George R.R. Martin Distances Himself From Game of Thrones Rape Scene

Last night's episode of Game of Thrones was marked by a rape scene that broke away from George R.R. Martin's books and called into question the judgement of the show's handlers. Earlier today on his website, Martin drew clear divisions between his writing of the scene and how it played out on television.

Martin responded to questions about the scene in a comment on his LiveJournal, nothing that the scene—in which Jamie Lannister rapes his sister Cersei while the corpse of their incest-bred son Joffrey lays on a table next to them—plays out differently in the books and under different circumstances. This is his full explanation:

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.

The "butterfly effect" is presumably in reference to the idea that one small change in the story necessitates later changes, reverberating for the entirety of the television show. Martin is sympathetic to the creative plight of Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are tasked with translating sprawling fantasy novels into popcorn television, but he essentially lets them live or die on their own decision with regard to this episode's rape scene, making it clear that he was does not recall being consulted (as he sometimes is) on the alteration.

His final statement, in which he apologizes for a decision that he did not make, is admirable even. The scene as he wrote it—a brother and sister having public reunion sex beneath the corpse of their son—is disturbing, and would have been sufficiently so on the show. But the so-called "wrong reasons" fall in the lap of Benioff and Weiss, who—in a decision that has yet to be explained—transformed that scene into a rape.

Martin has said his piece, and at some point Benioff and Weiss will have to as well.

[via Winter is Coming]