by Matthew Thompson (Images-HBO. The Game of Thrones site can be found here)
I should have spent these last few days dissecting the fallout from Joffrey’s death in last week’s episode of Game of Thrones (or doing something altogether more productive), but I found myself trying to sift through the rubble left in the wake of this latest episode’s odd Jaime/Cersei scene. Apparently I wasn’t the only one bothered by it or the way it could affect the characters’ relationship and arcs going forward.
I usually don’t read any other reviews or too many opinions before writing my weekly reviews, but with this particular scene leaving me so vexed after Sunday night, I could not help myself. I have perused interviews with the showrunners and director. I have read arguments that it isn’t much different from the books. I’ve heard people say that Jaime did not rape her in the show. I’ve seen discussions centered on whether it will or will not set back Jaime’s recent growth as a character. They’ve been interesting to read even if I found some of them terribly misguided, but in the end I’m left feeling about the same way as I did when I first saw it. Jaime raped Cersei in the sept. That isn’t up for debate in my opinion regardless of what the people behind the show’s intentions were. And it doesn’t fit Jaime’s character and will ultimately have a negative effect on his progression and how he is seen by viewers.
The first argument I saw against this was, “But this guy threw a kid out a window and killed his cousin while he was in captivity. He’s always been a shithead, this makes sense.” The circumstances, timing and motivations for these events make those comparisons to this episode’s rape fall very flat to me. I do agree that the changes made to the show meant this scene was going to feel different from the book version. Jaime’s earlier arrival in King’s Landing and Cersei’s denials of his advances prior to the sept scene mean this couldn’t play out the same as before. It doesn’t mean this was the way to go though.
If this was a way to show that despite his actions in Season 3, Jaime isn’t a good guy, then I still think this was the wrong way to go about it. Because it seems like it would change the two characters’ relationship drastically going forward which in turn would change both of their arcs.
Of course, maybe this is the intent of the showrunners and writers of Game of Thrones. Maybe they are going in a new direction from the source material. That is their right. I don’t have to like it, but I am generally pretty open to changes from the books. I really love the show and while not every tweak they make sits well with me, I am understanding of both the kind of cuts that need making for the TV show to exist as well as changes that might just benefit the storyline overall. And for all that I’m willing to wait and see how things play out.
I still haven’t dove into GRRM’s take on the scene or the fact that this isn’t the first time the showrunners have changed a consensual sex scene to one depicting rape. This could certainly be a blog of its own, but I don’t want to do that, so I will stop here. I don’t like this scene or the repercussions it may have and I don’t think it fits the characters involved. But I will wait and see where they are taking this next.
Other than my objections to all of that, there was plenty to like in this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. It starts right where last week’s left off. Cersei is cradling her dead son and calling for the guards to haul Tyrion away. She is also looking for Tyrion’s wife Sansa who has been whisked away by Dontos to a boat that intends to help her flee the capital. And here we get our first appearance this year of the always creepy Littlefinger who explains his role in getting her there while giving good old Dontos a bolt in the head for his troubles.
There is lots of other fallout due to King Joffrey’s death. Margaery discusses her bad luck with marriages with her grandmother Olenna. I love both of Tywin’s scenes this week. His discussion with the soon to be new king Tommen about what is needed to be a good ruler is classic Tywin Lannister. He manages to let the boy and his mother know who will be running things while also taking shots at his dead grandson lying right next to him. His discussion with Oberyn is even better. After claiming no part in Elia’s murder and Oberyn denying any involvement in Joffrey’s despite his knowledge of poisons, Tywin actually reaches out for help from the Prince of Dorne. He wants him to be a judge in Tyrion’s upcoming trial and a part of the small council. This scene also illuminates a bit of history which is something I love to see them work into the show. When the Targaryens conquered the Seven Kingdoms long ago, the Dornish unlike the rest of Westeros were able to hold out using certain tactics that proved successful against dragon warfare. Tywin is thinking ahead and wants the Dornish in the fold if Dany ever decides to stop screwing around out East and brings her dragons and army to Westeros.
