Writers: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss.
Directors: Daniel Sackheim.
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, et al.
Synopsis: Daenerys meets her future; Bran meets the past. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow. Arya trains to be No One. Varys finds an answer, and Ramsay gets a gift.
We start where we left off, which is gazing upon the naked body of Jon Snow after he is newly resurrected by Melisandre. And yes, there are more important things in this very moment than the public outcry to see his pecker, so if that’s what you’re tuning in for – it’s time to hang up your hat and call it a day. Regardless, our beloved Jon, though clearly – and understandably – flabbergasted as he rises to his feet, and bereft with grief and disappointment as he realises his actions spurred his assassination, takes Ser Davos’ coat. It is a tad chilly at The Wall, after all. Melisandre is astounded at her own ability to resurrect the dead – with no apparent cost, and tells Jon of the prophecies that speak of a ‘prince that was promised,’ leading us to believe it is Jon and not the late Stannis Baratheon.
Jon proceeds to leave his chambers, and embraces both Tormund and Edd. It’s here that we learn from Tormund that Jon actually has an… ungodly (a.k.a. small) pecker, after telling him the Wildlings think him a god. So thanks for that Tormund. If you’re reading this, and you’re disappointed – like I said, it is a tad chilly at The Wall.
We’re about to be teleported to The Narrow Sea, but the final scenes of the show feature The Wall once more. For more information on this, skip to the end of the article, or you could read all the way through whilst on your garderobe.
Ah, there you are. Yes, sorry about the damp, it’s a little wet here. Join us as we recount and rediscover the life of Samwell and Gilly as they cross the Narrow Sea to reach Oldtown. You’re just as surprised as I am, but I’m sure glad they’re making an appearance. If anyone isn’t a particular fan of watching people throw up, you might want to close your eyes for this part!
That’s right, our maester-in-training, Sam – is prone to getting a little green around the gills (no pun intended), whilst Gilly is in awe as they sail in the heat of a storm. Little Sam, though surprisingly quiet with all things considered, is adorable, albeit yet another way the producers can tug on our heart strings before taking it all away in some cruel twist of fate. It turns out however, that after some minor prompting, Gilly discovers that Sam isn’t taking her to the Citadel, yet another place in Westeros that is devoid of female-presence, and instead, is taking her and Little Sam to Horn Hill to stay with his family whilst he trains. His motivations, as always are pure, citing the need to help Jon when he’ll need him most – and that he simply wants them both to be safe.
We return now, to our regularly schedule broadcasting featuring the dream adventures of Bran and Three-eyes. We’re graciously awarded some much due context to some of the events we learn about in the very early seasons of Game of Thrones, as we see a young Eddard (played by Robert Aramayo), Lord Howland Reed and several other soldiers arrive at the Tower of Joy. For those who can’t remember, the Tower of Joy is located in Dorne’s Red Mountains and this event takes place at the height of Robert’s Rebellion, and it is strongly implied that this is where Eddard’s sister is being held.
As Eddard and Co. encounter Ser Odwell Whent and Ser Arthur Dayne – also known as The Sword of the Morning – guarding the tower, he demands to know why they are stationed here instead of protecting Prince Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident, informing them both that he and the Mad King are dead. Talk is cheap and soon, a small battle ensues between the two skilled knights and Eddard’s band of brothers. It’s here that we see one of the most intriguing fights of the entirety of the series – the first time a knight draws and utilises two swords. This moment, as Dayne unsheathes his dual blades, is comparable to the first time we ever see Darth Maul’s double-sided lightsaber in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Unlike Maul though, there are no unnecessary flourishes, no lavish embellishment in his swordsmanship, he is ruthlessly quick, a veteran fighter – the best. Dayne hastily cuts down many of Eddard’s men, killing some and injuring others – like Howland. Bran – an onlooker of the fight – is confused as he remembered his father telling him how he won the fight, and yet those described events did not match up to what he was seeing.
Dayne, while distracted by Eddard, and about to strike – is stabbed through the throat by Howland. We then hear a woman screaming inside the tower, and just as Ned and Howland begin to run inside, Bran calls out to his father after refusing to leave. It’s here we remain unsure as to the extent of Bran’s abilities, as Ned turns – presumably hearing Bran’s outcry – ol’ Three-eyes pulls him from the vision. It’s here that Bran and the audience alike, learn that he needs to learn ‘everything’ before he is ready to leave the cave.
