Breaker of Chains

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"Breaker of Chains"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 3
Directed byAlex Graves
Written byDavid Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byAnette Haellmigk
Editing byKatie Weiland
Original air dateApril 20, 2014 (2014-04-20)
Running time56 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"The Lion and the Rose"
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Game of Thrones (season 4)
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"Breaker of Chains" is the third episode of the fourth season of HBO's medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The 33rd episode overall, it was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alex Graves.[1] It first aired on HBO on April 20, 2014.[2]

In the episode, Tyrion Lannister is arrested and imprisoned for Joffrey's murder, while Sansa Stark is able to escape King's Landing with Petyr Baelish's help; Tywin Lannister asks Oberyn Martell to sit as a judge on Tyrion's trial. Davos Seaworth contacts the Iron Bank of Braavos. In the North, a wildling raid leaves only one survivor, who turns to the Night's Watch for help. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen lays siege to the city of Meereen.[3] The episode's title refers to the last scene in the episode where Daenerys catapults broken chains into the city of Meereen, depicting herself as the Breaker of Chains. The episode received critical praise overall, but triggered a public controversy as many interpreted the sexual encounter between Jaime and Cersei Lannister as rape.[4][5]

The episode marks the final appearance of Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon).


In the Narrow Sea

Sansa flees with Dontos to a ship. Here, she is greeted by Littlefinger, who has Dontos killed to stop him from revealing his plan. He tells Sansa that the necklace Dontos gave her was fake and part of the plan.

In King's Landing

In the Sept of Baelor, as Joffrey lies in state, Tywin questions Tommen about the qualities of a king. Jaime arrives and Cersei begs him to kill Tyrion, but he refuses. Cersei kisses Jaime but then pushes him away. Jamie grabs her and pushes her to have sex, which she tells him is not right. He ignores her objections and proceeds to force himself on her.

Tywin suspects that Oberyn had a hand in Joffrey's murder and Oberyn accuses Tywin of ordering the Mountain to murder Elia. Tywin offers to have the Mountain meet with Oberyn in exchange for Oberyn serving as one of the three judges in Tyrion's trial.

Podrick visits Tyrion in his cell. Tyrion asks Podrick to bring Jaime. Podrick reveals that he turned down the offer of a knighthood to testify against Tyrion, and Tyrion orders Podrick to leave King's Landing for his own safety.

In the North

Fearing for her safety among the 100 men at Castle Black, Sam sends Gilly to shelter in Mole's Town.

The wildlings raid a village and Styr forces a young boy, Olly, to run to Castle Black and tell the Night's Watch what they have done.

Edd Tollett and Grenn return to Castle Black and inform them that Karl's group is living at Craster's Keep. Jon remembers his lie to Mance Rayder about having 1,000 men at the fort and says they must kill Karl's group before Rayder finds out the truth.

At Dragonstone

Davos learns that Joffrey is dead and is chastised by Stannis for proposing the use of mercenaries. Davos has Shireen write a message to the Iron Bank of Braavos in Stannis' name.

In the Riverlands

Sandor and Arya continue their journey to the Vale. A farmer invites them to spend the night with him; when Arya wakes, she finds Sandor has robbed the farmer.

Outside Meereen

Daenerys' army arrives at Meereen and Daario agrees to fight their champion. After he kills the knight, Daenerys addresses Meereen's slaves, declaring that she intends to bring them freedom, and uses catapults to shoot barrels of broken slave collars as proof.


"Breaker of Chains" was written by executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based upon the source material, Martin's A Storm of Swords.[6][7] The controversial Jaime-Cersei scene was adapted from chapter 62 of A Storm of Swords (Jaime VII).[6][8][9] Other content came from chapters Sansa V, Tyrion IX and Daenerys V.[6][8]

Linguist David Peterson, who created the languages High Valyrian and Dothraki for the show, hid an easter egg in the episode's translations.[10] When the Champion of Meereen is shouting insults at Daenerys in Low Valyrian, the exact words are translated as the same insults the French character was saying in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The easter egg was Weiss's idea.[11]



"Breaker of Chains" was watched by an estimated 6.6 million people during the first hour. Another 1.6 million watched it on rerun.[12] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 1.665 million viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week. It also received 0.099 million timeshift viewers.[13]

Critical reception

The episode was well received by critics. On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the episode holds a score of 95% based on 37 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "While 'Breaker of Chains' is a letdown after the Purple Wedding, the episode expertly weaves together a number of necessary plot points -- and still manages to deliver a very memorable scene.[14] Matt Fowler of IGN wrote that the episode deals "with the direct aftermath of King Joffrey's violent demise, though it also [feels] like the most bereft of the first three episodes" and that it "ended with a big, grandiose Daenerys moment – though if one were to compare her launching canisters filled with broken shackles over the walls of Meereen to last year's flambéing of Astapor and stealing off with an entire army (which came at the end of episode 4), this moment lacked 'oomph.'"[15]

