Game of Thrones Memory Lane 404: Oathkeeper

oathkeepr

As we rev up for the Game of Thrones red carpet premiere this weekend, there’s only seventeen days remaining until the April 24th debut of season 6! For today’s Memory Lane, recalling the shocking “Oathkeeper,” we’re welcoming back our surveymaster and Dark Wings, Dark Words recapper, James Rivers!  -Sue the Fury


This sublime episode is bookended by two scenes not in the books – one that largely seemed to annoy Sullied viewers (mainly because the characters involved are more background-y in the books) and one that amazed and/or flummoxed them.

MossadorGrey Worm and Missandei open the episode as she tries to teach him the common tongue. As they slowly converse, Grey Worm says he has no memory of his Sullied days. Daenerys and Ser Barristan interrupt, and say it is time to invade Meereen. (I, too, practice my second-language skills while killing time before battle).

Under cover of night, the Unsullied army invades Meereen via its sewers and offers weapons to its slaves, who are debating whether to rebel. We’re introduced to Mossador, who will appear again in Season 5.

A master walks the streets of Meereen and is horrified to discover “Kill the Masters” written on a wall. We viewers are more confused than horrified, since this is written in the common tongue, even as he speaks in High Valyrian — just like the slaves in the scene before him. Maybe Grey Worm wrote it out to impress Missandei?

ktm

The master is surrounded by armed slaves and we cut to Daenerys walking through Meereen surrounded by cheering freed slaves and happy children. Hooray, everything is flowers and rainbow-breathing dragons now!

Wait, no, it’s not. Sometimes it’s best to answer injustice with mercy, advises Barristan as his boss ponders the fate of the masters. But Dany ain’t having any of that. And so 163 masters are nailed to posts, just as some of them had done to the same number of Meereenese slave children.

On the shores of King’s Landing, Bronn and one-handed Jaime practice sword-fighting. At one point, Bronn yanks off Jaime’s golden hand and uses it against him: “That was me knocking your ass to the dirt with your own hand.” This is clearly the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

jb

Bronn brings up Tyrion, and remembers how he initially named Jaime as his champion at the Eyrie, the last time he was imprisoned and facing trial for killing/conspiring to kill a child. This persuades Jaime to visit Tyrion in jail.

Tyrion denies killing Joffrey; it briefly gets awkward when the whole incest thing comes up, and Jaime insists he can’t free Tyrion because doing so is treason.

They realize that Cersei wants Tyrion dead no matter what, and the missing Sansa too. Could she be involved?

“Sansa’s not a killer,” Tyrion says. “Not yet anyway.”

Sansa and Littlefinger palaver in the hold of a ship. She muses over whether Littlefienger killed Joffrey and who helped him. Ser Dontos? No, too drunk for Pete to trust. Tyrion? Hmm, no. Smirking ever so slightly, Littlefinger tells Sansa she was unknowningly involved: “Do you remember that lovely necklace Dontos gave you? I don’t suppose you noticed a stone was missing after the feast.” (Note that in books, Sansa figures out the method of poison herself.)

But why? Sansa asks. “Always keep your foes confused. If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they don’t know what you plan to do next.” In other words…

mem

And who helped Littlefinger? Why, one of Littlefinger’s “new friends.” And we cut suspiciously to Margaery and Olenna strolling yet again through the gardens. Olenna plans to get out of town before Tyrion’s trial. She advises Margaery to get her paws on Tommen while Cersei is distracted, “mourning her dear departed boy. Accusing her brother of his murder, which he didn’t commit.”

Whaa? Says Margaery. You don’t know that.

olenna

“But I do know,” granny tells her, and adds: “You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, do you?” Margaery is all confuzzled, but Olenna helpfully uses her granddaughter’s hair and necklace to mimic how she lifted the poison from Sansa’s necklace.

At the Wall, Jon trains Night’s Watch members on how to disarm Wildlings. Locke, sent by Roose Bolton to find Bran, impresses Jon a bit. Allister Thorne, acting Lord Commander, shows up and berates and threatens Jon; Slynt suggests Thorne let Jon go off to Craster’s Keep and let the mutineers take care of him.

