Game of Thrones is a world filled with deaths, secrets, and power conflicts. It’s these features that create so many interesting turns in Game of Thrones. We continue to watch because both the story and the characters keep us intrigued. Despite occasional moral misgivings, we watch Game of Thrones because of these aspects, not despite them. “Oathbreaker” gave us what weʻve come to expect—a few deaths, some secrets revealed, and attempts to accrue power. “Oathbreaker” was a solid episode with a steady pace that piqued our curiosity about what’s to come.
Death at Castle Black
Characters have returned from the dead in various forms on Game of Thrones, but clearly there is something special in the return of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) beyond some carefully staged nude scenes. Even the Freefolk feel it, wondering if Jon is a god. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) knows better, after having seen Jon naked and dead. We love Tormond’s comment about Jon’s manhood because there were an awful lot of people standing around staring at his naked corpse for a while there. We all laughed at what we assumed was a joke. It’s great to see Jon hug both Tormond and Eddison Tollet (Ben Crompton). Sometimes it takes being murdered to really know who your friends are.
The friend who posits the more important question is Eddison Tollett, who asks Jon, “Are you sure thatʻs still you in there?” We’ve seen the dead come back in various states, so it’s a fair question. Did he lose something of himself as others have? After facing death and finding nothing there, it’s clearly changed Jon.
With Castle Black returned from Alliser Throne (Owen Teale) and the other mutineers, the murder of Lord Commander Jon Snow must be answered for. If you were concerned that questions could arise about whether someone could be tried for the murder of a man brought back to life, don’t worry. Treason is treason, Jon’s body notwithstanding. Jon asks the men—Bowen Marsh (Michael Condron), Othell Yarwyck (Brian Fortune), Alliser Throne, and Olly (Brenock O’Connor)—if they have any last words. Alliser tells him, “I had a choice, Lord Commander. Betray you or betray the Nightʻs Watch. You brought an army of wildlings into our lands. An army of murderers and raiders. If I had to do it all over, knowing where I’d end up, I pray I’d make the right choice again.” Alliser tells Jon that now he’ll rest, but Jon will be fighting their battles forever. When it comes to Olly, Jon has a hard time looking up at him. When he finally does, he sees only the boy’s glare of hatred.
After completing the execution, Jon hands over his Lord Commander robes to Edd, telling him to wear, burn, do what he will with them. Jon Snow has decided that his watch is ended. Death has released Jon from his vows to the Night’s Watch.
Sam and Gilly Create a Story
Samwell Tarley (John Bradley), Gilly (Hannah Murray), and Baby Sam are on a boat traveling to Old Town so Sam can become a Maester and help Jon fight the White Walkers. The boat trip is not going to well for Sam, who keeps throwing up, while Gilly is just thrilled to see the sea. Sam won’t be able to take Gilly and the baby to the Citadel, where women are forbidden, so instead plans to bring them to his family home at Hornhill. They will pretend that the baby is Sam’s, not simply to help ease them into the household, but because that is how they both feel. The moments between Sam and Gilly were pretty wonderful. Sam was funny and Gilly was confident. Sam tells Gilly that he really only cares about her and the baby. We’re liking that Game of Thrones is throwing us some moments of light and joy after such a grueling and dark Season 5.
Bran Stark Learns Stories aren’t Truth
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is also learning that sometimes families keep secrets from each other. The Three-eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) shows Bran a vision of a long-told tale from the war between Robert Baratheon and Aerys Targaryen. Bran believes he knows the story, but it turns out he’s finally getting to see the Director’s Cut. At a tower of stone, Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) is accompanied by Howland Reed (Leo Woodruff), father to Meera and Jojen. Ned confronts Targaryen Kingsguard Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts), known as the Sword of the Morning. When Ned asks Arthur why he wasn’t at the battle protecting Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Arthur Dayne responds, “Our prince wanted us here.” Ned looks up at the tower and asks where his sister is, but Arthur only wishes him the best in the wars to come and prepares to fight.
As they battle, it appears that Arthur, a skilled swordsman, will kill Ned. Instead, Howland Reed comes from behind and stabs Ser Arthur Dayne in the back, and then Ned finishes him off. It turns out the story of this legendary fight didn’t happen quite as it’s been told. Ned hears a scream from the tower and begins running, but not before Bran yells for his father, causing Ned to pause for a moment. Back in the cave, Bran asserts that his father heard him through the vision. The Three-eyed Raven tells Bram whether Ned Stark heard his voice or heard the wind, “The past is already written. The ink is dry.” We’re not sure we believe it, because the Three-eyed Raven seemed surprised at Bran’s ability.
Bran wasn’t the only one who wanted to see what was happening in that tower, but we seem on the path to find out soon. The bigger questions relate to Bran’s power. How will he use it? And could Bran be more powerful than the Three-eyed Raven even knows? Meera has already been told that Bran will need her, but now we learn that Meera’s father was part of this story as well.
Rickon Stark is Revealed
Much is revealed when Smalljon Umber (Dean S. Jagger) comes to Winterfell asking Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to help him fight the wildlings Jon Snow has brought over the wall. First he outs Ramsay on killing his father, but commends him for it. Then Lord Umber refuses to kneel to Ramsay, pointing out that Roose Bolton kneeled to Rob Stark, but it meant nothing. Finally, in a show of good faith, Lord Umber gives Ramsay a gift. It’s Osha (Natalia Tena) and Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson). When Ramsay asks what proof he has it’s Rickon, Umber throws out what appears to be the head of Rickon’s direwolf, Shaggywolf. Ramsay smiles his evil smile and says, “Welcome home, Lord Stark.”