Sept scene

The episode attracted controversy for a scene where Jaime Lannister forces himself upon Cersei Lannister in the Great Sept of Baelor. In the episode, Cersei repeatedly tells Jaime "no", "stop", and "it's not right" while attempting to push him away. In the source novel, however, Cersei initially rejects Jaime's advances but changes her mind, saying "yes",[4][16] though some readers interpret it as implying rape.[5] This controversial scene has led to both fan and academic discourse.[17]

Alan Sepinwall of HitFix stated that viewers interpreted the scene as a rape: "Though there aren't comments on these reviews at the moment, the reaction I've seen on Twitter, in emails and on other blogs suggests nobody is agreeing with [director Alex] Graves' interpretation of the scene and are viewing it as rape, plain and simple."[18] Sandy Hingston of Philadelphia wrote that the scene had outraged many viewers, but had led others to make "tentative attempts in comments sections to explain why maybe actually this wasn't rape."[19] Critics, including Erik Kain of Forbes,[9] Sonia Saraiya of The A.V. Club,[4] Megan Gibson of Time,[20] Amanda Marcotte of Slate,[21] Maureen Ryan of HuffPost,[22] and Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post, also viewed the scene as rape.[23]

The episode's director, Alex Graves, described the scene in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter as "and then Jaime comes in and he rapes her".[24] In another interview with HitFix, Graves said "it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for [Jaime and Cersei] ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle."[18] In an interview with Vulture, Graves further elaborated: "The consensual part of it was that she wraps her legs around him, and she's holding on to the table, clearly not to escape but to get some grounding in what's going on. And also, the other thing that I think is clear before they hit the ground is she starts to make out with him. ... before he rips her undergarment, she's way into kissing him back." Graves stated that it was important for him and others involved with filming the scene to indicate to viewers that the sexual encounter was not completely one-sided, and that he hoped this aspect would not be overlooked.[25] Noting that during filming, "nobody really wanted to talk about what was going on between the two characters", he described this whole scene in the Sept as "one of my favorite scenes I've ever done".[18]

Others involved with the series also commented on the scene. David Benioff, who co-wrote the episode and serves as showrunner with D. B. Weiss, described the interaction of the two siblings as "a really kind of horrifying scene, because you see, obviously, Joffrey's body right there, and you see that Cersei is resisting this. She's saying no, and he's forcing himself on her. So it was a really uncomfortable scene, and a tricky scene to shoot."[26] George R.R. Martin, author of the novels from which the series is adapted, stated that the dynamic is different between Jaime and Cersei in the show because, as opposed to the books, "Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer." He stated that while the setting is the same, "neither character is in the same place as in the books" and that he surmises this "may be why Dan [Weiss] & David [Benioff] played the sept out differently." Martin added that he never discussed the scene with them, and that the scene "was always intended to be disturbing... but [I] regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons."[20] Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who portrays Jaime, said in an interview that while many saw the scene as a brutal rape, "that was obviously never intended. I understand that one can see it as that, but for us it was much more complex."[27] Lena Headey, who portrays Cersei, declined to comment about whether she interpreted the sex as consensual, but said that "it's a very complicated moment for many reasons ... There was this need and it wasn't right and yet it felt great and yet it wasn't right and it played out the way it did. And I was really happy with [the scene]."[28]

To Saraiya, the series' choice to portray this scene as rape appeared to be an act of "exploitation for shock value".[4] Marcotte and Josh Wigler of MTV commented that the rape scene may have damaged Jaime's character's arc of redemption from his earlier crimes, and Marcotte wrote that it might never recover from the rape.[21][29] Dustin Rowles of Salon noted that viewers who were previously able to sympathize with Jaime despite his earlier crimes of murder and incest now became angry at the series' creators "for allowing a terrible person to do something more terrible than our minds will allow us to forgive."[30] Andrew Romano of The Daily Beast opined that the scene "wasn't supposed to be a rape. It was supposed to look consensual. The filmmakers messed up." He cited the fact that "neither the director of the scene nor the two actors who played it seem to think that Jaime raped Cersei—and the story itself is continuing to chug along as if the rape never happened and Jaime is still a character we're supposed to root for." He suggested that viewers "ignore the rape—at least from a narrative perspective" because Benioff and Weiss had "botched" it.[31] In a broader context, Hingston credited the episode with furthering "the furious debate over consent going on in our culture".[19] Laura Hudson of Wired described the scene and its appraisal by its director as "one that encourages the most dangerous thinking about rape imaginable: that when a woman is held down on the ground, screaming for the man to stop, that deep down inside her she might still really want it." She considered what she called Graves' lack of realization that he was filming a rape scene disturbing because, according to Hudson, his comments encouraged the thinking that a man's persistence might "'turn' a rape into something consensual", and that it is a "dysfunctional, dangerous way of looking at sex and consent, one that is based on the idea of forcing women to give it".[32]



