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Game of Thrones - Oathbreaker - Review

Game of Thrones “Oathbreaker” was written by the creative team of David Benioff and DB Weiss and was directed by Daniel Sackheim, whose other credits include The Americans, The Walking Dead, House, and The X-Files (original series). It was wonderful to have Kit Harington back and we are actually treated to more emotion than I think we had ever previously seen from him – from devastation over his betrayal to actual laughter. Who the oathbreaker is remains an open question. Is it Jon Snow? Is it Arya Stark – has she abandoned her list? Is it the cities who swore loyalty to Meereen? Is it the men who swore loyalty to House Stark? Is it the little birds?

The episode picks up right where we left off last week – thank heavens! The opening shot is a black screen and we hear breathing – it appears to be Davos (Liam Cunningham) but then it’s clear we can hear TWO people breathing – and of course, the other is Jon Snow (Kit Harington). It’s hard to say who is more freaked out. Jon sits up – artfully posed. He exchanges a confused – but meaningful look with Ghost. Is this misdirection or did Ghost have something to do with his resurrection?

Jon looks at his wounds and would bolt out the door – if his legs would hold him – but for Davos stopping him and wrapping him in a blanket. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) arrives just as Davos asks Jon what he remembers. Jon remembers the stabbing and it’s clear he’s still deeply hurt by Olly’s (Brenock O’Connor) treachery and the fact that he stabbed him in the heart – both figuratively and literally. In fact, Jon had given his heart and life to the Night’s Watch and Olly is a symbol for this too.

Melisandre is also clearly freaked out. She wants to know where he went after he died and what he saw. Jon tells her “there was nothing at all.” She is sure that the Lord let him come back for a reason. She is convinced that Jon is the promised Prince since it wasn’t Stannis. And we get further evidence that it might just be Jon as the episode unfolds.

Davos shoos Melisandre away. In his typical no nonsense way, Davos lays out the situation simply: “You were dead. And now you’re not. It’s completely fucking mad.” Jon replies, “I did what I thought was right, and I got murdered for it.” It is a bit off-putting when you look at it that way… Jon wonders why he’s back and Davos tells him it doesn’t matter why, he simply needs to go on. Jon says he doesn’t know how. He failed. Davos doesn’t molly coddle him, he simply tells him to get out there and fail again.

Jon emerges and the crowd parts in fear. It’s Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) who approaches him and tells him the others think he’s some kind of God – but not Tormund! He breaks the tension, and Jon’s obvious discomfort by making a joke about the size of Jon’s pecker! I love this guy! He hugs Jon who then seeks out Ed (Ben Crompton).

        Ed hugs Jon. Ed comments that Jon’s eyes are still brown – a nice reference to the fear that he could have been turned into a white walker with blue eyes. Ed asks if it’s still Jon in there. Jon says he thinks so and asks Ed to hold off on burning his body – and then Ed jokes, that’s funny – are you sure it’s still you in there? Has death given Jon a sense of humor?!

The scene then shifts to Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) at sea. Naturally, the resilient Gilly is enjoying the adventure while Sam is dismally seasick – though attempting to put a brave face on. I love how Murray has brought this character along, and you can see a real difference in her confidence – she’s cleaner, bolder, and more articulate. I did love her story of how she used to think that the sea was called the sea because it was water for as far as you could see. She points out that the two words – sea and see – sound the same but are spelled differently. Well done, Gilly.

She’s excited to see Old Town, which the Captain of the ship has told her is the most beautiful city in Westeros. And Sam finally has to tell her where they are really going. She can’t come to the Citadel – no women allowed and no friends to help him bend the rules – and he won’t hear of her staying in Old Town alone and with no friends. He’s taking her to his family. He ominously refers to his father, but assures her that his mother is kind and his sister is lovely – they’ll take care of her.

Gilly is determined that Sam stick to his word – wherever he goes, she goes. Sam tells her he just wants her to be safe – and that’s all he cares about. Gilly says that if Sam thinks it’s best, she trusts him and will do it. She then calls him the father of her son – much to Sam’s pleasure – right before he’s sea sick again…

Meanwhile, the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) takes Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) to another time and place. I can’t wait for all of these pieces to come together! A fight is brewing. A young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) is joined by Howland Reed (Leo Woodruff) – Meera’s father. Ned is there to fight Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) – the best swordsman Ned ever say, according to Bran. Raygar is dead, and Ned has come for his sister – the sister that Raygar kidnapped and raped and who would appear to be in the tower that Dayne and the other knight are guarding.

