Monday, May 5, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.03: "Breaker of Chains"

“Money buys a man’s silence for a time. A bolt through the heart buys it forever.”

“Breaker of Chains” didn’t really have much of a unifying theme. I’ve come to expect this from most episodes of “Game of Thrones,” unfortunately. The title refers simply to the final scene in the episode, which involves Daenerys and has pretty much nothing to do with events happening in the rest of the episode, seeing as it takes place across the Narrow Sea. I suppose if I had to pick one focus of this episode, it would be the aftermath of Joffrey’s murder. Tyrion is the prime suspect, Cersei wants vengeance, and Tywin is trying to put together some semblance of a trial. If I lived in Westeros, I don’t think I would have any ambition to be Queen. Westerosi rulers don’t tend to live very long.

The episode starts exactly where the last left off. Joffrey is dead, and the royal wedding reception has erupted in chaos. Tyrion is arrested, but thanks to Ser Dontos (who creepily approached Sansa in the garden a few episodes ago), Sansa is able to escape. Ser Dontos takes Sansa on a row boat, where they dock with a larger, sinister-looking ship. On that ship is none other than Littlefinger. He no doubt wanted to rescue Sansa thanks to his creepy obsession with her mother. Dontos worked for Littlefinger and did what he was told, but Littlefinger kills him for his trouble so he won’t talk.

Things are most definitely not well at all with the Lannisters following Joffrey’s death. Which is fine by me, really (although I certainly don’t at all condone what happened to Cersei). Tyrion is the only Lannister than I can at all stand, really. Anyway, Cersei and some others are in the Sept mourning over Joffrey’s body when Jaime arrives to kill the party. He wants private time with Cersei. Really private time. He has not been happy that she’s been completely ignoring him since he returned, and he’s obviously upset about their son’s death, too. If you’ve been following the TV blogosphere at all, you know that all these swirling emotions lead Jaime to rape Cersei right there in the Sept. Other commentators have already talked about this scene and what it means well beyond the saturation point. I’ll just say that the show overall hasn’t felt rapey like this episode since the first episode or two of the very first season. I hope that escalating questionable scenes from the books into full-on rape in the TV show is not a trend that continues.

It wouldn’t be an episode of “Game of Thrones” without brief check-ins with many of the ongoing stories, so let’s deal with some of those now. We pay a brief visit to Arya and the Hound, who are still roaming the countryside on their way to the Eyrie. A farmer catches them on his land, and surprisingly, the farmer invites them to his house for supper. At supper, the farmer offers the Hound some work. The Hound accepts, but later he decides to just steal silver from the farmer instead. The Hound reasons that the farmer is weak and won’t survive the coming battles anyway, so why not take the silver. Arya is pretty disgusted. In other news, Stannis wants Davos to get him a new army. He’s worried that if Tommen (Joffrey’s younger brother) becomes King, everyone will forget about Stannis’ legitimate claim. A reading lesson with Stannis’ daughter gives Davos an idea. He’s going to write to the Iron Bank of Braavos for help.

There’s plenty of action happening up North as well, at the Wall and beyond. Earlier in the episode, Sam is fretting over Gilly living at Castle Black. He thinks that because so many of his brothers are rapers and Gilly is the only woman at the Castle, she’s going to be attacked eventually. Sam wants to take Gilly to Moletown (the nearest small town to Castle Black, famous for being the place that Night’s Watch brothers go to when they want to forget their vows for a little while at a brothel), which kind of seems reasonable until we actually see Moletown. To call it a hovel would be generous. The whole place seems to revolve around the sex trade, and several pimps seem to be eyeing up Gilly. Sam has arranged pretty disgusting accommodations for Gilly in exchange for her doing cooking and cleaning, and of course the proprietor wants to know if she’ll do other work, too. Sam may have taken Gilly out of the frying pan and into the fire, really.

In other news from the North, the Wildlings, including Ygritte, are on a rampage. We see them completely ransack a small village. The only survivor is a little kid who managed who hide for a bit before being found. The Wildlings spare his life so he can go to Castle Black and let the Night’s Watch know they are coming. It’s pretty disturbing, really. One of the Wildlings tells the kid he is going to eat the kid’s parents. Gross. The news of the Wildling attack causes some chaos at Castle Black. The brothers all disagree on how to face this new threat. Jon Snow hits on the real problem. They don’t have nearly as many brothers as he told Mance Rayder they had. They need to put off the Wildlings gaining that knowledge as long as possible. The biggest threat is the mutineers who have taken over Craster’s Keep. They know how few brothers are left, and it probably won’t take much to get them to spill the beans.

Back in King’s Landing, Twyin is doing what he does and trying to pick up the pieces. He visits Prince Oberyn of Doorne at the brothel (where the Prince is engaging in a massive orgy…classy) to ask him to be one of the judges for the trial that will look into Joffrey’s death. Oberyn accepts. It struck me that Tyrion is really the Lannister sibling who is most like their father. Both Tywin and Tyrion keep a level head and use cunning to get the family out of messy situations. It’s a shame that Tywin can’t get past Tyrion’s physical appearance to recognize that kindred spirit. Speaking of Tyrion, he’s in jail. Tyrion’s squire, Podrick, pays Tyrion a visit and gives him some contraband food (the wine he tried to smuggle in was confiscated). He gives Tyrion the news about who the judges will be at his trial. Tyrion doesn’t seem especially optimistic at the moment, but we can tell the gears are turning. He’s beated a murder rap before.

We end the episode across the Narrow Sea at the gates of Meereen, where Dany and her army have finally arrived. It seems like the whole city is watching them from within the walls, but only one jouster comes through the gate. The idea is that Dany is supposed to pick a champion to challenge the jouster. The whole thing becomes a literal pissing match when the jouster engages in a demonstration to show how different he is from the eunuch Unsullied. Dany chooses Daario as her champion (she says it’s because she has the least need for him, but there seems to be something brewing under the surface), and he kills the jouster without even needing a horse of his own. He then continues the pissing contest in celebration. The residents of Meereen look skeptical, but then Dany gives a big speech about freeing slaves. She also has her army shoot barrels of broken slave chains over the walls. The slaves see the broken chains and start giving their masters uneasy looks.

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