Apr 21 2014 3:21pm

Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 3 Recap: Fifty Shades of NO!

Game of Thrones Season 4 episode 3This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones, including last night’s Season 4, episode 3, “Breaker of Chains.” Enjoy!

If you'd told me before Episode 4.03 of Game of Thrones that neither Littlefinger re-enacting the plot of Lolita with Sansa nor a wildling telling a little boy that his mama and papa are about to be the main entree in a cannibal feast would be the most disturbing thing I would watch last night, I would definitely not have believed you!

We open in the immediate aftermath of Joffrey's death; after Dontos the Fool gets Sansa away from the disastrous Tyrell-Baratheon wedding, he delivers her to a rowboat, and from there to a ship shrouded in fog and creepiness, where we learn that Littlefinger knew that Joffrey would die, since he sent Dontos for Sansa. He proves that Dontos was only in it for the gold he'd get, since Littlefinger provided the family heirloom (the necklace) that Dontos gave Sansa. Now Pedofinger has Sansa all to himself because she too is in danger of her life for being unwittingly involved in the murder. Poor Sansa! I bet she never thought she’d look back to the good old days when Joffrey was showing her Ned’s head, huh? Littlefinger ties up a loose end by having someone shoot Dontos, because “Money buys a man's silence for a time, a bolt in the heart buys it forever.“

Meanwhile, Sansa’s sister Arya is still traveling with the Hound, when they encounter a farmer and his little daughter who makes a mean rabbit stew. Arya manages to get them in for a meal without any bloodshed, and the farmer even offers the Hound a job protecting him, his land, and his little daughter from marauding Freys. For a moment, it looks like the Hound will take the man up on his offer, but after finding out the farmer has a stash of silver coins, instead, the Hound hits the guy on the head and steals his money. When Arya yells at him about that, Sandor tells Arya that the farmer and his daughter will be dead before the winter. Which is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, really. Arya calls Sandor the biggest shit in the Seven Kingdoms (highly debatable, considering other things that happened in this episode) but follows him anyway.

Margaery in Game of Thrones 4.03In King’s Landing, Olenna and Margaery have a little conversation about Margaery’s bad luck in staying married. (To paraphrase Lady Bracknell, to lose one husband may be regarded as bad luck, but to lose two smacks of carelessness. Or else the fact that your grandmother is a poisoner.) Margaery really wanted to be Queen, but Olenna reminds her that the Lannisters really need this alliance, and hey, there is actually another Lannister-Baratheon King who is not married, and it’s not like it would be hard for Margaery to move on from Joffrey.

Tywin has also moved on from Joffrey, telling Tommen in front of Cersei (and Joffrey’s corpse) that Joffrey was a terrible king; poor Cersei is alone in actually mourning her dead kid. (He was a horrible kid, of course, but still hers and so this is surprisingly sad.) Tommen (recast from Season 2‘s Tommen) is really cute, and surprisingly knowledgeable about things like piety and justice. It’s weird to think he’s Jaime’s and Cersei’s kid, to be honest. Tywin takes Tommen away for a little bit more instruction about married life. I smell another wedding in the offing. At least poor Tommen doesn’t seem malicious enough to earn a date with a poisoned necklace, eh?

As Tommen is leaving, Jaime enters the Sept, dismissing the various attendants, and now Cersei’s day goes from horrible to even more horrible. At first, it seems like Jaime has come to comfort her in her grief for their son (Jaime himself seems conspicuously not grief-stricken at all); then Cersei urges Jaime to kill Tyrion, whom she blames for Joffrey’s death. Jaime urges her to wait for the trial, but Cersei is adamant, and Jaime eventually tells her that she’s “hateful” and that the gods cursed him to love a hateful woman. Nice way to abdicate your responsibility there, Kingslayer!

And now I need to say something about that scene. You know, the one where Jaime Lannister rapes his sister/lover next to the body of their dead incest-child. I’ve been a huge Jaime Lannister fan for a dozen years, since I first read A Storm of Swords, and although I normally don’t like to compare the books to the show, in this instance, I feel I need to make it clear that I haven’t been the fan of a rapist all this time.

