In "Breaker of Chains," Tyrion frets in jail as love distracts heroes and villains alike

By James Hibberd
April 21, 2014 at 01:55 AM EDT
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After the king’s death last week, Westeros is full of passion. There’s Littlefinger perving on underage Sansa, Jaime forcing himself upon his sister, Prince Oberyn primed to screw everybody in King’s Landing, Sam obsessing about guarding Gilly’s ladyparts, lovelorn Ygritte slaughtering villagers and Daario making out with his dagger. But we start exactly where we left off:

King’s Landing: Joffrey, dead. Really dead. Even deader than when we last saw him. Cersei is literally spitting mad, calling for Tyrion’s arrest and — heeeey, where is Sansa? The Stark daughter made her first smart proactive move in the whole series and got the hell out of there along with Dontos the drunkard. He ushers her to a rowboat, and then out to a mysterious ghost ship captained by…

Littlefinger!

The ambitious scheming small councilman/brothel owner must have known about the attack on Joffrey. Perhaps he’s even the mastermind? He’s been pervving on Sansa since the tournament at the beginning of season 1, just like he loved her mother Catelyn. He reassures Sansa she’s perfectly safe now. Littlefinger is the only person who’s somehow more creepy when he’s being reassuring.

Dontos wants his payment and out come Littlefinger’s men with crossbows. We have a PTSD Red Wedding flashback as Dontos is shot dead and Sansa freaks out. Littlefinger explains Dontos was just following his orders and didn’t really care about Sansa, which is so much easier to claim now that he’s dead. “Money buys a man’s silence for a time, a bolt in the heart buys it forever,” Littlefinger says (and a bolt in the face buys it perhaps even longer). Littlefinger also shows that heirloom necklace she wore at the wedding for Dontos (one that was the subject of considerable online speculation last week) was of his own flimsy-seeming design.

So now after being captive for basically the entire show by the Joffrey and the Lannisters, Sansa finally escapes for about 15 seconds … and manages to get captured again by somebody else! Somewhere, Arya is face-palming.

Back at King’s Landing, Margaery Tyrell is in shock at the apparent deadly power of her black widow kiss. First Renly, now Joffrey. Even if nobody believes she actually had anything to do with either death, for prospective suitors it’s gotta be like if you were buying a house and you discover two different families had been killed inside it — of course you don’t believe in curses, but why chance it?

Olenna gets off a couple good lines of reassurance: “The world is overflowing with horrible things but they’re all a tray of cakes next to death” and “you may not have enjoyed watching him die but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him.” Olenna is all about keeping things in perspective, though Theon might debate her “nothing is worse than death” line.

In Great Sept of Baelor, King Joffrey is laid to rest with stones over his eyes. He’s still dead. He’s initially framed with flames behind his head which I hope is the director’s way of suggesting he’s roasting in hell.

NEXT: #rapecest

Cersei is mourning, while Tywin immediately starts getting his talons into Joffrey’s brother Tommen, who is confirmed in this conversation that he will become king. All these people across Westeros and Essos are vying for the Iron Throne, dying for it, season after season, and here it is now being given to a kid who couldn’t care less.

Cersei says its not the time or the place to start grooming Tommen and for once she’s right about something. But Tywin cant resist. He quizzes Tommen on what’s the best quality for a king to have. From the couch I shout “paranoia!” but that’s apparently wrong. Tommen also repeatedly guesses incorrectly until he finally stumbles on the right answer with “wisdom” which of course Tywin values most. “Your brother was not a wise king, your brother was not a good king … if he had been, perhaps he’d still be alive,” Tywin says.

All this is pretty harsh on Cersei. She loses one son, and then while she’s grieving her father is literally taking her other son away, ushering him right out of the room. As they’re on their way out Tywin starts to veer toward explaining how men and women have sex — “it’s all relatively straightforward…” It’s tough to imagine a person you want a sex-ed lecture from less than Tywin Lannister. More than one male Thrones fan has probably actually thought of Tywin during sex for the express purpose of not prematurely doing something that might continue his family line, as it were.

The actor who plays Joffrey tries hard not look like he’s breathing (Jack Gleeson told me he “got to sleep all day” while shooting this scene). Cersei tries to convince Jaime to kill Tyrion. But Jaime doesn’t seem so certain of their brother’s guilt. They start making out, but the moment Cersei feels Jaime’s cold metal hand against her face she flinches and pulls away. This really upsets Ser Blue Balls. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman,” he cries.

