Breaker of Chains picks up right where the previous episode ended, with Cersei screaming and holding onto Joffrey’s lifeless body. The growing animosity between Tyrion and Joffrey, along with Tyrion handling Joffrey’s goblet, are proof enough for Cersei and she orders him arrested. Quickly after Tyrion is seized Cersei realizes Sansa is missing and Tywin orders the city be locked down. The thirty-second head start is apparently enough time for Dontos to whisk Sansa away from the wedding and out into the bay where she boards a non-descript ship shrouded in fog. This ship is ominous, creepy, but offers potential salvation, much like its owner Littlefinger. As he promises Sansa she is safe Littlefinger has Dontos killed, he destroys one of the jewels on Sansa’s necklace while explaining to her how both the necklace and Ser Dontos were counterfeit. It’s great to finally see some movement is Sansa’s story, she is no longer just a powerless prisoner and witness to events in the capital… now she’s a powerless passenger sailing home with Littlefinger. It’s also clear that Littlefinger was involved in Joffrey’s murder, whether he was acting alone or is part of a larger conspiracy remains to be seen.
Margaery did not participate in the king’s death, she laments at being cursed as her position is not quite as powerful as she would’ve liked without having been impregnated. Lady Olenna, however is still a suspect, she has always been the tactician of the family, and is already turning this tragedy into strategy and promising Margaery “the next one will be easier”. Cut to Tommen overlooking his brother’s corpse, before Tywin decides to take Tommen under his wing. Tywin provides Tommen, and the audience, with a valuable history lesson detailing the rule and demise of different kings and their shortcomings. He escorts Tommen away from Cersei who, in Tywin’s eyes, ruined the previous king. I’ve probably said this before but Charles Dance is always fantastic as Tywin. He absolutely embodies his role and steals nearly every scene he is involved in. He is only overshadowed in this particular scene after he exits; after Cersei tries to convince Jaime to kill their brother he proceeds to force himself on her…his own sister…in a sept… with their sons dead body on display… as she tells him to stop… even the depravity is layered in this show.
Rivaling Tywin for show-stealing presence is Oberyn Martell, who it seems has a perpetual case of blue balls in the capital. Literally every scene featuring him this season has been full of history, intelligence and intensity, which have brought one of my favorite book characters to life perfectly. Tywin is the Lannister interrupting Oberyn this time, lightly questioning the Dornishman with regards to the recent regicide. Oberyn openly admits to being an expert in poisons but doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with Joffrey’s poisoning. As tension rises and the conversation turns towards Elia’s murder Tywin denies any involvement and promises Oberyn vengeance for his sister after Tyrion’s trial. In an attempt to gain Dorne’s support and cooperation Tywin also promises Oberyn a seat on the small council, both a position of honour and authority. This generosity is all predicated on Oberyn sitting as the third judge in Tyrion’s upcoming trial.
Tyrion, like Oberyn, denies involvement in Joffrey’s death stating that he would not be dumb enough to commit this crime in such a way that implicates him. Unfortunately for Tyrion, Pod is one of the only people who will believe him. While trying to find people to testify for him Tyrion soon discovers how few friends he has left, as Bronn is being investigated himself, Varys is testifying for the queen and Pod is being approached with bribes that will turn to threats should he refuse them. Knowing how screwed he is Tyrion dismisses Pod and ask only for his brother Jaime… who Cersei has instructed to murder Tyrion.
After the second of the three usurpers Stannis named has died he is convinced of the Red God’s power, but still staunch enough to refuse to hire sellswords as Davos advises. With hardly any army, no money to hire the sellswords and no further access to Gendry’s king’s blood Stannis is nearly at the end of his rope, and by consequence so is Davos. During his reading lesson with Shireen Davos has an epiphany of sorts and has her write a letter to the Iron Bank of Braavos. The Iron Bank has been mentioned a few times this season and though we don’t know much of it at this point, other than that the crown is indebted to the bank for a considerable sum, it seems like it’s being set up to be a larger part of the show in the future.
Just south of the Wall a small village is enjoying a peaceful day before the Wildlings and Thenns attack, and brutally slaughter the townsfolk. Styr decides to leave one survivor, but forces the young boy to watch his parents being mutilated before sending him to Castle Black. The Nightswatch is divided, with some members wanting to go out and destroy the Wildlings south of the Wall. Jon and Ser Alliser agree for once, despite their mutual hatred, that the Nightswatch must preserve its strength at Castle Black because they will need every single man for the main attack when it comes. Until a horn sounds, signaling the return of Grenn and Dolorous Edd from Craster’s Keep. Contrary to their earlier decision Jon wants to ride out and kill the mutineers before Mance’s army finds them. We’re seeing a very different Jon since he’s been back at Castle Black, he’s been to the other side and come back a changes man. After Ned’s death in season one Jon was ready to ride out and desert the Watch, yet he hardly reacted to the news of Robb’s fate. Jon stands next to the scared little boy and emotionlessly states that they can’t risk delivering justice to the wildlings in the south. Militaristic, callous and frank Jon is becoming a respected voice of experience among his brothers, and, perhaps, gradually becoming the leader Lord Mormont intended.
Having been through her own trials and tribulations Daenerys is also becoming an accomplished leader. She and her army have finally reached the city of Meereen, which seems to be the largest and most extravagant of Slaver’s Bay. A Meereenese champion emerges from the city to challenge Dany; he is loud, obnoxious and crude, taunting the Mother of Dragons and her army. Daenerys chooses Daario as her champion, stating that she couldn’t risk any of her other advisors and feigning apathy at his fate, but her face as the rider bears down on him belies her nascent feelings towards Daario. After Daario dispatches the rider with ease Daenerys addresses the slaves of Meereen, any time Dany speaks in Valyrian is awesome and this time was especially bad-ass, the combination of slick camera work, her authoritative speech and the music ling up was great. I seriously rewound it and watched that sequence at least three times. As strong as this sequence of events seemed it was not the satisfying ending I had hoped for. Daenerys made it to the city and threw barrels of chains as a symbolic gesture… then it ended. I don’t even think this counts as a cliffhanger… Oberyn isn’t the only one with blue balls after that.
Aside from a couple minor complaints Breaker of Chains is my favorite thus far this season, while last episode was a big game changer, and is a close second, this week had some truly bad-ass moments and the great Game of Thrones dialogue that I’ve come to expect. With a little filler involving Sam and Gilly (which makes no sense) to fill in the gaps, this episode was 87% bad-ass. I do appreciate how this season already feels busy, things are not stagnating too much (Dany season 2), almost every time we check in on someone it feels like things are coming to a head, there is a lot of important stuff going on in pretty much everyone’s storylines and these damn reviews are getting long.