One thing about Book!Jaime is that, while he’s not a good man by any stretch of the imagination (I think throwing a kid out of a window pretty much sets the seal on his not-goodness), he is also almost unique amongst the men of Westeros in feeling pity and empathy for rape victims. There are at least a couple of other characters who punish rapists harshly, whether by execution or castration (in contrast to, say, Tywin Lannister who is perfectly happy to use rape/rapists  like Gregor Clegane as tools to control his son or the hostile territory); but only Sam Tarly (with Gilly) and Jaime Lannister (with his sister, with Aerys’s unfortunate Queen Rhaella, with Pia, a character who’s been excised from the show, and with Brienne, of course) actually don't blame the victims of rape for bringing it on themselves and feel pity and compassion for them. It's a low bar, but one that almost every other nobleman in Westeros doesn't pass.

In Jaime’s case, this empathy is possible because of his life-long bond with his twin sister; Jaime really has walked a mile in a woman’s shoes (he and Cersei exchanged clothes when they were younger, after all) and it makes all the difference in the world (which is why some of us were upset that in last season’s arc, they didn’t include Jaime’s line to Brienne that if he were a woman, he’d be Cersei and instead had him talk about crying like a “bloody woman”). In the books, rape is a particular form of villainy that Jaime Lannister, twincestuous Kingslayer and child-murderer though he is, abhors, which is why it’s a shame that the show decided that he should “punish” Cersei in this way for rejecting him, and for asking him to kill Tyrion.

While it’s true that there is a scene in the books in which Jaime and Cersei have sex on an altar next to the body of their dead son, and it is also exceedingly disturbing (altar, corpse, etc.), it doesn’t play out in the same way that it did on the show.

First of all, in the books, Jaime and Brienne return after Joffrey’s death, so this scene occurs immediately following Jaime's arrival in King's Landing. Neither he nor Cersei have seen each other for over a year, and in the interim, they’ve undergone much grief, fear and humiliation, and each endured this alone, without the comfort of his/her twin. When the scene takes place, Jaime and Cersei have each suffered a recent and devastating loss (Jaime lost his hand; Cersei lost her son—in the books, Jaime thinks he’d gladly trade Joffrey for a new hand. Heh!) Since Cersei is just seeing Jaime again, she hasn't rejected his attempts to renew their relationship or scorned his stump for weeks before Joffrey's death. And most importantly, though Cersei initially starts out reluctant to have sex given the setting (altar, dead body of incest baby), she subsequently consents, and is even enthusiastic about having Jaime back.

“You shall,“ Cersei promised. ”There's to be a trial. When you hear all he [Tyrion] did, you'll want him dead as much as I do.“ She touched his face. ”I was lost without you, Jaime. I was afraid the Starks would send me your head. I could not have borne that.“ She kissed him. A light kiss, the merest brush of her lips on his, but he could feel her tremble as he slid his arms around her. ”I am not whole without you.“

There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. ”No,“ she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, ”not here. The septons . . . “

”The Others can take the septons.“ He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother's altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her. He undid his breeches and climbed up and pushed her bare white legs apart. One hand slid up her thigh and underneath her smallclothes. When he tore them away, he saw that her moon's blood was on her, but it made no difference.

”Hurry,“ she was whispering now, ”quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.“ Her hands helped 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.”

Even if we accept that this is all narrated from Jaime’s point of view and maybe he just wants to believe that she still wants him so much, we are later given Cersei’s POV and she never once thinks that Jaime raped her, though she frequently remembers Robert forcing himself on her. So I think, on balance, that the book version of the scene is not a rape, but rather a discomfiting, unsettling scene because it shows just how ugly and twisted Jaime’s and Cersei’s relationship really is and how, despite their physical connection in the moment, they no longer have an emotional connection. And frankly, I’m completely at a loss to understand why, if the show wants us to care about Jaime at all, they eliminated the final paragraph I quoted to make it clearer that this is not completely against Cersei’s will.

Last week, I was happy to watch Brienne admit (if only with her eyes) that she loved Jaime; after this week, I just want to warn her away from him. The man she loves doesn’t exist any more, and that makes me so sad and disappointed and worried for Brienne. And I’m still puzzled about why it was so important to trash all the hard-won toleration for Jaime that some people developed last season in order to ... add more disturbing sex scenes to this show?

Okay, so now back to the actual happenings of the episode: also in King’s Landing, at Littlefinger’s brothel (which seems to run itself) Oberyn and Ellaria have the orgy that was interrupted in Episode 1 (because again, what this show needed was surely more faux-lesbian makeout scenes and bare breasts). All I got from this scene was that Oberyn likes men and women, which, fair enough, but we could have done that with a lot less “purely for titillation” moments. The orgy is (again!) interrupted by a Lannister (no wonder Oberyn hates them so much!) This time it’s Tywin, who’s come to ask Oberyn to serve as the third judge at Tyrion’s trial (the other two are Mace Tyrell and Tywin himself. Things aren’t looking good for Tyrion, are they?) Tywin makes nice with Oberyn, disclaiming responsibility for the deaths of Oberyn’s sister Elia and her children during the sack of King’s Landing, throwing the blame squarely on Sandor’s brother Gregor Clegane.

