Apr 28 2014

Game of Thrones Review: “Oathkeeper”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

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After something of a hiatus last week, I’m back with a full review of last night’s Game of Thrones. I’m really liking the season so far, even in its divergence from the books. There’s just something about these showrunners where they know just what to cut, what to add and what to leave the same. They don’t get it all right (more on that later), but overall, I’m consistently impressed.

We’re slowly unraveling the full extent of the mystery of Joffrey’s death. Last week we learned that Petyr Baelish was a major player in getting the job done, and now more or less the entire plan has been made explicit. For those of you wanting it even more clearly laid out, Petyr hired Dontos to give Sansa a necklace with poison stones. Olenna Tyrell took a stone from the necklace during the wedding (evidenced by her gesturing with Margaery’s necklace this week) and used it to poison Joffrey’s wine when no one was looking.

The revelation cleared up something that I have been unclear about, even reading the books, that Margaery was not involved, and didn’t know anything about the plan. She knows now, but I didn’t know if she was part of its execution.

It may seem odd for Petyr to betray the Lannisters given how good of friends they are to him, but from his perspective, it makes a lot of sense. Despite all his big talk of risk and danger, there’s very little risk for him at all. He was out of the city during the murder and has no apparent motive for killing the king, therefore he’ll almost never be considered a suspect.

But rather his motive is clear. Joffrey was clearly unstable as shit, so now he has a new, docile Lannister king, Tommen, who will be much easier to deal with and he’s still friends with the Lannisters. Then because of his involvement with killing Joffrey he’s allied with the Tyrells indefinitely, a powerful force in the kingdom given how Margaery is sure to take the role of Queen, yet again. Her scene with Tommen was brilliantly done, and I like how in the show Tommen is a tween able to be charmed by her, rather than a seven year old kid in the books. It makes the relationship a bit more interesting (and less reliant on child actors, mercifully).

The Tyrells have Cersei determined to murder her own brother, so blind by her hate that she doesn’t even see that it’s obviously a set-up. Jaime believes Tyrion, but nothing will stop his sister’s vengeance.

Speaking of Jaime, I didn’t have time last week to address the horrible, terrible misstep the show made by completely misinterpreting the books. They literally had Jaime rape Cersei next to the body of her son, which completely shattered his redemptive arc, and made no sense given the new trajectory of his character. In the book, yes, they had sex by the body and Cersei was reluctant, but it wasn’t outright rape. It was creepy, but it didn’t make Jaime out to be a monster, which is what the show did by botching that scene.

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Now, we have loveable Jaime back, dueling with Bronn, giving Brienne badass armor and weapons to go find and protect Sansa. We’re  just supposed to forget how badly they screwed up with that rape scene last week so he can be allowed to carry on his arc like nothing happened. I guess that’s what we have to do, or else his character literally stops making sense. That was one of the worst mistakes the show has made to date, and hopefully they learned from it.

I suppose I should flash back to the opening where we see Danaerys take yet another slave city, this time in a rebellion spearheaded by Grey Worm. Glad to see him getting more screen time, as I’m getting sick of Daario. I’m a little sad Jorah Mormont doesn’t have anything to do any more, as now Ser Barristan is the old man advisor role. Jorah literally just stands there.

I think this the last slave city of Dany’s docket for now, and now she has to settle in and actually rule as a queen, and figure out what to do with a zillion freed slaves and a bunch of not-dead angry masters elsewhere plotting revenge. I think at this point Dany’s story slows down a bit, but the show always has a way of livening up boring parts of the books.

We spend a fair amount of time up north this episode, and as I said, this is one place where the show is spicing up the book with Bran’s capture and the mutineers at Crasters. So far as I can remember, that didn’t happen in the novels, but it’s far better than simply watching Bran trudge through the snow and warg out periodically. Now there’s some real tension there.

