Review: Game Of Thrones season 6 episode 3 – Oathbreaker

After two fast-paced episodes things slow down quite a bit in the third one. Still lots of good shit happening though – let’s get right to it.

Once again all the most interesting things happen at the Wall, where Jon Snow has finally returned from the dead. I love that this is not being played as something cool, but more as something that’s strange and unnatural and kind of messed up. Just look at Davos’ face at the very start of the episode – that does not look like the face of a man who’s happy to greet an old friend. He snaps out of it though and is there to comfort Jon when he, quite understandably, freaks the fuck out. With the exception of Melisandre, everyone is looking at him like he’s a god – or worse, a demon – and even Jon himself expresses some doubts about whether something may have changed inside of him. Enough attention is devoted to this idea to expect some developments or revelations further down the line, but for now he sure seems like the same old bastard we know and love. Still a sensitive dude, still wants to do good, still doesn’t enjoy taking lives even when he has a pretty good reason to be taking them.

Great scene that, by the way. Alliser Thorne once again proves that he’s not just a treacherous coward, but a guy staying true to himself and whose actions resulted from desperately wanting to do the right thing – or what seemed like the right thing from his perspective. Both the actor and the writing really elevated this character above something that could easily have been completely one-dimensional. You know, like Olly. I think we all enjoyed seeing that little shit dangle on the end of a rope. Maybe not that shot of his face at the end though, that’s actually one of the more repulsive images this show has ever put on screen. I wonder whether the effects guys looked at pictures of actual corpses before working on that, because it looked truly horrific. I can’t imagine being the parent of the kid who plays Olly and having to watch this episode – that shit would give me nightmares.

Anyways, the deaths of Alliser and his buddies signal the end of an era. The endless politics and backstabbing at the Wall, the Wildlings, all that stuff that’s been in play since the very beginning of the show is all resolved, and Jon Snow is free to go his own way. His watch is ended – time to take that Wildling army, hook up with Sansa and Brienne and go kick some Bolton ass! Because that’s where this is all going, obviously. I’m even more sure of that now that Rickon and Osha have surfaced again, being handed over to Ramsay to be tormented for the next three or four episodes. It’ll make sure every Stark in the general area will be banding together and heading straight for that final battle to retake the North. It’s like the Game of Thrones version of that plot point in action movies where the villain captures somebody close to the hero to raise the stakes for the climactic fight. I like it.

Also, is it me or did that guy who brought in Rickon and Osha look exactly like a young Liam Neeson?

Also, is it me or did that guy playing young Ned Stark look exactly like a cross between Karl Urban and Neil Patrick Harris?

That was a fun little flashback. After hearing all these stories about Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning (I’m not sure what that even means, but it sounds freaking cool), I have to say he did not disappoint, mowing people down with a sword in each hand. I guess we’re supposed to be shocked that Ned didn’t actually beat Dayne in combat, implying that even the great, noble Ned Stark had a dishonorable side to him, but come on. The dude embellished one story, just a little bit. If that’s his only sin (aside from being, you know, super dumb*) he was still one of the most trustworthy guys in this whole universe. Anyways, we’re now one step closer again to that big reveal they’ve been teasing for a while now, and will be teasing for a while to come. Who’s in the tower? What does it mean? If you’re a book reader or even just a regular internet user you probably already know. If you don’t, well… guess you gotta wait a few more episodes, because they seem determined to spread it out across the entire season.

Speaking of spreading, I expected them to do the same with Arya’s training to become a Faceless Girl, but I guess I was wrong about that one. This episode we’re suddenly hit with a montage and boom: eyesight restored, training completed, Arya is a badass now. I wonder where her story will go from here. Will she ditch these gullible fuckers and begin working through the remaining names on her shit list, or will she actually become a proper member of their order? I’m guessing it’ll start out as the latter, but then another familiar face will turn up sooner or later and vengeance shall be hers.

And that about covers the good stuff that happened this episode. The rest of it isn’t bad per se; it just seems a whole lot less interesting in comparison. Most of the remaining scenes are just quick and unexciting check-ups. Take Sam and Gilly’s scene. They’re on a boat, going to the Citadel where Sam is gonna become a Maester, so that he can help Jon fight the Night’s King. Which sounds like a great plan, because how long can it take to become a badass goddamn Maester? I’m sure he’ll manage it before the undead hordes come knocking on the gates of Castle Black, those guys still have two or three miles of ground to cover. Anyway, that’s the whole point of the scene, giving us a quick reminder that these two characters exist and that they’re planning to go do something. The only new information is that Sam can’t actually take Gilly with him to the Citadel, meaning he’ll have to drop her off at his parents’ house. Got it, thanks for letting us know, guys. See you in another week or two.

