Heed ye, heed ye. There be spoilers ahead.
Game of Thrones 4×03: Breaker of Chains starts with what it looks like business as usual in Westeros and abroad. Tywin Lannister dispenses advise while he’s actually laying the ground rules for a new rule. Tyrion is in the worst possible trouble he has ever got himself into, except he’s not to blame this time. Jaime couldn’t have picked a worst possible time, place and person to be the worst possible human being. Daenerys Targaryen wants YOU for her army. And Stannis still wants the throne but has no means to get it.
But basically, we’re restarting. It’s not really that Joffrey ruled over anything. He was a threat to those within his reach, everything else was a façade. He wasn’t a commanding figure, that was done for him by Tywin, Cersei and those loyal to them. However, his death does cause the other players to pause and ponder their next moves. The Lannisters’ claim to power now rests on young and malleable Tommen Baratheon. Margaery Tyrell is the queen, not totally and completely because the marriage was never consummated, but the Tyrells are needed by the Lannisters more than ever. It’s hard to remember that is officially House Baratheon who is in power.
Only in name, of course. We’re quickly reminded of who’s actually calling the shots as Tywin starts asking Tommen questions about the abilities a King should have, right in front of the corpse of his brother. If you think that was inappropriate, the next act committed by Jaime is downright atrocious. He takes advantage of an unwilling… he rapes Cersei in the presence of her son’s (and his own son’s) dead body. It’s too low for Jaime. His redemption is completely undone. I take it that Cersei just wants him to kill Tyrion. It’s not an excuse and this is not love anymore.
Sansa has ran away with Ser Dontos all the way to a boat that takes them to ship awaiting in the mists. Sansa climbs onboard to find Petyr Baelish. Littlefinger is back. Ser Dontos has delivered Sansa from one evil to another. Littlefinger has been pulling the strings to get Sansa out at the right moment, but it’s too much of a coincidence to believe that the murder of King Joffrey was fortuitous. There are no coincidences in Westeros, just neatly arranged plans. As Littlefinger says, “Money buys a man’s silence for a time. Bolt to the heart buys it forever.” You can guess which one the King’s Fool gets as his reward. Twice. The jewelry was a fake of course… and perhaps something more.
In Dragonstone, we find Stannis Baratheon with the same face we left him last time because it’s the only one he has. He’s heard of the news of Joffrey’s death, which he attributes to Melisandre’s magic. Fortunately Ser Davos appears because otherwise I’d be bored to tears. Stannis lost his armies at Blackwater. He should be thrilled due to the news but he’s not because he can’t take advantage of them. Ser Davos has only been able to rally the support of very minor houses. When Stannis turns down the suggestion to hire the Golden Company, the former smuggler reminds him that he’s already allowing the use of blood magic. Hiring sellswords shouldn’t be a big deal. Turns out the one true king doesn’t have a penny to his name.
Davos goes to school as he visits Princess Shireen, who’s got a book for him to read. The Onion Knight then gets an idea and instead asks the girl to write a letter for him to the Iron Bank in Bravos. The Lannisters have accumulated a large debt with them, as Tyrion discovered last season when he took over for Littlefinger as Master of Coin. Davos might have found the key to turn the tide on Stannis’ favor, or at least against House Lannister.
Tywin plays detective as he interrupts Prince Oberyn’s orgy at the brothel. The dialog is tense, but Tywin is not here to arrest the man who is known to be expert in poisons, but to offer him a seat in the King’s council in exchange of serving as a jury at Tyrion’s trial. Tywin seems more concerned with keeping everyone on their good sides more than he is than uncovering the plot. Or he’s doing both things at once by keeping everyone involved at King’s Landing.
And speaking of Tyrion, he’s rotting in a cell unable to use his crafty words to free himself. Podrick visits him and gives him the grim news. Shae seems to be away. Bronn is not allowed to visit him. Tyrion lets him know – and us – that he was not the killer because if he had done the deed he wouldn’t have stood there gawking like an idiot. The other person he completely exonerates is Cersei. Podrick tells him that they (the ominous “they”) have asked him if Tyrion ever procured a poison called The Strangler. Yes, that was the poison that killed the brat king. He’s also been asked to testify against Tyrion and offered knighthood. It’s the one emotional moment in the show as Tyrion asks Podrick to save himself and tells him this is goodbye.