Back in King’s Landing, a drunken Cersei confronts Jaime without mention of last episode’s controversial encounter. “Why did Catelyn Stark set you free?” Cersei asks if Jaime would bring her Sansa’s head if she asked. He does not answer, but insists Tyrion is innocent.

msp

Cersei has ordered four men to stand at Tommen’s door, but it doesn’t stop Margaery! She arrives in his bedroom and works her charms on him to great apparent affect, telling him that when they are wed, she will be his forever. Also working the charms: Ser Pounce, whose appearance thrills book fans everywhere. She kisses Tommen’s forehead goodnight.

In the Kingsguard’s tower room, Brienne reads from the White Book. Jaime gives her his new Valyrian steel sword and explains its origins. He tasks her with finding Sansa and getting her someplace safe. “I’ll find her, for Lady Catelyn, and for you,” Brienne says. Jaime has armor for her too. And he adds, “I almost forgot, I have one more gift.”

Then smash cut to a grinning Podrick.

pod smiles

“I am the gift!” Wait, wrong season.

Brienne is nonplussed by her new posse member. “I don’t need a squire.”

Podrick reassures her: “I won’t slow you down, ser…..m’lady.”

Brienne names the sword Oathkeeper. She and Jaime share several long looks as she and Pod depart to wander, searching for a girl with lovely red hair.

Up at the Wall, Jon and Sam wonder how far north Bran might have gotten. Could he be as far as Craster’s? Locke overhears them, which leads to him volunteering to join Jon and others on the mission to kill the mutineers before they can tell the Wildlings how few men are at the Wall and how to pierce its defenses. Got all that?

Tanner

At Craster’s, lead mutineer Tanner narrates for us: “Karl Tanner, from Gin Alley, drinking wine from the skull of Jeor Fookin’ Mormont.”

Highly uncomfortable sexual assault imagery follows as other mutineers have their way with Craster’s wives/daughters. This is interrupted when the women begin chanting “a gift to the gods” as Craster’s last child is brought in and one of Craster’s wives explains the whole “the White Walkers take the babies and leave us alone” deal. Tanner gets Rast to leave the newborn in the snow. It is displeased and wails.

Nearby, Bran hears the baby crying. He wargs to investigate. In Summer, he comes upon Ghost instead, then falls into a trap. Also, Jojen is all sweaty and gross. The next morning the group watches the activity at Craster’s from afar, and naturally is caught. A chained-up, “Hodor”-ing Hodor is taunted. Bran, Meera and Jojen are questioned by Karl Fookin’ Tanner and comrades. Bran only starts talking when Tanner threatens to assault Meera, and Jojen has a seizure. Bran confesses his identity. Tanner is fookin’ elated.

And then: A figure on a horse in a snowstorm. Ooh oooh! Is it that character from the books we haven’t seen yet??? No, it’s a creepy White Walker on a dead horse. Hmm.

ww horse

It has Craster’s baby. What is this? This isn’t in the books. The three head to…uh…where is this?

3

It’s an icy Stonehenge. What is going on here?

wws

The Walker places the baby on an altar and another figure comes forward from a group of 13. Um guys, are you seeing this right now?

nk

The baby cries and cries and up walks a White Walker who is either having a very bad frozen-hair day or is their leader. Uh uhh ummm we are totally going off-book here and I don’t know how to react to this information.

baby ww

He touches the baby with a fingernail and OMG THE HUMAN BABY TURNED INTO A BABY WALKER AHHHHHHHHH WHAT IS HAPPENING AHHHH THIS IS GOING TO BE SEASON SIX EVERY SINGLE WEEK AAHHHHH HOLD ME OLD NAN HOLD ME NO WAIT DON’T-

Well, that was something.

“Oathkeeper” seemed to have something for everyone.

Love “streamlining” via adaptation? There was an adept adaptation of “Brienne runs into Pod on the road” in the books into “Jaime and Tyrion deliberately put them together” on the show.

Love “expanding book characters” via adaptation? There was the opening scene that continued to explore Missandei, Grey Worm and the bond between them (which grew even more in Season 5, and perhaps will further this season).

