26
Apr 14

Game of Thrones S04E03: Breaker of Chains

FT4 comments • 760 views

Oh, GoT. Much has been written about “that scene”. I was pre-warned, thanks to Tumblr and deftly avoided watching it altogether. It genuinely upset me, because otherwise this might have been one of the best episodes in the whole season. I’m left with more than just a bad taste in my mouth. Yet I keep watching.

We slightly re-tread “The Lion and the Rose”’s final scene, with more emphasis on Sansa’s Ser Dontos-assisted runner. He escorts her to a waiting rowboat and thence to (*shudder*) Peter Baelish’s larger ship. Oh, Sansa. Staying in King’s Landing would have been no better I know, with the best she could expect a cell next to Tyrion’s, but being beholden to Littlefinger is not much of an improvement. As she watches Ser Dontos take the first of that episode’s arrows to the face, you can see her realising that she’s only swapping one kind of danger for another. Littlefinger is almost audibly slimy – last week I wanted an MST3k soundboard for Tom Servo, now I want one for Crow because I kept expecting Sansa to plead “what kind of talk is that?” so I could press play and hear “why it’s oily, sleazy talk!”

Margaery and Olenna hash over Margaery’s situation. With one simple line “So, am I the queen?” the power driving Margaery is properly exposed. She’s a player in this game too, and has been from sham marriage 1 to sham marriage 2, and so on until she finally takes her place beside (but not directly on) the Iron Throne.  She didn’t have to fuck Joffrey, but if she had, she might have a stronger hold on that title she wants so badly.

Dead Joff lying in state in the sept leads into “that” scene and it’s incredibly frustrating because everything before Jaime breaks out of character so profoundly is fantastic. There is a brilliant conversation between Tywin and Cersei, via (the new) Tommen. In asking him what makes a good king, he’s instructing him: don’t be Joffrey, and don’t be your dad. Sorry, I mean your “dad”. Your uncle-father/father-uncle. But more than this, Tywin is talking to Cersei: try not to fuck this one up. This seriously is your last chance. Joffrey was a monster; even his own parents conceded that and though obviously it won’t stop them mourning his death, it can put Tommen’s role into better perspective. Lena Headey’s expression following Charles Dance almost made me wince – she’s seeing it all fall away from her. All her work – by which I mean scheming and conniving and backstabbing, but yes, her work – still ain’t worth a damn because she’ll never really have any power.

And then Jaime rapes her, but I skipped that. This is supposed to be the Jaime who lied about the Tarth’s wealth to prevent Brienne from being assaulted?  He’s not a nice guy – no one on this show is nice, or pure.  Not Arya, who killed a stable boy to make her escape from King’s Landing and who prays for bloody revenge every night. Not even Sansa, who might not directly have lost her blood innocence but who is also responsible for innocent (as innocent as possible in Westeros) lives ending. Jaime is not a good guy, but he’s not a rapist and for the show to use rape as a shocking, ratings-seeking plot point infuriates me. I really don’t want to go on about it any more but I can’t help but think it was mainly used as a way for Cersei to be punished for being a horrible person. And I don’t know what it says that I’m still watching the show, either.

This isn’t even the first time the show has turned a consensual sex scene into a rape – the first season turned Khal Drogo and Daenerys’s marriage consummation into upsettingly violent scene that I’d pretty much blocked out. I don’t really know what I’m getting at here, other than I’m part of the problem too. Yay for my fun recaps :/

Back to Adventure Time with Arya the Human and The Hound the Human. Here is another brilliant scene where we can see everything coming a mile off – as assuredly Arya can. Both of them don’t have a future in Westeros, but both seem determined to try to make something to right. Sandor is holding out for Arya’s ransom money and a one-way ticket to Braavos, and Arya – well, Arya’s got her dwindling death prayer and now, the spark of an idea. When the kindly Tully bannerman/peasant offers free food and lodgings and eventually a job, obviously these good deeds go punished. Bit by bit the last of any old-school honour (by which I mean Ned Stark honour)  Arya has is chipping away and although she was angry at the kindly man’s beat-down and subsequent robbing, she still follows The Hound and will still eat the food bought with the ill-gotten silver.

An obviously in love Sam Tarly is settled at Castle Black with Gilly and baby Sam, seemingly safe and plucking geese. Sam’s worried about the men perving on Gilly and putting her in danger, and a plan formulates in his brain as to how he’s going to protect her.

Davos’s undying loyalty to Stannis isn’t wavering, but it is frustrating to try and raise an army for a man who will happily use blood magic to secure what he wants but falls short of borrowing money for sellswords. Davos gets a light bulb moment during his literacy lessons with Shireen, the camera cutting away before we can find out what the super awesome plan is, which I find vexing (even though I know what his super awesome plan is). Then again, as a child I used to get incredibly wound up whenever cartoon characters conspired by gathering their chums into a huddle and announcing “FIRST WE’LL [garbled whispers] AND THEN WE’LL [more garbled whispers].

Sam arranges for Gilly to leave Castle Black, because working at a brothel cooking/cleaning/etc. is safe as houses just as long as she’s not actually WORKING, or something. Even Sam’s unsure how this is going be better for her – it’s really all about making himself safe from potentially breaking his vows rather than keeping Gilly or the baby safe.