Losing your direwolf is a sign of only bad things to come. If you’re not going to die, you’re certainly going to be subjected to some terrible things. First we lost Sansa’s Lady, Arya had to chase Nymeria away to save her, then Grey Wind was killed along with Robb Stark at the Red Wedding, and now we see what appears to be the head of Rickon’s Shaggydog. Once you lose your direwolf, your luck just turns. Ghost is still with Jon Snow, and we assume that Summer is still with Bran Stark. Seeing the direwolves killed is much worse than losing human characters (who are a dime dozen on this show). The writers had better leave the rest of the direwolves alone!
Of course, the real question is whether the Umbers, traditionally loyal to the Starks, really want to align with Ramsay Bolton. Who would choose to align with crazypants Bolton, except that creepy Karstark? Let’s hope this is an elaborate trick and Shaggydog is chasing rabbits somewhere outside of Winterfell.
The Lannisters versus Everybody Else
Cersei and Jaime Lannister are sick of not getting the respect they deserve. Well, that’s going to change—at least they think it is. Qyburn has taken over Varys’s spy network, the Mountain has been reanimated as Ser Robert Strong, Tommen’s going to confront the High Sparrow, and they’re going to confront Uncle Kevan at the Small Council to see what’s being done to right these wrongs. Cersei is seeking some retribution. She tells Qyburn, “Don’t stop at the city. I want little birds in Dorne, in Highgarden, in the North. If someone is planning on making our losses their gains, I want to hear it. If someone is laughing at the queen who walked naked through the streets covered in sh*t, I want to hear. I want to know who they are. I want to know where they are.” She seems pretty vengeful—and who can really blame her?
King Tommen makes his best effort with the High Sparrow, but the poor boy doesn’t have Cersei, Margaery, or even Jaime to help guide him. He’s clay just waiting to be manipulated by the High Sparrow. Tommen starts off in a position of confrontation, but the High Sparrow easily maneuvers himself into the role of helpful advisor. Poor Tommen. Let’s hope Cersei has trained Tommen with some kind of plan in which he’s only pretending to be taken in by the High Sparrow in order to strike later. Seems unlikely, though.
Cersei and Jaime show up at the Small Council, much to their Uncle Kevan’s annoyance. Cersei’s enemy Olenna Tyrell is sitting in on the council meeting. When Jaime and Cersei insist on staying, after Jaime trumps with his Kingsguard position, the rest of the Small Council just leaves. Not even Grand Maester Pycelle bothers with the pretense of showing them any respect. We’re fans of Olenna Tyrell and Kevan Lannister, but this scene makes us root for Cersei and Jaime. You writers! Always tricking us into becoming sympathetic to characters we hated, like, two seconds ago. We feel kind of like Tommen—putty in your hands.
Giving Up Arya Stark
In Braavos, the usual is going on. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) gets hit whenever she tells a lie or half-truth. Or just when the waif (Faye Marsay) feels like hitting her with a stick. Arya acts tough, insisting she is No One. Wasn’t this what we watched all last season in Braavos? Finally, it seems that Arya has let go of who she was and has become No One. Well, really we have no idea, because it seemed like that for a second last season too. When she passes the test of drinking the death water by finally letting go, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) restores her sight. Maybe she’s really changed, or maybe we’re exactly where we were before. Let’s hope there’s some payoff down the line with this story. At least they’re keeping these scenes short. And, we must admit Tom Wlaschiha is pretty amazing every time he’s on screen.
Meereen’s Dream Team
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) seems to be trying to make a connection with the strait-laced Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), but it’s not working so well. Games don’t appeal to those who were taught only to serve others. Though it feels like we’re still spinning our wheels in Meereen, at least Tyrion makes it interesting. We love how the main topic of conversation for Grey Worm is the patrol. Though in this scene Missandei is being made to look less clever than she really is, let’s pretend she’s being intentionally obtuse because she doesn’t like Tyrion.
Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) has learned that it is the Masters of Astapor and Yunkai, with support from Volantis, who are funding the Sons of the Harpy. We see the Missandei we know come out when she says, “The Masters speak only one language. They spoke it to me for many years. I know it better than my mother tongue. If we want them to hear it we must speak it back to them. May it be the last thing they ever hear.” But Tyrion isn’t convinced fighting is the best strategy, noting this is just the beginning of the conversation. The Meereen Dream Team faces unenviable odds. They face enemies both inside and outside of Meereen. Maybe if they had a large flying creature that could breathe fire all over the Masters it would help.
Welcome to the Dosh Khaleen
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has arrived in the Dothraki holy city of Vaes Dothrak. She’s taken directly to the dosh khaleen, the council of Khal widows. She tells the high priestess that she doesn’t belong. She gives her usual spiel, even though Dothraki never seem impressed by her fancy name. We can’t help but wonder if Daenerys is trying to irritate these other women, or is she really just that self-important? It turns out since Daenerys broke Dothraki custom, she may not be able to join the dosh khaleen, subjecting her to the possibility of a fate even worse. We’re not sure what we want to have happen. We certainly don’t want her to go back to Meereen. In fact, can all our main characters leave Slaver’s Bay now? Staying with a horde could be interesting, but she’s done that already. Yet the timing isn’t right for her to go to Westeros. How do you solve a problem like Daenerys?
We just realized a lot more happened in “Oathbreaker” than we thought. Sure, we would’ve liked to see more on Jon Snow and less in Essos, but we get it, it’s all about timing. For most of these stories we have no idea where they’re going, but we’re pretty invested in finding out. Though we’re not sure what new beliefs Game of Thrones will insert into our thoughts next week, we can’t wait to find out. Maybe we’ll start to think Ramsay Bolton is a misunderstood hero and Jon Snow is the devil. With new revelations that Ned Stark didn’t follow the proper rules of combat, it feels like our whole moral center is sliding out from underneath us. Let the redemption of Ramsay Bolton begin!