'Game of Thrones' Recap: Season 4 'Breaker of Chains'

By Chris Baggiano,
Thank Goodness for Oberyn

It would be hard for Game of Thrones to top last week’s surprise death and amazing thirty-minute final scene. Instead “Breaker of Chains” is one of those Game of Thrones episodes that begins the arduous task of getting the story’s gears to start their motion for the rest of the season. It featured a lot of hopping around and not much more than set up but, thankfully, Oberyn keeps things entertaining.

“Breaker of Chains” began where GoT left off last week, with Joffrey lying dead in Cersei’s arms and Dontos was telling Sansa to escape with him. For as deceitful and twisted a place as King’s Landing is it certainly tells you how miserable Sansa must have been to have put her trust in a man she hardly knew, regardless of if he gave her a fake family heirloom or not. At least Sansa has something to do besides mope around as Dontos delivers her to Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger) waiting on a boat in the bay. And, as Baelish likes to do, teaches Sansa another lesson by killing Dontos so that this escape secret will never get out. Where Littlefinger plans to take her is still a mystery but at least Sansa’s storyline should pick up a tad from the muck it was stuck in from the past couple seasons.

The episode’s namesake comes from Dany’s arrival at Meereen. Upon her army’s arrival, Meereen sends out a champion to challenge one of Dany’s best soldiers, which gives Daario yet another chance to show off for her. He easily wins a joust by throwing a knife in a horse’s eye and killing the rider and returns the favor of urinating on the ground, which Meereen’s champion did before the battle.

While Dany’s plot is usually utilized to inject some life and excitement into episodes where there is not much, like “Breaker of Chains," her slow march to free the slaving cities of Essos is becoming a tad tiresome. Sure, the viewer has knowledge that Dany does not about how decimated the Westerosi armies are but aside from impassioned speeches, petting dragons, and freeing slaves Dany’s character does little and has not grown since Season 2. Meereen does seem to be heavily fortified so, perhaps, her impending attack on the city will be harder than her previous attacks but, eventually, Dany’s character must do something more than amass armies and peoples.

On the other hand, Oberyn has clearly taken the torch for most entertaining character this season. His first, and only, scene opens up with him embroiled in a coital scrum with Ellaria and other, random whores. Oberyn let’s everyone know that he enjoys members of both sex unabashedly before Tywin breaks up the fun and offers a sort of truce. Tywin, after accusing the “master poisoner” Oberyn of killing Tyrion, asks Oberyn to sit as one of three judges at Tyrion’s trial and as one of King Tommen’s special counsel – and as reward, Tywin will deliver The Mountain to Oberyn. We learn later that Oberyn accepts.

Tywin makes sure to sink his claws into Tommen quickly as he quizzes him about what makes a good king while he, Tywin, and Cersei are all in the sept mourning over Joffrey’s corpse. Tywin imparts some “wisdom” to Tommen, which is to always listen to the King’s Hand and his council members, before Jaime clears the room of everyone but Cersei. Jaime rapes Cersei next to the altar upon which Joffrey is laid in a surprising act. What little power Cersei still had is now gone with this act and, as of yet, none of the fallout has been seen.

Cersei is not the only powerless queen as Margaery and Olenna discuss whether she is actually queen or not following Joffrey’s death. Since the marriage was not consummated she is not yet queen. Whoever marries Margaery next better be constantly vigilant as her fiancés tend to die a tad prematurely.

The only thing that was actually accomplished this week happened to be the most boring aspect of the episode. Sam becomes worried about Gilly’s safety around the “celibate” Night’s Watchmen. Despite their budding fondness and her protestation Sam decides to move her away from Castle Black…to a whorehouse to clean and cook. Clearly his intentions were good but Gilly rightfully points out that the new arrangement only makes things better for him and not her as it is clear that this whorehouse is a far cry from a Baelish Pleasure Palace.

In fact all of the Castle Black plots really slowed things down this week as there was an open discussion of what to do about Ygritte, Tormund, and the Thenns massacring a little settlement near The Wall. It is clear that the show really wants to play up Alliser’s (he is acting Lord Commander) dislike of Jon as every chance Allier gets he makes sure to disparage Jon in some way. While they decide to do nothing about the marauding wildlings, Jon insists they kill the mutineers at Craster’s Keep after having two injured Night’s Watchmen return. Jon wants to try and keep his lie to Mance about the Night’s Watchmen having 1000 men at Castle Black active as long as possible, seeing as how Castle Black only has 100 men.

Two other updates. The Hound is taking Arya to The Eyrie to ransom her to her crazy Aunt Lysa. On the way they are taken in by some kind people, only to have The Hound steal the homeowner’s silver. Arya is definitely not a fan but she continues along with him. And Davos has a plan to get Stannis more troops as Joffrey’s death has become the perfect time for Stannis to try to capture the throne again.

Game of Thrones is usually at its best when the episode maintains focus on only a few storylines and “Breaker of Chains” hopped around far too much. When you couple that with the fact that most of the episode was spent setting up what is to come, with very little actual accomplishment, the episode felt a little slow at times.

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