The Difference Between Cersei's "No" & Jaime's "No” On Game Of Thrones

Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.
Few Game Of Thrones relationships are more controversial in Westeros than Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). First of all, they’re twins, so there’s that whole incest thing going on. But the pair have also committed attempted murder, mass murder, and vague regicide, all to protect their love. Despite all the times the Lannister twins have broken social (and legal) norms in favour of each other, the most polarising Cersei and Jaime scene doesn’t involve tossing a child from a window, wildfire, or possibly tampered wine. No, the most disturbing moment between the couple comes in season 4’s "Breaker Of Chains," when Jaime sexually assaults Cersei next to their son’s dead body as she screams, "Stop it!" Sunday night’s "The Queen’s Justice" gave us an echo of the 2014 "passionate encounter," as Coster-Waldau attempted to label it, when Cersei comes on to Jaime and the knight says, "No." Yet, the two moments couldn’t feel more different.
In "Breaker Of Chains," there’s an unnecessary level of violence added to the encounter, both in comparison to the book series Thrones is based on, and the plot of the episode itself. In George R. R. Martin’s novel A Storm Of Swords, which season 4 is mostly inspired by, Jaime and Cersei’s sex scene is just that, an actual sex scene. The couple’s eldest son, the sociopathic King Joffrey "Baratheon" (Jack Gleeson), dies when Jaime is still on his journey back home, so he’s not there is comfort his sister-lover during her greatest loss yet. He returns when Joffrey’s body is laying in Sept Of Baelor, as it does in "Chains," but Cersei immediately wants to be with her twin, despite the fact he has been maimed by the loss of his sword hand.
However, in the television adaptation of Thrones, Cersei spends every episode since Jaime’s return in season 3 finale "Mhysa" disgusted by her sibling’s physical trauma, and essentially avoids all physical contact with him. When Joffrey dies weeks after his father's return home, Jaime tries to use Cersei’s grief to put their relationship back on track, but she rebuffs him after a lengthy kiss. Instead of accepting Cersei’s decision to end any sexual activity at that time, he yells at her, "You’re a hateful woman. Why have the Gods made me love a hateful woman?"
After Jaime says what is likely his worst line of the series, the story becomes even more disturbing, character-wise. Up until this moment, Thrones season 3 was dedicated to rehabilitating the Kingslayer’s reputation through his adventure with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). It’s implied the guy who opened the series by throwing Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) out of a tower is now a new man after leaving King’s Landing and losing his hand. Yet, by "Chains" he’s grabbing Cersei by the head, pushing her up against their son’s corpse, ripping her dress skirts off, forcing himself on his twin, and repeatedly saying, "I don’t care." All the while, Cersei is crying, clawing at Jaime’s face, and screaming, "Stop it," "Not here," and "It’s not right!"
There are a number of reasons Cersei is rejecting Jaime’s advances, chief among them is she doesn’t want to have incestuous sex with her brother right next to their murdered son, for whom she’s in deep, deep mourning. Yes, Joffrey was a monster, but he was the queen’s favourite child nonetheless. If Jaime had put the moves on his sister in say, a private bedroom far from the sept, it’s possible a grief-stricken Cersei’s response would have been totally different. We can pretend Jaime raped his sister as a way to "help," her through her grief, but it’s clear he was actually punishing Cersei for constantly snubbing him and his one-handed self. You don’t yell, "I don’t care," and continue penetrating a woman while she is literally sobbing and shoving your face away otherwise.
The sex in "Queen’s Justice" has none of these underlying sinister problems. The scene begins with Jaime alone in Cersei’s bedroom, finally removing his heavy golden faux hand after a long day of carrying it around. When the queen bursts into the room, he immediately goes to reattach it, resigned to the fact Cersei will only be attracted to him if he has the fake accessory on. He doesn’t even question the need have it on in his sister’s presence, after remembering how thoroughly revolted she was by his stub. But, Cersei stops Jaime from donning the hand again, pushes it away, and starts kissing him anyway. Jaime murmurs, "No," — not because he’s not interested in sex, but because he believes a hookup with Cersei can only work if he pretends to be "whole” again. Cersei still keeps kissing him, but doesn't escalate the sexual situation until Jaime is enthusiastically into it.
By driving their intimacy like this, Cersei is trying to signal to Jaime that in this current world — where all their children are dead, their father is dead, and their little brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is serving their greatest enemy — she doesn’t care if he’s handless; she finally loves him no matter what. The royal proves that by dropping to her knees to give Jaime a blow job, even though she's the literal queen in the room. Jaime wasn't the victim of any throat-clenching violence, he wasn’t sobbing next to a corpse, and he definitely wasn’t screeching, "Stop," while Cersei ripped his pants off. In fact, the scene ends by focusing on the knight's personal pleasure as Cersei goes down on him. Where the "Breaker Of Chains," encounter was about punishing Cersei for spurning Jaime, the "Justice" scene was about proving to Jaime just how dedicated his sister currently is to her twin-lover.
In the subsequent scene, we get even more evidence Cersei is trying to demonstrate her loyalty to Jaime. After showing us at Jaime’s O-face for a few seconds, Thrones moves on to the next morning, where Cersei is cradling the one hand Jaime does have in her sleep. See, she loves her brother even though he’s no longer the two-handed wonder he once was. She doesn’t even care if a Red Keep page sees the siblings in bed together, telling Jaime, "I am queen of the Seven Kingdoms. I will do as I please." Cersei goes so far as to demand "fresh sheets for the bed" from the page, with a naked Jaime in full view, just to make sure the young woman knows bodily fluids were flying the night prior. These back-to-back scenes are all about strengthening the Lannisters' relationship, instead of focusing on one half of the couple's most aggressive demands.
We should all probably enjoy — or hate, depending on what shipping camp you fall into — this newly-solidified Lannister sexual alliance, considering it will likely come crashing down by the time the Game Of Thrones ends.
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