This article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.
As per usual after the death of a major character on Game of Thrones, this week deals with the fall out of the apparent assassination of universally beloved King Joffrey Baratheon. As always, there’s a lot of bases to cover this week, and a lot of great one-on-one exchanges between characters. Last week’s ‘Purple Wedding’ is immediately followed by Sansa being reunited with King’s Landing’s resident weasel Littlefinger. It seems we can possibly implicate Baelish in the poisoning of Joffrey, who we see briefly this week, with Jack Gleeson returning to lie dead on a slab in the Sept of Baelor.
Game of Thrones knows exactly how to make you feel really uncomfortable when it wants you to, but Jaime Lannister raping his twin sister next to their own son’s corpse probably takes the cake, dove-filled or otherwise. At first, I thought this was way out of character for Jaime, a man we’ve come to sympathise with over the last ten episodes, particularly after he lost a hand trying to save Brienne from a similar fate to the one that he exacts on Cersei. But then I remembered: in the very first episode of Game of Thrones Jaime threw a child out of a window. The common denominator here is Cersei. The Queen brings out the worst in Jaime; he’s obsessed with her, to him she’s the be all and end all. However, if this was intended to bring back the dark shades of Jaime’s character, it seems to happen way too quickly. The way the rape was handled was the only real problem I had with ‘Breaker of Chains’. The encounter was preceded by Tywin quizzing the soon-to-be king Tommen on what it makes a good ruler, the answer being ‘wisdom’. Wisdom is the very thing Joffrey ridiculed just before his death, as he slashed apart Tyrion’s gift, and it’s nice to see again that his own grandfather thought he was as much of a dick as everyone else did.
We see this wisdom instilled by everyone’s favourite bastard Jon Snow at The Wall this week. News reaches The Wall that Night’s Watch mutineers are still holding up at Craster’s Keep, and are likely to divulge pivotal information to Mance and his wildlings. Jon takes charge, standing up to Ser Alisser and telling everyone they need to silence the mutineers before it’s too late. Sam, on the other hand, acts a bit foolish this week, removing Gilly from Castle Black because he thinks she wouldn’t be safe around all the criminal men. He instead takes her and the baby to a house filled with whores, where he couldn’t do anything at all to protect her, all of which seems a bit silly on Sam’s part, and is not likely to end well.
There were some great character moments in King’s Landing this week however, including Tywin’s confrontation of Prince Oberyn in a brothel. Pedro Pascal continues to steal every scene he’s in, as Tywin offers him a spot as a judge on Joffrey’s murder trial, as well as a place on the small council, allegedly making peace so that Dorne can aid them in the inevitable war against Daenerys and her dragons. This news soon reaches a yet again imprisoned Tyrion through the loyal Podrick, who sadly it seems we will be saying goodbye to for a while, maybe forever. Peter Dinklage’s excellent acting still shines through as Tyrion’s fortune gets worse and worse, the only hope for him being his brother Jaime, who at the moment it seems needs any redemption he can get. Elsewhere, we see the most watchable pairing on the show at the moment – the Hound and Arya. The youngest Stark continues to give us hope as she refuses to become as corrupt as everyone else in Westeros, furious at Clegane as he steals silver from the son and daughter that have sheltered them.
The final sequence of the episode features the Mother of Dragons finally arriving at the slave city of Meereen. Daario Naharis (still looking at lot more bearded, and a lot less pretty than last season) offers himself as her champion, and we see him take down Meereen’s own fighter in a quick, yet really really cool, fashion. What follows doesn’t have as much wow factor as the dracarys moment from last season, but it’s still great to watch. And of course, it’s always wonderful to see Emilia Clarke make a passionate speech in a made up language. It appears we will see the crux of the sacking in next week’s episode, with ‘Breaker of Chains’ ending with the Khaleesi launching barrels filled with broken chains at the city full of slaves, proving Game of Thrones again as a show that just loves symbolism. This episode had a lot of set-up which will pay off later, and leaves us again eagerly waiting for next week’s addition.
8/10 – A strong episode with a lot of great character moments, and a couple of not so great character moments.
Game of Thrones airs Monday nights at 9:00 PM on Sky Atlantic.