Over the course of its eight seasons, HBO's Game of Thrones drew a lot of criticism over the series' treatment of its female characters, specifically in terms of violence and sexual assault. Among the moments that came under fire was the wedding night of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) in the pilot episode. The episode's portrayal was dramatically different than the same scene in George R.R. Martin's book and now, in the newly-published oral history of the series Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, the author reveals that he never discussed the scene with the series showrunners -- and that he thinks it made the series worse.
"Why did the wedding scene change from the consensual seduction scene to the brutal rape of Emilia Clarke?" Martin asked (via Indie Wire). "We never discussed it. It made it worse, not better."
In the Game of Thrones novel, Dany's wedding night with Drogo is a nuanced scene in which Drogo works to ease Dany's nerves and earn her trust before ultimately seeking her consent before touching her -- and Dany, ultimately, gives said consent. In the episode, however, Drogo strips Dany and forces her into a submissive position while she cries and while the scene cuts away, the assault is clearly implied.
The HBO series' scene is dramatically different and far more grim, but showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss defend it, stating that the consensual scene from the book didn't suit the purposes of the series -- and didn't line up with later encounters between the characters that were assaults even in the books.
"Here's a girl who is absolutely terrified of this barbarian warlord she's being married off to, it's the last thing in the world she wants, yet somehow by the end of this wedding night she seems to be in a completely joyful sexual relationship with him," Benioff said. "It didn't entirely work for us."
Weiss went on to explain that given a less consensual scene in the second episode, even Clarke didn't think the books' wedding scene quite made sense with Weiss saying that she "mentioned the wedding night and issues she was having with it."
"In the second episode she has to go back to the less consensual, rougher relationship," Weiss said. "In the book that works, but we just didn't have that amount of time and access to the character's mind. It turns too quickly. It was something the actors themselves felt wasn't gelling."
And it isn't just that scene between that Dany and Drogo that Martin had issue with. King Robert Baratheon's hunting excursion also didn't quite live up to standard, though that scene had a lot to do with budget.0comments
"Where we really fell down in terms of budget was my least favorite scene in the entire show, in all eight seasons: King Robert goes hunting," Martin said. "Four guys walking on foot through the woods carrying spears and Robert is giving Renly sh*t. In the books, Robert goes off hunting, we get word he was gored by a boar, and they bring him back and he dies. So, I never did a [hunting scene]. But I knew what a royal hunting party was like. There would have been a hundred guys. There would have been pavilions. There would have been huntsmen. There would have been dogs. There would have been horns blowing -- that's how a king goes hunting! He wouldn't have just been walking through the woods with three of his friends holding spears hoping to meet a boar. But at that point, we couldn't afford horses or dogs or pavilions."
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