Game of Thrones Memory Lane 403: Breaker of Chains

tywin

“Breaker of Chains,” written by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and directed by Alex Graves, stands as one of the single most controversial episodes in Game of Thrones’s entire run to date – a not-so-easy task, given the sheer amount of shocking material that has lodged the show so indelibly in the cultural consciousness. That controversy, of course, solely emanates from the instantly infamous rape scene between Queen Regent Cersei Lannister and her twin brother, Ser Jaime, in the Great Sept of Baelor, right next to where their son’s body lies in repose (not that the late King Joffrey Baratheon was the kind of gentlemen who demanded respect, even in death).

CerseiThere has been a staggering array of work produced in response to this scene and its seemingly major deviation from George R.R. Martin’s source material (in the novels, it might behoove us to reiterate, Cersei clearly wants to have sex with her long-lost brother, even though she initially starts off by saying no), all of which has been confounded by a near-complete lack of response from either Weiss or Benioff. Parsing through the voluminous output both for and against the changes is neither welcome nor needed; viewers may just have to chalk it up to a mystery of the adaptation universe, a secret of the showrunners’ souls that they will more than likely take to their graves.

What is needed to be said regarding the deviation is much more straightforward, though no less confounding: does a viewer absolutely need to take the filmmakers’ intentions into account?

If the writers, director, and performers all approached the scene as being fundamentally consensual, as was Martin’s rendition, but had that intent obscured by what “defenders” claim is clumsy or otherwise sub-par cinematography and editing, should that factor into the emotional and intellectual responses that audiences have? Or does a piece of art, once it passes from its creators’ hands and enters into the annals of history, become divested from all the immediate circumstances of its inception?

What’s the most striking about rewatching the episode nearly two years later is how symbolic the rape scene has become for the series as a whole. The entire production is one vast web of conflicting – and conflicted – interpretations of characters (is Stannis Baratheon self-serving or ultimately self-sacrificial?) and ruminations on themes (how man is infinitely corruptible, whether it be the seduction of power that afflicts Stannis’s two late brothers or the all-consuming need for revenge, as Lord Petyr Baelish aptly illustrates). Is Lord Varys the Spider ultimately a hero attempting to save the realm from the ineptitude of would-be kings, or is he yet another cog in the game of thrones that endlessly, pointlessly plays out? Are the White Walkers, in this regard, animalistic savages or cultured warriors that know cancer when they see it?

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There are many examples of this ambiguity and ambivalence that play out in “Breaker of Chains,” all of which are overshadowed by the Jaime-Cersei controversy: Sandor Clegane breaks guest right, just as Walder Frey did, but has a sense of fatalistic logic rather than a spurious sense of vengeance spurring his decision; Stannis Baratheon laments his inability to have Melisandre’s utilitarianism win out over Lord Davos Seaworth’s deontology; Daenerys Targaryen promises freedom to scores of slaves even though, given the sociopolitical realities of Meereen and Slaver’s Bay, it’s not destined to last. Hell, even Gilly misreads Sam Tarly’s intentions – he wants to protect her from the rabble that are his sworn brothers, but she thinks he’s just cruelly and casually casting her aside, like the burden that Craster must have seen her as. No one can seem to truly relate to anyone else in Game of Thrones; no one can ever seem to be able to know whether motivations can or should be divested from actions.

Speaking purely in terms of theme, what is actually the most loaded scene in the episode may very well be the Tywin-plays-the-tutor display that also happens directly in front of Joffrey’s still-warm corpse (one wonders where Jaime’s complete lack of respect or decorum comes from). Without a shred of sentimentality – actually, Lord Tywin openly insults Joffrey’s conduct as monarch right there, in front of Cersei and all the septons and septas – Tywin begins molding Tommen Baratheon into the kind of king that will be the most wise… which, of course, really means the most pliable, since it is Tywin himself who possesses a reservoir of infinite wisdom.

Tangled in this naked power play are the genuine lessons that the Hand of the King has to offer from history. And, indeed, he’s right – “A wise king knows what he knows and what he doesn’t,” and the same holds true for a wise citizen in the democratic nature of our modern world. The fact that such objective truth is lost under the weight of his own machinations – and in the death of a family member right in front of them – is simultaneously tragic and understandable, sacred and profane.

