New Show Recap, Game of Thrones 4×03, “Breaker of Chains”

Let’s get the inevitable out of the way first, shall we?

[Content note: sexual violence]

I couldn’t be more disgusted about the way that Jaime/Cersei scene was done. It’s been discussed so well already in many places around the interwebs — not only on Persephone but also the Atlantic, the Mary Sue, Westeros.org and others – that I don’t want to go over it again in detail here, but I will say: no. Just no, Game of Thrones. Why turn Jaime into a rapist? And if it’s not what you intended, why script and film it as a rape scene?

 List of things Jaime has thrown out a window:

1. Bran

2. His character development.

source

Moving to the all the other events in Westeros this week… who do we have to thank for Joffrey’s timely demise?

King’s Landing

We start where we left off, with Sansa and Dontos running away from the chaotic scenes surrounding Joffrey’s body, through the Godswood, into a little rowing boat, on to a ship, where Sansa is greeted by: Littlefinger. Did any non-book readers see that one coming? Sansa finally decides to take an escape route when it’s offered, and it turns out to be into the arms of the man who betrayed her father and was in love with her mother for decades. No problems there then! And I didn’t think it was possible but Aiden Gillen has gone even creepier and with a weirder accent between Season 3 and now. Some reviewers think it’s his Irish accent, but I’m actually Irish, and it’s still weird to me. You can’t argue with his logic in killing Dontos, though:

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

He says he’s taking her “home”… but Winterfell is a ruin controlled by the Boltons who are in the midst of a struggle with the Ironborn for control of the North. Where is he really taking her?

Sansa and Littlefinger

The next day, Margaery is wondering what’s wrong with her that bothof her husbands died. She’s not cursed; it’s just Melisandre’s blood magic. No need to take it personally! At least her demeanour here — in an unguarded moment with her grandmother — makes me believe that she wasn’t involved.

Olenna, however… though she notes the political problem that this latest wedding — like the first — wasn’t consummated, as far as she’s concerned the removal of Joffrey is, overall, a good thing:

You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed that more than you would’ve enjoyed being married to him, I can promise you that… You did wonderful work on Joffrey. The next one should be easier.

So who votes Olenna on to the suspect list?

After that, we move straight to “the next one”: Tommen, standing by his brother’s corpse with his grieving mother. She seems to be the only one, however, as Tywin takes the opportunity to position himself straight away as the one in charge of Tommen’s education and development as king. In Tywin’s world, “wisdom” means “listening to Tywin,” though getting the sex talk from your grandfather before your brother’s funeral must count among the most inappropriate birds and bees talk of all time.

Tywin lectures Tommen on wisdom
Eww, Granddad!

Tywin is hardly heartbroken at his grandson’s death; he hates Tyrion as much as Cersei does; and the way he moves swiftly to consolidate the Tyrell alliance with talk of marriage (as Olenna did with Margaery) doesn’t rule out the possibility that they conspired together.

Tywin’s next move, after probably scarring poor Tommen for life, is to get the Martells onside with an offer Oberyn can’t refuse: be one of the judges at Tyrion’s murder trial. In return, Oberyn will get to meet the Mountain — the man who murdered his sister. Tywin, unlike his daughter or grandson, is very aware of the threats to the fragile peace he has brokered from all sides: the Greyjoys in the west, the Wildlings in the north, and Dany in the east: the last thing he needs is for the south (Dorne) to be his enemy as well.

Pod brings Tyrion the bad news: his judges are to be Tywin, Mace Tyrell, and Oberyn Martell. It gets worse, in that Varys has already been co-opted as a prosecution witness, Bronn is banned, and Pod has already resisted one bribery attempt to testify against Tyrion. Tyrion is torn between fear for Pod, fear for himself, and his usual wit:

I would like to think, if I were to arrange a royal assassination, that I wouldn’t be standing there like a fool gawking when the king died… I’m certain Cersei had nothing to do with it, which makes it unique, as King’s Landing murders go.

