heat-of-the-moment, and not-in-the-throes-of-omg-I-thought-you-died-reunion after a year either.

I don't like Jaime. I don't think he's a nice person. I don't think he's a nice person in the books, either, but he was more complicated and more interesting than this. I don't like Cersei either, but I did find the dynamic between them more interesting -- Jaime's "love," while unhealthy, being an actual love directed at his sister, while Cersei's "love" for her brother and her children was a more selfish love, viewing these other people as extensions of her own self and her own desires. Her "love" and her role in the relationship had more emotional agency to it because she needed him less. It also doesn't make sense to me that Jaime, who has some choice things to say about what Joffrey "meant" to him later, would run to the side of the little dying monster -- he dosen't grieve him because he was never given the chance to bond with him properly, even as a baby or even interact with him very much. Are they seriously planning to go the mourning dad route with him now? Because someone who runs to the side of a dying child -- who is the FIRST to run there -- does not then proceed to f*ck in front of that child's corpse over clear disssent.)

They can't say no -- why not? What is the coercion here? Something is going by me here, really really high above my head. I blame insomnia. (I'm not being sarcastic.)

(Caveat -- I'm abroad with no TV and haven't seen the latest episode yet. I will, as I do all of them, in the next couple days.)
30. Colin R
Like I said I haven't watched this episode, but the main objection to the way Jaime and Cersei's scene was shot seems to be: that it casts Jaime in a negative light. Another objection is that it's punishing or disrespectful of Cersei.

I was talking with a friend last week about whether these books/shows are just exploitative schlock, or if they are schlock with some artistic or literary merit. The friend leaned toward "pure schlock," I leaned toward the latter. My reasoning is this: I that what Martin is trying to do, and what the show is maybe doing better, is to set up audience expectations, and then twist them. From the very start, this series is setting up our expectations about who the heroes and villains are: Starks are Good Guys, Lannisters are Bad Guys. It leads us into directions where genre fiction tells us that these characters should be going, and then refuses to give us that resolution.

We are set up to expect that Ned, and later Robb, will prevail. Because they should, right? They are good and noble leaders, exactly the kind of people we would want 'winning' the game of thrones. Renly plays this maybe a bit more literally than others: he looks like someone who should be king, even to the other people in the books. Likewise, it presents us with villains, and then refuses to give us satisfactory endings.

It's harder to say where the surviving Starks are going, but I think the fate of some of the bigger 'villains' of the series have been telling. Theon and Jaime are total shits; then we are invited to watch their suffering and regret, and we pity them. We fool ourselves into thinking they are not so bad. But they are still the same people they were before.

The show seems unwilling to let people forget this. Likewise, I saw several critics observe last week that the previous episode set up the audience to loathe Joffrey, precisely by letting him parade his cruelty and his enjoyment of other peoples' suffering. Then the screw turns, and the show gives the audience what it had been asking for--Joffrey's death. But there's no justice or catharsis in this--it's just a child murdered.

As for Cersei, well, Cersei is regularly loathed for being a 'bitch'; that she uses her sexuality as a weapon is exactly the kind of trope that gets used against women. The 'power of the pussy' is something that MRAs and other misogynists like to claim gives women power over men--that they have always had this power. Jaime's rape of Cersei lays this lie bare: her 'power' is illusory. Jaime is the person who is supposed to love and desire her most, and if she withholds her affection, he can punish her for it.

ASoIaF is a bitter tonic for the gentle medieval monarchism of Tolkien; it doesn't matter how noble some characters are, because nobility can't save such a corrupt and unjust system.
31. Gregor Lewis
Why wait as long as AFFC?

A direct contradiction to what Aeryl @26 postulates, occurs before ASOS is over.

Someone can indeed say No. That someone is Jaime. Both Cersei's initiation of sex in that encounter and her reaction after Jaime's reaction clearly indicate what the author is trying to illustrate here.

Until that point, there had only been one person with the power in the relationship. Cersei. Jaime was in love, helplessly so. Whatever one may think of the circumstance, the emotion was true, held only in check by Jaime acquiescing to Cersei's will in abandoning ANY claims to their children, in order to maintain their status as heirs to the throne.

There is nothing 'acceptable' about the situation, as it is presented in story. But it's pretty basic. And definitely not as convoluted as is being portrayed here.

I used to love 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books as a kid, but 'Create Your Own Subtext' is a game I'm not smart enough to play.

@20/@30 - For someone who has read the books but only watched Season One of the TV Show, I find it interesting how uncannily accurate your grasp of the TV Show's thematic tilt is, as diametrically opposed to the books in this area.

The total internal logic of what you write is spot on, as it relates to the TV Show. The books though are entirely different and comprehensively consistent.

Jaime LUUUUUURVS Cersei. Completely. Utterly. Till death them do part. As messed up as it may seem - and IT IS to any reasonable minded observer - when it comes to his love for Cersei, Jaime is entirely unreasonable ... To the extent that he'll kill a child to protect it, however much he may loathe himself for doing so.

Some have postulated above that Jaime's redemptive arc is not so redemptive, because of his lack of 'remorse' for what he did to Bran. I think such remorse is impossible for someone as self-aware as Jaime is.

Unless it's a narrative misstep from GRRM, Bran's instinctive - IMO wholly correct - assessment of Jaime's emotional state just before he pushed him out of the window, demonstrates this best of all.

Trying to disguise his depth of emotion with a glib quip - 'The things I do for love' - Jaime comes unmasked to Bran's childish receptiveness - '... he said with loathing.' - completely opposite to Ned's closed-minded recounting of discovering Jaime sitting on the Iron Throne, after killing Aerys.

As readers we now know the depth of emotion that undercut yet another glib quip - '... I was only keeping the seat warm for our friend Robert ...' (or words to that effect) - and we thus can find the capacity to realise that although Jaime erects a screen of sorts to others, he is brutally honest with himself ... except in one area - his love for Cersei.

IMO, this is the redemptive arc Jaime undergoes in the books. He doesn't suddenly become a 'good-guy'. He just opens his eyes to something his normally brutal introspection in the moment, refused to countenance - that Cersei doesn't love him like he loves her.

The scene in the sept as depicted in the books doesn't ring false at all. Most especially given what comes after. We have two people who are tied as close as people can be, coming together after having lost someone (Cersei, her son; Jaime, himself).

As it turns out, it is for the last time, because Jaime starts to learn what we as readers already knew. While his love for Cersei is unequivocal, hers is a means to an end, entirely substitutable, entirely transferrable. Jaime's need of Cersei is absolute. Hers is entirely equivocal.

Obviously the TV show has long been taking a different road here. Given what has come before, there was no way that scene could stay true to the books. It would have rung as false as it was disgusting, as ultimately presented.

It's a case of the TV Producers servicing different needs in the show.

If indeed GRRM wanted to slow the redemption, or reverse the popularisation of Jaime, as presented in ASOS, he had eleven years to explicate such a desire. Instead, Jaime's appearances in the books post ASOS are all about him achieving the self-realisation regarding Cersei, he had long denied.

IMO that is his redemptive path. Not some sort of 'abrupt' discovery that he really is a good bloke, a heroic companion, a faithful friend. He always had the capacity to be all those things within. His journey with Brienne just brought them to the surface, giving him the opportunity to demonstrate them more clearly, more often.

32. cheem
Don't forget that later in the book, Cersei comes on to Jaime in the Kingsguard barracks and Jaime rejects her in a fairly important bit of character development (that Jaime finally realizes that he can say no to his sister). I wonder how that's going to turn out in the TV series or if they'll even show that at all (the sequence in the White Sword Tower is very talky and consequential; subsequent to his rejecting Cersei, he sends Brienne off to find Sansa).

The rape in the Sept really inverts the power dynamic between Jaime and Cersei as portrayed in the book and I think it's a mistake.
Tabby Alleman
33. Tabbyfl55
At his next Q&A appearance, could somebody please ask GRRM if Jamie and Cersei have a safe-word, so we can know if it was rape/not-rape?

Maybe they agreed to one off-screen.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
@Maac, that doesn't mean they are physically incapable of saying the world, but they are incapable of accepting it as an answer from one another.