Of course, as the series has progressed since “Breaker of Chains,” Tommen has become the poster boy for the nature of power, the meaning of true leadership, and the political and psychological manipulation of rulers – in other words, the very premise of Benioff and Weiss’s show and Martin’s novels.


Introductions

OllyThere are a whole host of bit characters introduced in “Breaker of Chains” that, unfortunately, given the nature of their parts, ended up being exclusive to this one episode: the farmer and his daughter, Sally, that the Hound and Arya Stark come across in the riverlands, and the Champion of Meereen, who unfurls an impressively rude string of insults to Daenerys and her army.

But the main introductions here are, of course, Hizdahr zo Loraq, who would go on to become Dany’s betrothed (and the Sons of the Harpy’s punching bag), and Olly, who has his tragic origins as a wayward orphan be established here (thereby planting the seeds for yet more thematically grey material in the fifth season finale, “Mother’s Mercy”).

dontosDeaths

So long, Champion of Meereen! Essos was too cruel to thee. But no crueler than how Westeros – and a certain, scheming master of coin – treated Ser Dontos Hollard, the fat fool who was saved by Sansa early in the second season and then manipulated by Littlefinger to be her so-called knight in shining armor.

And, of course, we must also bid adieu to Olly’s family, who is all cut down by the advancing wildling party and is eaten by one very charming Styr. The north would never again be the same after this seemingly incidental scene, though no one – especially the audience – would know it for another season and a half.

“Let me kill this man for you.” Daario fights the Champion of Meereen. Beautiful Death.

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50 responses

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    1. Tywin’s talk with Tommen was very good!
      All in all I liked the episode.

      *grabs popcorn, waiting for the inevitable shit storm on Jaime/Cercei scene*

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    2. The ”nemebetas” scene was amazing. The way Emilia said it was superb.
      The entire Meereen story this episode was just great.

      Will say it again, Emilia is an amazing Dany and one of my favourite actors on the show!

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    3. Yaga:
      18 days? This is… This is horrible.

      Horrible? The Season 5 finale was 42 weeks ago and we’re only 4 days from the Red Carpet premiere and 18 days from the Season 6 premeire!

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    4. Mihnea,

      I love the show, but the whole damned thing is an orgy of rape and murder — yet I’m supposed to get mad of this *particular* rape. I get that it changed the character of Jamie substantially, but the outrage was not “you’ve messed up Jamie’s character arc” it was, “look at horrible this rape is!” And it wasn’t any more horrible than the rest of it.

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    5. This was definitely one of those episodes where it just didn’t come together. I wink t add anymore to the Jamir-Cersei scene than what s already been said, but even the big finale with Dany felt off. Just the editing, the effects, camera work and staging. Nothing really works.

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    6. Eh, not one of the better episodes, truth be told, and not because of That Which Shall Not Be Named. Usually, the show is so good and consistent that my nitpicks are just that: nitpicks. Here though there are enough little things that rub me the wrong way so that taken together they diminish my enjoyment of the episode.

      For example, I’m not a huge fan of the scene in the Sept where Tywin schools Tommen on what makes a good king. The intentions behind it are all well and good and it is yet another excellent illustration of who and what Tywin really is. My problem is that the scene feels overly staged and didactic… it feels like two characters reciting a script. What makes a good king? Faith? No, because this and this and this. Strength? No, because this and this and this. Wisdom? Yes! Because this and this and this. It’s inelegant writing.

      I am also not overly enamored with the scene where the Hound and Arya eat the stew. The dialogue is good, but I don’t like how the acting choices veer too hard towards borderline slapstick comedy. I don’t think actors are to blame (Rory and Maisie seem incapable of having a bad day at acting), but more of a script/direction problem.

      Dragonstone material is getting quite repetitive with the gang there stuck in a moping loop since Blackwater, but that is an unfortunate consequence of splitting Stannis’s already thin ASoS story over two seasons.

      To conclude with something positive, the episode begins and ends with excellent stuff. Sansa’s escape from KL is gorgeously shot and the Littlefinger’s ship in the fog is certainly a striking visual. As for Daenerys at the gates of Meereen: simply exhilarating. Daario’s innovative way of taking down the champion of Meereen, Dany’s speech in Valyrian (Emilia is simply brilliant there) and finally, the catapults firing barrels full of slave collars. Nemebetas, indeed.

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    7. Ah, the Hound again with his succinct manner of getting right to the point.
      – – – – – – – —
      “Just point out the next map shop you see and I’ll buy you one.”

