by Matthew Thompson (Images-HBO. The Game of Thrones site can be found here)
I made a lot of last week’s controversial Game of Thrones scene involving Jaime and Cersei in the sept. Not just in my review on this site, but all over the internet and to anyone who would listen to me babble about it in person. I was not a fan and I still hate it. It remains confusing to try to figure out what the intention of it was. I really think that what was depicted on-screen was a rape. Though after watching this week’s episode I’m inclined to think that rape isn’t what the people behind the show intended. Jaime seemed to bounce back to being the Jaime of the past season or so in all of his scenes. While Cersei certainly seemed angry with him in the one they share in this episode, it feels more because of other reasons. That he couldn’t prevent Joffrey’s death. That he took so long to come back to her. That he is siding with Tyrion. Sure there could be some underlying subtext to the scene, but given the lack of subtlety in other plots this week, I’m guessing there isn’t.
If you look at the scene last week as rape most of Jaime’s scenes play a little strangely this episode. So I guess until I see otherwise, I will probably just view the whole thing as a botched up scene and try not to let it hang over any bits with Jaime going forward. And maybe that is partly because I don’t want anything to stop me from enjoying his time in the latest episode “Oathbreaker” which is wholly excellent otherwise. It starts with another training session with Bronn. Jaime is coming along with his left, but Bronn gives him a lesson in fighting dirty when he removes his golden hand and slaps him with it in what was a true laugh-out-loud moment for me. Then the discussion shifts to Tyrion. The way Bronn uses his knowledge of Tyrion’s trial by combat in the Eyrie where he initially named Jaime as his champion was clever and leads to Jaime visiting his little brother in his cell.
Circumstances have kept the Lannister brothers apart for much of the show’s run, but they really are quite the pair. Jaime has always had a fondness for Tyrion that the rest of his family has lacked, a likable trait of his even in the earlier seasons. Not a whole lot is accomplished here, but it is a lot of fun to see them play off one another and segues nicely into Jaime’s sequence with Brienne that follows.
Jaime gives Brienne his Valyrian steel sword (which she appropriately names Oathkeeper), a new set of armor and a trusty new squire in Podrick Paine. Her mission is to find Sansa. Jaime clearly wants to keep his vow to Catelyn and the Pod/Sansa factor makes it tie nicely into his relationship with Tyrion. Jaime and Brienne’s bond is one I’ve loved seeing grow over the past couple seasons, so watching them say goodbye is a little bittersweet, but that is just a part of why it is such a strong scene.
Despite my constant droning on about him, the last two weeks have been about much more than Jaime Lannister. The episode actually opens up in Essos where last week’s episode left off. The first scene depicts Missandei teaching Grey Worm the common tongue. Daenerys has an interesting crew with her out there and it is nice when they can get a chance to shine on their own. The sequence that follows shows Grey Worm and some other Unsullied sneaking in through the sewers to help push the slaves of Meereen towards revolt after last week’s broken collar catapulting began to put the idea in their minds. Dany eventually takes the city and punishes the slave masters by crucifying them like they had done to the children she found on her march to the city.
The past couple of weeks I have been avoiding references to the murder mystery of
“Who shot Mr. Burns?” err… make that “Who poisoned Joffrey?” People I have discussed it with who have not read the books seemed to all be on different levels as far as solving the case, but this week spells things out pretty clearly. Littlefinger conspired with Olenna Tyrell who used a jewel from Sansa’s necklace to poison the King who she mentioned she would never let marry her granddaughter. It was certainly neat watching the wedding episode having already known who was behind the plot. If you go back and take a peek, you can actually see the moment where Olenna takes a stone off of Sansa’s necklace as well as a shot of her framed against the glass of wine that eventually does Joffrey in. I appreciate the attention to detail by the writer and director in this case and is worth another look for those finding out the plan for the first time now. Their explanation of it this week was a bit heavy-handed (did Olenna really need to fondle Margaery’s necklace?), but it got the job done.
This sequence also has Olenna schooling Marg on the ways of seduction. Who hasn’t always wanted to have that conversation with grandma? I do love how Margaery ends up going to see Tommen afterwards. He is too young to use the same kind of moves her grammy did to lock down Luthor Tyrell, so the future Queen handles things in a slightly different way. Tommen’s reaction to this girl showing up in his bedroom is another hilarious moment in “Oathkeeper” which has quite a few situated among some much more disturbing imagery elsewhere throughout the hour. One of the great things about the show is the way it has given focus to characters that the book never could due to its point of view structure. The two Tyrell ladies have benefitted greatly from this in particular. It seems Olenna might be on her way out of King’s Landing which is too bad because Diana Rigg has really been wonderful in the role. I was hoping she might stick around a bit longer.
