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Game of Thrones

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Episode 3 - Breaker of Chains

24 April 2014

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Sansa is taken to Little Finger who kills Ser Dontos for his efforts. Tywin begins instructing Tommen on who a King should listen to and then arranges Tyrion's trial. He approaches Prince Oberyn about becoming a judge and a member of the Small Council. Cersei asks Jaime to help her kill Tyrion and Jaime rapes her. Arya and the Hound are taken in by a farmer who offers them work. The Hound robs him. Stannis wants to press his claim to the throne and in the Iron Bank of Bravos Ser Davos sees an opportunity. The Wildlings begin slaughtering villagers in an attempt to lure the Nights Watch away from Castle Black. Sam takes Gilly to Mole's Town where he thinks she will be safe.

The Good: Last week felt like a demonstration of helplessness with Sansa, Tyrion and Theon forced to endure humiliation. This episode felt like a descent into misery. In a time of civil war the usual bonds between people break down and the strong prey on the weak.

The Wildling sack of a northern village was gross while the cold logic of the Hound and Baelish did nothing to make their decisions any kinder. Tywin may have decided to get rid of Tyrion and Joffrey in one swift operation while Ser Davos is forced to bring more war to Westeros just to preserve his life. Even when Sam puts Gilly's wellbeing first he may unwittingly have put her in harms way. It was all pretty miserable viewing until Daenerys made another grandstanding declaration of her credentials as the Queen with all the required qualities (Strength, wisdom, justice. Hmm, not sure about piety).

I enjoyed the tactical and political discussions amidst the muck. Arya showed quick wits, Jon admirable maturity and Sam and Pod were very sweet. Little Finger had me kicking myself that I didn't consider him more seriously as a murder suspect while Olenna now becomes the most likely culprit. Although one has to say that Tywin looks deeply suspicious too. The speed at which he adapted to the new dynamics seemed to make even Cersei's brow furrow. I was pleased to hear that the uprising at Craster's Keep hadn't been forgotten and am intrigued to see what the Iron Bank make of Stannis' credit history.  

The most impactful scene though seems to be Jaime raping Cersei. When she asked him to kill Tyrion and then offered him the affection he's been desperate for I wrote in my notes "Cersei is a piece of work." I was initially pleased that Jaime hadn't been taken in by such an obvious ploy and instead called her out for her hateful behaviour.

The Bad: But then he raped her. Obviously any act of rape is not good but it was particularly horrible to see Jaime, a character whose moral compass seemed to be shifting north, committing this crime. It was another marker of misery in an episode full of it. That's not in itself bad television if it reveals truths about him and affects the story as it should. But the placement of the scene so early in the episode and the lack of follow up served to dampen the impact. It almost came across as just a dark incident between lovers rather than the horrific act it is. Perhaps I'm wrong and next week it will be given more serious treatment. But it's placement here left me uncomfortable. (UPDATE: I have now read that the director intended the sex to appear consensual after a while. He failed).

The Unknown: The sad state of Westeros is not something I can place in "The Bad." The fact that suffering makes me sad is actually evidence of good television because if I didn't believe in it I would feel nothing. And indeed countries suffering civil wars and external invasions do witness atrocities as the ability to police behaviour dissipates. However if a TV show makes you feel miserable for too long it may drive viewers away. Of course one source of hope in all this is Daenerys. She is promising freedom and justice and so far has delivered. But because Game of Thrones has done such an excellent job of being unpredictable it has undermined my confidence in Dany. Instead of cheering her demonstration of broken collars I continue to wait around for her to be betrayed, fooled or otherwise brought down to earth. I'm not sure that expectation is aiding my viewing experience.

It's nice to see that Tywin is so aware of all the threats to his Kingdom. He may not believe in White Walkers but he is taking the Wildling invasion seriously. Which prompts the question of what exactly he is doing about it? Stannis seems to be insisting on becoming King before he will march north. Perhaps Tywin is happy for the North to be engulfed in war before his armies need get involved. It might help for the show to discuss the exact size of Westeros. A google search tells me that the North alone is meant to be the length of the Western seaboard of the USA. With only medieval transport in place it then becomes easier to see why the Lannisters would view a Wildling invasion as a problem for another day.

