It's a Knockaert

The ramblings of a football obsessive and Game of Thrones nerd.

Game of Thrones Review: S4E3 “Breaker of Chains”

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After the brilliant opening episode, and the dramatic shock in last week’s episode, you could say we were due a slightly more boring episode, and we got one. This week’s episode featured a lot of conversations and not a whole lot of plot progression, but worse than that, there was a pretty awful change from the books that has enraged a hell of a lot of people. Spoilers to come.

We picked up immediately from the end of episode two, with Joffrey’s dead face staring right at us. As Tyrion was arrested, Sansa made a frantic escape with Ser Dontos onto Littlefinger’s ship. It’s the first time Sansa has left King’s Landing since she arrived there way back in season one, and this is where her character really starts to come into it’s own in the books. Hopefully seeing her change as a character will sway the people who still absurdly consider her annoying and weak. Littlefinger remains incredibly creepy.

Margaery and Olenna have a brief conversation about death, which wasn’t as interesting as it sounds, and then we were in the sept with Cersei, Tywin, the new king Tommen and Joffrey’s corpse. Tywin and Tommen had an interesting conversation about what makes a good king, and then it was time for the scene that many fans had been waiting for – Jaime and Cersei having sex in the sept. However, although it was consensual in the books, and the director and writer of the episode claim it was meant to be portrayed as consensual, this was very clearly rape. A really poorly done scene which has quite rightly made a lot of people angry.

After not seeing them last week, we then back with the Hound and Arya. They met a farmer and his daughter and had dinner with them, before the Hound robbed and beat the farmer up – despite claiming not to be a thief in episode one. I’m starting to agree with the writer of this tumblr post – http://donewithwoodenteeth.tumblr.com/post/83458059934/hi-i-know-everyone-is-talking-about-how-they-screwed – that Arya is becoming something of a comic relief character, and that they have missed out on a lot of her character development, such as her mourning her family, and how she got offended when people thought the Hound was her father – now they’ve got her claiming he is her father herself. Arya never stops hating the Hound in the book, but the show has her almost as his side-kick.

We then had some pretty boring scenes with Sam and Gilly that dragged on far too long, on either side of a scene with Stannis and Davos. Stannis was a lot more interesting this week, pulling out the “I will not become a page in someone else’s history book” line from the trailers, and then a scene with Davos and Shireen that seemed to set in motion where this particular storyline is heading this season – to Braavos. This is a totally new direction from the books, hopefully it will work out alright.

Then we were treated to yet another scene of Oberyn in a brothel, before Tywin comes to ask him to serve as a judge in Tyrion’s trial, and denies telling the Mountain to kill Oberyn’s sister Elia – although he does not deny that it was the Mountain who killed her, as he did in the book. One issue I have with this scene is that Tywin is far too proud to lower himself to going and visiting someone in a brothel – he would have summoned them to him. Pedro Pascal is still playing Oberyn really well however, getting better every week I feel.

Then we came to my personal highlight of the episode, Podrick going to visit Tyrion in his cell. They discussed his trial, and how Podrick was bribed with a knighthood to testify against Tyrion, which he refused. Tyrion told him to escape King’s Landing before it was too late. It was a really moving scene, I had a tear in my eye when Tyrion said “There has never been a more loyal squire.”

Then there was a pretty brutal scene of the wildlings massacring some people living near the wall. The Night’s Watch want to go and defend them, but Jon and Alliser Thorne remind them that that is what the wildling’s want – to draw them out and pick them off. Then, Grenn and Dolorous Edd returned from beyond the wall, where they were being held prisoner at Craster’s Keep. Jon points out that if the wildling army finds the Keep, they will find out how few men there are at Castle Black, and that they should go and kill them. Another deviation from the books, but this one looks more promising.

The episode ended, as they so often do, with Dany. She approaches Meereen – alone, on a horse, a very easy target for any decent archer – and they send out their champion. Since Strong Belwas has been written out, it was expected that Daario would be her champion, and this proved to be correct. However the champion’s fight was over very quickly and felt very anticlimactic. She then gave a speech to the slaves about how she was not their enemy, the slaver’s are their enemies. I find it hard to believe that the slavers would have just stood there and let her put rebellious thoughts into the slave’s heads, which ruined the realism of the scene for me. She then sent barrels full of broken chains flying into the city with catapults – sending a pretty clear message to the slaves, and the moment that gave the episode it’s name.

6/10

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3 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Review: S4E3 “Breaker of Chains”

  1. I personally rank the episode higher, respectfully. (Stepping away from Cersei/Jaime and the Sansa/Peytr scenes) The episode was surprising in that almost everything was not directly adapted from a chapter. I include the battle of champions at Mereen in that, since it was reasonably different than what we got in the books.

    So being mostly spun from whole cloth, I thought it was pretty solid with great dialog and nice echoes between scenes, like Davos mentioning the finer points of bad behavior in regards to piracy and smuggling, which was relevant when Arya is angry at the Hound for robbing the farmer by calling him a thief. (Thieves steal sneakily, and as the Hound said previously, he’s not a thief. A brigand is a different bad behaver.)

    You’re completely right about the emotional high moment with Tyrion and Podrick. Podrick Payne is The Man. I love that kid.

    Hey, even though I was disagreeing with your score, I wouldn’t bump it up much higher. And your recap and analysis is solid.

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