For some people this past Sunday marked Easter, for others – a new Game of Thrones episode. Unfortunately, the latest episode – Breaker of Chains – will mostly be remembered for that scene. If you’ve seen the episode already, you know which one we’re talking about and if not, you probably shouldn’t be reading this anyway. Warning: spoilers ahead. Also, trigger warning for rape and sexual assault. 

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Daenerys Targaryen was one of the first characters, whose arcs veered into rape territory.

The big discussion centers around the second scene of the episode, during which Jaime violently and disturbingly rapes Cercei next to the body of their dead son. And despite how actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau interprets it in a recent interview with The Daily Beast, during the scene, Cercei repeatedly rejects her brother – so, yes, it was rape.  Clearly, the writers aren’t messing around this season. But Game of Thrones has always been violent and this definitely isn’t the show’s first venture into sexual violence. So what’s the big deal? Well, apart from the fact that the scene was just awful to sit through, it also marks a significant departure from the books.

See, in A Feast for Crows, the scene clearly reads as consentual. Disturbing? Yes. Violent? Totally. Wrong on every level? Most definitely. But it was still consensual. The show writers made a conscious change to the scene, effectively destroying any power Cercei’s character might have had until this point. The former queen regent has been a victim of marital rape and with the limited power of a woman in Westeros, she uses sex as her only available weapon. So now that that has been taken away from her… where does that leave the character?

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Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion, the third Lannister sibling.

As for her twin, Jaime, the scene made even less sense for his character. The show has spent the last season rebuilding him as a trustrworthy, even noble player on the Westeros scene – a difficult feat, considering that his character arc essentially started with him crippling a ten-year-old child. And Jaime’s redemption story began, early on, with him expressing disgust at the idea of sexual violence and figuring out a clever way to rescue Brienne, his companion at the time, from a band of sellswords. In this episode we saw him go back on all that growth because “the gods made [him] love a hateful woman.” Hopefully that line wasn’t meant to win any sympathy, because all it did was sound like classic rationalization. Up until this point the GoT writers have always (or almost always) been spot on when adapting the material. So, should fans just look away and trust that this is all leading somewhere? Two days later, the discussion is still raging. 

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