“Game of Thrones” made the correct choice in Season 4 to follow up the shocking episode 2 finale with the exact same image at the beginning of episode 3, “Breaker of Chains.” But Joffrey’s death doesn’t have the immediate impact one might expect, as the many separate storylines continue to descend to darkness.
From Sansa escaping King’s Landing only to find herself in a similarly dangerous situation to Daenerys making her case for Meereen, here’s what happened in “Game of Thrones” Season 4, episode 3 “Breaker of Chains.”
In Blackwater Bay
“Breaker of Chains” might have picked up exactly where “The Lion and the Rose” left off, but it didn’t take long for the episode to jump to a different focal character. After seasons of being held prisoner, Sansa finally escaped King’s Landing with the help of Joffrey’s fool, Ser Dontos. Though Sansa has no idea whether she can really trust this man, she picked the better option of two evils and committed to it. And good for her for committing.
As it turns out, it was Littlefinger who orchestrated her entire escape, from the necklace to win her trust to planting Ser Dontos where he could save Sansa. Considering the turn of events at the royal wedding, he also was at least aware and at most complicit in the death of Joffrey — which shouldn’t be too surprising, all things considered. But Petyr Baelish proves to be as dangerous as ever when he kills Dontos because “drunk fools” tend to talk.
For years, Sansa has been desperate to get away from King’s Landing, but at the same time she’s also been absorbing the twisted politics of the elite there. Now that she’s free from both Joffrey’s tyranny and the threat of death at every poorly chosen word, it’s exciting to imagine how she will (hopefully) flourish. The Hound’s Little Bird can finally fly free … ish.
At King’s Landing
Joffrey is dead, and long live King Tommen Baratheon. Cersei and
Robert Jaime’s second son is as sweet as can be, and also perfectly of an age for his grandfather Tywin to influence him into at least being a wise ruler — who, notably, listens to his advisors. That’s something Tywin couldn’t get any of the previous three kings to do — Joffrey, Robert (who to a certain extent let his advisors rule the country, at least) and “Mad King” Aerys II — and it certainly puts the Hand of the King into a better position if he is ruling the ruler instead of letting Cersei try to do the same.
So Tommen is king, and Margaery is still to be his queen. Whether or not she currently is the queen is something no one seems to know and also don’t seem to be questioning. Cersei is too heartbroken to push the point, as she is seen pretty devastated by Joffrey’s altar and is not too happy about her father already coaching someone else to replace her firstborn.
Obviously standing next to her dead son isn’t going to put her in “the mood,” but that doesn’t stop Jaime from clearing out the room and finally having the sex with her he’s been wanting since he first arrived at King’s Landing. It’s a pretty twisted rape scene in an already twisted relationship, and if the point was to remind viewers Jaime is still the same guy who pushed Bran out of a window in the pilot, it worked. If it’s to make even more of a divide between Cersei and Jaime, it also works. But hopefully this isn’t the last that is heard of this scene.
In other surprising King’s Landing moves, Tywin goes to see Oberyn Martell to ask him to act as a judge on Tyrion’s trial. While that is a politically sound move, it’s surprising that Oberyn accepts in exchange for a seat on the Small Council. The Red Viper has nothing but hate for the Lannisters, so is this a trick? Or is he actually biting? At least he doesn’t seem to be implicated in Joffrey’s murder.
Then there’s poor Tyrion, who is locked up for the death of his hated nephew. Chances are Tyrion will be spending a good amount of time in that cell this season, and with few allies left to rescue him. He is forced to send Pod away, hears Shae is gone, learns Bronn can’t act as his witness and then finds out Sansa escaped King’s Landing. All he has is his brother Jaime, but considering Cersei ordered Jaime to kill Tyrion, there really might be no one left to help the Imp.
On the King’s Road
Are we alone in considering these scenes between Arya and the Hound some of the best this season? Sure, she didn’t kill anyone like she did Polliver in this episode, but seeing the way Arya tests Sandor and the way he teaches her hard lessons is pretty fantastic. In this episode, he makes the point that the nice farmer they come across won’t be alive past winter because he’s too nice — and though it’s a hard reality to stomach, he’s probably right. That’s exactly the realization Arya seems to have too, as proven by the look on her face when the Hound asks her how many Starks need to be beheaded for life’s brutality to become clear to her.
