Game of Thrones "Breaker of Chains" Review: Westeros Whodunnit
Okay so maybe "Breaker of Chains" didn't involve a jerkface king being murdered or a tree giving away spoilers for future seasons of Game of Thrones, but it was still top-notch entertainment and proved that no one is making a better show featuring guys in armor and dresses than D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. And beyond that, it added another layer to the series' complex structure. In addition to being a soap opera about dysfunctional families, softcore porn for the kiddies, a fashion show for Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, and inspiration for LARPers everywhere, Game of Thrones is now a bona fide murder mystery! Who killed King Joffrey!?!? That appears to be the main story for at least this first half of Season 4, and I'm really digging it because it's very well put together with a multitude of possible suspects. I mean, everyone hates Joffrey, right?
Gather your army of kuh-nigguts, folks, and let's discuss what happened in "Breaker of Chains."
"Money buys a man's silence for a time; a bolt in the heart buys it forever." —Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
Oh Sansa, she's been in the wrong place at the wrong time for as long as we've known her. Given that Joffrey had her dad beheaded, killed her dog, and was partially responsible for the deaths of her mother, brother, sister-in-law, and unborn niece/nephew), Law & Order: Westeros rules say that she's the prime suspect in the murder of Joffrey thanks to a little thing called motive. And since Ser Dontos the Boozy whisked her away right after Joffrey choked, to some folks, she's looking pretty guilty. Getting as far away from King's Landing as possible is imperative for Sansa whether she knows it or not (she really has that deer-in-the-headlights look when it comes to anything more serious than teen crushes), and luckily for her, Dontos rowed her out to a ship in Blackwater Bay captained by... LITTLEFINGER. *DUN DUN*
Well isn't that peculiar!? Littlefinger just happened to show up to sail Sansa away the minute that Joffrey bit it? Sounds like we have a new suspect, and knowing Littlefinger's propensity for pulling strings from the other side of the continent, him being involved in Joffrey's demise would not surprise me. But what does he have to gain from Joffrey's death other than a chance to take advantage of the ensuing chaos? Not much, but Littlefinger loves chaos.
Now we have to ask the question of whether or not Sansa is in better hands, given the way Littlefinger was creepily close-talking at her and brushing his disgusting, pencil-thin mustache hairs against Sansa's ear while saying, "You're safe with me, we're sailing home." Home? Where? To the Eyrie? Bleh! That place sucks and is ruled by a crazy lady and her weird little boy. As the last known living member of the Stark family, poor Sansa is just a pawn in this game, and it seems like Littlefinger is trying to rope Sansa into his ladder-climbing plans once again.
"It's all relatively straightforward." —Tywin Lannister
Oh my gosh this scene, you guys! This was so good. First of all, Joffrey's corpse was laid out like a buffet spread with those creepy eye stones that we last saw on Jon Arryn in the first episode of the series. (Did we ever see Robert Baratheon with them? I can't recall, but I don't think we did.) Second of all, the look on Tommen's face when he realized that he would be upped to the position of king was so good. He doesn't even want to be the king, you can totally tell. Third, Tywin was already reaching so far up Tommen's rectum to start controlling him before Joffrey's corpse was even cold. Tywin essentially told Tommen that the key to being a good king was to listen to his council (led by Tywin as Hand of the King) and nod his head. But my favorite part was when Tywin told Tommen that Tommen had to further the family line. "Do you know how that happens?" he asked. Tommen pretended to know, and Tywin said, "It's all relatively straightforward." Can you imagine getting a birds-and-the-bees speech from Tywin Lannister? What would that sound like? Probably something like this:
"Well, grandson, first you find a suitable wealthy woman to be your bride. And on the night of your wedding day, if you aren't poisoned first, you take her to your bedchamber and you remove her garments. Then you do whatever it takes for you to get aroused—I like to gut a stag, crush the will of my enemies, or gently gyrate my groin against a pile of gold coins. After that, you sheath and unsheath your sword for about 12 seconds, and nine months later, you have an heir. Unless it's a girl, in which case you kill her and try again. Good luck!"
Have you noticed that the only person who cares that Joffrey is dead is Cersei? Joffrey must've had a 0.00001 percent approval rating. Tywin was pretty comfortable with the fact that his grandson was dead, and Jaime didn't care at all that he'd lost a son. In fact, Jaime almost seemed invigorated by Joffrey's death, which led to what I think was the most disgusting, morally corrupt, and upsetting scene in all of Game of Thrones' history. Jaime raped his sister next to the death display of their son born out of incest. When horrible, terrible acts like rape and incest aren't the most depraved aspects of a scene—that designation belongs to getting it on beneath your dead kid—you know it's a real gem. It's just too bad they didn't bump the table hard enough for Joffrey's limp corpse to fall down and join the action. I still feel filthy just knowing that I saw Jaime thrust himself into Cersei while their incest lovechild's corpse lay nearby. So gross, Game of Thrones. So gross.