The rest of the episode plays out up North at The Wall and beyond. It is here that the show really makes some departures from the source material, but whereas the major deviation last week drove me crazy, I see a lot of potential with some of the changes here. I was surprised to see Locke at Castle Black already, but this series in either form has always been a little suspect with traveling times. He is seen buddying up with Jon and eventually volunteers to join him on his expedition to Craster’s Keep. While Thorne, the acting Commander of the Night’s Watch, seemed hesitant to let Jon go, he now sees it as an opportunity to rid himself of Jon for good. Jon is even more motivated than before to go to Craster’s after he hears his brother Bran is North of the Wall. And it just so happens Bran ends up there in what is a truly disturbing sequence of events.
Things are worse than ever with Karl and some of the deserters from the Night’s Watch running things there now. Week in week out, the show seems to want to one-up itself with just how sleazy it can make some of its characters. Karl is seen drinking out of Jeor Mormont’s skull while saying stuff like, “Fuck them ’til they’re dead” in reference to Craster’s daughters/wives. It is pretty disgusting and only gets worse when they capture Bran and company where Karl proceeds to get creepy on Meera Reed and they chain up poor Hodor and torture him outside. I have no idea how this ends up playing out, but I hope these shitheads get what is coming to them next week whether it be via Bran warging or Jon and company rolling in. I’m guessing there won’t be a Jon/Bran reunion here. This show loves to tease us with Starks coming together only to snatch hope away at the last second, but I am curious to see how all this turns out and how Locke will factor in.
The final scene gives us a rare look at the White Walkers who claim another of Craster’s kids. Where things get interesting is when he takes the boy up far to the North. The visuals here are quite beautiful as we see where the White Walkers like to chill out. Inside an “Ice Henge” of sorts, the baby is given over to another Walker who seems to have a different sort of look than we have seen previously. Likely some sort of White Walker higher-up. With a touch of his finger he turns the baby into one of his own. I’m not sure I have worked out the logistics of all of this, but it was cool to get some more insight into this mysterious group. It represents another case where the show can clear something up that some book-readers might have suspected, but did not know for sure due to the POV writing style of the novels. I also just enjoyed seeing what I assume were the fabled “Lands of Always Winter.”
A few more things:
- Scene of the Week: I will actually go with the White Walker scene at the end because it gave me the rare chance to speculate on something from the show which made discussions on the internet a little more fun for me and my fellow book-readers. In stark contrast to that one scene last week, it was also beautifully directed by the always excellent Michelle MacLaren. And a reveal from the HBO viewer’s guide of all places sent speculation into overdrive. That has since been edited, so I am not sure that was even supposed to come out.
- All the action up North has made me realize there was a missed opportunity over the years as far as not including something from there in the intro sequence. Perhaps Craster’s Keep or more ideally The Fist of the First Men. Kind of a bummer since I am such a sucker for new locations in the intro.
- How the fuck did they catch Ghost? The direwolves feel like they have been nerfed on the show.
- I have been joking all week that since Tommen has been aged up, the show would be making the egregious error of cutting the series most famous member of the Kingsguard. I’m happy to say these fears were unfounded and we were treated with a sighting and several mentions of Ser Pounce!!!
- I once again loved how Meereen looked, but that banner hung on the harpy atop the pyramid was a little cheesy I thought.
- Missing in Action this Week: This was a fairly focused episode by Game of Thrones standards. I always appreciate when they can give each group more screen time instead of trying to squeeze every single person into the show. Unfortunately a lot of my faves were missing this week like Arya, Tywin, and Oberyn. Stannis, Theon and the Boltons I never miss all that much.
Unlike last week’s extremely problematic deviation from the source material, I liked the ways in which “Oathkeeper” strayed off the beaten path. Bran’s storyline has needed something to give it some oomph and this week’s developments could be just what the maester ordered. Reading people’s reactions to the final sequence made for a much more fun week discussing Game of Thrones than last week’s dissection of rape that seemed to get all the focus (from myself included). And while I couldn’t help but think about that issue while watching Jaime this episode (and still hate that scene), I loved his bits this week. Overall this was a great rebound episode in my opinion after the last one left me a little bummed out.
What did you think of the latest Game of Thrones episode “Oathkeeper”? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you very much for reading!