Welcome to the Fresh Prince of Westeros, where we recap each episode of Game of Thrones. Needless to say, MAJOR SPOILERS lie within these walls. Enter at your own caution.
Are D.B. Weiss and David Benioff drunk? Someone died last week who wasn’t a protagonist, and now Sansa Stark escapes? This string of good news is countered by Tyrion’s imprisonment and the murder of Ser Dontos, but still; it’s hard to not want to hope that everyone’s least favorite Stark is getting away at last. They should show Sansa Stark clips to victims of emotional abuse in a video series titled ‘You Think You’ve Got It Bad?’ “Who’s Sansa?” Ginger Stark, dad. “Didn’t she run a brothel?” That’s Ros. “That was Ros.” I know, Mom. RIP, Sweet Ros.
Besides Sansa’s escape, there’s lots going on in this episode, ‘Breaker of Chains.’ Everyone in the south seems to be coping with the
tragedy event of Joffrey’s assassination.
Cersei, Tywin and the new king Tommen stand wake over Joffrey’s body. If we didn’t know what we know about this family, it might be a touching scene, and if we didn’t know what we know about Tywin, he would almost seem like a caring grandfather, instructing his grandson in the ways of leadership. But we do know what we know about them, and we can only look on with a sneer and mild distaste as Tywin gives a political lesson at a wake. Trying to get his claws in his grandson soon to make sure we don’t end up with another Joffrey? Probably. #thatssotywin
And then of course, he leaves, Jaime enters, and we have the first twincest love scene since the pilot episode. More on that (unfortunately) later.
After his chat with Tommen, Tywin heads to a Littlefinger brothel (what a terrible combination of words), where he proves to be nonplussed by the cluster of butts that await him. He’s there to speak with Oberyn Martell, who is of course (what else?) in the middle of an orgy. In the books it was hinted that Oberyn and Ellaria Sand were swingers; so, naturally, the writers took this opportunity and ran with it. And I mean. THEY RAN WITH IT. After an week-long drought of gratuitous nudity, we’re back to an episode that you would be uncomfortable watching with your parents.
In a tense conversation, Oberyn is asked to join the new king’s council; awkward, because Tywin’s man the Mountain raped and murdered Oberyn’s sister, who was essentially Khaleesi’s sister-and-law, and who was cheated on when her husband left her for Lyanna Stark. Confusing? Yea. Anyway, a Targaryen with dragons is coming, Tywin warns, and the only one of the seven kingdoms to ever have resisted Targaryen rule was Oberyn’s homeland, Dorne. Tywin knows about the dragons? Does NOTHING get past this guy? “No, nothing gets past me.” No? What kind of shampoo do I use then? “American Crew, you tool.” HOW DO YOU DO IT??
Meanwhile, Margaery ruminates her position: am I the queen? Am I not? Why are half of my scenes shot in this Olive Garden pavilion? How Margaery misses the silver lining of her situation is beyond me – namely, that she has narrowly avoided marrying a sadistic despot. Olenna, who has been a favorite character of mine since her debut in season three, reminds her that, everything considered, she dodged a damn big bullet.
Back on Dragonstone, the logic of Stannis Baratheon continues to perplex me. His two closest advisors are a man who’s given up a life of crime to loyally serve the man the believes to be the rightful king, and a lady who toots assassins. I’ll leave you to figure that one out.
Arya and her ‘father’ the Hound continue to trek north and east, on their way to the Vale to see batshit Lysa Arryn, who he hopes will pay him good money for his hostage. Let’s hope Lysa is kinder to Arya than the last captive that was brought before her. In the meantime, the two stopped in with a peasant and his daughter for an uncomfortable dinner.
The Hound: Why is your daughter so &$*#ing quiet?
Peasant: Oh man. Have you seen that Red Wedding episode? Brutal. I was all OMFG. So I set up a camcorder and videoed my daughter’s reaction. She hasn’t spoken since.
