By Derek Kuhn
*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*
Who killed the king? Where is Sansa off to? What will happen to everyone’s favorite imp Tyrion? Viewers may find themselves asking those questions when watching season 4’s “Breaker of Chains.”
The episode starts off with Sansa fleeing King’s Landing with ironically the guy (Dontos) who gave her a necklace in episode 1. She is led to Peter Baelysh’s (aka Littlefinger) ship where the plot master is waiting for her. (Astute fans may have noticed in last week’s episode that Sansa wore the gifted necklace at the Purple Wedding. At some point during the wedding, Sansa’s necklace lost a jewel.) Littlefinger says he was behind Sansa’s escape; he even implies he had a hand in King Joffrey’s death. But Littlefinger couldn’t have acted alone; my guess is that the wily Lady Olenna had a hand in the king’s poisoning. During her short scene talking with her granddaughter, Olenna even remarks that Margaery’s situation has improved remarkably.
The frantic cuts at the beginning add to a sense of urgency. However, the pace of the episode slows considerably after the escape sequence.
Tywin does a nice job in schooling Joffery’s younger brother Prince (though I suppose now, it’s King) Tommen on what makes a king good during Joffery’s private wake. The lighting in the chamber is enhanced by the candles and burning incense. Also, the rocks with eyes painted on them rest atop Joffrey’s eyelids — it really is the details that make this show great.
As Tywin and Tommen leave the chamber, Jaime enters. A weird brother/sister (Jaime and Cersei) romance (or rape?) scene occurs. Maybe it’s just me, but incestual romance in front of their son’s corpse is to say the least awkward. But it is the pseudo middle ages, so I suppose it could be worse.
Arya and the Hound continue to delight. They stumbled upon a farmer and his young daughter. Through Arya’s quick wit, the farmer invites them to sleep and eat with them. The Hound and Arya can barely wait to eat — travelling Westeros without money can leave people hungry — and the Hound interrupts the pre-meal prayer twice. During the meal, the farmer offers the Hound fair wages for fair work.
But just when you might think the Hound is turning a moral corner, he robs the farmer of his silver. Arya is thoroughly upset with the Hound. The Hound remarks that the man and his daughter will be dead by winter, and he reasons that “dead men don’t need silver.” Although he stole the money, the Hound being the anti-hero that he is (at the very least) didn’t kill the farmer and his daughter.
Next we catch up with Samwell Tarly and the wildling Gilly. Sam’s concerned about Gilly getting raped by any of the 100 or so men left in the Night’s Watch. For the uninitiated, members of the Night’s Watch take a vow of celibacy (though it’s rarely followed). Even though I know Sam is a bit “soft,” his concern for Gilly wasn’t endearing to me. He seemed overly protective, and he came across as an annoying guy perpetually stuck in the “friend zone.” Although it seems like Sam’s adherence to his vows have more to do with it than Gilly’s slightly growing interest in him.
Meanwhile on Dragonstone, word of Joffrey’s death has spread to Stannis, and he lacks the forces to press his claim to the Iron Throne. Stannis’ Hand Ser Davos Seaworth has a letter sent to the Iron Bank of Bravos beseeching them for aid. Davos needs this to work or Stannis might carry out his death sentence (Davos was sentenced to death last season, but under the urging of the red priestess Melisandre, he was temporarily spared).
Back at King’s Landing, Twyin asks Oberyn to be the third judge in his son Tyrion’s trial (the other two being Tywin, and Olena’s son Mace Tyrell). The head Lannister also invites the “Red Viper” to sit on the Small Council. The tension in the scene is excellent and I really felt like no matter what Tywin offered, Oberyn wouldn’t let bygones be bygones.
Tyrion is visited in his dungeon cell by his squire Podrick Payne. Tyrion beseeches Pod to get his older brother Jamie to visit him. Before Pod leaves, he tells Tyrion that he was offer knighthood in order to lie at his trial by saying that Tyrion had him the purchase poison used to kill Joffrey. It was a nicely acted scene and Peter Dinklage was in top form.
At any rate, the wildlings are raiding the North, and they let a boy escape to tell the Night’s Watch of the massacre. They are attempting to draw the Crows out, but the Night’s Watch doesn’t oblige.
However, it looks like the Night’s Watch is going to ride North of the Wall to Craster’s Keep. Craster’s Keep is where some starving-brothers of the Night’s Watch mutinied in Season 2, and have holed-up in the large log cabin.
The climax of the episode is in Meereen with Daenerys and company. The Hero of Meereen rides forth from the city and seeks a champion to fight. Daario steps up and amply disposes of Meereen hero. After a typical Danny speech, catapults move forward and fire. However, the catapults aren’t flinging rocks, hot oil or heads. Instead, they are catapulting barrels filled with broken slave collars. When I was in the U.S. Army, we would call this a psychological operation. I’ll wager this symbolic move engenders good will among Meereen’s large slave populace. Danny knows how to play the game.
This was a filler episode. But with that being said, this is how a filler episode should be. None of the scenes were drawn out, and they all served a purpose. I liked Arya and the Hound’s scenes, but I have a soft spot for anti-heroes. Tyrion’s fate looks bleak, but don’t count him out. The next episode should have more consequential events.
(Break Out Box)
+Arya and the Hound
+The great opening scene
+Sansa’s more interesting than she’s ever been
+What now for Pod?
+Sets up next week nicely
+Tywin and Tommen’s interchange at the beginning of the episode
-Jaime and Cersei’s awkward scene
- Daenerys scene at the end of the episode has been used too much in the series