9.9 this episode scored on IMDb! 9.9!! The highest rated Game of Thrones episode (on IMDb, anyway). Interestingly, this episode also featured a wide range of ‘show-only’ content. Which backs up my point that with the whole Dorne thing, book readers aren’t annoyed because it’s different: they are annoyed because it’s bad. Show-only folks feel the same. But this episode greatly restored my faith (which was never really dwindling, I swear) in the writers’ ability.
The book-to-show adaptations this week focused solely on Arya and Cersei’s stories. Cersei’s is pretty straight forward, continuing on from last week’s cliff-hanger. Arya’s, on the other hand, is slightly more convoluted and confusing. The question is, what is Arya actually doing? Well, it seems like she is training to become a Faceless Man, that’s for sure. To understand how to be another person, Arya must live the life of another person. Hence, she becomes the oyster seller. In the books, she talks the name Cat of the Canals – a nod to this can be seen during the scene when multiple cats cross her path. The ‘skinny man’ sat at the desk was essentially an insurance dealer (boo!) who had cheated a family out of their money. Arya has killed before, but for her own reasons, so it will be interesting to see how she deals with taking the life of someone who has done her no wrong.
Breaking away from the books, we are treated to a fantastic couple of scenes between the little Lion and the Dragon. As Tyrion has not yet met Daenerys in the books, this is all original stuff, save the “wheel” speech, which is said to another character. As Barristan is now sadly deceased, it appears that Tyrion will be taking his role (as advisor, anyway, not knight…though that would be good). Tyrion, obviously, knows the political scape of Westeros more than Dany, and doubts she would gain many supporters. However, the Martells were Targaryen supporters until the bitter end, after years of a love/hate relationship between the two. We still haven’t really seen the extent of the Martell’s power, as they tend to keep themselves to themselves…though I’m hoping more light will be shed on them in the final two episodes of the season.
Ok, time for the biggie. Beyond the Wall (which apparently has some sort of magic spell on it to stop Baby Sam from aging??) is a vast wasteland: the Lands of Always Winter. Very little is known about this area, save a few leagues from the Wall where rangers have explored. The Wildlings have scouted further, as far as Thenn, which is where the bald cannibal people from. Beyond that, however, it is largely uncharted, and the map just kind of fades off. Hardhome is a settlement situated on the east side of the Lands of Always Winter, geographically roughly the same distance north of the Wall as the Fist of the First Men (where the Night’s Watch set up camp in season 2). Hardhome has acted as a refuge for Free Folk all over. Leaderless, they have become shambles, and appear to be governed by a group of ‘elders’ representing each faction. We see the (brief) return of a character from season 2: Rattleshirt, or the Lord of Bones, before he is brutally bashed down by Tormund. This not only shows Tormund’s brutality, but also acts as a final nail in the coffin for another character: Mance. In the books, Melisandre puts a glamour spell on Mance, and disguises him as Rattleshirt, and vice versa. So, it’s actually Rattleshirt that dies on the pyre at Castle Black. Meanwhile, Mance goes incognito and heads south on a secret rescue mission. Book-readers may well have hoped that the same happened in the series, but, alas, it’s not to be.
The climactic scene gave us more information about the White Walkers than we have received in the books. Largely, this is due to the fact that this scene is show-only, and a lot of information on the White Walkers comes from gossip and Old Nan’s stories! Exciting times. Obviously, we still know very little about them – such as their motives, their intelligence, community etc. But it’s apparent they are a serious threat, which many Westerosi seem to poo-poo. Suddenly, the tribulations of King’s Landing seem irrelevant, now that we have seen the real enemy! It’s important to note that this isn’t just a ‘medieval Walking Dead zombie apocalypse’; this is full out war. These undead soldiers (known as Wights) are relentless and brutal, as opposed to your classic zombie which survives on instinct. No, these guys want to hurt you. And now we know how easily the White Walkers (also known as the Others in the books) resurrect their undead Wights. Just a simple ‘come at me, bro’ gesture and you’ve got yourself an army. We also got to see how they really do ‘bring the cold’, and the Wight’s sheer determination as they flung themselves off of a cliff in order to kill their prey. Another big reveal was the importance of Valyrian Steel. I think I have talked about this previously, but Valyrian Steel, as the name suggests, was originally forged by the Valyrians (see my post on episode 5 for information about them). It is said to be the strongest, sharpest metal around, and only a gifted few know the secrets of how to forge it. Known Valyrian Steel swords are few: Ned Stark’s massive sword, Ice, was melted down and presented to Joffrey on his wedding day, and to Jaime, who later passed it to Brienne as Oathkeeper. Samwell Tarly’s family also own one named Heartsbane. Littlefinger’s dagger that was used to try and assassinate Bran is also Valyrian Steel. To my knowledge, these are the only blades that have been mentioned in the books. There were many more, but they have been lost to time
This whole final scene was brilliantly shot, with some wonderful cinematography, and, in my eyes has made up for the awful Dorne scenes (especially choreography wise). And the sound; oh, the sound! I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the Watch react to Jon bringing bands of Wildlings and a Giant (whose name is Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, or Wun Wun for short, if you were interested) to the Wall. Also, I’m awfully suspicious about that hooded figure navigating Jon’s boat at the end. He didn’t even turn round! I was half expecting it to be some sort of disguised White Walker…or, and I had my fingers crossed for this, that we would hear a voice “Jon?” *Jon looks down* “Uncle Benjen?!” BLACKOUT!