Ned wants to know where his sister is. Dayne tells him, “And now it begins” before drawing his two swords. Ned calmly replies, “No. Now it ends,” and the two sides engage. It’s six against two – which hardly seems like fair odds, until you see that Dayne is a killing machine. It is a beautifully choreographed sword fight – with lots of gorgeous long shots. It’s hard to tell if it’s Roberts doing all the sword work, but it’s fantastic.

Ned holds his own against Dayne once it appears to be down to just the two of them, but Bran remarks that Dayne is better than his father, and the Three-Eyed Raven agrees – Far better! Bran has heard the story a thousand times – his father beat him. The Three-Eyed Raven asks, “Did he?” And then Bran is horrified to see Howland stab Dayne in the back. Even Ned looks a little horrified, but still finishes Dayne off.

There is a scream and Ned runs for the tower. Bran wants to see where he is going and runs after him. The Three-Eyed Raven is determined that it’s time for them to go back. As Ned runs up the steps, Bran calls out to him – Father! And Ned stops and turns back, seemingly looking for whoever called father – is Bran able to break through to the past?

Bran is not happy to find himself back in the cave. He insists that Ned heard him, and he wants to go back to find out who or what is in the tower. The Three-Eyed Raven counsels caution – stay too long and you can’t return. But Bran isn’t concerned with returning to a world in which he is considered a cripple. The Three-Eyed Raven points out that he didn’t want to sit in his tree for a thousand year, but here he is. Bran asks why he did it, and the Three-Eyed Raven tells him that he was waiting for him. Bran doesn’t want to be him, and the Raven tells him he doesn’t blame him, but he won’t be there forever. Before he leaves, however, Bran must learn everything!

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) arrives at her new home only to be stripped naked and find herself without any status or power of any kind. However, becoming a Dosh Khaleen may not even be possible now – her fate could be worse. The High Priestess (Souad Faress) tells her that because she didn’t come to them directly after Khal Drogo died, Daenerys might not be admitted. The khalasars have arrived for the Khalar Vezhven and now they will also decide her fate.

In Meereen, Varys (Conleth Hill) meets with Vala (Meena Rayann) to try to get information on what is really happening in Meereen. She’s expecting to be tortured, but that is not Varys’ way. He tells her that he gets better answers by making people happy. The Unsullied and the Second Sons are considered foreign soldiers who are there to destroy Meereen and its history.

Varys tells her that is one viewpoint, but he wants her to consider his viewpoint. He then reveals that he knows about her son Dom. He asks to clarify how to pronounce her son’s name, claiming he doesn’t really speak the language. But of course, we do know that he does speak the language and very well, considering the scene in which Varys assures the beggar that Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) doesn’t want to eat her baby. However, on a more nuanced level, Varys doesn’t yet understand the motivations of the resistance.

Vara accuses Varys of threatening her son, and Varys insists that “children are blameless.” Varys swears her son is not in dangerous. However Varys is happy to threaten her with punishment of her own crime. Vara tells him that if she tells him anything, they will kill her. He offers her a third option – a ship leaving tomorrow – he’ll even throw in a gigantic bag of silver…

The scene cuts to an incredibly awkward scene between Tyrion, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel). Tyrion is joking and trying to get them to have a conversation or play a game – and nobody at the table is comfortable! It’s another sign that Tyrion has his work cut out for him. He doesn’t even really understand the people who are working most closely with him. I loved him saying, “A wise man once said the true history of the world is the history of great conversations in elegant rooms.” Missandei asks who said it, and Tyrion says, “Me. Just now!” – Not even a small smile.

Varys arrives to save them and information. The Maesters of Astapor and the Maesters of Yunkai with help from Volantis. Tyrion points out that they don’t have to worry about Meereen – just the three hugely rich cities paying for it. They now have enemies on four sides, including the Sons of the Harpy at home. Grey Worm is ready to fight and Missandei supports him – they know their people.