      “You got to do all seven of the fuckers?”

      “And we ask the Stranger not to kill us in our beds tonight for no damn reason at all.”

      Arya: You’re the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!”

      “There’s plenty worse than me. I just understand the way things are. How many Starks they got to behead before you figure it out?”

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    8. Mr Fixit: I am also not overly enamored with the scene where the Hound and Arya eat the stew. The dialogue is good, but I don’t like how the acting choices veer too hard towards borderline slapstick comedy. I don’t think actors are to blame (Rory and Maisie seem incapable of having a bad day at acting), but more of a script/direction problem.

      I think that is actually the point, that the two characters, and particular Arya are pretending to be something they are not (i.e. father and daughter), with Sandor making a real bodge of it. It’s meant to look like the characters just can’t act this out convincingly – actors pretending to be people who can’t act. Jump forward to where Arya in the HoB&W can’t lie/act convincingly to Jaqen…

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    9. Ser Not Appearing in this Series: I think that is actually the point, that the two characters, and particular Arya are pretending to be something they are not (i.e. father and daughter), with Sandor making a real bodge of it. It’s meant to look like the characters just can’t act this out convincingly – actors pretending to be people who can’t act.Jump forward to where Arya in the HoB&W can’t lie/act convincingly to Jaqen…

      I don’t think that’s it. They don’t come across as people (badly) acting they’re something they’re not. To me, they seem like actors having a go at slapstick.

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    10. Jack Bauer 24,

      I simply knew I would get that reaction out of you. ? We’re like a pair of dancers at this point, me being morbid and morose and you trying to cheer me up.

      Ah well. As they say, que sera sera. Just with accents, fancylike.

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    11. Tywin educating Tommen about what it means to be a good king (and, in effect, a willing puppet) is one of my favorite scenes in all of Game of Thrones. Considering how fiercely and deeply I love this show, I consider that some damn high praise. Perhaps if I were to think on it for a while, I could recall a few other scenes that can compete with it, but even then, it’s easily in the Top 5 for me.

      Everything that went into the craft of creating that scene is worthy of acclaim. The writing is spectacular (more on that in a second). The production design and the staging are breathtaking – the Sept of Baelor is truly one of the show’s most impressive sets. The direction and the cinematography are beautiful – I particularly love the way the light is streaming into the sept as Tywin paces back and forth – when the camera focuses on Tywin as he stands in the beam, it’s almost blindingly bright. Yet as he draws Tommen further into his clutches, he moves to the margins, into the shadows, until he finally manages to grasp what he’s seeking. When he eventually draws back into the light, he has his hand on Tommen’s shoulder, and his young grandson is firmly in his thrall. Cersei, meanwhile, remains at least half-shrouded in shadow the entire time.

      But all of the other elements of the scene pale next to the performances – Charles Dance’s performance in particular. When I wrote the Curtain Call for Charles Dance back on the old website, I mentioned an interview that David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave to EW after the Season 4 finale. When discussing Tywin’s death and Dance’s ensuing departure from the show, they expressed gratitude for the immense privilege of writing for his character. “He brings such power and specificity to everything that he does”, they declared, marveling that Dance was “so good that the dialogue writes itself”.

      As far as I’m concerned, this particular scene is Exhibit 1A on that list. It’s a stunning piece of oratory, one specifically crafted to showcase Dance’s immense talents. The speech does not appear in George R.R. Martin’s novels, but it feels – and it is – quintessentially Tywin Lannister.

      When the old lion finishes his trap and asks what they all lacked and Tommen finally says “Wisdom!” the way that Tywin exclaims “Yes!” is amazing. Dance draws out the sibilant quality of that word for so long that he practically hisses. He’s been waiting to hear that answer for a long time. In that precise triumphant moment, he’s more of a snake than a lion, and he’s not about to let his prize slip out of his coils. His children either didn’t understand all of his lectures about the Lannister legacy, or else they didn’t want to hear them. Even when they did, their efforts to uphold that legacy failed to meet Tywin’s exacting standards. But Tommen is soft clay in his hands, and Tywin intends to be the one to shapes him into a suitable instrument to secure his legacy before hardening him with the right kind of fire.

