Game of Thrones Recap: The Devil You Know

GoT_s4ep3_recap_325You know how we can be sure that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss love us?

They open this week’s episode with a lingering shot of Joffrey’s cold, dead face – I may make it my screen saver – as we pick up where the last episode ended: Cersei shrieking, Tyrion being hauled to the dungeon and Sansa and Dontos fleeing the scene.

My joy over Joff’s death hasn’t abated in a week, but I’ll try to keep it in check as we review what happens in “Breaker of Chains.”

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HOUSE STARK: ANCHORS-AWEIGH EDITION | At the aborted wedding feast, Tywin bellows orders to close the city’s borders. Sansa and Dontos, though, make it down to the water, hop in a dinghy and row out to a boat moored in the harbor. Sansa has less than zero clues about what’s going on, but the fallen knight encourages her to climb aboard the larger ship. “You’ll be fine. You’re stronger than you know,” he says. Aww.

Sansa arrives on deck to find Petyr Baelish there, whispering that “The worst is past.” You know, Littlefinger,I really doubt that, especially when you sweet-talk Dontos right up until the moment your marksman puts an arrow through his face. Baelish informs a skittish Sansa that Dontos was working on his orders, and that the priceless heirloom necklace the fool gave her was a fake made just weeks before. Plus, there’s no way she can return to King’s Landing; her swift flight from the scene of Joff’s death makes her look mighty guilty. “You’re safe with me, sailing home,” Littlefinger coos. Lady Stark’s “Imma-hurl” face indicates she suspects otherwise.

HOUSE STARK: TAKE-WHAT-YOU-WANT EDITION | On their way to the Eyrie, Arya and the Hound take lodging with a sympathetic man and his very cute daughter; the former knight is his usual uncouth self, but his young charge tries to make excuses for her “father.” (Side note: I loved her “Really good!” remark as they noisily sucked down stew.) Though the Hound agrees to stay on and help the man defend his land, Arya wakes up the next morning to find that her travel companion has knocked the man on the head and stolen his silver. “Dead men don’t need silver,” the Hound gruffly tells her as they set out once more, explaining that the man and his kiddo can’t defend themselves and will be dead soon, anyway. That’s way harsh, Hound. Probably true, but way harsh.

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HOUSE TYRELL | Back in King’s Landing, Margaery and her grandmother discuss whether or not she’s actually a queen, given the fact that Joffrey didn’t have the chance to humiliate her sexually consummate their marriage. Olenna remarks that Margaery is more of a queen than she was with the dearly departed (and faaabulous!) Renly, which causes Marg to sigh that she’s cursed. “You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would’ve enjoyed being married to him, I can promise you that,” the old woman says. Preach, grandma! Don’t fret, she adds. “The next one should be easier.”

HOUSE LANNISTER: GRIEFRODISIAC EDITION | Meanwhile, the boy king himself is laying in state in the sept, attended to by his younger brother Tommen and Cersei. Tywin enters and feels it’s the perfect time to start quizzing little Tommen – who is, after all, the new king – about what kind of ruler he should be. Cersei thinks it’s neither the time nor the place for such matters, but given what she does later in the scene, she’s got precious little ground to stand on. “Your brother was not a wise king. Your brother was not a good king,” Grandpa Lannister intones, leading the boy away as he instructs him on how to be a great leader. Crib Notes version: Do exactly the opposite of everything Joffrey did.

Jaime arrives and listens as a broken Cersei tearfully implores him to kill Tyrion, whom she thinks murdered Joff, and avenge their son. Jaime counters that there will be a trial, but she wants to hear none of that. “Please, Jaime. You have to,” she cries, falling to pieces as he holds her close and they kiss – then she abruptly pushes him away. “You’re a hateful woman,” he says angrily, all of his tender feelings for her evaporating like incense smoke.  “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”

Now it’s time for a round of “What’s the most wrong with the following scene?” (I warn you, this is the advanced edition, because there’s a whole lotta not-kosher business that follows.) We’ll just skip over the fact that Jaime and Cersei are brother and sister, because clutching the pearls about that is so Season 1. So, does the scene’s ultimate hinkiness come when:

• He pins her up against the funeral bier and forcefully starts kissing her?
• The kinetic motion created by their passion gets so intense, it causes their son’s corpse to shake?
• She tells him to stop… but he doesn’t… and she doesn’t seem to want him to?
• She whispers “It’s not right” as he singlehandedly (get it?!) mounts her on the chapel floor, and he fires back, “I don’t care”?
• I somehow am not turned off by any of this?

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HOUSE LANNISTER: ROYALLY-SCREWED EDITION | Podrick visits Tyrion in jail and brings food, sundries and the bad news that the judges in his trial will be Tywin, Margaery’s father and Oberyn Martell. (The Dornish prince’s cooperation has been bought by Tywin’s agreement to help him avenge his sister.) Tyrion is surprised to hear Sansa’s gone, and he’s at a loss to pinpoint who offed his nephew; he only knows Cersei wasn’t involved, “which makes it unique, as King’s Landing murders go.” (Heh.) Tyrion asks Podrick to have Jaime visit, then forbids Pod to stop by again. The squire protests, and I get verklempt when Tyrion notes that the fact that someone has already asked him to lie at Tyrion’s trial means that he’s in danger. “This is farewell,” Tyrion says sadly. “There has never lived a more loyal squire.” Choked up, the boy leaves… perhaps to find solace with a few of those brothel residents who couldn’t get enough of him last season?

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THE MEN OF THE WALL | After the wildlings and Thenns massacre a village, some members of the Night’s Watch want to go after them. But Jon Snow states that the men in black must defend the wall. However, when rangers return with news that their rogue brother Karl is now in charge at Craster’s old place, Snow wants to mobilize ASAP. The mutinous Karl knows that there are far fewer men guarding the wall than Jon led Mance Rayder to believe, and if that news spreads, they’re in serious trouble.

Meanwhile, Sam fears for Gilly’s safety among the randy men of the Night’s Watch, so he installs her and the baby in the Dankest Little Whorehouse in Westeros – but as a cleaning lady/babysitter, nothing more. “You have to trust me, it’s for the best,” he says, truly hurt that she thinks he’s grown tired of her. “Best for you,” Gilly replies.

HOUSE TARGARYEN: SO-MUCH-PEEING EDITION | Daenerys and her army are greeted by Meereen’s champion as they arrive at the city. There’s a lot of trash-talking and urination before Daario steps up to fight him on the khaleesi’s behalf. When Daario kills the man, and then he pees, making it a literal pissing contest, the Mother of Dragons addresses the city’s large slave population, offering them the same kind of freedom she’s afforded those in her ranks. (Side note: How can any of the Meereneese hear her?) Her catapaults launch projectiles over the city walls; when the bundles break, they rain empty collars down upon the slaves, who seem mighty intrigued.

HOUSE BARATHEON | News of Joffrey’s death reaches Stannis, who laments that he has no army to strike now that an opportunity to claim the throne has presented itself once more. Ser Davos is perplexed about how to remedy the situation… until he arrives for his reading lesson with the princess. Within minutes, she’s inadvertently helped him realize that the Iron Bank of Braavos might be their best bet, and he has her pen a letter for him. (Side note: I adore these two together, don’t you?)

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!