Cast of Thrones Season 4 Episode 3: Breaker of Chains

By Nick Bristow on

About Nick Bristow

Founder and co-host of Cast of Thrones. Say hello on twitter. @rbristow

 

Game-of-Thrones-S4E3-Arya

Hello there, Winterfellas, it’s time to discuss Season 4, Episode 3, “Breaker of Chains”! The format of this week’s episode will be a little different to accommodate an in-depth discussion of the controversial scene that nearly broke the internet (and also Jennifer’s fingers from extreme tweet-yelling). After this very serious discussion, we get right back to our usual antics, i.e. talking about butts and prosthetic genitalia. As always, we include a spoiler section at the end after the music, so stick around if you want to hear a crackpot theory from our very own Michael DiMauro!

Like the show and want to support us? Consider making a one-time or recurring donation by going here: http://www.geeklyinc.com/donate The coHosts- Nick Bristow, Michael ‘Thrifty Nerd’ DiMauro, Tim Lanning, Jennifer Cheek Subscribe and Rate on iTunes or Subscribe directly to the Feed Like us on Facebook

28 comments

  1. Hey gang,
    I listened to the podcast for episode “Breaker of Chains”, and I have to say I’m still a little baffled as to why everyone is so upset. Is it because “that scene” was a rape scene, or because the scene was handled so differently than the book, or because we have a new reason to hate Jamie again, or a combination of all three? Everyone should have come to accept that HBO will do what HBO does with female sexuality (as per the Martell scene), and everyone basically agrees that Westeros has issues with male domination, pedophelia, etc., and everyone should have realized by now that “if you think this has a happy ending etc…” Is it really insensitive to tell someone that if they are especially disturbed by the sexual situations presented in GoT due to personal experience or otherwise to just avoid the books and the show? I would argue that readers certainly shouldn’t be any more appalled by the tv version of the events than by the book version, and if the book was too offensive, you should know better than to watch. Just my two cents…

    • If you haven’t already, you all should check out the Rolling Stone interview that GRRM did recently. I have posted the link below, and while it doesn’t touch on “that scene” specifically, it does deal with redemption and good deeds balancing out bad deeds and vice versa. I think it may shed some light on what the show is trying to convey in regards to what makes a person good or bad in the eyes of the consumer.

      http://m.rollingstone.com/movies/news/george-r-r-martin-the-rolling-stone-interview-20140423

    • I thought that whole scene should have been Cersei-centric. It was a moment in which all of the men who she loved and admired the most abandon or betray her. It should have been a pivotal moment, and how she responded to it (in that moment and in subsequent episodes), would define her character for the rest of the series. And yet, Cersei came across as a peripheral character. Because they handled the scene so poorly, and Cersei’s presence in the scene seemed incidental, it felt like they used rape as a gimmick, which is not okay.

  2. You people need to get over yourselves, the serious opening, skipping right to talking about “that scene”,over analyzing every detail, assigning blame.

    Yeah, horrible scene, put in there for shock value, still not as bad as a pregnant woman being stabbed three time in the stomach. Don’t remember you being up in arms about that. Collectively unbuch your panties. Maybe like the spoiler section you can spend the first 25 minutes of every episode on your soap boxes and people can skip ahead to when you start talking about the show.

    • Thank you for your opinion? We have received more positive comments on our choice than negative, so I think we will not be changing the format. Your implication that our anger at the scene makes us women shows that you don’t really deserve a fully thought out response. Thank you for listening though, and I do appreciate receiving feedback.

    • @BAZ: This is *their* podcast and the podcasters are entitled to discuss whatever and however they wish. If you disagree with their choices, then its simple: stop listening to the podcast. The podcasters are entitled to react however they wish as this is THEIR forum to discuss GOT/ASOIAF. We just happen to be able to listen in.

  3. I thought the opening was phenomenal. I did not read the books but enjoy the show immensely and really enjoy all of you that have read the books and the contrast you can provide.