Love “inventing plots for major book characters”? There was Bran’s capture at Craster’s Keep and Jon’s impending departure to there.

Love “possibly spoiling things implied but not explicitly revealed in the books”? There was Olenna and Margaery’s conversation and the explanation of why the White Walkers want those babies.

Love “making both Sullied and Unsullied say WTF”? There was the reveal of the White Walker “temple” and the dramatic introduction of the Night’s King.

All this and more. And of course, there are those who loved each of the above and those who decidedly did not. But in either case it made for a memorable episode that furthered multiple plots.


pounce gifIntroductions:

One non-key human: Mossador

Two key non-humans: The Night’s King and Ser Pounce

Deaths:

163 Slave Masters

1 baby (in a sense)


Quotes:

“A single day of freedom is worth more than a lifetime in chains.” – Grey Worm

“Sansa’s not a killer, not yet anyway.” – Tyrion

“If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through these gardens, I’ll fling myself from the cliffs.” – Lady Olenna

“I won’t slow you down, ser…..m’lady.” – Pod


“Kill the Masters” – Beautiful Death

4x4

46 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. There shall be… NO… MORE… HODORING!

      Also remember how when this one first aired everyone was like: “Aww, I think there’s something going on between Grey Worm and Missandei it’s so cuutteee…”

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    2. Connor,

      The comment section is much wider, but only on this thread. I thought it was my tiny screen, but it looks like I’m not the only one. Maybe something to do with the thread layout.

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    3. A very good episode in my opinion. With some strong scenes.

      I think I’m the only one who really liked Jon’s mission to Crasters and thought Karl was hilariously good.
      The WW scene was also good.
      Marg and Tommen’s scene was also funny and good. And Jaime and Briennes was very, very good.

      Only 1 small thing that bothered me. It wasn’t big, but I did stop 1 second when I saw it. The writing in Meereen being in ”english”.
      But it was a small thing, and it didn’t took away from my pleasure.
      All in all a good episode.

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    4. mau,

      Poor Tommen. He most likely didn’t sleep that night.

      But how can we not understand. Witch one of us wouldn’t completely block if Natalie would hit on us.

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    5. Connor,

      The Twitter and shop things are missing on the right side of the screen.
      Sorry if I sound stupid, but technology isn’t really my strong point!

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    6. Mihnea:
      Connor,

      The Twitter and shop things are missing on the right side of the screen.
      Sorry if I sound stupid, but technology isn’t really my strong point!

      It’s only on this thread, I checked on the others. Maybe they’re changing it up a bit?

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    7. The takeover of Meereen is a nice mini-spotlight for Jacob Anderson.

      The Jaime/Brienne stuff is well-done, parting (for now) one of the show’s better duos. Having Podrick sent with her is a workable condensing of events (though later handling of his dynamic hasn’t been all that great, in my view).

      When the TV show’s version of Margaery was introduced it seemed like she was being set up to take a more active role than the book version, so it’s strange how she ended up having nothing whatsoever to do with Joffrey’s murder when the book version really has to have been in on that.

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    8. Were book fans upset with the White Walker scene at the end of the episode? I never read the books, so I wasn’t upset about it. I thought it was surprising and pretty cool, we got to see what the White Walkers did with Craster’s sons. Also could that be the White Walkers headquarters all the way up in the Land of Always Winter?

      I really hope we get to see and learn more about the WWs and the Land of Always Winter through Bran’s visions in Season 6. Only 17 freaking days left!

      GET HYPE!

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    9. One of the book arcs I enjoy most is Jamie’s and this episode, with the scene of Jamie and Brienne, in the White Sword Tower, with the White Book opened and Jamie’s write-up within, it brings his show arc to about the same place. In both, he is apparently turning a new leaf … instead of allowing that he would obey Cersei is she ordered him to find and kill Sansa, he instead sends Brienne on a quest to save her. I love his inner monologue in the book where he thinks that he can finish his write-up in the book with “whatever he chose.” This is after refusing to have sex with Cersei in his bedchamber…. Then the arcs differ in Season 5. His arc, moreso, in my opinion, than any other, regresses with the “On the Road to Dorne” with Crosby and Hope (I mean Jamie and Bronn) adventure, taking a mediocre or worse book storyline and, in one of the very few adaptation fails, makes it to me an even worse show storyline.

