The third episode of a season is usually a pretty easy formula to replicate for a show with such a massive audience. By the third episode, you're done with the initial setups you have to place for the midseason (or even season) finale, giving you creative room to start ramping up the momentum with action sequences, character drama or anything else a big-budget television show calls its own.
[Game of Thrones](movie:817617) operates by a different format, mostly because it is an adaption of several novels, but also because the writers put a lot of effort into making their major plot moments as thematic and unexpected as possible. Case in point: The Purple Wedding.
It should go without saying, but if you have not yet watched episode 2 of season 4 (The Lion and the Rose), then I strongly suggest you stop reading this spoiler-filled recap.
In just the second episode, one of the most important characters in Game of Thrones was assassinated by his no-no juice, a moment that took us all by surprise because of how much we wanted it to happen. Yes, we finally said goodbye to King Joffrey, the character we all loved to hate.
This made episode 3 a bit of a palate cleanser after the four-course meal that was episode 2. Everything was a bit slowed down here, with characters mulling over what the heck just happened while other characters were still unaware of the news.
Of course, the episode started right where the Purple Wedding left off, with Cersei shrieking at Tyrion, blaming him for the assassination of Joffrey. Meanwhile, Ser Dontos (the drunk fool that Sansa Stark saved several seasons ago) led Sansa away from the scene by rowboat, evading Lord Tywin's call to secure the walls in search of the assassin.
She was taken to Littlefinger (Lord Baelish) who reveals that he paid Dontos to protect her. He kills Dontos out of shear distrust that the guy can keep a secret, and as cruel as that may seem, I can't help but agree that resting Sansa's safety into the hands of a notorious drunk sounds like a bad move. Sorry Dontos!
Later, we caught up to Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna, doing their own Purple Wedding recap. For obvious reasons, Margaery is pretty weirded out by the fact that her husbands get assassinated right before she consummates the marriage, first with Renly and now with Joffrey.
Lady Olenna pretty much tells Margaery what we're all thinking, however, when she makes the fantastic point that she just dodged a huge bullet by not having to marry Joffrey.
"The next one will be easier," says Olenna. Whatever that means/forebodes...
Joffrey hasn't been dead for longer than a fortnight, but that doesn't stop Tywin from grooming his younger brother Tommen (who is next in line for the throne) right in front of Joffrey's corpse as it lays on a stone slab.
Cersei awkwardly watched on as her dad went on a rant about what makes a good king, quizzing Tommen as he went. Tommen eventually answers correctly (according to Tywin) that it takes wisdom. Then, right in front of his mom, Tywin flat out states that Joffrey was neither a wise or good king, which is why he died. Harsh!
Tywin then led Tommen away from the scene explaining how the birds and the bees work, leaving Cersei to mourn alone. That is until Jamie arrives. I have to tell you that this scene was so wrong in so many ways, and I hate that I have to actually verbalize what happened.
But yeah, Jamie forces himself on his sister right next to Joffrey's dead body. Just like that. This guy is an accordion of character development. Before the act takes place, Cersei commands him to kill Tyrion, but he refuses. She persists, and then he persists, and then...yeah.
The scene pretty much confirmed that any hint of redemption we saw in Jamie last season was a farce, but also that Joffrey was, in fact, the son of Jamie and Cersei. Gross, but we all assumed that anyway.
The episode gave us a brief catching up on Arya and the Hound, letting us know what they've been up to. After lying about serving in the war, the duo is welcomed by a mild-mannered farmer and his daughter. He even offers the Hound a security detail job. The next morning, however, the Hound unsurprisingly robs the guy blind and peaces out with Arya yelling at him from a distance.
He puts her in her place pretty quickly by letting her know that she should have learned from her family's recent bad luck that survival is more important than anything at this point. Still, you can't help but wonder where this shaky friendship is heading.
Meanwhile at Castle Black, Sam arranges for Gilly to work at a brothel in Molestown (but not as a prostitute) where she can be safe with her son. She's pretty bummed out about it, but Sam makes a fair point when he argues that being the only woman around 100 men is an easy way to get taken advantage of.
I rather like Sam because he's such a consistently good character. Yeah, he's bumbling and naive, but his selflessness is unparalleled in this show.
Later, Ygritte and her Wildlings crew (which now consists of Thenn and the cannibals) raids a small village pretty mercifully. They let a young boy go and send the message of their presence to Castle Black, taunting the crows to pursue them.
At Castle Black, the Crows deliberate on how they can defend from the Wildlings, banking on the fact that Mance Rayder still thinks the castle is being guarded by thousands of men. Their plans are foiled, however, when Grenn and Dolorous Edd finally return from the Crow mutiny at Craster's Keep (remember that?). Now Mance is just a few clicks away from finding the mutinous Crow's and torturing them into revealing how many Crows are actually guarding the wall. Yikes!
At Dragonstone, Stannis lets Davos know that Joffrey is dead, which means they need to press for the Iron Throne yet again. The only problem? They don't have the armies or Robert Baratheon bastards to create ghost assassins.
No worries though, because while Davos was practicing his Hooked on Phonics with Stannis's daughter, Shireen, he came up with the idea to write a letter to the leaders of Braavosi under Stannis's name. Is he recruiting men? Money? We'll have to wait and see.
Back at King's Landing, Tywin confronts Oberyn first with suspicion that he killed Joffrey (the evidence is certainly looking bad for the prince) and then with an offer to make a deal. It's clear that Tywin doesn't actually suspect Oberyn because he offers to make Oberyn a judge during Tyrion's trial.
In exchange, Tywin will allow Oberyn to have a face-to-face with the Mountain, the object of Oberyn's true revenge. The alliance makes perfect sense because with the help of Dorne, King's Landing actually has a fighting chance in case the Mother of Dragons ever comes blazing through the Blackwater.
In the dungeons, Tyrion has been mulling over the murder of King Joffrey almost as much as us. Pod visits and updates Tyrion on the trial and who will be judging. Pod also lets him know that he was visited by a stranger who attempted to bribe him for testifying against Tyrion, but he refused. Tyrion tells Pod to bring Jamie to him and then leave King's Landing before he is assassinated for not taking the bribe.
The moment between squire and master was pretty sad here, as Tyrion is essentially saying goodbye to yet another person he trusts.
"Pod, there has never lived a more loyal squire," Tyrion said as we felt the feels.
Daenerys Targaryen is the "Breaker of Chains." The episode ended on an epic note as Dany marched her anti-slavery campaign forward through Meereen. They sent out their best champion, and Dany chose Daario to face him. I felt bad for the guy because despite all of the stolen glances he's been getting from her, she outright said she chose him because it wouldn't be a big deal if he died compared to her other advisors. Ouch!
Of course, Daario beat the guy in a record four seconds.
What happened next was classic Mother of Dragons/Breaker of Chains: Dany catapulted barrels of opened shackles into the city after giving a massive speech about freedom or something. The episode ended as the slaves of Meereen managed to put two and two together. Let the revolution of Meereen begin!
"Breaker of Chains" was a great follow-up to last week's incredibly important "Lion and the Rose." We now have a significant murder mystery to sort through, and we probably won't know who killed Joffrey until later in the season, but we can definitely speculate!