Next week’s episode is titled The Dance of Dragons, which is an obvious allusion to the title of the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Ramsay also mentioned how he would leave Stannis’ army as “a feast for the crows”, which is a nice little nod to the title of the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. Whether you think this season has been slow or not, it’s definitely apparent that it’s picking up now, with next week’s episode looking pretty darn epic, and episode ten will apparently “break the internet”…! Also, Oberyn died this time last year. Just saying.
This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
TOMMEN IS TOO OLD.
Sorry. Episode 4.03, “Breaker of Chains”, was definitely one of the weaker episodes as of late, and one of the weakest overall, IMO. I don’t think that anything has stirred the fanbase up so much more than the “rape” scene, but we will touch on that later, as well as how our opinions on certain characters change. I have very mixed feelings about this episode – there were some fantastic scenes such as Tryion and Pod, the sept (pre-rape) and that one bit with Daario…but equally, there were some very disappointing, almost seemingly pointless additions.
Let us begin, as most do, at the beginning. Following immediately after the Purple Wedding (feat. Jack Gleeson as ‘Corpse’), we see Sansa escaping with Dontos, across the water, and into the sly arms of Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. It has been heavily implied that Joffrey was poisoned. ‘The Strangler’, it’s called, not to be confused with the 1970’s English punk band. FUN FACT it’s the same poison that Maester Cressen used to try and kill Melisandre all the way back at the beginning of season 2, remember? Probably not. Anyway, if you’re wondering how it got in to Joffrey’s chalice, go and watch the scene again and keep an eye out. It’s awesome. What’s Pete doing out on the sea, you ask? He has recently been made Lord of Harrenhal (that big place where Arya and Tywin were), and needs to “acquire some sons”. He has sailed off to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Tully. Lysa, if you recall, is the late Catelyn’s sister – the one with the annoying breast feeding son. Baelish allegedly took her virginity, and since then she has apparently been infatuated with him, though it seems that he had eyes for Catelyn. Only Cat. So I imagine that that’s where he is taking Sansa – to meet her lovely aunt. I don’t know what he’s been doing since he left King’s Landing almost a season ago though…fishing, I imagine.
Staying in King’s Landing: with Joffrey’s death, his younger brother Tommen is now heir. As mentioned in me last post, Tommen has recently been recast presumably for a more experienced actor, due to becoming a larger character. I have yet to be impressed with this new (see: old) guy, though. For one thing, I think that he is too old. Tommen dans le books is supposed to be about 8 or so. A lot of characters ages have been upped (Daenerys is about 13…) but for them it makes sense: Tommen is supposed to be a podgy, naïve kid who would rather stamp envelopes and play with kittens than rule. Can you see this guy playing with kittens? I can’t. Of course, they may be taking him in a different direction, with his nativity possibly stemming from the fact that, at some point, he needs to get Margery preggos. Poor Margery. I think that she just wants to get laid… Tommen didn’t have too many lines in this episode though, so it’s still quite early to judge. Though I have to say I loved how blunt that scene between him, Cersei, Tywin and dead Joff was – Tywin outright insulting the recently deceased king – his own grandson – in front of Cersei, who remains brilliantly quiet and poker faced. Obviously, Tommen seems like a much nicer chap than Joffrey, and Tywin wants to break him in early. Perhaps Westeros will finally have a good king?
Meanwhile, locked away like the little rascal he is, Tyrion is awaiting trial for Joffrey’s death. The trial will be headed by Tywin, Mace Tyrell (“who will do whatever Tywin tells him to”) and Oberyn Martell. “But don’t the
Lannisters and the Martells hate each other?” I hear you scream at your computer/smart phone/tablet. Well, to an extent, yes. As has been established, Oberyn blames Tywin via the Mountain for his sister, niece and nephew’s deaths. However, Tywin knows that he needs Dorne. Interestingly, this is the first time that we see Tywin actually concerned about Daenerys and her dragons across the world. In the olden days, when Aegon conquered Westeros with his dragons, the Dornishmen were the only nation to resist due to their perseverance and promiscuity (that last one may be speculation…) Tywin seems an alliance with the Martells as completing the so-called Seven Kingdoms, and Oberyn probably sees it as an easy way to eliminate Tyrion Lannister, should he want to. All in all, Tyrion is pretty fuzzed, it seems. The discussion between him and Podrick was heartbreaking, ending with perhaps Tyrion’s only true friend leaving him. The fact that Tryion, who in a lot of ways is quite selfish and scheming, would willingly sacrifice his life (by having Pod ‘confess’) to save his squire’s is a credit to the growth of his character, and indeed their relationship.