However, Tyrion knows they don’t have enough men to support a war on so many sides – he’s going to have a “conversation” with them. He asks Varys if his “little birds” can get a message to their enemies in Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis. Varys is sure that while men are fickle, he will always trust his little birds.

And in the very next scene, we see that Varys may be in for a very nasty surprise. Has Qyburn (Anton Lesser) turned Varys’ little birds – who turn out to be an army of children – street urchins – to his side? They seem to miss Varys – but what is he able to do for them from so far away? Qyburn seems to be protecting them, even from their own families. Has he won their loyalty with a few sweets and is that really all Varys gave them? Let’s hope that they are simply playing the game and are ultimately reporting to Varys! And let’s hope that those candied plums aren’t laced with something!

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) arrive with Gregor (Hafpor Julius Bjornsson) – Cersei clearly goes nowhere without him. Jaime is fascinated by what Qyburn has done. Jaime wants Gregor to march into the Sept and kill the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), but Cersei points out the High Sparrow is surrounded by his own army – even Gregor can’t kill all of them, but then she reveals her plan. When the High Sparrow finally lays charges, she will demand trial by combat – and Gregor will only have to kill the High Sparrow’s champion. Any bets that the High Sparrow’s champion will be a resurrected Hound? The brothers are destined to fight each other.

Cersei has clearly regained her ruthlessness and demands of Qyburn the location and identity of anyone laughing at her and what happened to her. It goes a long way to explaining Gregor’s seemingly random killing of that drunk in the streets in the last episode.

We cut to the small council where Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) is once again foolishly running his mouth when Cersei and Jaime crash it. Olenna (Diana Rigg) has joined them. Olenna has clearly secured a place of power for herself – and she’s got the smarts to actually accomplish something. I loved her throwing right back at Cersei that Margaery is the Queen – not Cersei. And she even throws back that Cersei might be confused about who is married to the King because of her family – she knows about the incest – and now Cersei knows that she knows.

Kevan (Ian Gelder) tells Cersei she has no seat on the council, but Jaime claims one as Lord Commander of the King’s Guard. Jaime and Cersei sit at the table. Their concern is Myrcella’s death. They want revenge on Doorn – those who have seized power. Jaime wants them to work together. Cersei points out that they can’t make them leave – and Kevan counters that they can’t make them stay – the others leave, and it’s clear that Jaime and Cersei lack any real power.

Meanwhile, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) visits the High Sparrow. His only goal is to have the High Sparrow allow Cersei to visit Myrcella’s resting place – no mention of Margaery! Tommen is easy pickings and the High Sparrow gets right to work on manipulating Tommen. When Tommen demands respect simply because he is the King, the High Sparrow tells him that the crown and the faith are the twin pillars of the world. He considers Tommen to be his equal… yeah, right. We know Tommen is not his equal in either intelligence or courage.

When it looks like things are escalating, the High Sparrow sends his bodyguards away. He knows he doesn’t want to frighten or intimidate Tommen – he wants to win him to his side. He merely has to glance at Tommen to get him to send his guards away – he simply expects it of him and like the gentleman that Tommen is, he sends them away. Ah. Isolation. The better to manipulate you with, Tommen.

And the High Sparrow knows exactly how to do it – he uses Cersei against Tommen by citing her love for her son. And then he twists even that. That love doesn’t come from this world. The High Sparrow tells Tommen that he envies him his mother’s love – something he never had. Then he asks for Tommen’s sympathy and permission to sit – he’s old and infirm. He then gets Tommen to sit beside him. He tells him that a true leader avails himself of the wisest counsel he can – and the High Sparrow is clearly angling for that job. No one is wiser than the gods. Tommen doesn’t want to be in charge – we know he sucks at making any kind of decision. How much easier to let the only power greater than himself make the decisions – the gods.

Tommen immediately says that his grandfather said something similar. But we know that Tywin never had any use for the gods – and he’d be spinning in his grave listening to this conversation! The High Sparrow says there is so much good in all of us and the best we can do is to help bring it out. He sees that Tommen is a gentle soul – and tells him exactly what he wants to hear. We know that the High Sparrow is not interested in being gentle – the gods demand atonement don’t forget. But he’s successfully got Tommen listening to him. This scene is beautifully blocked to reflect the changing relationship between these two...

