Watching 'Game Of Thrones': Episode 4 Was Basically 'The Breakfast Club' — In Westeros

Pilou Asbæk and Lena Headey in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloane/HBO)
Pilou Asbæk and Lena Headey in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloane/HBO)

Editors' note: Joanna Weiss is writing weekly recaps of  HBO's "Game of Thrones." Here's her season previewepisode 1episode 2 and episode 3 recaps. We're deep in the game, now. Spoilers below!

When we left Westeros last week, the assembled gang of heroes and misfits in the North had banded together to defeat the greatest existential threat that humankind had ever faced.

This week, they went to a high school cafeteria.

That’s what the post-funeral party in the great hall of Winterfell felt like: a mash-up of every teen movie ever made, with each character playing his or her part. Daenerys “On Wednesday We Wear Shoulder Pads” Targaryen, exerting her Queen Bee power, suddenly anointing Gendry a lord. Jon, like every hapless movie boyfriend of a popular girl, seemingly clueless to the scheming. Sansa, infinitely smarter, seething and continuing to plot her revenge.

Still, it wasn’t a happy night for Dany. For one thing, the lesser cliques across the room were having a lot more fun. For another, the bros were being bros. Tormund might as well have put Jon in a headlock and given him a noogie as he shouted about his buddy’s exploits. (Tormund: “Dude, the guy rode a dragon! Have you ever seen anyone ride a dragon?” Dany: “Yes. ME. Every day. Also, I GAVE BIRTH TO DRAGONS.”)

Over at the “Goths and Misfits” table, Brienne, Jaime, Pod and Tyrion played a two truths and a lie style drinking game that suddenly got a little too honest for Brienne. When Tormund turned up, full of flirtation and grog, Jaime got possessive. Soon enough, he was in Brienne’s chamber, declaring that the fire was so hot that he really had no choice but to take off his clothes — finally discovering that it is possible, and perhaps even preferable, to be attracted to someone other than your evil twin sister.

Tyrion and Varys were talking about how to manage the bombshell when it eventually got out over the loudspeaker.

Alas, Gendry didn’t get so lucky with Arya. “That’s not me,” she said, not for the first time in this show, when he suggested she marry him and start churning out high-born babies. And Dany and Jon hit the snag in a relationship that often occurs when one party discovers he’s the other party’s nephew, and also the rightful heir to her throne. Dany pulled the only move a Queen Bee has: Telling him that, if he really loved her, he’d keep the whole true-identity thing to himself.

It seemed like Jon might actually consider it. But then the Starks staged an intervention next to the weirwood tree. And sure enough, when Sansa and Arya played the family card — “You’re just as much Ned Stark’s child as any of us” — Jon could not contain himself. “I have to tell you something, but you have to swear you’ll never tell another soul,” he said, apparently forgetting that, in high school, no one ever can keep a secret. Sure enough, about six nanoseconds later, Tyrion and Varys were talking about how to manage the bombshell when it eventually got out over the loudspeaker.

It was a relief, at least, that Tyrion was alive for the conversation. After last week’s shockingly low major-character death count, I had a sinking feeling that this week, the other shoe would drop. When Bronn walked in on Jaime and Tyrion with his crossbow, I was sure the Lannister Brothers would face sudden death, Red-Wedding style. They survived, thanks to Tyrion’s sweet-talk, but Rhaegal the dragon didn’t — felled by flaming arrows, courtesy of Euron Greyjoy. Missandei was captured by Cersei’s side, and in King’s Landing, the odds were never very good that she’d retain possession of her head.

Dany, who is losing her besties one by one, declared a scorched-earth plan. At Tyrion and Varys’s urging, she agreed to one final negotiation. The standoff was set, armies staring down armies, Dany’s one remaining dragon quietly snacking on trees in the background. That’s when Tyrion decided he had a great idea: Let me walk within earshot of Cersei and reason with her! Better yet, I’ll remind her that she’s pregnant, getting her into mama-bear mode, when she’s always at her most rational!

And thus Lord Tyrion, already on probation, had his membership in the Master Strategist Club officially rescinded.

It’s going to get ugly when the mean girls face off. But don’t forget that the Sensational Stark Sisters are hanging in the background, waiting.

Back in Winterfell, Jaime, hearing that his sister has backed herself into a corner, tried to slip out in the middle of the night. When Brienne intervened, he gave her the you-can’t-change-me speech and left her in a cloud of cold dust and warm tears, with the lesson every good girl gets eventually: Don’t fall for the bad boy.

So “hateful” Jaime — his words — is heading back to “hateful” Cersei. Yes, I hate her, too, but here are few words in her defense. As a villain, she’s infinitely more interesting than the Night King. And if she’s horrible, that’s partly because the world made her that way. She was the smartest in her family, ignored and abused and underestimated. She lost every one of her children. She lost her dignity. Forgive her for not just handing over the throne to some other blonde who thinks she can swoop in on some fancy dragon and rule the school.

And really, why should she? Targaryen lineage is one rationale for deserving to rule. Having true leadership qualities that inspire the people and rally armies to your cause is another. But over the course of seven seasons, both Dany and Cersei have learned that power in Westeros actually stems from blunt force.

It’s going to get ugly when the mean girls face off. But don’t forget that the Sensational Stark Sisters are hanging in the background, waiting. At the end of a massive food fight with multiple expulsions, who might be left standing? The Chess Club and the fencing team. Just as it ought to be.

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Joanna Weiss Cognoscenti contributor
Joanna Weiss is the editor of Experience Magazine, published by Northeastern University.



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