21
Apr
2014
Game of Thrones, Season Four, Episode 3
Breaker of Chains
Adam O'Brien
It seems to be the case that every season of Game of Thrones, there is one episode where a script supervisor shits the bed and switches a joke email chain for the actual script. I just hope this gets it out of the way for this season. I won’t say tonight’s episode was without merit, but there were a couple of scenes that made me question how nobody involved in the production spoke up to say maybe this wasn’t a great idea.

I am impressed by how measured Charles Dance’s depiction of Tywin is. It would be very easy to vilify him and make him look like a monster at every turn, but as he appears on the show it’s very subtle. Sure, he’s insulting his dead grandson in front of the boy’s mother, but he’s also taking the time to play the kindly grandfather to Tommen, who will be taking the throne soon. Tywin plans on exacting revenge for such a grave offense as murdering the king at his wedding, but he also immediately appreciates how much more pliable Tommen will be than Joffrey was.

Jaime and Cersei, on the other hand… I don’t know what that was. I really try to refrain from expecting the show to cling too tightly to the books, but this scene in Baelor’s Sept was so rapey it sent entirely the wrong message about the characters’ relationship. A scene hasn’t felt so wrong since last season when Podrick banged all those hookers, or when the scene of Jaime’s hand being cut off was followed by The Hold Steady’s Irish-Jiggy version of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” I promise, the scene was supposed to be about two old lovers being intimate for the first time in a long time. It’s as sweet of a scene where parents have sex over their son’s dead body can be. My optimism and faith in the writing staff makes me want to believe that they intended for us to see tonight all the ways Cersei is victimized by her family.

Speaking of needless drama and intensity, why are the wildlings so savage? How can there be scenes with the most subtle, three dimensional characters you’ve ever seen, immediately followed by a bunch of goons with axes who delight in murdering farmers?

Dany continues her campaign to free slaves, build an army, and wreck everyone’s shit in general. As with Tywin, the writers are keeping it fresh by resisting the urge to oversimplify her. The scene builds up like she’s going to mount an intense attack on the city, but instead she speaks to Meereen’s slaves directly and launches barrels filled with broken chains/manacles/whatever. I just wish they would stop doing this thing where there’s no Daenerys, and then in the last six minutes they do some big thing to get the viewer all pumped up right at the end. I just miss when she was a character.

I have mixed feelings about tonight’s episode. There were a lot of things that I liked, and I thought some of the dialogue was just golden, but there were a couple scenes that were so indefensibly wrong or awkward that it messed up the flow of the episode.

Grade: C+

Other Thoughts:

-Littlefinger is finally back to creep all over Sansa again. I know he’s an important character, but there’s only so much uncomfortably close whispering I can deal with.

-I don’t know much about how they shoot, but I want to believe that they made Jack Gleason lie motionless on his funeral bier for two days as Lena and Nikolaj have violent sex on top of him.

-“They. THEY. The ominous They.”

Possible rationale for Jaime’s and Cersei’s overly forceful sex scene:

•To show how Cersei always gets the short end of the stick from her family

•T o show how each of them copes with grief over Joffrey’s murder

•Poor reading/acting/execution of the script

•Making an uncomfortable spectacle to test if Joff is faking being dead?

-Ambiguous consent aside, Jaime telling Tommen how he would look out for him was actually kind of heartwarming.

-The little scene between Pod and Tyrion was almost enough to make me forget the subplot last season where Tyrion buys his squire an army of whores.

-I did enjoy Davos being a little less dour than normal.

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