We end the episode seeing an uber-White Walker, one with horns, transforming a Craster baby into one of his blue-eyed creations. I’m not sure if that means he’s literally turning it into a White Walker, or just a zombie soldier, as I believe we’re outside the bounds of the books again. Like, I literally think the show just revealed something that hasn’t even been covered through book five yet. Things are getting strange up in here.

Book Stuff (Spoilers Ahead)

– I’m starting to realize that since I read Storm of Swords more than a year ago, everything is starting to fade and I can’t always tell what did and didn’t happen in the book. I think I’m going to have to re-read it so I can stop being as ignorant in these reviews.

– For example, Roose Bolton’s man Locke, the guy who cut Jaime’s hand off. Did he come up and join the Night’s Watch in the books? I can’t remember that happening, though it makes the eventual betrayal of Jon Snow make more sense.

– Did this entire Craster’s retaking/mutineer thing happen? I know they didn’t kidnap Bran, but I’m having trouble remembering if this was a plotline at all. And who is this mutineer king? I remember him only from the singular episode where Mormont was killed last season, and don’t know who he is in the books (or if he’s in them).

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– I think the explanation of Joffrey’s death was handled better here than it was in the books. Petyr is getting a bit theatrical for my taste though. I’m really looking forward to when they get to the Vale, and how that plan unfolds.

– Seriously, was any of that White Walker baby transformation stuff in the book? That seems like a pretty major development if that’s really how White Walkers are born. I’m reading things that the horns Walker is the “Night’s King,” which I think has only been alluded to in the books so far.

– Bronn sparring with Jaime is infinitely more entertaining than Ilyn Payne sparing with Jaime.

– Again, I’m really liking an older, non-whiny version of Tommen, though it really changes his character. Like, unlike a little child, this Tommen actually seems like he’d be a good king. Book Tommen is just a complete puppet because he’s literally too young to rule. Show Tommen wouldn’t necessarily have to be.

– I was really sad to see Brienne and Jaime part, because I don’t believe they have reunited by the time the  last book’s been written, right? She eventually meets Stoneheart and is about to supposedly be put to death. Jaime and her had such a great dynamic, and it’s always a bummer to see great characters separated because you know that in Game of Thrones, one will probably die or it will be like two seasons before they reunite. Same with Arya and the Hound, who will probably be splitting somewhat soon unless there are some major rewrites. I don’t really want her to go to Braavos by herself.

Alright, more next week. Mark BOOK SPOILERS in the comments when applicable please.





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10 responses so far

  • Alex W

    BOOK SPOILERS

    Locke as a character doesn’t exist in the books. The guy that chopped off Jaime’s hand was named Vargo Hoat (a leader of a sellsword company that was allied with the Lannisters until Roose Bolton took over Harrenhal and he swapped allegiances). I think the Locke going north thing is mainly to give Noah Taylor more screen time and add some intrigue to these newer story lines at the wall before the Battle of Castle Black.

    Karl (the mutineer king) is kind of an amalgamation of other turncloaks in the book (there’s one dude name Clubfoot Karl but I don’t think they are meant to be the same). The retaking Craster’s story line never happened, but in the books they mention that after a good time raping and eating, the mutineer’s leave Craster’s to head south and meet up with Coldhands and get killed by him and his crows. I’m really hoping that they are doing this Bran intersecting with the mutineers thing so they can introduce Coldhands and have him save them.

    The White Walker stuff was completely new. I read an explanation that noted that if this is the way White Walkers reproduce then it totally makes sense why original rules for the Watch were that they couldn’t have children. The Night’s King was the early commander of the Night’s Watch that fell in love with a white walker and then called him self king and rule the Nightfort. Joramun (king beyond the wall) and whatever Stark was in Winterfell banded together to take him down.

    Lastly, I’m so happy they threw in Ser Pounce. Hopefully it means that Margaery will gift Tommen with the other two (Boots and Lady Whiskers).

    END OF SPOILERS

  • ducky

    I fear we won’t see Coldhands, but I’ll hold out hope.