So dem’s the good. Now the bad.
The scene that has the internet howling for blood: the rape scene. Some context of how this scene comes about: so in the books, Jaime was not present at King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding/death. He arrives afterwards, essentially when this scene in the sept takes place. He arrives to find a disgruntled Cersei, who has been longing for him (albeit sleeping whilst sleeping with about 5 other guys) as much as he has her. The result is a consensual, animalistic sex scene, from Jaime’s POV, next to the corpse of their illegitimate son. Cersei protests at first, as you would if you were about to have sex on your son, but soon gives in. In the series, however, he has already been back for weeks, which completely changes the dynamics. Since he’s been back, Cersei has not touched him. Bear in mind that these two had a super secret sexy relationship before Jaime was captured, so for Jaime to go without for so long, well, one can only imagine! But all he gets is rejection. His blood, and penis, are boiling. Then, when Cersei gives an oh-so-slight, but noticeable, recoil to his golden hand in the sept, that just triggers it. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”. And then…the series, in my opinion, dun goofed. What follows essentially undoes all of the character building that Jaime did in the last season that made him a fan favourite. But is that such a bad thing? At the end of the day, we have to remember that this is still the man that pushed a young boy from a tower window. This is still the man that attacked Ned in the street and dagger-eyed young Jory. Jaime Lannister is not a good man. But we want to like him, which is why so many book readers are upset over this scene – not just because ‘that didn’t happen in the book’, but because this changes EVERYTHING about his character. Yes, the series and the books are different, but at the end of the day this is still an adaptation of a novel, and changing something this big seems…well, ridiculous. This isn’t like making Sansa a bit more wet, or cutting Strong Belwas (look him up…but don’t read too much) – this is a character defining moment, and as a result, our opinion on (show) Jaime has dramatically changed. Because, as a wise man once said, “rape is never ok”. This isn’t the first time that the show has changed a consensual sex scene into one of rape, however. In the very first episode of the very first series, we see Drogo (who also later becomes a fan favourite) rape Dany on her wedding night. In the books, thirteen year old Daenerys, after a bit of fumbling, let’s Drogo have her way with her. So there’s some food for thought.
Speaking of opinions on characters changing, what about that Hound fellow, eh? That was a dickish thing to do. The point of this (show only) scene was to seemingly show that, like Jaime in many ways, Sandor Clegane is still not a good person. Sorry guys, looks like we won’t be getting that “Arya and the Hound” spin off any time soon! Sandor Clegane just wants to survive, and as a realist (see “everyone’s a killer) he will do that however he can.
Goodness this has been long. Erm what else should be covered… Angry Wildlings? That was a bit OTT, but I guess it just shows their ferocity. These guys are pissed. At the Wall, Grenn and Ed return from the north north, bringing news of what happened at Craster’s Keep. Jon wants to send a party back to Craster’s to eliminate the Night’s Watch Brothers there, who killed Craster, Lord Commander Mormont and several other Brothers. When Jon was travelling with the Wildlings, he told Mance that Castle Black was garrisoned by over a thousand men, when in reality it is only a few hundred. Jon fears that if Mance’s army falls upon Craster’s keep, he will find out – one way or another – from the ex-Brothers there about Castle Black’s real numbers, giving him no reason to hold back: “he’s already got enough to crush us; he just doesn’t know it yet”.
The last scene, and perhaps the most climatic, saw Daenerys at the gates of Meereen. Meereen is the largest city in Slaver’s Bay – the other two being Yunkai and Astapor, which Dany has already, erm, liberated. Meereen is
a lot different, and a lot richer. They send out a rider to defeat Daenerys’ champion in one-on-one combat, which fails when Daario kicks arse and takes names. In the books, the aforementioned Strong Belwas performs the act, proceeding to poo on the corpse of Meereen’s champion, but Daario was a good choice in Belwas’ absence. Daenerys then uses her loud voice and barrels to intimidate Meereen (and, you know, not her three fat-off dragons), causing fear and mutiny in the city. The Mother of Dragons is building her army!
I’ll finish off by just elaborating a bit on something that has been mentioned a few times already: the Iron Bank of Bravos. What is this? Well, pretty much what it says on the tin. The Iron Bank is an extremely wealthy bank…in Bravos…with clients all over the world, including the Crown in King’s Landing. Tyrion, in season three I think, goes as far as saying that the Bank will begin funding the Crown’s enemies if they are not careful, to ensure they get their money back quicker, which is precisely what Davos’ little epiphany was. One way other another, the Iron Bank will have its due.
Well that’s it for this somewhat dark episode. I mean dark as in lighting. Seriously, someone in Westeros should discover electricity. Maybe then they could start distributing music too, and people wouldn’t have to only sing “The Rains of Castamere” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry and aggravated? Ahh I’m so funny.