Do you like blistered nature, barren wastelands, or camping? Well, Vaes Dothrak is the place for you! We get to spend a little more time with the fiery-tempered Daenerys as she arrives in Vaes Dothrak with Khal Moro’s khalasar. We meet the Dosh Khaleen, and the apparent leader sympathises with Daenerys as she tells her of her life as a Khaleesi – that she was once wed to a great Khal. The widows of the Khals strip Daenerys of her clothes and give her more traditional clothing closer to what they themselves wear, metaphorically stripping her of her titles.
The Elder of the Dosh Khaleen notes that the khalasar have met at Vaes Dothrak in order to discuss which cities and towns to conquer, and the fate of Daenerys is too at stake as she ominously hopes for her safety if she remains. This is an uniquely insightful scene in this series where we get a look, or at least a foreshadowing of what is to come, in regards to the political workings of the Dothraki people. It’s certainly notable that at this time, the khalasar are meeting to discuss which places to conquer, just as we learn of the emerging situation between Meereen, Yunkai, Astapor and Volantis. (More details in the next section!)
Oh how refreshing it is to see Varys at work again. ‘Oathbreaker’s scenes of Meereen open to the throne room of the Great Pyramid. This scene is eerily reminiscent of that between Varys and Littlefinger (in Season 1, episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion) where they exchange quips and political musings in the throne room of the Red Keep. Instead of Littlefinger, however, we have Vara – a woman allied with the Sons of the Harpy, and who conspired to kill the Unsullied and the Second Sons. Quickly retorting, we learn that she thinks of Daenerys as a foreign invader who has ruined Meereen and is actively attempting to destroy its history. Sympathetic with her ignorance, Varys explains his perspective – briefly mentioning her son, Dhom and promises them both safe passage to Pentos if she provides them with information about the Sons of the Harpy.
In another room, comedy-king Tyrion is trying – and miserably failing – at entertaining Grey Worm and Missandei (though I’m sure they would entertain each other if Tyrion was not presently a third-wheel) as they wait for Varys to return. I’m not the only one that wants to see these guys play ‘Never Have I Ever,’ am I? Having acquired the information from Vara, we learn that the slave masters of Yunkai, Astapor and Volantis have been financing the Sons of the Harpy, angered by Daenerys and her influence over restoring freedom to their slaves. Grey Worm reminds everyone that Astapor and Yunkai have been seized by the Unsullied on another occasion, so they could do so once again – though Tyrion (remember how valued he is as a war-strategist) warns him that attacking the other cities will leave Meereen defenseless and in doing so, will essentially leave it open for capture. At this point, Tyrion asks Varys to send messages via his network of ‘little birds’ to the leaders of the slave cities in an attempt to create a situation they can use to their advantage.
From one little bird to another, we are transported back to the vaguely dingy dungeons of King’s Landing, and more specifically – those of Qyburn. In a scene that seems to paint Qyburn as suspiciously similar to that of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘s child-catcher, Qyburn tempts Vary’s ‘little birds’ to work for him in exchange for candy. As Cersei, Jaime and Frankenclegane enter the room, Cersei orders Qyburn to put spies in the North, the Reach and Dorne – she’s planning something, and whatever it is, she’ll need information to guide its hand. Later, the three interrupt a small council meeting featuring the welcome return of Lady Olenna Tyrell, Lord Mace Tyrell, Lord Kevan Lannister and unfortunately – Grand Maester Pycelle – who most certainly is like the perverted, slightly crazed great-uncle figure of the Game of Thrones family. After declaring that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have taken Dorne, they demand to be included in the council meetings from now onwards, and when they refuse to leave, Kevan disbands the meeting for another time.
