Have we all recovered from the shock of last week’s turn of events? Have you been put off red wine and pie forever? As a fun curio, here’s Jack Gleeson lecturing on celebrity culture at Oxford, dropping Baudrillard and Weber like nothing. Turns out Joffrey doesn’t hate reading after all. I enjoyed all of the heated speculation in the comments last week, but, like I said, if you’ve read the books, don’t spoil the fun! Tonight we find out what happened to Joffrey… Or do we? I honestly feel more confused than I did last week, but that’s just the game, right? This episode, “Breaker of Chains,” is directed once again by Alex Graves, and it picks up right where the last one left off…
… on Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) dead face. Savor it, Joffrey haters! (Now that Joffrey is gone, the most hated character on TV has got to be Fitz on “Scandal,” right?) Cersei (Lena Headey) stops screaming for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to be taken to the gallows and starts screaming for Sansa (Sophie Turner). But Sansa’s been spirited away by Ser Dontos (Tony Way) and now the city’s on lockdown.
Dontos brings Sansa through the narrow streets to a rowboat and promises to bring her “somewhere safe,” that somewhere being a ghost ship and right into the arms of Lord Baelish, aka Littlefinger, aka Mayor Carcetti (Aiden Gillen). The King of Chaos is back, and of course he was behind this murder plot. He comforts Sansa, tells her to rest easy, that the worst is past. He offers Ser Dontos his compensation of ten thousand, which he pays in arrows directly to the poor fool’s face.
Littlefinger very quickly communicates to Sansa a few things: 1. She looks totally suspicious having fled, and that was by his design, 2. He doesn’t like drunk fools, sorry Dontos, and 3. The necklace was a RED HERRING. He crushes one of the stones of the precious Hollard necklace and says he had it made a few weeks ago. I think the necklace was a device to draw Sansa in and trust Dontos and make us all think there was poison in it. Crafty bastards. Baelish tells Sansa they are headed “home,” and who even knows what that means.
Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is moping in King’s Landing with her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg) lamenting her horrible luck with marrying kings. Olenna tells her to lay back on the issue of her queenly standing and also lets her know that husbands dying can be a good thing, mentioning her own dearly departed and remarks that “your circumstances have improved markedly.” Yup, no doubt Margaery will hope that the third time’s the charm, and will have to preserve the Lannister-Tyrell alliance with a 12 year old boy.
Yup, Joffrey’s little bro Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) has now been thrust into the spotlight as the next king in line. Here Tommen, look at your brother’s dead body! Here Tommen, it’s time for a pop quiz on being kingly from your grandpa Tywin (Charles Dance). Tywin makes no bones about it, he tells Tommen straight off, in front of Cersei, while mourning over Joffrey’s corpse, that Joffrey was a dumb and terrible king. Everyone seems stoked on the prospect of young, pliable, impressionable Tommen. Maybe Tywin orchestrated this whole thing! He does love to prank weddings.
While Tywin teaches Tommen about the birds and the bees, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei have a moment along with their dead son. She beseeches him to avenge Joffrey’s death by killing Tyrion, while Jaime claims he’s their brother and they should just go through with the trial. They share a moment of grief for their dead boy and kiss passionately, but Cersei backs away (was it the cold, gold brush of his hand?). Jaime flies into a rage, angry at the gods for making him love a “hateful woman,” and against her protestations, he shoves her on the ground and rapes her. Nothing like some incest rape during a wake, right, “GoT”? God, this episode is dark.
Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) are up to their usual: group sex at Littlefinger’s, where Oberyn canoodles with his blond man and tells him that not being bi means missing out on half the world’s pleasure. And Oberyn will not miss out on any of it! Tywin barges in (can a man have some group sex without a Lannister barging in? I mean…) to talk about Joffrey’s death and Tyrion’s trial.
Turns out, Mr. Martell himself happens to be an expert in poisoning (that’s not a real college major, bro), and with his professed desire to kill all Lannisters, Oberyn is looking like a prime suspect. But Tywin, brutal pragmatist that he is, isn’t interested in justice, he’s interested in alliances. He does not give a rat’s ass if Oberyn poisoned his worthless grandson, he just wants Oberyn to be the third judge at Tyrion’s trial. Tywin has thought about his circumstances: dead boy king, Greyjoys in revolt, army of Wildlings and dragons on either horizon. Tywin needs Dorne, badly, and he’s willing to hand over The Mountain so that Oberyn can avenge his sister Elia’s death. Tywin is pure evil, but he’s practical evil.
Meanwhile, Podrick (Daniel Portman) visits Tyrion in prison, smuggling in some snacks and writing implements. Tyrion asks about Shae (Sebil Kekilli) but we haven’t heard anything about her. Podrick delivers him the deets on his trial and needs to get a list of names to be Tyrion’s witnesses. Varys (Conleth Hill) has been snatched up by Cersei, and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is banned from seeing Tyrion and under investigation, so Tyrion’s only option is his brother Jaime. Podrick also tells Tyrion that Sansa has vanished into thin air. Tyrion’s surprisingly clear-headed about the sitch. He rules out Sansa (doesn’t have the will) and Cersei (wouldn’t kill her son) as possible murderers and also makes the good point that if he murdered a king, he wouldn’t be caught standing there holding the murder weapon. It also turns out that Podrick has also been approached and bribed with knighthood to say that Tyrion bought a poison. Tyrion knows that the other option for Pod is something very, very bad and he tells him to leave King’s Landing. The two share a farewell that might be the saddest moment ever on this show for me. Best duo ever?
