‘Game of Thrones’ Author George R.R. Martin Reacts to Controversial Altered Scene

Published 12 months ago by

Jaime and Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones Controversy Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Reacts to Controversial Altered Scene

[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for 'Game of Thrones.']


Game of Thrones is a show famous for courting controversy – from the beheading of Ned Stark in season 1 to the horrific Red Wedding in season 3 – but last night’s episode, ‘Breaker of Chains,’ was possibly the first to stir a more negative kind of controversy.

In this case, the controversy refers to Jaime Lannister raping his sister Cersei right next to their dead son, Joffrey – and the fact that it was less consensual than the corresponding scene in the book ‘A Storm of Swords.’

While fans of the show probably thought the scene was disturbing if par for the course, fans of the book (particularly fans of Jaime’s “redemption arc”) were far more angry and, indeed, perplexed. Had the show gone too far? Was this an unwelcome deviation from the book in a series that we’ve been told will deviate even more? Was this a betrayal of Jaime’s character?

Since then, the director of the episode, Alex Graves, has spoken out about the controversial scene to Hit Fix, saying that the interaction “becomes consensual by the end, because anything for [Jaime and Cersei] ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”

George R R Martin Responds to Game of Thrones Controversy 570x294 Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Reacts to Controversial Altered Scene

This only incited more controversy, because the end of the scene certainly doesn’t scream consensual as Cersei can be heard saying, “It’s not right, it’s not right,” and Jaime, who’s pinning her down, says, “I don’t care, I don’t care.” Though the director did go on to say that Cersei wrapped her legs around Jaime by the end – consensual? – he also told THR earlier in the day that Jaime “rapes her” and that it was “forced sex.” So…hmm.

It’s also worth noting that some fans of the book insist that the scene in ‘A Storm of Swords’ also implies rape. This is how the scene begins on pg. 851 of the paperback edition (hat tip to Reddit User BardsSword):

“There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened from his tongue. ‘No…not here. The septons…’ ‘The Others can take the septons.’…She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, muttering about the risk, the danger, about her father, about the septons, about the wrath of the gods. He never heard her.”

Of course, she eventually does unequivocally say “yes” – unlike the scene in the show – but it does seem like the book scene begins nonconsensually as well.

Anyway – all this talk of altered scenes and book-to-show differences (that lead to Internet controversies) has begged the question: What does Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin think of all this? Fortunately, user LudivineDa asked him that very question of him on his LiveJournal. His response was as follows:

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.

As with much of what’s going on here, there seems to be a lot of ambiguity in his response. For example, he points out that the book scene is told from Jaime’s point of view. Does that mean that it’s not all that consensual after all? His language is too vague to get a real read on his opinion.

Game of Thrones George R R Martin Peter Dinklage 570x294 Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Reacts to Controversial Altered Scene

Still, it’s pretty clear that he had no hand in the creation of ‘Breaker of Chains’ and wants everyone to know it. It even seems like he might have preferred that the producers retain some – though not all – of Cersei’s dialogue from the book, where she was far more vocally into the experience.

One thing that isn’t ambiguous is the success of this show, which this latest controversy is unlikely to change. According to EW, ‘Breaker of Chains’ had 6.6 million viewers tune in (possibly in reaction to the previous week’s episode, which featured the Purple Wedding). 6.6 million viewers is a tie with the series highest-rated episode, the season 4 premiere.

What say you, Screen Ranters? Should the controversial scene stuck more closely to the source material? Or do you think it worked fine as is? Drop us a line in the comments.


Game of Thrones airs Sundays @9pm on HBO.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Sources:¬†Hit Fix, THR, George R.R. Martin’s Live Journal, & EW

Follow Ben Moore on Twitter @benandrewmoore
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  1. She should at least have said something like ‘yes take me’ in the end, or maybe have some body response that makes it clear that she is into it as well.

    Because I do feel that in the books she did really like it. Thats at least how I remember it.

  2. I only watch it for Daenerys, so it really doesn’t matter to me.

  3. The divide between what ended up on screen and what Graves thinks ended up on screen is kind of astonishing, especially given the fact that he approved the edit. It’s a real failure on the part of both him and the screenwriter. If you’re trying to portray a consensual sex scene, then cutting away while one party is repeatedly saying “no” and struggling isn’t the way to do it.

    It’s also going to make any follow-up incredibly confusing, because the show will be treating it like a consensual sex scene whereas the audience almost universally saw it as a rape scene.

    • Dunno what all the uproar is about, it wasn’t rape, not 100% consensual but still,
      she would have put up a hell of a lot more of a fight if she wanted to turn him away.
      She ain’t the type of person to just roll with it..

