King Joffrey is dead, long live . . . some other poor Lannister kid who’ll have the crown forced onto his unwitting blond brow. Our list of suspects has shrunk after the clearly innocent Tyrion is thrown into the dungeons and a surprised Sansa is spirited out of the city and into the tentacle-like arms of Littlefinger. He says he’s taking her home, but considering that Winterfell is a heap of ashes and moaning Stark ghosts, we don’t buy that for a second.
So Littlefinger was clearly in on Joff’s murder, but we doubt he was working alone. Olenna Tyrell clearly knows what’s up, but it seems like she would have waited for Margaery to consummate her marriage before offing her odious bridegroom. We still have our eye on Tywin, who seemed all too eager to instruct tiny new king Tommen on the ways of ruling, even as they stood over the cooling corpse of his big brother. And then there’s Oberyn Martell, with his axe to grind and his poisoning skills . . .
Locations visited: 7. This episode went all over the place. Everyone in King’s Landing reacted to Joffrey’s demise in various dramatic and terrible ways; Arya and the Hound continued their violent buddy/road comedy through the Riverlands; Sam fretted over Gilly and her baby at the Wall before packing them off to Molestown (or as we like to call it, Brothelville); Stannis continued his slow slide into irrelevancy on Dragonstone; Ygritte and the Wildings murdered a bunch of peasants somewhere south of the Wall, prompting Jon Snow to look even more like a sad puppy than usual; and in Essos, Daenerys and her army finally arrived at the walls of slaver city Meereen and raised holy hell.
Deaths: At least 13, and probably more. Poor patsy Ser Dontos with a crossbow bolt to the face; a whole bucketful of peasants attacked by Wildlings south of the Wall (we counted 10 deaths that were actually shown); and the Meereenese champion and his horse, at the hands of sellsword Daario Naharis.
Swordfights: 1, if you can count it as a fight. A guy with a big fancy lance and armor charged Daario on horseback, and he took him down, Indiana Jones–style, with two quick cuts. And really, it was all just a particularly murdery way to flirt with Dany.
Boobs: 8, between the prostitutes skulking in the corners in Molestown and Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand’s five-way in a King’s Landing bordello. And as a bonus, 2 dicks and 4 butts! Are D.B. Weiss and David Benioff going after some kind of nudity record?
Moment of badass: Dany delivering one of her patented High Valyrian freedom speeches to the downtrodden of Meereen, then catapulting barrels full of broken slave collars into the city with the words, “I bring your enemies what they deserve.” Dang, girl. And she hasn’t even busted out the dragons yet!
Effed up thing of the week: Jaime raping Cersei in the same of room where the body of their murdered lovechild is lying in state. I mean, eesh.
Best outfit: All that freaky face jewelry worn by the Meereenese masters, which shows, Hunger Games–style, just what ridiculous peacocks’ oppressors can be.
What we loved: “Breaker of Chains” got to the core of what Game of Thrones is all about—the slipperiness of moral certitude. After the Hound robs and attacks the nice farmer who gave them room and board for the night, Arya berates him for his cruelty. But he reasons that the man and his daughter won’t survive the coming winter, so why not skip the suffering and take their money now, since they won’t have a use for it anyway? And Tywin’s lesson to Tommen—that what makes a great king isn’t piety, justice or strength, but being the smartest guy in the room—provides what might actually be the show’s ice-cold moral center.
What we hated: The showrunners have made plenty of changes from page to screen as they’ve adapted George R.R. Martin’s sprawling novels, most of them for the better. But we can’t get behind their choice to turn Jaime Lannister into a rapist. In the book (A Storm of Swords, for those who are keeping up), Jaime and Cersei’s funeral sex is still gross, but it’s consensual. The Kingslayer, as a character, has always been a man of principles. Muddy, complicated principles, but principles nonetheless; we just don’t buy that he’d force himself on his beloved sister. Jaime has come a long way since the series began, and this plants him firmly back in villain territory. Plus, rape as a plot point has been done to death on recent TV dramas; we expect more from a show of this caliber.