Cersei tells Jaime to become a KG, he does, sacrificing his inheritance and father's goodwill. Cersei demands Jaime help her "horn" Robert, adamantly and viciously, and he does. And Jaime does the same thing. He decides Bran needs to die, over Cersei's pleas not to, and does it.

Here finally, we've seen the break that was always coming, eventually their unhealthy relationship was going to meet something their refusal to accept "No" wasn't going to be able to move beyond.

Cersei demands Jaime murder their brother. Jaime finally says no. So Cersei says no. And the break has happened.

@ ColinR, exactly

@GregorLewis, But that act happened after. The moment I'm talking about in AFFC, was Cersei remembering back to when she conceived Joffrey. By the time the moment in ASOS happens, THIS has already happened, which is what established the break.
35. Colin R
The text in the book is ambiguous but kinda-rapey, and generally my stance on these things is, if it's ambiguous, it's rape. Consent is not ambiguous. I think it's rape in the book too.

The most germaine objection I've seen to this scene in the show is that in the books, Jaime is pretty skeeved out by rape--to the point that he kind of sacrificed his hand saving Brienne from rape. I think the complicating factor is that in Westeros, a lot of rape is normalized. Spousal rape isn't really an acknowledged thing, even though it's clearly a fact--Danaerys and Cersei were both definitely raped by their spouses, and everyone was basically disappointed that Tyrion didn't rape Sansa.

Anyway, the point I was getting at was that Jaime basically considered Cersei his wife in all but name. Cersei might not have objected to having sex with Jaime in general, but she did in that time and place--a crime to us, but Jaime feels entitled like a husband. So that seems like proper context as to why he would do it.

I don't think the power dynamic between Jaime and Cersei was ever as solid as it was presented. They were largely lying to themselves--Jaime moreso than Cersei. Their private romance is a fantasy they spun, because their public lives were so painful. This scene is one of the places where that lie really breaks down, in both media.
Dave Thompson
36. DKT
@Aeryl: Wait, Cersei pleaded with Jaimie not to throw Bran out the window? Wow, I didn't remember that. Or is that a revelation after ASOS that I haven't gotten to yet?
Chris Nelly
37. Aeryl
They fight about it later, she says she could have convinced him not to say anything. I forget if it comes up in a Jaime chapter or Cersei one.
Adam S.
38. MDNY
Cersei later thinks that Jaime should not have thrown Bran, that she could have convinced Bran to remain silent. But she never said anything, she just watched as Jaime saved and then pushed him (the only thing she did was see Bran and scream, which led to Bran losing his grip and needing to be saved by Jaime). The chapter itself, told from Bran's POV, has no comments from Cersei before Jaime says "the things I do for love" and pushes him.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
But we are talking about the show. In the show she's freaking a bit, but she says "He saw....Jaime....don't" Jaime mollifies her by shushing Bran as if he's not going to throw him, then does it before she can say anything else.

And just because Bran didn't see or recall her saying anything, doesn't mean it wasn't said, he's an unreliable narrator afraid for his life. Cersei could have started singing the Rains of Castemere, and he wouldn't have noticed.
40. Maac
@ 34

I get that we’re speaking somewhat metaphorically here — I know it’s not a matter of simply saying the words. But “incapable of accepting” is different from “incapable of refusing” which “can’t say no” means to me. I’m getting semantic, but I’m not trying to be horrible, I swear (seriously, you’re one of my fave commentors) but my problem with this is that if they are incapable of accepting no from each other, then the show is going to have to make a damn hefty effort at portraying that effectively after this. As in my post above:
If this is a desire thing, or a mental instability thing, what's to say that it has to go a step further and involve violence? Surely there must be a better way to portray "I don't know how to quit you" on TV
Why is it done in a way that makes their respective power unequal onscreen? In the book it isn’t. Jaime is a man and has that physical power; Cersei, at least for a significant portion of time (bookwisespeaking), has control (influence?) of the king of the realm and is definitely obeyed, before a series of wrong choices coupled with her uphill fight as a woman undoes that. (Very few important people actually obey Jaime. It's been a long while since he led a battalion.) And she has a far more unyielding personality than Jaime overall. As you said — Jaime forces Cersei here, but it’s made clear bookwise that she has forced him on occasion — is that push and pull (and slap and smack) clear for those who have only seen the show? I still think there were better ways to achieve this.

Jaime walking away from Cersei was a triumphant moment — a darkly triumphant one, but still, a step forward to a somewhat better sort of emotional stability. Their respective societal positions aside, each of them has a choice in terms of their own emotional development — Ceresei in rejecting good counsel and real allies and letting her prejudices sway her to do this makes the wrong choice(s); Jaime finally uncoupling himself from Cersei’s beck and call was the right choice. (And again, please no one mistake the preceding sentence for any “like” of Jaime Lannister. I don’t see him as a series villain, and in certain interpersonal dynamics I see him as a protagonist, and I very much “blame the parents” for a LOT of shit in this series, but there are good people in the world of Ice and Fire and for me Jaime is not one of them.)

This throws the balance of the (televised) plot out of whack for me. I don’t want “good” Jaime, I want Jaime and Cersei on more or less equal footing (with upshifts and downshifts here and there, fluid-like, and precarious, but balancing), as I did always see them in the series. There should indeed be a “break” that their relationship is hurtling towards where the maintainance of the dream/fantasy/facade becomes untenable, but I think the pacing on this one is too soon, too far thrown off.

Maybe it’s because they’re sure of only two more seasons instead of three? So a practical concern, I guess, yeah, but practicality aside, I don’t like it, and I feel something desperately needs to happen to balance that out, now that we have no access to anyone’s inner monologue.

This whole thing with sex** being the major pegs upon which to hang plot turns... I don’t like it. It’s so overdone. To me it’s akin to the flattening of Loras’s character, and Oberyn’s sexuality being the main thing we focus on about the guy (so far).

**I’m aware rape is about power, not desire, but it is the wielding of sexual intercourse as the tool of that power, so I think I’m using accurate terms, here.
Cersei demands Jaime murder their brother. Jaime finally says no. So Cersei says no. And the break has happened.
This... actually does not sound bad. But I still think that it’s a directorial choice that HAS to render them unequal onscreen. The break has happened, but the fugue/repercussion that follows is all Jaime's. And going by those actor interviews I don’t think they did this this way on purpose.

(Still don’t have legit access to the ep yet. So yeah, my comments have to be looked at in that light; I'm here commenting here for catharsis, mainly because after reading reports on how it was handled I really, viscerally don't want to watch the episode. I'm not going to pretend that I'm flouncing and quitting the show or anything, because please. But I am seriously considering skipping it and waiting for next week's...)
41. Maac
(By the way, I don't see Jaime as going through a "redemption" much, book or show. But I do see him doing a self-reclamation, yes, and he's not one of the characters for whom I'm clutching on to the series just because I desperately need to see them die/get comeupped in the end.)

I think we have to treat the mediums with equal strictness, here. (And I know I fail at this due to bad memory, often. SO VERY often.) We have to go back and forth, of course, because we’re comparing, but if :
But we are talking about the show. In the show she's freaking a bit, but she says "He saw....Jaime....don't" Jaime mollifies her by shushing Bran as if he's not going to throw him, then does it before she can say anything else.
Then we can’t:
And just because Bran didn't see or recall her saying anything, doesn't mean it wasn't said, he's an unreliable narrator afraid for his life. Cersei could have started singing the Rains of Castemere, and he wouldn't have noticed.
If none of the characters nor the narrator mentions Cersei protesting at that point, I think that’s how we have to take it. TV show Cersei does protest, so that’s completely valid for analysis of the show and of their dynamic onscreen.
42. Colin R
Cersei's position of power is always illusory--it flows through the men in her life, father, brother, and husband. She thinks that with Robert dead she's going to finally get to get her day in the sun--but no! Not even her son listens to her; all she wanted to do was humiliate Ned Stark and solidify her power, and Joffrey has to go and chop off Ned Stark's head. Then her father sends Tyrion of all people to put her in her place.

