Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 3 – “Oathbreaker”
This week focused a great deal more on forwarding plot lines and much less on being actively Stabby McMurderson. Though some viewers found this episode boring, there was plenty about “Oathbreaker” that kept me on the edge of my seat.
We opened right where the previous episode left off: Jon Snow is alive and –oh my– very naked. Anyway, he is very alive and, after taking stock of his still open and painful wounds, very confused. Melisandre, who is decidedly less mopey now, immediately asks about where Jon went when he died, and further heavily implies that he, not Stannis, is the “prince who was promised.” Which is a little like if someone told Jesus he was the Messiah after having been crucified; can you imagine how overwhelming having that thrown at you upon your resurrection would be? Ser Davos kindly asks her to leave and then accurately sums up the situation: “You were dead and now you’re not. That’s completely fucking mad, it seems to me. I can only imagine how it seems to you.” The Onion Knight continues with his motivational poster schtick from last week and pep talks Jon to go back out and face his Brothers and the Free Folk.
Then we clip away to a ship on stormy seas to see the return of Sam and Gilly to the show after several episodes of absence. In between bouts of seasickness, Sam breaks to Gilly that he cannot take her and Little Sam to the Citadel; instead, he is taking her to his family home at Horn Hill. Gilly rightly points out that he had promised that wherever he goes, she will go with him but, ultimately, acquiesces since she trusts him and it is the only way he knows to help keep them safe.
Warging with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven back in time again, we get our first glimpse of the Tower of Joy – the place where, according to the stories, Rhaegar held Lyanna Stark captive. We see a young Lord Eddard Stark and his bannermen—including Howland Reed, Jojen and Meera’s father—face off against Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning and we learn, alongside Bran, that the stories about the encounter weren’t entirely accurate: Ned only survived because Howland Reed literally stabbed Dayne in the back. After the fight is over, a woman screams from the tower and the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran that it is time to go; Bran fights to stay with the scene a little longer and calls out to Ned, who maybe actually heard him. When the Three-Eyed Raven pulls them from the scene, Bran angrily insists that Ned did hear him, but the tree-bound Yoda tells him that the past cannot be changed. After some pretty standard pupil-mentor arguing, the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran that he won’t be stuck in the cave forever, but before he can leave he has to learn everything. No pressure! For serious though, they are just going to drag this reveal out as long as they can, aren’t they? We just want to know if R+L really does equal J!
Next, we join the Dothraki horde as they arrive at Vaes Dothrak, where Dany is handed over to the dosh khaleen, the “council of crones” comprised of widowed khaleesis. The leader, Khal Savo’s widow, informs Dany that she is not, in fact, guaranteed a place with the dosh khaleen because she did not immediately return to Vaes Dothrak when Khal Drogo died. Instead, her fate is up to the Dothraki council that decides where they will raid and who they will enslave. So, Daenerys is at the mercy of a group of warlords who are A-OK with rape and enslavement. Awesome. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of taking a woman with the strength and independence that Dany has and putting her in the role of damsel in distress, which really seems to be the way the showrunners are trying to take this.
Meanwhile, back in Meereen, Varys is being fabulously Varys and is working his way toward answers about the Sons of the Harpy. When he finally finishes questioning Vala, the prostitute we’ve seen previously working in coordination with the Sons of the Harpy, Varys joins the rest of the group and is able to pass along the information that the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen are being funded by the Masters of Yunkai, Astapor, and Volantis. In order to deal with the rebellion, something will have to be done about the Masters elsewhere in Slaver’s Bay. Tyrion’s a far better strategist than anyone in Westeros really wanted to give him credit for, so I’m sure he will scrape some kind of a scheme together.
Back in King’s Landing, creepy failed-Maester Qyburn is taking over Varys’ network of child spies so that Cersei knows who is talking smack about her and can send Ser Murder Zombie after them. Then we clip away to an in-progress Small Council meeting where Maester Pycelle is droning on and Lady Olenna’s back! Cersei, Jaime, and Ser Reanimated Clegane interrupt the Small Council meeting, insisting on their inclusion. After Lady Olenna throws some grade-A, USDA certified shade at Cersei, the entirety of the Small Council gets up and leaves the Lannister twins and their Murder Mountain at the table. At the Sept, young King Tommen has finally mustered the intestinal fortitude to confront the High Sparrow, insisting that Cersei be allowed to visit Myrcella’s resting place and demanding Margaery’s release. The High Sparrow manages to diffuse the potentially violent situation and the conversation moves very smoothly into his seeming to try to become a counselor to Tommen.
In Braavos, Arya is back at the House of Black and White and we are treated to a montage of her training: between getting the snot smacked out of her in matches against the Waif, she is questioned about who she is, who she was, and what Arya’s history was. By the end of the sequence, Arya has managed to get the point that she can not only defend herself against the Waif’s attack, but she can accurately strike back. Jaqen summons Arya over to the fountain and gives her a bowl of the same waters given to those seeking release from their lives. Jaqen tells her that if she is truly no one, then she has nothing to fear. She drinks from the bowl and her sight is finally restored.
And now we get to the point in the show when I wanted to cry and I definitely started yelling at the television. Back up in Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton is taking pledges of fealty as the new Warden of the North. We cut in as Lord Umber is making the pledge to be a bannerman to Ramsay, but rather than kneel or kiss rings, he’s brought “gifts”: Rickon and Osha. When asked to prove that the boy in front of them really is the youngest Stark son, Umber produces the severed head of Shaggy Dog, Rickon’s direwolf. Y’all, I nearly cried and threw up. I definitely yelled at the tv.
The show closes back up at Castle Black, where Jon Snow conducts what turns out to be his last piece of business as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch: hanging the four conspirators in his murder, including Olly. It almost seemed for a second that Jon couldn’t make himself do it, but he is—one way or another—a Stark and “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” Then he hands over his cloak to Dolorous Edd and gives him command of Castle Black, declaring, as he walks through the gates, “my watch is ended.” Ooooooooh! (Dear Jon, Please go to Winterfell right meow!)