    While I don’t think its unfair for the above comment to say “murder is worse than rape, yo” that completely misses the point. Murderers are constantly written off as either “insane” (i.e. not evil, but uncontrollably crazy) or “justified” (you killed my father, prepare to die). The Red Wedding shows signs of both (Rob wronged the Frays; political motivations; Walter Fray being old and insane). Rape, or rapists, tend not be labeled that way, they are labeled as evil. Rightfully so of course. But saying “murder is worse than rape” misses this important point – that we can understand murder (even if we hate it and want it punished) and we simply cannot understand or explain someone doing what Jaime did to the woman he loved (as crazy as that is).

    TLDR; the opening of the show was justified and you guys nailed it. Satisfied my horror after watching it and having no one to talk to about it.

  4. while you were reading the scene out loud I feel you glossed over or unemphisized the (No’s and not here’s). I also would point out that It was Rape in the book and you are justifying the book rape because she ended up enjoying it in the end. that is a classic rape fantasy, to have the woman enjoy it in the end. I feel showing her enjoy it in the end would have brought out a bigger outrage from feminists.

    • Hi, Leland, I’m sorry if it seemed like I was glossing over Cersei’s protests in my reading. That was not at all my intention. I was mostly just trying my best to read a very uncomfortable scene with an even voice. I 100% agree that the scene in the book also plays into the rape fantasy, “no means yes” trope (as do a few other scenes throughout ASoIaF). I do wonder what the character of Cersei thinks about the event…of course, this is all difficult to really parse because at the end of the day, Cersei is a fictional character who was created by a man. I do not want to justify rape, ever. A lot of what you were hearing me say in the podcast was me thinking out loud, trying to come to terms with the fact that maybe a character I really liked wasn’t so good after all. I am still trying to decide what I think about the whole thing, but I will say that thoughtful feminists who I respect interpret the book scene in different ways. Thank you for taking the time to comment. What our listeners think is important to us!

  5. Hey! Longtime listener, first time feedback-er. Very sorry for the loss that delayed the podcast; selfishly happy it didn’t delay you too long.

    After watching the Scene In Question a few times, I think it’s just a matter of some uncharacteristically poor directing and editing. Cersei’s arms are clasping Jaime to her in the last few shots, I think, even as she continues to protest verbally. A few more seconds of that or some such gesture on Cersei’s part might’ve made it as clear as Graves wanted it to be.

    I haven’t yet had a chance to listen to the entire discussion; I’ll probably write again once I have. Keep up the funny and stimulating work!

  6. I was listening to your Podcast, more specifically. the Cersei / Jamie rape scene. Were you complaining about the rape in general or the fact that its not in the book the way it is.

    I personally don’t get it. It’s just… you are complaining about a rape scene. With all the other things that happens in this show, the death scenes, the brothel scenes, dead children (or slaves) on spikes, the killing of bastard children, etc… it personally annoys me that people are complaining about that scene. I did see it as a rape, but in the end, I thought Cersei enjoyed it a little. What bothered me the most is that they did it in front of a dead person. I can live with it though.

    Hopefully I can clarify myself more if we have a discussion about this.

    Thanks.

    Anyone have any other thoughts?

  7. Hellooo. I’ve only read through the book once and I forget what I thought of that scene in the books, so just based on show Cersei/Jaime sept scene:
    What I saw was Cersei protesting and Jaime forcing himself on her, begin to rape her, end of scene. Ok, some people are saying that she consented at the end (I didn’t see it that way but whatever). Whatever your interpretation of Cersei’s feelings/actions, there is no question as to what Jaime was doing. His actions were clear. His INTENT was to rape her, that makes him a rapist (Ughhh! why???!). Also, what he said was very clear “I don’t care”…I’m very upset and sad, because I can’t really have good feels for Jaime of the show now. He’ll always have raped her and it will always be awful.