The imbalance between Jaime and Cersei is a cruel joke; she has all the ambition that he lacks, but she can't effectively put it to use. He has the strength that she craves, but then he has it taken from him.
Dave Thompson
43. DKT
@Aeryl: But "He saw....Jaime....don't" leaves a lot open for interpretation, doesn't it? When I saw that scene, I read into it something completely different than you did. The opposite of what you took from it. (And I don't mean that as if to say I'm right or you're right - just that I don't think makes it so clear what she wanted Jaime to do.)
44. Maac
@ 42
The imbalance between Jaime and Cersei is a cruel joke; she has all the ambition that he lacks, but she can't effectively put it to use. He has the strength that she craves, but then he has it taken from him.
Very true. And he doesn't even have the -- stamina? Psychological wherewithal? Drive? -- to use what power remains to him even after the loss of his physical prowess. The Lannister name and sphere of influence is not gone, but if Jaime steps up and makes use of it in subsequent books I'll be surprised. Possibly pleasantly, I'm not sure.
45. sofrina
td - they could have done the strong belwas scene just fine. i saw just such a scene on "oz" once between tobias beecher and vern schillinger. not outside hbo's standards at all. (the daario scene would have been that much more epic with o.g. in it)

dany's war music sounds a lot like the thenn's music.

going back to craster's is stupid. by the time they get their the others will likely have slaughtered everyone.
Pirmin Schanne
46. Torvald_Nom
@42: You haven't been listening to Varys, have you? Who holds the power, the king, the merchant, the priest, or the swordsman?

@44: Have you read A Dance with Dragons? If you haven't, you might want to say so.
47. Gregor Lewis
Why are obviously intelligent people insistently conflating invented socio-normative behaviour with contemporary expectations?

@Colin R - 'rapey'? What kind of adjective is that? Or, is it an adverb?

Actions speak louder than words. In the case of Cersei & Jamie, the equivocation, as depicted in the books comes from one person - Cersei, in a less than convincing nod to established Westerosi socio-normative behaviour.

In the TV show, right from the beginning, the power dynamic between the two of them is much different, starting with their sexual position when Bran stumbles upon them.

Given the acute departure from Jaime's established book timeline, especially after staying so thematically faithful throughout the 'release', all the way through the hand-lopping (even if certain characters were changed/excised), it would be easy to accept the scene at the sept being replaced.

However, regardless of how hard it is to reconcile such a diametrically opposed theme on TV to what is presented in the books, viewers would have to objectively recognise two things.

It works. It is utterly disgusting but it works. Secondly it was signposted from Season 1. Cersei has always been portrayed more sympathetically on TV than in the books. Jaime with greater variance in shades of black & white.

Both however, join Dany in adhering to the preferred parabolic path established since Season 1, as the TV Show's signature style. Yes the story is about confounding twists. But unlike the books, the TV Show established that for some of the characters, steeper curves were required to highlight their journey.

Thus Dany goes from being sold & raped, to 'mounting' & 'dominating' (however briefly), her nominal defiler. I say nominal because we are talking invented historical setting, from which no accurate contemporary resonance can be drawn.

Thus we can have Jaime as a flailing desperado raping Cersei, right where their secret son lies in post-mortem repose. We may not like it - it disgusts me and I think it is a nonsensical departure from what is established in the books - but we can't argue it is thematically inconsistent with what has happened on the TV Show so far.

The reason many - me included - are reacting negatively, is because the rape IS thematically inconsistent with what is presented in the books.

As I noted at the beginning, actions speak louder than words in Jaime & Cersei's relationship, as depicted in the books. They continue to do so - overriding Westerosi socio-normative protests (that appear to me to be a kind of coy pre-coital pro-forma) - until the moment they don't ...

... When Jaime refuses Cersei in his chambers AND then has his 'manhood' insulted by her when she realises she can't override his verbal refusal, no matter what she does OR says.

And thus, the truth will out. Book readers know Jaime is now finally prepared to accept that, while Cersei's initial disdain is replaced as a result of later finding herself in desperate straits.

My biggest disappointment over the acute thematic changes is the likelihood all the above (IMO easily reproducible) undeniably engaging interaction and nuance will be lost, in deference to the TV Show's preference for thematic rollercoasters.

Lest we forget, Qyburn's 'experiments' are there to be used, at Cersei's insistence. Plus she namechecked him at Pycelle's expense last episode.

Winter may be coming but Frankenstein is almost here. Well not almost. Maybe in a couple of years' time.

GRRM would certainly hope so.

48. Maac
@46 -- I have. I haven't committed it to memory, but I read the first four twice. Read them as they came out, then reread when DwD came out because I'd forgotten everything. (And my reread was in 2011/2012, so I've probably forgetten a bunch yet again.) I'm under the impression the show threads are like a free for all spoiler space, which I've been behaving like. I hope this is allowed! :-)

Aaaaaand apparently I have forgotten Jaime being in DwD AT ALL. Apologies all. I'm on the Wiki right now to remedy this.

(Haven't read the Dangerous Women novella, and I've only read the graphic novels of Dunk and Egg, ages ago. But apparently I remember Dunk and Egg better than DwD. *smh at self*)
Fake Name
49. ThePendragon
They seem to be doing everything they can in the series to make Jamie unredeemable. He murders his cousin in cold blood, rapes his sister and is still a complete asshole to Brienne. I don't see how they can pull off the upcoming part of his story, with him sending Brienne off to find Sansa, without it seeming completely disingenuous. I think they may very just kill his character off to "shock" the book readers.

EDIT: Here is GRRM's response from his blog:
This is off topic here. This is the section for comments about Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the Cocteau's author program.

Since a lot of people have been emailing me about this, however, I will reply... but please, take any further discussion of the show to one of the myriad on-line forums devoted to that. I do not want long detailed dissections and debates about the TV series here on my blog.

As for your question... 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.

Now, if you please, I'd appreciate it if we could get back to Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the subjects of the original post.
Adam S.
50. MDNY
@47 grl Very well said. In general, my strong dislike of how they changed Jaime and Cersei's dynamic in the show stems mostly from the change in Jaime's character. I always viewed Jaime's story as one of redemption- or at least the GRRM equivalent. Jaime started as a thoroughly unlikeable rich boy jock type who fucks his sister and pushes children out of windows. Then we get in his head, and he's still a jerk but in an amusing, Lannister snark way (like Tyrion). But once his hand is cut off and he spends time with Brienne, his very soul is altered. He starts making decisions that are morally right, rather than just whatever is expedient for himself. He acts with more care, and more empathy, and becomes a more balanced man.
He has only ever slept with Cersei and truly loved her, accepting that she had to sleep with Robert (rarely) but never dreaming that she would fuck Lancel or the Kettleblacks. He gave Brienne his valyrian blade because he now appreciates her on her merit, he no longer judges people based on appearance or social norms. In losing his sword hand, he has been forced to see the whole world in a different way. In book version, Jaime's primary weakness is his continued love for Cersei, a love that appears more and more unilateral once we get inside her head and see her judging Jaime as "useless".
In the show's version of things, we lose all of this. Jaime remains an outright evil person. We gain empathy for Cersei and lose it for Jaime, and I really can't understand why that was a necessary choice.
51. Colin R
I enjoy reading about the show, even though I don't watch it (don't have HBO, can't afford to buy the DVDs right now.) My impression is that the show has mostly improved on the books--I think they've correctly intuited the books strengths. Whenever there is a thread of the story that looks like it should work out in a conventional way--be it redemption, or nobility triumphing over wickedness, romance over perfidy--we should be suspicious.

That's not because nobility and romance are bad things, but because they don't make things true. And because the narrative (and even cultural) norms we expect are based on problems and lies. Marriage for example is not an evil institution, but a lot of its trappings are based on completely medieval notions of women as property--we should be suspicious about stories that romanticize marriage. If ASoIaF is about anything, it's about making us think twice about jumping to easy narrative conclusions.

So I think it's troubling that people are concerned about what raping Cersei does to Jaime rather than what it does to her. Cersei isn't a very likable character, but in her own ways she is just as much a victim of Tywin Lannister as Tyrion is. She has more ambition than either of her brothers, but she is the one peddled off as a trophy, to seal an alliance. She never has a chance at being her own person. And as uninterested as Robert is in governing, it's not like she ever has a shot at it either--that's left to Jon Aeryn and the various schemers of the council.