      Lest I overlook the fact that Dance isn’t alone in the scene, Lena Headey is wonderful in it as well, even though she barely speaks. Cersei quickly realizes what her father is doing, but she’s too consumed by her grief to stop it. Even if she weren’t, how could she stand in her father’s way? He’s in his element here, and even at her best, she knows that she’s no match. So as Tywin digs his claws into Tommen – gently, but firmly – and pulls him away from his mother, Cersei watches them go in silence. Try as she might, she will never be to hold her son again the way that she did during the Battle of the Blackwater. She was so afraid to lose Tommen that day that she was willing to poison him herself. Here, she loses him in spirit, but she can’t do anything at all.

      Dean-Charles Chapman does a fine work playing the wide-eyed innocent as well. And Jack Gleeson? Excellent job of remaining still and dead on the table. After being do great for the past four seasons, you’ve earned a rest. 😉

      I also love that hypothetical example concerning a house with a strong navy attacking another house with fertile lands. That certainly seems to be a direct piece of foreshadowing regarding the Greyjoys potentially attacking the Reach. Time will tell if that actually comes to pass in Season 6, but if it does, it’s amazing that it’s here. Even if it doesn’t, it remains evocative imagery.

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    12. Mr Fixit:

      Eh, not one of the better episodes, truth be told, and not because of That Which Shall Not Be Named. Usually, the show is so good and consistent that my nitpicks are just that: nitpicks. Here though there are enough little things that rub me the wrong way so that taken together they diminish my enjoyment of the episode.

      For example, I’m not a huge fan of the scene in the Sept where Tywin schools Tommen on what makes a good king. The intentions behind it are all well and good and it is yet another excellent illustration of who and what Tywin really is. My problem is that the scene feels overly staged and didactic… it feels like two characters reciting a script. What makes a good king? Faith? No, because this and this and this. Strength? No, because this and this and this. Wisdom? Yes! Because this and this and this. It’s inelegant writing.

      You and I are usually pretty closely aligned in our opinions about the show, but we’re going to have to disagree here. Does the scene feel a bit staged? Yes. It definitely has a more theatrical quality to it than the show usually does – I’d equate it an actor reciting a what’s basically a soliloquy to a largely passive character and, by extension, the audience. To that end, is Tywin’s dialogue a bit didactic? Of course. But to me, those elements of the scene are features, not bugs. Dance isn’t alone in putting on a performance here. Tywin’s performing as well, and like his portrayer, he’s a damn good showman. The way he draws in history is cool in its own right, but it’s not just trivia – Tywin has a very specific goal in mind. I love the way he deconstructs each king’s supposed virtue– Baelor’s holiness, Orys’s justice, and Robert’s strength – and paints it instead as a crippling flaw.

      It may not be subtle, but I would personally disagree that it’s inelegant. For me, the mastery of the scene is that I know exactly where it’s going, yet I find it enthralling to watch Tywin shepherd Tommen and the audience there. I find there’s an elegance in that as well, and Dance’s performance is more than enough to compensate for some otherwise static blocking in a scene that’s definitely a bit of a stylistic departure for the show. Your mileage may vary, of course. 🙂

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    13. My biggest frustration about the Jaime-Cersei scene is that it’s become the dominant conversation point about this episode, because there is so much else to celebrate and dissect in the hour. The fact that the scene takes place immediately after Tywin and Tommen scene that I went on about at length – and as a result, completely overshadowed it at the time of airing – irks me more than anything that happens onscreen.

      I’m not all that keen on rehashing the sept scene, but since I mentioned it I’ll say this: I’ve rewatched it many times since the episode initially aired, including just last night. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to as bad as people make it out to be. Then again, I never thought it was all that egregious in the first place. Part of the reason for that, I should clarify, is that I never had an overly romanticized vision of the corresponding scene in the books. That chapter was written from Jaime’s POV, and filtered through that lens, I found it disturbing as hell. It’s disturbing here too, but that uncomfortable dynamic is exacerbated by the execution rather than the material itself.

      Sansa and Ramsay’s wedding night is an obvious comparison, but I thought that particular scene was masterfully executed. When the wedding in the Winterfell godswood is included, I actually consider that sequence to be the very best part of “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” – from a technical perspective, at least. This scene isn’t on that level. I would consider subpar for the show, and it’s frustrating only because the quality of the production is usually so absurdly high, and the intent of any given scene is usually crystal clear. The show so rarely dips below that exacting standard, but when it does, it’s no fun for anyone, particularly with respect to a scene where the content is also sensitive. And given that we live in an era where Internet Outrage is a booming industry, any reasonable and productive discussions that people might want to have are going to face a nigh-impossible challenge rising above all of the accusatory shouting and cacophonous noise.

