Monday, 21 April 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 3 "Breaker of Chains" Review

Game  of  Thrones

 Season 4,  Episode 3   Breaker of Chains 
Positives this week included... Lord Baelish's reveal, Tywin's lessons to Tommen, Tyrion and Podrick's emotional farewell, Oberyn and Tywin's verbal sparing, Dragonstone scenes, Arya and The Hound's scenes, Daenerys arriving at Meereen

Negatives this week included... Jaime seemingly raping Cersei, Sam's idiotic plan for Gilly, Castle Black scenes in general, choppy editing at the beginning of the episode

Let's fuck some Meereenese bitches up!
Game of Thrones has had a blissful few weeks, and with a huge shocker of an ending for last week's episode, that being Joffrey's death, the decline in excitement and pace was utterly inevitable. This week's episode, Breaker of Chains, has us following Sansa through the streets of King's Landing, Tywin counselling Cersei's youngest child Tommen, who is to become king, and Daenerys preparing to beat the shit out of another city. Not to mention Oberyn the badass, who I've shown quite a lot of favoring towards. With such a line up, I think it best to start exploring this episode! 

We begin with where we left off last episode, Joffrey's death. I didn't realise up until this point that Alex Graves has returned to direct this episode; he directed not only last week's episode, which now ranks as my 3rd highest rated episode of Game of Thrones, but also my highest rated episode of all time, Kissed By Fire. As we begin, we get the shot that sent us out last week, and get some choppy editing of Cersei and Tywin yelling at off screen characters! The reason I mention the editing, is because of how disconnected Cersei and Tywin feel from each other; the cuts are much too quick, Tywin doesn't seem to be yelling to anyone in particular, as does Cersei, and Sansa's escape is incredibly rushed. Fortunately, the editing clears up as we see Sansa escaping; it's obviously vital that she gets away, seeing as Tyrion, her own husband, is now accused of murdering the guy who killed her own father. Former Ser Dontos leads her through the streets of King's Landing, before rowing her out to a ship, that Lord Petyr Baelish happens to be on. Turns out that Sansa's salvation in Dontos was misled; Baelish informs her that Dontos was paid to give her the necklace that she received in episode 1, and had acted as if he was scared for her safety at the wedding on Baelish's command. It's a fairly short but necessary and important scene, seeing as we get a little bit of exposition into who may have committed the purple wedding poisoning. For anyone who hasn't read the books, it would appear as if Baelish orchestrated the entire operation, and to some extent, he did. The full story will undoubtedly be revealed by Baelish himself within the next 2 episodes. Sophie Turner's performance was stronger this week than it was last; she seemed somewhat disinterested and extremely plain last week, whilst here, she does exert at least some emotion into her performance. Aiden Gillen fortunately carries the entire scene, and he's a very good actor; people often credit Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance for their performances in the show, as will I later in the episode review, but viewers commonly forget about the lesser actors, such as Conleth Hill and Aiden Gillen, both of whom I believe are in fact better than the rest of the cast, and Gillen's performance this episode only further cements that belief of mine. 

That's a fine final performance Mr. Gleeson!
We missed out on a sex scene last week, and David and Dan, the writers of the show, obviously felt bad about that, seeing as they have included two quite graphic sex scenes this week; not to mention a number of brief instances of nudity, including male nudity! Good job Thrones; you're paving the way for male nudity, and it's acceptance into the wider community. The first of these scenes has to do with Cersei and Jaime, Jaime being quite sexually frustrated with his sister's frigidness. Generally I'm ok with book changes, but this change, involving a sex scene between Jaime and Cersei in front of Joffrey's death bed, turned a little too aggressive for my taste. And, based on comments on various other episode reviews from sites like IGN, other people didn't enjoy it either. Instead of a risky frisky sex scene between Jaime and Cersei, that has both of them consenting to the practice, Jaime more or less rapes Cersei. Yeah... it's as bad as it sounds. His sexual frustration peaks, and after a brief kiss from Cersei, Jaime takes that as means to rip her clothes, and bang her right then and there. It was a strange character decision from the writers, and one that goes against what we're meant to see from Jaime now; he's meant to be a much more chivalrous and likable person, but this obviously goes against this stigma. Based on this decision, expect more book deviations with Jaime and Cersei for the rest of this season. Back tracking a little, Tywin delivers a wonderful scene with Tommen, the recast Tommen that is, about what makes a good king. Charles Dance performs exceptionally well, and gives most likely the stand out performance of the episode. His utter refusal to heed Cersei's wishes that he not counsel Tommen whilst they are mourning over Joffrey's body is quite funny, whilst at the same time smart; Tywin is sweeping in to teach and instruct Tommen in the ways of kingliness, before Cersei can corrupt him, and create another Joffrey. Tywin's ingenuity is fully realised in this episode, and whilst I criticize some of the decisions made by Dan and David, I most certainly can not criticize their development in regards to Tywin; they've laid more a focus on him as the seasons have progressed, and I can only see this as a good thing. Dance's performances, coupled with exemplary monologues and dialogues equal some of the more fleshed out and brilliant scenes of the show. 

Arya and The Hound return this week, to provide one of the more memorable scenes of the season thus far, and the first major book deviation in relation to these characters is introduced here. See, the tavern fight that occurred back in episode 1 actually occurs very far into the third book, towards the end, and (Spoiler alert) The Hound becomes mortally wounded from various strikes dished out by the men he was fighting, and dies. (End spoiler) Now, seeing as they've reached the end of Arya's story line relative to major events, the writers are now 100% deviating from the base story, and will wait until episode 8 or 9 to regroup and rejoin back with the book plot. This makes for some actually surprising viewing, seeing as I'm literally in the dark when it comes to what they're going to do next for these characters. So, Arya and The Hound are discussing how far it is to the Eyrie, the seat of her aunt Lady Lysa, before a farmer and his daughter stumble upon them. With the help of Arya's charm, they manage to convince the farmer that The Hound is a Tully soldier, and that she is his daughter. The farmer pities them, takes them in, and feeds them. All seems swell, until The Hound cuts down the farmer and takes his silver. It's another great scene between Arya and The Hound, and the chemistry between Maisie Williams and Rory McCann is absolutely sublime. The two obviously have a great friendship going on outside the series, and it shows in their scenes together. 

