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Episode 4 - Oathkeeper

7 May 2014

Credit HBO

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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  • Why would Baelish want to be king? He says he wants 'everything, everything there is' (seson 1 episode 7) but how are we to take that? I think we do not yet know what his design is.

    I think the fact that Dany dealt out arbitrary justice is how we are supposed to take it within the show because Barristan told her that mercy was sometimes called for because Machiavelli understood that you can rule 'so long as you are not hated' and by doing this Dany might just have angered a whole lot of people. I also think, given what we now know of Dany's story in seson 4 the taking of Meereen was clearly meant to look easy because the hard thing comes after. Tywin had said in epidode 3 after all that someone thinking that winning and ruling are the same thing cannot be a good ruler so that's food for thoghts going forward.

    I might say that the people who make the decisions bout the lives of others usually say when justice has been done nd there are many who have different opinions...which is why it's good to show that not one character is a wholly good or wholly evil person (even Joffrey looked sad when Robert Baratheon was dying in season 1). Ultimately, justice is a matter of perspective nd the show does a good job of making us understand that here.

    Posted by Great Eagle, 29/03/2015 10:19am (4 years ago)

  • Great Podcast love both of your insights

    Spending too much time on the morality aka Jamie rape scene

    The director got it wrong and admits that fact move on...

    Heads on spikes crucifixions dismemberment slashing of stomaches sacrifices.

    Violence no outrage. Where as Nudity needs to be portrayed in a modern day context?

    Hypocritical at best. I not an expert in the correlation to real world sexual abuse But I guess that the relentless violence should have a similar effect..

    Enough

    General population are lapping this up. Is it perfect? Clearly not, but it gets way more correct than not


    Keep up the good work

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Vladas , 01/05/2014 10:36pm (5 years ago)

  • After watching Oathkeeper my belief is that the creators thought Jamie's redemption might be coming across as too rushed and that he would look overly heroic. Similarly with the scenes with the hound, I think in Breaker of Chains they wanted to throw a curveball to say "this guy is still capable of being pretty viscous", and with Jamie they screwed up pretty badly by using a horrifying rape scene to meet those ends. Thinking about It took my mind out of the show somewhat at times, which is unfortunate. That being said, I thought this was a pretty outstanding episode, and light years better than last weeks. I was invested in each of the storylines we saw. I agree that it would have been nice to see more of the revolt in mereen, but I thought that the scene that we did get was well constructed, and the whole opening really got me interested in greyworm. I am curious to see what his role will be, it seems that Dany may be becoming more like the cruel masters she is so intent on punishing without even realizing it. Though the impact of some of the kings landing scenes were dampened by thoughts of the last episode, I still thought they were pretty great. I thought the dialogue was as sharp and beautifully written as ever, particularly in the moment between Jamie and Tyrion. It made me quite emotional to see the clear bond between them, and I was also moved by Brienne's farewell. The way Jamie handled all of these interactions made me feel he is preparing to either do something he believes will cost him his head or perhaps flee the kingdom. Tyrion asked him if he would kill the guards and help him to escape, and I am now considering the possibility that Tyrion will be found guilty and Jamie will do just that, or end up sacrificing himself for his brother. The scene with Margery and Tommen was very interesting, and I applaud the creators for giving me a pretty good feel for who Tommen is in just two scenes. As for the north, I am really excited/nervous for the upcoming confrontation at Craster's Keep. There are a number of intersecting stories that seem to be coming to a head there, and the level of tension is pretty high. I could have done without the rape scenes there, though. Yes, it's a part of the world, I get it, but It just doesn't feel necessary to hammer that point home again, especially after last week. As for the final scene, it was pretty damned cool. I thought it was a lot more effective than the white walker scene at the end of season 2. I guess that's it, can't wait for next week! Love the podcast, guys!

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Dan B, 01/05/2014 1:56am (5 years ago)

  • Sorry one more comment: Did anyone check out the thorny protrusions on the head of the White Walker that turns the baby into a White Walker? It appears there are different types of White Walkers. Maybe this one is the Queen or King. The other ones we saw didn't have thorny protrusions.

    Posted by Fluids, 30/04/2014 6:47pm (5 years ago)

  • Better episode than last week because there's no really bad scene like Jaime raping... I mean, not raping Cersei. This episode didn't get a higher score, because too many in the unknowns than good.