      I agree with earlier comments that the decision to split ASOS into two seasons, otherwise brillant, causes a number of storylines outside of KL to suffer and this starts to become evident in this episode, which is perhaps why on another website, this episode was ranked in the lower half of GoT episodes, unlike most of the rest of season 4.

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    10. Connor,

      Book purists where angry. But they are angry at everything.

      Normal book-readers probally thought it was good scene. I know that’s what I thought.

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    11. Connor:
      Were book fans upset with the White Walker scene at the end of the episode? I never read the books, so I wasn’t upset about it. I thought it was surprising and pretty cool, we got to see what the White Walkers did with Craster’s sons. Also could that be the White Walkers headquarters all the way up in the Land of Always Winter?

      I really hope we get to see and learn more about the WWs and the Land of Always Winter through Bran’s visions in Season 6. Only 17 freaking days left!

      GET HYPE!

      I think the author of this article meant either mutineers at Craster’s Keep or the beginning of Missandei/Grey Worm relationship. But some book readers, especially book purists (including Linda) actually were annoyed by the WW scenes because from their perspective, it is not right that the show spoiled the books. Quoting Linda: “f*cking spoilers”

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    12. Mihnea,
      I thought that Karl was, above all, hilarious.

      I disliked the writing in English. Why would the slaves use a language alien to them? They should have corrected it on the DVD to whatever unhappy mess of letters from the ass end of the alphabet David Petersen (I think that’s his name) would say this translated to.

      Ah well. 17 days. I’m still unhappy.

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    13. Connor,
      I’m a book fan and I loved the ending sequence. It was amazing. The adaptation choices from book to show have, for the most part, been right on point. Television is a very different medium than print. While I (and I know I may be in a minority on this) enjoy the magical aspects which are much more in evidence in the books (the warging, dreams, prophecies), they don’t translate as well to visual, cuts have to be made and these would take CGI budget, and understandably many are offput by these. So D&D made a great choice to de-empahsize these for as long as possible. Some book readers may complain its the Tudors with dragons (and shadow babies) but I don’t. Season 6 of necessity may have more of this as the endgame begins to draw near. Also, as someone else has mentioned, de-emphasizing the magic also puts off the final recognition, as Melisandre said that “the War of Five Kings [and all the machinations in KL] means nothing, the true battle is to the north. Death marches on the wall.” I thought that the Night’s King scene was an excellant addition.

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    14. Lord Parramandas,

      Yah, I meant Grey Worm and such (there was Craster’s too but I just referred to the beginning and end scenes in my opening).

      BTW I think the wide screen is a formatting bug (Sue and I had wrestled with some of the pictures and gifs for this, which may have led to it). On my screen, a paragraph that belongs at the end of my recap is showing up at the very top of this page, off at the right next to the photo of Brienne:

      Love “possibly spoiling things implied but not explicitly revealed in the books”? There was Olenna and Margaery’s conversation and the explanation of why the White Walkers want those babies.

      Love “making both Sullied and Unsullied say WTF”? There was the reveal of the White Walker “temple” and the dramatic introduction of the Night’s King.

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    15. The comment section looks weird.

      Anyway….. ok episode. Eh. I wasn’t that shocked about the baby. It was obvious. I still want to see more of the WW HQ though.

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    16. The comments are usually under the [Div id=”page”] element, which has a max-width setting of 1260px. On this page the comments are outside of it.

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    17. I like the scene at the beginning. Establishes some additional qualities for Grey Worm and Missandei. I thought it was sensitive, and nicely done. And it also bookends the episode nicely, because it opens with a shot of fire, and we end on a baby’s eyes turning ice blue.

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    18. Look, some book readers will be angry at every change the show makes, from the Starks’ hair in the first episode to the traitor sign in the last.