People talk about 'soft' power as opposed to the hard power of violence; Varys and Littlefinger use secrets and money as power. But Cersei's only weapon is sex--and despite what some people say that is ultimately a fragile weapon. The rest of her family has to worry about Roose Bolton and the Baratheons--Cersei has to worry about Margaery Tyrell from seducing her own sons away from her. She doesn't have the problems that powerful people have.

As difficult as it may be, people should have more sympathy for Cersei than they do for Jaime.
Alan Brown
52. AlanBrown
I agree that the rape scene was disturbing and disgusting. But it was not very much out of line from what you would expect those characters to do. In GRRM's work, there are no heroes or villians, only protagonists and antagonists. You can't count on someone following a 'redemptive arc.' (See the Hound and Arya for example.) Heck, you can't even count on them living to the next chapter. In a discussion on the Purple Wedding, I saw a comment that Joffrey's death was not fitting to the evil of the character. But again, one of the messages of this series is that life isn't fair, nor romantic, nor inspiring. This is not good guys versus bad guys--it is "The Sopranos," but with swords.
I agree with Theresa and others above; Dany's army is much too pretty. The infantry is always shown as they would go into battle, not with the packs and gear that they would be carrying on the march. And no logistics tail or camp followers in their wake. Feeding that lot in such barren terrain (not to mention keeping them in water) would be a major challenge. For a show that promises gritty realism, there is not a lot of realism in the area of logistics. They don't need to dwell on it, or show the leaders instructing troops on the proper digging of latrines, but it would be nice to see at least some indication that this is a real military operation. At the same time, though, Dany's speech, and the catapulting of barrels full of slave collars, were spot on perfect!
53. Maac
@ 51
So I think it's troubling that people are concerned about what raping Cersei does to Jaime rather than what it does to her.
Are they?! I'm reading poeple complaining about how that takes away Cersei's agency, and any pretense to equality in the relationship she may have had. If there's any concern about Jaime, it's about the character as one of the building blocks of an overall story, in terms of coherence, craft, and pacing, not about Jaime the man (or Jaime the woobie).

(I personally am also complaining that they do it via rape -- yet another rape, of yet another woman, while failing to include even the missable hints that Martin included in the books of male rape, save for Theon. It's not like this particular story glosses over rape very much at all, or that this is a situation we're romanticizing that needs a cold dose of reality or something. Rape as Wallpaper

Note -- the writer did not finish the series, and so some of her examples, at least bookwise, are not completely accurate, but her point about the larger genre are worth thinking over.)
54. quinne
@50 MDNY. RIGHT ON! Exactly.
55. Herb2153
Re: Mance, he's a former Crow. Do they really think he believes that the Night's Watch had an explosion in membership since he deserted?
tayyab saeed
56. skyhawkafm
I would just like to comment that though rape scene was a degression from the story arc and it has made the expected redemption of Jamie as (a future KingsGuard ....IMHO or even something else) a dificult prospect. But book has only hinted about this change so it is not set in stone.
I am more purplexed about another plot point. Tywin tells Obyren about Dany and Wilding attacks. But i clearly remember it being discussed by Cersi in her small counsel after another highly anticipated scene from this season. (Hopefully) Where the Small Council considers Dany and her dragons to be not a threat and decide to let wildings effectively take care of the north....... and disregarding the threat of White Walkers.

But in that scene Tywin shows that he not only knows about threat but is also willing to let the events unfold despite the knowledge.

this takes him from merey uninformed to inapt even accomplice. and this is gonna be causin problems down the line.

And another point the religious thread of sparrows should have been getting its foundations set by now ...... shouldn't it. I mean Cersi has another Epic momment in store for her.

Ps :- i am still confused about spoiler plicy for this thread so this post may be slightly spoilerly. Tell me and i will white out he required lines if required.
57. Colin R

Well, several of the last comments certainly seem to be concerned mostly that this scene somehow spoils Jaime's redemption.

His encounters with Brienne of Tarth have obviously had an impact on Jaime, but I think we should be pretty suspicious of any reading so pat and easy as redemption.
58. Black Dread
@57 - Good points.

I wonder what people would think of this scene if it was written as a Jamie or Cersei POV in a book?

I was always a bit suspicious of Jamie's maturing and "redemption".
Deana Whitney
59. Braid_Tug
@57, Colin: I may be guilty of appearing to be mad about the rape because of Jamie's story. Especially in my first post @2.

I know the point was to make Cersei a "kinder" version of herself for the HBO show. But turning what I see as a consensual act @12, into a rape - pisses me off all around.
Book Cersie got off next to her dead son. She willingly participated in that act. That says much about her book self.

By turning it into a flat out rape, it totally changes how she will be seen and how her later actions will be seen. That is a level of rape trauma beyond the normal trauma.
It totally changes the dynamic of the whole damn story I read. I know the show and the book have departed in several ways, but now I can’t see them as the same story AT ALL.

It turned her into a true victim – when she was a power before.
It turned him from grey getting lighter, to black.

It did a true disservice to both characters, the story, and the fans.
The rape was a slap in the face to everyone. One that was unnecessary.
Constance Sublette
60. Zorra
@40 --
This whole thing with sex** being the major pegs upon which to hang plot turns... I don’t like it. It’s so overdone. To me it’s akin to the flattening of Loras’s character, and Oberyn’s sexuality being the main thing we focus on about the guy (so far).
Absolutely. Lazy writing, unimaginative writing and the most exploitive writing. The audience is so aware, so very conscious, these are writers' decisions made arbitrarily, rather than actions that grow organically out of deeply creative impetus.

It's important to these men to humiliate a female character that they consciously created to be a Bad Beautiful Woman -- they set her up deliberately to be knocked down, for their own satisfaction.

On another subject, Jaime did not sacrifice his hand to rescue Brienne. He lost his hand because he's such an entitled smartass that he couldn't keep his smartass mouth shut in a situation where somebody else had all the swords and he didn't have a single one.
Stephen Richter
61. levellersteve
In the book, Cercei controlled Jaime with her sex. It was a common theme throughout the series, and it was not until Jaime/Tyrion fateful meeting that the dymanic changed.
Agnaldo S.
62. Greenseer
I found this the weakest episode of the 4th season and one of the weakest of Game of Thrones.
The plot of GOT has been a caricature of ASoIaF. For me, it's looking like that the show's producers want to distance themselves from the plot of ASOS.

I found absurd the arch of Sam and Gilly. And even more absurd the arch of characters that are at Castle Black. Jon's lines completely artificial. Does Jon know that “Bran and Rickon are dead”? Or that Winterfell was sacked and burned?
I think even would vote for Alliser Thorne for Lord Commander. Where is the conflict between Jon, Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt? Janos had a role in the death of Ned. Does Jon have forgotten that?

I am extremely surprised at the retraction of the Free Folk in Season 4. The dehumanization of this character arrives to be unprecedented. Thenns cannibals? Really? I was shocked by such a change. Complete nonsense.

The atmosphere of the series has been so suspenseful, to the point of appearing other Red Wedding anytime.

However, the scene Arya, Sandor and peasant man was quite satisfactory.
63. Ryamano
Book-Jaime's story seems to be more interesting than Show-Jaime's story. The first is about some kind of redemption, about a guy realizing, after many events (including losing his hand, his main defining trait of being good at combat), that he has been behaving more like a villain than a hero for the last 15 years. Basically the internal monologue about wanting to become Arthur Dayne but having turned into the Smiling Knight. And all the stuff he tries to do later to stop being this Smiling Knight all the time, like treating Brienne more fairly, trying to solve disputes without bloodshed (even if with threats), telling the truth to his brother, etc. Show-Jaime's story is about ... basically shock value so far. Like book-Jaime, he has tossed a child out of a tower, has killed some innocent men on a rage over having his brother being captured, but he also has killed his cousin (that admired him) just to try to get free (unsucessfully) and now has raped Cersei. Not a very interesting character.

Also, am I right in noticing that we haven't witnessed or heard about Balon Greyjoy's death? At the end of season 3, Stannis was believing in the power of king's blood even if only 1 out of 3 kings had died (Robb). Now 2 have died but we haven't seem what has happened in the Iron Islands yet. I know that the Iron Islander's storyline isn't a favorite of the fans, but are we just going to ignore the sucession crisis after Balon's death? I mean, the show could even settle the dispute over whether a faceless man did it or not.

