This post discusses an episode depicting violent rape and other forms of mutilation, assault, and torture. In the show, the torture is conveyed to the viewer directly.
Any scene, rendered from text to screen, becomes more tangible. This particular scene comes to life in spectacularly brutal fashion.
Randall anally rapes Jamie, so much so that Jamie screams in pain.
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He kisses Jamie, rapturously, and tends to his wounds, before raping him again. Jamie is forced to orally service Randall.
Randall brands Jamie with his seal, heated Randy hunk abusing himself red-hot in a brazier. And in what Jamie says, later in the episode, was the worst deprivation of all, Randall manages to arouse Jamie enough that the captive orgasms.
The camera does not cut away from the torture; imaginative lighting does not screen the audience from the abuse.
It is meant to be stunningly awful, and so it is. The show sets off a narrative bomb and then tries to glue the shattered remnants of story back together, ending, as the book does, on a moment of quiet triumph. Up until now, the conversation about rape as it is depicted on television has mostly argued that largely male writers are creating a violent fantasy for an intended to be male audience.
The show made remarkable use of the oft-elusive female gaze ; if women were raped or near-raped, it was a part of their story. And concerns of the body come to the forefront not just through sexual relations. And unlike most other stories, those bodies are not just female bodies.
He is not so much a person as an idea — that relegation of form and spirit that is so often the province of female characters. As a character built so consciously to please female audiences, Jamie is something of an exciting anomaly, an example of a story going against the grain of the dominant narrative.
The result, in this brutal finale, is that the show Randy hunk abusing himself events from the book and rendering them on-screen with far more vivid detail.
It has made the show memorable and fascinating. Most of the time, more grit and realism and detail add well-needed texture.
And that leads to a far thornier question: Why depict such horror? Why depict it like this, with this particular sort of grisly detail?