      I very much enjoy these recaps but wish they would focus less on every little quibble from the Sullied peanut gallery.

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    19. Mihnea:

      I think I’m the only one who really liked Jon’s mission to Crasters

      You’re not alone. I really like Jon’s mission to Craster’s Keep as well. I enjoyed seeing him take on a leadership role in order to ensure that an unpleasant but necessary task gets done. Overall, I think it helped establish the degree to which Jon’s grown after his journey beyond the Wall in Season 2 and his time undercover with the wildlings in Season 3. Jon’s no fool. Taking out the mutineers may have been his idea, but he understands that when Alliser agrees to sanction the foray, he only does so because the older man expects it will be a suicide mission. But Jon goes anyway, and proves his leadership bona fides in a dynamic and exciting fashion, both with his speech to the assembled Night’s Watch brothers in this episode and the underrated combat scenes in the next.

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    20. As for whether or not Craster’s Keep was strictly “necessary”, maybe not … from the blank outline stage. But no plot point is strictly necessary in that sense, whether it was in the books or not. In terms of the season as it wound up being constructed, yes, I think it was necessary. It was likely arose as a result of two separate adaptation decisions – the decision to push the wildlings attack on the Wall to Episode 9, and the decision to remove Coldhands from the story.

      I know that a number viewers feel that the Battle at Castle Black shouldn’t have been pushed back to Episode 9, and I can definitely understand that case. But I expect that decision was made quite early in the writing process, if for no other reason than to ensure that the episode could receive sufficient time for the extensive post-production and VFX required to bring the battle to life. Since “The Watchers on the Wall” wound up being one of my two or three favorite episodes of the entire series and I love Season 4 as a whole, I’m happy with the end result.

      Whether or not Coldhands and his elk should have been cut is a separate discussion. Don’t tell Zack from GOO this, but personally, I don’t miss Undead Tom Bombadil all that much.* I thought that Bran getting a vision from the weirwood tree was an efficient and effective substitute. But with our black-handed bird enthusiast excised (at least for now), the mutineers became a loose plot thread that the show needed to tie up. Jon’s mission did the job nicely.

      *

      That being said, if the mysterious figure riding a horse and wielding the flaming weapon in the Season 6 trailer does wind up being the show’s version of Coldhands, I’m not going to object. We’re deep enough into the magical realm now that the appearance of such a figure – even sans elk – would feel more natural in that context.

      Tying Bran into the storyline also added a must-needed element of danger during his long journey North. The near-miss with the wildlings at Queenscrown was the only such moment in Season 3, and I always thought it was odd that he made it through the haunted forest with no real obstacles until he reached the cave in ADWD (granted, he only has a chapter and a half before he reaches the cave). His capture by the mutineers – and the additional element of being hunted by Locke – provided that in spades.

      As for the depictions of sexual violence, I’ll leave that alone. We know the mutineers are awful people. That they’re doing what they’re doing makes total sense. Did we really need to see it? That’s a question that only each individual viewer can answer for themselves. Once the show committed to the storyline, I personally think that to shy away from what was really happening there would have been a mistake. Bryan Cogman has said that it was a very hard scene for him to write, but I think that he and director Michelle MacClaren handled it well, all things considered.

      Karl Tanner, meanwhile, is one of the more memorable minor villains the show has given us, and actually a somewhat unique character in terms of what he represents. The show has gone to great lengths to establish that most members of the Night’s Watch are bad, bad guys – thieves and rapers and murderers. But they’re also mostly riff-raff – no one would characterize Rast as the best and the brightest at anything. Karl, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous – a proven, hardened, remorseless assassin who kills for money and clearly relishes it. He’s the absolute worst of the worst. If the scales of justice were more properly balanced in Westeros, he probably should have been executed for his crimes. But instead he was allowed to go to the Wall, and because the Night’s Watch has become such a desperate, undermanned outfit, Karl was able to rise to a position of relative influence – which he abused in horrific fashion when desperation and circumstances gave him his opportunity.

