This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones, including last night’s Season 4, episode 4, “Oathkeeper.” Enjoy!
I’ve read George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels multiple times (except for the fifth one—I only managed to get through that once!) and so very often, I can figure out the events of an episode simply by the title and those TV Guide summaries. So I thoroughly enjoyed being completely mystified and shocked at the end of “Oathkeeper,” last night’s episode. (Though at this point, given how utterly vile 99% of the humans on the show are, I’m beginning to be a bit sympathetic to the White Walkers’ point of view! Especially since they can perform the miracle of quieting a wailing baby.)
We open with Missandei giving Grey Worm an English lesson (or I guess a “Common Tongue” lesson) because he only speaks Valyrian. They have some touching reminiscences about their pre-slavery lives and I think I might be falling just a little bit in love with Grey Worm (and so is Missandei.) Their studies are interrupted by Dany and Ser Barristan who come in to tell Grey Worm it’s time for his plan to infiltrate Meereen through its sewers. (N.B.: Vicious tyrants need to think about whether they really want functioning sewer systems, because people are always infiltrating their cities through those things. Maybe best to let the rubbish build up and not leave a big opening that enemies can come through.) Inside Meereen the slaves are congregating in the sewers (see above! Sanitation or political control seem to be a zero-sum game!), and some of the older ones are all “Slave uprisings, been there done that!” while the younger ones are all hot to rise up and kill the Masters. Enter Grey Worm, who tells the slaves that they have to win their own freedom and provides them with the weapons to do so. (In principle, I completely agree with Grey Worm, but I think he kind of forgot that the Unsullied didn’t really do any “winning their own freedom”—that was all Dany and her dragons!)
Next we get a shot that reminds me very much of HBO’s series Rome (which I loved!)—a Meereenese nobleman is walking down the street with two bodyguards, and sees a sign painted in English/Common Tongue in blood that says “Kill the masters” (either Grey Worm was practicing his lessons or that was a slip up because how would this master even know what the sign said since everyone in Meereen speaks Valyrian? Unless it’s simply the fact of graffiti that was so disturbing because otherwise Meereen is very clean indeed. That sanitation system is amazing!) The guy turns to flee but is ambushed by two groups of slaves and, I assume, killed.
He’s apparently the only person to die in what’s called the ‘sack of Meereen’ in the novels, because next up, we get Dany doing her Savior Walk through an adoring crowd of slaves. She’s still mad about the fact that the Meereenese masters crucified 163 children on the path to Meereen, so she orders 163 of them crucified in return. Barristan suggests that collective guilt/punishment is not the best way to win people’s hearts and minds, that sometimes injustice is best answered with mercy; Dany tells him that she’s answering injustice with justice. (I’m not sure, again, that collective random punishment could be considered justice.) Also, Dany’s father was pretty big on the injustice, if you consider burning people alive because they disagreed with you to be injustice (and I do.) So I wonder how she’ll feel about the folks who thought it felt like justice when Aerys was killed? Hmmm! We close out the Dany scenes with her standing on top of that big pyramid in Meereen with a Targaryen banner behind her, listening to the screams of the crucified men.
In King’s Landing, Bronn and Jaime are practicing sword-fighting again and Jaime’s not looking too bad with his left hand until Bronn takes Jaime’s golden hand and smacks him across the face with it, sending Jaime sprawling into the dirt. (That was for Cersei! It really wasn’t, but at least I told myself that, since the show failed this week to address any of the repercussions of The Scene That Was Not Like That In the Books.) Then Bronn admonishes Jaime that he needs to fight “dirty” instead of “pretty.” Excuse you Bronn, but I seem to remember Jaime strangling and then beating his cousin Alton Lannister to death with his chains. (A Scene That Did Not Exist In the Books!) Seems pretty dirty to me, actually. Bronn also reminds Jaime to go visit Tyrion. I guess unless he’s having sex with his siblings, it’s out of sight, out of mind for Jaime.