I have to assume that Tywin is happy to frame Tyrion for the murder. He can't be interested in the truth given the casual manner he's shown so far. For Tyrion to be exhonerated I assume powerful people would lose their heads. If that is all true it puts us in a quandry. How does Tyrion escape without the whole house of cards collapsing? I'm sure George R R Martin has something suitably clever up his sleeve. Or is he about to test his audiences loyalty to the limit by killing the Imp? That might be too much to take.

What is Little Finger planning? Was he in on the plot or did the original plan involve Sansa being executed along with her husband? Given his speech about ladders and chaos last season could it be that he will somehow reveal the truth and plunge the world back into civil war? This is assuming that the Tyrells would be blamed for the assasination. I'll stop speculating there or this could spiral out of control.

Best Moment: That's difficult to say in such a bleak episode. Perhaps Tyrion telling Pod to leave the city, a selfless act amongst the rule of selfishness.

Conclusion: A hard episode to enjoy but constructed beautifully as ever.

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  • I dont want to belabor this point, but I was taught "No is NO! Moreover, you can't get consent retroactively. My own code of conduct requires "Eager Willing Consent".

    By that standard G.R.R. Martin wrote a rape scene in the book. Note the scene in the book is from Jaime's p.o.v. That being said Jaime doesn't paint a pretty picture of himself. In the book Cersei refuses because she's afraid that someone will see. In the show she refuses because she says "This isn't right". Just because a woman stops resisting after you've force your way inside her does Not equal consent.

    In America there is a horrifyingly high percentage of women who claim to have been at least sexually assaulted. (I think it's 1/3). That the director, producers, and HBO (they didn't put it in the TVMA warning) don't recognize rape as rape says something awful about us.

    Posted by gcswift2, 24/04/2014 3:07am (4 years ago)

  • I feel for Sansa now that she is on a ship with the ultimate snake Little Finger. Did he ever go off and court Lysa's hand or has he been hanging around on a ghostly ship waiting for his plan to come to fruition? It seems that he is in league with someone else (my guess is the Queen if Thorns) and a major part of the Joffrey poisoning plot. I half expected to see Shae on the ship and we might yet see her again before the season ends.

    I was hoping that we would've checked in with the Greyjoy's by now. Considering they are in open rebellion against the crown (as Tywin admitted) and are important enough to be of concern to Stannis then I'm surprised they have not commanded more air time over the past two seasons.

    It was interesting to see the behaviour of Jaime and The Hound this week. Both were fast becoming fan favourites yet we received a bit of a reality check this week as each showed that are not completely reformed characters with some evil actions - Jaime's rape of Cersei and The Hound's merciless robbery of the smallholder. The smallholder also reminded of the rules of hospitality, just in case we had forgotten about the retribution that is due to hit Walder Frey in the near future. We have yet to see the Blackfish this season but hopefully we can check in with him soon.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by peter riegler, 23/04/2014 10:19pm (4 years ago)

  • Cersei and Jaime 's 'encounter' certainly fits the definition of rape in the way it was executed. But given the long standing forbidden aspect of their relationship, Her refusal sounded more like her refusal to accept her son's death than Jaime's advances. In her words she said, "not here", which leaves the interpretation open to add, "somewhere else is okay".

    This doesn't clear the event from being Rape but does add another layer to what was happening.

    Such a very brutal world, and much like the Walking Dead, so difficult to watch because these truly horrible moments can and do occur in the real world, every day.

    It's been said we need to experience horror in fiction to deal with it and continue onward in life, always hoping to experience something better.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 23/04/2014 2:35pm (4 years ago)

  • For the most part, I really appreciated that this episode reminded us that certain characters we have come to view in a positive light are nonetheless capable of morally reprehensible, even brutal acts. Tormund and Ygritte, whom I've come to enjoy watching, are still wildlings bent on invading the Seven Kingdoms, and we are forcefully reminded here of the danger that these wildlings pose to innocents south of the Wall. The Hound's survivalist attitude, which came across as pragmatic in episode 1, is seen in a very different light when directed against a poor farmer who was trying to help him and Arya. We even got a stark reminder of how cold Tywin Lannister is, as he unsentimentally enumerated Joffrey's flaws while standing directly over his grandson's dead body.