Another person I've been missing (ever since season 2) is Lancel. After Cersei shoves him during the battle of the Blackwater we never see him again. Seems like a waste of character, as was Kevan (shown in season 1). Especifically since they should get more proeminence after Tywyn dies. I'm OK with merging characters (Edric Storm and Gendry), cutting them off (Belwas) or replacing actors (Mountain, Daario) due to TV constraints, but introducing characters and forgetting about them is bad TV writing.
64. DougL
Well, Danny is seen as a messianic figure by the people she has saved, I am guessing that cuts down on the infighting a bit, though I would expect a few more attempts to curry favour with her.
65. johnnyl13
Here's a scenario: Next week, we learn that Cersei doesn't regard the encounter as rape. Perhaps there is even a case for this made by portrayals of Cersei and Jaime interacting amicably or by descriptions of the rest of the encounter, which occurred off-camera. Do we the audience still regard the scene the same way?

I don't know the answer, I certainly have no idea whether the scenario will happen -- the director has stated the intention of the scene (ambiguous), which doesn't match what appears to be the dominant interpretation from the audience (not ambiguous). And it doesn't seem the director appears to be persuading much of the audience, either.

And even if Cersei doesn't believe she was assaulted, members of the audience could conclude she's operating under a false conciousness, I suppose. Does the character's interpretation of what happened to her influence ours? Should it?
66. Colin R
I seriously don't see Jaime's story as redemption, at all. I don't see his psychology as him thinking that he was a bad person, and trying to change that.

I don't think it's an accident that Jaime is a twin--he serves as a mirror in a couple of ways. Most importantly, he's a mirror to Westeros society--a glaring fault in the self-image of the Kingdom. The natural thing to do after a successful insurrection is to mythologize--to clean up. After all, two halves of the country just spent years fighting each other, and now they have to make up and get along. Old slights have to be swept under the rug. Ugly events have to be forgotten. People who fought for the old establishment must be forgiven.

Jaime Lannister though, is the Kingslayer. It's not because he was treacherous. He is a living reminder that the old order didn't end with Robert toppling the mad king--it ended with the Mountain raping and murdering a popular princess, with children being murdered, and with Jaime stabbing the old king in the back. And he's always there, a few feet behind Robert and Cersei--he resists mythology simply by existing. People resent this reminder--that's why he's 'the Kingslayer.'

Jaime is no fool--he understands what's going on. He's full of bitterness at the unfairness of it; after all, Ned Stark and Stannis Baratheon raised up their swords against their rightful king too, so how dare they sneer at him? He sees right through the hypocrisy and lies that sustain the monarchy, and the only enjoyment he gets is channeling his resentment into contempt for the pretense of honor that guides people like Stark.

So why would Jaime see himself as a villain? In his eyes he doesn't himself as one--he's not a nice person, but he doesn't think anyone is a nice person. What Brienne of Tarth does is she embarrasses him. First he's embarrassed on her behalf--she's a fool who actually believes all this honor stuff. Then she embarrasses him because after he loses his hand, she's the only person who still sees him as a person, not just a Kingslayer or a broken tool. I don't think is redemptive so much as a change in perspective.

The other reflection I see is with Cersei. I don't think it's right to see Cersei as controlling Jaime. What would she get out of that? He's never really in a position where he can give her what she wants--power. She doesn't want to control Jaime, she wants to be Jaime. He represents everything that she thinks should be hers. Her ambitions have no outlet--her only power comes from her father, or her husband, or her son. But Jaime could be powerful, if he wanted to be; if Cersei had been Jaime, would she have given up the throne when Ned Stark came in? I doubt it.

What did Jaime get out of the relationship? I suspect he enjoyed seeing himself through Cersei's eyes--not as a Kingslayer, but as someone worth envying. The kind of respect that he never gets from anyone else. But after he's maimed, this mirror between them shatters--he doesn't represent a power fantasy to her anymore. And he only sees her disgust now.

I think it's a mistake to see Cersei as powerful. Jaime is powerful--he just doesn't have any interest in power. But he's a man--he has the luxury of giving it up. It's something that Cersei never has--the only moment where she has some power is when she's outmanuevering Ned Stark. But even then, it's really Littlefinger spinning his web; Ned might have deposed her without that bit of treachery. And she probably would never have been able to maintain control in the long run; Joffrey is a hateful misogynist with nothing but contempt for his mother.
67. Tina Nabors
I haven't been able to watch this season of AGOT since I don't have cable or satellite, and have to wait until I can buy the season. While watching seasons 1-3 I've noticed that they make Cersei and Tywin more likeable to me than what I experienced in the books.
Reading that the episode last night makes it seem the Jamie raped Cersei, makes me wonder where they are going with this. I know that the director thinks he directed it as consensual, but it doesn’t appear as if the audience agrees.

I can’t wait to read the reaction from people who only watch the show to what Tyrion does to Tywin. Or how they respond to what Cersei does to Margaery (if it happens).

For the book readers out there: Read ASOS, Chapter 11. Although it is from Jaime’s perspective, it details how Cersei manipulates Jaime into joining the Kingsguard and preventing him from marrying and becoming a heir to Casterly Rock.
Adam S.
68. MDNY
@66 Colin- I get what you're saying, but I disagree. Cersei does have power, she just doesn't know how to use it. As Jaime thinks ( I believe in the next chapter in the read), she likes to think of herself as Tywin with breasts, but she is ruled by her impulsiveness and her lust for power, and she feels a need to belittle everyone around her to compensate for her own insecurities (much like her first son). In the political structure of Westeros, Cersei is more powerful than Jaime. A woman CAN have power in Westeros, though granted not usually as much as a male counterpart. When Robert was alive, she managed to get him to bring her cousins as his cupbearers and pages, she was able to get moon tea without his knowledge, and she essentially controlled a member of the kingsguard. It was Cersei who got Lady killed after Nymeria atacked Joffrey, not Joff himself. I think Olenna and Margaery Tyrell both have power. So did Cat (as does UnCat). They just know how to play the game, while Cersei tries to bulldoze over everyone.
69. Maac
I think it's a mistake to see Cersei as powerful. Jaime is powerful--he just doesn't have any interest in power. But he's a man--he has the luxury of giving it up.
I like the way this is put, and I think it is true. But I disagree, ever so slightly — I think Jaime’s ceding of emotional power to Cersei isn’t just a matter of choice or uninterest, I think he’s actually got something wrong with him. If Cersei is a narcissist, I think Jaime’s got a bona fide case of depression, or something similar going on. And I think it’s been this way since childhood, an ingrained habit of letting Cersei take the lead (as well as a lifelong campaign of emotional abuse from Tywin. As I said, I’m big on parent-blame in this family, even if it does not excuse anything in my eyes —which it doesn’t). The scene where Cercei abuses an infant Tyrion comes to mind for some reason. Perhaps his apathy was triggered by the horrific experience with the Targaryen king, or maybe it was always there. He’s becoming more proactive in DwD, without Cersei’s push (which I totally forgot and am ashamed) — and that’s good for him.

But overall I agree — Cersei having emotional power in this one, single relatinoship dynamic doesn’t at al translate into “Cersei is a powerful character.” Jaime has far more power and choice available to him in the larger world.
What did Jaime get out of the relationship? I suspect he enjoyed seeing himself through Cersei's eyes--not as a Kingslayer, but as someone worth envying. The kind of respect that he never gets from anyone else. But after he's maimed, this mirror between them shatters--he doesn't represent a power fantasy to her anymore. And he only sees her disgust now.
I don’t think the brutally honest (internally) Jaime really saw himself through Cersei’s eyes. (Partly because I don’t believe her feelings toward her were respect, I think she felt ownership. I don't think her disgust is all that new -- stronger now he's maimed, but she's always had the contempt of believing she would be able to put his advantges to better use than he did.) I honestly believe that when it came to Cersei, and only Cersei, he was every bit as addled by fairy-tale fantasy as 11-year-old Sansa Stark. I think he turned her into a perfect princess behold-my-one-and-only creature in his head, and blackened his eyes against the truth of her. I think Cersei had a more accurate assessment of their relationship from the get-go, although she is not free of delusions either.
70. Gregor Lewis
@65; @66; @67

Cracking stuff from all three of you. Man! This is why I dig this place -

That's a slippery slope you start us down right there.

