The mood certainly isn’t lifted in this third episode, but the quality continues in abundance, as do the shocks. As Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) orders for the borders of King’s Landing to be locked down, Lady Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is quickly rushed away to safety and placed on-board a vessel with trademark slimeball Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Balish (Aiden Gillen). Whilst her life is deemed out of jeopardy, her fleeing acts only place more fingers of blame towards Tyrion who now stands for the death of his nephew whilst his wife and indeed the King’s tormented ex (who lost her father to his cruelty) has run away from the murder scene; doesn’t really do ‘The Imp’ any favours…
More scenes of sadness and mistrust come from the wounded, gravely hands of The Hound (Rory McCann) who after some quick wit and charm from Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), manages to lodge in a kind and noble farmer’s barn and are presented with a delicious broth of rabbit stew. If his table manners weren’t bad enough, The Hound’s sour repayment to the man who has aided them and offered him a fair wage for a fair job upon his land is to tie him and his beloved daughter up, beat him and rob him of his slight riches. In George R.R. Martin’s world, it really is every man for himself and whilst this crime doesn’t strike the same brutal chords as say Walder Frey’s family betrayal at ‘The Red Wedding’, it shows that even characters deemed as heroes are still accustomed to unlawfulness and capable of deceit.
Much like last week, the biggest jaw-dropping moment in director Alex Graves’ episode involved the young king; albeit very still. As mother Cersei (Lena Headey) weeps at the foot of his deathbed, uncle/father Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) endeavours to comfort his beloved sister. Joffrey being a child of incest means the siblings have lost someone truly priceless to them and Cersei is hungry for vengeance. Quickly things become further bleaker as her brother is unable to keep his lust locked away and seemingly rapes her next to their son’s lifeless corpse. Game of Thrones is famed for being risqué, but unlike many other shows, it has the quality of writing, performance and most importantly, narrative relevance to back up the grisliness. Regardless of this fact, this early moment in episode 3 will quite rightly ruffle cause concern. Jaime has never been portrayed as a nice man, nor a particularly noble one, but his journey and growth with Brienne of Tarth last season saw him lose his sword-wielding hand to protect her honour so for his character to take such a savage turn at a time of great tragedy is both emotionally draining and conflicting.
However the episode’s standout slice of darkness is delivered by the Wildings who endeavour to send a bloody message to the crows at Castle Black. The band of brutes storm a humble working village, slaying everyone in sight before forcing a young boy to look on at his parents’ bodies and is promptly told by Skane that he and his men will eat them. Lovely. Despite so much doom and gloom however, this third episode did offer some nicer sequences if you can call them that. A true exchange of respect, heartache and admiration is shared between Tyrion and his loyal servant Podrick (Daniel Portman). Dinklage’s character has lost so many dear to him recently; Sansa has fled, he is unable to see Bronn, he was forced to order away his true love Shae and now Pod is in severe danger and is told to leave King’s Landing too. All this as well as being accused of a crime punishable by death and having a Lannister family who practically loathe him.
‘Mother of Dragons’ Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) rounds off the hour with certainly the most potentially uplifting offering; her Unsullied tribe arrive at the foot of Meereen only to be faced with a deathmatch. Her nearest and dearest offer their services to their humble queen, but she selects cocky and possible love interest Daario as her champion after he declares his worthlessness. Upon victory, Khaleesi provides a noble speech and pelts the walls with barrels crammed with broken slave chokers and chains symbolising the freedom of her army. The queen is quickly rallying up the troops and forming a loyal, formidable band of soldiers to fight, and chances are her recruitment has expanded in this city stop too.
Breaker of Chains was a cold episode; one formed and moulded in the aftermath of perhaps Westeros’ most scandalous and dangerous affair, but one thing is for certain – Season 4 has so far been phenomenal and the trend looks set to continue as the weeks roll by. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss promised shocks and stunners aplenty, and thus far the pair are so true to their word – unlike everyone who populates their adapted world…