    The depiction of the Jaime/Cersei scene in the Sept was the most problematic aspect of the episode by far. This was not, I want to stress, because of its deviation from the book; the book scene was only marginally more palatable to me, because while Cersei did explicitly acquiesce to sex she didn't do so until near the end of their encounter. Jaime still grabbed her, threw her down on an altar, and tore off her clothes - all while ignoring her protests, both verbal and even physical (as in the show, she pounded his chest with her fists). Thus, the more overt lack of consent didn't bother me as a book-to-show alteration; in both media, I found Jaime's actions pretty indefensible.

    What I object to is that the viewers have been given far too little context in which to parse out this scene; there has been a single other scene between Jaime and Cersei since their reunion, in which she rejected his advances, but didn't really explain her reasons, and since then we haven't seen them together at all. In order for the sept scene to feel like an organic product of the growth (or deterioration) in their relationship, I really needed at least one other scene in which the two discuss where they stand with one another. As it was, I was having a very hard time trying to read Jaime's motivations this episode - was he angry at her continued rejection? Desperate at the thought of losing her permanently? Was Cersei seeking comfort when she started kissing him, or was she trying to manipulate him into promising to kill his brother? As it stands, the creators of the show have left me trying to contextualize this brutal, morally repugnant act in a near-vacuum of information, and that is a major narrative misstep.

    Viewer score: 63 / 100

    Posted by Alex L, 23/04/2014 12:21am (4 years ago)

  • If you think there is going to be a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention....Ramsey Snow.

    Whenever you start to think that people are changing for the better and that good is going to triumph over evil, think again.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Tia-Maria, 22/04/2014 11:06pm (4 years ago)

  • "The director of this episode said it was meant to be consensual sex between Jaime and Cersei. If that's true they failed miserably."

    It definitely didn't come across as consensual.

    Here's a piece of her actual dialog: "Jaime, not here, please. Please.- ( fabric rips ) - Stop it. - Stop it. Stop. - No. Stop it.
    Stop. Stop. - Stop."

    Posted by Fluids, 22/04/2014 7:57pm (4 years ago)

  • I am going to leave the whole Jaime-Cersei sequence alone for the moment. Lord knows it's getting enough attention. Except just to say that I think we should wait until this season is over to judge this plotline.

    But in terms of this episode as a stand-alone chapter, there definitely, definitely needed to be a second, however short scene with Jaime and Cersei afterwards. Of course there did. Even if it just showed that they weren't on speaking terms. Jaime could have started to initiate a dialogue and Cersei could just have left the room, for example.

    This leads me to a reason that I didn't really enjoy the episode, and increasingly am starting to feel a bit more lukewarm about the series' composition. The pacing and focu just seems increasingly off in general.

    Take the moment in 'Breaker of Chains' where Ser Dontos and Sansa were fleeing the city. With comical speed they fled the wedding, the palace, the city itself, the shore and suddenly were in a different scene altogther, complete with ghost ship fog! This came across less as breakneck, thrilling television and more as straight-to-DVD quality continuity haste. What would have been wrong with them getting into the boat at the start of the episode, and reaching their rendez-vous with Littlefinger's ship at the episode's mid-point, or even its end? It feels rushed, and condensed, but not in a good way.

    Similarly, I felt that way during the massacre of the village. The cannibalistic Thenns sent the terrified boy off in the direction of Castle Black in the far distance, and then he's suddenly in front of the Night's Watch, having given his testimony. This makes Westeros feel tiny, not large. And then exactly the same thing happened with Arya and The Hound's main scenes!! It's a question of editing. Davos does not need to go staright from his scene with Stannis into his scene with Stannis' daughter. It feels too cramped as storytelling, as though the showrunners don't trust us to remember anything at all if they leave us dangling for 20 minutes. It all adds up to feeling unsatisfying.

    Maybe the creators should look at the show Deadwood for inspiration. One thing Deadwood did very well in unifying the actions of its large cast was to set almost every single episode during the course of a single day. I think this would be really effective in GoT, especially when unifying action in different locations.

    One other criticism is that we're getting two many monologues. Tywin's scene with Tomnen about the virtues of a good king was technically a dialogue, but with minimal input from Tomnen. It's great to hear Charles Dance speak, but wouldn't this have been a great excuse for an emergency Small Council meeting? Everyone there, giving opinion and rumours spreading, input from Varys, Pycelle, maybe Mace Tyrell, maybe even with Tomnen there to be introduced to everyone? Again, it just makes Westeros feel small if all we get are one-on-one scenes, or near enough. Where have the scenes gone in the throne room, where we get to see the public face of the monarchy? (Answer: they're too expensive because of all the extras).

