”They say the best swords have names, any ideas?”
Over its first three years, Game of Thrones delivered more than its fair share of shocking moments but never as consistently as this season. That's not to say any single event of the fourth has outdone the 'The Red Wedding' (or even "Baelor"), however, the four episodes so far have each contained a scene or two that left audiences buzzing. The premiere started things off 'slowly' by having the fantasy's pre-teen hero calmly skewer someone through the neck before upping the ante with a regicide at the 'The Purple Wedding' and last week's incestuous rape beside the corpse of the participants' son. And that was all before the end of "Oathkeeper," a moment made even more shocking since even smug book readers didn't see it coming. Quite the finish to a slow but solid installment.
”Kill the masters.”
The episode opened in Meereen with Grey Worm and Missandei talking about when they were taken which serves a nice bit of thematic bookending with the events involving the White Walkers at the end. 'Gifts' and 'secrets' are referenced throughout "Oathkeeper," some with far more sinister connotations than others. Both of the characters in Daenerys' service have tragic beginnings and their budding relationship is one of the sweeter things you might see on Game of Thrones, accentuated by having the Khalessi smirk at his English.
But there's little time for being cute when planning a siege and Grey Worm leads a team of undercover Unsullied into Meereen to convince the other slaves to turn on their masters not to mention provide the weapons to accomplish the task. And that's all it takes. A successful infiltration and rousing speech from the freed slave allow for 'Mhysa' to overtake yet another place in the now less aptly titled Slaver's Bay. She also didn't forget about the 163 slave children who were murdered to send her a message and she decides to meet the injustice with justice. Was that a wise choice? Maybe Ser Barristan was right? We've seen how justice works out for those trying to rule Westeros.
”Nothing like a thoughtful gift to make a new friendship grow strong.”
A perfect example of the unjust getting ahead is Littlefinger, who will do just about anything in order to get, well, everything. He has quite the ambition and embodies the Machiavellian ideal as well as the saying 'no risk, no reward.' You can say a lot of nasty things about Lord Baelish but he does not lack for courage. He challenged Brandon Stark for Catelyn's hand even though he was just a small boy and now, all grown up, he's moved on to plotting the murder of kings. Yep.
For those still putting the pieces together after last week, Petyr goes ahead and lays out his plan to murder Joffrey. This included making Sansa partly responsible so she has no other choice than to follow his lead. The necklace. Another one of those nice gifts loaded with secrets. Good news for the Stark girl is that's she's at least going to be with her family in the Eyrie. Oh wait, did I say good news? I forgot that her family is Lysa Arryn and her son Robin. If you were worried there wouldn't be enough people to despise now that Joffrey's dead, you can rest easy. Lord Robin. Seven Hells, I hate that kid.
”It can be our secret.”
Once Littlefinger finished explaining the coup, "Oathkeeper" cut to a scene explaining it again with Lady Olenna and Margaery to make sure that even those in the cheap seats know what happened. I mean, they went so far as to have the Queen of Thorns grab her granddaughter's necklace to make sure we really, really understood that she was the one who plucked the poisoned jewel off of Sansa. Director Michelle MacLaren is usually more graceful than that (like the rest of the episode's excellent transition shots) so I bet it was a 'network note' of sorts from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
As clumsy as the sequence was, Olenna's story was still a nice character moment and Margaery more than made up for it later during her seduction of Tommen. That was perhaps my favourite scene of the installment and not just because the new boy king has a cat named Ser Pounce. It was wonderful way of quickly distinguishing the younger Baratheon (Lannister) from his older brother. I also loved the way the scene was lit, her being more fiery and red than the young Lion lying in the blue darkness. I think Cersei's going to have a tough time getting Tyrell girl's claws out of her son. Speaking of the Queen Regent, Cersei is doing her best to kill those she believes are responsible for Joffrey’s death. Or at least asking Jaime to do it.
”’The Kingslayer Brothers.’ You like it? I like it.”
The sibling couple’s first scene since the rape was superbly written with them both addressing the other by their formal titles. Given that the Lord Commander is supposed to protect the royal family, I’d say sexually assaulting one of them would not make a good addition to the White Book. A previous season of Game of Thrones would probably have paired this scene with the one last week in order to close off the emotional thread but this way made it harder for the audience to forgive Jaime which was kind of the point. And Jaime does a lot this week to regain favor with fans, so it was especially important to allow a week for his actions to sink-in to reevaluate this week's hero shot.
He's a half-rotten onion, even if Melisandre doesn't believe in grey knights like Jaime and the Hound. Or Bronn. He and Jaime sparring should prove enjoyable every time, the two quickly adopting the level of banter (and candor) that the former had with Tyrion. I'm sure I don't have to say much about how incredible the following scene was as well, the 'Kingslayer' brothers reunion offering the flip-side of the last time they sat with each other. The emotional scenes piled up in "Oathkeeper" as Jaime also had to say goodbye to Brienne but at least she found herself a new Valyrian sword and a worthy squire. A new road trip begins!
Now to the North where shit is getting crazy. Sorry, there's just no other way to put that except WTF? Locke arrives at the Wall and quickly slithers his way into Jon's good graces. Roose Bolton's best hunter now has Bran's scent as well and, after proving himself worthy in the opening training scene that saw Thorne and Jon was again butt heads, will be heading to Craster's Keep with our hero's small band of avenging Night's Watchmen. The mission was made possible thanks to Janos Slynt bringing his King's Landing style scheming to Castle Black.
The new council member convinced Thorne to allow volunteers to go after the mutineers so that Jon might be killed and not voted in as Lord Commander Mormont's replacement when Maester Aemon calls for an official selection. Mormont may not be around to protect him but it's nice to know that Aemon still has Jon's back. As for the mutineers, well, they have provided audiences with perhaps a new low in terms of disgusting behavior. And I thought Craster's Keep was hell before. Yikes. Of course, the stuff that happens there is still not the most shocking part of “Oathkeeper.”
”A gift for the gods.”
Before getting to the big reveal at the end of the episode, there's still the bit with Bran being discovered as they try to stop the baby from being taken to said reveal by the White Walkers. Bran is becoming a better warg by the day and he's able to get inside Summer's head in order to investigate the crying. What he finds instead, is his brother's direwolf locked in a cage and then the bottom of his own trap. Summer better be okay. Both wolves looked rad, particularly Ghost when snapping at Rast.
It's hard to make Rast look gentle but this Karl guy sure is doing a bang-up job. Drinking out of Mormont's skull, I want to kill him. And nobody tortures Hodor. Will Jon arrive in time to save them? Will they save themselves? Or will another one bite the dust? I loved the transition from Jojen's green-dream to the last sequence because it seems like a world we're not supposed to be privy to and perhaps he's seeing it. Regardless, the reveal of the Night's King (you may remember him from one of Old Nan or Jojen's stories) was insane. It looks like the White Walkers aren't a mindless pack of killers after all. They still seem pretty evil but there is a method to the madness. That's what happens to Craster's boys. They are turned. It all looked impressive, from the make-up to the CG. And I'm speechless.
”We’re a long way from home, aren’t we?”
The fourth season of Game of Thrones continues with “First of His Name” next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, the TV series was adapted by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.