Meanwhile, in Myrcella’s tomb, Tommen storms the Sept of the Faith Militant, demanding the High Sparrow let Cersei visit her daughter’s grave. The High Sparrow – clever and charming in his faith – sits Tommen down and explains that she can visit when her sins have been atoned for, and points out the significance of the Mother in the Faith of the Seven. Interestingly, I think we’ll see a mysterious, and somewhat manipulative pull from the High Sparrow on the king in future episodes that’ll lead to some interesting political implications. Whether the High Sparrow is actually a man truly invested in his belief is uncertain, but he certainly seems to present himself as such. It’s this scene that he notes that religion and the crown are the two pillars of society, and he speaks from one to the other – perhaps the High Sparrow is a man who craves both.
Meanwhile, in the many-faced halls of the House of Black and White, Ayra is hard at work training to clean-up the street-crime of Braavos. Continuing her combat training and techniques with the Waif, Ayra declares her family members and reveals her list, noting how she removed the Hound after leaving him to die.
As she progresses in her training, Ayra becomes aware enough of her surroundings to start effectively parrying the Waif’s swings. In light of her accomplishment, she is taken by Jaqen H’ghar into the main chamber, where upon declaring once more that she is no one, she drinks from the well, and her sight is restored – whether this is by Jaqen himself, or the many-faced god, we do not know. What’s interesting here is the entire process of Ayra’s transformation, where she is stripped of her identity and her ties to Westeros in favour of worshipping the many-faced god. We can see some (if extreme) similarities in her conversion to that of Lancel Tyrell, who blindly follows the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, whereas Ayra does quite literally have to blindly follow until her faith is recognised and her sight restored. The implication is that every Faceless Man (women included) goes through this process, and it makes for some interesting speculation as to how Ayra will interact with her family members when she stumbles upon them once more, alienated.
In a bizarre twist of events that follow on from Ramsay stabbing his father and butchering his mother and brother, Ramsay meets with Smalljon Umber. Explaining that Jon Snow has let an army of Wildlings through The Wall and fearing they will make their way South, he asks for assistance in defending his people. Bolton Jr. states that he will only offer assistance, should Umber swear to him as Warden of the North, but he is quickly shut-down and berated, seeing through Ramsay’s thinly-veiled attempt at overthrowing his father, citing a lack of loyalty in the family – just as Roose betrayed Robb Stark. However, as a show of good-faith in their alliance, Smalljon states he has a gift for Ramsay and brings out two hooded figures. To everyone’s surprise, the two ‘gifts’ now bestowed upon Ramsay turn out to be Osha and Rickon Stark, two character we haven’t seen since Season 3. Ramsay doubts if this is in fact Rickon, so to prove it, Smalljob presents him with the severed head… of Shaggydog. SHAGGYDOG, NO!
Finally: We’re back, once again, at The Wall. Where the question of what Jon Snow is going to do to his betrayers is finally, and satisfyingly addressed. Sentencing Ser Alliser, Olly, Othell Yarwyck, and Bowen Marsh to death, he takes last rites – Ser Alliser arguably has the most important line of the episode here, that unwittingly strikes Jon and hits him where it hurts, stating that he only did what he thought was right for the Night’s Watch, a mentality that Jon too, believed in, and as a result, both men have died as a result. Jon cuts the rope with his sword and the mutineers hang. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises is just around the corner – Jon removes his cloak and gives it to Edd, stating that ‘My watch is ended,’ – remember folks, the vows you take at the Night’s Watch are only valid until death, so his death – and subsequently resurrection – has now freed him of his obligation. Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of what’s unfolding is that again, the Stark children will not be reunited with one another. Sansa continues to head North to Castle Black, and Jon is about to leave, Bran is eager to get out into the world, but must stay with Three-eyes until he is ready, and Ayra is actively being alienated from her worldly bonds to the point where I suspect she will no longer care for her family.
I’d argue that this is the best episode of the series so far. It purely focuses on advancing the story, and every story arc that’s being told in this episode is expanded just the right amount. It’s solid and potently respective of the audience’s time and their involvement thus far, include the fact that we’re getting answers for age-old questions and it looks as if breaking off from the books may have been a positively delightful decision. ‘Oathbreaker’ is Game of Thrones in full-force; with strides in story-telling at a steady pace, it doesn’t pander or meander, it has a goal and it’s running for it.
We want to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to discuss with us, and enjoy the seven sleeps between this episode and the next but remember, the night is dark and full of terrors. Until next time.
Game Of Thrones airs on HBO in North America, and Sky Atlantic in the UK and Ireland.