Game of Thrones: 403 “Breaker of Chains” Review
Reviewed by Thomas Firth.
It does what is says on the packet, Breaker of Chains really is a release from tension, literally and figuratively. But, on the other hand, it does what Game of Thrones can do best – barely any plot movement and yet still be stronger than most television series. One thing which is clear in this fourth season is that the writers are taking it inch by inch. Every week, there’s a slight development in each storyline, someone is poisoned, someone else is captured, and there’s an argument. But also, whilst nothing truly spectacular is revealing itself, viewers are hooked tighter than a ship’s anchor to the drama. There may not have been much death this time, but we definitely scorged on new information.
Following the exciting events of the Purple Wedding, we now find Tyrion in chains and Sansa on the run. The final main character, Lord Petyr Baelish has made an appearance and the slimy Littlefinger has not left King’s Landing just yet. It seems he was a strong culprit in the assassination of the late King and in his twisted mind, he kills Ser Dontos to avoid tarnish on his reputation and gets Sansa in the end – something he had always wanted. With impressive special effects, this scene was particularly eerie, but I am honestly put off by Aidan Gillen’s accent.
Some of the interesting developments in this week’s episode were Tywin’s words on former Kings of Westeros, his potential ally in Oberyn Martell, the Wildling attack in a northern village and Tyrion’s worry for Podrick. The Hand of the King certainly seems to be making the rounds as not only does he tutor the soon-to-be-King, Tommen, but also visits Oberyn to offer him a place as a judge at Tyrion’s trial. Charles Dance, as usual, performs admirably in this episode, intimidating little Tommen, and overshadowing Pedro Pascal. The Wildling attack is notably vicious and the show is unafraid to make us watch the death of a little boy’s father and mother in a matter of seconds. The fact that Ygritte shot the arrow, and we watch her slice her way through more innocent farmers, just reiterates the fact that she is a strong warrior, and has come a long way from the love that she once had for Jon. And finally, Tyrion’s conversation with Podrick is a tentative one. It seems the stakes are rising, all of Tyrion’s friends have been deprived of his company, and even Podrick is in danger of being added to the collection of heads on the city walls. All, of course, are vital developments to direct us towards a new chapter in Thrones.
Several scenes this week, however, left a sour taste. Sam’s relationship with Gilly has been pretty much absent since the night he killed that White Walker in Second Sons. His plan is a bit dim-witted, and it almost seems as if he’s just casting Gilly aside to protect himself. Perhaps there’s a flaw in the character, but we know that Sam is intelligent enough to understand that Moletown is the worst place Gilly could be. In addition to this, whilst Arya and the Hound’s battle of words prolongs – their storyline takes an unnecessary detour. It’s hard not to look at this as an evidence of stalling by the writers. But there’s no doubting Maisie Williams is a strong actress and her reign as one of the best actors in Thrones continues. Another scene in question is Margaery and Olenna’s discussion. This was, once again, repetitive, but at least the young Tyrell emphasised her sole reason for marrying Joffrey – “I want to be QUEEN!”
A fiery final scene saved the day, though, with a stunning display of negotiation played out in the art of war. Daario Naharis makes easy work of his challenger, and it’s very clear that this has a momentous impact on the Meereen onlookers. Despite Daenerys’ use of her Valyrian language expertise, we are given a very thorough overview of her victories and why this should persuade the slaves to rally to her side. There’s a very symbolic ending, which resonates the title, Breaker of Chains – broken chains are catapulted over the Meereen walls for all the slaves to see. Emilia Clarke makes a stunning performance in this short scene, and its reinforced by the scene’s strength.
Examination aside then, there’s a number of theories which spring from this episode. Baelish mentions the fact that he provided the necklace for Sansa, so does this mean Lady Olenna Tyrell is implicated in the murder? Sansa is now heading to the Eyrie with Baelish, perhaps she will meet Arya there who’s heading in exactly the same direction – there could be a reunion. Knowing Thrones, that will probably never happen, but it’s nice to have hope! And concluding my short analysis, Braavos has been a city in question a few times this week, not to mention previous weeks. Ser Daavos appears to be contacting the Bank of Braavos in order to come to some arrangement, and Arya is keen to reach Braavos, due to the fact that Syrio Forel and Jaqen Hghar both came from the Essosi city. Considering the fact that the city of Braavos is pictured in one of season four’s trailers (with the Titan of Braavos), this could be a potential new destination!
In conclusion then, Breaker of Chains is not a shining episode with spectacular battles and death (not that you need more death in Thrones), instead it’s a lengthy example of Thrones’ ability to become low-key and still sustain a necessary direction for the story. There’s enough going on to keep us tied to our living rooms every Sunday (for America) and Monday night (for the UK). Thrones rides in weaker this time, but it hasn’t lost anything yet. Bring on Oathkeeper!