  8. I really think you guys hold the books in too high esteem. The show and the books are distinct creations, and shouldn’t be judged against each other. The show has deviated in enough places, to varying degrees of success, that there really isn’t any reason to take continued loyalty to the source as a given. Tim mentioned how embarrassed he feels about Jaime being a rapist in the face of his recommendations, but the show doesn’t owe him or any viewer anything beyond sustained quality.

    Now, is this scene and character direction of a poor quality? I don’t think there’s any way a person could say at this point. If Jaime’s actions aren’t commented on in the future, that’s a problem, but it’s way too soon to judge. D&D may be much less enamored with Jaime than the rest of the fan-dom. A lot of the Golden Age dramas of the last 15 years have posited that personal change is extremely difficult, if not impossible. It’s simplistic to think that Jaime would so completely change this quickly. Whatever self-knowledge he gained over the last three seasons has to be measured against his previous life, a life dominated in turn by trauma under the Mad King, and pomposity, self-loathing, and entitlement after. I just don’t see these actions as out of that kind of character.

    I’m not really interested in what Alex Graves has to say, beyond the fact that he’s made this conversation gross in encouraging people to discern what is and isn’t rape. TV directors are hired hands, and the response of showrunners D&D are much more important, followed by GRRM, then the actors, then the director. Benioff has said the scene is clearly rape, and since he’s one of the two men in charge, it’s likely this is going to come up again. That said, though, I do wish a female actor or crew member would comment, instead of male writers, actors, directors. This does seem an odd discrepancy.

    Lastly, Jennifer mentioned the rape scene acting as a possible trigger, but I’m wary of putting any limits on expression. What does any creation owe to its viewers, in the terms of what it should and shouldn’t portray? If a work of art has a reason to depict something, is that expression more valuable than the possibility/likelihood it might traumatize a viewer? What about the people who haven’t had that experience? Isn’t that how empathy for foreign experiences is learned?

    The opening discussion was great and worthy, and this is something I’ve been thinking about all week. You guys are awesome, and so is your show. Thanks for all your great work!

  9. Hi,

    I just started listening this season and so far, it’s been great. Looking back over past comments, I want to support your talk and discussions versus recapping the episode. I’ve seen the episode, so I don’t look for absolute play-by-plays, but I enjoy hearing what others saw, felt, etc. I like when you point out things that people may have missed or discuss motivations, like “that scene” from this episode. Talk it out!

    I also wanted to say that I watch HBO’s youtube videos with actor and producer commentary and Kristian Nairn said he wore a prosthetic, just to settle that question.

  10. The rape scene was abhorrent. We can talk day and night about how rape is used in the books as a weapon of terror and how the writers are using it as a way to show the viewers that the world is still grey no matter how much they try to white wash it…but at the end of the day this is a television show produced for entertainment….and rape is in no way entertaining.

  11. I don’t know if this is appropriate; apologies if not. There’s a poster on WinterIsComing whose analyses are nothing short of brilliant, and I can’t put my feelings about this scene and what it means to/for the characters any better than he has.

