“Oathbreaker” was a bit of a comedown for Game of Thrones in terms of action. The first two episodes this season brought with them some major reveals and rabble-rousing moments that, in theory, drove the show closer to its endgame. “Oathbreaker” was a relatively quiet. Don’t mistake that for a critique. In fact, I found “Oathbreaker” to be the best hour of the young season. It pushed multiple storylines forward to an extent that the first two episodes combined failed to.
It was nice to check in with Samwell, whose plan is to drop Gilly and Lil Sam (debut mixtape dropping summer sixteen) off at Horn Hill on his way to the Citadel, seeing as the latter does not allow women. They have a little moment. The Sam-Gilly relationship is cute but I wonder if Gilly is on her way to being written out of the show. Unless her child is important, it’s hard to think up a hypothetical where she’s critical moving forward. It feels like she’s mostly a plot device to have Sam grow, and it’s worked. Sam-Gilly has been one of the stronger subplots for a few seasons now, but things appear to be leaning toward Sam having a larger role without the presence of Gilly.
Perhaps the most impressive storytelling development on GOT since its inception has been how it’s built this nuanced mythology without reverting to flashbacks and overly expository speeches. Well, thanks to Bran and the Three-eyed Raven that appears to be changing. This weeks “vision” featured a strapping young Ned Stark arriving at a place called the Tower of Joy somewhere in Dorne. There, he’s confronted by Arthur Dayne, whom Bran informs us was a legendary swordsmen. Ned is apparently looking for his sister. The men and their crews fight, and Ned wins because Dayne is stabbed in the back. This was a nice moment because it stripped Ned of his wholly honorable mystique a little bit. The actual swordplay was perfectly brutal, and I want to know who/what is in that tower (if a place called the “Tower of Joy” isn’t a brothel of some sort…). The easy guess is that it’s Ned’s sister being hidden there. As far as flashbacks go, it wasn’t that bad.
The purpose of this specific flashback was to show that Bran may very well be capable of influencing the past. It was evident that Ned heard him. This would change the very fabric of the show’s narrative. There are benefits to introducing this as a storytelling device; mostly being it’s a more interesting way to tell Westerosi history than simply have a character give a monologue. The problem is that it adds in yet another supernatural element that in turn lowers the stakes for everything else. The show needs to make an effort to establish what Bran can and can’t do. Just like with the resurrections, why should I believe or care about anything if there aren’t stated guidelines for the magical stuff?
Checking in with Bronn of the Blackwater, week 3
Still no Bronn. I’m fucking livid.
Some cool stuff happened in Meeren this week (coincidence that this location became 100x more interesting the second Dany left it?). Varys interrogated a woman working with the Sons of the Harpy. I’m assuming she decided to fully disclose everything she knew after he offered her a sack of silver he couldn’t even lift. The two had a really neat dialogue about perspective. The ability to see things from the perspective of others is what has made some of the smartest characters on this show (Varys, Tyrion, Littlefinger) prosper. Despite what Cersei says, knowledge very much is power on GOT. Varys has managed to not only survive, but stay in a position of relative power, thanks to his little birds; whom we just found out are kids he gives candy to and may or may not be molesting (Tyrion subtly hinted at this a couple seasons ago).
Speaking of perspective, I actually don’t hate Alliser Thorne. He kept it one hunnid all the way down to his last words. He’s principled, at least, and he never wavered. It’s not an accident that Varys’ perspective speech came in the same episode where Jon killed Thorne and Olly. It’s not unreasonable of Thorne to think Jon’s stance on the Wildlings was insane. Perspective. Thorne had seen various Wildlings do gruesome things, and he HADN’T seen the full strength of the Walkers like Jon. He didn’t have to gather up the droogies and shank Jon in cinematic fashion, but he had every right to be upset and think Jon was a traitor.
At The Wall, everyone is in awe at the sight of a living, breathing, unknowing Jon Snow. Even Melisandre is surprised to see that her magic worked. When she asks him what he saw while dead, he says nothing, further crushing her faith. It was a given that Jon would execute the traitors, but it was still quite heartbreaking seeing Olly at the gallows. He had no last words, and there was brief camera pause on him indicating Jon expected something. Nope. All in all a very good scene but I do think they to get to it with Jon. He has to be changed in some regard, show us ASAP.
