Game of Thrones S4E3 “Breaker of Chains” [Thirteen Things]


1)      It’s interesting to see that with so many plot lines running they’re using the “previously in” clips as a primer to remind you of what’s key. What caught my attention in this episode was the brief shot of Stannis Baratheon throwing three leeches onto the fire. “The usurper Robb Stark, the usurper Joffrey Baratheon,” etc. So far, they’ve all died in order. Remember who the third one was? C’mon, people. Keep up.

2)      This ep picked up IMMEDIATELY where the last left off, with Ser Dontos whisking Sansa away into the fog. The image of her shrouded figure on the run was beautiful and atmospheric and the panic that pervaded those opening moments with Tywin barking orders to seal the city was just... YES. The thing is, as good as this episode was, it’s basically a filler ep by comparison, considering that there are still like SEVEN major things that need to occur this season. Anyway, I really only have one other word to say: LITTLEFINGER.

3)      On that note, I loved the way that the Littlefinger reveal scene leads right into the Tyrell scene with Olenna and Margaery. Sometimes when you edit so many scenes together with different people and places you create an unintentional narrative via their sequencing. But, this is an example of intentional narrative meant to look casually unrelated.

4)      Tywin grooming Tommen for leadership. I’m sorry to all of the other fine actors that’ve been assembled, but Charles Dance steals the show this week. Between this and his other big scene, he’s as delightful as Olenna Tyrell (only far more cunning) to watch every time he’s on screen. The audience is basically left hanging on every single word, as he instructs Tommen very directly on the wisdom of kings, the folly of many kings past (including “King Robert,” not “your father”), takes digs at Cersei over Joffrey’s failings, ensures his own vision of the world vis-à-vis his role as Hand of The King, and literally snatches Tommen away right out from under Cersei’s control, right before her eyes. The secret powers always seem to be just behind the rulers of Westeros. I also think it’s worth noting how similar Tommen’s clothing is to his Uncle Dad Jaime.

5)      The Great Sept of Baelor is another example of what Game of Thrones excels at, moments of emotional manipulation which have us conflicted over our relationship with each character. We’ve been conditioned to applaud Jaime’s redemption and basically hate Cersei as Queen Bitch, but those get all inverted. You can only feel sad for Cersei, even in spite of her misdirected anger at Tyrion. Her beloved (if only by her) son is dead, her power is slipping away from her, she is no longer queen, her dad just stole her other son away from her, Jaime refuses her by being very apprehensive about killing Tyrion, and then Jaime rapes her (yes, despite all the online controversy over intentions and interpretations and editing and blocking and “eventual consent,” despite the consensual nature of what was originally depicted in the book, what occurred in the show looked like rape to me). Cersei’s power is slipping away in so many ways, and like most insecure people, she will continue to overcompensate when she’s feeling threatened. Power is the most fickle mistress in Westeros.

6)      Arya is learning to be quite the little social chameleon, which is great foreshadowing. Also? Rabbit Stew. Happy Easter!

7)      It was very thoughtful of the writers to give a nod to ASOIAF fandom by actually calling out “The Red Wedding” by name. Will we see the same for The Purple Wedding?

8)      The fate of the farmer that takes in Arya and The Hound is example #137 of the noble ways dying in Westeros, foreshadowed by talk of Guest Rights that were obliterated at The Red Wedding. Later, Tyrion’s conversation with Pod exudes the same, as the poor squire is so loyal he’d probably die for it, truly a dying sensibility in the land of cold ambition at all costs. I’ve grown a bit tired of Arya and The Hound wandering The Riverlands, so efforts to create scenes like this or to include The Hound giving Arya some tough love are most welcome.

9)      Sam struggling to find every which way to say “I love you” to Gilly without having to say those exact words. He’s pushing her away to protect her, something Tyrion did with Shae, something Tyrion is now doing with Podrick. It’s a thematic constant in the show lately. Tyrion basically breaks Pod’s heart by trying to save his life. He also gets in some good verbal licks about the ominous “they,” or “the man pulling the strings,” proof that the language is laced with additional meaning for people paying very close attention.

10)   Pirates vs. Smugglers.

11)   Tywin recruiting Oberyn for The Small Council is a brilliant example of Papa Lannister playing the long game. He’s a man concerned with his legacy, his family’s legacy, and he’s able to see the strategic big picture and not just roll up his sleeves to win the tactical matches. In his long view of the world, The Martells of Dorne can only be allies against the open-rebellion Greyjoys, Wildlings advancing on The Wall, or the little matter of “the Targaryen girl with three dragons.”

12)   It’s a great irony that Tywin and Oberyn debate the poison assassination plot while standing in Littlefinger’s brothel, a fact that Tywin even mentions in a roundabout way.

13)   The show basically makes itself irresistible with cinematic flourish, this week’s example being Dany picking her champion. It re-establishes her relationships with Grey Worm, Ser Barristan Selmy, and Ser Jorah Mormont. It also offers doses of humor and action as Daario Naharis dispatches the champion of Meereen, even though it’s still just another mechanism to keep us entertained in spite of the repetitive nature of Dany’s march through Essos.


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