‘Game of Thrones’: The Way Things Are

Published 12 months ago by

Kristofer Hivju in Game of Thrones season 4 episode 3 Game of Thrones: The Way Things Are

[This is a review of Game of Thrones season 4, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS]


The world in which Game of Thrones is set is remarkable for a great many reasons. For one, there are dragons, which is a rather noteworthy addition to any fictional realm. Moreover, there is a horde of undead frozen people with a penchant for arranging the bodies of their enemies in frighteningly ornate patterns. But perhaps one of the more remarkable aspects of where the series is set is not a thing or even a group of things. Perhaps it is the world’s unrelenting desire to demonstrate just how wretched a place it truly is. Time and again, the world of Westeros and beyond has proven itself to be the kind of place where if someone’s not trying to undermine, steal from, or simply kill you, it’s because they likely just don’t know you exist yet.

Of course, it is that kind of thinking and the continuously audacious presentation that makes up the majority of the show’s pulpy appeal. No one, regardless his or her position, is beyond the reach of the dreadful or the appalling, as was seen last week during the famed Purple Wedding, which managed to claim the life of the yet another unfit king in Joffrey Baratheon. While ‘The Lion and the Rose’ demonstrated that every celebratory event in Westeros must be met with an equally dreadful outcome (or vice versa, as Joffrey’s wedding and subsequent death will likely remembered), ‘Breaker of Chains’ looks to establish the idea of an inevitable and dreadful outcome as part of the throughline for not only each and every arc currently running, but also for the series as a whole.

The episode is another chapter told in chunks of character and plot that the audience has long grown accustomed to, and while David Benioff and D.B. Weiss don’t always need to align the disparate threads with an overarching thematic element, they’ve more or less managed to do so here.

Things are looking rather bleak for just about everyone involved, and if their situation isn’t looking terrible at the moment, that’s probably because they’re engaged in making it terrible for someone else. On that note, Lord Baelish makes his unnervingly sinister presence known as Sansa’s would-be benefactor, hiring Dontos Hollard to whisk the young Stark away from Joffrey’s death, only to reward the fool for a job well done with a bolt in his neck. Meanwhile, the unending soap opera that is the inner workings of the Lannister clan goes to even darker places, as Tywin begins the process of ushering Tommen into his older brother’s lofty position, by discussing with him the attributes of a great king. This conversation not only demonstrates why it’s not good to be the king in Westeros, but also why, in order to evoke a sense of wisdom, Tommen must listen very closely to those who know more than him – you know, people like his grandfather.

Maise Williams in Game of Thrones season 4 episode 3 Game of Thrones: The Way Things Are

But the episode’s most disturbing moment comes with Jaime’s decision to rape his sister, mere inches away from where their reprehensible child lay in state. This comes after Cersei demands Jaime kill their younger brother for what she perceives to be his involvement in Joffrey’s death. While the scene is proof Game of Thrones has a nihilistic bent like no other, one wonders whether this depiction was intended to simply be in keeping with the darkness and dangers of George R.R. Martin’s world, or a way to set up a change in Jaime that returned him to where he once had been.

In that regard, Jaime’s arc over the course of the series had turned him from the incestuous swordsman who pushed a child from a tower window, to something of a sympathetic figure – one who may have even garnered a weird form of pity from the audience, after his sister rebuffed his romantic advances upon returning to King’s Landing minus his right hand. This latest act, however, seems to have changed all that, making it harder – if not impossible – for the character to redeem himself once more.

As per usual, the wicked goings-on with the Lannisters are enough to fuel an entire series on their own. But ‘Breaker of Chains’ still finds room to point out the coming terror of Mance Rayder and his wildlings, through the depiction of a raid that’s headed up by Tormund Giantsbane, Ygritte, and the always-hungry Thenn who apparently think of the cause as an all-you-can-eat buffet before much else. Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound briefly befriend a poor farmer and his daughter, agreeing to a “fair wage for fair work,” before the Hound robs them of their silver.

It’s all part of how Game of Thrones continues to establish its worldview as one of the bleakest on television. There may be hope in Daenery’s quest to build an army by preaching freedom, but then again it may be, as the Hound said, the way things are.”


Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘Oathkeeper’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

Photos: Helen Sloan & Macall B. Polay/HBO

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  1. Sooo, where’s the review?

  2. True…a recap does not equal a review.

  3. It is a review, but also has a recap in it. Screenrant rarely comes out and calls something crap or greatness, unless its AoS =P

    • Has nothing to do with rating something as ‘crap or greatness’ and everything to do with actually reviewing the events and arcs, rather than just simply making broad statements about what took place.

