Sunday, April 27, 2014

Game of Thrones (S4E03): "Breaker of Chains"

The third episode of Season 4 of HBO's Game of Thrones is titled "Breaker of Chains," which any serious observer recognizes as a reference to Daenerys Targaryen. However, although she does appear in the episode, there are a lot of other storylines that are advanced before we get to see Dany doing her thing on the far-away continent of Essos, as most of the story takes place in Westeros.

I won't do a full (or dull) recap of the entire events of the episode, but will summarize the highlights and lowlights.

There were many highlights of this episode
  • The King Is Dead! Long Live The King! Now that Joffrey is dead the patronymic right of succession leads to his younger brother Tommen becoming the next King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. With that in mind, his grandpa, Tywin Lannister, the richest (and probably most powerful) man in the realm begins his tutelage of the soon-to-be King by educating Tommen on what makes a good king (and bad king). He makes it clear that Joffrey was not a good king. That he does this while he, his daughter and his grandson are all viewing Joffrey's body lying in state in the Great Sept is astonishing.
  • Twice Married, Still A Maiden? The scene between Margaery Tyrell and her Aunt Olenna, Queen of Thorns was another highlight. However, if we were looking for clues into who killed Joffrey none were offered. However, it is curious that Olenna thinks that Margaery's future has gotten brighter since the second husband who was a king was murdered before they could consummate the wedding.
  • The Hound and Arya Show. The television show is following more closely characters (and storylines) in the book that get shorter shrift. One of these is the odd couple journey of Arya Stark, the tomboy who has lost her family, and Sandor Clegane, known to most of Westeros as The Hound, the fearsome muscle behind most of King Joffrey's threats and atrocities. The two actors have great chemistry and Arya is one of my favorite characters, who if you have read the books, knows has some pretty dark days ahead of her.
  • Once a Fool, Always a Fool. After following the erstwhile Ser Dontos (Joffrey's Fool) from the Purple Wedding back to the port and being rowed through murky fog to a waiting large ship, surely even Sansa Lannister nee Stark must have known something fishy was up. That the person on the boat to meet them is Littlefinger himself, the master of intrigues made that immediately clear. That his first act was to immediately kill Ser Dontos, after he successfully completed his mission of spiriting Sansa out of King's Landing alive and giving her the purple necklace that Littlefinger admitted he had had made for her, is indicative of just how dangerous a situation Sansa finds herself. Again.
There were several curious aspects of this episode. The most notable were:
  • Paging Meryl Streep. What the heck is going on with Aiden Gillen's accent as Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish?  His accent has wobbled significantly between appearances in seasons but the voice coming out of his mouth sounded like something out of Christopher Nolan's Batman. This is not a compliment!
  • Out of The Frying Pan Into The Fire. There was too much time spent on Gilly and Sam. It doesn't really make much sense to the audience why Sam would think Gilly and her very young baby would be safer down in the nearby town as opposed to surrounded by the men of the Night's Watch. It can't be a good sign when your landlady/employer says that you could make better money as a whore than doing a regular job.
  • Bloody Savages! We understand the Wildings are bloodthirsty, but was it really necessary to show the bloody details and gore of their massacre of the people in the countryside near the Wall?
Grade: 9/10 (A-).
Overall,  S4E03 was a perfect example of the way in which David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have adapted George R.R. Martin's sprawling epic tale chock-full of characters and storylines into a multi-faceted television with multiple settings and nuanced characterizations.

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