Near Fairmarket, I think
Another strong duo, Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McCann) are watering their horses in a random field on the road to Eyrie, where the Hound plans to sell Arya to her creepy aunt Lysa Arryn (the one who is probably STILL breastfeeding her kid). The Hound wants to go across the Narrow Sea to ply his trade, aka be a mercenary, and he needs that money, honey. But before Arya can convince him to take her with him, a farmer/master of the land comes upon them. Quick thinking Arya swiftly tells the farmer that her “father” fought for the Tully family, and instantly they’ve got a dinner invite and a barn to sleep in. Hound seems skeptical, but DAT RABBIT STEW THO.
At dinner, the two chug hot stew while the Hound complains about the lack of ale. The farmer, a staunch Tully supporter, bemoans the Frey rule and the Red Wedding, and offers the Hound “fair wages” to stay on and protect himself and his daughter and help around the farm. Arya seems shocked the Hound accepts the offer. Well of course, in the morning, she wakes to a scream: the Hound has bopped the farmer on the head and taken his silver. He knows the farmer is going to get raided soon and “dead men don’t need silver.” Arya, believer in justice, is horrified, but the Hound is another one of those brutal pragmatists who subscribes to the belief of The Way Things Are. She has no real choice but to run after him.
Those brothers of the Night’s Watch really need to get their shit together this week. Goddamn, dudes, make a decision. First of all, we have Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West) who is so worried that one of those women-starved Night’s Watchmen will lay a finger on his precious Gilly (Hannah Murray) that he ships the poor gal off to the closest tavern/brothel, a place that looks 20 times more terrifying and dangerous than the dank frat house that is The Wall. Gilly is pissed and calls out Sam, saying he’s doing what’s best for him, not her.
Just beyond the wall, a bucolic village is filled with happy, frolicking families. No good can come of this. And yup, down goes dad with an arrow to the throat courtesy of Ygritte (Rose Leslie). The Wildlings and the scarred cannibal tribe of Thenn go to town on this poor village, axes and blood and ginger tresses flying like mad. Thenn leader Styr (Yuri Kolokolnikov) drags a boy out of hiding and wants him to do something: first he wants to show him his parents being hacked up, and then he wants him to go tell the Crows at Castle Black that he’s going to eat them. What a terrible party invite.
At Castle Black, the dummies keep arguing about what to do, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) advises they stay and shore up The Wall instead of saving any bucolic villages because that’s what they’re supposed to do. Plans get messed up though when some buds come back to the fort after having been held hostage by the Night’s Watch mutineers at Craster’s. Whoops! Jon Snow told Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) that there’s a thousand dudes at Castle Black, but if he gets to torturing and finds out there’s only a hundred, they are EFFED.
On Dragonstone Island, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) has just received news that Joffrey died, which convinces him that the leech barbecue worked. But he’s also mad at Davos (Liam Cunningham) because Davos put Baratheon bastard Gendry with all that sweet sweet king’s blood in a row boat and sent him out to sea (over/under on whether Gendry has been eaten by a shark by now?) He also wants an army, to which Davos suggests mercenaries. Stannis claims he is running out of time and doesn’t want to just be another page in a history book. Don’t we all, Stannis? Get in line, buddy.
Davos gets an idea when visiting Shireen (Kerry Ingram) for a reading lesson and has her write a message to the Iron Bank of Braavos from Stannis. Lotta talk about the Iron Bank in this ep, they’ve got to be coming into play, hard, soon.
Mereen, Across the Narrow Sea
At the gates of Meereen, a sight no ruler wants to see, Daenerys Stormborn, of House Targaryen, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea (Emilia Clarke), with her freed-slave army, dragons and harem in tow. They send out their champion, and he quickly whips it out to take a piss, taunting the castrati from Yunkai who make up her army. Daenerys refuses to risk her best generals and advisors to fight the champion, so she sends out Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman). Daario, on foot, faces off against the Mereen champion on horse, and tosses a wink at Dany over his shoulder. SWOON! He then plugs the charging horse in the eye with a dagger, and beheads the champion with a saber/scythe type thing in a matter of seconds. DOUBLE SWOON. He pisses on the arrows that rain down from Mereen: a literal, epic pissing match.
Daenerys gives her speech to the slaves about free choice and the enemies beside them. She punctuates it with a catapult of barrels over the wall—barrels filled with the leather collars that most of the slaves are wearing. That Khaleesi sure does have a knack for politicking.
Thoughts? Theories? We know now that Littlefinger is decidedly behind the poisoning, but who was his man on the ground? And with the necklace as a red herring, how did the poison get into the wine or the pie? Was it Oberyn? Olenna? TYWIN? He seems to profit the most from this death, actually.
The follow up to the bombast of the Purple Wedding, this episode is dark, violent and serious, and troubling in its resistance to answer questions and willingness to bring other elements into play in the murder of Joffrey. Team Throne Games are not holding back on the depths of human darkness this season, and they are deeply complicating the someone like Jaime, an incest rapist, a child maimer, a Kingslayer, but also the one chance to possibly save Tyrion (with regard to the rape scene, here is a great analysis over at Women and Hollywood). The writing is deft and jam-packed, with nuance and code and double speak hitting fast and furiously. Not a single line, no matter how tossed off it may seem, can be spared as everything is efficiently communicating or foreshadowing some element of the story. It’s honestly anyone’s game from here.