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This article features lots of Season 4 spoilers. If you haven’t watched yet, what’s stopping you? Season 5 is coming!
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, by now you’ve probably heard about the controversy related to the Season 4 scene that has been decried as rape by some critics. If you haven’t heard about the controversy, you’ve probably at least seen the scene already, which follows Jaime Lannister as he seemingly forces his sister and lover, Cersei Lannister, to have sex with him. This week, however, both Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who play Jaime and Cersei on the HBO drama, have spoken out to say that rape was not the intention of the scene.
Headey was the most clear about the scene in a recent interview, noting that it was “never meant” to be about a rape. She goes on to tell EW exactly what the Season 4 scene was intended to convey:
We’ve all experienced grief. There’s a moment of wanting to fill a void, and that is often very visceral, physical. That, for me, is where she was at. There was an emotional block, and [her brother] was just a bit of a drug for her.
She’s not the only person defending the scene. Coster-Waldau, with a little prodding, also gets to the point that Game of Thrones was not attempting to throw rape on top of incest during one of the show’s most pivotal moments, although he recognizes that some audience members did see the scene in that manner.
Most people I spoke to got from the scene what we were trying to show—a very complicated relationship, and two people in desperate need for each other. All these emotions going through them, it was never intended to be something where he forced—it wasn’t a rape, and it was never intended to be. But it’s one of those things where you can’t say ‘it wasn’t rape,’ because then everybody goes, ‘How can you say it wasn’t rape?!’ But that was definitely not the intention.
Director Alex Graves has also spoken out to say the scene wasn't filmed as if it was supposed to be a rape.
The scene in question is set after the death of Joffrey Baratheon, who is actually the illicit lovechild of Cersei and her brother, Jaime. After Joffrey’s death, Cersei is grieving and Jaime wants to take her beside their dead child. At one point, Cersei says “stop,” but Jaime pushes for sex until they lie entangled on the floor. Many people were upset by the scene when it initially aired, especially since the behavior seems to go against the more honorable changes we saw in Jaime following his journey with Brienne on the show.
Luckily, Season 5 should be taking Jaime in an entirely new direction. Game of Thrones has already revealed that Jaime’s journey will be changing in the series, but we’ll have to wait and see how the storyline pans out.
You can catch new episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones starting on April 12 at 9 p.m. ET. Or, catch the series on HBO Now.