Following on the heels of three focused, action-packed episodes, there was a scattered, listless feeling to “Oathkeeper.” It didn’t so much tie up loose ends (what would Game of Thrones be without them?) as introduce a few new dangling threads, and set a few characters on potentially fascinating new courses. Daenerys has finally conquered Meereen, but her post-victory cruelty (which she called justice) was more Machiavellian than anything we’ve yet seen from her. Meanwhile, Sansa’s off to the Vale of Arryn with Littlefinger, the most cold-hearted schemer in the Seven Kingdoms, who looks like he’s gonna teach her a thing or two about the art of politics.
We half-expected the Lost logo to appear across the screen with a distant thud.
Bran Stark and his friends landed themselves among some truly horrible people—the Night’s Watch deserters who have been using Craster’s Keep as their own personal house of horrors. But big bro Jon Snow might be on the way to save him! And how about those White Walkers?
Oh! And we finally found out who offed Joffrey: Littlefinger, colluding with Olenna Tyrell, with poison concealed in Sansa’s necklace. It’s like Clue, only medieval and without a billiards room.
Locations visited: 6. Grey Worm and his Unsullied led a slave uprising in Meereen, leading to Dany’s third consecutive victory; in King’s Landing, Jaime consulted with various friends, family and enemies, and the Tyrell women bonded over the art of dude manipulation; somewhere at sea, Littlefinger showed his hand to (and flirted creepily with) Sansa; at Castle Black, Jon Snow found out who his friends were, and the Six-Fingered Man (er…we mean, Locke) showed up with doubtless dastardly schemes in mind; and at Craster’s Keep north of the Wall, the Night’s Watch mutineers were awful human beings for a while and the kidnapped Bran. And at a snowbound location we’ll call ???, some White Walkers adopted a baby. Awww.
Deaths: 164, all in the first few scenes: The Meereenese master that the slaves stabbed to death on the streets, plus the 163 others that Dany had crucified in an act of retaliation for the slaves they did the same thing to first. Do not cross the Khaleesi, dudes.
Swordfights: 3, all practice bouts—Bronn and Jaime (who’s getting much better with that left hand); Jon and his buddy Grenn; and Locke and some guy who he kicks the crap out of.
Boobs: 4—all at Craster’s Keep, and it’s sad and gross and we don’t want to talk about it.
Moment of badass: Littlefinger divulging a bit of his master plan to Sansa, which is terrifying for everyone in Westeros. “I’d risk anything to get what I want.” “And what do you want?” “Everything.” Shudder.
Effed up thing of the week: Every single thing that happens in Craster’s Keep: the bleak, nasty sexual assault committed by the rogue Black Brothers while their leader, Karl, drinks wine from the skull of the murdered Commander Mormont. Oh yeah, and that newborn baby? Sure, just leave it out in the snow.
Best outfit: Brienne’s awesome new armor, ordered custom by her ol’ buddy Jaime. She looks like a real knight! Only better.
What we liked: There’s so much bad blood between the Lannisters, it’s nice to see them getting along once in awhile. Jaime and Tyrion’s friendly banter when the former visited his little bro in the dungeons was particularly endearing (“‘The Kingslayer brothers.’ Do you like it? I like it.”). The writers are also doing a nifty job mirroring Dany and Jon’s storylines; they both have something to say about justice this week, and both are popular yet flawed leaders on the rise. We suspect that their eventual collision will be central to the story’s endgame. (The book series is called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” after all.) And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tommen Baratheon’s adorable kitten friend, Ser Pounce.
What we hated: Jaime’s apparent rape of Cersei last week seemed to have been all but unacknowledged as the Kingslayer Dudley Do-Righted his way around King’s Landing. Do the writers really just expect us to let that one slide?
What made us go, “Huh?”: Pretty much everything that went on North of the Wall. If you’re a book reader, you’ll know that “Oathkeeper” represented the biggest departure the show has ever taken from George R.R. Martin’s original plot. With Bran held captive at Craster’s and Jon headed that way, could we be in for an honest-to-the-Old-Gods Stark reunion? As for the conclave of fancy-looking White Walkers and their transformation of a human child into one of them—that’s high-level weird mystical stuff, even for Game of Thrones. We half expected the Lost logo to appear across the screen with a distant thud.