Thanks to Bronn’s reminder, Jaime does in fact go visit Tyrion in prison and exchanges reminiscences about the year he spent chained to a pole covered in shit. If he was trying to cheer Tyrion up, he failed. Things are kind of awkward after Jaime mentions that Cersei wants him to kill Tyrion, who immediately thinks that Jaime will actually do the deed. Jaime asks whether Tyrion really killed Joffrey, and Tyrion’s offended that Jaime thinks he’d kill Jaime’s kid even if he was a little shit, and Jaime is offended that Tyrion thinks he’d kill his little brother. Having mutually established that neither of them has killed this particular relative, Tyrion suggests that Jaime let him go, and Jaime reminds him that he’s to have a trial. Wow, it’s a good thing Jaime’s pretty, because he’s definitely the dumbest of the three Lannister kids if he honestly thinks there is the remotest chance that Tyrion will escape conviction. Tyrion reminds Jaime that Cersei would want Tyrion’s head on a spike even if the true killer were to confess his guilt and provide iron-clad proofs in front of the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, we find out who actually killed Joffrey. It was Humbert Humbert (or Petyr Baelish as this show likes to call him) who boasts about it all to poor Sansa before creepily stroking her arm. Sansa is shocked by Baelish’s betrayal of the Lannisters (err, I’m not sure why after he betrayed her dad, but maybe she wasn’t aware of the full dimensions of that), so Petyr treats to her a glimpse inside his skeevy mind. Something about being unpredictable so no one will ever be able to guess why you’re doing the things you do. Poor Sansa has no choice but to roll with it (and maybe figure out where the life vests are so she can jump off this ship. Hey, maybe she’ll meet Gendry, who is, as far as we know, still rowing from Dragonstone.) Baelish also reveals that he had a co-conspirator who is none other than ...
The Queen of Thorns, Olenna Tyrell, who conveniently spells out her involvement in the death of Joffrey to her disbelieving granddaughter Margaery. The show is trying really hard to make me believe Margaery wasn’t involved, but surely Olenna couldn’t risk Margaery drinking the poisoned wine, so I’m not buying this. Olenna reminds Margaery that Joffrey’s little brother Tommen is now the King and that she can marry Tommen and carry right on being Queen, but she has to circumvent Cersei’s influence on the boy. Meanwhile she tells Margaery how she seduced her sister’s fiance and thus turned him into Margaery’s grandfather. This is not a conversation I’d ever want to have with my grandma, to be honest.
At the Wall, Jon and Grenn are teaching some new recruits how to fight. Among the “recruits” is Lord Bolton’s man, Locke, who’s come looking for Bran and Rickon at the Wall. As might be expected, Locke knows how to fight quite well, and after Jon Snow is reprimanded by Ser Alliser Thorne and told to get back to his job of being a Steward, Locke comes over for some more of his Robespierre-like speeches trashing the arrogant aristocracy. (Err, sure, but ... how come Locke is so loyal to Bolton then?) The faux sympathy works, because Jon has no suspicion whatsoever about Locke’s story of poaching game to feed his hungry children and being exiled to the Wall.
Cersei is having a moment with her best friend, the wine goblet, when there’s a pounding at her door. Finally Jaime comes in apparently in response to a summons by Cersei and things are kind of awkward for a bit (but not for the reason one might thing, i.e. that scene from last week). Cersei has heard about Jaime’s visit to Tyrion and dismisses Jaime’s tentative plea that Tyrion didn’t actually kill Joffrey. And then she gets to her true request, which is that Jaime provide her with Sansa’s head. Poor Sansa! She also orders Jaime to quadruple the guard on Tommen’s door because she quite rightly doesn’t trust the Kingsguard to find its rear end from its elbow at this point.
Cersei was right to be skeptical about the security arrangements, because in the next scene, Margaery Tyrell glides into Tommen’s bedroom and starts pulling a Littlefinger on him, asking him to tell her his secrets and warning him not to mention to anyone that she’s been to visit him. (I guess this is okay because Natalie Dormer is gorgeous and Tommen is an adolescent boy—that’s sarcasm, by the way, I was thoroughly creeped out by this scene!) Luckily, Tommen’s cat, Ser Pounce, is a far better guardian of Tommen’s virtue than the Kingsguard, and interrupts where I feared this scene was going.