    One of the things that I've liked about the Night's Watch so far this season is it feels fleshed out, and fully populated. King's Landing just feels like there's about 6 people there.

    I think this episode was bound to be a lull compared to last week, but I feel some of these problems are more systematic,. Overall, a disappointingly constructed episode.

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by David F, 22/04/2014 4:26pm (4 years ago)

  • Okay episode, definitely not as good as last week's as expected since most shows find it difficult to make back-to-back episode in same high quality. This episode got the lowest score in the season so far because of certain bad parts brought it down.

    The Good:

    Tywin giving Tommen aka Martyn Lannister raising from the dead, a lesson in becoming a king. Tywin and Oberyn's scene. And Tyrion saying goodbye to Podrick. Is that mean no more Pod jokes?

    The Bad:

    Dontos's death. I didn't care for the tv version and also with the people I watched the show with when he croaked. I touched upon this last week, his death would have been more shocking or I would have given a damn if there was development between him and Sansa. In the books he was her only friend in King's Landing. I suppose, Margery and Shae took his place in the show. Is it me or did the actor had more lines in the Ali G movie than in the show? I'm joking.

    The fight between Daario and Mr Urinator was lacking. I know it was another character in the book who didn't make the cut in the show was the one who fought, still I was hoping it was just as good as in the books, but it wasn't. When I saw unnamed fighter galloping with his horse towards Daario, I predicted right that he would throw a dagger at the horse to dismount him and slew the rider in one blow. I was hoping Barristan Selmy was the one to fight, so we can finally see his legendary fighting skills that's longer and better choreograph than the fight that was in last season. I hope the show won't pull a Rome and skip the fighting in the city like the series has done numerous times.

    My biggest complaint is what the hell is the show doing with Jaime? I know that you're all ready to point out that I'm just being an annoying book reader because Jaime and Cersei had consensual sex instead Jaime raping her as we see in the show, but if the show is trying to make Jamie sympathetic after getting his hand chopped off, so I'm not counting that idiotic scene when Jaime bashed his cousin to death, the show did a poor job and reverse all the good they did with Jaime last season with that scene. I'm glad you were also unhappy with the scene, Robin. I went to various sites and the scene had mixed reactions from both book and non-book readers. Book readers aren't the only ones who have a problem with it, as well as it's disturbing to watch, people found it bothersome because of the inconsistency of the some characters depicted in the show. I'm no book purist, I don't mind if they change things from the book, but for good reason and it makes sense, not happy with change just because of the sake of it and that scene with Jaime and Cersei was one of them.

    Viewer score: 56 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 22/04/2014 11:37am (4 years ago)

  • This season started off with two strong episodes. But this episode was weak.

    The show didn't know how it presented Jamie which is a problem. That makes you wonder about the nature of canon. It's already murky with Game of Thrones being an adaptation. But what happens when the show's creators disagree with the general perception of a scene? Is the intention canon or the result?

    Other things came across odd or poorly shot/edited. I can't quite put my finger on what but the scene with Arya and the Hound came felt off. I know the scene was supposed to be awkward but the camera work looked poor imo.

    Also Danny being 10 feet from the champion of Meereen, who was attacking on horse was silly.

    One of my favorite characters in the books is Davos. I really like the actor who plays him but he hasn't had enough to do. I'm excited to see what happens with the Iron Bank story line.

    This interactive map is really helpful: http://quartermaester.info/
    Look at how much bigger the Dothraki Sea is compared to Westeros. No wonder it's taking Danny so long!

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by Eric, 22/04/2014 11:06am (4 years ago)

  • Dude what does it take to get a 70?
    The director of this episode said it was meant to be consentual sex between Jaime and Cersei. If that's true they failed miserably. And because they won't get to correct this until the DVD extras or next season. Without that information I would have give the episode an 80.

    That Sam feeling inadequate or Jealous caused him to put Gilly in more danger is Martin tellinghis audience that it never pays to do the right thing.

    While brutal, I enjoyed the attack on the small town by Ygritte and her group. I appreciate that the producers realize the Wildlings in the Gift didn't seem like a threat to the Crows at Castle Black. Now they appear to have a significant fighting force on both sides of the wall.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by gcswift2, 22/04/2014 6:52am (4 years ago)

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