4   +   4   =  

‘Breaker Of Chains’ – Who is really the ‘worst sh*t’ in Westeros?

Season four’s third episode was a bit slower than maybe viewers were anticipating, following the mayhem that took place on Joffrey’s wedding day. Breaker of Chains opens with Cersei screaming and Tywin shutting the city down. Sansa however manages to leave unnoticed with Ser Dontos. She’s free, she’s finally free! . . .  That kind of dream lasts about 30 seconds in George R. R. Martin’s world.

Skipping ahead a short while, Sansa has escaped King’s Landing to board a boat commanded by none other than Paetr Baelish. After showing ‘sincere’ gratitude to Sansa’s saviour, Littlefinger swiftly kills Ser Dontas. It’s unclear whether he had more to do with Joffrey’s death or whether, in that pragmatic way of his, he simply grasped this opportunity to steal away with Sansa. Whatever it is, we can all agree Aiden Gillen’s accent is very weird all of a sudden.

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Returning to King’s Landing , Tywin is grilling new King – or king-in-training – Tommen, on what makes a great royal leader. Not holiness nor justice nor strength will do; wisdom is the true quality of a successful king. The irony here is that wisdom may be the thing the Lannister clan, bar Tyrion, lack. They can be highly emotional, arrogant, manipulative and above all, cruel people. Which leads us to the episode’s most startling scene.

The main talking point of Breaker of Chains has been the controversial scene between siblings Cersei and Jaime Lannister. This scene is problematic for oh so many reasons, first and foremost being its portrayal (and subsequent denial by the episode’s director) of rape. The act itself seems out-of-character for Jaime, who last series become one of the ensemble’s most sympathetic characters due to his banter-fuelled relationship with Brienne. Yes, this show is full of people who do shitty things –animal cruelty, torture, murder – but this was different. We may hate Cersei, but this has made us detest Jaime. Maybe the writers worried viewers would lose interest in an episode without a thrilling twist to keep us hooked; there’s only so much you can take from the novels before needing to bulk it out a bit for TV. Let’s hope the rest of the series doesn’t rely on shock value over decent storytelling, as this would really destroy what makes Thrones so much better than other shows.

Back to some characters who haven’t lost all sense: Margaery Tyrell and the Grandma everyone wishes they had, Olenna, are discussing the recent bad luck that has blighted poor Margeary’s hopes of becoming Queen. First Renly, now Joffrey – she really does seem cursed.

Arya and the Hound have further adventures on their way to Riverrun. This time stealing from a nice man and daughter duo who have the common decency to give the pair a meal and shelter for the night. The Hound really sees no benefit in being fair or kind, but I’m unconvinced this makes him the “worst shit” in Westeros, despite what Arya thinks.

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Stannis is busy moaning at Davos about his diminished army and small band of supporters. What was that we were saying earlier about wisdom? Well maybe everyone should just follow Shireen’s example and educate themselves – it’s much better to be a knight than a ke-niggit. Shireen’s reading session with Davos starts an idea rolling as the Onion Knight decides to dictate a letter to be sent to the Iron Bank of Braavos.

Tywin and Oberyn get a very interesting scene together, as old man Lannister invites the Dornish prince to be a judge at Tyrion’s trial, as well as offering his support with avenging Elia Martell’s death. Tyrion is locked up awaiting his trial, where Podrick, his loyal squire, visits to offer his support.

The Wildlings are raiding a village but a survivor flees to warn Castle Black, where the Watch are going to have to head to Craster’s Keep to avoid some extreme bloodshed against Mance Rayder’s looming army. Gilly and Sam make a welcome appearance together at Castle Black during the episode too, but there’s not much urgency to whatever these two seem to be up to. Their interaction is sweet none the less.

Daenerys reaches Meereen and after being insulted at the gates, challenges one of their fighters against a chosen one of her own – Daario. After he emerges triumphant, a flying swarm of slave collars is chucked against Meereen’s walls and the episode ends with a look of astonishment from the other side of the city wall. At least Daenerys keeps getting the epic action and isn’t being completely left out of Thrones’s fun.

★★★

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