      It’s unfortunate that they didn’t frame the scene differently or loop in some additional dialogue. Ultimately, however, I think it was the tone-deaf way that Alex Graves in particular responded to the controversy that threw extra fuel onto the fire. That’s also a shame, because I think he’s an excellent director who’s done great work on the show – including on most of this episode – but a segment of the fanbase seems to have permanently soured on him. He undoubtedly put his foot in his mouth in an awful way, but that doesn’t mean he should be blacklisted from the show forever.

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    14. I like to think we can talk about this controversial scene without devolving into chaos. I think that the intent question Marc poses is interesting. I’m all about the death of the author and deconstructionism (the text is all there is), so I like that D&D have mostly stayed out of it and let the people interpret the scene for themselves. I don’t much care for scenes in the book (which include Dany’s rape by Khal Drogo and many a romance novel) where the woman says no, but then as the rape progresses she begins to enjoy it or changes her mind and consents. Perhaps it was supposed to follow the book, but it didn’t work that way and I’m kind of glad that this is the case.

      For me, Jaime is an interesting and very conflicted character. By the time we are in season four, we have all but forgotten that he tried to kill a small boy in the first episode. You end up liking him, but then this makes you (or at least me) question your own judge of character. Also, it is hard to sympathize with Cersei because she is so horrible. At least at this point in the story. Her sympathetic moments (for me, the siege of the King’s Landing and her walk of shame) are few and far between, and then she bounces right back to being a horrible character.

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    15. Also, I for one really enjoyed Tywin’s lecture over Joff’s corpse. It reminded us that he doesn’t care about his family, just his legacy, and it hearkens back to the medieval genre of the mirror of princes. He means to instruct his grandson, which Cersei never seems to bother with anymore. I remember her doing it with Joff, but I don’t recall having seen her do it with Tommen.

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    16. Jared,

      It’d be boring if we agreed on everything! 🙂

      Even though we’re not on the same page regarding this scene, your enthusiasm for it, as evidenced by your eloquent and thorough analysis, is extremely contagious. Makes me feel guilty! 😉

      Interesting thing is, I loved the scene when it first aired. I believe I said as much on this site two years ago (or was it WiC then?). For whatever reason, something started to bug me about it on subsequent rewatches.

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    17. Demon Monkey,

      Show Cersei? Why she’s just a slightly overzealous tiger mom … 🙂
      Book Cersei … now that’s another story

      More seriously, unless something dramatically changes in the latter part of this season with Jamie’s possible journey, the book and show Jamie/Cersei arcs would appear to me to be headed in different directions

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    18. Ser Not Appearing in this Series:
      Ah, the Hound again with his succinct manner of getting right to the point.
      – – – – – – – —
      “Just point out the next map shop you see and I’ll buy you one.”

      “You got to do all seven of the fuckers?”

      “And we ask the Stranger not to kill us in our beds tonight for no damn reason at all.”

      Arya: You’re the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!”

      “There’s plenty worse than me. I just understand the way things are. How many Starks they got to behead before you figure it out?”

      Yep, some great interaction and memorable lines spoken between Arya and The Hound. Those two together made for the more lighthearted and comical moments in Season 4 and I miss them.

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    19. Did the author of this recap not read ANY of the responses to the sept scene?

      “It becomes a really kind of horrifying scene, because you see, obviously, Joffrey’s body right there, and you see that Cersei is resisting this. She’s saying no, and he’s forcing himself on her. So it was a really uncomfortable scene, and a tricky scene to shoot.”

      —David Benioff

      “Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle. Nobody really wanted to talk about what was going on between the two characters, so we had a rehearsal that was a blocking rehearsal. And it was very much about the earlier part with Charles (Dance) and the gentle verbal kidnapping of Cersei’s last living son. Nikolaj came in and we just went through one physical progression and digression of what they went through, but also how to do it with only one hand, because it was Nikolaj. By the time you do that and you walk through it, the actors feel comfortable going home to think about it. The only other thing I did was that ordinarily, you rehearse the night before, and I wanted to rehearse that scene four days before, so that we could think about everything. And it worked out really well. That’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever done.”