South of the Wall
The northern reaches of Westeros aren’t doing much better than the middle of the country where Arya and the Hound are. In one of the best shot scenes of the season, a town of sweet Northerners is set upon by the group of Wildllings containing Tormund, Ygritte and Styr. Styr lets his brutal nature show as he forces a child watch his parents be murdered in front of him to make a point, but all of these Wildlings who Jon Snow once allied himself with are being proven to be enemies of Westeros. It’s likely important that the child watched Ygritte kill some of the Westerosi townsfolk, because her red hair will be easy to remember when the kid reports Styr’s attack to Jon.
At Castle Black
Even if Jon did hear the news of Ygritte being among the raiding party south of the Wall, he’s got bigger issues to deal with. Grenn and some Night’s Watch men managed to escape Craster’s Keep and get back to Castle Black relatively unscathed, but Jon learning of Karl being in charge of that keep makes him realize what grave danger the men of the Night’s Watch are in. While Jon convincingly lied to Mance Rayder about the number of men who are manning the Wall, Karl could diffuse that lie with one wrong comment.
Going to kill those men still at Craster’s is a hard call to make, but at least it is the right one. Jon is right to see that Styr is just trying to draw him out for an attack where the few Night’s Watch men can be picked off, and thus it’s smart not to rise to the challenge. Jon will have to be a forceful leader with his ranging north, though, as some of the men behind him will likely have issues killing their brothers, even if those brothers did desert their duty at the Wall.
Meanwhile, Sam thinks he’s found a proper solution to his Gilly problem. He takes her to Mole’s Town where she can word at the brothel as … a maid? A server? A housekeeper? She realizes this is putting her into a pretty bad situation with baby Sam, and she’s not very understanding, though of course Sam has the right motivation. No correct solution seems to be presenting itself for these two to have a happy, safe future.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys Targaryen moved her Unsullied army quickly while Joffrey was off dying last episode. She is the “Breaker of Chains” this week, as she arrives at Meereen with a whole lot of literal baggage to level at the slave masters of the city. As she says, she has two conquered cities behind her and has two sets of former slaves allied with her.
When she speaks directly to the slaves of Meereen and levels the collars of the slave children at the city walls, Dany is sending a clear message: I am here to save you. It’s one of the most powerful scenes in the show, and essentially the Season 4 equivalent of Season 3’s “dracarys.” But Meereen has some high city walls, and even with the slaves on her side, this likely won’t be as easy a conquest for Dany as the previous cities were.
At least Daario Naharis proved himself as a capable and effective ally. His fight against the Champion of Meereen was perfectly choreographed, and like his trick with the flowers in episode 1, it shows that Daario has some smooth moves. Michiel Huisman is captivating as Daario, and it’s nice to have one of Daenerys’s followers have a bit more spunk than Jorah, Barristan, Missandei and Grey Worm.
– The fairly graphic Jaime/Cersei rape scene in the TV show was not nearly as graphic in the novels. Though Jaime did force himself on her at first, Cersei encourages her brother to have sex with her by the end. This is far from a defense of this scene in either medium, but it’s definitely interesting to see that the rape element was played up in the show. Clearly there are some plans for that incest story going forward.
– That whole urination scene in front of Meereen plays out a bit differently in the books. It’s actually a character named Strong Belwas who fights the Champion of Meereen in “A Storm of Swords,” and after he wins, he defecates in front of the city. Urination suddenly seems like the much more appealing option.
– Jon’s journey to kill the Night’s Watch men at Craster’s Keep is new to the TV series. In the books, Jon is almost immediately faced with the threat of the Wildlings after he arrives back at Castle Black. It’s understandable why that story would want to be fleshed out more.
– “The next one will be easier.” – Olenna Tyrell to Margaery
– “You’re a hateful woman. Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?” – Jaime Lannister to Cersei