Pod in Game of Thrones 4x03Meanwhile, Tyrion languishes in prison, where Pod is apparently his only friend. Shae and Sansa are both MIA and Bronn has been banned from seeing Tyrion at all. When Pod tells Tyrion that someone tried to bribe him with a knighthood to sell out Tyrion, Tyrion realizes that Pod’s loyalty and sweetness are very present dangers to his life, and urges him to get out of King’s Landing and save himself. Awww, poor Pod! Tyrion also urges Pod to get Jaime into see him, but I guess Jaime is too busy raping his sister to visit his brother in prison.

Up at Castle Black, poor Sam is also worried about the potential of his Night’s Watch brethren, a shifty lot at best, raping poor Gilly. They have a number of interminable scenes (or maybe it was just one interminable scene) in which Sam says he’s worried and wants to protect Gilly and Gilly says that he just wants to get rid of her. I love Sam, but really, this just all went on for far, far too long! Sam’s solution to the problem of unwanted sexual advances towards Gilly is to stick her in a whorehouse in Mole’s Town, where clearly no one believes she’s just there to clean and cook. Nice going, Sam!

Elsewhere in the North, a peaceful village is attacked by Ygritte, Tormund, and the cannibal Thenns, who have decided that they need to earn their “wildling” title. The Magnar of Thenn tells one little boy that he should go to Castle Black and report on the attack that took his parents’ lives before settling into a feast of stringy villager. I really hate that guy! Alliser Thorne, who seems to be the de facto Lord Commander, figures out that this is a ruse by the Wildlings to get the Night’s Watch to split up and try to defend these villages, and he and Maester Aemon remind everyone the Night's Watch has one job: protecting the Wall. (Protecting the villages is kind of the job of the lords of the lands, in this case, probably the Starks, so thanks for taking them out of the equation, Theon Greyjoy, Roose Bolton and Walder Frey!)

Not long afterwards, Grenn and Dolorous Edd finally make it back from Craster’s to report on the mutineers’ activities there. Jon Snow points out that the only thing keeping Mance from attacking immediately is that he lied and said there were 1000 men at Castle Black. The mutineers will immediately disclose this lie to Mance, and therefore need to be dealt with. I sense an expedition to deal with them. I wonder who will lead it and if he has black curly hair. Hmmm!

On Dragonstone, Stannis is still sitting around looking forlorn. Although he’s excited that the leech magic worked on Robb and Joffrey (look out, Balon Greyjoy!) he’s also miffed that he can’t take advantage of the chaos in King’s Landing to take the Iron Throne. Davos tries to wow Stannis with all the houses he’s won to Stannis’s causes, but that only makes Stannis gloomier (but also hilariously sarcastic.) He huffs that he doesn’t have enough of an army to crash a party, let alone take the Iron Throne and that Davos’s suggestion of hiring sellswords won’t work because the key part of “sellsword” is “sell” and Stannis has no money to buy.

Shireen in Game of Thrones Season 4 episode 3Davos goes off for another reading lesson with Shireen (can I just say again how much I love Shireen on the show? She’s kind of a non-entity to me in the books, but Kerry Ingram is just delightful onscreen!) Shireen is a harsh taskmistress, who gives Davos a long book about the adventures of some dude from Braavos, and *LIGHTBULB!* Davos proves why he’s a valuable Hand for Stannis by having Shireen write a letter to the Iron Bank of Braavos purportedly from her father. I think I’m officially on Team Davos and Shireen at this point. (I like Stannis, but the whole “burning people alive because your sorceress/shadowbaby mama told you to” thing is a barrier to my support for his kingship.)

Meanwhile, the One True Queen of Westeros (or at least the one who has the dragons) has finally reached Meereen, which looks like the biggest and most powerful of the slave cities we’ve seen so far. The city sends out a champion to challenge Dany’s champion, and he gets all insulting about Dany’s army of eunuchs and pees in her general direction to show his manhood is unaffected. Wouldn’t it actually be more effective to maybe put poison on that long lance of his and try and scratch Dany with it or something? (The Tyrells can always start up a consulting firm on how to get away with murder!) I guess the Meereenese never got a chance to talk to Kraznys from Astapor about the efficacy of insulting Dany (probably because her dragon burnt Kraznys to a Krisp) and they think their champion is absolutely hilarious.

