Episode 4 - Oathkeeper
7 May 2014
Synopsis: Danerys captures Meereen Little Finger takes Sansa to the Eyrie. Olenna Tyrell admits that she killed Joffrey and encourages Margaery to seduce Tommen. Jaime visits Tyrion and asks Brienne to go in search for Sansa. Locke arrives at Castle Black and befriends Jon. Thorne is worried by Jon's popularity with the men and licences his mission to Craster's Keep. At the Keep the mutineers sacrifice another baby to the White Walkers and capture Bran's group.
The Good: The scope of Game of Thrones still has the power to impress. To finish the episode on a spectral vision of another world was a very memorable visual. The White Walkers have indeed been swelling their ranks by converting babies into one of their kind. It was like hell in winter which I suppose is what they were going for.
At the other end of the world I was intrigued by Dany's decision to crucify the Masters of Meereen. It's hardly inconsistent with her decision to slaughter the Masters of Astapor but it was interesting to have Ser Barristan voice a different approach. She seems like Queen of the World right now but is there any payback coming for treating your enemies with such brutal disdain?
There was emotion in Jaime's scenes despite the elephant in the room (see The Bad). All that he shared with and sacrificed for Brienne meant that their goodbye was sad. His attempt to keep his oath to Catelyn by empowering Brienne was a fair solution to his own desperation to stay in King's Landing. Giving her Pod's services was a nice touch. The question is now what can he do about his siblings?
Events at Castle Black and Craster's Keep were interesting, if depressing. With Locke sharpening his knife behind Jon's back and poor Hodor being tormented it was more uncomfortable viewing. The sight of a baby left in the freezing snow managed to top both though for pitiful images. However there is drama in the wrinkle that the Black Brothers actually vote on who the Lord Commander will be. With so many senior figures dead it seems Jon could be the people's choice. And could a situation have any more kindling than the one at Craster's Keep? The mutineers look ready to slaughter one another any minute and Craster's wives are all wondering how it could be that they have gone from the frying pan into the fire. You have Jon leading a group north while Mance or a White Walker could descend south and in the middle you have Jon's brother and direwolf.
The Bad: I'm irritated that no one suggested that Jaime go and talk to Tywin. Tyrion all but says his father has it in for him so surely the only man who can intercede his Jaime? And yet somehow that doesn't come up? Very annoying.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who said "well that was easy" after one stabbed Master led us to the fall of Meereen.
If you look simply at what is on screen then it seems clear that last week's "rape" scene was not meant to be rape. In this episode Jaime showed no sense of regret and when Cersei cut him off and ordered him to leave the tone definitely said Cersei=cold, Jaime=somewhat sympathetic. She didn't seem hurt or horrified by the sight of him and in his scenes with Tyrion and Brienne he remained firmly on the path of redemption. The conclusion I reach is that the producers wanted us to think that Cersei is punishing Jaime for leaving her and denying him sex and affection as a result. But obviously she does still have deep feelings for him because when he forced himself on her she took it without recrimination. As dozens of intelligent articles have pointed out, that is a damaging presentation of a rape situation. It sends all kinds of wrong messages and leaves viewers confused as to how to feel about Jaime where clearly no confusion was intended. Game of Thrones already turns people off with its in-your-face presentation of the most brutal sexual politics that medieval life can offer (see the rapes at Craster's Keep here). We really, really don't need the producers leaning into that curve with foolish decisions like this.
The Unknown: So if Baelish wants to be King one day, what is his plan? He talks about the Tyrells being more predictable, perhaps more pliable than the Lannisters. Perhaps as I speculated he will attempt to foster civil war for his own benefit? Although after the conclusion of this episode I have visions of a White Walker standing over a thousand cowering humans and Little Finger striding up to him to suggest that he will need a Hand of the King and who better than him?
I wonder if Margary is about to wind up dead. She promises to visit Tommen again just as Cersei asks for his guard to be quadrupled. That sounds like Little Finger's plan is already working.
Best Moment: The choice of Oathkeeper as the name for Brienne's sword couldn't help but be a touching moment. Regardless of all the horrible things he's done (or appeared to do) Jaime can't but help appear as a hero in her eyes. His bathtime speech about how he became the King Slayer (305) made it clear how much that nickname wounds him. So she offers a small redemptive nod of the head and they say goodbye.
Conclusion: As with last week the portrayal of suffering is making Game of Thrones hard to enjoy. Between good people being trampled under foot and the show's ability to deliver shocking twists I can't help but cringe every time someone nice does anything.
I'm sure some justice will be done eventually. But once again our most powerful advocate for justice just crucified a bunch of people. Yes they perpetrated slavery but who is she to sit in brutal judgment on their individual morality? I guess it's still a choice between her and demon-faced baby killers at this point.
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