by Grace Crawford

game of thrones poster

All Game of Thrones images courtesy of HBO.

4×03: “Breaker of Chains”

This week’s episode picks up right where last week’s left off: with a beautiful shot of Joffrey’s horribly distorted dead face. And it’s a good place to begin, because most of the episode is about the aftermath of the Purple Wedding–and the rest is about relationships.

While Cersei is screaming for blood, her dead son in her arms, Sansa is whisked away by Ser Dontos, who is in the employ of–this shouldn’t surprise anyone, given how low profile he’s been lately–Lord Petyr Baelish. He’s busy hanging out on his creepy murder ship, and after Ser Dontos is filled full of crossbow bolts, he turns his charms onto Sansa. Gross.

Baelish tells her that Dontos only saved her because he was paid to, that the only person left in the world who cares about her is himself. Sansa is in a pretty awful situation, because after everything she’s been through lately, she’s gotta be inclined to believe him now that she’s safely (maybe) out of King’s Landing. So it’s pretty creepy to see him leering all over her, poised to take advantage of that trust simply because she’s her mother’s daughter and some people can’t get over failed childhood romances.

Tyrion, on the other hand, is far from safe. He’s just chilling in the castle dungeon, ruminating on who might have been responsible for Joffrey’s death, when his squire shows up. Podrick Payne is perhaps the only character on this entire show who’s loyal for the sake of loyalty. He smuggles in all kinds of useful things for Tyrion, refuses to testify against him–even if it means his own life–and only leaves when Tyrion orders him to.

I think Podrick is one of the reasons everyone likes Tyrion so much. He’s a pure soul (even taking his reputation with the King’s Landing whores into account), and he wouldn’t give his loyalty lightly, not all of it. And Tyrion in turn treats him well, which he doesn’t do with everyone. He doesn’t make jokes at Pod’s expense, he doesn’t hurt him, and in the end, Tyrion sends away the only person he has left who really, honestly likes him for who he is.

This guy.

This guy.

Tywin Lannister, now rid of the prepubescent psychopath king, is bonding with his grandson Tommen, who is the new king. (Is it just me, or is he looking a lot older than he did at the start of season 1?) Of course, Tywin being Tywin, a simple conversation about what makes for a good king turns into an in-depth discussion of why kings have to get married and what the particulars of making babies are, and this is why Tywin isn’t invited to family dinners anymore.

I get that Tywin is morally ambiguous at best, at least by our standards. But he has his own rigid code that he lives by, and at the top of that code is his family–even when it’s messed up by inter-family murder. So it must have been hard for him that Joffrey didn’t listen to any of his advice. It makes sense that he’s taking advantage of Tommen’s youth and inexperience now, but honestly, it seems more or less sincere. He really does seem like the caring grandfather.

At least until he forms an alliance with Prince Oberyn. This is interesting, because Tywin is basically giving up one of his most valuable soldiers (come on, who just has “a meeting” about their raped and murdered sister? It’s not exactly gonna be a cozy chat with tea and crumpets) in exchange for a guilty verdict over Tyrion. I can’t decide if Oberyn is taking the deal now to get his revenge on the Mountain and plans to do something later, or if he’s just going to settle for a sword in the gut. Although knowing Oberyn, he probably has something much more poetic planned.

Then there’s Jaime and Cersei. Cersei, who’s more than a little bit crazy with grief, makes a move on Jaime and changes her mind. Jaime’s had it up to his perky blond hair with her, and somehow he gets it into his head that raping her on the floor of the Great Sept of Baelor is a stupendous idea. That’s an interesting move on the writers’ part, because their whole relationship has taken a crazy turn since Jaime returned to King’s Landing.

In the book, Jaime wasn’t supposed to come home until Joffrey was already dead, at which point he showed up  and Cersei was like, “Hey, where’s your hand, also our son’s dead and I’m on my period, but let’s bang right here anyway.” The way it’s happening this season, their relationship has been deteriorating for a while. Jaime is sick of Cersei having all the power, so he does a terrible thing and takes it back. That’s a really interesting and unexpected power shift there. Don’t get me wrong, I was completely appalled by what he did, and I lost a huge amount of respect for his character–as much as you can lose for an incestuous douchenozzle, at any rate–but this is a turning point, because I have no idea what’s going to happen next for him and Cersei.