Sexposition ahoy, as any scene with Oberyn and Ellaria by law have to contain sexy sex people making the sex bisexually. They chat about Oberyn’s smoking hotness, his love of both men and women,  just in case you’re slow on the uptake. Tywin arrives to first accuse Oberyn of involvement with Joffrey’s murder since Obz has a degree in Poisonology and Poisonography. Oberyn mentions his murdered sister to another Lannister, and somehow Tywin twists this into an opportunity for his kangaroo court to seem vaguely impartial. If Oberyn will sit as judge at Tyrion’s trial alongside himself and Mace Tyrell, he’ll see to it that Oberyn can serve justice to The Mountain for his crimes against the Martells. Also, an alliance with Dorne might be pretty handy considering DRAGONS and that pesky Targaryen lass we’ve been hearing so much about. I really wanted Tywin to then invite Oberyn for a stroll in the Garden of Betrayal. Maybe next time.

Pod  visits Tyrion in the dungeon with some smuggled food (alas the wine was confiscated) and intel: they’re gathering up character witnesses for the upcoming trial. Tyrion is a man who knows he’s doomed; properly doomed – his death is imminent but despite this, he will fight, no matter how pointlessly, although upon hearing Sansa has disappeared, the cause appears wholly quashed. Tyrion then attempts to break up with Pod in a way that I wish he’d applied to Shae, but they don’t make squires like Podrick Payne very often, and the boy refuses to abandon him. It’s not so much a so long as a smell ya later.

If you see happy and smiling smallfolk, cringe and prepare for the worst. The worst in this case being the second arrow-to-the-face courtesy of Ygritte and a subsequent massacre which would be horrible and hard to watch left as a simple GoT bloodbath but because Thenns are involved, a child is forced to watch his parents being murdered and informed “I’m gonna eat your dead mama, and I’m going to eat your dead papa”. Seven hells! And this is just a taste (I’m genuinely sorry but not enough to delete that) of what’s to come.

So the child is sent to Castle Black with the grisly message. Jon Snow’s opinion is sought above all others because he knows the Wildlings/Free Folk better than the average Crow, which to be honest feels weird since not too long about he was nearly beheaded for treason. The Watch now have to figure out what’s best: maintaining defence of the Wall, as their ancient duty, protecting the smallfolk from raiders or returning to Craster’s Keep, preventing the mutineers from spilling the beans regarding Castle Black’s woefully slim pickings compared to the Wildling army. Again, we’re left not knowing what decision has been made and whisked a world away, not unlike how ASOIAF chapters ends.

Cut to the Unsullied outside the gates of Mereen and a literal pissing contest between a chosen hero of the city and Daario Naharis. Daario’s creeping closer and closer to Dany, to the obvious annoyance of Jorah and Barristan. Dany appeals to the slaves of the city, with her freed people behind her. Illustrating the point (and the title of the episode) further, a load of what is revealed to be slave collars are catapulted into the city. Much more has been written about Dany’s Great White Saviour complex, but this episode really is indicative of the sad fact that things seem terrible and then they get worse and then they become unbearable.  I suppose ending on this note of triumph is the happiest ending possible. 5/10

Sexy, Important Thoughts:

  • Boob to wiener ratio – 6:1.5 (I’m counting that shadowy half-cock outside Mereen).
  • “The world is overflowing with horrible things, but they are all a tray of cakes next to death” – is Olenna making a statement on the show itself too?
  • “He’s weak – he can’t protect himself. They’ll both be dead come winter. Dead men don’t need silver”. Yet The Hound showed what passes for mercy by not killing the kindly Tully bannerman and his child. Sadly, for most of the smallfolk that’s the best they can ask for.
  • This week was particularly harsh and it made me question once more why I’m so drawn to this show, why I keep at it even when it’s veers beyond problematic and into offensive. Is it because I need to remind myself that my life is actually incredibly safe and easy compared to the horrors possible in the realms of fiction and reality?

Comments

  1. 1
    Steve Mannion on 26 Apr 2014 #

    I was surprised to learn that it was always consensual between Dany and Khal in the book as she’s younger in that (although I expect he is too). I guess having her both be a bit older and consenting in the show wouldn’t have worked because she didn’t want to be married off to him in the first place? In turn though I never bought how quickly she changes her mind after that (despite the sense of time passing in GoT being intentionally blurry).

    The Jaime/Cersei scene actually reminded me a bit (a BIT!) of the ‘On All Fours’ episode of Girls season 2 (Wikip “Natalia is upset when Adam is forceful and degrading in bed.”) – maybe it’s a bad comparison for several reasons (for one thing Adam is immediately ashamed and regretful afterwards) but I was more disturbed by that personally, maybe just because it’s ‘real world’ and GoT’s constant physical and sexual violence desensitises out of necessity in a fantasy world so lavishly depicted on screen (and it’s that richness that should keep me watching, despite spoilering myself here and there, whatever horrific fates await the characters whether we’re meant to love or hate them).

  2. 2
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2014 #

    No excuse for a rape scene that wasn’t in ASOIAF. It’s nothing more than naked exploitation. But… will I stop watching? No. We’re in a fully realised warts & all world, after all. Anyone who has not read the books can predict what will result from this if it becomes a departure from GRRM’s own narrative, or it’s merely as I suspect, a shortcut. Yes it was an uncomfortable watch, indeed.

  3. 3
    Bec on 27 Apr 2014 #

    GRRM’s always been very quick to point out his world is a grisly, non-romanticised medieval-stylee world. He also is of the school that if something is described a certain way once, it must be that way forevermore, so ASOIAF has many references to men raping post battle “when their blood is up”. (“Hodor”, nodded Hodor). I guess what rattled me about this particular scene was how out of character it was for Jaime.

    And yeah, I’ll keep watching. Oh, problematic things!

  4. 4
    Jim5et on 27 Apr 2014 #

    It is in the book. It’s just described from the rapists point of view.

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