      Even more than vile criminals like Rast, sniveling cowards like Slynt, and harsh authoritarians like Thorne, the presence of men like Karl Tanner in the Night’s Watch signifies just how far this once-proud order has fallen. I’m glad that the show didn’t shy away from that ugly reality.

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    21. Mihnea,

      I wasn’t bothered by the english; after all I don’t think all that many watchers knew how to read Valyrian…..

      Except for the journey to Craster’s Keep by Bran and co, I really liked this episode. Tho now, knowing what I know, that arc made sense. Absolutely loved Olenna and Margery’s coversation!

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    22. Flayed Potatoes,

      Yeah I remember when I was reading the books, the first thing I thought of was the Others taking them to be raised in their army. But I was surprised and thrilled to see how it played out on the screen!

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    23. ash,

      The writing didn’t bothered me much. Just a quick:”wait, this isn’t right” moment.
      I fully understand why they did it. All in all it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the episode.

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    24. Jared,

      Damn that was a good read, Jared!

      That’s exactly why I also liked Jon at Crasters!

      Only one thing that bothered me. Locke went away far to quick. I really liked his character and was hoping to see more of him!
      But this is GOT….I should have known better…

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    25. Busmans,

      Well, to each his own, but as a lover of the books long before the net came into being and a lover of the show as well, I really appreciate this compare and contrast exercise. Helps me remember parts I’d missed in my reading, and helps me make connections I wouldn’t have on my own. I also how well written these are. So there we are

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    26. Karl Tanner, meanwhile, is one of the more memorable minor villains the show has given us, and actually a somewhat unique character in terms of what he represents. The show has gone to great lengths to establish that most members of the Night’s Watch are bad, bad guys – thieves and rapers and murderers. But they’re also mostly riff-raff – no one would characterize Rast as the best and the brightest at anything. Karl, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous – a proven, hardened, remorseless assassin who kills for money and clearly relishes it. He’s the absolute worst of the worst. If the scales of justice were more properly balanced in Westeros, he probably should have been executed for his crimes. But instead he was allowed to go to the Wall, and because the Night’s Watch has become such a desperate, undermanned outfit, Karl was able to rise to a position of relative influence – which he abused in horrific fashion when desperation and circumstances gave him his opportunity.

      Even more than vile criminals like Rast, sniveling cowards like Slynt, and harsh authoritarians like Thorne, the presence of men like Karl Tanner in the Night’s Watch signifies just how far this once-proud order has fallen. I’m glad that the show didn’t shy away from that ugly reality.

      YES! As much as I was disturbed by the sexual violence, Karl kept me interested and and admit to chuckling at times. . It also made me cheer at his demise (as well as Yorks) great acting on the parts of both actors

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    27. “Oathkeeper” is a surprisingly underrated episode for me, as I keep discovering on my annual rewatches. Season 4 is my favorite season of the show overall, but because it’s so filled with moments and episodes that I consider to be stellar series highlights, I tend to rank this slower, midseason hour lower on my personal list, particularly when I haven’t seen it in a while. Then I watch it, and I’m ashamed for ranking it low. It’s great. Not action packed, but rich and full of wonderful character moments.

      Any interaction between Jaime and Brienne is generally the best, but their scenes in this episode are really something special. Back in “The Lion and the Rose”, Cersei asked Brienne if she loved Jaime. Brienne didn’t say anything – it was almost as though the full implications had never crossed her mind before – but Cersei obviously took her silence as an affirmative. Note the venom with which she calls Brienne “that great cow” in her scene with Jaime. Even if she and her brother-lover are on the outs at the moment, Cersei is disgusted by the prospect that she might have to count a woman such as Brienne as a romantic rival.

      Regardless, Brienne’s definitely been thinking about Cersei’s assertion since then, and definitely doesn’t appear to have shied away from the idea (she’s not a woman who really shies away from much, is she?). The way that she says “I’ll find her. For Lady Catelyn. And for you” – full of emotion, while not quite meeting his eyes is very telling. I’m not going to go crazy with it, because there are plenty of websites who will be more than happy to oblige on that front, and I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. But their longing looks the two of them share as Brienne rides away are certainly more than enough to keep the shippers in business until they meet again.

