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More than a week has passed since “Breaker of Chains” aired to some controversy, all thanks to the sept scene between siblings Cersei and Jaime, a dark moment between them made grotesque by the presence of their dead son’s body in the scene. Outrage was exceptional on many sides as a general opinion formed that what was depicted was a rape scene with Jaime forcing his sister. Matters were thrown into some confusion by certain remarks from director Alex Graves and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, compounded by a very brief remark from executive producer David Benioff in the Inside the Episode featurette which were construed by some as being contradictory.
This week, however, a pair of new interviews with the actors involved in the scene sheds some further light on what they had intended to achieve. Speaking with Sweden’s Expressen newspaper, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau expanded (Google Translate version) on his earlier remarks, speaking forthrightly but with a clear acknowledgment that what viewers took from it was in many cases different from what he, Lena Headey, the director, and the executive producers had intended. Two brief excerpts:
At the same time, Lena Headey has been interviewed by GoldDerby and the topic came up there as well:
In the course of the above interview, she makes some of the following remarks (transcript from The Mary Sue):
So, taken all together, I think we have from the actors and the director a clear notion that this is a dark moment between the two, but one that fits within a continuum of interactions for the pair, that it’s a situation that neither character reads as a rape but rather as an act of mutual despair and lust. Outsiders not part of that relationship can and should take what they want from it, but as far as the characters are concerned, surely their interpretations are the only ones that matter.
That leaves Benioff’s brief remark as a seeming outlier, but even that could be construed as being in line with what everyone else is saying: yes, Jaime used force in starting the encounter, but as we see from Headey and Coster-Waldau, this ultimately facilitated a consensual relationship between the two. And it’s worth noting that in the novels, Jaime initiating encounters, sometimes forcefully, is very much presented as a normal situation for the two. There are many reasons why this might be the case without it indicating that the relationship is physically abusive. The fact that it is transgressive, and necessarily furtive, might in itself indicate that by being driven into the shadows, the pair have become used to quickly snatched moments, seizing the opportunity (and one another) with little communication other than an innate sense of one another’s desires and needs. It’s a dangerous kind of relationship, certainly, when consent is assumed rather than explicit, but it may be what’s “normal” for the incestuous couple
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