Grey Worm, Barristan and Jorah all beg Dany for the honor of killing Meereen’s champion, but she tells them all they’re too valuable to her. Which leaves Daario, who is totally cool, collected and handsome! (I really like Nu!Daario) He takes down the Meereenese champion and then Dany addresses a speech to the slaves of Meereen, promising them that she is not their enemy but only the enemy of their masters. To show that she means what she says, she has her army fire catapults with wooden barrels over the city walls. As they break open, I wonder if Dany’s invented the concept of shrapnel, but in fact, the barrels are full of the slave collars from the former slaves of Yunkai and Astapor. One of the Meereenese slaves picks up a broken collar and looks at it with wonder in his eyes. Hmm, I think Dany might just have gotten herself another city.

Next week on Game of Thrones, your recapper hopes there will be 100% less rape and 100% more awesome Dany moments. Or Jon moments. Or Arya moments. Or really, ANYONE’S moments so long as they don’t involve ... y’know ...


Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
I totally agree the Sam/Gilly stuff was a snoozefest, with him not saying what he wants to, and her being blunt without really saying anything.

And that scene--I had a long conversation (as you do!) with people who thought the scene in the book started out nonconsensual, then the moment become consensual, despite it being where it was and all that. And I said I didn't think Jaime would ever hurt his sister, not like that, not when he is so in love with her--even though she is hateful, as he says. But then I was wondering if this was his last act of self-loathing, having nonconsensual sex with his previously consenting sister, so he can effectively break up with her. I might be reaching, though. But despite everything Jaime has done, and has no shame over, I found it inconsistent to think he would rape Cersei.
2. CindyS
I agree with you both on the Cersei and Jamie scene - I was definitely thrown for a loop and I'm hoping it's more like Megan has said. I wonder if Jamie will now loathe everything about his life after this - and then I have to remember everything Jamie went through just trying to get back to Cersei and how she's not accepted his return the way he wanted. And I'm not sure how things have changed for Cersei when it comes to Jamie but then the show hasn't had them together before. And can we just say the actress nailed her abhorrence of Jamie after she kissed him and then recoiled from him.

I'm glad you explained what happened in the book because I did think Jamie acted way out of character - he saved Brienne from rape despite the fact that she was more than willing to fight for her life. But then I haven't recognized Jamie since the opening of this season.

Sam and Gilly can fall off a cliff - but then I feel the same way about the brother in the North - have no clue what he's doing.

And the one time Sansa actually tries to save herself she falls into the fire. Should have known.

Next episode can be all Tyrion with some Dany and hey, I would like to see the 'almost' Queen try to strut her stuff.
Marie Sullivan
3. minime2
GRRM responded on his blog to the
numerous emails and comments he has gotten over "Breaker of Chains"
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.
Alisa Kwitney
4. AlisaKwitney
I think the writers screwed up with Jaime, just as Spike's writer screwed up when they had him nearly rape Buffy. It felt inconsistent with the character's arc. The GOT writers seem to feel that this scene was ultimately consensual. A big blaring no to that. There's a similar scene in A History of Violence, but at a critical moment the guy backs off and his lover takes the initiative.
Megan Frampton
5. MFrampton
Thanks for posting GRRM's response, @minime2; I feel as though he didn't really say anything about the scene one way or the other. I have read some of the showrunners' comments, and they don't seem to think it was RAPE rape. Like @AlisaKwitney, I feel as though the action was inconsistent with Jaime's character. If he had run Cersei through with his sword (using his left hand!), I might have bought that, but for him to force himself on her when their shared forbidden love has been the only thing he lives for--well, that didn't work for me. I am going to have a hard time rooting for inconsistent TV Jaime, where I feel as though before this the show was doing a good job of turning him around (as he turns in the books).
Pamela Webb-Elliott
6. Spaz
I believe it's been said before, but I find the writers' comments about the rape scene WAY more disturbing than the actual scene.
There are 0 redeemable characters in Game of Thrones, I get it, but I just am having a hard time reconciling the fact that they changed Cersei/Jaime scene to make it WORSE. GMM is very diplomatic in his response. I'm giving a side eye to the show writers for it. >;{
7. stacymd2
@Regina: Thanks for the great recap.

Wow. I don't know what to say about this episode. Reading the commentary about the rape scene has been interesting. I know the show has been trying to redeem Jamie, but Jamie is an awful person.. Game of Thrones began with him tossing a child out of a window.

