“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Four, Episode Four: “Oathkeeper”

In light of last week’s most controversial scene – and arguably the most divisive one in the show’s history – it’s best to start with the Lannister siblings as they make their way through the post-Joffrey world. Whether you thought it was a bracing exploration of this world’s systemic misogyny or a thoughtless contribution to our own, Jaime‘s rape of Cersei (because that’s what it was, the crew’s series of confounding and contradictory statements to the contrary) was the elephant in the room. True to the proverb, no one addresses it directly. Could Cersei’s ever-increasing consumption of booze, her anger at Jaime, and her treatment of him like an employee rather than a brother/lover be an acknowledgement of the horror of what happened? What about Jaime’s try-too-hard jokey demeanor with his imprisoned brother Tyrion, his grand gestures of support for Brienne in her attempt to safeguard Sansa Stark, the frequent pained looks on his face that appear to acknowledge he’s never met an oath he couldn’t break?

Sure, you could read this as the show recognizing the truth of what occurred. Perhaps that’s fairest, considering that in the show’s culture, rape in the context of an existing romantic relationship is not even recognized as such when it takes place. Or you could maintain that to look at it this way would be to do the show’s own heavy lifting for it. You could argue that what we see here proceeds under the wild assumption either that what we saw last week was consensual — or that it wasn’t, but that it’s ultimately “no big deal,” given the history of the people involved. Certainly it’s hard to rally once again for the Brienne/Jaime love that can never be, or the Jaime/Tyrion bromance, after last week. It’s not going to settle any arguments, that’s for sure, and that’s before we get to the rape camp at the edge of the world.

I reviewed tonight’s frequently horrific, tonally all-over-the-map episode of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

2 Responses to “Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Four, Episode Four: “Oathkeeper”

  1. zack soto says:

    Holy shit, the commenters at that site are insane. You wrote a positive review of this episode and they’re just pissed that you mentioned the rape from the last ep.

    • Apparently huge numbers of people can’t process the concept of a mixed review. Any conceivable variety of flack for liking the show too much or too little, talking about its use of sexual violence too much or too little, being too supportive of the change or not supportive enough, I’ve gotten over the past two weeks. The idea that a work of art addressing complex issues might succeed partially AND fail partially, or that discussion of that work might be better off without a pass/fail rubric, is completely alien and elicits outright fury.