      – Alex Graves

      “I can go inside the head and show exactly what he’s thinking and if you just look at the dialogue, if they’d included all that dialogue it would have been a considerably longer scene. Virtually any scene, there’s always economy. You know the scene would be five minutes long and we have to get another scene that’s one minute long or half a minute long. In that case, I do wish they’d included my dialogue from the books because I think that would have been seen in a different context.”

      – George R R Martin

      Long story short, by eliminating some dialogue and some inside-the-head POV, intentions of characters become less apparent. That’s what happened.

      Anyway, I think this recap does a disservice to the episode by focusing only on this manufactured “controversy”. The episode itself was very well-done, particularly Twyin with Tommen and Dany with Meereen. And what breathtaking visuals in both!

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    20. I think something I’ve always thought about this scene as consensual in the books for a few reasons: she is saying no at first but acting like she wants it, making her seem conflicted instead of downright refusing him, she consents before penetration, which means it doesn’t “become consensual”, this rape culture shit people say, it’s just consensual, and in their sexual interactions we’ve seen, she often seems to be saying no. I believe we’ve seen that when Bran catches them and in the scene Jaime remembers after they found out Bran is awake. So it makes it seem like part of their dynamic.
      None of that comes of like this in the show. I think the reviewer made an excellent point by asking if we should take the writer’s notes in consideration. Is that cannon? Should the writer’s intentions matter in fiction?
      People always seem to use them for books that are often judged poorly, like people who see Lolita as a defense of pedophilia, or but Raskolnikov’s theory in Crime in Punishment. We know what these writers wanted to write, but up to what point is that relevant for the debate?

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    21. I commend Marc N. Kleinhenz for this writeup…it was remarkably well handled, very deftly addressed the situation while remaining even-handed and a voice of reason. You must have dreaded writing this. But I genuinely think you.

      I will be brief:

      “all of which has been confounded by a near-complete lack of response from either Weiss or Benioff.”

      That’s the worst part; if they said, in as many words, “we decided to show Jaime and Cersei having an abusive relationship, so we decided to have Jaime rape Cersei, to illustrate that”….well, that’s their creative decision, to change something in adaptation. I mean I’d argue against it, but it’s their “artistic vision” and all. Instead there are basically two scenarios:

      A – They didn’t intend it to look like a rape scene, that’s just an accident, but they were too embarrassed to come clean about it.

      B – ….They did, in as many words, intend it to be Jaime raping Cersei….but didn’t have the courage or resolve to stand by their decision by publicly defending it and explaining why they did it.

      Neither of these is a positive scenario.

      Yes, I know some voices on here will say “they don’t have to explain their creative decisions” (i.e. removing Tysha)…..yeah, but it’s the way they evaded talking about it at all, the way there were major questions — specifically that in the very next episode, *Cersei doesn’t act as if she was just raped*, adding further fuel to the “it was just a camera mistake” camp.

      I could “respect” any decision Benioff and Weiss made if they stood by it and laid out their case for it. More than anything else, they were evasive about this.

      For those who haven’t seen it, check out the Oxford Union panel video from before the Season 5 premiere, when a fan manages to surprise them with a question about it during a live Q&A, directly asking “what was that Was it intended as rape? ” etc

      Benioff was taken by surprise, awkwardly stalled for time by waffling about “the cast works really hard”, then ultimately said “we decided for Jaime to do that…because we felt that’s a thing he would do” — avoiding using the word “rape” at all. Benioff’s response was humiliating and I lost a large amount of respect for him — again, not that the mistake happened, or whatever, but how he just crumpled and tried to hide from it.

      I’m not going to rehash all the old arguments, but for the sake of being succinct:

      *Right after it aired, actors avoided making any direct comments about the scene – as news sites such as TMS pointed out, it seemed painfully obvious they wanted to say more but didn’t want to go over their bosses’ heads.

      *For those paying attention months later, I think Coster-Waldau and Headey got upset when Benioff and Weiss then didn’t even say anything about the scene in the DVD release….so at conventions, the actors started openly stating that they were never told it was a rape scene nor did they play it as such.
      The director made comments to similar effect (despite the fact that he also has a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth). The actors and director wouldn’t have said this if the word “rape” was used in the script.

      *Cogman has remained evasive and said there was “more he could say about it” but like the actors, outright said he doesn’t want to speak for Benioff and Weiss.