Mr Snow, why are your brother's scenes the
low point of the season so far?
The Castle Black scenes are fairly decent this week, though they are continually seeming somewhat weak. Sam has a few scenes with Gilly that seem completely unnecessary; Sam wants to protect Gilly from his brothers who, being men who aren't aloud to go to town with a woman, would be likely to take to her, and so Sam decides that it would be best that she goes and lives in Moles Town. Moles Town?! This is the town that is refereed to multiple times in prior seasons, for the fact that it has a brothel! Sam's plan has him taking Gilly out of an environment where she can get hurt and possibly raped, and placing her into a brothel. A fucking brothel! This seems redundant Sam! And John Bradley-West's performance is a little too pathetic for my taste; Sam is obviously meant to be a character who is weak and afraid, but Bradley-West seems to be laying it on a bit thick. He's craven, but he shouldn't act like this is the first time he's talked to Gilly. Fortunately, the rest of the Castle Black scenes, those being with Jon and the rest of the gang, aren't so bad. I've never had a problem with Kit Harrington, and I enjoyed his performance this episode. Grizzly, as always, but determined and concerned, as befits the situation. Edd and Grenn return from beyond the Wall, where they stumbled back from the mutiny that occurred at Craster's Keep. Jon and the rest of the brothers are informed that former brothers have taken Craster's wives and are now ruling the keep; Jon is scared by the prospect, as Mance still believes 1000 men man the wall at Castle Black. If Mance interrogated these men ruling the Keep, he'd find the truth, and down right attack Castle Black, and undoubtedly destroy it, running through all the 100 brothers in their path. The Castle Black scenes are surely leading towards the episode 9 shocker, which I have pin pointed as the Nights Watch Vs. Wildings battle. This means that the rest of the series is sure to be filler for them, which makes for some dull viewing for the rest of us. And that's what these scenes are; dull. They do allow for some questions to be asked about next week's episode though; what does Jon do? Go after the men at Craster's Keep, and leave Castle Black undefended, or does he let Mance find out the truth, and attempt to run them down. Questions for next episode!  

Tyrion's officially in the shit; Cersei, Tywin, among others appear to be rallying for his head, and this obviously doesn't bode well with the man. Podrick arrives in Tyrion's make shift cell, and informs him that people all over the city are accusing the half man of committing the crime, and some are even trying to convince Pod himself to lie about Tyrion's actions, and tell the court at the trial that is to come, that Tyrion bought poison before the wedding. Daniel Portman's chemistry with Dinklage shows in this, and it makes for a really heartfelt scene. Tyrion dismisses Pod, and tells him to get out of the city for his own safety, being as the evidence piles up towards Tyrion. It's such an incredibly harrowing farewell, despite the fact that Pod didn't actually get much screen time with Tyrion as a matter of fact. Don't worry viewers, this won't be the final time we get to see Podrick Payne on the screen, but for the mean time, this was one of the stand out scenes of the episode, that really showcased the acting capabilities of Dinklage and Portman. 

Kill slavers, free laborers; Dany's motto
Daenerys finally gets some proper screen time, that sees her challenging Meereen, and preparing to fuck some shit up! Meereen is the final city on Slaver's Bay, and Dany is quite confident after her victories over Astapor and Yunkai, so she presses on to the biggest and most daring of them all. When she arrives, Meereen sends out a champion, who relieves himself, before fighting Daario. I say fighting, but really, he charges at the man, and Daario kills him with little more effort than wiping his own ass. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. Dany then gets into a big monologue, scrutinizing Meereen and their slaving ways, before firing crates of collars, all those that she removed from slaves at Yunkai and Astapor. Daenerys obviously hopes for the slaves to do most of her saking for her, seeing as Meereen is such an incredibly big city; it's bigger than both Yunkai and Astapor combined, in area. It seems to have had some effect on the slaves, based on the final shot of the episode, which shows a slave inspecting a broken collar, and looking towards his worried master. Big things to come for Daenerys, so her scenes are certainly ones to look forward to.

There's too much going on in this episode to go into everything in depth, but I will acknowledge the great scene between Oberyn and Tywin, which allows Oberyn a chance to get acquainted with the man. Oberyn is given the opportunity to sit the trial of Tyrion, along with Tywin himself and Mace Tyrell, before Oberyn requests a "talk" with The Mountain. Tywin grants him that, as long as he sits through the trial, and takes side with the Lannisters. Margery and Olenna have a short but funny scene, with Olenna having a questionably upbeat attitude about the whole purple wedding situation. Finally, at Dragonstone, Shireen aids Davos partially, by mentioning the Iron Bank; the Lannister's have a bad situation with the Iron Bank of Braavos, as Littlefinger has borrowed too much without paying anything back. Davos obviously sees the Iron Bank's impatience with the Lannister's as an opportunity for Stannis's cause. 

The Night's Watches scenes were much too weak for my taste, and some poor editing to begin with makes for some major negatives. But after such an episode as The Lion and the Rose, a bit of a come down is to be expected. With strong performances, at times questionable but effective character development, and an awesome final scene, this week's episode of Game of Thrones was still an incredibly strong one.

Junkie Score: 8.3

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