    “I’m not sure why there’s a debate as to whether or not Jaime’s act constitutes rape in either the novel or the adaptation. It’s rape. Let’s establish that and move on.
    For those who resist the characterization: The director of the episode called it rape. Most audience members intuitively understand it as a kind of rape. Cersei doesn’t consent, and what consent she does offer in the novels comes after a non-consensual sexual assault has already begun, and is exposed through Jaime’s decidedly biased perspective. In both cases, Jaime forces himself on Cersei’s body. In the show, Jaime thrusts as if penetrating, and in a fashion not dissimilar from the sex scene in the tower at Winterfell. Hopefully audience members aren’t seriously expecting explicit depictions of penetrative sex before they’re convinced that penetrative sex is happening, because that’s unlikely despite what’s so commonly said about HBO’s sexual depiction policies. Any reasonable assessment of the information leads to the conclusion that it was an act of forceful, penetrative rape.
    So the more interesting question becomes: why did Jaime rape Cersei, and what does the rape say about their respective characters? While all rape is morally wrong, there are different kinds of rape, and different contexts in which rape occurs. Different rapes have different meanings which can be explored while still acknowledging the moral weight of rape, and fiction is a useful place to explore these meanings.
    Westeros isn’t modern, and it lacks a modern sensibility. We’ve seen rape after rape in the show. Physically gentle rapes and physically forceful rapes. Rapes via implied manipulation or threat, marital rapes, and more. There is no widespread, enlightened perspective on display outside of the show’s more sensitive and brainy characters (examples: Sam or Tyrion–but even he will pay for the services of professionals).
    Jaime, if anything, is a somewhat independent figure in the context of Westeros, and while his personal values might extend to saving Brienne – someone he feels doesn’t deserve to have anything as foul as rape at the hands of Locke’s men befall her – they do not necessarily prohibit him from raping Cersei at the Sept. He clearly would define the act as something other than rape. Why?
    Jaime and Cersei have a long, deranged relationship characterized by perpetual transgressiveness, manipulation, and secrecy. Cersei has manipulated or enticed Jaime for years. For his part, Jaime has fought wildly to retain his position at Cersei’s side, making huge personal sacrifices to achieve proximity to her (even when she’d rather he not). They’re locked in a perpetual struggle. Their sex has previously been portrayed as aggressive and physically consuming, which seems to be par for the course, as far as they’re concerned. And do we remember Jaime’s words? “And if he does, I’ll kill him, Ned Stark, the king, the whole bloody lot of them until you and I are the only people left in this world.” How about this one: “I murdered people so I could be here with you!”
    Jaime does love Cersei, but he views this love as something he’s condemned to suffer – a kind of cosmic fate doled out by reckless gods, or a part he’s bound to play. It’s something he views as outside his control, like a disease, or a curse. We find him having suffered greatly in an attempt to return to his love. He was kept chained, in rags, after fighting his father’s war. He murdered one of his own cousins in an attempt to escape. He has been beaten and tortured. He’s now short one hand, and an important hand at that. And what does he find waiting for him when he finally returns to his love? Her coldness. She rejects him. Perhaps some part of Cersei, so clearly hateful of her lot as a woman, always viewed Jaime as her male expression — a kind of avatar for the powers wrongly denied her by her birth. And perhaps some part of her always resented Jaime for the fact that his biggest priority was her, and not the acquisition of power. Cersei truly believes that she’s the only Lannister sibling who has ever taken her father’s words seriously. Her love was always commingled with resentment. But now Jaime has been unmanned. And he’s late. He has failed her. She has no room for empathy or understanding: she defines him solely by how his absence affected her. She functionalizes him and reduces him. He is a tool — once a fine tool, but now something altogether broken. Yet…
    If only he can do this one thing: kill Tyrion. It’s as if she’s saying “Kill your brother, Jaime. Do this thing for me. Do another thing for me, and I will give myself to you.” He seeks to comfort her, and she pulls away, reminding him of his place.
    This is where Jaime loses it. He curses the gods for condemning him to love a “hateful woman”, and he “takes” (read: rapes) what he believes is his. This is a refusal to bow to her demands, and it’s a refusal to harm his brother. I don’t think the show made great pains to establish that Cersei “eventually consented”, but I don’t think it had to. It’s rape either way, with similar fallout either way, with similar baggage either way. I completely believe that show Cersei’s capable of “eventually consenting” as she does in the books, and that the psychological black pit of their union could finally be lit by a dim, sick, and sadly familiar light before it concludes, but it doesn’t matter to me that she does or doesn’t. I view the scene as psychologically intelligible despite this lack. It still speaks to who these characters are.
    An aside about this: in both the show and the novel, Cersei is clearly non-consenting at first. But the novels have a weird tendency to portray women as non-consenting before they succumb to countervailing emotions “in the moment”. Some might read this as a fixation or desire by the showrunners to turn everything into rape, but I view it as a more plausible and less romanticized depiction of these bad acts. I thought this was one of the real improvements to Dany’s arc in season one when compared with its original iteration in the novel: it made little sense for this young, frightened woman to eventually “consent” to Drogo in a weirdly “romantic” turn only to spend the next indefinite period of time complaining about bed sores while thinking up ways to kill herself. It read as if Martin was deliberately softening a deeply uncomfortable scene in effort to distance himself from the truth of the act he was penning. As such, I found the show’s handling of the same material – where Dany only learns to invest herself in Drogo as a way of making the most of her situation (and ultimately improving it), with love developing unexpectedly thereafter, to be more sensible and effective as an arc.
    The same kind of thinking applies here, with the caveat being that I don’t think the show is heightened or diminished for its choice to “make things more explicitly rapey”. It felt honest and ugly and effective.
    Some attention must be paid to concerns about “throwing away seasons of character development” or “annihilating Jaime’s character”. I couldn’t disagree more. People want Jaime to transform into the show’s leading white knight, but that isn’t going to happen. It’s understandable that they want that void to be filled, but defaulting to traditional redemption arcs in effort to understand Jaime means missing a lot.
    He does have a redemptive arc, but it’s an arc wherein he learns to value – confidently – his capacity to make decisions he wants to make, for himself, and for his reasons. What’s significant to Jaime about his confession to Brienne is not that we all learn the truth of what really happened through it, as if the scene was just some kind of expository device, but that Brienne accepts his choice and is willing to call him by his name thereafter. Jaime is ultimately validated by his relationship with Brienne–validated as a living, breathing, choosing person. He believes himself capable of goodness insofar as it is usually defined by how others receive and interpret our good acts. He might, even a little, believe in knighthood again.
    Cersei, on the other hand, repeatedly strips Jaime of his will. He’s anchored to her, and he’s sickened by his own emotions. He has never known another woman, he has never strayed from her side. Anchored.
    As twisted as the scene was, it was a way of signaling that those chains are broken, and cannot be reforged. Jaime, in a very ugly act in a very surreal location beside a bastard corpse representing a dead or dying idea of love, makes his severance. Yes, he was the rapist. Yes, he should be judged for his choices. But in a miserable moment where Cersei was tearful, in a show rife with rape and death, I think I came away with a better sense of how both characters are crying.”

