As “Oathkeeper” begins, Westeros is in a time of transition. Preparations are being made for a new king on the Iron Throne and many are jockeying for position to influence him. Daenerys and her mighty former slave army are preparing to claim another city. The Night’s Watch is preparing for a wildling invasion that could drastically alter its existence forever. And the cloud hanging over all of this is that Winter at some point, will arrive and the White Walkers, who we were introduced to in the very first scene of episode one, season one, have not fully revealed their intentions. But I do not believe they have noble intentions in mind for the people of Westeros. With all of this in mind, episode four takes most of these stories and places them on a brief hiatus while everybody made sure of their next move. Not that things did not happen or that things weren’t interesting (including some things book readers were not aware about). But the critical actions our favorite characters will make that will determine their fates in the Game of Thrones universe were simply in the planning phases. So let’s take a look at this week’s developments as power players old and new try and influence their place on both sides of the Narrow Sea.
Across the Narrow Sea
It is time for the inevitable conquering of Meereen!!! Not that we didn’t see this coming, but the show does a nice job placing believable doubts in the minds of the slaves in the city until Grey Worm, going all William Wallace speaking to the slaves, brings them swords and convinces them to fight. Then, Daenerys orders the captured slave owners crucified as she stands on a stepped pyramid, looking over the new city she’s conquered. Will she now turn her attention to King’s Landing, which seems ripe for the picking with a new boy king?
On the Narrow Sea
Sansa finds herself in a refreshing new scene. Instead of being manipulated in King’s Landing, she is now being manipulated by her new creepy uncle, Petyr, on a boat heading towards the Vale. Last season, Petyr was promised to Lysa Aryn and he is on his way to marry her. But the crown is completely unaware that he has Sansa, and that Lord Littlefinger has broken away from the Lannisters. And there was also that whole “here’s how Joffrey died” conversation Baelish has with Sansa. Wait…what??? We already know the answer??? Well that sure didn’t take long. And Sansa learns how the necklace she wore contained the poison that killed the Brat King, as well as who Lord Littlefinger was working with. The Queen of Thrones herself admitted to Margaery back in King’s Landing that she put the poison in Joffrey’s cup (more on this later).
The action in King’s Landing begins with Bronn and Jamie having a sparring session. Jamie thinks he has the better of the fighting until Bronn grabs his fake hand and smacks him with it (further proof that Bronn is awesome!!!). Bronn then convinces Jamie to visit his brother, questioning whether Jamie would be willing to fight for him.
Jamie does visit Tyrion, but it’s really nothing new. Tyrion asserts that he didn’t kill Joffrey and discusses how much of a sham his trial is. Jamie then visits his sister, who is not pleased that he visited the man she is convinced is the one who killed her son. Jamie truly is the man in the middle, and something will have to give before the season is over.
Cersei does convince Jamie to find Sansa Stark. Well, sort of. Jamie finds Brienne and appoints her the task of finding Sansa Stark. He gives her his new sword and a squire (the fiercely loyal Podrick Payne) and sends her on her way. I am thankful Brienne is on her way for another adventure instead of wasting any more time hanging out in Kings Landing. But the emotion between Jamie and Brienne as she rode off was spectacular, illustrating the connection the two that developed over their season three journey.
Meanwhile, while all the Lannister siblings fight amongst themselves, it’s “The Graduate,” King’s Landing style, as Margaery sneaks into Tommen’s room late at night at the influence of her Grandma. Lady Margaery wants to start influencing Tommen now, as it is expected that she will be promised to him soon to keep the Tyrell/Lannister alliance intact. I am sure Cersei will be thrilled by all of this.
At the Wall
It was great to see the story at the wall moving forward this week as Jon Snow is training new recruits, much to the dislike of acting head of the Night’s Watch, Allistair Thorne. Though he doesn’t like Jon Snow, he is encouraged by Janos Slynt to send Jon on his mission to take out the deserters at Craster’s Keep. There is a choosing for the new leader of the Night’s Watch expected to happen if they can defeat the Wildlings, and Slynt points out that Jon is popular amongst his brothers and that Thorne might benefit from him not making it back from Craster’s. So Thorne sends Jon on his way, but will not appoint any men to join him, only volunteers will go. Jon gives his own inspiring (though not as inspiring as Grey Worm’s), speech and convinces several men to join him, including Locke (Roose Bolton’s bounty hunter who is posing as a new recruit to the Night’s Watch while he looks for Bran and Rickon).
Beyond the Wall
Craster’s keep is under new, even more despicable ownership with Karl and Rast being the new men in charge. And that is saying something considering the last guy married and had sex with all his daughters and gave his sons away to an undead army bent on destroying the race of man. Rape appears to be a regular occurrence for Craster’s daughters/wives. Is there a worse existence in any story than what these women have endured? Craster did have one more son, and Rast continues the tradition of sacrificing that son to the White Walkers, who we see this week taking the baby back to their home and, with one touch of a finger, turning the newborn into one of them. I am sure the birds and the bees talk you had with your mom and dad did not include where White Walkers come from. Well, now you know.
The deserters also find Bran and company, who unwisely try and spy on them because Bran saw Ghost, Jon Snow’s direwolf, while he was out warging it up. With Bran’s crew captured, that means Jon is on the way to save him, seeing his brother is alive (good). That also means Locke will find them as well (not good). This also means the character I wanted to see this week is unlikely to appear as now most of the things he did in the book have been given to other characters (infuriating!!!)
Notes and Looking Ahead to Next Week
-While I didn’t expect it so soon, I was very pleased to see Lady Oleanna admit to having Joffrey poisoned. The books only give Petyr Baelish’s account of this story, so you’re left to believe a known liar’s account of the tale.
-In the books, it was Sansa’s hairnet that contained the poison. I think the show did a good job replacing it with the necklace here.
-My wife pointed out to me that the scene where Karl is drinking from Jeor Mormount’s skull is actually a physical impossibility because of the human skull’s foramen magnum (the hole at the bottom of the skull where the neck is connected). Unless they filled the thing with plaster, a skull goblet is just not happening.
-As I had hoped, it did not take long for Sam to realize the mistake he made with Gilly. I do hope there is a rescue mission in the future.
-Worst impersonation of a recruit to the Night’s Watch goes to Locke. I mean, at least pretend like you’re somewhat green when it comes to fighting. Jon Snow will look very unintelligent if he does not pick up on Locke’s deception soon.
-Neither the White Walker scene, nor the capture of Bran and Company at Craster’s Keep were events that happened in the books. I will go into more detail on the events at Craster’s next week as I hold out hope one more week that a man riding a moose will arrive at the scene of the conflict.
-While watching Grey Worm and Missandei interacting at the start of the show, was anybody else upset in that moment that Grey Worm is a eunich?
-In closing, it seemed as if this week’s show tried to make us forget that Jamie raped Cersei last week. She did not approach him in their interactions like he had and the rest of Jamie’s arc this week continue moving him towards a more noble character before last week’s incident. So that means that the producers of the show either did not intend for last week’s scene to be rape (their responses have mixed when asked about the scene), or they realized their mistake and tried to make us forget it ever happened (which I doubt because of all the time they had to go back and redo it before sending out the finished products). Either way, the way the scene was portrayed could prove to have done irreparable damage to the direction Jamie is heading.
(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)