His last two orders to Pod are to ask Jaime to visit, and then to leave the city himself. Will Jaime be on his brother’s side? Where will Pod go?

Somewhere in the Riverlands

Arya and the Hound continue making their slow way through the Riverlands towards the Vale and Lysa:

Just point out the next map shop you see and I’ll buy you one.

As they continue their little odyssey, I’m entertained by thoughts of how differently this could’ve gone if Sansa had escaped with the Hound back in Season 1. How would she have coped with him beating and robbing innocent farmers? Which sister is better off — Sansa with Littlefinger, or Arya with the Hound?

Dragonstone

Stannis is two down, one to go (Balon Greyjoy, who is Schrödinger’s king at this stage given we haven’t seen him for ages) but with no army and no money, he’s powerless to press his advantage and Davos is bearing the brunt of his anger in this episode. Still, Davos is no pushover, and better threats than a pyre, eh?

We’re willing to use blood magic but not pay men to fight?…Soldiers win wars.

Shireen’s reading lessons help give him a bright idea: write to the Iron Bank of Braavos. We know from elsewhere that Tywin is feeling the pressure from the Iron Bank — how can Davos turn this to Stannis’s advantage? Also, how great is Shireen?

Shireen gives out to Davos
I want to subscribe to her newsletter.

The North

Sam, in a misguided attempt to get Gilly out of harm’s way, has brought her to Molestown’s brothel where she’ll apparently be safer than in Castle Black. Between the ethnic hatred from the sex workers and the madam’s eye for her potential for “other work” I know where I’d prefer to be if I was Gilly. Not to mention that she thinks Sam’s just trying to get rid of her. Aww.

His timing could have been better, though, as the Wildling raiding party — including Tormund, Ygritte, and the cannibal Thenns —  is approaching from the south in an attempt to draw out the Castle Black garrison. Jon and Alliser Thorne have a rare moment of agreement that they can’t defend anywhere but Castle Black (despite innocent men being shot in the head while looking forward to potatoes) as they’re so undermanned that any loss of men will leave them too vulnerable to Mance’s approach.

The return of Grenn and Edd, however, changes the equation slightly: the Night’s Watch men who killed Commander Mormont at Craster’s Keep are still there, and with all they know about the current state of the Night’s Watch they’re a possible source of intelligence for Mance that must be removed:

Mance has everything he needs, he just doesn’t know it yet.

So who’s going to do it?

Meereen

Dany finally reaches Meereen where the citizens have obviously been looking forward to her arrival, as they’re all out on the walls decked out in blue and yellow. And slave collars, too. They send out their champion, who is good at insults and pissing in public, but is easily dispatched by Daario:

Daario waits for the champion
“Horses are dumber than men.”

Dany’s big speech is a little bit genius: divide and conquer is a solid tactic. Her trebuchets aren’t aiming for the destruction of the city’s walls, but its industry: that final shot of the slave picking up the old collar as his master’s eyes slowly widen is a suspenseful way to end this infuriating episode.

Although, to put my pedantic hat on for a second, it must have been confusing for non-book readers as to why Dany needed Missandei to translate the champion’s speech to her, but spoke in High Valyrian to the Meereenese and expected to be understood without a translator. In the books, this is because all the slaver cities speak their own varieties of Valryian but use High Valyrian as a lingua franca.

Little by little, the  show’s view of the world is expanding, though: not only are we hearing more of the world beyond Westeros, through cities like Braavos and the sellsword companies of Essos, but we’re also seeing a little more of the depth of suffering the War of the Five Kings has inflicted on those who are pawns, not players.

 

UPDATED SPOILER WARNING: if you want to talk about the books from these events in A Storm of Swords on, please be nice and use rot13.com to encypher your comment (go to that site, write your comment, click, then copy and paste the new text back here). Events from the books that have already been depicted in the first three seasons of the show are not considered spoilers.

All images are the property of HBO and their respective sources. 

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