Last week’s Very Special Episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a tough act to follow, but “Breaker of Chains” provided only slightly fewer betrayals, Dornish burn victims, and dead kings. Well, actually, the dead king count remained at one. The actor must’ve had a really easy last day of work on set.
What this hour lacked in all of the above, it made up for it with more terrifying cannibals, some very tarnished buried treasure, and another case of non-book readers probably enjoying this episode way more than book-readers.
Episode spoilers after the jump and book spoilers very likely in the comments. Tread carefully.
Hooray! Joffrey is still dead. He didn’t come back as a sadistic asshole zombie or anything. Score one for the good guys. If the good guys don’t include Tyrion, because his situation remains shitty. Awaiting trial in the cells of the Red Keep, he’s finding himself very, very alone. No one will stand for him in his upcoming trial. His dad and sister ensured that the judges are stacked against Tyrion and anyone who might’ve been an ally is bribed or “investigated.”
Pod looked very guilty when Tyrion called him the most loyal squire in the world. That can’t bode well. This does look to be a trial Tyrion can’t squirm away from. It’s a dark time to be an Imp.
Maybe Jaime will help his favorite brother out when he’s done raping his sister in front of the corpse of their firstborn child? In case you forgot how loathsome most Lannisters are, this scene was here to remind you. While the action was true to the book, the act was in no way consensual on the show. And that’s a big problem for people who were starting to like Jaime. Like me.
I haven’t been this pissed off about a departure from the books since the pilot scene on Drogo and Dany’s wedding night.
In the books, Jaime took Cersei in front of her dead son immediately upon his return to King’s Landing. Here, Jaime has complained about Cersei being withholding prior to this encounter, so it came off less desperate and confusing for both parties and more just flat-out selfish and cruel on Jaime’s part. This, too, coming after Cersei already suffered witnessing the death of her son, listening to her father shit on his memory while he turns her surviving son into a puppet for the small council.
We get it, Cersei should be punished by the Story Gods for being a crappy mother. But to have even Jaime take his piece of her? It just felt beyond twisted and part of a larger problem for most women in Westeros. We nearly forgot that Jaime was that same mean, entitled prick that defenestrated an eight-year-old. But in this rape of Cersei, Jaime committed an act so vile, it negates all the heroics we’ve seen during his travels with Brienne. Why root for Jaime anymore? This is a bit more than a little misstep on the road to redemption and I don’t see why it was necessary. To give Jaime more man-pain and guilt in the future? To make Cersei more sympathetic?
While we’re talking about the reality of women and rape in Westeros, we may as well mention Samwell’s really stupid, selfish plan to hide Gilly and her baby in Mole’s Town, the village south of the Wall where many a crow has broken his vows. Yes, so to protect Gilly from rape, hide her in a brothel full of horny johns and whores? I’d be giving Samwell the side-eye, too. Especially after seeing my shit-stained bedroll and new housemates. Are we sure it’s not called Meth’s Town? Those teeth. That bad skin. Yeesh.
Sam, you killed a White Walker. Stand up for yourself.
With so much to be annoyed by in this episode, at least my beloved Dolorous Edd is back. Never change, Dolorous Edd.
Lest you think Edd and Grenn were the titular breaker of chains, having escaped the late Craster’s Keep to the Wall, the big climax this week belonged to Dany, once again kicking slavemaster ass.
Again, as a book reader, I bemoaned the lack of Strong Belwas and his fight against Meereen’s champion. But that’s a change from the book I can at least understand. So: Daario 2.0. Still not really a fan. He’s just so generic-looking and without charisma or chemistry. But I guess I’m relieved I didn’t have to watch him poop on a battlefield. There’s only so much grossness I can take in an hour.
Are we not touching on all of the issues Dany would/should be having with a gigantic marching army of freed slaves, i.e. largely civilian and starving and prone to terrible diseases, internal exploitation, and in-fighting? I hate to keep bringing up Starz’ Spartacus, but at least they dealt with the logistical nightmare of managing an army without much experience. Dany must be magical. She’s really just that good.
I did like the siege scene though – very Pelennor Fields. Dany’s war theme music is fantastic. Tywin had best be afraid of Dany, if he knows what’s good for him.
But is Littlefinger already winning the war?
Littlefinger, that son of a bitch, how I missed him these last few episodes. I fear for Sansa, big time. “We’re all liars in the capital… but you can trust me.” Yes, because it worked SO WELL for Sansa’s dad. Maybe she would’ve been better off running away with the Hound when she had the chance.
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, it’s still crappy and rainy and Stannis is believing in Melisandre’s magic. If only she could perform a spell that would give him some soldiers and money. Luckily, Davos has some sort of eureka moment with his adorable tutor that might solve his king’s problem…
- A Hound without ale is marginally less angry than a Hound without his fucking chickens. Just when we thought Arya “Are We There Yet?” Stark and her protector were bonding, she gets to meet a bizarro version of herself and Sandor that subsequently ends with a painful reminder that Sandor is still a Bad Person. Game of Thrones: Everyone Is Bad Except for Maybe Hot Pie.
- “Would you like to sit down [on my bed where group sex was just taking place, Lord Tywin, Killer of Boners and Starks?]” I love Oberyn.
- Speaking of Tywin, I did like his “What makes a good king?” lesson, badly-timed as it was. Tommen looks way older than he was in the books, old as Joffrey almost. But he’s definitely getting the character’s sensitivity across.
- Worst last words: “No one boils a potato better than yer ma.” Shame on you, Ygritte. You really fell in with a bad crowd. Making it very easy for Jon to stop missing you.
- Wouldn’t killing the mutineers at Craster’s not really do much to protect the Wall? Mance is gonna find out the Night’s Watch is weaker than Jon said they were once the arrive at the Wall eventually, right?
- Lastly, here’s an entertaining interview with Aidan Gillen about Littlefinger’s involvement in Joffrey’s poisoning.
- Here’s an interesting interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on what was going through his head and Jaime’s during That Scene. I’m sorry, but I’m not really feeling for Jaime being equally powerless in that scene, but it gives some persepctive.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. She’s also the resident Hannibal fannibal at Boing Boing. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci