Even for a sex-and-swords premium cable drama like Game of Thrones, there was a whole lot of sex on last night’s episode (Season 2, Episode 2: “The Night Lands”).
On our regular trip to Littlefinger’s whorehouse in King’s Landing, we’re treated to a threesome of sorts. First we see one couple in a pretty regular girl-on-top sex scene. Then we see a man peeping in on that scene through a hole in the wall, while he stands, forcing another girl to polish his knob. Finally, we see Littlefinger peeping in on that man through yet another hole in the wall.
But we’re only getting started! That little scenario is nothing compared to Theon Greyjoy and his shipmaid. As we've noticed, Theon loves to brag during sex, and once he realizes how unfortunate his girl’s smile is, he turns her over and reminds her that he isn’t paying. The charmer!
And let’s not forget that Theon gave Yara a little digital stimulation while the pair were riding up to his father’s castle, right before he found out that she is actually his sister.
Finally, poor Stannis Baratheon is manipulated into banging the red-headed Melisandre on top of their map table, because she promises him a son and also he needs to give himself to the Lord of Lights by having sex with her. Or something.
Was all that really necessary?
We would argue that yes, it really is. The vast majority (if not all) of the softcore sex scenes on all 12 Game of Thrones episodes have been crucial for character development. Think of the first, most memorable one: Jaime and Cersei Lannister doing it doggy-style before attempting to murder Bran Stark. That one sex scene really set the tone for how the directors and writers would be using sex to make a point.
Take last night’s episode as just one example. In the Season 2 premiere (Episode 1: "The North Remembers"), we saw a baby murdered in the whorehouse. In this episode, we saw an escalation of power assembled in the aforementioned three brief sexual scenes. From everyday sex, to S&M/voyeurism, to the puppet master himself. From here, Littlefinger’s control was established. His control over the entire business was important going into his scene with Ros, or else his threats would have seemed inconsequential.
As for Theon, that cocky self-confidence served a purpose. In seeing how easily he degraded women in his sex scene, we then saw how easily he assumed every single woman, even Yara, is just a plaything for him. Little did he know that the woman holding the reins was actually holding all the power.
Then there’s Stannis. Up until this point, we’d been wondering why on Westeros would a play-it-by-the-rules guy like Stannis fall for this Lord of Lights gobbledygook? Even his trusted man Davos has made it clear how ridiculous it is. But it wasn’t until Melisandre’s aggressive and manipulative seduction scene that we got it. As Patti Stanger would say, he’s letting his Pecker do the Picking.
We could list several previous examples of how sex has progressed storylines on Game of Thrones, including Dany’s ultimate surrender to Khal Drogo (who knew she would love it?), but in the end, the important thing to stress is that Game of Thrones is not incorporating sex into the story just because they can. HBO has their “Other” category On Demand for that (yes, Real Sex is still a show).
In a way, we think sex functions on Game of Thrones in the opposite way that sex in porn does. Each peek inside Littlefinger’s world of sleaze makes us uncomfortable, not turned on. Even the pretty, bejeweled whore he hands off to Ros’s reject has some bodily fluid on her mouth that he needs to wipe away before she latches her lips on to the next paying customer. We’re uncomfortable because we’re supposed to be.
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Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint. Follow her @MollyFriedman.
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