Tales From Westeros – Breaker Of Chains
Hi fellow Geeks, ready to experience the aftermath of last week’s Purple Wedding? This episode opens up immediately after Joffrey’s death, with Cersei prostrate over his body and Tyrion standing accused. Like seriously, seriously, in deep shit accused. As we’re left to ponder this, Sansa and Ser Dontos waste no time escaping the city, snaking through the labyrinthine streets of King’s Landing despite Tywin’s declaration that no one is to leave the capital. When they finally make it to the water, the evening mist nearly disguises the kind of murder ghost ship better suited for a future Pirates of the Caribbean movie set in hell. There’s a moment of shadowy suspense as Sansa waits to see who the faceless figure welcoming her onto the ship is, and once we know it all starts to make sense—Littlefinger. Petyr Baelish has been conspicuously absent, and he makes a dramatic return with his orchestration of Sansa Stark’s escape from the Lannister clutches. However, our relief is tempered by shock as he immediately kills Ser Dontos, leaving his body to float in a dinghy in the middle of Blackwater Bay. It’s a super undignified way to go—yet perhaps apt for a literal fool?
As Littlefinger smooth talks a shocked Sansa, he dispells her belief that Ser Dontos was just trying to help, and the infuriating part is that he totally makes sense. (They do say that the best lies are wrapped in truth…) He’s still the Master of Coin and knows that everyone has price, even seemingly love-ridden honorable fools. Even after all she’s witnessed, Sansa still has a deep need to believe that gallantry exists, just like in the stories she used to love as a child, almost as much as she needs someone to continuously protect her. It’s her Achille’s heel.
Perhaps Margaery Tyrell has an Achille’s heel too. If she does, it’s likely that it’s her burning wish to be queen. Her grandmother tries to soothe her in the fashion of comforting a whiny child (only more quippy), but Margaery petulantly repeats, “I would have been the queen!” Fair enough…a queen married to a monster, though.
That monster doesn’t look so threatening in his fancy coffin, however. In the Great Sept of Baelor, Cersei stands watch over her eldest son’s corpse, while the younger one looks on. Unlike Joffrey, Tommen seems like a nice kid, and answers earnestly when his grandfather Tywin asks him what makes a good king. For he is next in line to sit the Iron Throne, and an even more easily controlled puppet for the Hand of the King. We receive a quick lesson in the failures of past kings (including King Robert, Tommen’s “father”): it’s not enough to possess holiness, justice, or strength. A king needs wisdom, more specifically the wisdom to understand what he knows and what he doesn’t—as for the rest, well, Tywin Lannister will fill in the blanks, right?
Some people show their grief in different ways. Cersei wants blood—specifically Tyrion’s. She’s fully convinced that it was him that killed her son, recounting Tyrion’s threat from last season. Jaime, however, isn’t buying it and eventually the moment between the grieving siblings/couple/parents turns into a power play, with Jaime spitting out “You’re a hateful woman. Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?” You do feel bad for Jaime, a character that has been going through a rebranding of sorts recently, until he rapes his sister in a scene that was painful to watch for most (and inspired a lot of online morality articles). Can his character be redeemed after this?
Sadly, things are just how they are (not great) in this land ravaged by war, and no one knows this better than the Hound. Arya Stark is still learning at his enormous feet as they try to make it to the Eyrie to reach her aunt Lysa. They’re watering their horses on someone’s land, when this “someone” finds them. The look on the Hound’s face as the man pretends to be threatening, asking Arya questions about which House she’s loyal too (House Tully, her mother’s—she passes), could turn anyone to stone. He could have murdered the guy in a literal second. Instead, after an ironically loaded dinner conversation reiterating the concept of guest right and how the Freys royally screwed over the Starks at the Red Wedding, the Hound goes ahead and steals the man’s money, basically ensuring that he and his young daughter won’t survive. Arya is infuriated, but the Hound uses war logic, fast becoming the logic of the road (at least their road), arguing that “They’ll both be dead come winter. Dead mean don’t need silver.” It’s a harsh truth, and that’s what Arya’s life is full of now. Each scene with these two is like a visual chipping away at everything Ned Stark tried to teach his children—the same thing is happening to Sansa, but in contrast to her stony, sullen withdrawal, Arya is quickly growing into a fighter. Still, it’s taking its toll on her psyche.
Sam and Gilly are safe back at Castle Black—for now. The fact that the place is infested with men that are “thieves and rapers” is not making Sam feel good about leaving her there. Sam has seen a lot as of late but he definitely had a cushy upbringing in Highgarden, while Gilly is a wildling and used to a rough life. That explains why she seems less worried than he does, and so does her cute little “What about you?” after Sam’s outburst of “There are a hundred men lying awake at night picturing you!” It’s hard to say if the grody conditions (and residents) of the Mole’s Town inn/brothel he set her up in are any better. Props to the set designers for making the place seem worse than the Wall. Not only is she stuck in a hellhole, but her new friends know she’s a wildling. Who knows how they’ll treat her after that…
Meanwhile, news of Joffrey’s death has reached Stannis at Dragonstone. He believes that the Lord of Light and all the weirdo bastard blood sacrifices he and Melisandre performed were the cause of the Purple Wedding, and Davos is pandering to him as usual. He does makes sure to sandwich in some logical advice however, flat-out stating that “visions and prophecies don’t win wars” and suggests enlisting the services of The Golden Company, sellswords that will fight for money. Stannis doesn’t love this idea (because he’s a hardass that knows no joy) and makes the valid point “If I don’t press my claim, my claim will be forgotten.” Oh yeah, they also don’t have any dough. And this is when the newly literate Davos asks the princess Shireen to write a message for him…a message meant for the Iron Bank of Braavos.