      I’m looking forward to their reunion in Season 6, although I’m under no illusions that it will be under happy circumstances. I fear they’re destined to cross blades again, even if a certain lady never made it out of the river and drifted all the way down to the sea.

      Even before Grey Worm and Missandei’s love story really took off and I found myself in the position of defending it, I appreciated the episode’s opening scene a great deal. When Missandei describes her village burning, I love the way that Grey Worm reaches for her hand almost reflexively, and Missandei just as reflexively pulls her own hand back. It’s subtle enough that you might miss it on the first viewing. Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmaunel really don’t get enough credit for being great, expressive performers who can do a lot with a little. That’s why if you’re going to hire actors of their caliber, you give them real material to play with!

      Finally, I love our first real visual of the Night’s King, slowly emerging out of a row of thirteen figures who remain out of focus and striding towards the camera. I know that Martin has deliberately hedged as to whether or not the Night’s King in the show is the same legendary figure that is mentioned in his books, but I always interpreted those thirteen figures to be a nod to the Night’s Kings reputed origins as the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Whether or not that explanation has any bearing in-universe – or indeed whether those other twelve figures will ever appear again on the show – I’ll be very keen to find out.

      The moment when the Night’s King transforms Craster’s son into a White Walker was a game-changer. I remember it to this day (I also remember that HBO’s website revealed the NK’s identity, and then quickly pulled it down. We all suspected it was the truth, but it wouldn’t be officially confirmed until Season 5). The revelation was all the more thrilling because none of us had any idea it was coming. And oh Lord, some people lost their minds. It was a reaction unlike any we’d seen before, at least until Hardhome. My fondest hope for Season 6 is that we’ll have more moments like that one to celebrate and geek out over as we venture into the unknown.

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    28. Jared,

      I’ve wondered if there was any significance to their being the Night’s King and twelve other Others in the one shot of the Ice-henge or am I, as usual, reading too much symbolism into the visuals …

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    29. Mihnea,

      Thank you! 🙂 I’m glad I got that off my chest.

      I share your disappointment that Locke goes out in the next episode. He was a great character, and I’d hoped he might stick around a bit longer. I remember that when news broke in the offseason that Locke would be heading to the Wall, a popular theory was that, in light of the Boltons’ new alliance with the Lannisters, he had fled there to escape Roose handing him over to Tywin as punishment for maiming Jaime. That would have been an interesting idea, and potentially opened the door for a mini-redemption arc for the character.

      I’m sure such a subplot would have gone over like hotcakes with the crowd that resents spending any time at all with show-only characters. But hey, Jon and Locke had a good rapport together, even if Locke was only feigning friendliness to find out what he needed to know. Maybe if Locke had been abandoned by the Boltons, they could have bonded for real. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt for Jon to have another ally in the Watch’s ranks.

      Having Roose send Locke to infiltrate the Watch and hunt down the Stark boys was a cool idea as well. Once that happened, however, his days were obviously numbered. Ultimately the character served his purpose, and Noah Taylor certainly made his mark during his tenure on the show.

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    30. Darkrobin,

      Oh, the symbolism was definitely intentional on the part of the writers. Having thirteen figures there, including the Night’s King was a very specific choice (as was the decision to have four Walkers surveying the massacre from the cliffs at Hardhome). The writers were obviously trying to evoke something in the audience’s minds, whether it was the origins of the Night’s King (which only book readers would get, admittedly) or just a general feeling of dread because the number thirteen has taken on a dark symbolism in certain cultures. Either way, mission accomplished!

      It’s the in-universe explanations I’m most curious about. I don’t think we’re meant to infer that the twelve previous Lord Commanders also became White Walkers, but do the Walkers have some kind of ruling council which the Night’s King leads? Will we ever see those other twelve ‘royal’ Walkers again? Or is the Night’s King going to be the sole face of the Walker threat going forward, and the remaining twelve are going to remain in the Lands of Always Winter while he leads the army south? I have no idea, but I hope we get answers one day. 🙂

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    31. Yaga:
      Mihnea,
      I disliked the writing in English. Why would the slaves use a language alien to them? They should have corrected it on the DVD to whatever unhappy mess of letters from the ass end of the alphabet David Petersen (I think that’s his name) would say this translated to.

