Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker Review

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With a title like Oathbreaker, you know things are about to go down.

And picking right up after last episode’s cliffhanger ending, I expect a lot of things to change in Game of Thrones as characters react to the new development.

Jon Snow is back, to the surprise of just about everyone, including Melisandre. Even Snow is surprised — his thoughts after coming out of death go right back to the traumatic moment he was betrayed by his own brothers of the Nights Watch.

But the best reaction goes to Ser Davos — the one who commissioned Melisandre to try and bring Snow back from the dead. Seeing the Lord Commander alive and as well as he can be, given the circumstances, is likely shaking up everyone’s notions of faith.

For Melisandre, it’s affirmation that the Lord of Light is on her side — likewise in part for the agnostic Ser Davos. For Snow, his faith has been broken having seen nothing of the afterlife while he was dead.

Snow’s faith in humanity has been damaged as well. For all the good he thought he was doing, for all the honor — it resulted in a Cesaerian death by his own soldiers with Olly playing the part of Brutus a little too well.

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After Ser Davos gives one of the best inspirational speeches in the history of Westeros, Snow walks outside and greets his men.

“They think you’re some kind of god,” Tormund Giantsbane says.

Castle Black has been one of the most humorless locations, but even Giantsbane can’t hold back from cracking a joke now that Jon’s returned. Even Jon tries his hand at being funny — he smiles more this episode than all of the other seasons combined.

Moving on from Castle Black, Samwell Tarly and Ginny travel to safety by boat. Samwell confesses he’s actually taking Gilly to his father, and I have a feeling this plotline will be crucial to the story later on. For now, it’s nice to finally see how they’ve fared since last season.

Zooming back to the past — yup, we’re going on another excellent adventure with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven — young Ned Stark and a small rescue team fight their way to the Tower of Joy where his sister has been held captive. The Mad King and Rhaegar are dead, but some are still loyal to the former crown — among them Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning.

Ned had told Bran stories of Dayne, calling him the best swordsman he had ever seen. And while Ned claimed to have bested him in combat, we now know the truth. I wonder whether the Three-Eyed Raven intended this visit to dispel some of the legendary mythical stories he’s been told — in addition to treating audiences to one of the best action sequences in the show’s history. It’s immediately clear that Dayne was the better swordsman — and the culmination of the fight proves Ned a liar, concerning the outcome.

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When Ned rushes to the tower, Bran instinctively tries to follow and shouts his name. Inexplicably, Ned turns to see who had called him.

What. A. Trip.

It looks like Bran might have the power to affect the past, but before he can do anything else, Three-Eyed-Rufus pulls him away. Bran isn’t happy being denied by the Raven, and the old bird seems averse to admit Bran was able to reach out to his father — even if the boy knows that’s exactly what happened. The Raven also warns Bran about spending too much time in the past, but I think the Raven is hiding something.

Could it be that Bran’s penchant for time-hopping will be what causes him to bind to the tree?

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about — in season three, Jojen appears in a dream and tells Bran he is the Raven. It seems that’s been bothering Bran a bit as they have an exchange which leads to some discourse about the Raven and Bran’s future. The Raven explains he has been watching the world for 1,000 years while he waited for Bran.

“I don’t want to be you,” Bran says.

“I don’t blame you,” the Raven replies, “You won’t be here forever. You won’t be an old man in a tree. But before you leave, you must learn.”

So Bran doesn’t become one with the tree? Perhaps Bran is a type of Raven, or maybe the future — or past — can be changed. I don’t know, and I’m too caffeinated — but I can’t wait for the rest of the episodes in order to find out what’s going on here.

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At Vaes Dothrak, Danaerys meets the Khal widows who’ve been sequestered away. And back in Meereen, Varys gives us a glimpse into how he uses those influential powers by convincing Vala to give up information about the Sons of the Harpy. Elsewhere in Meereen, Tyrion tries to make friends with Missandei and Grey Worm, only to find out they are worlds apart.

The last few scenes take us to King’s Landing, the House of White and Black in Braavos, and then back to the North. Each of these scenes is important to the story at large, and I think we’re going to see these ripples resonate into huge waves.

Cersei Lannister is obviously still upset at her shaming, and she’s ready to declare war on the High Sparrow and his followers. She storms a Small Council meeting with Jamie to propose a plan that will send House Tyrell’s army to disrupt the city before Margaery takes her walk of shame. This could be all-out war, and where the Lannisters scheme, lives end up being lost.

In Braavos, Arya Stark continues her training and then regains her eyesight when she rejects Jaqen’s temptation and drinks from the poisoned well. I didn’t think Arya would ever get her vision back, and I wonder whether it hurts the plotline a little because it undermines the sense of loss — but it’s only a minor gripe, considering everything else going on. Is it just me or do I sense a multitude of layers within Arya. I don’t think she’s made a heartfelt decision to follow Jaqen — I think she’s proven herself to be a very capable liar.

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Back to the North, Ramsay and the Karstarks have allied themselves with intent to take on Jon Snow and his Nights Watch. The Umbers have come now to also pledge their support, and they offer a gift: Rickon and the head of his dire wolf.

While many have offered up theories about the Grand Northern Conspiracy, I wonder whether this plot point is another cog or evidence to the contrary. Will the North remember, or will Jon Snow have an uphill climb as he — presumably — fights for home?

And if anything can be assumed after watching this episode — I think Snow will take on Snow for the fate of Winterfell now that Jon’s watch has ended. The last scene brings us full circle to the first season of Game of Thrones when Ned taught his sons a valuable lesson — a ruler should be the one to mete out punishment.

As Jon’s final act as Lord Commander, he hangs Alliser Thorne and the remaining betrayers. This also includes Ollie, who remains defiant in the face of judgment. Though he hesitates, Jon remembers what has been done and cuts the rope, staring into Olly’s face and looking upon the dead.

Once the deed is done, Jon hands over his coat and Castle Black to Dolorous Edd before telling everyone, “My watch is ended.”

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While some might say Jon is breaking his oath, I’m of the opinion he’s been released from it through death. If there’s any oath he’s breaking by leaving the Watch in Edd’s hands, it may be something much deeper. I’m thinking death has had a pronounced effect on him, and he may have broken from many of the values he’s kept — or he’s finally broken through the ceiling that has kept him from reaching his full potential. Perhaps now, he has finally killed the boy within and has become a man.

And looking back on the other plotlines, we see how untruth is threaded throughout the episode. From Samwell admitting he wasn’t truthful with Gilly to the Umbers breaking from tradition and swearing fealty to an outsider — Oathbreaker uncovers the lies while shining a spotlight on the truth. We may yet see what the Umbers and Karstarks have planned — I don’t doubt that many of the “truths” are actually red herrings. Arya may still have ulterior plans and may backslide once again, and Danaerys won’t be content to be placed in widow jail.

There’s a storm coming, and it’s only a matter of time before it hits Westeros. I’ve been expecting a lull to come — these episodes have been running at breakneck speed, and I don’t know whether the the entire season will be a race to the finish. Not that I mind, but the show might benefit with a momentary deep breath before the season finale, which is set up to be a doozy. We know a full-scale war will take over the continent, but it looks like several major battles will lead up to it — from Winterfell to King’s Landing.

I’d venture to say Game of Thrones may now be my favorite show of all time. If it can keep it up all the way to a finale that doesn’t disappoint, this one may go down in the history books.


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