It's also part of the reason why I was so adamantly against the idea some were promoting, that the scene in the sept, as presented in the books was also rape.

@ColinR, I believe from memory you were one who was of that particular view.

My opinion is that as readers, we have to respect the setting. If we carry our more educated prejudices and expectations into assessing whether someone was raped or not, in an invented world with different prejudices and expectations, we have to ask ourselves the following question.

Are we reading the book the author wrote, or are we projecting our own expectations, in order to arrive at a conclusion the author never intended?

Given how GRRM has weighed in on the matter, then the answer to johnnyl13's question @65 IMO, has to be, we have to look at what the characters tell us.

As someone who is vehemently of the view - as things currently stand - that what was portrayed on the TV show was indeed rape (as incompletely depicted), I guess I have an internal inconsistency to come to terms with. Both the director and the actor have clearly stated it was supposed to play ambiguously. If next episode, it's service as normal for Cersei & Jaime, or it's explicitly stated through both their characters' interaction that they don't see it as rape, I feel I have to accept what they are telling me. They can't both be unreliable narrators in a 2-sided debate when they agree on something.

I suppose you chalk that down to a failure on the part of the director.

Which then might perhaps lead some to ask why I don't ascribe the same failure to GRRM as the writer of the books?

If people can view the corresponding book scene as rape, couldn't the author be said to have failed in getting his truth of the scene across to readers?

Given the detailed, internally consistent, unambiguous way it was written, I have to say my answer would be, No. One person can't tell another HOW to read. They see what they see and it affects how they understand. One can only make the argument, that such misunderstanding through projection can lead to one reading the wrong book.

I accept, as it relates to the TV show, I am drawing the wrong conclusion, wrt what director and actor felt they were portraying. The difference is, given the nature of the medium and the incomplete details on the screen, I don't feel they gave me enough information to come to the conclusion they are trying to portray in that scene.

GRRM in the books OTOH had more than enough to allow an accepting reader to draw the conclusion he wanted to convey, both stylistically and in terms of details.

As for Jaime's redemptive path, I agree with @66 to a point. I too don't believe Jaime would see himself as needing redemption. @Colin R, I feel I need to clarify, when I say Jaime's redemptive path, I see it as the character being redeemed in the eyes of the readers.

Obviously, given what you have written, you don't see it that way at all.

For me, other than pushing Bran out the window, I have no instinctive problem with anything Jaime has done. Doesn't mean I didn't react against the character when he did it - ambushing Ned, Jory, et al with superior numbers - nor does it mean I don't find it skeevily disgusting - fucking his sister - but I can bring myself to see it from his point of view.

Ned's wife kidnapped his 'disadvantaged' little brother, who Jaime loves. Jaime sees sex as a natural component of his relationship with Cersei, who he is in love with. Apart from his attempted murder of Bran, this was a contained situation with no untennable repercussions for anyone but themselves and their children.

However, from the beginning, the reader had been given every opportunity to hate Jaime, as seen through Ned's eyes, Robert's eyes, even Tyrion's eyes - who even though he tells us he loves his big brother, when he relates the Tysha incident to Bronn, only gives us reason to hate Tywin and Jaime both, more.

I believe Jaime's redemption comes to the reader specifically, in seeing the world through his eyes through ASOS and beyond. And, as others have already noted, understand why he did what he did and come to accept the sincerity of his actions.

However heinous I may find his attempted murder of Bran, I have to admit, he didn't do it on a whim. He understood and accepted the enormity of the evil he was doing, but he loved his sister so much, he was willing to take that on himself.

Remember, Jaime's instinctive, unthinking action was to save Bran the first time he fell and was hanging precariously one-handed from the ledge. IMO, the success of Jaime's redemption in my eyes as a reader, is after travelling with him through to ADWD, I can accept that his actions were selfishly sincere, instead of a flippant exercise of power.

Unforgivable, but in his eyes necessary, which it turns out Jaime understood from the very beginning.

@67 Tina Nabors

I too can't wait to see the confrontation between Tywin and Tyrion. For the moment AND to appreciate Dance & Dinklage in that moment.

As for Jaime & Cersei's relationship going forward, my instinctive reaction was to accept this was the show's way of reaching the point in the books where their relationship breaks down. My initial feeling was one of regret, because flipping the 'aggressor' in the catalysing moment robbed Jaime of the moment of dignity he achieved in the books and robbed Cersei of her dignity as portrayed in the TV show.

As I've said before, thematically consistent with Cersei's softer portrayal on TV, but unfortunately denying viewers a continuation of Jaime's popular redemptive path from last season.

I'm sorry for going on so long, but you've all given me such great catalysts to further thought in your writing.

One last thing.

@Colin R, I gotta say I disagree with your overall take on Cersei.

She has cultivated and marshalled her admittedly, initially unearned power for seventeen years. To the point where her family was poised to be Wardens of the East, along with their traditional title Wardens of the West.

Moreover, if Robert's plan had gone ahead, they would have fostered the Lord of the Eyrie, giving them a legitimate chance to imprint, influence and perhaps control the future Lord Paramount of their newly bestowed responsibility.

Although, given how Robert is portrayed, you gotta wonder just how big an impetus Cersei was in those decisions.

I agree there were key moments where Cersei's inability to control Joffrey briefly impinged upon her power as Queen-Regent, but as is portrayed in the books - except for the monumental catalyst Ned Stark's beheading became - most of Joffrey's exercising of power was nihilistically umimportant, beneath Cersei's notice.

Her failure is in making too much of her ultimate successes against Robert and Ned, causing her to lose the patience and perspective she had exercised in the almost two decades prior.

Sometimes, someone who is a seeming powerhouse in the protected environment of a sheltered bay, can find themselves floundering out past the breaking waves, when the oceanic vista opens up.

Cersei was plenty powerful, and over the years had developed an agency of her own. Her downfall was swimming against the rip of hubris in celebrating her victories, instead of looking carefully ahead and to the side as she had done, until she recognised she no longer needed to.

Like my Pa says: 'Just because you no having to look, no meaning you should no be seeing careful left, right anyways.'

Cersei stopped looking left and right long before she fell and too soon after her initial victory. That does not negate, or lessen the power she wielded before, during and maybe even after, depending how the Ser Robert Strong introduction plays out.

Apologies again for the long wind.

71. Gregor Lewis
@68 MDNY; @69Maac
Because of the long gap between when I wrote and when I eventually posted, I missed both your excellent contributions.
Your sharp, succinct analysis puts my long wind to shame.
Great stuff !

Maiane Bakroeva
72. Isilel
"Your father lacks an appreciation for the finer points of bad behavior."

This phrase seems self-referential for the show as regards Jaime's behavior in this episode.
It is not about Jaime's redemption or a necessary reminder that he is still the same shitty person. Because even at his shittiest, book Jaime was no more likely to rape anybody, leave alone Cersei, than Ned Stark. Kill? Sure. Rape? No.
In fact, Jaime is the _only_ male character in the books to object to marital rape or see it as an assault - no doubt because he benefited from Cersei's persepective on the matter.

So, yea, a smuggler is not necessarily a pirate and a murderer is not necessarily a rapist. Major fail of the show, IMHO.

And I am not the kind of purist, who bemoans every little deviation from the books either. In fact, I am OK with most of the changes from book to show, seeing how a different medium has it's own requirements, etc.
But Jaime as a rapist of Cersei was really, really bad, IMHO. For both their characters.
Chris Nelly
73. Aeryl
I don't agree that the audience can't still view what happened to Cersei as rape, even if Cersei doesn't.

She doesn't and she won't in the show either, as I've said, because this behavior of disregarding each other's desires is not outside the norm for their relationship. This comes from the same place as the rest of their dysfunction, and because of that, Cersei is incapable of seeing it as what it is, just as Jaime was incapable of seeing that Cersei only loved him as an extension of herself.

I honestly believe that when it came to Cersei, and only Cersei, he was
every bit as addled by fairy-tale fantasy as 11-year-old Sansa Stark. I
think he turned her into a perfect princess behold-my-one-and-only
creature in his head, and blackened his eyes against the truth of her.

