“Wear it. Burn it. Do whatever you want. You have Castle Black. My watch has ended.”
Jon Snow lives, you guys, and in so living, he leaves behind the home he chose and the home he now abandons: Castle Black. Is this the same Jon that we knew before Alliser Thorne, Olly, and the other Night’s Watch men murdered him? Has something changed post-resurrection? Or is the only difference now that Jon is finally seeing, perhaps, that the upcoming war is bigger than the petty politics of the Night’s Watch?
While Jon is making moves at the Wall, Cersei is trying to make them in King’s Landing, Tyrion and Varys are trying to make them in Meereen, and Ramsay is trying to make them in Winterfell. And outside of the present day, we get the flashback to the Tower of Joy, a story that Bran thinks he knows—at least, he know what father Ned had told him—but the reality doesn’t match. And if Ned Stark lied about that, well, what else could he have lied about?
Let’s get into “Oathbreaker,” shall we?
+ “You were dead, and now you’re not. That’s completely fucking mad, seems to me. I can only imagine what it seems to you.” Is Davos Jon Snow’s shaman? He certainly assumes the role this week upon Jon’s return, shielding Jon from Melisandre’s grilling about what happened after he died (“Nothing. There was nothing at all”) and trying to offer up some advice about what Jon should do next: “What does it matter? You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the shit as you can.”
But is that really what Jon wants to do anymore? When he makes his reappearance to the wildlings (were there any Night’s Watch members in that crowd? I only really noticed Tormund among the wildlings, and loyal BFF Dolorous Edd, of course), it’s with a certain weariness and wariness. Jon knows what these men are capable of now, and it’s hard not to compare his execution of Alliser, Olly, and the other traitors – people who thought what they were doing was right – with the war Dany was raging in Meereen against the Sons of the Harpy. If you kill one, another pops up in his place, and another. Was Jon fearful of more traitors rising up against him?
Or, really, is it as simple as the fact that Jon’s death released him of the Night’s Watch vow – leaving him open to do whatever else he pleases? If he does leave the Wall, who is going to go with him? If the wildlings choose to leave with him, where will they go? Is he going beyond the Wall – taking the fight to the Others and the Night’s King, perhaps? Is he going to the Gift, to that patch of land near House Umber, which has (possibly) inspired Lord Umber to join forces with Ramsay Bolton?
Lots of options here for Jon Snow (GHOST IS GOING WITH HIM, RIGHT?), but if he misses seeing Sansa, Brienne, and Pod, I will HULK OUT. The Stark children continuing to fail to cross paths is very tiring indeed.
+ “And now it begins.” “No. Now it ends.” FINALLY, THE TOWER OF JOY. Book Readers like me are seriously the worst, I know, but I was very excited for this flashback, and while I have BOTH beef and bones to pick, overall it was executed pretty well.
Once again we’re getting this flashback because of Bran’s greenseeing with the One-Eyed Raven, but if you need more context than Bran had because he “had heard the story a thousand times,” here you go.
When Robert’s Rebellion occurred, after Prince Rhaegar Targaryen allegedly kidnapped Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert, Robert and Lyanna’s brother Ned rose up against the ruling Targaryens. Robert killed Dany’s older brother Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident. Tywin Lannister ordered the Mountain Clegane to rape and kill Elia Martell, Rhaegar’s wife and Doran and Oberyn’s sister, and her children. Jaime Lannister, who was in the Kingsguard and sworn to protect Rhaegar’s father the Mad King Aerys, killed him instead, earning the nickname “Kingslayer.” And Ned led a group to the Tower of Joy, near the border with Dorne, to try and find his missing sister Lyanna. It’s there that Ned meets Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard, possibly the most accomplished swordsman of his time, and defeats him with the help of Howland Reed, Meera’s father.
All of this is kind of what Bran sees – kind of. Ned had told him that he and Howland had defeated Dayne, but Bran is shocked to see Reed stabbing the Sword of the Morning in the back, which is a major breach of honor. The One-Eyed Raven’s faux-innocent “Did he?” when Bran says “My father beat him … I know he did” is excellent, but so is the suggestion that Ned heard Bran call out his name – because if so, what does that imply for Bran’s time travel? If Bran can communicate with his ancestors, what can he change?
