Game Of Thrones Review: “Breaker Of Chains” (Season 4, Episode 3)


Game of Thrones

I alluded to this last week, but Game of Thrones has become a show where each episode tends to find a balance between staging individual scenes beautifully while maintaining a sense of wholeness, where we can often think back on specific scenes from each episode without necessarily remembering which episode they come from. Some would find this a flaw, but for me it’s one of the show’s finest features, even if it didn’t establish a through line from scene to scene, which it does.

This episode, it ties the various storylines together with fallout from the death of King Joffrey, or in the case of Arya and the Hound, King Robert. Arya’s scene does a nice job of moving along with this strange symbiotic relationship between the two characters, but with the Hound’s momentary (and, it turns out, false) consideration of the prospect of settling down and finding honest labor, it may be priming us for their inevitable separation at some point.

Stannis, meanwhile, is allowed a brief scene designed to show his profound encouragement that his weird magic may actually be working again, as well as to reintroduce us to how awesome Davos is. Davos remains one of the weird wildcards of the series, receiving a decent amount of screen time and standout moments despite not seeming to factor into the plot all that much as of yet.

The scene between Davos and Princess Shireen is yet another brief but marvellous exchange, but the finest moments of “Breaker of Chains” come in two crucial and brilliantly executed scenes. First, there’s Tywin convening with Oberyn Martell, casting suspicion briefly over this apparent master of poisons, but giving us a full verbal and tactical showdown that was merely teased by their exchange prior to the events of the Purple Wedding. Both men are looking to get something, work each other over to the point where they seem to get what they each want, and presumably distrust that the other will actually follow through with their hollow agreement. It’s a masterful bit of acting from Charles Dance and Pedro Pascal, who possess completely different energies and presences to match the wild divergence between these two individuals and houses.

And finally, as the show often does, it concludes with Daenerys. I like this mechanism as it’s used in the structure of individual episodes again and again, and even from season to season. The geographical distance between Westeros and Essos (am I using those terms correctly?) are emphasized by the epiloguian feeling of the Khaleesi’s storyline, and let’s face it, whether it’s necessitated by her developments in the novels or whether the writers are especially cinematically inspired by her narrative, the moments across the sea provide the best moments to end on. Here, it’s a tease of a gigantic battle scene (preceded by Daario’s badass Indiana Jones-like moment) that ends up being a minimalist reveal where all Daenerys has to do is convince the Meereen people that she’s a true breaker of chains and the result is exactly what we ought to expect.

Additional notes:

  • I have this really awesome point to make about how crucial it is in the world of George R.R. Martin to be “adaptable,” but it’s either too early in the series or too early in my conception to make any sense right now. But trust me, it’s really smart!
  • I’m a big Ser Davos guy. “If you’re a famous smuggler, you’re not doing it right.” And he kisses Shireen on the head. Swoon!
  • Tyrion and Pod share one of the loveliest little moments in the entire series to this point. I hope Tyrion being in prison doesn’t diminish his sass, nor his screen time in the weeks ahead.
  • There are so many scenes that open with me thinking “oh, where is this?” In this episode’s instance of that, I loved the reveal of Ygritte’s arrow. Nicely done.
  • I hate Thenns!

For more on “Breaker of Chains,” be sure to tune in to the latest episode of The Cast Beyond The Wall!

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