      I had always assumed that it was Grey Worm that wrote the “Kill the Masters” graffiti since we are shown him learning English (common tongue) in an earlier scene. It had to have been him and the other unsullied that put the Targ flag up on the pyramid, right? And I thought that the point of the messages was to scare the masters, who seem to speak the common tongue, not to alert the slaves, because Grey Worm had already talked to the slaves.

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    32. Jared:

      “Oathkeeper” is a surprisingly underrated episode for me, as I keep discovering on my annual rewatches. Season 4 is my favorite season of the show overall, but because it’s so filled with moments and episodes that I consider to be stellar series highlights, I tend to rank this slower, midseason hour lower on my personal list, particularly when I haven’t seen it in a while. Then I watch it, and I’m ashamed for ranking it low.

      Hah, exactly my opinion, one I too “remember” after a rewatch. 🙂

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    33. All in all a great episode. I never did understand the outcry over the WW/NK revelation, as we’d already learned that Crasters gave his sons as sacrifice and the WWs were Gillys baby’s “brothers”.

      As for Missanworm, I like that they expanded their relationship on the show (and moreover that it’s not all about sex or objectifying women- much to the chargrin of the feminists no doubt).

      And I’m calling it here and now guys… Missanworm will be Danys third betrayal on the show (and the books). Think about it- they’ve expanded this relationship on the show (in the books her last living brother is Unsullied), so my theory is that the SOTH somehow blackmail her with GW/ her brothers life to betray Dany. It’d be the ultimate punch in the guts for the viewers and Dany. And IIRC, there’s a scene (deleted?) where Dany specifically asks her to never betray her.

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    34. Mihnea:
      I think I’m the only one who really liked Jon’s mission to Crasters and thought Karl was hilariously good.
      The WW scene was also good.
      Marg and Tommen’s scene was also funny and good. And Jaime and Briennes was very, very good.

      Only 1 small thing that bothered me. It wasn’t big, but I did stop 1 second when I saw it. The writing in Meereen being in ”english”.
      But it was a small thing, and it didn’t took away from my pleasure.
      All in all a good episode.

      I also, thought it was good. Bran making the deliberate decision not to let Jon know about his presence is much better than the “near miss” Stark reunions of other seasons. And his act of “warging” Hodor to kill Locke is morally tricky, with Hodor clearly horrified. Furthermore, Jon’s decision to lead this expedition finally constitutes some leadership. I had found his character rather boring prior to this season.

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    35. Yaga:
      Mihnea,
      I thought that Karl was, above all, hilarious.

      I disliked the writing in English. Why would the slaves use a language alien to them? They should have corrected it on the DVD to whatever unhappy mess of letters from the ass end of the alphabet David Petersen (I think that’s his name) would say this translated to.

      Ah well. 17 days. I’m still unhappy.

      I also enjoyed the goings on in Crasters Keep with the mutineers shagging Craster’s wives/daughters and Karl Tanner drinking wine from Jeor Mormont’s skull. Don’t think I’ve heard so much continual swearing in any episode of GoT. Tanner makes The Hound, Bronn and Tyrion sound tame in comparison!

      As for the ‘Kill the masters’ graffiti in Meereen. I too thought that was somewhat out of place and in a city where the inhabitants didn’t speak ‘the common tongue’ which amusingly just happens to be English! No idea what that would be in Valyrian, but not so different from ‘Valor Morgulis’ perhaps 😉

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    36. Jared,

      Great point. I had forgotten that the Night’s King was the 13th Lord Commander. And that does tie in with the Four Horsemen/Others

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    37. I liked all of Oathkeeper except for the mutineers. I’m not a book reader and I could still tell that it was just filler. It just didn’t do it for me. Karl was a bit too cartoony, it was a bit predictable. Probably is one of my least favorite things in the series (including the impending assault in the next episode).

      Season 4 suffered a bit with redundant / filler scenes that were inserted to kill time between the big events imo.

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