Cut to buttcrack. This could only be Prince Oberyn and Ellaria Sand in what is one of the best scenes in the episode, not only because I’m an Oberyn fan but also because of all the masterful negotiating that occurs (a rather common occurrence when Tywin’s in the house). The showrunners are definitely taking the Dornish habit of free(er) love and running with it to amp up the T&A the show is notorious for, but it’s worth a bit of gratuitous nudity just to see Tywin (always a c-blocker) wrinkle his aristocratic nose at the thought of sitting on Oberyn’s used bed. The two players both know why Tywin is there, and Oberyn agrees that the new king was poisoned. He knows this because he is the Red Viper and is knowledgeable about such things. Unfortunately, this makes him an obvious suspect, something Tywin is willing to exploit. He knows that Oberyn is in King’s Landing with a specific mission—exacting vengeance on his sister Elia’s killer, the Mountain/Gregor Clegane, who just so happens to be Tywin’s main muscle. With this bartering point, they get to negotiating. Tywin offers access to the Mountain if Oberyn agrees to judge at Tyrion’s trial and accepts a seat on the small council, which will firmly plant him in the inner circle of Tywin’s new regime. This seems counterintuitive, but Tywin likes to keep his enemies close by showering them with money and power. He has another, arguably nobler, reason though: Dornish relations with the rest of Westeros have been tenuous at best ever since Robert’s Rebellion when Elia was murdered. Tywin declares that “We are not Seven Kingdoms until Dorne returns to the fold,” and throws in the fact that Dany is an actual threat at this point to further convince him. How this will all play out remains to be seen.
While Tywin wheels and deals, seemingly not caring that his son’s life hangs in the balance, we see Tyrion chillin’ in a dank prison cell, miserable. His loyal squire Podrick stops by to say what up and tell him what’s going on in the outside world. Tyrion learns that he’s to stand trial in a fortnight, with his father, Mace Tyrell, and Oberyn as judges. The Oberyn thing throws him off, but he’s got other things to ponder, namely that he needs witnesses on his behalf. Sansa? (GONE!) Varys, Bron, Jaime? Ehhh. Not only that, but Podrick reveals that someone has asked him to testify against Tyrion, and he refused. This infuriates Tyrion, which is confusing at first but his argument is valid: Podrick needs to watch his back and do anything he can not to piss anyone off at this point. Tyrion doesn’t want any more blood on his hands.
After this dismal little scene, we’re treated to a lovely image of a happy, green village (seriously, isn’t Winter Coming?) full of cute little families that love each other. This pleasant feeling is almost immediately shattered as we realize that the village is about to be stormed by war-hungry wildlings (including Ygritte, Tormund, and the cannibalistic, body-mod enthusiastic Thenns). They set about slaughtering the whole village save one small boy with the awful fate (just kill him and put him out of his future misery) of living, sending him to Castle Black with the message that the wildlings are, like, ready to go. Jon is all, TOLD YOU SO. Since he spent so much time with the wildlings, he’s the only one that realizes the kind of shitshow that is fast approaching. The wildlings vastly outnumber the Crows, and Jon grimly states that “Mance has what he needs to crush us, he just doesn’t know it yet.” It doesn’t look good for the Men of the Night’s Watch, and if they fail to stop the wildling invasion, they’re just going to advance South in huge numbers.
With all this stuff happening in Westeros, it’s hard to imagine what’s going on with Dany as she approaches Meereen, the last and greatest of the cities left to conquer in Slaver’s Bay. At this point, news of her capturing its sister cities Astapor and Yunkai has reached Meereen and they’re expecting her, assembled in mass at the city’s closed gates. Apparently they think she’s a joke, since they make her choose a champion to take on theirs (and, legit, THEIR champion is the joke). All her dudes argue over who will get to fight for her, but Daario eventually gets the honor. And the joke continues, because Daario defeats the Meereenese champion so easily, quickly, and HARD that you could practically hear panties dropping everywhere, including Dany’s. And now she can do her favorite thing, which is making a noble speech. Dany addresses the astonished people of Meereen, telling them her awesome name and stats (got your sister cities, bitchez), and more importantly she tantalizes the slaves of Meereen with their freedom. They can make the choice to stand beside her—when was the last time the slaves were given a choice? It’s a powerful temptation, and she solidifies her words with actions, slingshotting barrels full of broken chains and collars at the crowd. Daenerys Stormborn, Breaker of Chains. The episode ends with a collared Meereenese slave looking at his master, all “Hmmmmm.”
What did you think of “Breaker of Chains?” Which part are you most invested in? Do you think Dany freeing the slaves is noble, or just another way to gain power before invading Westeros?
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