After last week‘s controversy filled outing, Game Of Thrones spends a week lining up plots that will pay off later. Too bad the finished effect drags a touch.
Let’s bitch it out…I won’t lie: ‘Oathkeeper’ is not my favourite outing of Game Of Thrones. Clocking in at 55 minutes, it feels long, and even though GoT is one of my favourite shows, I don’t mean that as a complement. Something happens around mid-way through the episode and it just feels like things begin to drag. By the time we check back in on Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and his attempt to rally men to take out the mutineers at Craster’s Keep, I am pretty ready to call it a day.
And then Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and co. show up and things just get worse. I know that Bran’s storyline is headed somewhere, and now that they’re imprisoned by Karl (Burn Gorman) and the other deserters, their story is much more interesting, but I. Just. Don’t. Care. There’s something so aimless about Bran’s adventures; it’s not enough to satisfy that they’re beyond the Wall doing something.
Compare these scenes to those featuring Dany (Emilia Clarke) taking Meereen with nothing but the power of suggestion, or Jamie’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) attempt to do right by visiting his brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in jail and sending Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to find Sansa (Sophie Turner). These characters have agency and their storylines have a sense of direction. Even Cersei (Lena Headey), who is basically living at the bottom of a wine goblet these days, commands the screen with more authority.
If ‘Oathkeeper’ does something well, it once again nails the landing when it comes to pacing and allowing these scenes to breath. There are a number of great character moments that play out because we’re not constantly cutting to visit Theon or Stannis or Arya. Instead we get to spend time exploring Jamie and Tyrion’s relationship (and as AV Club suggests, learn their band name: The Kingslayer Brothers). Even our extended opening sequence in Meereen offers us insight on Melissandei and Grey Worm and while the idea of imprisonment, slavery and revolt has clear parallels to what is happening at Craster’s Keep and with the men of the Nightwatch, there’s something far more engaging about this pair, working on their English and sharing memories before freeing an entire city of slaves from its oppressors.
I don’t know – I’m having a hard time putting my finger on what exactly about this episode doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps it’s that it’s lacking a memorable sequence (despite the WTF closer featuring the White Walker baby transformation) and the best speech of the night belongs to Karl as he cusses out a fellow mutineer, which may be memorable for all of the wrong reasons.
At the end of the season I think we’ll look back on ‘Oathkeeper’ as an episode that kicked off or solidified a number of plots (ex: Noah Taylor’s Locke is inching closer to the Stark boys now that he’s at the Wall). As its own episode, however, it’s a bit of a plot filler.
- Tommen’s cat is called Ser Pounce, which would be adorable if the cat wasn’t introduced in a scene that finds Margaery (Natalie Dormer) creeping into his room like she’s there for a late night booty call. Credit her grandmother Oleana (Diana Rigg) for encouraging her; it seems the older woman was quite feisty back in her pre-marriage days
- Confirmation: both Oleana and Baelish (Aidan Gillen) take credit for dispensing Joffrey. What do you want to bet that behind closed doors, everyone in King’s Landing brags about having a hand in doing away with that little shit?
- I like that both Sansa and Tyrion deny that the other murdered Joffrey. Even though their marriage was arranged (and hella uncomfortable), I think they would have actually been good for each other. Guess we’ll never know.
- It’s good to spend some quality time with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) again. His sword fighting lessons are slightly less supportive than Jon Snow’s up at the Wall (Jon probably wouldn’t hit you in the face with your own hand), but darn if Bronn doesn’t always get to the heart of the matter in a no BS-kinda way.
- Finally, I’m curious to see how fans react to the sorta/kinda/maybe retcon on Jamie this week. He’s back to charismatic, lovable rogue, almost as though last week’s horrendous rape sequence never happened. AV Club infers that there’s tension in his scene with Cersei, but I didn’t see anything beyond her paranoia and fear for Tommen’s safety. What do you think?
- Dany (before crucifying 163 Meereen masters): “I will answer injustice with justice”
- Jamie (comparing his cell with Tyrion’s): “I was chained to a post in my own shit for months.”
- Oleana (describing the tactics which bedded her a husband): “I was good. I was very, very good.”
Your turn: was this a memorable episode of Game Of Thrones? Are you surprised that Baelish and Oleana were involved in Joffrey’s murder? (Does it even matter?) Do you think Margaery’s getting an early start of things with Tommen? Are you hoping Jon will meet up with Bran? And what was the deal with that White Walker finale?! Sound off below, but please bear in mind our No Spoiler rule: if it hasn’t happened on the show, it’s off limits.
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO