Title: Game of Thrones – “Oathbreaker”
Air Date: May 8, 2016
Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Lots to unpack from tonight’s episode. Tons of moving the pieces, but not a lot of deploying them. In the aftermath of Game of Thrones from last week, that is not a huge surprise. Oathbreaker brought lots to the table, but never quite delivered on many of its biggest moments. The title of the episode, “Oathbreaker,” felt a little shoehorned into many storylines this week. Obviously, the Night’s Watch meaning was the strongest, and that’s where we began.
Apparently, we are starting and ending every episode at the Wall now. Jon Snow, according to Melisandre, is most likely the “Prince who was promised.” It is not Stannis, as she originally thought. And apparently Jon does not have a godlike pecker, although that disappearing dishtowel from last week might beg to differ. It was fascinating to see Jon and the way everyone reacted to his resurrection. When it was Beric Dondarrion, it was a very small number who knew the truth. Now, we are dealing with a huge number who know “Hey, this guy was dead. Now he’s not. And he’s killing people.” Speaking of, it was sooooooo sweet to see Jon Snow kill Olly. And Alliser. But mainly Olly. Seeing angry Jon Snow was pretty interesting, and could lead to a unique turn for him in the future. Maybe he left his naivete behind when he died? And can we give it up for Lord Commander Edd? Wonder how that will stick.
We caught up with some of our final “where have you been?” Game of Thrones characters this week. It looks like the last one, Littlefinger may catch back up in the next episode. But Sam and Gilly are still ok! Sam is puking in a bucket, and Gilly is not pleased about where she is getting stuck – with Sam’s awful family that disowned him. Maybe Sam will change his mind? After all, Gilly did call Sam “the father of my son.” Either way, it doesn’t seem like there is enough time left in the series for Sam to become a maester and get back to Castle Black. Hopefully, his information about the coming winter brings good to the Night’s Watch.
It wouldn’t be Game of Thrones if we didn’t get some characters with difficult to read morality, and Varys filled that gap this week. He claims to not torture people, and that he only makes them happy. Then, he proceeds to mentally and emotionally torture the woman he is talking to, only to offer her a safe haven afterwards. Varys is one of the few characters on the show who we do not know the motive of. He claims to be working for “the realm.” But every character who has done that has failed spectacularly. To me, Varys seems like a big ol’ liar. His part in the grand game may not come into play until much later, but don’t be surprised if he turns out to be hiding a great deal about himself.
Speaking of Varys, there is a lot going on across the Narrow Sea. Tyrion can’t play games unless drinking is involved, and Grey Worm woos women by talking about his patrol. This council is going to have to get their hands dirty to stop the Sons of the Harpy. Don’t be surprised when it turns out to be Varys leading the Sons of the Harpy.
Regardless, Daenerys looks like she will have her work cut out for her in Vaes Dothrak. Once again, all her fancy titles meant nothing; her marriage to Khal Drogo also meant nothing. The widows of former Khals were not impressed with all her claims, and there will apparently be some trial or council about what to do with her. Will Drogon save her? Or are her lovestruck buddies, Jorah, and Daario, manage to infiltrate the city of horses?
Arya got some serious screentime this week, as she has now brought Daredevil to Game of Thrones. Her montage was great, but it was a little disappointing that she got her sight back so soon. It lessened the impact of her mistakes. Again, this week felt much like moving pieces, but eliminating impact of those pieces. Why deprive Arya of her sight if she will barely have any hardship in getting it back? I barely believe that she speaks the truth when she claims to be “no one.” She seems combat ready, and Jaqen seems to be fond of her, but hopefully Arya isn’t being made into some pawn in the greater game.
On the subject of pawns, Qyburn is still a little weasel. He is doing his best Varys impression, but he is not as smart or (somehow!) not as liked. The small council deserted both Cersei and Jaime, which furthers the “us against the world” mentality that they brought into things. Will the trial by combat Ser Robert Strong brings to the table flip things around? Or will we get retribution for the death of Oberyn when Strong takes the stage?
One of the biggest moments of the episode was one they ruined with the trailer: the gift to Ramsay Bolton. The newly anointed Lord and Warden of the North has another Stark to play with now. Rickon and Osha are in his grasp, thanks to the Umbers. And Shaggydog is dead! Terrible turn of events. Maybe this is part of a bigger plan, but things look pretty rough for our long lost friends at this point. Rickon may be safe if Ramsay has learned anything, but Osha slept with Ramsay in order to lead a secretive escape mission. She may be in trouble.
The biggest reveal and, in my opinion, the biggest issue of the episode, was the Tower of Joy flashback. The fight itself was great; Arthur Dayne was a complete badass, Ned held his own, and we got to see a great small scale fight. Even the ending worked well, including the idea that Ned changed the story later on. The biggest issue was that we did not get the ending of the story. I know that the reveal of what is in the Tower of Joy is central to the storyline of Game of Thrones, but it felt like a cop out to get that far and not get the payoff.
Overall, this felt like the weakest of the three episodes that we have seen this season. Granted, even bad episodes of Game of Thrones are still better than 95% of what’s out there. But this felt far too much like a “moving the pieces into place” episode than a “pieces are attacking each other” episode. At least Olly is dead.
- Characters: Young Ned isn’t as neat as we thought, and Varys is a sinister fellow. Jon Snow is back from the dead, and the awe/fear of him reflects that.
- Cinematography: No Dorne this week to be beautiful, so we’ll have to stick with the Wall and the Tower of Joy.
- Story: No huge reveals this week – Arya can see again, Ramsay has Rickon, Edd is Lord Commander, and the Tower of Joy was a thing.
- Acting: Ramsay did a great job sliding into his new role. Wildlings were impressed with the return of Lord Snow. And Varys may be even scarier than he seemed up until this point.
- Ramsay was less cartoonish
- Jon Snow is a changed man
- Olly is dead!
- Tower of Joy fight was great...
- ... But we got no payoff!
- Arya's sight came back with little effort
- Too many moving pieces