Does anyone else think Jamie/Cersei may not have begun as a fully consentual relationship?
Regina Thorne
8. reginathorn
Jamie is an awful person.. Game of Thrones began with him tossing a child out of a window.

While this is true, and I'm not excusing him in the least for being a child-murderer, that doesn't mean he's automatically guilty of every other vile crime possible, including rape. In fact, in the books, one of his few redeeming features is that, unlike almost every nobleman save for Sam Tarly, he's quite empathetic to rape victims. (And he's not the only child-murderer-who-is-kind-of-on-a-redemption-path-sorta on the show, after all - Sandor Clegane murdered Arya's little friend Mycah and is now squiring Arya all over the Riverlands. So there's that!)

Does anyone else think Jamie/Cersei may not have begun as a fully consentual relationship?

Well, perhaps that is an impression fostered by the show, but from Cersei's AND Jaime's POV in the books, it was always completely consensual and began at a very young age. This is why (at least in the books) Cersei made sure that all her children were fathered by Jaime; she hated Robert, she loved Jaime.
9. Bell
Wow. I am surprised the show would decide to take Jamie's character in this direction and disappointed. I haven't seen it but as you describe it I'm not sure how the writers could see it as anything else. Book Jamie is one of my favorite characters. I'm still impressed with how GRRM could take me on such a journey from hate to caring and rooting for this character.
10. Lizzie R
It's not the first time that they've used sex/rape differently than in the book. I remember that Khal Drogo and Daenerys' first time was also vastly different than in the book. The end of the first episode of GOT was Khal Drogo leading Dany away from the wedding, forcing her down on all fours and forcing himself on her while she cries. In the book (read over 2 years ago) I remember that scene being very loving and sweet with Dany a consenting (and much younger) participant.

On another topic can I just say that after the first book Dany's scenes in the rest of the series became a total snoozefest for me - I just seem to remember her wandering around the desert for the next 4 or 5 books trying to raise an army and boring me to death. In that aspect the series has made her a much more active character and she totally kicks ass. The most unforgettable scenes tend to be the ones where Dany ends the episode - there was the Dracarys episode last season and then this totally fabulous scene last night. I was thinking well those boxes don't even break walls, she's not going to get a lot of respect like that, and then when I realised they were slave collars and the look of wonder when the slave realises that - just awesome so well done writers on that score.
Darlene Marshall
11. DarleneMarshall
The use of rape as a plot device really, really bothers me and I was angered at how the TV writers used this last night. It's a cheap trick, akin to the gratuitous bare-breasted ladies scenes inserted for effect, and it disappoints me. Part of what makes Jaime such a great character in the books is that while on one hand you loathe him, on the other you know that he has his own peculiar code of honor, and abhorring sexual violence towards women is part of it.

I'm trying not to do the book/movie contrasting thing with GoT, but it's getting harder to avoid it.
12. mijsmith1981
to watch it simple google ACCESSTV INFO
13. Tea
Okay late to the party but...

That Jaime/Cersei scene really pissed me off; Book Jaime was probably one of my favourite characters, and I was really pleased with the way the show seemed to be turning him around, because as one of the show's most morally grey characters, he was one of the most interesting. And the fact that he continues to do what's right even after this really annoys me; if the directors were going to turn him into a rapist then don't then go and make him bust Tyrion out of jail.

The timing also really messed it up; as well as the scene in general being consensual in the book (though still epically messed up), it was when Jaime had only just returned back to King's Landing, and neither of the siblings had had an opportunity to talk, and having been separated for at least a year just wanted to be together. Their relationship sours after that, but that's because they then get a chance to actually talk. In the show they've been quarrelling for weeks, which just makes the scene even more disturbing.

In my opinion, the directors really botched this scene, and the Jaime/Cersei scenes afterwards, where there is no mention of this and no aftermath whatsoever. I also think their appalling comments when confronted about it were because they realised they messed it up and just wanted everyone to forget about. I'm royally pissed off, because as one of my absolutely favourite characters from the books, I still really want to root for Jaime, but this scene has just ruined this for me.

The omission of Lady Stoneheart seems to suggest that this is just the beginning in a drastic (and frankly awful) altering of Jaime's storyline; he won't be able to go the Riverlands with Brienne now, and I have an awful feeling that they're just going to kill him off. Which is sad, because if this scene hadn't happened, or been consensual, I'd continue to root for him. I'm also concerned that this means he doesn't actually play an all that important plot in the upcoming books!
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