Friday, 25 April 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 3 - "Breaker of chains" (TV SPOILERS)


"Dead men don't need silver!”

A decent episode and bags of fun - some good development but also a couple of weak and pointless storylines. Theme of the week is that weak men must die. Episode included Jaime the raper, the return of Lord Baelish, Daenery's final conquest of slave cities, the education of Tommen Lannister and a lot more.

Welcome back (or hello if you're a first-timer). I’ll be writing a short, sweet ‘flash review’ of GoT episodes as soon as possible (same day if possible). Here’s a few features, skip down for the review.

1.       There will be spoilers for the episode, but not the books. Mostly because I can’t be bothered reading 5,000 pages of fiction and certainly not if there isn’t an exam at the end of it. This is why we invented TV (this and good grammar is what separates us from the monkeys).

2.       There will be a power chart (see below), where we track how the players’ power is evolving. [I’ll try to guess ‘potential power’ as well as current power, if that potential is very real.]

3.       There will be a count of “Boobs of Thrones” and “Violence of Thrones”. This isn’t as sinister as it sounds, just keeping track.

Dickhead of the week: Lord Baelish, for rewarding a man for his caring and hard work with a crossbow  shot (even if that man did lie a bit).

Overall impression of the episode: we now have real momentum and forward movement in plot terms. We got the usual Targaryen show of power (it's just too easy for her, isn't it?), the witchhunt/aftermath of Joffrey's death, a mysterious person trying to frame Tyrion and  lots of obligatory nudity around the Martells. However, the area that hots up the most is perhaps much further North, at Castle Black. The wildling army is almost upon our 'unsullied' watchers and it's 10,000+ against about 100 (including The Blind Targaryen).


1. What happened to the bastard Gendry? Maybe he's in Dorne, where they like bastards.
2. What happened to Theon's sister, Yara? Wasn't she looking for him?

Americans often amuse themselves by telling stories about their heritage, real or apocryphal. Have you heard the one about the difference between "lace-curtain Irish" and "shanty Irish"? No, not "lace curtain Irish came to America in a cabin on a ship, shanty Irish got locked below decks", but "lace curtain move their dirty dishes out of the way before they piss in the kitchen sink". Well, Game of Thrones is NOT lace-curtain. This is why, this week, we were treated to the spectacle of Jaime Lannister, one-handed head of the Kingsguard, raping his sister and mother of his three children next to the murdered body of one of said children.

According to Alex Graves, the Director, this ended as 'consensual' by the end ( This reminds me of Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film, which played a rape scene where the victim is shown 'enjoying' it near the end, which was also a play on the victim's husband's impotence subplot. Anyway, I do not approve this message - it didn't move the story on and made me feel slightly queasy, partly because I realised I wasn't that shocked by it. I mean, it's GoT. The other reason why this is immensely problematic is because we were just coming round to Jaime being a decent human being, rather than an swaggering, incestuous dirtbag. We're either meant to infer that this is the result of grief, or simply accept it as Jaime at his worst. It doesn't make sense. Anyway, I'll come back to this later, so we can follow chronologically.

Baelish: "He's a drunk and a fool."

More interestingly, we get to see the aftermath of Joffrey's death from Sansa and Lord Baelish's point of view.  Before I go any further, what the hell has happened to Baelish's voice and accent?! He seems to have gone somewhere from his existing accent to the one he sported in The Wire. As for his voice, it sounds like he's doing an intentionally bad Bond villain! The change from previous seasons is very noticeable.

Anyway, you may remember that as soon as Joffrey was declared dead, Sansa was whisked away by Ser Dentafloss Dontos, which makes me think that Ser knew more than everybody else (although it was clear at that point that Joffrey was dead). So there is a good chance that the next character we saw was involved in this plot: Lord Baelish. I've been told that he has a much more prominent role in the books and the whispering and rumour-mongering campaign led by him is more front-and-centre, while in GoT he's been relatively quiet. Here though, he's in fine form as a ruthless but suave power-player. Anyway, the whole necklace story by Ser Dontos was fabricated - turns out this is Sansa's coming-of-age moment.

Two key scenes about Baelish for me are (1) the Sherlockian game Tyrion played in Season 2 where he told different stories to different characters about the same incident, in confidence, and saw who was snitching: Baelish was the first to snitch (2) Baelish gave Cersei a sermon about how knowledge is power, but then Cersei had her guards point their daggers at him, saying "no, POWER is power". Baelish has always been the outsider with something to prove. He thinks by marrying Lady Sansa (who is less than half his age, and certainly well under 18, but whatever), he may get some shred of respectability (whether he'll actually enjoy that is another matter). I suspect he won't have moral trouble with 'consummating his marriage' with a child, unlike good ol' Tyrion.