    The Good:

    Jaime giving Oathkeeper to Brienne was touching. It helps that I like the scene because I'm removing the scene from the show in my mind and replacing it with the book version were it was consensual. After all the director said it was suppose to be consensual (was it just a poorly directed scene or was he the sacrificial lamb covering for the show runners?) and being a book reader who dislike unnecessary changes, knowing that scene will undo all this work in the last season making Jaime sympathetic. However, my friends who are non-book readers and don't read any news regarding GoT, aren't so forgiving with Jaime.

    Roberto, you were right. Jaime arrived at King's Landing with Brienne after Joffrey died. That now infamous scene was the first time Jaime and Cersei saw each other since Jaime rode off to Riverrun.

    Karl the mutineer of the Night's Watch is really a creepy villain. I don't think Rast would have been a great choice leading the mutiny as he's not as intimidating. He's more of sidekick to the main villain. Before people point out that there was rape in Craster's Keep amd why I'm not making such a big fuss like with the last episode? As uncomfortable that scene was, I expected scum like the one who stabbed Jeor Mormont in the back to do such heinous acts like rape. Hell, their leader is drinking from Mormont's skull! While Jaime on the other hand is on the path of redemption, which I hope the show is still doing.

    The Bad:

    I mentioned last week that I hope the show won't skip the sacking of Meereen and they didn't... not completely anyway, but it was still underwhelming. It seems that one master is apparently like the alien mothership like in Independence Day where you take it down the rest falls. I know it's naive to think that we are going to have battles every episode, but the more they continue to do this (and they have done a lot like in Season 1 where the show skipped showing a battle by having Tyrion knocked out. Black screen and a screech is all we got in Season 3 premiere and so forth) where they gloss over these big fights the show teases, will do nothing but increasingly annoy people.

    The Unknown:

    So Baelish and Olenna conspired together to poison Joffrey? Rather anti-climatic as someone already mentioned. I thought it's going to be a mystery that will go on at least till the end of this season, but to have the culprits blurt it out just like that... I suppose it's consistent with Littlefinger's character. It's been a while since I read A Storm of Swords, I can't remember that Joffrey killer(s) has been revealed or not, so did the show spoiled the book readers yet again? The poison necklace is the most popular theory, but as I said before, why does Olenna need Sansa to smuggle the necklace when she could have conceal the poison herself?

    That scene with Margaery and Tommen was borderline creepy and unsure how I should feel about it. I can see why the show recast Tommen, especially if they are heading that direction, as it would have been more creepy if they stayed with the original actor.

    Now Jon is going to Craster's Keep to kill Karl and the rest mutineers, so that they won't talk to Mance Rayder and reveal that the Night's Watch is undermanned. But isn't Mance riding out to the Wall regardless of how many men manning the Wall? I suppose with Bran being captured, Jon got a good reason to ride out now.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Dave, 30/04/2014 12:59pm (5 years ago)

  • I thought this episode was very visually stylish, as we have come to expect from Michelle MacLaren, who surely is practically inventing all by herself the idea of individual-episode TV auteurism. Almost every scene was beautifully shot and interestingly framed, and the end scene was a whole new level of atmospheric, less-is-more horror.

    However, the Dany-on-top-of-the-pyramid moment looked so cheap and artificial, it put me in mind of a PSOne era, circa 1997 videogame cutscene. I really hope the producers find a way to avoid these in the future.

    Plotwise, everything was pretty interesting, with so many character conflicts and tensions being set up, especially with Tyrion's trial upcoming, and the question of who will be influencing King Tomnen. This feels like set-up, but good set-up.

    But I must chime with some of Robin's comments, and admit that the relentless unpleasantness of Westeros is becoming quite hard to stomach, episode-after-episode. I will use the Rebel Black Brothers in Craster's Keep as an example. It is an interesting situation the show is setting up, especially with Bran's party captured and Jon Snow on the way. But, does every antagonist have to be a psychopathic rapist now? I understand that these characteristics make sense in some of these rebel Crows, but the constant threat of rape and mutilation to vulnerable characters just seems to both weary me and lose its dramatic effect after a while. These situations I feel have enough dramatic weight and significance to be treated in a slightly more subtle way. Othrwise it takes away from characters like Ramsay, who is meant to strike us as a whole different ballgame of sociopathy. Instead, he just seems like a trust-fund enabled version of the average man-in-the-street.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by David F, 30/04/2014 12:13pm (5 years ago)

  • I liked Grey Worm in this episode. It's interesting that he don his slave collar again. He talks to Missandei about being nothing before he was unsullied. That really calls into question Danny's mission. When she frees him, he choses the same life he would have had otherwise. Though to be fair she probably treats him better. I wonder if the freed slaves really have a better life with Daenerys?