    The White Walker transformation stuff in the books was simply wild tales told by Craster’s wives/daughters. I always thought it was just superstition, but I guess it isn’t? Yeesh!

    I DO hope those mutineers get fubar’d!!

    • Jeremy

      I suspect we WILL see Coldhands, in that CH will save Bran etc from the mutineers at Craster’s Keep just before Jon Snow and his merry men get there to kill them all. That way Bran and Jon wont meet (as they don’t in the books) but the show-watching audience *thinks* they will. Many, many close encounters.

      • AJ

        Edit: SPOILERS

        Agreed. God, I want him to be Benjen Stark. He’s kind of, sort of been ruled out by the children of the forest but I could totally see a moment when you think Bran et al are going to be murdered but they’re saved at the last second by his late uncle. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN

        Would be cool, anyway. The CotF implied that CH has been around longer than Benjen was missing though.

  • Nick Ramsay

    I feel like I’m the only one that didn’t mind the Cersei rape scene (not that I enjoyed it – you know what I mean). It seemed to me like the natural culmination of all of Jaime’s grief, anger and betrayal – I mean he’s been imprisoned, ransomed, lost a hand, his brother’s been arrested for regicide, his illgotten son is dead and worst of all (in his mind) the only person he loves in the world is totally rejecting him. I think all of that + the bigger set of blue balls in the seven kingdoms could lead to something drastic.

    And I think it’s made the failure of the Jaime-Cersei relationship far more definite. In the books it kind of fades away to nothing.

    • Ingridtoday

      The problem with the rape scene is that Jaime is suppose to be on the path to be more honorable. In the books Jaime is very much against rape (In his POV he said it was worse listening to Arys rape his wife then watch men be burned alive, in addition to saving Brienne, and he chases off the men attempting to rape Tyrion first wife back when they were kids). Also, he still loves Cersei so it really doesn’t fit his character -or story arc- to rape her. On top of all that it’s not even something they’re addressing with Cersei or Jaime. I doubt they will.
      Personally, I thought their relationship fading to nothing made more sense. Cersei is the only person he’s been with so it would take him a long time (and infidelity) for him to accept it’s over. Cersei cast him aside the same way she did with countless other people she no longer considered useful.

  • AJ

    SPOILERY SPOILERS

    Are they just going to skip over the whole Jorah betrayal story? I guess it didn’t really go anywhere important, but it still seems strange to have the guy around and not give him anything to do.

    Also, am I the only one getting more than a little concerned about them running out of material? I realize this issue has been brought up by a LOT of people, but we didn’t know that they’d be just tearing through these stories. Tyrion, Bran, Jon, and Dany were gone for an entire book! So they’ve all got really very little story left. Unless next season focuses mostly on Damphair, Arianne, and Arys then I just don’t know what they’re going to do.

    • Alex W

      SPOILERS

      Didn’t they say in the show that Ser Barristan didn’t sit on Robert’s council (unlike in the book), so he couldn’t out Jorah even if he wanted to? I imagine what will likely happen is that as Daario gains even more of a foothold in Dany’s heart, Jorah will do something that forces Dany to choose between the two of them and then Jorah will get banished from Meereen. I feel like the writer’s will want to time it more so there it coincides with Tyrion right as he gets to Meereen after his escape.

      I really hope that they just cut most of the Arys/Arianne plot entirely (it really goes nowhere in my opinion). I’m also not sure how they are going to approach it. It will be rather jarring if next season they cut to two new locales with a bunch of new characters as they would need to to introduce everything in Dorne and the Iron Isles

      • Ingridtoday

        Maybe they’ll skip Arianna and get right to the Sand Snakes, because their mutli-level infiltration plan is way more interesting. Arianna reminds me a lot of Cersei, but, with out the fun of all the craziness.

  • MegaSolipsist

    The White Walker king(?) looked more female to me, as well as belonging in Star Wars, and it wasn’t in the books at all.
    I am starting to get seriously confused by all these deviations in the show.

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