I am literally sick of thinking about that scene but I have so many issues and I need to get them down so here we go.
To be honest, I was writing this meta in my head before I even watched the episode, because I’d been told by friends what to expect. I was ready to write about how it destroys Jaime as an individual, how it destroys his relationship with Cersei, how the ripples of it fan out and destroy his relationship with Brienne, no matter whether you see that relationship as romantic or not, but seeing the aftermath of this on Tumblr has given me fresh rage, and fresh things to say.
I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the fandom reaction to Jaime’s character assassination with things like “but why are you upset about him, it shouldn’t be about the perpetrator” and I totally get where that’s coming from but the thing is, Jaime Lannister being anti-rape is so important.
The majority of Westeros (excepting Dorne, mostly) is hideously misogynistic and patriarchal. We love GRRM because his female characters speak out against this injustice in so many ways: Brienne through her strength, Sansa through her softness, even Cersei in the way Martin highlights the internalised misogyny that makes her such a despicable character in the eyes of many readers. Jaime is one of very few men in Westeros who is actively anti-rape. We see this more than once in his narrative: he is the only member of the Kingsguard who speaks up against Aerys raping Rhaella, he is ready to kill Brienne himself but not ready to allow the Bloody Mummers to rape her, he executes his own men for raping Pia and tells Peck to only have sex with her “if she’ll have you”. This is a man who pushed a child out of a window; he’s done some pretty horrific things in his life, and even he despises rapists. Yet in the show, this is all disregarded as he forces the woman he is meant to love more than anyone to the floor of the sept.
In the UK, 1 in 5 women experience sexual violence. That’s a hell of a lot. I am not one of them, but one of the reasons Jaime is so important to me as a character is because of his stance on sexual violence and rape. Now, I’m seeing people whom I like and respect, and who also adore Jaime’s character, being triggered by his actions on screen. And why? For apparently no reason. For “shock value”? Because apparently twins having sex in a religious building in front of the corpse of their dead son isn’t shocking enough.
And Jaime’s story from this point on is overwhelmingly positive: he’s doing heroic deeds, sending Brienne to save Sansa Stark, rescuing Tyrion, punching arseholes in the face, hanging rapists, ending the siege of Riverrun without bloodshed, generally being a stand-up guy. But tell me, how in the hell are we supposed to root for him after this? The only feasible answer is that Benioff and Weiss don’t see show!Jaime’s actions in the sept as the hideous crime they are. (And this meta perfectly illustrates the fact).
With this scene, Benioff and Weiss are telling us that Cersei somehow deserved this (as she is, after all, a “hateful woman”), and that Jaime raping her, committing the act that he so abhors in GRRM’s canon, is somehow justifiable. They’re telling us he can still move past this. They’re loudly endorsing the Jaime/Brienne relationship despite the fact that Jaime is now little better than the men who dragged Brienne screaming into the darkness.
And it’s just disgusting to be honest. That people are having to watch Jaime Lannister on screen being portrayed as a tortured hero after this, that people watching this show are being told that rapists can be heroes too, that if someone is not the right kind of woman, their rape can be disregarded, can be overlooked. That a character who acts against such crimes multiple times in his narrative is made to become the very thing he hates, and is treated no differently because of it.
Yes, it’s about Jaime Lannister’s character assassination, but it’s also about the effect that assassination will have on real people.