      *Benioff and Weiss never actually claimed it *was* a rape scene; after that embarrassing response to the question at the Oxford Union panel, it became clear that they’re just giving vague and non-committal responses; behaving evasively, and in general, their behavior fits the theory that the implication it was a rape scene was just an error of bad camerawork.

      *If you actually freeze-frame the scene, you can clearly see Heady kissing Coster-Waldau back and pulling his head in closer for a kiss — not that this disproves it was a rape scene for “Cersei” the character, but it confirms what “Headey” the actress said – that on-set, she played it as a consensual sex scene and wasn’t instructed otherwise.

      *When you are asked, “was it intended as rape or wasn’t it?”….”maybe” isn’t an answer you can use on a wiki. Over on Game of Thrones Wiki the admins had to make a decision, and looking over all of the above evidence (they didn’t even say anything to GRRM about an intended change)…..it is *blatantly obvious* this was not intended as a rape scene.

      So within GOTWiki at least, we declared it non-canon; within “the TV continuity” Jaime isn’t raping Cersei…..and we also openly question why the heck HBO won’t just acknowledge the error, then re-edit and rerelease the scene JUST AS they did with the Bush head on a spike fiasco in Season 1.

      I wrote up an explanation of this decision, with all the evidence: http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Breaker_of_Chains/Jaime-Cersei_sex_scene (Not trying to spam, just in case anyone wants to peruse more)

      Now as Marc pointed out, some raised the questions of 1 – what was there intent, but also 2 – IF they didn’t intend it as rape, and it only looks like that due to bad camerawork…..does the fact that we the audience couldn’t tell otherwise make it “a rape scene”?

      Well, in the sense that people were offended, yes…..

      But my overall philosophy is that if the microphone is in the shot….your reaction shouldn’t be to decide that “microphone shaped monsters” exist in the story. You go back and re-edit the scene for the DVD release.

      If some one knocks over my fence with their car, I expect them to fix it….not pensively refuse to fix it, because repairing my fence would be an acknowledgement that they broke it in the first place.

      I’m not here to assign blame, actually; I don’t care why it happened, I just want the scene fixed. Like the Bush head thing.

      This isn’t going to fade from memory with the passage of time — as Benioff hoped when a fan surprised him with the question at the Oxford Union panel (you could see in the look on their faces, they’d hoped people would have forgotten about it after 10 months).

      NO. “Avoid the question entirely in all press events and hope it goes away” IS NOT a viable Public Relations decision.

      I am not trying to harm or punish Benioff and Weiss over this: I want to help them. They’re only hurting themselves and their own TV show by not just acknowledging “wow, that was a mistake, we’ll fix it in a DVD release”.

      I want to help them to help themselves.

      To this end, GoTWiki declared the scene non-canon, no Jaime isn’t raping Cersei, it’s just a very poorly filmed scene with bad camerawork. This isn’t even “contradicting” anything Benioff and Weiss said, because they took no formal position on it at all…so how is this controversial of me?

      Meanwhile I will *continue* my campaign to get HBO to re-edit and re-release the scene over their heads. Certain…actions….have already been taken which I can’t talk about at the moment (I am the Dragon, owe me awe, etc. etc.)

      As for those who make some sort of argument that re-editing it is hiding how they they offended you……I respect your views, I just personally think that the best way to “apologize” to the fans, the right thing to do when something like this happens, is to re-edit something for the DVD release.

      This is not my attempt to “mansplain” rape on TV to women. I have just as much right to be offended by what Benioff and Weiss allowed to happen. Indeed it is true that I can never be as offended by the scene as say, a woman who has been the victim of sexual abuse and is upset at its use on TV. Yes, our reactions differ. Yet women are not the only victims of violence against women, nor are they the only ones “triggered” by it (up until their divorce when I was four years old, my biological father habitually beat my mom to a bloody pulp. In front of me).

      Nonetheless….and I say this gently and without anger….I have a right to be offended by this scene too, and it isn’t “mansplaining” for me to say that Benioff and Weiss mishandled a depiction of violence against women….and that I am disgusted at their inaction. By not even intending it in the first place, then panicking and choosing to ignore it in the hope it would go away.

      And yes, I know how vain the attempt is at this point, and that the hope of *actually* getting HBO to re-edit and re-release the scene is foolish.

      I will keep trying, however, for years into the future….because I simply could not live with myself if I gave up and accepted this as the new normal.