The Hound: You made a child watch the Red Wedding? That’s twisted, and I’ve murdered children.
Peasant: Wanna see the reaction vid?
The Hound: No.
Arya: *picks teeth with Needle* How can you afford HBO? This set design cues me in on you being dirt poor.
Peasant: I torrent it.
This plot touches on one of the themes of this episode, which seems to be that people who were once ‘bad’ but whom we now like still do, in fact, have ‘bad’ sides. The moral ambiguity which is one of the show’s hallmarks cuts both ways.
It’s really satisfying to hear the Hound say ‘f@#k the king.’ It’s really nice to see him finish off those Lannister soldiers who were passing around that poor innkeeper’s daughter. Like Jaime, the Hound is a child-killer-turned-fan-favorite. And so it’s really disappointing to be reminded of his basic brutish nature when he attacks and robs the man who took him in, fed him, and offered him work. “You should feel sorry for the Hound. He’s the 99%.” I think a blood vessel in my eye just burst.
Consider too Jaime Lannister. He pushed a little boy out of a window, and he’s murdered several people in order to get back to the sister with whom he’s been carrying on a secret incestuous relationship. And yet, he now stands as a fan favorite; arguably the most dynamic character on the show, his tenure with lady-boss Brienne has undoubtedly changed him from the better. This episode seems to have (understandably) set him back a few steps in the eyes of viewers, as what I at first thought would be a highly uncomfortable but ultimately consensual moment ended up as a rape scene.
After we’ve dealt with everyone’s reaction to Joffrey’s death, we cut north to Ygritte, who is headed toward Jon Snow with her band of wildlings. It’s important to remember that despite the fact that Ygritte is a raw broad with an endearing wit and feelings for everyone’s favorite bastard, she murdered a man in front of his son and participated in the slaughter of a village of innocents. How do we as viewers weigh the Ygritte that we’ve come to know and like against her barbaric nature? Is the massacre of this village all that different from the mass murder of the Red Wedding? The motives are different and it lacks the political ramifications, but it’s hard for me to not see things from the perspective of the little boy who was told that his parents were going to be food for humans.
Anarticle that I came across had this to say about one of the aforementioned character turns, but I think it applies to all of them:
“Jaime wasn’t all good before he raped Cersei, and he won’t be all bad now. This is television! People suspend disbelief about all kinds of things, especially involving the question of whether perpetrators of ghastly crimes can also be appealing.”
After all this, we get to a character that most everyone seems to be rooting for, and the one for whom the episode was named. Daenerys arrives at Meereen, the last slave city that stands between her and Westeros, and one which she has every intent of emancipating. The dead slave girl from Dany’s last episode told us that Meereen knew she was coming, and stood as a grim omen to the character of the city. Upon her arrival, she is greeted by a lanced man on horseback whom Jorah refers to as their ‘champion,’ and who must be met in single combat. Khaleesi’s responses to her men’s requests to fight for her are telling:
Grey Worm – you’re the most eunuchy of my eunuchs. I need you alive.
Ser Barristan – despite that beer gut, you’ve killed more bros in single combat than any living man. Chill.
Ser Jorah – I’m not even remotely attracted to you, oldster.
Daario Naharis – …sure why not.
The Meereenese champion falls quickly, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s a bit of a red herring. Meereen is the mother of all the slave cities; bigger, badder, and more full of people with freaky face chain jewelry than any other city in Slavers Bay. Meereen won’t go down without a fight; the writers of this show are good, and I doubt they will follow the ‘conquer city + free slaves’ formula of Astapor and Yunkai. Even if she wins the city and liberates its people, something tells me Dany’s gonna be here a while.
And did anyone notice the conspicuous Meereenese slaver who looked a LOT like Lenny Kravitz? Was that just me??
Let’s assume no one was killed by those carelessly thrown – yet dramatically symbolic – barrels-full-o–broken-collars… if my counting at the slaughter of the northern villagers is correct, this episode saw nine onscreen deaths.