Credit: HBO
We then get one of my favourite scenes of the episode, in which Olenna Tyrell tells Margaery how it is, when Margaery frets about her husbands have a habit of biting the dust during or shortly after getting married.

Olenna: "Nonsense, your circumstances have improved markedly. You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would've enjoyed being married to him, I promise you that."
Margaery: "But I would've been the Queen!"
Olenna: "Our alliance with the Lannisters is as important to them as it is unpleasant for us. You did wonderful work with Joffrey. The next one will be easier."

I'll let a younger Charles Dance (Tywin) make my feelings clear (
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Olenna Tyrell got game. It's beginning to seem like she definitely had something to do with Joffrey's murder. It's funny how she treats her grandchild as a pawn in her game, a bit like how Tywin uses his children. However, Margaery isn't some innocent fool and almost certainly did not care about Renly or Joffrey.

Then we get to see the most dysfunctional family in the GoT universe - the Lannisters. Furthermore, the death of Joffrey has had devastating consequences: some quietly devastating, and some loudly devastating. For some reason, Tywin starts grooming Tommen to be the next King right next to Joffrey's body, even though it's barely gone cold. Tywin's lack of compassion is quite staggering, but as I've noted, he's a very pragmatic man. Having said this, I find it hard to believe he'd carry on like that right next to the body. A pragmatic man would've had the conversation with Tommen elsewhere, given that Cersei was radiating fury and loathing in the same room. Tywin quizzes Tommen on what makes a good King (I guessed "judgement"...that's the same, right?), and Tommen gets it pretty quickly...for a 12 year old, anyway.

Cersei's eyes suddenly dart towards him, either because she thinks Tywin's getting a grip on him already, or because she thinks he's smarter than Tywin. Or will be eventually. The supreme irony in this would be if Tywin orchestrated Joffrey's murder in order to elevate the more malleable Tommen, just for Tommen to outgrow Tywin and kill him, or worse, give him a crap job. Anyway, it's at this point that some of us must be thinking: where is the bastard Gendry? Wouldn't he be true heir to Robert Baratheon? I wonder if and when we'll find out.

The Hound: "He's weak and will be dead come winter!"

Then we had another weak storyline: Arya, the Hound finding and then robbing a nice father-and-daughter family who give them food and shelter. I wasn't sure what the point of this was - was it to show that she still had some love left for innocent people? I thought we'd established that she was still basically good and so was the Hound, but with considerably rougher edges. Or was it to show that nice people don't last long, like we've been seeing in GoT throughout the last 4 seasons? Yawn.

Tarly: "They all think you're just a wildling!"

Speaking of incest...we catch up with Samwell Tarly, Gilly and inbred baby (handsome though he is). This feels like a completely futile storyline, although they're not annoying as such. Plus it's good to spend some time with ordinary people rather than pretenders to the throne. Anyway, Sam tries to ship Gilly off to a nearby town to protect her, although clearly putting her in the hands of dangerous people.

Stannis: "If I do not press my claim, my claim will be forgotten. I will not become a page in someone else's history book."

Stannis continues to have an epic sense of entitlement, like Daenerys and all the other pretenders. Apparently because one of his ancestors killed the right people, he deserves to be King too. However, his story is quite tragic - it would appear that Stannis's army is all but destroyed, he has very little food and only magic to go on. In fact, I'd be willing to bet the less food they have, the more people believe in magic. Ser Davos has brought him nothing after months of work. And then suddenly, reading about pirates, he gets an idea about how to get some gold, with the Iron Bank of Braavos. It's hard to properly engage with this storyline as it's quite isolated. How does this affect Westeros in any way? Also, why hasn't Melisandre tried something outrageous with her magic? Killed Tywin, perhaps?

Then we get a pointless nudie scene with the Martells, where Oberyn says something like "make sure you've had as much sex as possible by the time your body gets saggy". Real sage advice. Tywin then bursts in and basically accuses Martell of trying to kill Joffrey.

In amongst all this is the implication that Tywin doesn't think Tyrion didn't kill Joffrey and so is on the hunt. If it's not Tywin himself, I suspect he'll make sure the killer is captured - not because he cared about Joffrey, of course, but because they cannot be seen to allow a Lannister-killer to live free...a Lannister always pays his debts. Then we get a war crimes allegory about soldiers committing rape and murder during war, without their superiors' knowledge. Oberyn wants revenge for his sister Elia's rape and murder by The Mountain, one of the most unpleasant characters in GoT ( Tywin offers Oberyn a position on the small council, which will allow us to see Oberyn as a character rather than just a wild sexual creature. In return for Oberyn sitting in on the trial and the small Council, Tywin will provide an audience with The Mountain, although how that will end in anything other than the Mountain's death is a mystery to me. The Red Viper does not make empty threats (he hasn't actually made one yet but he will). I suspect Tywin will come to regret all this, although he has managed to give the trial legitimacy by having an outsider sit on it.