Goodness, this review is getting long. But I’m almost done; just a few more to go. Arya’s hanging out with the Hound, and she seems to be having a right old time of it. She seems almost fond of him, despite what he did to her friend Mycah in season 1–she actually pretends he’s her father to fool some local peasants–and she takes the trouble to cover up his bad manners at dinner that night.

"You're welcome, buttwipe."

“You’re welcome, buttwipe.”

Unfortunately, the Hound being the Hound, he robs the peasants and storms off. Arya has no choice but to follow him, because where else is she going to go? Suddenly she loses her grudging respect for him, and I think that’s going to come back to bite him in the end. Arya is starting to learn that she can’t trust anyone, and her mentioning that she wants to visit Braavos is the first hint of where she’s headed now that her family is gone.

Up in the north, Sam lies awake at night thinking about Gilly and how she’s not safe living with a bunch of sexually frustrated men. So he takes her and her child to a brothel, which is also full of sexually frustrated men. Seems like a solid solution. The relationship between Sam and Gilly seems to be souring a bit, and it’s not because of the fact that she’s Craster’s daughter-wife or that her baby will probably grow up to be an inbred idiot.

Sam isn’t great with women, and he’s especially bad when it’s someone he really cares about. He may be a coward, but he’s still willing to risk a lot for Gilly, and yet he’s not willing to risk their friendship–even though there is literally no risk so would you just kiss her already, damn–by saying something about how he feels. So that’s a bit frustrating but extremely true to life.

Finally, there’s Daenerys. At the gates to the great city of Meereen, she prepares for battle. The city sends out a champion, and Dany’s closest companions volunteer to fight him. She turns down Grey Worm, the commander of her army. She says no to Ser Barristan, her strategic advisor. And she declines Ser Jorah’s offer, as he is her dearest friend. And yet she accepts Daario Naharis, who’s… what, a potentially excellent lay?

Oh, yeah. That's some sizzle right there.

Difficult to say. He should take his clothes off so we can be sure.

Now that I think about it, it’s more than that. Dany’s interested in Daario, but she’s not so stupid as to start a relationship with him without knowing who he is. So she gives him the opportunity to show her who he is and what he can do. Of course he defeats Meereen’s champion, paving the way for their inevitable hanky-panky, but it’s more than that, too.

Tyrion Lannister once said, “This Mother of Dragons, this Breaker of Chains, is above all a rescuer.” She’s rescuing Daario from his own insignificance, rescuing cities from their ignorance, rescuing slaves from their chains. Throughout her life, Dany has lost a lot. Her family. Her unborn son. Her sun-and-stars, Khal Drogo. Out of every character in this series, Dany has by far lost the most, but she doesn’t let it turn to hatred. It only turns to a deep resolution: that the world needs rescuing, and she’s the one to do it.

Like I said at the start: this episode was about relationships. And for a show that’s characterized by violence and gratuitous amounts of sexytimes, that’s surprisingly deep. I’m not saying it’s a shallow show, because this is one of the most layered and complex stories I’ve ever encountered. I’m just saying, it’s nice to see that, despite the horrible world they live in, these people are human enough to find the time to connect with each other, however perfect or however twisted those connections might be.

Final Grade: A+

Final Thoughts:

  • “They’re calling it the Red Wedding.” We’ve been calling it that since it happened a year ago. Keep up with the times.
  • Tyrion’s getting a little paranoid there in his jail cell. I get that it’s King’s Landing and that there are literally knives around every corner, but he sounds like once he gets out, he’s planning to retreat to some backwoods cabin and learn to hunt like some kind of crazy survivalist dwarf.
  • Man, Prince Oberyn throws some fancy shindigs, huh? Admittedly the dress code is more relaxed than it should be, but everyone seems to be having a fantastic time.
  • I also forgot to mention the relationship between Princess What’s-her-face and Ser Davos. It’s pretty cute that she’s teaching him how to read and that he’s so fond of her. It’s also funny to see him trying to explain the difference between a pirate and a smuggler, and she literally could not be less fussed about it. That is all.

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