Somewhere on Riverlands, Arya and the Hound run into a farmer and his daughter who kindly take them in. Arya is becoming really good at coming up with fake stories. Then the Hound ruins it all in the morning by knocking the farmer down and stealing his silver. When Arya tells him off, the Hound replies that he was weak and will die anyway. His retort is golden: “How many Starks do they got to behead before you figure it out?”
Meanwhile at the Wall, Sam and Gilly talk. And I just tune out, because it’s really hard to care for these two. Basically, Sam is worried for Gilly and the baby to he sets them up in a whorehouse to do menial tasks and be safe. Because it’s safer in there, where men go for sex than at Castle Black, where men are sworn to celibacy. Yeap, makes perfect sense. I do get that all men in Castle Black sneak a peek and make jokes at Gilly, but at least there’s something of an oath when you take the Black. Still, Gilly might not get raped if there are other women around, which I guess is Sam’s idea of safety. He might also be doing it just so that he doesn’t try anything with Gilly either.
The wildlings are up to no good, pillaging a village south of the wall. Ygritte has no issues bringing down unarmed potato farmers with her arrows. The Thenns are getting ready to go Terminus on the corpses. One of them sends a little kid to Castle Black letting him know what has transpired. The men of the Night’s Watch seem to want to rally to help the villagers, but Ser Allister Thorne warns them they just want to draw them out to thin their numbers. The responsibility, Maester Aemon reminds them, is to protect the Wall. They are only 100 men after all, and that includes Maester Aemon. Thorne gives the floor to Jon Snow who actually agrees with Thorne. It’s a trap.
The Men in Black can’t catch a break. The brothers that went rogue at Craester’s place were ambushed and a only a couple manage to make it to Castle Black. Jon knows that if they torture the rest they will learn that there’s a hundred and not a thousand men stationed there. See, he knows something at least. Someone is going to have to go north of the Wall again. Here’s a hint, it will probably be someone whose name appears in the main credits. Whoever else is going with him might as well be sporting a red shirt.
We finally reunite with Daenerys as her army reaches the walls of Meereen. The city of slaves sends out a champion that mocks the Mother of Dragons and empties his bladder, all the while screaming in his tongue that her great army has no balls. The Khaleesi wants to address the city, but she can’t do it while this pompous ass is shouting his head off, so she agrees to send her a champion of her own. If you think Dany didn’t pick Daario Naharis from the start, we’re not on the same page. Her selection process where she goes through each of her loyal generals and valuable advisors is just to remind Daario that he has not proven his worth to her (or to us since he was recasted).
The battle between the two champions is entertaining and a bit reminiscent of a certain Indiana Jones scene. Daario just stands there as the champion rides toward him with a lance aimed at his head. Then he turns towards his Targaryen Queen, who’s trying to mask her concern for him, and winks. He takes out a blade, kisses it for luck and lets it fly. He hits the horse, which falls with champion and all to the ground. The sellsword just has to approach, draw his scythe-like sword, behead the poor bastard and relieve his bladder.
Daenerys Stormborn (yes I’m cheating using her other given title-name so I don’t have to write Targaryen again! Ha ha! Wait a second…) then addresses the slaves of Meereen. She tells them the enemy they must fight is besides them and then releases a catapult salvo of barrels that contain nothing but slave collars. One of the slaves drives the point across by picking one of the open collars, looking at it and then staring at his nervous master.
Highs: Sansa finally gets away from the Lannisters. The meeting and possibly last farewell between Podrick and Tyrion. I’m expecting Podrick to try to help him one more time even if it means his death. Jon Snow is finally thinking with his head. Daario Naharis battling the champion of Meereen. The Hound’s response to Arya’s insult about being the biggest shit in the Seven Kingdoms.
Lows: Jaime raping Cersei. Sam and Gilly need less scene time. Like zero. Stannis needs another facial expression. Oberyn needs to kill someone.
That will do for now.