So then Jaime … well … no other way to put this, really. He rapes his sister beside their corpse of their murdered son. This is the same guy who protected Brienne from a similar fate last year (“Similar”? Or the same? Debate away). “It’s not right,” Cersei says, and that’s an understatement — though “it’s not right” has been their relationship from the start. Thankfully, this is not a CBS reality show or we’d be prompted to tweet about this with a #rapecest hashtag.

Riverlands: Arya and The Hound meet a nice farmer and his nice daughter. The farmer gives them good shelter and rabbit stew, which is “really good.” He offers them honest pay for honest work. The Hound robs him and tells Arya they were too weak and would have died anyway. Arya is furious — “You’re the worst s–t in the Seven Kingdoms!” And The Hound delivers a big line: “I just understand the way things are … how many Starks do they got to behead before you figure it out?” Oh, burn…

Castle Black: Sam is worrying about his semi-Wildling love interest Gilly who he rescued from Craster last season and is now staying at the castle. He’s not worrying about the fact the entire Wildling army is headed toward the castle — well, he is, but he’s seemingly far more worried about fellow members of the Night’s Watch trying to assault her. “I worry about it all the time,” he frets. “There’s a 100 men lying awake at night picturing you.” No offense to Gilly, but that’s probably a little high. “What about you?”  Gilly asks. But isn’t it obvious? Sam is lying awake thinking about 100 men thinking about her.

So Sam takes her to Molestown and sets her up … where does Sam set her up, viewers? Where do you put a woman you’re really worried about being sexually assaulted? That’s right, a whorehouse! Slow clap for Sam the Slayer.

He tells the proprietor “no other work” for Gilly, but then puts her in a barren room with no window or bed. Hope those kitchen wages are enough to pay for what she and her baby need or “other work” might not be a choice. Sam assures she is safer there, except perhaps from freezing to death with that open window. Isn’t winter coming? Pretty sure I heard that somewhere.

NEXT: Tywin interrupts an orgy

Dragonstone: Oh look, Dragonstone is gloomy and rainy for a change. Stannis is fretting about the news of Joffrey’s death. He thinks Melisandre’s leech curse last season might have killed him. Davos has rallied houses to Stannis’ cause but since Melisandre might have killed Joffrey he still looks like a slacker by comparison (Did Melisandre’s magic kill Joffrey? I have a very interesting quote from Martin after I asked him about the whole leeches thing, but I’m saving it for after another episode this season).

Davos goes for his reading lesson with Stannis’ teen daughter Shireen, who has the worst kid’s room ever. The Iron Bank of Braavos is mentioned. You know, the bank that the crown owes so much money. Waaaaait a second — Davos has an idea! He asks young Shireen to draft a letter to the bank that impersonates her father. You have to wonder how the Iron Bank is going to react when they see the mighty Stannis wrote them a letter in loopy purple-pen handwriting.

King’s Landing: The polyamorus Oberyn and Ellari are enjoying a sex smorgasbord at the brothel. The prince explains he doesn’t “choose sides in love” and that those who are not bi are “missing half the world’s pleasure.” Oberyn’s love-fest is interrupted by the aforementioned orgasm-delaying Tywin Lannister.

First Tyrion pops in here during the premiere, now here comes Tywin — these Lannisters sure do enjoy interrupting Oberyn in the brothel, don’t they? And is Oberyn really having such long sex marathons that they can’t simply wait for him to return to his regular quarters? Or is he actually living in the brothel?

Tywin asks Oberyn some crafty true detective questions about Joffrey’s murder. But either Tywin doesn’t really suspect Obyern or is quickly assured of his innocence. Oberyn fires back an accusation of his own — that The Mountain murdered his sister on Tywin’s orders. The Lannister patriarch “categorically” denies the rumor with an oily tongue (I believe Tywin on the rape part, but he seems like the kind of detail-oriented leader who would communicate an opinion about whether the king’s family should survive his attack). Tywin offers a deal: He will arrange an introduction between Oberyn and The Mountain if Oberyn serves on Tyrion’s jury panel along with himself and Mace Tyrell. Bonus: Oberyn is also offering a seat on the small council, which definitely surprises Oberyn and us.

