It was beginning to seem like nothing on “Game of Thrones” is sacred.
Last season, a pregnant woman was stabbed in the belly. This season, a child king died, and his father raped his mother alongside his corpse. (Did I mention they’re brother and sister?) On Sunday’s episode, a baby was sacrificed to the show’s ice-zombie White Walkers.
But there was one place that “Game of Thrones” did not go: An adult woman came close to having sex with a young boy — and didn’t.
“Game of Thrones” certainly skated the line, though, employing a famously gross phrase of child molesters. At the end of her late-night, clandestine meeting with young Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) told him the encounter would be “our little secret.”
“Remember — our little secret,” she said, and seemed about to kiss him on the mouth. Instead, she kissed him on the forehead and left. And one of the uncomfortable moments of the show came to an end.
The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg noted how successfully Margaery navigated the situation:
“Watching Margaery seduce her next husband-to-be by recognizing that a boy Tommen’s age wants the promise of sex in the future, but the reality of a kiss on the forehead in the present, is a testament to her psychological acumen.”
We don’t know exactly how old Margaery and Tommen are. The actors who play them, Dormer and Chapman, are 32 and 16, though both look much younger, and seem to be playing characters much younger.
The extremely innocent-looking Tommen seems to be about 12. Margaery is at least out of her teens, has technically been married twice (though neither marriage was consummated) and is an extremely gifted manipulator.
She’s anything but innocent, especially given the guidance of her grandmother, Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). Olenna inspired Margaery’s trip to Tomman’s bedroom by telling her how she seduced her own husband while betrothed to his brother. Margaery is also moving from one brother to the next. But Olenna’s target probably wasn’t a child.
Oh, one other thing: Sunday’s episode also included a near-confession from Olenna that she helped kill Joffrey, Margaery’s second husband, to spare her from being married to a tyrant.
The show has begun departing significantly from the books on which it is based, which means “Game of Thrones” has more of an anything-can-happen feel than ever before. It can be difficult to watch.
The director of the episode last week has disputed that the apparent rape scene was an actual rape scene. At the very least, it started out as rape, and turned into something else — a dangerous trope that suggests that no doesn’t always mean no.
But “Game of Thrones” clearly isn’t trying to teach us how to behave. It portrays a vicious, amoral world where the only real god is power. Such a world would certainly include rape, murdered children and all the other horrors of our world.
So there isn’t much “Game of Thrones” won’t do. But on Sunday, we learned that there is still one line it won’t cross. For now.