Tywin would later continue cementing his mastery over everyone with a drop-in on Oberyn. Yeah, he interrupted an orgy, but talking to Tywin is more important than any orgy. Tywin cut Oberyn a deal: If Oberyn joins the judges' table against Tyrion and sits on the kings small council, he'll get to chat with the Mountain, the man who killed Oberyn's sister. And as a result, Tywin earns the trust of Dorne. It's a big step to take for Tywin, but Tywin's game is to cycle through allegiances until he finds one that works.
"Pod, this is farewell." —Tyrion Lannister
For Tyrion, it was back into a jail cell after being accused of crimes he never committed, which he's no stranger to, but boy was his situation sad. And it got even sadder when Pod showed up to share the latest news: Sansa's missing, someone wants Pod to testify against Tyrion, and everyone thinks Tyrion killed Joffrey. Tyrion stated the obvious—that if he'd been the one who killed Joffrey, it would've been the dumbest murder plot in the history of murders, seeing as though he would've killed the most (in)famous man in Westeros in front of hundreds of witnesses. But then he floated another idea, that Tywin killed his own grandchild because the kid was difficult to puppeteer, so let's add Tywin to the list of suspects. And in case you haven't noticed, Tywin will do just about ANYTHING to make sure he's the one who's actually controlling the Seven Kingdoms, regardless of who's sitting the Iron Throne.
But this scene was all about Pod. He's a terrific kid, that Podrick Payne. He not only smuggled in some sausage for Tyrion (perhaps he hid it behind his own legendary sausage), but he refused to accept instant knighthood—every boy's dream—in exchange for testifying against Tyrion, and he put his own life in danger because he's loyal to the Imp. "Pod, there has never lived a more loyal squire," Tyrion said, and a salty drop of sensitive liquid emotion fell from my eye. Pod may be the only genuinely good person on this show.
"Raper, raper, horse thief, ninth-born son, raper, thief, thief and a raper." —Guy listing off the crimes committed by members of the Night's Watch
There's a reason they don't let women join the Night's Watch, and it has nothing to do with gender biases or stereotypes. It's that 99 percent of the guys who patrol the Wall are serial rapists who would drop their swords and immediately go into rape mode at the sight of a woman. So I was kind of on Samwell's side when he told Gilly that Castle Black, or Fort Rape, isn't the safest place for her to be. But I was kind of on Gilly's side when she turned up her nose at the craphole of a town Sam took her to for her own well-being. That's just how Game of Thrones is. A whorehouse where people drool over babies is actually the preferred hideout for a woman and her little guy! What's the better call here if you're Sam—is it to keep Gilly at Castle Black, where he can at least keep an eye on her himself? Or is it to abandon her in a pleasure house, where she's all alone? Sam means well, but I think leaving Gilly was a bad call. He's the only person in the world who cares about her, and he just put a lot of distance between Gilly and his protective eye. Sam, if the next time you see her she's wearing stripper heels and being shadowed by some big guy in a direwolf-fur hat named Luscious Leon, it's your fault.
Nearby, in a village full of peaceful artisan potato-boilers, Ygritte and her gang of Wildlings and cannibalistic Thenn decided that killing everyone in sight was a great way to get the attention of the Night's Watch. It was a good plan, because boiled spuds thrown by noodle-armed farmers are no match for warriors who are professional murderers—and the result was an outright slaughter. Like, we're talking the Game of Thrones version of the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals. And I'm sorry, but anytime a scary bald guy tells a kid, "I'm going to eat your dead mama, and I'm going to eat your dead papa, now go tell Castle Black," I shed a tear of happiness. I love the Thenn. I loved this scene. Does that make me a jerk? Maybe.
When Castle Black got word of what'd happened, the response was pretty much as expected. Some called for retaliation, but the wiser members of the group knew it they'd be walking into trap intended thin out their forces. You see, Mance Rayder still thinks the Wall is populated by thousands of men, when really it's much less. So when Grenn and Dolorous Edd returned from the carnage of the mutiny up at Craster's Keep to let Castle Black know that a bunch of defectors were still chillin' at Craster's, it meant the Night's Watch was screwed because Mance would find the defectors, torture them, and get the truth: Castle Black is ripe for the taking. And then the Wildling army will march south and destroy everything. Add that to the list of things that could go terribly wrong for everybody in this godforsaken world!
"You're the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms." —Arya
Of all the odd-couple pairings on this show, Arya and the Hound consistently rank near the top. They're both fiercely stubborn in their own ways of thinking, and they both know how to deliver a good insult. They're like two Jewish grandmothers, basically, and whenever they share the screen, it's gold. When you think about it, they haven't even done anything except ride around the countryside beating people up and changing their minds about what they should be doing, and it's been much more entertaining than Dany's forever-long side story of freeing slaves.
