Game of Thrones: The Children (Episode Review)

Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains (Episode Review)

Rating:

This week’s episode, aptly titled “Breaker of Chains”, dealt directly with the aftermath of the mysterious murder of King Joffrey. The events of the royal wedding seemed to have acted as a catalyst of sorts, bringing much needed change to the capital that has stayed mostly the same for the past two seasons. The death of the King has set the ball rolling for what is sure to be an intriguing series of character defining moments, but for the most part this episode played it safe, acting as a tease for what’s to come rather than an outright answer.

The closest we did get to a legitimate clue was with Sansa Stark. Having been ferried away by the ex-knight, Dontos, she came face to face with the sneakiest guy in Westeros. Yes, Petyr Baelish makes a welcome return, rescuing Sansa but impaling Sir Dontos along the way with a bolt to the face. As per usual, his motivations are completely unclear and his interest in the young Stark girl is more than a little unnerving, but the scene raised interesting questions. If he knows Joffrey was going to be killed, does that mean he also knows the killer? Eagle eyed viewers will remember last season he was sent to marry Catelyn Stark’s sister; does this mean she is involved too? And to throw a spanner into the works, why would he frame Tyrion for the murder?

Speaking of Tyrion, he seems to be doing quite well for himself considering the last time a main character spent time in a dungeon like that he ended up headless (RIP Ned). He got the low down from Podrick, the best squire there ever was, and seems to be playing any cards he has left close to his chest. He’s been in more than his fair share of life or death situations but something about the performance this episode suggested an air of confidence about him. Maybe Tyrion knows more than we think, or maybe he’s just accepted his fate. Either way, he’s a definite fan favourite and I’m not sure how many more of those the show has to kill off. Here’s hoping things go right for Tyrion just once.

Meanwhile, the dead king lay cold in front of mourning Cerci. Jaime has never seemed to be interested in the royal children, despite them being his incestuous spawn. In the span of the entire series, he’s never shown affection for them the way their mother has and it’s clear he’s only ever had eyes for his sister. In a scene sure to be controversial, Jamie forced himself on his sister in front of their own dead son after breathing down her neck “why have the gods made me love a hateful woman”. It’s a powerful yet confusing scene in which Jaime seems to throw away everything that’s changed him in the last year. As a man who had appeared to have redeemed himself, this scene, like many in this episode, raised more questions than it answered.

Like Jaime, Tywin seemed equally as unmoved by the death of the young King. The motivations of these characters are rarely explicit and are for the most part unclear; it’s not out of the question to be a little suspecting of Tywin. After all, his own grandson is literally lying dead in front of him. It wouldn’t be out of character for Game of Thrones to throw a curveball at us when all signs so far point to Petyr Baelish as the killer. Prior to the hideous scene of rape, Tywin delivered an awesome speech to the new King Tommen on what it means to rule. Even with Tommen being the direct brother of the detestable Joffery, he seems to be much less of a threat. It felt important for the producers to re-establish such a young character that’s had such little screen time.

And speaking of re-establishing characters, Daario stole the scene at the gates of Meereen, after being selected to face the challenger from the slaved city. Since being recast this season, the character has come across as a bit more reserved in himself. Yet his battle was as quick as it was impressive, taking the rider down with a single knife and a finishing blow. It was a definite action highlight of the season so far. His attitude towards Dany seems to have shifted slightly between seasons, but he did throw a subtle wink her way before gruesomely impaling the rider’s horse. Not to be shown up, Dany then launched barrels into the discerning slavers city filled with broken chains. As a potent, if somewhat unsubtle metaphor, it did demonstrate her ability to tackle each situation in the most fitting way, with a cliff-hanger ending that seemed to imply the slaves of Meereen taking the city themselves.

And cliff-hanger seems the best way to describe this episode. Though not unentertaining, it was an all-round tease for the future of the series. Even with John Snow who appeared briefly only to suggest the events of the next episodes. And the Hound, with his sort of backwards Robin Hood code, deciding to spit in the face of any connection he’d previously made with Arya and steal from a poor father and daughter. The events of this episode felt like the beginning of what’s to come. The snowballing effect of the choices these characters are making. Though strong as usual, it was definitely the weakest of the three episodes so far. Overall it’s hard to complain with Game of Thrones, a show that is as consistent as it is brilliant, but I hope in the future the program can provide answers as quickly as it can questions.