The “Daenerys Sucks Diaries”, week 3
So Daenerys (aka The Queen of Stagnancy aka The Mother of Lethargy aka The Widow to Aquaman) is apparently applying to become a member of the Dorthraki Widows Book Club, a hut of some sort where all the wives of dead Khal’s hang out and eat horse hearts and whatnot. The problem is she left the Dorthraki, which is not allowed. The collective of Khalasar are debating which cities to conquer and whether or not to give Dany a pass. This likely ends one of two ways. Either Dany is accepted and she reacquires a Dorthraki army, or they don’t accept her and she has to wait for the dragons to randomly swoop in and save her during the penultimate episode of the season (ugh). At least this is something relatively new for her. It feels like the Dorthraki were forever ago on this show and Vaes Dorthrak is an interesting setting. A ton of extras, flashing the budget, etc. I will lay off Dany this week and give this plot development the benefit of the doubt.
Was there any peen this week?
I didn’t see any, though Tormund made a joke about Jon Snow having a small peen (Ygritte might disagree). Something to note in regards to GOT nudity; Dany’s breast were not shown when she changed clothes. Surely they would’ve been in the past. This likely is a result of actress Emilia Clarke negotiating a clause into her contract a la Lena Headey (Cersei). Anyway, no peen yet this season.
In Winterfell, Ramsay is now in control of Rickon Stark thanks to the Umbers (a new ally). I could not care less. Rickon hasn’t been in the show since season three and there’s been no indication that he matters even half as much as Bran. If he has a role to play, get on with it, or you’re just wasting screen time. Will something actually come of this or will it just be another way to make Ramsay look like a dick?
Arya has taken the next step in her training (she can also see again!). This training has taken about a season and a half now. You figure it lasts at least a few more episodes. That’s an awful long time. I understand the importance of making the training seem arduous but this could’ve been more creatively maneuvered. Arya has brought so much life to the show over the years and this story is testing my patience, but I’m probably more excited to see Arya go on a killing spree than for any Iron Throne-related conclusions, so, whatever.
Cersei and Jaime are parading around with The Mountain, and it looks like they’re trying to go to war with Dorne. They have good reason, but the small council doesn’t seem to agree. Cersei is struggling with her lack of control right now. It’s a nice development for the character. She’s never felt so miniscule in the grand scheme of things, and her short hair reinforces that. A perfect motif. I fully expect Cersei’s beautiful hair to be down near her waist by the time she’s running shit again.
Qyburn is now the creepy old guys giving kids candy in exchange for secrets. He weird.
Tweet of the Week
King Tommen’s balls dropped this week and he went to the High Sparrow, demanding Cersei be allowed to see Myrcella’s tomb. Mr. Sparrow spoke of how she hadn’t fully atoned yet, suggesting she needed to face trail (so this’ll lead to a trial-by-combat where The Mountain gets ignant, right?). The Sparrow’s mumbo jumbo about the Mother in the Faith was clearly meant to resemble Cersei, in Tommen’s eyes. A bit manipulative. Mr. Sparrow is actually one of the more manipulative characters on this show, and he uses blind faith to operate.
I have to comment on Dean-Charles Chapman, the actor who plays Tommen. He’s bad. The character has absolutely no personality beyond being a momma’s boy and I blame that on the actor in this case. Maybe the character is supposed to be completely bland, but I doubt it, since he’s grown in plot relevance over the last three seasons.
Summarizing, I thought this was a pretty strong episode, certainly better than 1 & 2. There were some great individual moments (the hanging, the swordfight, everything in Meereen) and some plotting progress was made for characters who’ve been boring as of late (Dany, Arya). I also have enjoyed the flashbacks, despite my general hate for the flashback as a device (except on Lost, that is unfuckwittable).
Arbitrary Ranking of the Week
Game of Thrones locations ranked on how desirable of a home they’d make:
- Dorne (cool clothes, good wine)
- Qarth (wealthiest city, seems safe and independent. The Switzerland of Westeros?)
- Braavos (nothing better than some good oysters)
- The Inn that Hot Pie works at (long live Hot Pie)
- Meereen (but only if I can drink and know things with Tyrion)
- King’s landing (it might smell like shit but it’s got famous brothels)
- Vaes Dorthrak (savage place and I wouldn’t last five minutes but I’m intrigued by their culture)
- The Wall (cold, only dudes, first place to get hit when the Walkers come)
- Astapor (not very safe at the moment and slavery is not chill imo)
- Winterfell (cold, I splinter easily, and fuck Ramsay)
Five Random notes
- This episode was directed by veteran TV director Daniel Sackheim in his GOT debut. He’s worked on notable show like The Walking Dead, The Americans, and NYPD Blue, but is probably most notable for doing 40+ episodes of Miami Vice.
- Until this one, Rickon and Osha hadn’t been seen since season three.
- Am I the only one who thinks Jaime is being put on the backburner? He doesn’t feel important right now.
- It’d be nice if we could go back to Dorne and see how things have unfolded in the short time since the Sand Snakes took over.
- Watch Silicon Valley.