New Show Recap, Game of Thrones 4×04, “Oathkeeper”

I owe you an apology.

“You” being those of you who haven’t read the books. Until this week I had no real idea of how it feels to watch this show and have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next… it’s not pleasant.

I’m sorry about all the times I laughed at you about the Red Wedding.

But we’ll get to that. First up, it’s…

Meereen

We start off here with Missandei giving Grey Worm lessons in the Common Tongue; and they trade stories of how they become enslaved. Missandei remembers her home; Grey Worm has always been Unsullied — or so he says. Like Gendry and Davos or Shae and Ros last season, it’s another lovely snippet of two “lowborn” characters talking freely to one another — more of this please! And is it just me or are the writers trying to ship Missandei and Grey Worm now?

Missandei and Grey Worm look awkwardly at Dany
They totes look supercute together OMG

Grey Worm has to cut his lesson short, though, so he can lead a crack team of Unsullied into the sewers of Meereen to where the male slaves are all conveniently gathered debating their options. The sensible men are in favour of doing nothing — there have been slave rebellions before, and they have failed. The hotheaded young ones are in favour of taking the opportunity that Dany’s presence outside the walls gives them, but Grey Worm’s presence proves decisive, and they quickly take over the city.

It’s a great idea — whoever’s it was — to show the slaves of Meereen taking their lives into their own hands, catalysed by the speech and weapons of Grey Worm and his Unsullied, fellow slaves as well. But there’s a note of caution struck later, when Dany insists on avenging the crucified slaves by crucifying the same number of slave masters against Barristan’s advice. Is she about to get another lesson in governing?

It’s sloppy though, that “Kill the Masters” on the wall is written in Common, not High Valyrian or Meereenese… especially since the action started with a language lesson.

King’s Landing

Olenna, having revealed her part in Joffrey’s murder to Margaery, is now hightailing it out of King’s Landing before Tyrion’s trial. Good move, Olenna. You’d have to wake up very early in the morning to get one over on her. Also, I totally want more backstory on her scandalous youth — which Targaryen did she avoid marrying?

Margaery promptly takes a leaf out of her grandmother’s book and begins her conquest of Tommen, sneaking into his bedroom — Joffrey’s old bedroom, still with its creepy décor — to kiss him on the forehead and begin all the talk of “our secret.” Talk about manipulative—  but Margaery knows her stuff.

Margaery smiles at Tommen
*insert pussy joke here*

Contrast her approach to Renly (flat-out sexual seduction then brutal honesty), and Joffrey (flattery, innocence and just a hint of sexual deviance), with how she begins this engagement with Tommen, and we see — as if we didn’t already realise — that Margaery is an accomplished player in the the game. As Alyssa Rosenberg points out:

&helip;a boy Tommen’s age wants the promise of sex in the future, but the reality of a kiss on the forehead in the present…

At least we know that Tommen isn’t a mini-Joffrey — that’s got to be good for the realm, right?

Bronn finally guilts Jaime into going to see Tyrion in his (surprisingly spacious) cell, and the brothers trade captive stories. Aww. But there’s not much hope for Tyrion in this visit.

Tyrion: Are you really asking if I killed your son?

Jaime: Are you really asking if I’d kill my brother?

When Jaime was captured way back in the first season, he was forcibly removed from his family: this season he seems to be cutting those ties himself. First with his father by refusing to resign the Kingsguard and go back to Casterly Rock, now giving away the prized Valyrian steel sword to Brienne. Then Cersei: as if last week wasn’t enough, his refusal to believe Tyrion is guilty of the murder sets him against his twin, who is dead set on revenging herself on their brother. But Jaime also refuses to help Tyrion himself — even though he knows the result of this trial is all but a foregone conclusion.

Jaime says goodbye to Brienne
I’m outsourcing my oaths these days

And then he sends Brienne (and Pod!) away, ostensibly to find Sansa, but also to get them both out of reach of Cersei. It was a good move strategically, but it leaves Jaime very much friendless in the capital. We know his loyalties lie with the Kingsguard — but is there anything else left for him to fight for?

On a boat (somewhere between King’s Landing and the Eyrie)

Speaking of Sansa, she’s getting a rapid-fire lesson in the game of thrones from her saviour/kidnapper Littlefinger, who reveals that it wasn’t the Tyrells alone who murdered Joffrey: it was him. Oh, and her. Wait, what? Good that Sansa was too well-brought-up to absent-mindedly put her jewellery in her mouth, eh?

It’s also interesting that Littlefinger is so open with Sansa —he seems to want her to learn fast. What has he got planned for her once they reach the Eyrie? And there’s to be another wedding, you say? That bodes well.

The North: Castle Black

Sam is rapidly having second thoughts about the wisdom of taking Gilly to Molestown — but it’s too late. No-one is permitted to leave Castle Black: Gilly and Little Sam are on their own. In a pretty significant departure from the books, Jon knows that Bran is alive and who he’s travelling with — because Sam told him.

In fact, this whole storyline is a departure from book events, so this is where us previously-smug book readers are brought down to earth. Locke endears himself to Jon, and volunteers — with Pyp, Edd, Grenn, and others — to go with Jon to Craster’s Keep to kill the mutineers when Alliser Thorne is finally persuaded of the wisdom in Jon’s proposal by the original baby-murderer himself, Janos Slynt. If it succeeds, it gets rid of the mutineers and the crucial information they could pass to Mance Rayder. If it fails, well, that’s Jon out of the way before the Choosing of the next Lord Commander, whom Jon, in his stirring speech, refers to openly as a father.

The North: Craster’s Keep… and beyond

If Mormont was a father to the Night’s Watch, some of his sons are being very disrespectful to his corpse, drinking wine out of it and gods know what else. Still, Mormont’s better off than Craster’s daughters, who are being sexually assaulted on screen as so much set dressing. I understand what the writers were trying to do with this:

We’ve paid a lot of lip service to idea that Night’s Watch is made up of shady characters, rapists and thieves, but we never saw much of that. The mutiny was the beginning. This is the worst of the worst finally free of the shackles of society. Bryan Cogman

but it’s difficult to take from a show that’s been so casual about sexual violence before.

Aww, zombie baby
Aww, zombie baby

The birth of another baby boy at the Keep means two things: we finally see what the White Walkers do with the babies; and following the baby’s cries mean that Bran, Hodor, Summer, and the Reeds are dragged into the Keep and trapped. I’m not sure which plot point I was more traumatised by. So the babies don’t die — they do get transformed into more White Walkers. Exactly how many sons might Craster have had over the years…?

And Bran is forced to reveal his super-secret identity as Karl threatens the lives of the Reeds. So is Jon going to rescue his little brother at the Keep, or what? I honestly don’t know! It wasn’t in the books! Hold me!

I’m excited for next week:

SPOILER WARNING: if you want to talk about the books from these events in A Storm of Swords on, please be nice and use rot13.com to encypher your comment (go to that site, write your comment, click, then copy and paste the new text back here). Events from the books that have already been depicted in the first three seasons of the show are not considered spoilers.

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2 thoughts on “New Show Recap, Game of Thrones 4×04, “Oathkeeper””

  1. Yeah. I was absolutely horrified during the Craster’s Keep scene. I read another review where the writer heavily criticized the writer’s for using mass rape as set dressing. I kept thinking, Wasn’t there a way they could HINT at what was going on without actually showing it? I get that they’re the dregs of society but did it need to be there and in my face?

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