Tyrion: "I will not have you die on my behalf!"
Tyrion's storyline has suddenly come to a halt, understandably on account of his incarceration. Fortunately, he might be able to call upon Jaime, who cannot seriously believe Tyrion was behind this, particularly after their cute little bonding session over food and Bronn, in episode 2. Also, Oberyn sitting in on the trial surely improves Tyrion's chances. Oberyn is temperamental and angry, but he's a man with a code, unlike Tywin or Baelish. Tyrion is ultimately the key to Kings Landing and so it's important for GoT to keep him reasonably safe. Killing him off would be a huge mistake, in my opinion. The death of Robb Stark nobbled the narrative in the North, but this would be worse. However, there's another dark cloud - some mysterious man has been trying to isolate Tyrion through Podrick. Stay tuned.

We get a brief scene showing some real brutality from Ygritte and the rest of the wildlings. Just when we'd come to like Ygritte, she goes and shows her true wildling colours! She must be angrier still, given Jon Snow's betrayal.

"Thought you'd have blue eyes by now"
The Northern story just got interesting - a set of mutinying Brothers of the Night's Watch know how many Brothers are at Castle Black and if Mance Rayder finds out, Castle Black will be laid to waste. It's interesting to note how events at Craster's Keep are coming back to haunt Castle Black. On another note, I'm amazed there's no more word on the White Walkers.

Finally, we come to that Targaryen girl in the East. Although it's bags of fun, this segment of GoT is also slightly troubling, for many reasons. And I'm not even going to go into why the slaves are dark skinned and the leaders white and blonde (e.g. Jorah and Daenerys). But anyway, all I could think of in Daenerys scene is "she should have been the one to take a piss". I didn't understand why she made that long speech when all she really needed to say was:

Credit: HBO. And me.
Ok, so she has dragons and liberates slaves. Something's not right - how can a decent human being prosper in Game of Thrones? In my humble opinion, this part of GoT is the weakest because it's basically wish fulfilment - she's good but doesn't pay for it and she does what she wants, when she wants. Her narrative so far has basically been "some hardship, naive ambition, dragons, nomads taking over slave cities". The narrative is quite stop-start with little character and plot development. We know that her army will be strongly loyal and not just working for her for money, but because she liberated them. This is some character development but simply doesn't give us the kind of depth that we get with the Westerosians. Admittedly, most of Westeros's characters are rooted to their kingdoms and so their rhythm is different, while Daenerys is building her kingdom and running a lot of shoe leather in doing so.

She has a motley crew of exiles, ex-slaves and of course, dragons. Unlike those in Kings Landing, she hasn't had to make any hard choices recently, although she hasn't had what we'd consider an easy life. Therefore, there's less to discuss with her, except how cool she is. Daenerys is an internet sensation and a fan favourite. I think of her as a counterbalance to the depravity and pessimism of Westeros, where all good men die and bad men rule. Interestingly, she calls herself "Stormborn", not "Targaryen". Let us remember why:

"No squall could frighten Dany, though. Daenerys Stormborn, she was called, for she had come howling into the world on distant Dragonstone as the greatest storm in the memory of Westeros howled outside, a storm so fierce that it ripped gargoyles from the castle walls and smashed her father’s fleet to kindling."
-A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords.

Let us remember what Jorah said about her:

"You have a good claim: a title, a birthright. But you have something more than that: you may cover it up and deny it, but you have a gentle heart. You would be not only respected and feared, you would be loved. Someone who can rule and should rule. Centuries come and go without a person like that coming into the world. There are times that I look at you, and I still can't believe you're real."

Aww! So he was a little bit heartbroken when upon seeing Meerenden's pissing contest, Daenerys declines his offer:

Anyway, with that, we've got things set up nicely for the next in these stories, although this won't happen till atleast episode 5 or 7. We've got a conflict at Castle Black, Daenerys finally forming what must be a fairly large army by now, Ser Davos's genius plan to get Stannis back in the game and much, much more. Plus surely a major face-off between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain!


Boobs of thrones: 3 pairs of boobs, 1 pair of nackers and untold amounts of bum.

Margery Tyrell sideboob: Still at 1.

Violence of thrones: 8/10. A knife in the mouth of a horse, a slashing of a Meerenden 'champion', a beating of an innocent and weak father and a crossbow at point-blank range on the seas for a former Knight. Phew.

Big 'up' movers: Daenerys (0.5), Sansa (1) and Tommen (2) & Martells (2).

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