Arya (Maise Williams) continues her training at Waif’s (Faye Marsay) brutal hands. We learn something very interesting about the Hound. She tells Waif that the Hound was on her list – but Waif calls her on it being a lie – and Arya admits that he wasn’t on her list anymore at the time of his death. She wanted him dead and she didn’t want him dead! So he had won her over somewhat… Arya admits that she was confused. We see Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) watching and smiling. Arya tells Waif her list – Cersei, Gregor, and Walder Frey. Waif comments that it’s a short list – but there’s been a high mortality rate on the show! I still want Arya to get the chance to finish her list…

When she is finally able to stop Waif in a fight. Jaqen once again offers to restore her sight if she speaks her name. She answers that a girl has no name. He then gives her water from the fountain that she knows will kill her. He tells her that if a girl is truly no one, she has nothing to fear – and she gets her eyesight back.

Back at Winterfell, Ramsey (Iwan Rheon) is attempting to solidify his position. Smalljon Umber (Dean S Jagger) is there to swear his loyalty and explains he didn’t before because Ramsey’s father was a cunt – he knows that Ramsey killed Roose – and he admires it. Times have changed, he’s ready to join forces but not to honor tradition. He’s brought Ramsey a gift.

As soon as he took the hood off of Osha (Natalia Tena), I knew the other would be Rickon (Art Parkinson). We also learn that Karstark (Paul Rattray) is Ramsey’s equal in debauchery – apparently the “young boy” was a gift for Karstark – that’s his sexual preference. Umber proves it’s Rickon by producing the head of Rickon’s dire wolf – and now Ghost is the only one left.

We move from the head of Rickon’s wolf back to Jon, sitting alone by the fire. Do we need even more proof of Jon’s link to Ghost? Ed comes to tell Jon that “it’s time.” He’s clearly been steeling himself for what’s to come by contemplating his bloody vest – the physical evidence of the treachery of his “brothers.”

He is only hanging four of the conspirators – did the rest die when the Wildlings arrived – or is he just killing the ringleaders? It seems unlikely that Olly was a leader – but he did clearly deliver the killing blow. He offers them the chance to have a final word. Othell (Brian Fortune) says it’s not right that Jon is alive, and Jon points out it wasn’t right for them to murder him. Bowen (Michael Condron) asks Jon to write his wife and tell her he died honorably – I certainly hope he doesn’t do that!

Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) is a dick – and a thorn in Jon’s side – to the end. He tells Jon that he had a choice – to betray the Lord Commander or betray the Night’s Watch. He swears if he had it to do over again, he hopes he’d make the same choice, the right choice. He’s not repentant at all. He says “I fought. I lost. Now I rest. Which you, Lord Snow, you’ll be fighting their battles forever.” Jon will know no rest. Teale will be missed – even if Alliser will not!

Jon doesn’t even exchange words with Olly. He’s still clearly devastated by the boy’s betrayal – yet Olly had to watch Jon side with and protect the very people he saw kill his family. It’s hard to feel no sympathy for Olly. Jon must now cut the rope to hang the four. We’ve seen him have to perform a similar duty – and it clearly still costs him to actually execute his own men. It’s clear that Alliser’s words hit home.

Jon watches as the four die. It’s not a pretty sight – even Tormund glances away. The special effects are fantastic for this scene – the corpses are gruesome! Ed tells him that he should burn the bodies, and Jon hands his cloak to him. He gives Castle Black to Ed and walks off, saying “My watch is ended.” And of course he leaves, because Sansa is almost there!!!! AARRGGH!

I loved how the question of who the oathbreaker is woven throughout the episode. Clearly the men hanged were oathbreakers, regardless of what Alliser may say. Alliances continue to shift. If Jon is the baby being born in that tower, it puts him in line for the throne – and he can’t do that if he’s the Lord Commander – and it would mean he was no longer a bastard or a criminal and therefore not suitable for the Night’s Watch. But will Jon abandon his post? Will he come to his family’s aid? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts – and your favorite line or scene – in the comments below.

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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