This is a very accurate assessment, IMO.
74. Colin R
@70 How is Cersei's power 'unearned'? I think maybe we're talking past each other here when we are talking about power.

Tywin Lannister has power. Like most of the great families, he has a basically unchallenged rulership of one of the Seven Kingdoms. And just as importantly he has lots of money, property, fortresses, and soldiers to carry out his will. Tywin's power is both concrete (money) and derived from his position in society (the son and heir of the Lannister family.)

Cersei does not have this kind of power. Her authority and power come from her familial positions and her personal relationships. She is the wife of Robert, the accepted ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and she is the daughter of Tywin Lannister--what power she exerts largely exists because it is assumed that she has the backing of these two men. And of course, after Robert dies she acts as Regent for Joffrey.

These are all inherently unstable sources of power. Robert loathes her--she has some power over her household simply because of societal expectations, but he doesn't actually let her have any real power. As Queen she can't just run off and do whatever she pleases. Tywin Lannister doesn't have any intent of letting her have real power either; if the North hadn't rebelled, he would have marched right down to King's Landing, made himself King's Hand, and he'd be running the show. Since he can't do that, he sends one of his offspring with a penis to do the job.

And then there is Joffrey. The role of 'mother of the king' is an awkward one even for a 'good' king--Catelyn Stark finds herself constantly embarrassing Robb. There is no inherent power that comes with being the Queen Mum; she's in serious danger of being reduced to an antique. Cersei does make some mistakes, but she isn't stupid; she takes steps to address the threats to her power. Her initial plan is to coerce the Starks into conceding to Joffrey's (and her) authority, and to stick Joffrey with an inoffensive and easily controlled wife (Sansa). She's ultimately undone by her own son though--and let's be real, Joffrey's contempt for women probably was learned from Robert's own contempt for Cersei. It's a bitter pill.

So after Joffrey ruins her plans, she's in real danger. Tyrion has their father's confidence more than she does. She has no inherent authority, and Joffrey does what he wants. And now here comes Maragery Tyrell, a prospective wife for Joffrey who brings something very valuable to the table, an alliance with the Tyrells. And it's obvious that the Tyrell women have no intention of letting Cersei keep any power. If Margaery can bring Joffrey or Tommen under her sway, Cersei will be truly powerless.

Cersei's position from the beginning is built on quicksand. She actually does pretty well for herself, probably as well as can be expected given her situation. She recognizes her weakness, and she tries to assemble some allies to her side. But she doesn't have much to offer; she tries to seduce Lancel, but seduction isn't actually all that powerful when it comes to politics.
75. Gregor Lewis
@74 Colin R -


Her eventual missteps may have turned Cersei's base of power into quicksand, but her power was built on a solid foundation of almost two decades of 'manipulating within her means'.

When I say unearned, I mean inherited. I agree with what you say about Cersei's initial lack of agency. However, analogous to what her father did with a Family Name that under his father, had apparently lost a great deal of status, Cersei built up her own base of power in King's Landing to the point that even Robert - at his most critically self-aware - recognises that should Joffrey become King, Cersei would be the power behind the throne.

As I said before, her failure to control Joffrey's Ned Stark beheading impulse is absolute. Subsequent to that, just what does Joffrey do that confounds his mother's wishes, or undermines her base of power? All the sadistic shit he engages in is rightfully considered a pittance wrt government of the realm, by Cersei.

In sending Tyrion to KL, Tywin notes three specific failings.
-The obviously ill-advised, Joffrey inspired beheading.
-The dismissal of Barristan Selmy.
-The raising to lordship and granting of Harrenhal - what Tywin calls 'the seat of kings' - to Janos Slynt.

I thought those last two were at Cersei's orders. Am I remembering it wrong?

As for Tywin re-assuming the mantle of Hand, it would certainly have prevented the war. But how would he have curtailed Cersei's stable base of power, which ironically enough, created the circumstances through which Tywin could reassume that powerful role.

Sure, Cersei uses sex as a means of control, but I see it as an added supplement to power she already has and exercises. I'm sure Joffrey had absolutely no input into having the Kettleblacks in his Kingsguard. I'm sure Joffrey had no real interest in anything but pulling the wings off the nearest fly.

Unlike you, I see that as a product of a coddled Mama's boy who cannot reconcile the drunken sot he saw his father become, with the stories of Robert Most Puissant Warrior he grew up hearing ... from people other than his mother.

While I suppose Robert exercised an incidental contempt for Cersei, just by being his ravenous, appetite satiating self, I think it was Cersei's active, vituperative contempt for Robert, most probably both in front of and to Joffrey that created the monster Joffrey fully unleashes when he ascends the throne.

As for Cersei's power being endangered by Tyrion's arrival, I see that as the beginnings of a contest between equals. I think Tywin sends Tyrion to act as a counterbalance, he initially didn't think he would need, given he expected Cersei to do better with the base of power she had cultivated.

I don't see that as Cersei lacking power, or losing it. I see it as ensuring it is harnessed and exploited correctly, which Tywin initially didn't think needed to be done.

Just because Cersei didn't use her power wisely, according to her father, doesn't mean it wasn't hers to use.

76. Colin R
I don't see Cersei's actions as the moves of someone who has much power. Dismissing Selmy makes sense to her--he has no loyalty to her personally, only to the throne. By replacing him with Jaime, she has someone she trusts in that position. And then she hands out favors to people who have helped her, to try to assure their loyalty--the Hound gets to join the King's Guard; Janos Slynt helped her deal with Ned Stark, so elevating him to Lord theoretically might make him loyal to her as well.

We can't take Tywin's word at what her mistakes were--in his mind, the mistakes she has made is not doing what he would have done. But Cersei is acting on her own behalf, not his. This simply does not even occur to him--he can't imagine her acting as anything but his agent; he can't consider her seriously as someone who could wield power. He assumes she should just hold down the fort until he can take over.

Cersei is working with what she has, which is not much--Jaime and the Hound are capable, but not ideal confidants; Slynt isn't even that. She doesn't have any claim to authority, and she doesn't have any confidants she can trust except the unmotivated Jaime. And she's relying heavily on the advice of Varys and Baelish, because she doesn't have much of a choice. She doesn't know that they have their own agendas--how could she know that Varys manipulated her into dismissing Selmy so that he could send Selmy to help Danaerys?

Cersei isn't a good person, but I think it's illustrative that she is the most powerful woman in the Seven Kingdoms, but she still can't really get any real power. Westeros is so noxiously patriarchal that she never stands a chance. Her attempts to grasp at power, or hold onto what she has, just lead to her humiliation. No surprise that Tywin sees no use for her in governing--only in marrying her off again, using her to buy something he needs. Westeros is a terrible place to be a woman--even being a Queen doesn't save you from it.
Chris Nelly
77. Aeryl
Cersei isn't a good person, but I think it's illustrative that she is
the most powerful woman in the Seven Kingdoms, but she still can't
really get any real power.

Which is why the women who do wield that power, like Olenna, and Margaery, and I hope Arriane, do it from behind the scenes, which is where Cersei was always more effective. She couldn't openly appoint Jaime Warden of the East, but she can get Robert to do it.

Cersei's power really only begins to collapse when she begins to wield it openly. Which is the problem in Westeros. Women are welcome to power, so long as they wield it quietly, behind the scenes, and allow the men to take the credit. When women want the power, and the trappings that go along with it, that creates the problem.
Maiane Bakroeva
78. Isilel
Colin R:
I don't see Cersei's actions as the moves of someone who has much power. Dismissing Selmy makes sense to her--he has no loyalty to her personally, only to the throne. By replacing him with Jaime, she has someone she trusts in that position.
But see, that's exactly the kind of incredibly short-sighted thinking that led to Cersei effectively losing her power as a regent. It is a PR disaster and for no immediate gain, even, since Jaime wasn't there to take over, nor was he expected to return before the war was won. Nor was there any pressing need to elevate the Hound - he was a loyal Lannister man, he didn't even want knighthood, etc.
OTOH, the new regime needed all the trappings of legitimacy it could get and Barristan was that. He was also loyal, until his dismissal.

