Review: Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 3 – Breaker of Chains

This week's episode sees characters mostly trying to protect rather than to kill - although of course, a fair amount of killing goes on too...

In the aftermath of Joffrey’s death, most characters are attempting some nifty footwork to either hold, gain, or regain their ground. Most are trying to work out how best to protect themselves and those they care about, while in foreign parts Daenerys steps her anti-slavery campaign up another notch as she arrives at Meereen.

Last week we were starting to wonder what had happened to Littlefinger. Well he’s back from his cruise, and not a moment too soon; if the showrunners had left him out of proceedings for much longer we might have started to forget he existed. This episode begins exactly where the last one left off; Joffrey has just choked his last, Cersei is yelling for Tyrion’s arrest, and Ser Dontos has popped up at Sansa’s elbow to whisk her away to the harbour, where Littlefinger is hanging out in the fog with his getaway yacht (revealing that Dontos was in his pay all along). Which is interesting, when you think about it, because either Littlefinger has been chilling in the harbour for weeks on end waiting for the opportune moment for Dontos to nab Sansa, or he must have somehow known that Joffrey was going to die on his wedding day…

Anyway, Littlefinger is back, and we can once more get to work on trying to figure out what the hell he’s got up his sleeve. Remember, he has – or had – a bit of a weird obsession with Catelyn Stark, and by extension, Sansa, who is now completely in his power after he offed Ser Dontos to keep him quiet (and avoid paying him for his services).

The remaining Lannisters start by holding an emergency general meeting in the Sept of Baelor over Joffrey’s eerily pebble-eyed corpse, simultaneously providing us with more insights into their shifting characters. Tywin loses no time in beginning to exert his influence over Tommen, who will now become the new king – luckily for Tywin, Tommen is a lot more malleable and about 100% less insane than dear departed Joffrey. Tywin counsels Tommen to be a king with wisdom, then immediately explains how wise it is to listen to the words of one’s advisors (particularly a certain grandfather).

Left alone in the Sept, Cersei and Jaime ‘mourn’ the death of their son. Cersei’s upset seems genuine; as Tyrion told her in season two “You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.” Even now that he’s been thrown into prison (again) Tyrion’s faith in his sister seems unshaken, as he tells Pod Cersei is the only person he is absolutely sure did NOT poison Joffrey – but that counts for little. As Cersei knows better than anyone, when you play the game of thrones you win or you die, and Cersei is certainly on the winning side at the moment. Sure she’s shedding tears on Jaime’s shoulder, but technically she can only benefit from Joffrey’s death.

Things take a bit of an odd turn, as Cersei seems to remember she’s currently not that into Jaime (and kind of disgusted by the whole ‘one hand’ thing) and shoves him away, prompting Jaime to tell her that he hates/loves her, and then have some very ambiguous but most likely non-consensual sex on the floor of the Sept. Next to Joffrey’s corpse. Yep. We’re not quite sure what that’s all about yet either, but we do know it’s going to be very interesting to watch the strange relationship of these twins continue to develop. Those who thought that Jaime had changed his ways completely have found themselves to be sorely mistook.

In the most touching scene of the episode, imprisoned Tyrion sends faithful squire Podrick away from King’s Landing for his own protection, just as he did Shae last week. Pod puts up a lot less of a fight than Shae, merely holding back the tears as he resolutely follows the order of his liege lord (kudos go to Daniel Portman for his mien here). At Castle Black, Sam is also trying to protect Gilly by sending her to Molestown, but just as we wonder if Pod will survive longer without Tyrion’s protection, we wonder if Gilly will be safe without Sam watching over her. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Westeros, high or low born, every day seems to involve a decision between a rock and hard place.

After so much plot in the last few episodes, it was nice to see some good old fashioned action scenes rounding this instalment off – and not the Red Wedding sort of action either; the sort we can whole-heartedly get behind. Daenerys once again proved her strength and resolve by showing up at Meereen, having Daario quickly dispatch the city’s chosen warrior, making an impassioned speech to the city’s slaves, and then catapulting barrels of slave collars over the walls. Our only gripe is that there was no sign of the dragons getting involved – perhaps next week?

Best Kill: Daario putting the overly-confident warrior from Meereen in his place

Best Scene: A toss-up between Pod and Tyrion’s goodbye and the entire sequence at Meereen

Best Line: “I would like to think if I were arranging a royal assassination, I’d plan it in such a way that I wouldn’t be standing there gawking like a fool when the king died.” – Tyrion

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