  4. Jaime’s rape of Cersei was quite a departure with how that particular sexual encounter was depicted in Martin’s novel. I actually had to re-read the scene from the book this morning to be certain. It’s definitely more consensual in the book and Cersei maintains much more control of the situation. I’m not exactly sure where the show runners are going with Jaime’s arc given the change in that scene.

    • @ Tramaine

      Yeah, I haven’t read book 3 yet but another site included the scene from the book in post talking about the change and I myself can’t help but wonder why?

      The main thrust of Jamie’s arc since the pilot has been a slow path towards redemption but in one scene the writers of the show have knocked him all the way back to where he was in the pilot IMO.
      Seriously, how can you root for this guy now?
      To put it as simply as I can (or will try) the guy raped his sister/lover while she grieved for the loss of her son and his nephew/son.
      I don’t care how terrible Cersei has been or is her only redeeming quality was the love she had for her children and not only did he seem not to care a bit about that he raped her.
      I don’t care what he does from here on out, there’s no way I can see Jamie as anything other than this from here on out. He’s done god awful things before and him pushing Bran off the tower is the reason all this stuff has happened on the show but last night may have been the worst of it all.

      I’m curious to see where the writers are going with this. That’s a pretty big change in character motivation and actions.

      • @Kevin7

        Agreed. Aside from being terribly uncomfortable to watch, that one scene certainly damaged Jaime’s current arc. I’m interested in George R. R. Martin’s take on the change. (It may help that the writers can see the bigger picture and can therefore justify their choice, but it’s hard to get behind such a change.)

      • Despite how horrid the concept of Jaime raping his sister was, I think him raping his sister is more indicative of how he has changed. For the first time he is finally seeing his sister for what she is, a selfish and vindictive person who finds no moral ambiguity in asking him to murder his own brother. And in raping her he was able to let out his anger, frustration and lust he has for her because he realizes their relationship will never go back to the way things were because he has essentially lost the two things he ever loved, his fighting ability and his sister so at that point he had nothing left to lose. From this point on I think we’re gonna see Jaime doing what he feels he should do without the weight of his sister’s approval or disapproval weighing him down.

        • I commented completely disagreeing with you guys and even using a quote from one of the show’s writers to prove it but nope, SR does it again, my comment disappeared.

          Typical. Try and join the conversation and prove people wrong and your attempt vanishes like a whisper in the night.

    • It wasn’t rape. It was consensual. She starts fighting him but then physically grabs hold of him while saying they shouldn’t. That’s the argument of the TV producers when they didn’t label the episode for containing “Rape” which is something required when Rape exists in TV. It was poorly lit, and all their silly clothes got in the way for making it look more consensual.

      I saw the scene as: Jaime realizes his sister is evil, and the sex is a last act between them and the act that moves him forward. Sadly, it didn’t contain the lines from the book about him saying Joffrey might have been his seed, but not his son. He never got the opportunity to raise him and keep him from being the monster he became.

    • I never saw it as rape at all, it was clearly consensual. Just saw the episode myself, never got a “rapey” (to quote a 2007 Jimmy Carr term) vibe from it whatsoever and when I checked another site, noticed that this scene was being talked about and that one of the show’s writers said “she’s wrapping her legs around him kissing him back and grabbing the table for leverage, it’s definitely a consensual thing”.

      I dunno, I kinda feel like whoever would consider that a rape scene are the same kinds of people who easily misconstrue other scenes from other shows and movies and somehow turn it into something negative, despite the clear intent shown that makes their beliefs null and void.

      If that was rape and non-consensual then Joffrey was also a kind king and my name is Harrison Ford (spoiler alert, none of those three things I just listed are true).

  5. Decent recap and summary, where’s the actual “review” part that goes in between them?

  6. Here’s the review:

    “The episode is another chapter told in chunks of character and plot that the audience has long grown accustomed to, and while David Benioff and D.B. Weiss don’t always need to align the disparate threads with an overarching thematic element, they’ve more or less managed to do so here.”

    Translation: This is just another passable character/story setup episode. Kevin always reviews, never just recaps. :-)

    • Thanks for doing an even worse job, Kofi. You always bring that extra let-down at the end.

      Love you buddy.