That’s clearly not what the One-Eyed Raven wants him to do, though, as he warns Bran “The past is already written. The ink is dry.” His task for Bran – that he should learn “everything” before he leaves – is terrifyingly daunting, but can he control Bran forever? After waiting 1,000 years, is he willing to cut Bran some slack? Or is “That’s enough for one day” going to be a limitation that continues over and over again?
Also, here are my beef and my bones to pick: Arthur Dayne is the SHIT, and while watching him fight off five dudes with two swords was pretty great, I’m always irritated when the show leaves out or omits things from the books that I find fascinating. Like how Arthur Dayne was Dornish, and his death was another complication in the Targaryen/Martell alliance that fractured after Robert’s Rebellion; or how his honorary title the “Sword of the Morning” was because he wore a gigantic familial sword named Dawn strapped across his back; or how Dayne was who knighted Jaime Lannister, and so Jaime’s killing of Rhaegar’s father the Mad King must have weighed heavily on Arthur; and how there has been no Sword of the Morning since Arthur’s death, because no one else in the Dayne family has ever come close to what Arthur accomplished.
Wait, you DON’T want to know those intricate details about this somewhat minor character who has no relevance in what is happening in the show’s current timeline? WHY NOT?!
+ “My place is not here with you.” The Khaleesi continues being captured by Dave Navarro and his Dothraki horde this week, arriving in Vaes Dothrak, where the widows of the khals in the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen – that same place where Dany ate the stallion heart in the first season, and was prophesied to birth the Stallion Who Mounts the World – ignore her barrage of titles and undermine her belief in freedom. “We all understand the way things are,” they tell her, and basically imply that she’s a fool for trying to #fightthepatriarchy.
In fact, pretty much everything Dany has done since Khal Drogo died is forbidden, since she was supposed to come back to the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen immediately and basically enter mourning as soon as Jason Momoa’s fine ass left our mortal realm. Since she didn’t, it’s time for a Khal Convention, where Dave Navarro and Co. will decide what to do with Dany. How do you solve a problem like a Khal Convention? I bet Drogon will provide a solution soon enough.
+ “The Masters speak only one language. … If we want them to hear us, we must speak it back to them. May it be the last thing they ever hear.” MISSANDEI GOING HARD IN THE PAINT. But seriously, how much did Grey Worm and Missandei look like weirded-out parents worrying about their out-of-control son as Tyrion kept goading them into drinking games? SO MUCH.
While that awkwardness was going on, Varys was questioning that prostitute Vala who we saw so many episodes ago colluding with the Sons of the Harpy and killing Unsullied who came to her to be held, because that shit was heartbreaking and I can’t even continue to talk about it. Anyway! What Varys learns from Vala, in this conversation that was probably the most blatantly inspired by GRRM’s source material (in which Slaver’s Bay is clearly Iraq, and Dany is basically being a Great White Hope to people of color who don’t take well to whom they perceive to be a colonialist taking over their culture), is that the slavers of Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis are funding the Sons of the Harpy in an attempt to undermine what Dany has done. Now that they’ve reinstated slavery in their own cities, they want the same to happen to Meereen, and they’ll use people like Vala to do it.
“The Unsullied and the Second Sons are foreign soldiers brought here by a foreign queen to destroy our city and our history,” she tells Varys, but his response is pure politician: “That makes perfect sense … from your perspective.” But after Varys puts Vala and her son on a boat (although how are there boats when the Sons of the Harpy burned the harbor to the ground; was he actually going to kill her?) and tells Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm what happened, it’s clear that Meereen is headed for war. And with Rhaegal and Viserion now free, there’s really one way this war can go … right?
+ “I want little birds in Dorne, in Highgarden, in the North. … If someone is laughing at the queen who walked naked through the streets covered in shit, I want to hear. I want to know who they are. I want to know where they are.” Man, is anyone else exhausted by this Lannister storyline? Cersei has been plotting her revenge seemingly forever; Jaime is back to being Cersei’s lapboy; and Tommen continues being in over his head, trying to spar with the High Septon and instead getting pulled into a conversation about morality. The High Septon is a disgusting hypocrite, of course (“It’s not what I want; it’s what the gods want” is a pretty gross thing to say), but Jaime and Cersei aren’t much better, failing in their attempt to take over the Small Council meeting and also failing to understand how totally demented Qyburn is.
