Fans have long dreaded the day that the show would officially and undeniably go past the source material. To most, it’s because they want to see the story they began originally through to its intended ending, without any cuts or considerations for format. Some others don’t really care – they’ve lost faith that the books will ever get done and so it’s better to just get some closure regardless of the source. Why am I mentioning this out of the blue? There are certain revelations in this episode that the book-readers have suspected for years but have never been confirmed. Until this episode, that is; it isn’t utterly game breaking nor is it enough to totally spoil the series’ ending but it is major and marks the frontier beyond which I, as a book-reader myself, can no longer say – oh, I knew that was going to happen.
We open this episode, ‘Oathkeeper’ with Dany who fully intended to keep own oath of delivering justice to the slave masters of Meereen. I found the sequence of events here fairly accelerated and rushed – from the Unsullied sneaking into the city, to the sudden slave uprising to Dany lording it over the city from her oddly villainous looking perch on the highest pyramid. Seriously, does the image above not look ominous to anyone else? There are some further signs that all this killing and winning is getting to Dany’s head; when Barristan advises Dany to show mercy to the ex-slavers, she refuses, claiming she will have justice for the dead. The look on Barry’s (Ian McElhinney) face made me think that he was remembering another violent, crazy Targaryen. Let’s hope Dany doesn’t go that far but for now, she’s park in Slaver’s Bay, a solid half a world away from where she wanted to go.
We didn’t talk about Tyrion in yesterday’s episode, but he has basically found his home for the rest of the season. Get comfortable with this oddly spacious dungeon cell because we’ll be seeing a good deal of it throughout the rest of the season. The conversation between Jaime and Tyrion is rather touching in that how Jaime is able and willing to provide some kind of support for Tyrion when everyone else has abandoned him. Still, I don’t think the show is doing too good a job in portraying Jaime’s conflict of having to choose between brother and sister and that’s partially because in this case the sister is also his lover which makes the choice that much harder. Still, with Cersei behaving strangely and Tyrion’s life in the balance, I think Jaime’s choice ought to be clear.
I wasn’t really going to talk about this scene but since the episode is named for it, I might as well. We get our second unlikely duo to balance out Arya and Sandor – this is the official beginning of the wanderings of Brienne and Pod. In light of the really weird sex scene (I don’t think it was intended as a sexual assault) at Joffrey’s funeral, it just feel weird to have Jaime put his good guy shoes back on and carry on with his redemption arc like he didn’t just have sex with his sister on top of their dead son’s body. Sorry, but that’s just a tad too fucked up to let go so easily, so forgive me if I’m not all heartwarmed about Jaime giving away his shiny new sword because he suddenly has morals again. It didn’t feel like Brienne and Jaime were all that close to begin with and so their parting didn’t really leave much of an impact on me either. I suspect the two will see each other again before too long though.
I was going to use this time to talk about Aidan Gillen again and how he improved since last week but it’s not that big an improvement and there will be more and better chances to talk about him later. Instead, let’s talk Natalie Dormer. Since season 2, Margaery’s been a fairly visible presence on the show but it was only last season that she really got to shine. Her gentle manipulation of Joffrey was great to see as were her light-hearted conversations with Sansa. A few things became apparent through her conversation with her grandmother; she knows nothing about Joffrey’s assassination (that isn’t obvious in the novels) and she is determined to be queen. The show is much more explicit in Margaery and her intentions where the novels leave some room for interpretation regarding her motives and agency in the plot. I found her scene with Tommen absolutely hilarious in how tense and anxious her night time visit made him. In all fairness to him, most of us would respond similarly to Natelie Dormer turning up in our rooms unannounced.
While Tommen is having his pubescent wet dreams fuelled, Bran is keeping Karl Tanner, the self-proclaimed fookin legend of Gin Alley, (seriously? Is there a Whisky Walk and Vodka Valley too?) company. Burn Gorman, who plays Tanner, is pretty much instantly despicable as he drunkenly bullies and assaults his companions and prisoners. On the other side of the wall, Jon is now friends with the man who disarmed Jaime Lannister because HBO is now merging characters and making them do things that make no sense. Locke, as he is called, has been sent to find and kill Bran and Jon Snow too if he can swing it and this little excursion to Craster’s Keep will provide him an opportunity to do both. This feels a little like a mini-arc to keep us from getting too thirsty for the big battle at the Wall – a little bit of bloodshed to keep the edge off and serve as an appetizer of sorts for the big battle coming up. My main concern here though is whether HBO will have Bran and Jon meet and talk. Jon already knows that Bran is alive, something he does not know in the novels, and if they’re willing to change that, then it’s not impossible to think that they might change a few other things here and there. Still, the next episode should prove interesting.
And now the part that we’ve all been waiting for. Before I go on, anyone reading this who hasn’t read the books should know that in the books, we see the White Walkers on exactly three occasions – once in the Game of Thrones prologue, once when Sam kills one and once in the A Dance With Dragons prologue. In each of these times, we barely learn anything about them – surely, they seem sort of sentient but we don’t know their motivations, we don’t know where they come from nor do we know what they are up to. Today, however, we have learned that the White Walkers take Craster’s little freaks and transform them into…what, exactly? New Walkers? Zombie babies? Ok, so we don’t know everything just yet, but we do know that there is a procedure and process to the whole thing. See, how they were all standing there in a circle? Apparently, the guy who forces them to evolve ala Pokemon is their leader and so we now also know that they have a leadership structure and they aren’t a bunch of oddly coordinated zombie factories. That said, I would hate to be the sad sap that has to travel hundreds and hundreds of miles just to fetch a single brat.