After liberating the strongholds of Astapor and Yunkai with astounding speed, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) sets her sights on Meereen – the mother of all slave cities – in “Breaker of Chains,” Episode 33 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Daenerys gained the city’s attention with her eunuch army and three fearsome dragons. Next she gains the city’s respect by pitting her champion Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) against Meereen’s mightiest warrior.
Not much of a fight, turns out. Daario topples the warrior’s charging horse with a well-aimed knife throw and kills the stunned rider seconds later.
Then Daenerys reaches out to Meereen’s massive slave population.
“I am not your enemy,” she promises. “Your enemy is beside you.”
Underscoring her call for rebellion, wooden barrels are catapulted over the city walls. The barrels shatter to reveal broken chains – chains that once bound the slaves of Astapor and Yunkai.
Across the Narrow Sea, the poisoning of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) following his royal wedding to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) throws King’s Landing into chaos.
Guards capture prime suspect Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). But his wife Sansa (Sophie Turner) flees with the help of court jester Dontos Hollard (Tony Way).
“Bar the gates of the city,” shouts Joffrey’s grandfather, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). “Seize every ship in the harbor!”
Obscured by fog, Dontos rows Sansa to a ship owned by treacherous Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen).
“The worst is past,” Littlefinger assures Sansa. Then he orders Dontos shot with a crossbow.
Tyrion learns of his wife’s harrowing escape from squire Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).
“The girl’s no assassin,” Tyrion says in Sansa’s defense.
Bolstering his own defense, Tyrion tells Podrick to seek out Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Joffrey’s biological father.
When Jaime suggests to twin sister Cersei (Lena Headey) that their brother Tyrion may be innocent, she angrily refuses to listen.
“He killed him! He told me he would,” Cersei exclaims. “I want him dead!”
Then Jaime is consumed with lust for his devious sibling.
“Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?” he asks before raping Cersei next to the corpse of Joffrey, their bastard son.
As for widowed Margaery, she’s comforted by her pragmatic grandmother, Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg).
“You may not have enjoyed watching him die,” Olenna says of Joffrey’s murder, “but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him.”
So who ascends to the Iron Throne?
If evil Tywin prevails, it’ll be Joffrey’s younger brother Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman).
“What makes a good king?” Tywin asks his pliable grandson. Good kings should be holy, just and strong, surely. But they must be wise above all else.
“A wise king knows what he knows and what he doesn’t,” grandpa insists, meaning a monarch should heed the advice of his counselors – such as Tywin.
The patriarch’s next move involves Lannister-hating Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal). Tywin wins over his foe by offering him revenge for his sister’s brutal murder and a seat on the new king’s Small Council.
Prompting these conciliatory gestures is Tywin’s fear of Daenerys and her dragons.
“Before long she will turn her eyes to Westeros,” Tywin says to Oberyn. “We need each other.”
Also threatening House Lannister is Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who failed miserably when trying to topple King’s Landing in the fiery Battle of Blackwater Bay.
Now Stannis plans to strike again by assembling an army of mercenaries. If, that is, he secures a loan from the formidable Iron Bank of Braavos.
“I will not become a page in someone else’s history book,” Stannis vows.
Better hope your loan gets approved then, fella.