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Eric, 30/04/2014 3:13am (5 years ago)

  • I thought the Meereen material was some of the most engaging in the entire 'Dany conquers slave cities'-storyline. The sequence looked gorgeous and was shot in a dynamic fashion, and although we've already seen an insurrection from within during the conquest of Yunkai, I enjoyed that we got to see more of the conquest this time.

    The story lines taking place north of the Wall are going to be quite exciting for me as a book reader, since the show is veering right off the map there; I finally get to be an unsullied viewer! That said, I didn't think the show needed to dwell on the depravity at Craster's Keep quite so avidly. I think the the mutineers who have freed themselves from their bonds to the Night's Watch (and to the rest of society) provide an interesting counterpoint to the slaves who were exhorted to free themselves from their masters at the beginning of the episode. However, I didn't really need to see Karl the mutineer drinking from a human skull while surrounded by men brutally raping several topless women, in order to understand that anarchy wreaks havoc, and that some social bonds are worth keeping.

    In Kings' Landing I thought Jaime's interactions with Tyrion, Bronn and Brienne were beautifully scripted, acted, and shot. Jaime was back to being a pretty unequivocal good guy, which I suppose makes sense when he's dealing with Brienne and Tyrion, the two people who have consistently brought out his kinder side. I was glad to see that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's performance is nuanced and consistent enough to keep me engaged in Jaime's story, given that the show's depiction of his character these last two episodes has been whiplash-inducing.

    As for the Jaime/Cersei scene this week, I was very frustrated to get almost no sense of what the sept encounter meant for either of them. I didn't think Jaime showed any awareness that what he did to his sister looked like rape. The producers have acknowledged that that is what that scene was - is it plausible to suggest that Jaime himself just doesn't see his own actions in that light?

    I think there's a case to be made that Cersei did see Jaime's actions as an assault, and was outraged by them. I get the sense that she would conceal any feelings of horror or betrayal so as not to appear weak, and then build even higher emotional barriers in defense. Her increased iciness towards Jaime could confirm this response. At one point, the camera pans up to emphasize an almost comically large physical gap between the two of them, which may reflect the gulf Cersei feels now separates them. Her final dismissal - "That will be all, Lord Commander" - could perhaps invoke her superior political position, serving as a power move of her own to counter his physical power move in the sept.

    At the end of the day, though, my interpretations rest largely on inference and conjecture, given that the producers have failed to clearly convey onscreen whatever it was they intended. It's still possible that that apparent rape scene will be clarified and dealt with in a future episode; but given how many other story lines the show needs to juggle, I fear it may simply turn into another throwaway plot point.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Alex L, 30/04/2014 2:44am (5 years ago)

  • “I'm irritated that no one suggested that Jaime go and talk to Tywin.”
    I agree Robin, however there could be a few reasons why no one has:
    • Perhaps with their court system, once Judges are appointed they cannot be approached before or during a trial (so they remain impartial during trial.)
    • Jaime may not believe Tywin has it in for Tyrion. Then again if he thought that he would have brought that up to Tyrion when he spoke with him.
    • Jaime doesn’t want Tywin to know he gave Oathkeeper to away to Brienne (then again blood is more important than a sword.)

    My comment about Ser Arryn is botched. “Would Ser Arys Oakheart of House Tyrell ever kill Myrcella if Olenna ordered him (and then try to frame House Dorne for doing it?)”
    I mean House Martell of Dorne not House Dorne. My unknown there is whether the King’s Guard would defer to their House of origin for commands over the King in certain circumstances.

    Posted by Fluid, 30/04/2014 2:32am (5 years ago)

  • In general, I liked the episode, and felt the crucified masters got what was coming to them, but I really liked Ser Barristan Questioning Dany's actions. I wonder if this could lead to him possibly defying her if she were to continue punishing people in this manner. Perhaps a bit of the Mad King is beginning to show in her actions. I guess we'll have to wait and see how much her power grows, and if she becomes uncontrollable.

    I'm finding Sansa Stark's plot very interesting. For some reason, she's not a very popular character among fans, possibly because she is always being victimized. But, in that scene where she's talking to Littlefinger, it seems as though she's hardening as a character. Considering she has had much "training" in playing the game from Cercei, could it be possible she could one day rise to some sort of power, and take back Winterfell?

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Raine, 29/04/2014 5:38pm (5 years ago)

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