      (I hope I haven’t offended anyone, thanks for reading)

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    22. (My first line should read “I genuinely thank you” not “think you”. Marc’s writeup was better and more level-headed than what I had to write about it)

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    23. Mr Fixit:
      Eh, not one of the better episodes, truth be told, and not because of That Which Shall Not Be Named. Usually, the show is so good and consistent that my nitpicks are just that: nitpicks. Here though there are enough little things that rub me the wrong way so that taken together they diminish my enjoyment of the episode.

      For example, I’m not a huge fan of the scene in the Sept where Tywin schools Tommen on what makes a good king. The intentions behind it are all well and good and it is yet another excellent illustration of who and what Tywin really is. My problem is that the scene feels overly staged and didactic… it feels like two characters reciting a script. What makes a good king? Faith? No, because this and this and this. Strength? No, because this and this and this. Wisdom? Yes! Because this and this and this. It’s inelegant writing.

      I am also not overly enamored with the scene where the Hound and Arya eat the stew. The dialogue is good, but I don’t like how the acting choices veer too hard towards borderline slapstick comedy. I don’t think actors are to blame (Rory and Maisie seem incapable of having a bad day at acting), but more of a script/direction problem.

      Dragonstone material is getting quite repetitive with the gang there stuck in a moping loop since Blackwater, but that is an unfortunate consequence of splitting Stannis’s already thin ASoS story over two seasons.

      To conclude with something positive, the episode begins and ends with excellent stuff. Sansa’s escape from KL is gorgeously shot and the Littlefinger’s ship in the fog is certainly a striking visual. As for Daenerys at the gates of Meereen: simply exhilarating. Daario’s innovative way of taking down the champion of Meereen, Dany’s speech in Valyrian (Emilia is simply brilliant there) and finally, the catapults firing barrels full of slave collars. Nemebetas, indeed.

      Agree with the Tywin Tommen scene. Overall, I enjoyed the scene and was able to look past the criticism you mentioned of it, but I think they would’ve been better off just having Tywin recite the entire dialogue, rather then it be a back and forth between Tommen and he. i.e. they could’ve had Twyin be like “What makes a great King? Is it holiness? Is it strength?” etc.

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    24. This episode is a microcasm of season 4 for me. It’s inconsistent. Lot of filler / dead weight, mixed in between some great scenes.

      Overall I liked Pedro Pascal as Oberyn but his performance isn’t without flaws. For one, his accent was just as bad as any of the other Dornish actors / actresses. And he makes some strange faces / acting choices at times.

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    25. Mihnea:
      The ”nemebetas” scene was amazing. The way Emilia said it was superb.
      The entire Meereen story this episode was just great.

      Will say it again, Emilia is an amazing Dany and one of my favourite actors on the show!

      I don’t understand the criticism she gets, I think she’s fantastic as well and very deserving of the Emmy nods.

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    26. Noob Takes the Black,

      They had been lovers for a long time. Both were distraught. Cersei wounded Jamie deeply and this is how he reacted. I don’t think it’s completely abnormal reaction for Jamie and I didn’t understand the outrage. He killed his innocent cousin in a gruesome way, tried to throw one to his death, loved a hateful woman (his own sister so right there we know he lacks “will-power”), raised a monster (or at least never tried to reign him in.) This wasn’t about some ne’r-do-well becoming knight in shining armor. He’s a conflicted man who’s capable of good and evil both.

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    27. Ygritte,

      Ha. Try to explain that to purists.

      To them Jaime is a misunderstood knight in shinning armor.

      Anyway the rage didn’t came only from book-readers who where angry, but mostly from those normal viewers who didn’t like the rape. Only when you put them togheter did they cause quite a lot of noice.

      But for very different reasons. Book-readers who where angry at that scene, where angry that the rape ”wasn’t done right”/”different from the books”. The other group where just angry at the rape, but just like in Sansa’s case they would be equally angry at the book version if they read it.

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    28. Darkrobin,

      Not really.

      We know he goes to the Riverlands this season, I expect that unlike the books, he will have already broke from Cersei. Most likely because of Myrcella and Jaime finding about Lancel and Cersei. The only difference will be that most likely will refuse Cersei’s plea of help directly, by going to the Riverlands, instead of burning a latter. That worked well in books, but this works better on TV.

      Also

      I expect Jaime will help Tommen free Margeary, that will anger Cersei quite a lot.

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