Last week’s Game of Thrones was deeply satisfying, providing needed answers and a bit of catharsis. Both fans who have read the books and those who have not were treated to new content, including the incredible, if somewhat predictable, resurrection of Jon Snow. It was a damn fine hour of television, and the creators set themselves up with a tough act to follow.
This week’s episode, “Oathbreaker“, somehow manages to keep the intensity going. There are some big surprises (the return of Baby Stark!) and some more needed conclusions, rounding out another very solid entry in the show’s already impressive history.
Warning: Spoilers are coming.
Westeros – The Seven Kingdoms and Beyond the Wall
With last week’s episode ending on Jon Snow’s first gasping breaths after his return from death, it only made sense to begin this week with him rising from the table and speaking with Ser Davos. Jon is initially quite upset, having only recently been murdered, and he describes the other side to Melisandre as “nothing”. He laments his failures as the Lord Commander, but the Onion Knight isn’t having it and he tells Jon Snow to get over it and fail again. He then receives a grand welcome from the wildlings, who think he is a god, and his friends, Tormund Giantsbane and Dolorous Edd.
Jon’s closest friend, Samwell Tarly, is off on his own adventure traveling southbound. Seasick during a terrible storm, he reveals to Gilly that he is not taking her to Oldtown with him, but instead to his home in Horn Hill. Gilly refers to Sam as the father of her son, and tells him that she trusts him to do what’s best for the two of them. The casting of the Tarly family members makes a bit more sense now, and viewers should meet Lord Tarly, his wife, daughter and other son soon.
In another of Bran’s time-travelling flashbacks, the battle between a young Eddard Stark and Ser Arthur Dayne, one of the Mad King’s Kingsguard. It is not Ned who kills the Sword of the Morning as Bran had always been told however, but Meera Reed’s father, Howland Reed. The Tower of Joy is at last revealed, and Bran hears a woman’s scream in the tower (likely Lyanna’s). As Ned races up the stairs to her, Bran calls out and Ned stops. Could Bran develop the ability to alter the past? Unfortunately, the Three-Eyed Raven pulls Bran from the flashback before Ned can ascend the tower, so viewers will have to wait to see Lyanna Stark’s dying moments.
Back in the present, Varys’ former “little birds” are shown to be working for Qyburn, who provides them with sweets in return for whispers. Cersei, Jaime, and the FrankenMountain descend into Qyburn’s dungeon lair to discuss their plans with him and inform him that he will spread his network of spies. Without Varys or Littlefinger to help keep Cersei informed with the world’s secrets, she is left in dire straights and must seek the help of the former Maester.
Remember the Small Council? Apparently they’re still around, now in the form of Kevan Lannister, Maester Pycelle, Mace Tyrell, and the always-badass Olenna Tyrell. Jaime and Cersei crash the party and inform the assembled council members that they will now be involved in the decision-making. There are some catty remarks between Olenna and Cersei, but the council members quickly depart and leave the Lannisters alone to plot on their own.
King Tommen has his hands full with a recently-deceased sister, incarcerated wife, and shamed mother, and it seems like he has finally had enough. He meets with the High Sparrow and demands Cersei be allowed to see Myrcella’s crypt, but the request is denied. The High Sparrow gives a monologue about the nature of the Mother and how the gods act through everyone and Tommen seems to buy at least some of it. He pouts a good bit, but that’s what he seems to be good at.
Back at Winterfell, Ramsay is having a grand time pretending to be the Lord of the castle after murdering his father. Smalljon Umber, lord of the very northernly House Umber, asks for help defending against the Wildlings, especially if they are led by Jon Snow. In return, Ramsay demands that he pledge himself to House Bolton. The Lord refuses and Ramsay is ready to dismiss him entirely when he brings in a gift for Bolton: Osha and Rickon Stark. To prove Rickon’s identity, he presents Ramsay with the severed head of Shaggy Dog, Rickon’s dire wolf.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow is called to hear the last words of four of the men who stabbed him, including the unrepentant Alliser Thorne and Olly. Olly says nothing, and Jon cuts the rope to let them all hang. They do, in graphic fashion, and Jon removes his cloak, laying it over Dolorous Edd’s arms. He informs Edd that Castle Black now belongs to him. The former Lord Commander’s watch has ended, and the episode closes with him leaving the Night’s Watch.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is marched into Vaes Dothrak to join the other widows of Khals in the temple there. She is her usual fiery self, snapping at the women and threatening them for stripping her of her clothes and jewelry. The widows inform her that she will be lucky if she is allowed to join them, as she broke the rules by being out in the world after her husband’s death. Dany has found herself going from one bad situation to the next with little reprieve, like so many of the other characters on the show. Her resolve does not seem to be broken, however, and she looks defiant even in the face of a possibly nasty death.
Back in Meereen, Varys interrogates one of the prostitutes who worked with the Sons of the Harpy to kill off members of Dany’s army, the Unsullied. A skilled manipulator, he convinces the woman to tell him who is funding the Sons of the Harpy in return for safe passage for herself and her son to another city. Tyrion attempts idle conversation with Missandei and Grey Worm with little success. Despite Missandei’s gift with languages, she’s not much of a talker. He is saved from an increasingly awkward situation by Varys, who returns to give them the information he has just coerced from the prostitute. The Sons of the Harpy are being funded by the Masters of the other cities in Essos.
The Girl with No Name (formerly Arya Stark) continues her training in Braavos at the House of Black and White. She continues to learn to fight as a blind girl and is forced to tell her story over and over, the story of the girl she once was. After a long training montage, she manages to best the Waif. Jaqen H’ghar takes her to the pool where she previously helped a young girl die a painless death. He tells her that if she is no one, she has nothing to fear by drinking the (probably poisonous) water. Instead of dying, she is able to see once more.
Fans didn’t get to see Theon, Sansa, Brienne, or Pod this episode, and the first thing in the “next episode” teaser is them arriving somewhere snowy, probably Castle Black. Littlefinger shows up for the first time this season counselling young Robin Arryn about Sansa’s escape from the Boltons. Theon makes it back to Pyke, where his sister Yara is pretty pissed at him for his behavior back at Winterfell when she came to rescue him. Cersei and Olenna actually agree on something when Margaery is called to confess her sins before the city. The people of Meereen are demanding answers about their Dragon Queen from Tyrion, and Ser Jorah and Daario plan to rescue her from Vaes Dothrak, because that’s where Jorah figures they have taken her.
Got all of that? The show doesn’t seem to be slowing down, though the episode preview doesn’t offer any glimpses of the kind of confrontations the characters have faced these past three episodes. The body count is rising higher than ever, with series regulars dropping like flies, and no one is entirely sure what’s going to happen, even book readers.
Tyrion and his “small council” are going to face some serious issues if Dany doesn’t get back soon, though hopefully that will mean a return of Rhaegar and Viserion, the dragons he freed last episode. The return of Littlefinger also means the commencement of his global chess game with Varys, despite their being on different continents.
Jon Snow’s headed south, Ramsay’s likely headed north, Sam’s headed home, and Theon’s headed towards a really scary family reunion. (If Euron and Aeron were my uncles, I would stay as far away as possible.)
This episode and its teaser don’t give too much away, which is a nice change of pace after the tortuously long wait for Jon Snow to come back after everyone figured out he would. There’s an element of the unknown again, and it’s going to make the wait until next Sunday that much more difficult.