Game of Thrones 4.03: “Breaker of Chains”

All in all, it was a pretty typical Game of Thrones episode; there was thievery, stew-slurping, mass-murder, twincestual rape, and the episode ended with Dany on her way towards freeing some more slaves. You would think these cities would be catching onto Dany’s tactics by now. If she was at my city’s walls, I think I’d hide my slaves, and you know, not let them get a glimpse of their savior. But that’s just me. Dany’s merely playing the hand she’s been dealt; it’s not her fault she’s playing with amateurs.

Dany might be dealing with amateurs, but in the west, more and more players are emerging. With Littlefinger coming back into the picture to rescue Sansa we might not yet know what he's up to, but he must be taken seriously. Stannis is still stranded on Dragonstone with no money and no army, but plenty of stubbornness. The Wildlings are coming and Jon Snow might actually know something, if only his brothers would listen. And in King's Landing, there's a whole mess of stuff going on as Lannisters are rising and falling with no signs of slowing down.

Riser of the Week: Tommen “Baratheon” Lannister

Remember in Season 2 during the Battle of the Blackwater when Cersei, thinking King’s Landing was about to fall to Stannis, very nearly kills Tommen and herself? Also, remember how little Tommen was two seasons ago? Since then, it seems that him and Bran have a bet going to see who can hit six feet first.

Tommen’s height wasn’t the only thing to grow overnight, as he now finds himself the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms (Fun Fact: The actor that plays Tommen, Dean-Charles Chapman, was the same actor who played Martyn Lannister, the boy-squire killed by Robb Stark's liege lord Rickard Karstark that led to Robb having to behead his own man. This led the Karstarks to bail on Robb and forced Robb to reach out to the Freys for help. And we all know how that turned out for Robb. Damn you Dean-Charles Chapman, I was just starting to like you.)

The scene with Tywin where Tommen is asked what makes a good king was powerful, and the fact that Tommen didn’t complain, yell, or bitch at Tywin, and he got the answer right, already proves him to be better than Joffrey. You have to admire Tywin’s game-playing skills here. Joffrey’s body is barely cold and here he is, in front of it, managing to give advice on ruling. As Tywin gave the birds and the bees talk while walking out of the Sept with Tommen, he was also weaning him off Cersei’s proverbial breast, guaranteeing that she will not ruin him as she did Joffrey.

Honorable Mention: Daario Naharis, for making sure Ser Jorah stays firmly in the friend-zone.

Faller of the Week: Tyrion Lannister

One week after Old Yeller-ing Shae, Tyrion once again was forced to distance himself from a trusted friend. The Pod and Tyrion break up scene was a tough one, as Pod was really the only person who’s had Tyrion’s back the whole time (Reminder: He was the one who killed Tyrion’s would-be assassin during the Battle of the Blackwater. And we still don't know who tried to kill Tyrion then.). But the last thing Tyrion wants is for Pod to suffer on his behalf, and he orders his squire to do everything he can to stay free from suspicion. Seeing Pod leave Tyrion with a final “Farewell, my Lord” was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Tyrion is out of friends, and his timing couldn’t be worse. While we may know that Tyrion was just the unfortunate victim of an elaborate setup, if there’s anything previous events have shown us, bad things happen to good people in Game of Thrones. No one is safe.

Honorable Mention: The Lannister Twins: Jaime for losing all the progress he was making in his redemption story and Cersei for being the only one to mourn her son while losing her grip on her other son. (All three Lannister siblings in the Faller of the Week section? How the mighty have fallen!)

Object of Power: Broken Chains

Remember in the premier of this season when Dany is marching towards Meereen and she finds a dead child nailed to a cross, pointing the way? Dany instructs her men to take the body down and remove the slave’s collar. Now fast-forward to the end of “Breaker of Chains”—the barrels that Dany’s trebuchets shoot over Meereen’s walls burst open and reveal dozens of broken collars. Meereen’s slaves, seeing the broken chains and symbolic freedom, nervously glance amongst each other. These broken chains speak volumes to the slaves, and its message is definitely easier to understand than Dany’s speech at the end—how the hell could the slaves hear her? She was hundreds of feet away and hundreds of feet below them, and she wasn’t screaming. Regardless, I'm guessing the slaves won't be content with their societal standing for much longer.

Extra Baggage: The Thenns and North of the Wall Politics

It’s easy to get caught up in the fight for the Iron Throne. With so many families and parties fighting for it, that becomes the central conflict. But that’s not what this series is about. There’s a reason the first scene in the first ever episode took place north of the Wall and showed the White Walkers killing members of the Night’s Watch. We may spend more time in the South, but don’t for one second sleep on the dangers in the north. Mance Rayder has an army and the wildlings are converging on Castle Black from both sides.

Last night, we saw the cannibalistic Thenns, who have joined forces with Tormund Giantsbane’s troops, raid and murder an entire village, save one boy. The Thenns are the scarred men who we first met in this season’s premiere. Like Tormund and Ygritte, they are wildlings. Wildlings is a vague term, and only describes people born north of the Wall. Gilly is a wildling too. But amongst the wildlings, there are hundreds of cultures, tribes, and clans. These clans have always remained independent of each other and were often at war. But recently Mance Rayder, a former member of the Night’s Watch and now The King Beyond the Wall, has found a way to unify all of the various clans and tribes and is now marching south towards Castle Black.

While Mance Rayder is still north of the wall, a group of wildlings—the Thenns and Tormund’s clan—have successfully infiltrated the south and plan to ambush Castle Black, distracting them while Mance attacks from the North. This two-pronged attack would decimate the Night’s Watch, and the only advantage the brothers in black currently hold is that Mance believes there to be over 1,000 men at Castle Black, not the 100 that are actually there. This is why Jon Snow was so adamant last night about killing the rebelling brothers shacked up at Craster’s Keep (Gilly’s old home)—when Mance captures and interrogates them, he’ll learn about Castle Black’s vulnerability. And that would spell the end for the Night’s Watch.

See you next week.

Is there any area of the story you’d like explained further? Let me know in the comments.

Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

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