Game of Thrones and the Butterfly Effect

by Jade Hanley

A Hollywood adaptation of any series has never been able to maintain the same structure as the original completely. That stayed true for the third installment of Game of Thrones, “Breaker of Chains.”

(Warning, SPOILERS for the third episode, “Breaker of Chains” follow)

What was once just love and incest developed into what looked like a rape scene next to a dead body. Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, is seen at her son’s side, the recent late King Joffrey, mourning his death. It is then that her brother Jaime Lannister, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, comes in and excuses the septons out of the room. This is where the crucial change from book to television series happens.

In the book, they exchange kisses. Cersei’s are tender, described as kisses of love, while Jaime’s are described as lustful. “I am not whole without you,” Cersei says. The scene quickly gets intimate next to the body of their son, but nonetheless, it seemed consensual.

The HBO series took a different spin on Apr. 20th when it quickly developed into alleged rape. During the scene, instead of returning the love, Cersei tries pushing Jaime off of herself, repeatedly telling him not to. The scene ends with Cersei saying, “It’s not right, it’s not right,” and Jaime replying, “I don’t care. I don’t care.”

Readers were appalled by this drastic change. The director of the episode, Alex Graves, said that, “It’s a very, very complicated scene… [Jaime] and Cersei are a unit, they’re in love…everything comes out of that bond.”

Was it rape? When reading the book closer, it might have not been consensual there either. It clearly says in the book that Jaime cannot hear Cersei initially denying his advances on her, and she eventually says yes. As Graves describes from the episode version, “it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”

From either interpretation, it is clear that there are definite differences from the book to the series. The author himself, George R.R. Martin, commented on the fiasco. “I think the ‘butterfly effect’ that I have spoken of so often was at work here.” Martin speaks of how Jaime has been away in the books, and comes back to find Cersei here, while in the series, Jaime has been back for a while and is often arguing with her. This alone is a key component affecting the way the two interact with each other.

The butterfly effect is a chaos theory which says that when something small is changed, it can result in drastic differences later on. The change in the Altar scene, from consensual to possible rape, might do just that. Graves says, “Jaime has come home and is trying to convince himself that things are the same…so it’s a last act of clinging to what’s been home for him, because it will never be the same. It’s also setting up something that happens in the finale.”

Whether if it was rape or not, Martin says, “the scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”