Spoilers cometh, naturally.
Weddings are proving to be more fatal than war in Westeros. Last season, we had the death of the North in the Red Wedding. In the last episode, King Joffrey took his final breath and the collective viewing public started a conga line around the Seven Kingdoms. We’re not happy that the inbred, Stark terrorising, Tyrion hating, whore murdering, bastard is dead – we’re delighted.
‘Breaker of Chains’ is the fall-out from the Purple Wedding. The King lies dead as his family try to pick up the pieces. That is where the problems in this episode begin. It is a universal truth that no one does huge, mind blowing episodes bigger than Game of Thrones. Even non-viewers talk about these episodes. You can’t avoid them. However, the slower episodes, the brooding episodes, the ones that must be calculating and steady, is where Thrones falters.
I’ll now insert a trigger warning here, because what I’m about to talk about is the other thing Game of Thrones excels at. Sexualised violence.
I’ll confess it. I couldn’t wait for this episode. Ok, I’m excited about every episode, but not every episode has what book readers have dubbed ‘Altar Sex’. The fall-out from the Purple Wedding is filled with so many emotions. Cersei and Jaime have lost their son, Tywin has lost his pawn, Margaery is without a husband, Sansa without her tormentor. In a clash of grief, anger, and passion, Jaime and Cersei unite for one last time, while their son’s body lies on the altar. It’s so filled with emotion. I highly recommend non-readers tracking down that passage, just because it’s incredibly well written.
Did this famous scene live up to expectations? No, it didn’t. Reader, I am mad as hell. The one expectation I had was that it would have at least a bit of the spirit of the books. Both Jaime and Cersei have been established as passionate people. Know what else has been established? That no one in Westeros condones rape. The first episode of this season saw Sandor Clegane kill men who had been trying to rape a girl, so in which of the Seven Hells did the writers think it was appropriate to turn a highly emotional, but consensual scene into one of rape?
Jaime Lannister is a lot of things. He killed a King, he pushed a child from a window. The one thing he is not, nor will he ever be, is a rapist. Three seasons of character growth! We fell in love with him, just as Brienne did. What now? He can be sent to Ramsay in the North to have other body parts removed for all we care. How can we ever take him seriously again?
Yet, it is not just Jaime’s character that was slaughtered on that altar. Game of Thrones has a history of depicting sexual violence. Season 2 was infamous for it. We watched in horror as King Joffrey order Ros, the redheaded prostitute, to beat another girl as he watched. Ros, my precious Ros, was one of the biggest victims of this show’s obsession with violence against women. Perhaps it was too much to ask that, when she became his dart board, that some of that violence would abate. No such luck. What will happen to Cersei now? The fierce lioness that I personally admired was raped. The mother of madness, Tyrion? Is it any wonder?
I’ve been disappointed in the writers a few times, but this is the watershed for me. There is no show on television I love more than Game of Thrones, yet there are ways to display the brutality of the setting without completely destroying established characters. Call in the headsman, Lord Tywin. Jaime can’t be saved.
But don’t worry viewers. It’s ok. Oberyn Martell is having an orgy. A consensual orgy. See? Game of Thrones can do consensual sex too, with a sex worker. Marvellous. And Olyver’s naked arse is on display. That should make you forget all about that nasty scene you just saw. Shouldn’t it? Sorry, sexy Oberyn. Not this time.
I’m extremely thankful for the She Wolf and the Hound. The evolution of their relationship is just so wonderful to watch. As @im_no_ser says it on Twitter – Arya is the son Sandor never wanted. Scrap everything else. I want The She Wolf and the Hound as a TV show. They are one of the brightest moments in any episode. I look forward to their interactions more than I look forward to dragons. That’s saying something.
Speaking of dragons – where is Dany? This episode is named after her, isn’t it? It’s a long wait before we see the Mother of Dragons. On a side note, I have to say – the scenery in Game of Thrones is absolutely perfect. The locations the books have described come to life so vividly, you forget that these aren’t real places. I’m constantly impressed. The pyramids of Meereen look as real as the ones in Egypt.
Now, what about Dany? Well, she does what she always does, and she does it well. She arrives. She kicks ass. She reigns in triumph. But let’s take a moment to marvel at this new Daario. This episode is the first time we really get to see his skills. Praise R’hllor, he’s hot. We better hope fire cannot kill a dragon because the chemistry between him and Dany could set fire to Blackwater Bay all over again.
Overall, this episode really wasn’t that bad. Even the worst episodes of Game of Thrones have moments of brilliance. And yet, I’m disappointed. This show works at such a high calibre that when it fails, it is all the more painful to see. The bad overshadows the good, and it is what people will be talking about until the next episode airs. And that next episode will have a hell of a lot of work to undo the damage this one has done.