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'Game Of Thrones' Review: Season 4 Episode 3 'Breaker Of Chains'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
April 22nd, 2014 8:37am EDT

Game Of Thrones

The iconic scene of Game of Thrones season 3 was Dany’s triumph in Yunkai when the Yunkish lifted Dany into the air and proclaimed her ‘mhysa’—‘mother’—after conquering the city and setting them free. Dany’s march of freedom continues towards Meereen at the end of “Breaker of Chains.” When she arrives, the Meereenese send out a champion to fight her champion. The Meereen champion insults the Unsullied, Daenerys, and soon suffers death at the hands of Daario Naharis. The Meereenese rulers look shocked. They rise angrily from their chairs while their slaves peer curiously over the walls and down at the silver-haired beauty promising the same freedom she bestowed on others living in cities along Slavers’ Bay. The last action of the episode is of catapults launching wooden barrels at the city. Inside the barrels are the broken chains of men, women, and children from Astapor and Yunkai. One Meereenese slave takes the broken collar chain in his hands, as an owner peers over his shoulder, seconds before the episode cuts to black.

Dany’s march of freedom is the only instance of triumph in the episode—of enslaved triumphing over those who enslave—which is full of scenes in which characters are not protected and vulnerable in the Seven Kingdoms at The Wall and southward. The wildlings and the Thenns raid a village—killing and eating men, women, and children. The nasty Thenn, the voice of the Thenns rather (since all Thenns look alike), grabs a boy and directs his attention towards his dead mother and dead father. Seconds before the boy talked about potatoes with his father. The nasty Thenn promises the child he’ll eat his mother and father, and that he should run to Castle Black to tell the Night’s Watch about it. Earlier, a kindly Riverland man and his daughter take Arya and The Hound in for the night. The kindly man believes in the seven gods, offers shelter, food, and work to The Hound, believing he fought for the Tullys, who believes life was best when Hoster Tully ran the lands, which induces a smile from Arya, who barely smiles. The Hound steals silver from the kindly man, telling Arya afterwards that he and his daughter won’t make it to the winter. The weak don’t survive in Westeros. Essos, though…

Tywin instructs Tommen on what makes a good king as Tommen and his mother stand before Joffrey’s corpse in the Baelor’s Sept. A ruler of a kingdom should fight for the weak and the vulnerable like the mother dragons across the narrow sea, but Tywin’s history lessons reveal a line of insane, myopic kings that valued things that led to his downfall. King Baelor the Blessed refused to eat food from the sinful earth and perish. A king was murdered by his own brother. King Robert believed winning and ruling were one and died while drunkenly hunting boars. Joffrey, the latest dead king, valued torture above all else. All four named kings lacked wisdom. Tywin advises his grandson to listen to the counsel before he comes of age and afterwards. A wise king will thrive. Tywin omits instructing his grandson about ruling the poor, the weak, the vulnerable. The Lannisters’ King’s Landing cannot feed its poor, owes mountains of money to the Iron Bank across the sea, began a war because of a young teenager’s spontaneous cruelty, and Tywin’s solution is to listen to trusted advisers. Tywin’s past transgressions have incited the rage of Dorne, sending Prince Oberon to establish a threat. Margeary and her grandmother talk quietly about what’s next. Margaery doesn’t mourn her late husband, however briefly they were wed, but she weeps her lost crown (which isn’t so lost, Olenna explains), a loss of power. The game of thrones serves he who sits on the iron throne and those who attach themselves to him. The disconnect between King’s Landing from the drama at the wall and the freedom march across the narrow sea has been shown before, and “Breaker of Chains” underlines that disconnect once more.

Tyrion’s the victim of a long play in the game of thrones. The smartest person in King’s Landing reasons his sister’s the lone innocent person in the kingdom because, despite her many faults, she loved her children. Pod listens to Tyrion think out who he’ll call to testify on his behalf, who could’ve used him in an obviously calculated assassination plan that would seemingly leave little doubt about his culpability. Cersei remembers Tyrion’s words about joy turning to ash on a day she and Joffrey least expect. Jaime listens to his sister’s plea for him to murder their brother, which Jaime does not commit to and instead forces himself on her below their son’s dead body. Tywin cut off Tyrion’s allies from him. The lone curious aspect of the approaching trial is the selected jurors, notably Prince Oberon of Dorne. Tyrion concludes he needs an audience with his brother, and then he sends Pod away from King’s Landing. Pod, that young, most loyal squire, chokes a sob down on his way out.

The Sam and Gilly story shows another part of the complicated that best represents the struggle of the do-gooders in Westeros. Samwell wants to protect Gilly. Castle Black represents a danger to Sam. The men in the Night’s Watch think about sex all day, all night. Gilly’s the lone woman amongst the 100 men in the Night’s Watch. Sam vows to protect her and wants to send her to Mole’s Town. Once in Mole’s Town, the viewer learns Gilly’s no safer there than in Castle Black. Character-wise, the story concerns Sam’s lack of belief in himself and his ability to protect her, to love her, and to…. The Hound tells Arya what Sam should’ve heard. The Hound’s not the shit in King’s Landing. Bad men take advantage of poor people. Arya fumes because The Hound chooses to be shitty about it. The tragedy is that good intentioned Sam and those like him, like the kindly man and his daughter, will die off. But will they? Sam’s the slayer.

Other Thoughts:

-Stannis is pretty much screwed. Davos writes to Braavos in hopes of support. The Stannis stuff is going to elevate to greatness in a bit.

-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode for television. Alex Graves directed the episode.

Photo Credits: © HBO