Game Of Thrones season 4 episode 3 review: Breaker Of Chains

Feature Ron Hogan 21 Apr 2014 - 08:34

This week's Game Of Thrones is all about protection. And this review contains lots of spoilers...

This review contains spoilers.

4.3 Breaker Of Chains

Life is not easy in Westeros. You'd think that having gold and power and allies and armor would make someone less likely to become a victim of terrible circumstances, but that's apparently not the case in a land like this, where weddings become funerals for even the highest of the highborn. If the king dies a poisoning death, how much worse are things for the poor small folks who are just trying to scratch a living out of the soil? If this is episode is an indicator, life's bad all the way around.

During the continuing adventures of Arya and the Hound, they find themselves stopping by a stream in one of the few non-burned parts of Westeros to get a drink and refresh themselves, only to be taken in by a kindly farmer and his daughter due to Arya's quick thinking and her ability to make up for the Hound's churlishness. For a member of a noble house, the Hound has terrible table manners (and terrible manners in general). The Hound repays the man's promise of fair pay for fair work by smacking him upside the head and robbing him, clearly violating the hospitality laws albeit less significantly than Walder Frey did during the Red Wedding. At least he's lucky enough to survive his encounter with the Hound, unlike most of a small village of farmers attacked decimated by brutal wildling attack as a warning to the crows at Castle Black.

There's not much peace for the folks of Westeros in the wake of the death of King Joffrey, be they nobles or small folk or even the prostitutes at Littlefinger's brothels - no prostitute will get a moment of rest in a town containing Oberyn Martell, equal-opportunity bisexual. We're given no real moment to breathe this week; the show opens with a repeat of Joffrey's death and the escape of Ser Dontos and Sansa from the wedding, organized by Littlefinger and executed surprisingly well by Ser Dontos (before he gets executed). Weirdly, Baelish explains just how he had Dontos manipulate her into falling for his story, but unsurprisingly he claims he did it to keep her safe. After all, her husband rots in a dungeon, on trial for the murder of his own nephew.

Speaking of poor Tyrion, there are a lot of heart-breaking moments in this week's episode, and as much as I liked Sam and Gilly's trip to Moletown, the saddest moment of the episode to me was the jail reunion between Pod and Tyrion. Pod, like Bronn and Shae, is a very important person in Tyrion's life, and it's clear that there's great affection between the two, because Pod risks his life to bring in food and candles and whatnot for Tyrion to keep himself busy during his jail experience and Tyrion rewards him by telling Pod in no uncertain terms that he needs to leave and never come back, reminding Pod that the nefarious “they” will be following Podrick's every move from here on out.

We all know Peter Dinklage is a great actor and can make scenes like these really work, but Daniel Portman was the real shining light on the scene. There's just a subtle look of saddened disappointment on his face, particularly after Tyrion orders him to leave King's Landing, that hurts quite a bit. It was more effective than his similar dismissal of Shae last week, because Shae at least got angry about the whole thing; Pod simply adopts a look of quiet resignation and files out holding back tears. It was well matched by Tyrion's reaction shot, but between Portman and Hannah Murray's performance, it was a banner week for sad-eyed kids making weepy faces at people trying to protect (or "protect") them.

That's an interesting thread that runs through this episode courtesy of Dan Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Protectors and those that protect them are the focus. Arya and the Hound have their roles reversed, as do Pod and Tyrion. Daenerys has multiple protectors, from Barristan her personal bodyguard to Jorah her adviser and Grey Worm her general, and now she can add Daario as her champion after he defeated the Monty Python-like champion of Meereen. Whether these protectors are wanted or not depends on the particular pairing, and whether or not those protectors are even going to protect their chargers depends a lot on the situation and their capacity for betrayal.

One of the oddest moments of the night was the scene between Cersei and Jaime Lannister at Joffrey's visitation ceremony at the Sept of Baelor. Not so much their conversation, though that was fairly odd itself, but their sex/rape scene together. I'm not sure if it was meant to be as ambiguous as it was - you can make arguments either way for its consensual status or lack thereof - and I further can't tell if it was written to be that ambiguous or, as director Alex Graves has said, it ended up being consented to after a fashion and that just wasn't clear enough due to the way the scene was blocked and filmed.

Either way, it's the oddest moment of the evening, and I'm not sure how to feel about it quite yet. Perhaps it will be cleared up more during next week's episode? Not that either of these characters can be mistaken for a good person given a broad view of their actions, but rape seems like it's not within Jaime's character, considering he sacrificed a hand to save Brienne's virtue from the Bolton men. After the progress he's made wandering the countryside, it would be kind of a bummer for Jaime to go back to his old, evil ways just because he's back in the cesspool that is King's Landing.

Then again, Game of Thrones is a show that never promises a happy ending.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan can't wait for Pod to storm to Tyrion's rescue, riding on the back of a dragon and leading an army of King's Landing hookers ready to save their meal ticket. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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