    • The writer did review what went on in the episode and the ramifications it might have on certain characters down the line. Maybe there was not enough editorializing for some readers, but you cannot please everyone. If there was too much personal opinion one way or another there would be an equal number of people on either side complaining about impartiality from the author. In the end though I do not understand what people want or need from articles like this because if you saw the show I would think you have an opinion of your own, what someone else writes about it seems irrelevant to a point.

  7. Perhaps I need to rewatch the scene but I rember being confused on trying to decide if it was rape or rough sex. (& im a female lol) She kept kissing him back & more grabbing for him then “pushing” him away. (Or atleast that was my take away but maybe I need to reevaluate my idea of rough/fun sex lol)

      When reading the way it is on the page it’s more rough sex than forced. I guess you could say it’s misery sex.
      And while Cersei does protest a bit at one point she clearly wants it to happen.

      Here she seems somewhat into it at first but by the end of it she’s fighting him off and saying no and Jamie is forcing the matter.

      I’ll watch it again when it’s OnDemand (damn you AT&T Uverse!!!) but as I remember it now she didn’t want it to happen.

    • Nope, Anon, you got it partially right.

      It was completely consensual on Cersei’s part but somehow, people have got confused and think it was forced.

  8. I also had to go re-read the book and it was different than the rape/rough sex shown on the show. However, it seems in the show that she relented and gave into the sex at the end. Dang, I’ll probably have to re-watch the show again. Either way, it does seem to change the redemption of Jamie, which is where I thought his character was heading.

  9. Well it matters less now because the director has come out and said that it was consensual.
    He even questioned why people thought it was rape (I clearly did, and was excited as I usually am when
    the show departs from the book)

  10. As BBC stated above, the director has spoken out to address the rape controversy. Apparently the episode writers intended for the sex to be consensual. Since that was the intent, I think the scene was poorly executed and left the question of consensual sex versus rape too open (where the book did not). In my opinion, that was quite a miss on the part of the writers because that scene was suppose to explore the disturbing complexity of each character individually as well within the context of their relationship in a nuanced way.

    George R. R. Martin also spoke out about the scene in question. He’s never discussed the scene with the show’s writers, and expressed regret if the scene disturbed audiences “for the wrong reasons.” He offered up a fairly solid theory of why the writers may have made the choices they did; I just think that the final product was poorly executed.

    • Maybe people are reading too much into this in the first place. I really do not see how funeral incest right next to the corpse of the inbreed son of the two parties could be executed in a way that is not a least a little disturbing or distasteful to someone.

      • The scene is designed to be disturbing either way. However, the idea of rape versus consensual sex has quite an impact on the characterization of the characters, their story arcs, and whether or not audiences are willing to accept/believe/embrace what is to come down the line. Will it make or break the show? No — but I would suggest that it is impactful and has far-reaching consequences outside of just these two characters.

        • It will probably come down to the sensibilities of individual viewers, but for me even if it was along the lines of a rape (which I really did not see it as) in the context of the show I would not find it all that shocking. As for the ramifications for the character of Jaimie it seems like some viewers wanted to buy into him turning over a new leaf during his capture and return, but to me he did not do that much of a attitude change during the time aside from helping Brienne. The overall arc seems to be that his family for the most part is corrupt in one way or another and his weakness is whatever hold his sister has over him.

    • Still fail to see how “the question of consensual sex/rape” was open at all.

      That’s like saying “I saw him swing a sword at Ned Stark’s neck in one episode and the sword’s blade dripping with blood to open the next episode but they should’ve shown it because it left it open to whether or not he was beheaded”.

      Smart people see what happened and assume “yep, consensual, she only asked him to stop because she wasn’t sure that doing it next to their son’s corpse was right but she clearly wanted to do it”.

      Others (saying that with as little disrespect intended as possible) say “I dunno you guys, I think it might have been non-consensual, it was poorly executed, I may have to watch again”.

  11. I feel that any detail that differs from the books is a positive thing. It adds another element to the story. The books to that exact story justice and I think the changes the show makes have always went in a better direction. Especially with the Baratheon bastards. I’m thankful with the way Sandor Clegane is working out although I feel like his and Aryas disagreement this week is to sync up the storyline.

  12. Regardless of how “smart” viewers are perceived to be, the show ultimately intended the sex scene to appear as consensual by the end, but the show’s writers (and director) came up short in that regard.

    Also if you look at the episode’s extras materials, one of the show runners (and executive producer) comments about the scene clearly suggest that it was rape. Were his comments edited and taken out of context? Perhaps, but its just another example of them undermining what the scene was attempting to do.