There was a surprisingly small amount of Tyrion this week, but I suppose there is only so much they can do with him while he is locked up in a cell. He makes the most of his single scene, a fairly touching one with his loyal squire Podrick Paine. He learns about the judges for his trial. He learns his wife is nowhere to be found. He learns that Pod is refusing to speak against him and urges him to get out of King’s Landing since sticking up for him will just get him killed. And like this show has reiterated time and time again, Tyrion does not lose his wits or sense of humor even in the most hopeless of situations. I loved this line when Cersei came up as a suspect in Joffrey’s murder: “She is the only one I’m certain had nothing to do with this murder which makes it unique as King’s Landing murders go.”
Elsewhere the Hound and Arya continue their diner tour of the Riverlands. There is no significant plot progress here, but these two are so fun together it is impossible to complain. Posing as father and daughter, Arya slyly earns them a place to eat dinner. The resulting meal has some laughs and it all ends in The Hound stealing some silver while trying to impart some wisdom to young Arya and reminding everyone once again that Winter is Coming.
Up North, the wilding group south of the wall attacks a small village. I feel like this scene may have been done to really play up the villainous side to the Wildings, but I’m not sure. The Thenns seem really over the top in their evil ways when their leader tells a kid he is going to eat his parents as he twirls his mustache. And Ygritte brains a man with an arrow while he talks to his son about how great his mother’s potatoes are. Maybe those still sympathizing with Ygritte over Jon abandoning her will have a more even view running up to the inevitable battle looming with the Night’s Watch. Meanwhile at The Wall, the return of some rangers who were present during the madness at Craster’s Keep last season has Jon worried that those left behind might reveal just how small the Night’s Watch is to Mance Rayder and his wildling army.
The whole episode wraps up with scene outside Meereen. The Meereenese have sent out a champion and Dany decides to pit Daario 2.0 against him in a bout of single combat. This is our second look at the new Daario and he gets a better showing here than in the premiere I’d say. A kiss of his dagger’s lady-shaped hilt and a wink at Dany and he is ready to go. A quickknife throw and a slash of his arakh and he has made quick work of the opposition. This scene also contains a few other staples of recent Daenerys scenes. You have your commanding speech in a foreign language (sorry if you are tired of these, I still love them). You have Dany swooning over Daario. She also tells Jorah they are the best of friends… just friends (she may not have said this but we all heard it). And finally Dany uses catapults to cleverly let the slaves of the city know what she is all about. Plus as a bonus: an almost literal pissing contest! I thought this scene worked well overall though I do wish the duel lasted a bit longer.
A few more things:
- Scene of the Week: I’d probably give the nod to the Tywin pair, but they are unfortunately situated right next two awkward sex scenes (tune in next week to see who Oberyn talks to after his next orgy!). If not them perhaps the Daenerys scene or Tyrion’s. I guess nothing stands out too far from the pack this week. Lots of great stuff though.
- I actually really liked the Stannis scenes this week. Or maybe I just liked the Davos/Shireen one. They have a cute relationship and it leading to a lightbulb going off in Davos’ head about the Iron Bank of Braavos was a nice touch.
- In this episode, Sam ponders whether a child is better off growing up in Castle Black or a whore house.
- “Just point out the next map shop you see and I’ll buy you one.” Arya and the Hound’s banter is hilarious.
- I love the music that goes along with Daenerys closing scenes and the first shot of Meereen looked fantastic.
- Sorry the review is so late this week. I was trying to sort the sept scene out in my head. I still haven’t.
- Missing in Action this Week: Bran, Theon and the Boltons. These two storylines just aren’t a weekly necessity even at their best.
Obviously I didn’t care much for the way they handled the Jaime/Cersei scene in the sept. Other than that and a rather forgettable Sam/Gilly sequence, there was a lot to like. It certainly didn’t feel as eventful as the opening two episodes. No scene stole the show for me like last week’s wedding or the premiere’s showdown at the Inn and introduction of Oberyn. But that is okay. Not every episode of this show can be like that. This one helps continue to move pieces into place for the season to come after the events of the Royal Wedding. But because of my issues with that sept scene, I just didn’t enjoy “Breaker of Chains” as much as the first two eps of Season 4.
If you’ve watched “Breaker of Chains,” let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!