Then there’s Dany, who at least gets some expensive CGI thrown at her scenes, walking into Vaes Dothrak and all. Really though, not a lot is actually happening. Dany is with all the other widows now, which sucks, but apparently it will suck even more if she’s not allowed to stay, which is a thing that might happen… but not in this episode. I’ll admit that my annoyance with Dany’s scenes this week partially stems from yet another squandered opportunity to get her clothes off. Come on, guys. What is this show even about? In the immortal words of Ian McShane, “It’s only tits and dragons.” While the occasional dragon still pops up on the show, tits are popping a whole lot less these days, and I’m not ashamed to say I miss them. It’s tits AND dragons, HBO – get your act together!

You know an episode isn’t fulfilling its full potential when even Peter Dinklage can’t quite make his scenes sparkle. I can see what they were going for when they put him at a table with Missandei and Grey Worm**, trying and failing hopelessly to make small talk with them for minutes on end, but it doesn’t work. It can be very entertaining when Game of Thrones goes for outright comedy (remember that small council scene from a couple seasons back where everyone’s trying to get the best seats?) but this time they misjudged it – the scene just isn’t funny, and it goes on forever. The bit where Varys manipulates a prostitute into cooperating also feels superfluous. It’s so familiar, I’ve seen this exact type of scene in countless movies and tv shows. I was waiting for something to happen, to taste that special Game of Thrones sauce that would make it feel different and exciting, but I guess they just forgot to pour it on. It doesn’t help that we’re back into the whole Sons of the Harpy plot, who now turn out to have support from the three big slaver cities nearby. Who cares though? Let the city rip itself apart – nobody we care about, cares about fucking Meereen. Except for Dany, yes, but she ain’t here anymore, is she? I truly hope the next episodes focus a bit more on the dragons, because that’s the only thing giving this storyline some flavor.

Lastly, we get to King’s Landing. I like seeing Jaime and Cersei together again, forming one front against their enemies. They’re on the warpath, but for the moment they don’t seem to be getting much done. The season 6 trailers have promised us scenes of carnage with Zombie Mountain being unleashed upon the Sparrows, but this episode Cersei makes the very clear statement that they can’t just send him in to kill everyone, because there’s too many of them. So I guess we’ll have to wait a little while longer to see Lancel Lannister get his jaw ripped off (at least that’s what the trailer implies is going to happen). For now, Cersei has to content herself with having Qyburn send out his little birds to get information on anyone that’s plotting against her or even has the nerve to make jokes about her – like that guy who got his head smooshed last week. Oh, and we finally discover these little birds Varys was always talking about and which Qyburn has evidently inherited, are just little kids. That’s surprising, because I always thought it would be guinea pigs. Bit of an “out there” theory I know, but I still got a PowerPoint presentation lying around proving its likelihood was at least 36%. I’ll show it to you some time.

Jaime and Cersei also try to muscle in on the small council, which has a lot of familiar faces on it who I thought were hanging out elsewhere. Remember Kevan Lannister angrily storming off last season, saying he’d be at Casterly Rock if anyone needed him? Well, he’s back, and so is Diana Rigg’s Queen of Thorns. I have to admit, I’m fearing for their safety a little bit. It seems to me all signs are pointing towards Cersei making a grab for power soon, especially now that her son is again letting himself be manipulated by the High Sparrow. At this point I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Cersei ends up killing Tommen personally, especially if he tries to get her to go back to the Sparrows to face judgment. With Tommen gone, the only thing standing in her way would be the members of the small council and would you look at that – they’ve all come to King’s Landing at the same time, conveniently making themselves available to be fucking murdered. After all, we are moving towards the end of the series now. This would be a good way to tie up some loose ends and prevent Benioff and Weiss from having to spend any more precious screen time on characters that are no longer relevant.

Besides, remember how Varys killed Kevan at the very end of A Dance with Dragons? The idea was to let Cersei self-destruct after the only voice of reason in the whole of King’s Landing had been snuffed out. Since on the show Varys isn’t even in Westeros anymore, obviously he won’t be the one doing the deed, but the end result will likely be the same. Poor old Kevan’s days are numbered, and I bet it’ll be Cersei herself who seals his fate – and by consequence, her own.

Well, that’s it for episode 3. Overall I felt the lightning-quick pace of the previous two episodes didn’t hold up throughout this one. As a result, when it was over, I found myself wanting to watch another one immediately. “Oathbreaker” just didn’t quite feel substantial enough to tide me over for a whole other week. But hey, that’s the downside to watching a show on a week-by-week basis. I’m not complaining too much, just wish it was next Monday already…

* Remember when Ned walked up to his worst enemy and told her exactly what he was going to do, before he actually did it? Then got his head cut off? Then got his head put on a stake? Then got his daughter to come and look at his cut-off head on a stake? I’m thinking “super dumb” may not be a strong enough term to describe Ned’s decision-making skills.

** Grey Worm is played by Jacob Anderson, who recently was a guest on the very funny YouTube show Game Grumps, which I’m a huge fan of. It’s entertaining stuff, he seems like a pretty cool guy. Check it out here.

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