But a few interesting things happen here: Qyburn basically takes over Varys’s little birds, swaying the child spies to his side by killing their abusive parents and giving them candied plums, and Kevan Lannister and Olenna Tyrell easily outplay Jaime and Cersei, bouncing out of the Small Council meeting and ignoring the Lannister twins’s declaration that “We’ve got a lot to discuss. All of us, together.” Does this mean that the Small Council will ignore Jaime’s warning about Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes murdering Doran Martell and taking over Dorne? It’s quite possible, although since Show Jaime is THE WORST, I do not blame Kevan and Co. in the least.
Also, “There’s a great deal of falsehood in Cersei, you know that,” is probably the best thing the High Septon has ever said. I mean, truly.
+ “Welcome home, Lord Stark.” Excuse me for one moment:
So this is totally a ploy by Lord Umber, right? I REALLY HOPE SO. Because Rickon Stark being captured by Ramsay Bolton is some dark shit. Shaggydog the direwolf being beheaded is ALSO some dark shit. And overall, I am shocked that Rickon and Osha have spent ALL THIS TIME just hanging out up North? They didn’t go anywhere else? In the books, there’s a rumor that the Little Lord and his wildling protector had fled to the island Skagos, rumored to be full of creepy cannibals, and that’s actually what Davos is tasked with doing in GRRM’s novels at this point: finding Rickon and bringing him home.
So this is a major departure from the books, but perhaps it’s to re-center everything at Winterfell? Maybe Sansa goes to the Wall, meets up with Jon, and they come attack Winterfell together to free Rickon? Or maybe Rickon and Osha are actually working with Lord Umber to bring about Ramsay’s downfall from the inside, like the wildlings had tried before? Options!
Also, I laughed at “Your father was a cunt, and that’s why you killed him.” Thanks, dude.
And finally, odds and ends:
+ “Stannis was not the Prince Who Was Promised.” We all could have told you that, Melisandre. I LIKED Stannis, and I still would have told you that.
+ We zoom past Vaes Dothrak in the opening credits this episode, and I liked how the gigantic horse sculptures were rendered both on the small and large scales. Nicely done.
+ Your weekly dick joke came from Tormund to Jon Snow: “They think you’re some kind of god. I saw your pecker. What kind of god would have a pecker that small?”
+ PEACE THE FUCK OUT, OLLY, BYE FOREVER, YOU TRAITOROUS DOUCHE.
+ Loved this sanctimonious Jon Snow retort of “Neither was killing me” to “You shouldn’t be alive, it’s not right.” Know-it-all Jon Snow is the best.
+ Oh right, we check in with Sam and Gilly this week (eyeroll). They’re still on the way to the Citadel so Sam can train to be a maester, but they’ll stop at Horn Hill, Sam’s ancestral home, to drop off Gilly and young Sam to be raised with House Tarly. I guess some people will care that Gilly calls Sam “the father of my son,” but I don’t, so let’s keep this moving.
+ “This is Ser Gregor. He’s friends with all my friends.” I guess Jaime is not a friend? His facial reaction was truly on point.
+ Grey Worm’s monologue about “patrol,” and how that’s mostly what he and Missandei talk about, warmed my heart a little.
+ “Margaery is the queen. You are not the queen because you are not married to the king. I do appreciate that these things can get a bit confusing in your family” WAS SUCH A GOOD BURN, DAMN, QUEEN OF THORNS.
+ Oh right, Arya gets her eyesight back in Braavos. “If a girl is truly no one, she has nothing to fear,” or whatever. One step closer to becoming a Faceless Man, one step further from being Arya Stark.
+ BOOK READERS ONLY: So if Qyburn takes over the little birds, do we think that he’ll have them do what Varys does in the books to Uncle Kevan? I could very well see that happening as the Lannister twins move to consolidate power.
+ And finally, as shown in the teaser clip for next week: Brienne, Sansa, and Pod arrive at somewhere with a big door; Littlefinger is taking to Robin Arryn (Lysa’s son, the one who breastfed into a creepy age, and who Sansa was tasked with taking care of when she was pretending to be Littlefinger’s bastard daughter) about Sansa; Yara is grossed out by Theon; Cersei and Olenna may team up to keep Margaery from doing the same Walk of Shame Cersei did; and Daario and Jorah finally track Dany to Vaes Dothrak. See you then!