Game of Thrones – Episode 4.3 “Breaker of Chains”

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Synopsis: Picking up immediately after the end of the last episode, Cersei sits over a dead Joffrey, the fool rushes off with Sansa, and Tyrion is taken away by the kingsguard. Cersei notices Sansa’s absence and cries out. Tywin orders the city shut down. Sansa arrives at an old ship and arrives to her savior, Lord Baelish. For his troubles, Littlefinger has the fool executed, and Baelish says because he doesn’t trust the drunken fool to keep his silence. Baelish notes that Sansa’s necklace was a fake and something he gave to the fool to give to her. Margaery sits with Olenna, wondering if she still counts as a Queen. She thinks she’s cursed. Olenna says the alliance with the Lannisters is still important. Tommen and Cersei sit over Joffrey’s body. Tywin tells Tommen that he is officially going to be king. He asks Tommen what the most important quality for a king to have is. Tommen throws out a few thoughts, but Tywin counsels him against them until Tommen lands on wisdom. Tywin agrees but says it is important to surround himself with a wise committee. Tywin takes Tommen away to continue the lesson but Cersei stays behind. Jaime arrives to check on her. Cersei says it was Tyrion, that he threatened her. Cersei asks Jaime to avenge their son and to kill Tyrion but Jaime says there will be a trial. Cersei cries, and falls into Jaime’s arms. They start to kiss, but Cersei pulls away. Jaime calls her hateful and pulls her back to him. She tries to fight him off but he pulls her down and rips her clothes off. She’s not into it, but he forces himself on her anyway, raping her right next to their dead son.

Arya and the Hound take a break from their journey to get some water for their horses and for the Hound to do what is likely the first farmer blow on television. A man and his daughter happen upon them and Arya lies that Sandor is her father, and their house burned down while he was fighting in the war. The man invites them to dinner and rest, as there’s a storm coming. After giving them a meal, he offers the Hound a job, helping him on the farm and scaring off would-be thieves. He agrees, but in the morning, he robs them and leaves them be. Arya is pissed, but Clegane drags her back on their mission. At Castle Black, Sam and Gilly adjust to their new normal. Sam is mocked for his story of killing a White Walker, and they think Gilly is a whore. Sam worries for Gilly’s safety, but she’s not thrilled he wants to send her away. She asks if he’s bored of her. Davos meets with Stannis and learns of Joffrey’s demise. Stannis thinks his death is because of the spell he did with Gendry. He thinks the throne is weak now and asks Davos about building their army up. Davos visits Shireen to continue his reading lesson. They read a book about pirates and as Davos is explaining to her the difference between pirates and smugglers, he gets an idea. He asks her to take a letter, writing to the iron bank. In a nearby town, Sam takes Gilly to meet with some shady ladies about room and board and a job. It doesn’t feel a whole lot safer/better than Castle Black. He assures her it’s for the best, asks her not be mad, but leaves her behind.

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Ellaria and Oberyn are enjoying a nice orgy in the brothel. Oberyn explains his bisexuality to the naked young man he’s in bed with, before Tywin interrupts, asking to speak to him alone. Oberyn sends everyone away. Tywin asks Oberyn if he had anything to do with Joffrey’s death, but Oberyn denies it, despite his animosity towards the Lannisters. Tywin denies having anything to do with the death of Oberyn’s sister. He asks Oberyn to be the third judge at Tyrion’s trial. To sweeten the pot, he also offers him a seat on the small council and the chance to get his revenge on the Mountain. Podrick visits Tyrion in the hoosegow, and updates him on his pending trial. Pod asks if he did it, and Tyrion denies it. He tells the imp about Tywin’s choices of judges. Podrick asks for a list of names willing to testify on his behalf. He says Sansa, but Pod says that she’s been missing since the wedding. He suggests Bronn and Jaime, and Pod says he will try. He also says that he was offered a knighthood to testify against Tyrion but he refused. Tyrion thinks he’s not safe. He tells Pod to leave King’s Landing before it’s too late. He thanks Podrick for his loyalty.