Meanwhile, Jaime has finally remembered that he swore a vow to Catelyn Stark about her daughters, so he’s summoned Brienne to his chambers, where he gifts her with the Valyrian steel sword his father gave him as well as a very nice new suit of blue armor and asks her to find Sansa Stark and bring her to safety. I feel about 75% better for Sansa knowing that Brienne is on the case. Brienne is kind of overwhelmed by Jaime’s being this nice and generous, though not so thrilled when Jaime presents her with his third gift: Tyrion’s squire, Pod (he’s so cute, though!!!) She rides away from King’s Landing and Jaime looks like his heart is going with her. Awww!
Back at the Wall, Janos Slynt, Slimebag and Former Commander of the City Watch, convinces Alliser Thorne that, to be secure as Acting Commander, he really needs to get rid of Jon Snow, who is 100% more charismatic than Alliser Thorne. So Thorne tells Jon that he will get to lead a mission against the mutineer’s at Craster’s Keep. Jon is excited because, as he’s earlier told Sam, Bran may have found shelter at Craster’s; Locke is also excited because he overheard Jon talking to Sam and is now potentially going to find one of the missing Stark boys. Jon asks for volunteers, and at first is met by a deadly silence; finally, Pyp, Grenn, Dolorous Edd, some random bearded characters and Locke all volunteer for the mission.
Meanwhile at Craster’s Keep, the Night’s Watch mutineers are under the thumb of Karl Tanner (Burn Gorman) who is made of snips and snails and distilled evil. The former Night’s Watch members have been entertaining themselves by eating Craster’s food and raping his daughters (and in Karl’s case, also drinking wine out of Jeor Mormont’s skull). They’re also keeping Jon’s direwolf Ghost captive, for no apparent reason at all, since they are running short of food and also now have to worry about this giant angry animal breaking out of its cage and killing them all. I guess evil makes you stupid sometimes. One of Craster’s older wives interrupts Karl’s recitation of his Bildungsroman—from hired assassin in King’s Landing to the King of the Dungheap at Craster’s Keep— to bring in a baby boy, the last of Craster’s sons. At first Karl wants to just kill the poor baby, but instead is persuaded to leave him out as a sacrifice for the White Walkers, just as Craster used to do.
The baby, understandably, starts wailing when Rast places him in a snowy hollow. Unfortunately for Bran, Meera, Jojen and Hodor, they hear the baby and Bran wargs into Summer the Direwolf in order to find the child. (I’m not sure about this plan, to be honest. Wouldn’t a direwolf just see a human baby as a tasty morsel?) In any case, Summer goes off-mission when he sees Ghost caged up, and is trapped himself. Bran insists that they have to rescue Summer, so the four humans venture towards Craster’s Keep, where they are predictably captured. Jojen, who’s not well at all, interrupts Karl’s interrogation/threats to rape Meera with some kind of epileptic fit, while Hodor is tormented by a bunch of people outside and stuck with a spear. (Just in case we didn’t realize that these are really bad dudes!!)
The wailing baby is collected by the White Walker in charge of infant sacrifice, just as we saw in Season 3, but this time we follow the White Walker and his skeletal horse on a long journey north. The baby mysteriously stops crying and also doesn’t freeze to death, and life at Craster’s looks so bad that I’m actually thinking he’s probably better off in the arms of the ice zombie than back at the homestead. Eventually, the White Walker reaches a sort of icy Stonehenge, backed by what could be a castle, and places the baby on an altar in the middle of the ringed slabs of ice, before withdrawing. In a really gorgeous shot, we see twelve dark, hooded figures ring the altar before one reaches down to pick up the baby. Folks, things just got real, because this isn’t your standard White Walker type; for one thing, he’s wearing clothes, and for another, he actually looks just like Loki’s birth-father from the Thor movie, which is weird. He also has what looks like a little crown of horns which makes me think we just met the Ueber Overlord of Winter is Coming. King White Walker reaches one long pointy fingernail into the baby’s cheek, and its eyes turn icy blue just as my spine turns plain old icy. Yikes!!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.