  12. I felt not only disgusted (i guess that’s intended) but also quite upset because of this scene, but i find it really hard to pin down why exactly.

    I don’t think the books are helpful in this discussion, because the narrator is pretty close to the POV character, so everything we read is highly subjective. It’s like our only witness in court is the offender.

    I do think the scene looks 100% like rape and there is no reason to deny that. It is not necessarily wrong to show something like this in a show like game of thrones. It’s a grey and brutal world without a moral superior human as the good guy, and i think that is what we in general like about this show. It’s true that it could be a psychological trigger for somebody, but we know quite from the beginning that rape and violence are present in this series. (Are there no trigger warnings for something like sexual violence? If not, there should be..)

    Those kind of abuse relationships exists and are most likely more common in an even more patriarchal structured society. I don’t think anybody would say jamie and cersei are in any kind of healthy relationship with a healthy sex life.

    Yes, he is rapist and of course this does NOT legitimize any of jamie’s actions, but it is believable for his character. He wasn’t portrayed as a likable guy from the beginning and a season of good guy jamie is not redemption for attempted child murder. At least not in my understanding of morality. We might just victims of Jamie’s charm.

    Even though I think that it is kind of okay to have this scene in the series, I still feel upset (almost angry) about it. A possible reason struck me when I read the response of the director. He thinks he filmed a consensual sex scene? What the .. ?!?

    It might tie in with a more general problem. A lot of scenes with sex and/or nudity feel mostly very immature in their execution. Boobs are obviously mostly decoration, nudity is mostly sexualized and sex scene have a weird soft porn atmosphere. Most US cable shows tend to have this feeling to them. At least the ones I’ve watched, with an exception of maybe something like girls which seems to be a complete counterdraft to this concept.