Tywin explains that in the east, “a Targaryen girl has three dragons,” and our ears perk up. Tywin explains that “before long” Dany will turn her eyes to Westeros, which is news to us who have been watching her progress on the show. Tywin points out that the Seven Kingdoms are not whole until Dorne becomes a full partner again. He also notes the Dornish were the only people who managed to resist the previous Targaryen invasion of Westeros — presumably by wearing them out by having lots sex with them (sex with the Targaryens, I mean, not with their dragons, though I wouldn’t rule that out either).

Tywin is so smooth here. He knows exactly how to play the prince and the first time since we’ve met him Oberyn is speechless.

NEXT: Let me kill this man for you and look sexy doing it

Dungeon: Tyrion in captivity. It’s a bit lighter and roomier than the cell used for Ned Stark. Let’s get comfortable because we’re spending a lot of time here this season. Poderick sneaks Tyrion some duck sausage and gives him an update, none of it good: Trial in a fortnight, Oberyn on the jury, Sansa vanished, they’ll let him call his own witnesses, but he can’t see Bronn. Ironically, the only person Tyrion is completely certain is innocent of Joffrey’s death — his sister Cersei — is the one person who is the most certain he is guilty.

Any lingering hope for a fair trial goes out the window when Pod reveals somebody attempted to bribe him into testifying against him. Now THAT sounds like Cersei. Tyrion urges Pod to flee the capital and we hope he actually does it.

South of The Wall: Aw, a sweet village of nice simple country folk — for Ygritte to murder! The Wildlings savage a village and kill just about everybody, with Ygritte coldly taking part in the bloodshed (you know nothing about Ygritte’s morality!). All these people wanted was to make some potatoes for dinner and now they’re dead.

Styr lets one young boy run to Castle Black to tell them what happened. Naturally, the Night’s Watch want to help the villages, but Ser Alliser Thorne says the Wildlings are trying to draw them out from the castle into the open where they’ll be easier to fight. Their mission is to stay and guard The Wall against the larger Wildling threat — Mance’s forces coming from the North. For once, Jon Snow and Thorne actually agree on something. But when news comes from Craster’s where last season’s mutineers are still shacked up, Jon realizes that if Mance gets his hands on the murderous ex-Nights Watchmen that stayed behind, he’ll learn how weak their defenses are. So somebody has to go back up North amid the Wildlings, mutineers and White Walkers to sort that out. Who do you think will volunteer?

Mereen: Dany arrives at Mereen for a sequence that’s just pure epic TV fun. The city is formidably protected by giant walls and warriors with full bladders. The slavers sent out a champion who taunts them, claiming Dany’s mother was a hamster and her father smelt of elderberries, or something like that.

All of Dany’s closest advisers are itching to kill him, but they’re too important to risk. So Daario Sexbeard swaggers up to Dany and says, hey baby, let me kill this man for you. Dany is like, okay tee-hee. Then Dany stands entirely too close to him while the taunting challenger rides his horse straight at Daario while he just stands there. Daario takes out a dagger and gives a little kiss, which seems like a bit much, and throws it at the last moment, toppling the horseman — I’m Daario, I didn’t even break a sweat killing that guy in front of all these people watching.

Wondering: Where are her dragons, anyway? Are they useful yet?

Dany addresses the city with her multi-slave-ic language skills. She tries to plant the seeds of an uprising, saying “your enemy is beside you,” winning hearts and minds. She says that the former slaves she “freed” are now standing behind her, which isn’t the best sales pitch given that they’re wearing armor and marching in the hot sun having to fight people.

Then she catapults mysterious wooden crates over the city walls. The crates burst open and reveal to be full of– what? S&M collars! Dany, those were the wrong crates! Ohhh, they’re the collars from the slaves who crucified along the road to Mereen. I watch thinking: What if one of those flying crates fell on a bunch of slaves?

The final shot: A slave picks up a collar and looks at it carefully while a master looks at him warily. Awkward.

Great episode. Now: Interviews! We have a brief chat with the elusive Adian Gillian about the return of Littlefinger. And for those who missed them over the past few days, see our Q&As with Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) and Alfie Allen (Theon “Reek” Greyjoy).

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HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
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