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‘Game of Thrones’ Review: “Oathkeeper”

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Review
HBO

Game of Thrones’ season 4 conjures its fourth episode of the season, “Oathkeeper,” as Jaime tasks Brienne with finding Sansa Stark, while Daenerys liberates the city of Mereen, and both Jon Snow and Bran find trouble with Craster’s Keep up north.

Last week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 installment “Breaker of Chains” saw Kings’ Landing deal with the aftermath of the so-called “Purple Wedding,” while Jon Snow came to a grave realization about the Wildlings, and Daenerys set her sights on Mereen. So, what does the latest installment of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4, episode 4, “Oathkeeper!”

Missandei teaches Grey Worm English, speaking of their respective pasts, just before Daenerys interrupts with a task at hand. A short while later, Grey Worm leads the Unsullied into the Mereen sewers dressed as slaves. Finding a chamber filled with other slaves curious about Daenerys, Grey Worm extolls the virtues of being free, and hands over a cache of weapons, urging the slaves to seize their freedom. Later, a slaver walks the streets and finds “KILL THE MASTERS” written on the walls, just before slaves erupt from every corner and stab him to death.

Daenerys celebrates her victory as all the freed slaves cheer their “Mhysa,” though Daenerys ignores Ser Barristan’s advice to spare the remaining masters as an act of mercy. Wanting to answer injustice with justice, Dany has 163 masters crucified, while the former slaves observe, and a Targaryen flag drapes over the city pyramid’s monument. Meanwhile in Kings’ Landing, Bronn continues training Jaime, denying that Tyrion would have been the one to kill Joffrey, and suggesting that Jaime pay his brother a visit.

Jaime casually sits with Tyrion in his cell, as pretenses fall away and Jaime seems to believe his brother’s innocence, despite their inability to do anything about the trial, for the moment. Meanwhile aboard his ship, Littlefinger explains to Sansa that it was he who organized Joffrey’s murder using the stones of Sansa’s necklace as a poison, all in a plot to keep his enemies confused. Tommen will prove easier to control, while Littlefinger marries Lisa Arryn at the Eyrie, and begins his climb to power. Back in Kings’ Landing, Olenna Tyrell tells Margaery the story of how she seduced her husband Luther, urging her granddaughter to secure her place with Tommen, and admitting it was she who took care of Joffrey.

Jon trains new recruits to the watch (among them Locke), though Aliser Thorne reminds Jon that he remains a steward rather than an actual ranger. Janos Slynt advises Aliser to be kinder to Jon, and greenlight his mission to roust Craster’s Keep, hoping the mutineers might take care of him for them. Meanwhile, Locke ingratiates himself with Jon, making up a story to explain his presence. Over in Kings’ Landing, Jaime meets with a bitter Cersei urging more protection for Tommen, as Cersei tasks him with bringing back Sansa Stark dead, ignoring Jaime’s assertions of Tyrion’s and Sansa’s innocence.

Margaery slips into Tommen’s room late at night, explaining that they’re likely to be married, and should get to know one another, keeping it a secret from Cersei. Happy to be seen as less cruel than Joffrey and make a new friend, Tommen accepts. The following day, Jaime offers Brienne his sword and a brand-new suit of armor, tasking her to find Sansa Stark and keep her safe. Jaime also insists Tyrion’s old squire Podrick accompany her on the journey, despite her protests. Bronn offers Podrick Tyrion’s axe from the Blackwater, as Brienne names her new sword “Oathkeeper,” before she and Jaime say their bittersweet goodbyes.

Sam laments to Jon that Gilly might not be safe in Molestown either, as the two wonder how far Bran might have gotten north of the wall. Aliser summons Jon to the dining hall, allowing him to take the mission to Craster’s keep, though with only volunteers to accompany him. Jon proposes his mission to the assembled men, hoping to provide justice for their “Father” Jeor Mormont, to which Jon’s friends, Locke, and a several other men agree to join him.

Up in Craster’s keep, Karl drinks wine out of Mormont’s skull, encouraging the men to continue raping Craster’s women. One of the midwives brings in the last of Craster’s newborn babies, leading the women to chant it as a “gift for the gods, as Karl tasks Rast with delivering the child. Rast takes the baby to the woods, reluctantly leaving it in the snow, and taunting Jon Snow’s caged wolf Ghost. Nearby, Hodor and Bran hear the baby’s cries, and Bran wargs into Summer to investigate. Just before Summer gets caught in a trap, Bran sees the caged Ghost.

The following day, Bran and the Reeds observe the men at Craster’s Keep, but before Meera can find and free Summer, the four end up caught by Karl’s men. Karl deduces that Bran might be highborn, just before Jojen begins convulsing, and Bran admits his identity as Jon Snow’s brother. Elsewhere, a White Walker picks up the baby and rides to a mysterious fortress, placing the baby on a pedestal. A regal-looking Walker picks up the child and touches its face, turning its eyes the same crystal blue as its own.

OUR REVIEW:

Obviously last week’s troubling rape scene ruffled more than a few feathers (and rightly so), and it’s of interest to note how producers seem not to have realized how drastically that scene would be taken, and as such likely won’t revisit the idea with a tremendous amount of strength going forward. That certainly makes “Oathkeeper” a bit difficult to judge in context, as we return focus to Jaime Lannister as a changed man from the previous season, showcasing some truly wonderful scenes against the characters with which Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shares his best chemistry.

It’s an absolute delight to have Tyrion and Jaime back together again, particularly speaking with such freedom about their mutual lots, and genuinely heartbreaking to see the goodbyes between he and Brienne unfolding as they do, and yet it all feels inconsistent with the monstrous act we witnessed last week. Not only that, but Cersei seems back to being vilified once more, stubbornly insisting on Tyrion as her son’s killer, and denying Margaery’s attempts at friendship with her likely future husband, and it’s difficult to grasp if her anger with Jaime is intended to come out of what transpired last week, or the character’s usual villainy. Certainly, the writers hadn’t intended the rape last week to change our interpretation of the characters as drastically as it did, so we’ll need to see how the rest of the season handles their dynamic to note the full breadth of the show’s misstep.

Not to mention, whether overshadowed or not, “Oathkeeper” definitely made some unique diversions from the books (mind you I haven’t read them, but have a fairly strong sense of events from research) that promise to take the series in some interesting directions. As far as we can tell, the story never returned to Craster’s Keep after the initial mutiny, and certainly not with any involvement from Bran, so we’re definitely curious to see how this new plot with Jon’s attack (complete with Locke, another original creation) plays out, and if Jon and Bran’s paths end up intersecting in ways the books never depicted. All of that, too, pales in comparison to whatever we saw from the White Walkers and their king (?) in the final moments, but considering Benioff and Weiss’ foreknowledge of George R.R. Martin’s work, it’s impossible to say what that sequence really amounts to.

All in all, quite a bit going on between Daenerys’ new home, Littlefinger and Olenna Tyrell’s revealed plot, Tommen and Margaery’s new friendship, and all of Jaime’s more enjoyable pairings, though last week’s episode clearly colored the audience’s appreciation for them. It’s hard to say exactly where the thrust of season 4 will lead us, but “Oathkeeper” definitely ranks among the more intriguing, if not directly exciting episodes thus far.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of sword-swinging ‘Game of Thrones’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s installment, “Oathkeeper”? Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 coverage, and join us next week for the all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4′s latest installment, “First of His Name” on HBO!

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