The wildling and Thens ransack a village. Ygritte kills a man in front of a young boy, who hides out, until one of the cannibals tells the young lad that he’s going to eat the boy’s parents and sends the boys off to Castle Black to tell them. The kid, Olly, shares his story with Snow and the others, but they recognize their duty is to defend the wall. Grenn and Tollett return, having escaped from Craster’s where Karl is now in charge. Snow worries that Mance will meet up with Karl’s crew and Karl will reveal Snow’s lie that there were thousands of men at Castle Black. Dany and her squad reach Mereen. They send out a single rider to meet with her champion. As the city looks on, Dany asks who will fight for her. Grey Worm, Selmy, and Jorah volunteer but she values them too much. Daario agrees to do it and she’s totally cool with it. Daario does away with the man and his horse rather quickly but the city fires arrows on them anyway. Dany speaks to the crowds of Mereenians (Mereeners?) and addresses the slaves directly, explaining she grew her army by freeing the slaves of the places she’s conquered. She offers to do the same for them and catapults barrels full of the shackles of freed slaves against the city walls. You say you want a revolution?

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Comments: Oberyn is such a great character, chock full of vendettas, lust, and a card-carrying LGBTQ member. He breathed life into this new season, by also bringing his land of Dorne along too. All we really knew before was that it was one of the seven kingdoms (though by my count there’s nine of them) and that Tyrion had Myrcella shipped off there, promised to one of the prince’s sons. With the Starks in disarray for the time being, it’s nice to get another Lannister threat on the board. Sansa is once again a passenger in her own story, this time rescued by Littlefinger. It’s good to get her out of King’s Landing where she can start to develop more. She’s certainly grown from the wide-eyed, prince loving, shallow waif that we were first introduced to, but she’s definitely got a lot more character-developing trauma headed her way. The show drops a few more hints about the death of Joffrey. Littlefinger was obviously in on the plan and the necklace was a factor, but they don’t go so far as to explain that’s where the poison came from and who was really pulling the strings there. The Arya/Hound road show continues to entertain. And Dany’s story gets a little more complicated. I still don’t buy this Daario as a badass. He’s too soft and sweet. But he does feel like a better match for Dany, more worthy of her attention than his predecessor. The biggest complexity in the episode is easily the rape of Cersei. It’s a strange choice because it plays out differently than in the books. Westeros is obviously a different environment than our modern world, but it’s still difficult to not apply our baggage onto these lives. While Cersei and Jaime’s relationship is already challenging enough with them being brother and sister, throwing a rape in there feels somewhat misguided. For one, it taints Jaime, who has been on a slow road of character building since he shoved Bran out a window in the first episode. On the flip side, it’s more of a reminder that he is still that guy. He’s still the sister-fucking cad who tried to kill a kid. Characters don’t get painted with one brush in George R. R. Martin’s world. For Cersei, it feels like the show is trying to force sympathy on her character, or maybe I’m jaded from seeing every soap opera ever do this as a means to soften their vixens. It’s a tired trope that has seemingly died out, which is why it feels out of place here. It does nothing to soften Cersei’s character at all, she doesn’t suddenly become something other than the manipulative power-hungry woman we’ve known since day one. Honestly, the rape doesn’t seem to have any effect on the characters or their relationship, which begs the question-why do it? In a show where we can root for ten-year-old to become a murderer and cheer along as she collects corpses, I think there’s at least a bit of a reinforcement that this is not our world. Rapes and murders are daily occurrences in these people’s lives and their relationship to those things is vastly different than ours. While the show has never backed down in showing murder in all its ugly, gory detail, the audience has become somewhat desensitized to it, not the brutality of it, but the mere fact that it exists and isn’t out of place. If nothing else, this episode serves as a reminder that the ugly, gory detail of rape is every bit as prevalent in this world as murder is. I’ll revisit this again when another rape becomes a plot point.

Quotes:
Margaery: One of my husbands preferred the company of men and was stabbed through the heart. Another was happiest torturing animals and was poisoned at our wedding feast. I must be cursed.

Olenna (to Margaery): You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him, I can promise you that.

Jaime: You’re a hateful woman. Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?

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Foreshadowing: Tywin’s ability to always go for the deal makes him a shrewd and powerful man, but his choices in alliances is always interesting. His faith in Tommen and open acknowledgement that Joffrey wasn’t a good king also suggests some forethought into Tommen’s reign. Although Tommen is about to the be the third king in as many years. That position isn’t as stable as it once was. Littlefinger’s machinations and his ability see liars and cheats everywhere will someday catch up with him.

Title: Part of Dany’s title since she freed the slaves at Astapor.

Deaths: Dontos the fool, via Littlefinger’s men. The men of women at the camp, most notably Olly’s parents. The champion of Mereen.

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