      • “Not 100% consensual” is rape, though. There’s no such thing is 50% consensual.

      • That’s disgusting. Jaime is a fighting man, a man with well over twenty years experience in war. He easily would overpower Cersei, a woman who, although domineering and willful, has not spent any significant amount of her life on physical exercise, so in no way would she be able to resist Jaime, nor would she call for help, as her own pride and fear for the consequences of their discovered incest would not allow that. Jaime new all of this, new that she had no course of resistance, raped and assaulted her. No matter the intentions, no matter if it fits with the series(which actually I believe, while troubling, the scene isn’t inappropriate considering the past content of characters on the show savaging women). But you can;t try and deny that it was rape. No matter how much she may have struggled, whether it was a lot or not at all, she did not want nor agree to have sex with Jaime, making it rape.

        • She didnt want? Rewatch the scene..she was kissing him back? Wrapping her legs around him, & pulling his thrust n2 her. She didnt want the “location” of the sex but she wanted the sex! So yeah, I can try to deny it was rape!

    • I didn’t really see it as a rape scene (though I have read the books so I might be biased) because she wasn’t exactly resisting the sex but rather where they were doing it. I know it’s a small distinction but I think that’s the distinction to make. She was clearly all for the sex–kissing him, wrapping her legs around him–but she was torn between wanting him and and being repulsed by the idea of doing it next to their dead son. I won’t argue for the efficacy of the scene to show any character’s true intentions or feelings, but I will say that I don’t think it was supposed to be a rape scene.

      Also, she wasn’t sayng “no” when the scene cut away; she was saying “it’s not right” which is more evidence for the fact that she wasn’t opposed to sex, just where they were having it.

      • Awesome explanation and best response on here hands down…I agree ;-)

  4. At the end of the day, the scene is incredibly important because it showcases several things: For starters, Cersei is losing her hold on Jaime. For anyone who has read the books (or paid close attention to the show), it’s been obvious that she’s been the puppet master in their relationship. Now Jaime returns, a broken man who is spurned by his LIFELONG love — and Jaime is not a nice guy. Yes, he has a redemption arc in the book which may or may not remain in the TV show, but this is the guy who callously tried to murder Bran Stark without hesitation (albeit for Cersei as much as himself).

    ‘Game of Thrones’ has a lot of dark themes. If you’re watching the show and reading the books at this point, you already know themes like rape, murder, incest, and such are almost commonplace in Westeros. Instead of screaming “Rape Culture” and picking apart the scene and comments from George R.R. Martin, the producers, and so forth, why not stop and remember that you’re willingly watching/read this saga with full knowledge that it as “disturbing” imagery?

    I didn’t like the change, myself, and I don’t like the double-talk the minds behind the show are doing. However, I DO think it was essential for character development at its core. Could it have been reluctance-turned-obviously-consensual? Of course. But I’m not angry enough to stop watching and buying the books (thus taking my money elsewhere), so I’m not going to complain.

    In the end, someone ELSE is the storyteller here, and I’m just along for the ride — and I can get off at any time.

  5. I do not read the books nor do i intend to do so in the future but i have to say, it certainly fills my heart with joy when spoiler-loving book-readers are in for a nasty surprise. Serves them right.

  6. And not to be tmi-but ive had sex like that (whether im protesting location or playing like I dont want to & pushing my bf away in the beginning cuz sometimes for some people rough/playful sex is exciting) & ive def never considered myself raped. Granted I dont consider that scene an example of playful sex necessarily but more that she was protesting the location & maybe genuinely pushing him away at 1st but ultimately giving in to her own desire for him & heat of the moment. (Been there done that) but she was not raped.

  7. There is nothing but shocking material thru the whole series….A father having babies with his daughters, Prostitutes being killed by torture, children being threatened with swords going up their private parts…..why is this so shocking?

  8. After reading & commenting about this for a couple of days now I feel I have heard every side of the debate on the subject except from…


    What’s the hold up good sir?

    I’m willing to bet there’s an op-ed you’re dying to write and I for one am anxious to read it. :)

  9. Cry a river about the scene. Grow a pair and move on. Beat show on the planet and a few gays and nuns are complaining about one scene. Great show HBO, keep up the great work! Please start releasing dvd sets during Christmas!

  10. Cry a river about the scene. Grow a pair and move on. Best show on the planet and a few gays and nuns are complaining about one scene. Great show HBO, keep up the great work! Please start releasing dvd sets during Christmas!