Re: Slynt, it was a one-two punch - Cersei overpayed, because really, what would he have done? Helped to enthrone Stannis, who wanted to see him beheaded?! Such huge reward also hinted at something not being quite right, rather than Slynt just being a loyal officer of the crown. Knighthood and the lands she offered to Selmy (Tywin's lands, without his prior agreement, BTW) would have done nicely.
Oh, but then she also allowed Slynt to run rogue, connive in Ned's disastrous execution and yet still kept him on the council and didn't even reprimand him in any way. Nor did she try to find out why Joff ordered it and why Slynt and Payne were prepared to go along with it.

She also sent stupid military orders to Tywin, IIRC, commanding him to bring his army to the capital, where it couldn't be supplied.

I am sorry, but Tywin was 100% right that Cersei needed to be curtailed. We also saw a lot of stupidity and pointless viciousness from her through Tyrion's admittedly unfriendly PoV. KL would have certainly fallen with her at the helm. Possibly even without the need of an attacking army, but through riots.
Tyrion thought that she could and should have stood up to Tywin in matter of re-marriage as well.

Book Cersei had a lot of power after Robert's death (and considerable influence prior to it) that she frittered away through short-sightedness, arrogance and viciousness as well as complete inability to see Joff objectively.
Not to mention that her insistence on having only Jaime's kids for the sake of some baroque revenge on Robert caused the war in the first place...
Re: Cersei having no confidants, Pycelle _was_ loyal to her over Tyrion, and generally she did a lot to alienate people unnecessarily. Nor did she want confidants per her PoV, only yes-men. After Jaime stopped being such, she threw him over.
And there are quite a few historical examples of queen-mothers successfully wielding power as regents and remaining their adult sons' most powerful and important advisers until the end of their lives. Though not in England, for the most part, apart from Eleanor of Aquitane with Richard I. But in France, Spain, Russia, etc.

But that's book Cersei.

Show Cersei doesn't have as much power as the book one at any point, admittedly, nor is she as blind to Joff's faults, but she, too, commits numerous stupidities and acts of short-sighted viciousness.
Calling this older Joff back from the walls during the battle of the Blackwater was even more damaging, for instance.
Ditto kidnapping Tyrion's supposed favorite whore and threatening him over her, when he didn't take Tommen into his power and when this somewhat smarter Cersei does partly realise that Joff needs to be curbed. Ditto her unnecessarily threatening and alieanating the Tyrells at every turn - even book Cersei was more circumspect there!
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
79. AlirozTheConfused
Game of Thrones: Everyone Is Bad Except for Maybe Hot Pie.

Tru dat.
Birgit F
80. birgit
Robert wasn't interested in ruling. Cersei could have used the power vacuum, but she only seems to have started looking for allies after his death (which she caused). That is bad planning and a waste of opportunities that a smarter politician would have used. Even if she couldn't have ruled openly as Robert's queen she could have been the real power behind the throne if she had the skills for it.
81. sofrina
@80 - agreed. it's baffling that cersei spent umpteen years as queen and only managed to have a few servants and her own relatives for spies. she should have had her own team ready to step in and oust robert's. it's like she never did more than fantasize about having real power. instead she counted on her father for everything, which really shows her shortsightedness. she ought to have known he would take over rather than act as cersei's puppet. robert's death was the perfect opportunity to establish herself and also to prove to her father that she really was his strongest child, a true "lion" the way she has always thought of herself.

it would be nice to have a seen where cersei, brienne, asha greyjoy, the mormont girls, ariane martell, etc. all get together and discuss their paths.
82. JoyB
OMG all this hating on the Jamie/Cersei scene. All that Jamie has endured since his capture, the utter frustration with losing his hand and his ability to fight which was his main reason for being, and now losing the woman he loves, whether right or wrong. I'm not condoning it but am a bit more understanding.
83. Tina Nabors
I have stated previously that I though the show made Cersie and Tywin more likable than what I felt by reading the book. That also goes for Shae. I just saw on YouTube that Tyrion has made plans to ship Shae off to Pentos. I don't remember if it was brought up on the show about Tyrion's other romance with a supposed prostitute. But, if Shae does indeed leave King's Landing, then when the part between Tyrion and Tywin happens (and I think that has to happen) it loses the impact that the book imparted. This is the part where in reading the books, if I had had any respect for Tywin (I'm not sure about anything other than I didn't like him), it was totally gone. All I could think what "What a hypocrite".
Chris Nelly
84. Aeryl
@83, There scenes of Shae in the trailers that haven't aired yet. I think Bronn's already turned on him, he looked so SAD when talking to Tyrion about it after. So I don't think they are cutting that part of the story.
85. Paxtopia
Having read the books, I feel that they are not being represented correctly in this forum (or any other one I've seen). I'd like to make a point that I haven't seen elsewhere, and that point is this: what happens in the book is as much a rape as is depicted in the show. She said, "no, not here, the Septons will see," and never actually says, "ok, fine, let's do it." If I tried to have sex with my girlfriend in the Macy's dressing-room, and she told me "no, not here, someone may see," and I still proceeded to have sex with her (doesn't matter if she enjoyed it our not), she would still consider it rape. I know, because I asked her (she has not read or seen GOT). I know that George R. R. Martin doesn't think it's rape in the book, but the dialogue speaks for itself, and it clearly is in my opinion.

That being said, the entire Jamie/Cersei relationship is based on rape, and I think the books make this quite clear. Cersei's goto line is, "no, no, no, this isn't right...," which is why I think even G.R.R. Martin doesn't see it for the rape that it's just "their thing." Which is why I actually think what Jamie did was not at all out of character...this is sex to him (and to Cersei), and he doesn't even realize how depraved it truly is. This is not an excuse for his behavior, it's only meant to show you that both of these character's ideas on sex and rape are far different than the norm.
86. Tina Nabors
I think I can talk about exactly what bothers me about Shae being sent to Pentos by Tyrion in the show. In the books Shae is brought to King’s Landing by Tyrion against his father’s express orders. Once Tyrion is wed to Sansa, he realizes that she doesn’t love him because she is unaffected by his marriage to Sansa. She then testifies at his trial, testifying that he made her call him “my lion” or something like that. When Tyrion is released he goes to his father’s chambers; finds Shae in his father’s bed and strangles her, then proceeds to kill his father. In the totality of what Tyrion has gone through in the books from his father and sister, I can see him totally going postal when seeing Shae in his father’s bed.
But, if Shae is not there during the trial: not there when Tyrion kills his father, what reason does the show watchers have for understanding the circumstances that led him to kill his father. I rather liked Tywin in the show. I liked Shae in the show. What is there to make me feel anything but hatred toward Tyrion when Tyrion does kill Tywin?
Alan Brown
87. AlanBrown
On the show, Tyrion thinks Shae has gone to Pentos, but I have a feeling she never got there...
88. Tina Nabors
@85 The Jaime/Cersie relationship is not based on rape. They had a consenual relationship up to the this point in time. Read ASOS 11 where Cersie sexally manipulates Jaime into giving up his inheritance to Casterly Rock. If I recall correctly, it was she who said "Casterly Rock or me" or something to that effect. She even had his children over those of her husband. That is not rape. Unless you want to say that Cersie raped Jaime???
89. paxtopia
@88 I don't think you are getting my point. In the books, they seem to always re-create their first sexual experience, which is 'forbidden' and both parties seem to ackowledge that it is wrong. 'No' is a common theme in each coupling we are witnessed to. I don't care what court you bring this to, I think any jury would agree it is rape. That is not to say that each participant isn't 'willing,' or that one participant isn't using the sex for manipulation. It's simply to say that these two people's idea of sex is what most people would consider rape.
Chris Nelly
90. Aeryl
@88, Cersei plainly rapes Jaime the night she believes she concieved Joffrey. It's an exact inverse of this scene, where Jaime says no, we'll get caught, and Cersei forces herself on him until his physical reaction overrides his protests.

As I've said, there's no room for autonomy in this relationship, when they each view the other as half a person.
92. Tina Nabors
@88 Where in the books have you read about their first sexual encounter? And the no, that is repeated before or during each time? For me, if the two people involved in the sexaul act are willing then it is not rape. There may be moral laws against what they are doing, but those are separate from laws of rape.

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