    Although if feel its not wrong to show these things on television, but in combination with the harsh, gritty and brutal nature of the story it can get in very dangerous places, and GoT is not (always) mature enough to handle that. And that’s kind of sad..

    Still love the show though, just feel like I got a better understanding of what I’m watching.

    Greetings from Germany, thank you for your wonderful work and sorry for butchering your language.

  13. Hi. I love your podcast. More so than the show itself, actually. (And I confess I haven’t read the books.) I do have to say that, personally, I am in agreement with a previous commenter who said that while rape is abhorrent, so are many things regularly depicted on Game of Thrones. What makes HBO’s decision to depict a rape scene on a show meant to entertain worse than its decision to depict murder, infanticide, and torture?
    My personal feeling is that we live in a free society where entertainment is allowed to depict criminal acts/crude acts/depict morally depraved behavior — and that, over all, this is a good thing. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of having violence/rape/murder in my entertainment, but ratings suggest I am in the vast minority.
    I feel that a lot of the anti-rape movement has an underlying thesis that is false. That is, the underlying notion is that by depicting rape in the media, that we are somehow promoting it or saying it is OK. The notion goes that rape is glorified in the media which makes would-be rapists OK with the idea and encourages them/allows them to rape. While I don’t think that media glorifies rape in this manner, nor causes more of it, interestingly, again, I think this is the case for violence. That is to say. While violence is mostly cast in a bad light it is also many times glorified: in movies, in advertisements, on HBO shows based on books by George R R Martin, etc……so again, I ask, why is a rape scene more objectionable than half a season spent torturing a main cast character culminating in his gelding? Or the red wedding?

  14. You guys did a tremendous job this week. Thank you so much for your discussion. It was responsible, well-rounded, and absolutely necessary.

  15. I want to add my thoughts to those who’ve questioned the outrage about the rape scene. In this series we’ve seen an innocent five year old Bran thrown from a window in the opening show, countless graphic murders and executions since then, plenty of other rapes, and other horrors too numerous to mention. I can’t see why this particular rape merits any more moralizing than anything else we’ve seen in this fantasy world. Westeros, as what’s-her-name said recently, is hell. Interesting, is that it’s the hell we’d have without rule of law but rule of man. That’s worth thinking about. And yet in this hell, you all still want “no to mean no?” I think you’re inconsistent and confused in the application of your morality.

  16. I think the reaction to this scene says more about what you can do with PoV writing than anything else. There was certainly something wrong with it (mostly the director’s idea that “look she’s wrapping her legs around him so that’s not really rape!!”), and I can imagine that it’s kind of hard to get across the notion that someone is giving consent in a scene where the audience is already trying to look away because of how uncomfortable they are.
    Also, Cersei from the books really doesn’t want to do it “here”, in that specific place. Cersei in the show has been denying Jaime for a while now, while he was in King’s Landing. In that sense there is the added problem that you don’t know if she would have given consent somewhere else, while Cersei from the books certainly would have.
    So yeah, the show version is certainly rape and not okay. That being said, I can’t get behind the people who went all over the web saying that it ruined Jaime’s character. Jaime’s character says it all in the scene : Cersei is protesting, and “he never heard her”. The fact that Cersei gives consent in the end in the books doesn’t change Jaime’s intent, which was to get her no matter what. Of course Jaime isn’t going to think something like “hey, I’m a really evil person right now, I’m raping Cersei”. But it’s certainy made clear that he would have continued anyway, had he not gotten consent.

    I don’t think the reason Jaime’s character wasn’t ruined in the books is simply because people refused to see beyond his PoV. I simply think it’s because JarJar is right, when he says there’s no such thing as a good or evil character. There are simply good and evil acts, and all characters are capable of doing both. There is no such thing as a decision to be always evil or always good, or evil in the first book and then good in the third. It’s just a decision, then another, then another. Evil isn’t a state, it’s a choice.

  17. Seven Hells! Had to scroll through about 23 essays defending Jaime’s rape of Cersei. Just came down here to say y’all had a great spoiler section this episode!

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