  1. ^ "Breaker of Chains". HBO. Home Box Office, Inc. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  2. ^ "Shows A–Z – game of thrones". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica (April 21, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' recap: 'Breaker of Chains'". CBS News. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Saraiya, Sonia (April 20, 2014). "Rape of Thrones. Why are the Game Of Thrones showrunners rewriting the books into misogyny?". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Moore, Ben (April 22, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin Reacts to Controversial Altered Scene". Screen Rant. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c George R. R. Martin (2000). A Storm of Swords. Chapter: Bantam Spectra. ISBN 0-553-10663-5.
  7. ^ Walt Hickey (4 May 2014). "How Much Source Material Does HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Have Left to Work With?". Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (May 3, 2013). "EP403: Breaker of Chains". Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Kain, Erik (April 21, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 3 Review: Sex And Violence". Forbes. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "50 Surprising Things About Season 4 - Pt 1". HBO. April 4, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  11. ^ Lucas, Katie (May 8, 2014). "Interview With Linguist David Peterson". HBO. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  12. ^ Ago, Mhladnik3 Years (21 April 2014). "Game of Thrones viewership ratings rise once more with Breaker of Chains".
  13. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (21-27 April 2014)". BARB. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "Breaker of Chains". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  15. ^ Fowler, Matt (April 20, 2014). "Game of Thrones: "Breaker of Chains" Review". IGN. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  16. ^ Martin, George (2000). A Storm of Swords. New York: Bantam Dell. p. 851. ISBN 0-553-57342-X.
  17. ^ Ferreday, Debra (January 2, 2015). "Game of Thrones, Rape Culture and Feminist Fandom". Australian Feminist Studies. 30 (83): 21–36. doi:10.1080/08164649.2014.998453. ISSN 0816-4649. S2CID 145345824.
  18. ^ a b c Sepinwall, Alan (April 20, 2014). "REVIEW: 'GAME OF THRONES' - 'BREAKER OF CHAINS': UNCLE DEADLY?". HitFix. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Hingston, Sandy (April 22, 2014). "Furious Internet to Jaime Lannister: "Incest: You're Doing It Wrong". Moral relativism rules when it comes to Game of Thrones, apparently". Philadelphia. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  20. ^ a b "George R. R. Martin Responds To That Controversial Game of Thrones Scene". Time. April 22, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  21. ^ a b Marcotte, Amanda (April 21, 2014). "The Director of Sunday's Game of Thrones Doesn't Think That Was Rape". Slate. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  22. ^ Ryan, Maureen (April 28, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Controversial Scene: 12 Reasons It Matters". HuffPost. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  23. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (April 20, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' review: Breaker of chains, breakers of will". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  24. ^ Couch, Aaron (April 20, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' Director on Controversial Scene: Jaime 'Traumatized,' Cersei 'a Wreck' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  25. ^ Martin, Denise (April 21, 2014). "Breaking Down Jaime and Cersei's Controversial Sex Scene, With Last Night's Game of Thrones Director". Vulture. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  26. ^ "Game of Thrones Season 4: Inside the Episode #3 (HBO)". YouTube. HBO. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  27. ^ Bergqvist, Mattias (28 April 2014). "Nikolaj Coster-Waldau om DEN DÄR scenen i "Game of thrones"". Expressen. Retrieved 2 May 2014. As translated in: García, Elio. "HEADEY, COSTER-WALDAU ON SEPT SCENE". Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  28. ^ Schlossberg, Mallory (30 April 2014). "'GAME OF THRONES' LENA HEADEY TALKS CONTROVERSIAL RAPE SCENE BUT LEAVES US WANTING MORE". Bustle. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  29. ^ Wigler, Josh (April 22, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Author Reacts To 'Disturbing' Jaime-Cersei Scene". MTV. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  30. ^ Rowles, Dustin (April 24, 2014). "Why the "Game of Thrones" rape scene caused fans to respond in the worst possible way". Salon. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  31. ^ "Why We Should Pretend the 'Game of Thrones' Rape Scene Never Happened". The Daily Beast. May 4, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  32. ^ Hudson, Laura (April 21, 2014). "That Game of Thrones Scene Wasn't a 'Turn-On,' It Was Rape". Wired. Retrieved April 27, 2014.

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