Game of Thrones: “Breaker of Chains” (Season 4: Episode 3) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Game of Thrones: “Breaker of Chains” (Season 4: Episode 3) Recap/Analysis

HBO, Sundays 9 p.m.

Apr 22, 2014 Game of Thrones
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[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “Breaker of Chains,” then read no further.]

Last week’s episode ended on such a high pointJoffrey’s lifeless, poisoned faceit was a pretty clever move opening this week on the exact same shot. Not only was it joyous fan service, but it served as a reminder of where the rest of this week’s story was going. Joffrey’s death loomed like a rotten shadow over the events of this episode, and even though he’s no longer around to torture Sansa and threaten Tyrion, his death proves to be as influential on the political climate of Westeros as his sadistic life.

Speaking of Sansa, we now have some hint as to what exactly happened to the late king. After getting quickly shuffled out of King’s Landing, Sansa meets up with Littlefinger, who reveals only a portion of his regicidal plan. There are still some gaps in the total story of Joffrey’s assassination, but for now it seems that Sansa is safebut I have some serious doubts as to how long that will last.

“Breaker of Chains” also featured Tywin Lannister giving us a good lesson in Machiavellian scheming. The exchange between Tywin and Tommen, Joffrey’s successor to the throne, reveals what makes a good king as well as why Tywin thinks some kings fail, but most importantly it establishes him in a role of power over Tommen that he never had with Joffrey. We also see the Hand of the King reach out to Prince Oberyn to serve as a judge on Tyrion’s trial, in a literal example of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. Tywin keeps the politics of Game of Thrones interesting, even as the social fabric is on the brink of disintegrating.

Tyrion, however, learns how high the odds are stacked against him. He has no one to testify for him, and even his loyal servant Podrick has been offered a bargain for betraying him. Tyrion’s insistence that he take the deal is moving, and Peter Dinklage’s acting here is once again tremendous.

As for the horrid incident between Jaime and Cersei, it’s a low point in an otherwise flawless episode that leaves me scratching my head after the initial shock wears off. Jaime’s resentment toward Cersei seems born out of her thirst for vengeance against Tyrion, but his descent back into villainy is jarring after his newly found allegiance to his brother, as well as his humanizing relationship with Brienne. Game of Thrones is certainly no lightweight when it comes to gag-inducing sex acts, but a bereaved incest rape in the middle of a sept (the Westeros equivalent of a church) in front of their dead son’s corpse is probably as profane as it can get. There’s probably going to be a lot said about this scene (and its apparent departure from the book), but there is a good argument to be made for how well it fits into the episode, and whether it really makes sense at this point in Jaime’s character arc. Either way, I hope King’s Landing isn’t going to completely return Jaime to his old, vile ways.

There are a lot of interesting lessons in this episode about the quality of human life, from Tywin’s aforementioned political prowess, to The Hound’s Hobbesian survivalist mentality, and Sam’s hope to protect Gilly. But the episode ends with another grand showcase of Daenerys’ liberation tour. The final shot of “Breaker of Chains” is a nod to the episode’s title, as a slave picks up a broken slave collar trebucheted over the city walls of Meereen. I thought the last shot was a little ambiguous. Were these collars broken by former slaves, or are they intended to enslave the former slavers? As Westeros falls into chaos in the aftermath of both the civil war and Joffrey’s death, Daenerys is still building an unstoppable army in the east.

Author rating: 7.5/10

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