We got to see each person's point of view when a humble man and his puny daughter who couldn't even lift a bale of hay (hit the weight room, little girl!) offered to take them in and feed them in exchange for protection and some help with the yardwork. The Hound agreed to "a fair wage for a fair job," and then as soon as the guy's back was turned, the Hound bopped him on the head and robbed him. Classic Hound. Arya was very disappointed in her surrogate dad, and the Hound had to deliver some tough love and hard truths: Everyone who doesn't have a name on this show is definitely going to die, so the no-name farmer guy had no need for his silver coins, and it's time Arya realized that. It's every Hound for himself. Could this be the incident that finally breaks these two up? Arya is no dummy, and I'm betting her storyline with the Hound will soon come to an end.
"If I do not press my claim, my claim will be
forgotten. I will not become a page in someone else's history book." —Stannis Baratheon
Not much to report from Dragonstone this week. Stannis informed Davos that Joffrey was dead, and that now's the time for him to make a run at the Iron Throne—except he needs Davos to get him an army first. Later, Davos had a reading lesson from Shireen, and in the middle of whining about the difference between a pirate and a smuggler, a lightbulb sparked on over his head and he came up with an idea: Write a letter to the powerful and wealthy leaders of Braavosi under the guise of Stannis. Why is he doing this? I'm not sure. Stannis needs men, but he doesn't want to pay sellswords, so maybe Davos is recruiting folks who don't want money, but who could use a foot in the door with the the future powerful King of Westeros. I honestly don't know what Davos is up to.
"He claims you are no woman at all, but a man who has his cock in his own asshole." —Missandei, translating for some chump
The sexy platinum blonde Abraham Lincoln of Essos continued her slave-freeing rampage through violence and bloodshed, this week setting her sights on Meereen, a city that had never bothered Dany but that deserved to be sieged because its foreign culture frightened her. Okay, that's a bit extreme, but I think I speak for most when I say that Dany should spend more time finding a boat that accepts dragons as passengers and less time dragging hundreds of people miles through the deserts of Essos.
At least her opening salvo on Meereen was cool. Meereen sent out its champion, and all of Dany's sycophantic lapdogs—Ser Jorah, Ser Barristan, Grey Worm, and Daario—volunteered to kill this man in Dany's honor. Dany said no to Jorah, Barristan, and Grey Worm because she felt they were too valuable to her, but allowed Daario to take on the fight. If I'm Daario, my feelings are hurt a bit, especially since I've been kicking my best game to Dany. And how did she repay Daario's masterful flirting? By essentially telling him that it wouldn't be so bad if he died. Ouch! Rayna James would've NEVER treated him like that. Daario killed the guy by knifing his horse first, which I think goes against the unwritten rules of noble combat, but hey, this is Essos, where peeing on the ground in front of thousands of people is met with cheers.
But that was just the undercard to the main event. Once the noggin of the champion of Meereen had been sufficiently separated from his body, Dany ordered a bunch of catapults (HOLY CRAP WHEN DID SHE GET CATAPULTS and how did they get those catapults across that narrow mountain pass?) to shoot some heavy-handed metaphors at the walls of the city. As the barrels crashed into buildings, broken slave collars rained down from their splintered remains in the most complicated message ever sent. It was totally badass and worth it, though I would've been even less subtle. I would have catapulted the corpses of slavers over the wall, but hey, that's just me! Will the slaves of Meereen revolt now that Dany has put so much effort into heavily symbolic warfare? Let's hope not, because you and I both know that what we really want to see is Dany's dragons setting the whole damn place on fire.
WEEKLY POWER RANKINGS
Each week, I'll rank the episodes of Season 4 from best to worst. But remember, these are just my opinions! Feel free to post your own in the comments!
This week: "The Lion and the Rose" was a tough act to follow, but "Breaker of Chains" did an admirable job of defining what this season is about—a murder mystery.
1. "The Lion and the Rose" (Episode 2)
2. "Breaker of Chains" (Episode 3)
3. "Two Swords" (Episode 1)
NOTES FROM THE RAVENS
– Based on that quick survey of the Night's Watch, there are a lot of rapists in that club!
– Shireen to Davos: "You won't be a very good Hand if you see the word 'knight' and say 'kuh-niggut.'" Haha.
– Tyrion: "Say what you will of Cersei, she loves her children. She is the only one I'm certain had nothing to do with this murder, which makes it unique as King's Landing murders go."
– Arya was so smart to say that her "dad" fought for the Tullys, as opposed to the Lannisters or the Starks, because who hates a Tully? They're like the Green Party. Nobody worries about the Green Party when Republicans and Democrats are out there ruining the country.
– Did Littlefinger really have to kill Ser Dontos? I guess, but man that's low. What do you think of Littlefinger? Is he a smart player in this game or just a jerk?
– I loved seeing the Queen of Thorns shake off Joffrey's death so easily while sipping on martinis. She really does not give an eff.
– Ser Davos really hasn't shown much character, but Liam Cunningham was brilliant in that scene with Shireen. So full of life and fun to watch.
What'd you think of "Breaker of Chains"?
Please, no book spoilers in the comments!
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