(Caution: The following story contains spoilers for the ‘Game of Thrones’ episode titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”)
Throughout its eight-season run, Game of Thrones has offered a great deal of nudity and sexualized content. There’s been straight sex, gay sex, group sex and, yes, incestuous sex. There have been multiple hugely controversial rape scenes, and the show helped to coin the term “sexposition” — the idea of dense expository dialogue being delivered in scenes, usually set in brothels, with multiple naked women present.
However, there may not have been a sex scene in Game of Thrones history that shocked its audience more than the one featured in the most recent episode. In this scene, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) seduces Gendry (Joe Dempsie), gets naked, and has sex with him.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the scene. Arya and Gendry’s relationship has had years of backgrounding on the show — including obvious flirtation in the first two episodes of the season. Arya explains in said scene that, with the White Walkers set to attack Winterfell imminently, she wanted to lose her virginity before possibly dying. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, is 22 years old — and her character is presumably about that age, though perhaps slightly younger.
However, some Game of Thrones fans appeared to be disturbed by the scene. The character of Arya Stark was introduced to them, early in the series, as a child. Further, the tomboyish character had, up until this point, dressed much more conservatively than most women on the show — much less had any nude scenes.
“Just because there was consent doesn’t mean that it made ME comfortable,” Twitter user Charles Preston remarked. “It was still uncomfortable. lol… I first saw Arya Stark [sic] character when she was like 11. It’s weird when you binged seasons consecutive times.”
— Bossip (@Bossip) April 22, 2019
“Watching #AryaStark getting jiggy with it was like watching my little sister doing it,” a second social media tweeted. “SOOOOO WEIRD. Please tell me that was a body double.” Many other users joked that their first move upon watching the scene was to Google how old Maisie Williams is.
Others, however, pointed at the weird double standard present in that viewpoint.
“Arya Stark, a child, being a ruthless murderer and gruesomely killing people in cold blood… Viewers: YAASSS QUEEN SLAY,” a third fan of the show tweeted. “Arya Stark, a young adult, having consensual sex with a fantastic man who loves and admires her… #GameofThronesviewers: [a gif of Jon Snow looking shocked.]”
Bossip had perhaps the most memorable headline about the scene, making an extended joke of the matter.