Game of Thrones 4×4 Review: Oathkeeper

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Quite the opposite of last week’s Breaker of Chains, the fourth episode of Game of Thrones season four actually rendered me speechless for a little while.

And not in a good way, though Oathkeeper did have some high points.

The opening scene with Missendei and Grey Worm was sweet and actually a bold choice; the insight it gave into these characters – and the importance it placed on them – certainly caught my attention. Missendei and Grey Worm are great characters in their own right, and I hope that the show continues to explore both of them.

On the other hand, seeing the slave revolt in Meereen and Dany’s ‘justice’ involving the masters was one of those events from the books that was difficult to watch, and while I wonder about its placing at the very beginning of Oathkeeper, it certainly set a specific (and pretty uncomfortable) tone for the rest of the episode. The lack of dragons was also conspicuous, especially as they used CGI to show Daenerys standing on the balcony of the Great Pyramid – and not very good CGI, either.

(Additionally, I can’t help but question where they got that absolutely gigantic Targaryen flag…)

GoT 4x 2Thankfully the next couple of scenes were full of some lighthearted King’s Landing banter, although I’m still not sure how the show will carry out certain things that they’ve chosen to change.  Bronn training Jaime is one of those things, but so far it works – the sparring between these two, both verbal and physical, is at the very least amusing. Their conversation about Tyrion was also a good segue to Jaime finally visiting his brother’s prison cell, and that interaction, while uncomfortable at points (awkward kingslaying jokes, anyone?), was just as enjoyable to watch as Jaime and Tyrion’s last scene together.

However, Tyrion’s comment that “Sansa’s not a killer…not yet, anyway” definitely set me on edge. The fact that it was followed by more “Lessons from Creeper Petyr” only added to my concern about what’s going to happen with Sansa. Though a lot of this conversation pretty closely followed the similar one from the books, it’s as if the only direction Aiden Gillan is being given is to be over obvious and to sound as threatening as possible. There was almost no subtlety in Tyrion’s comment about Sansa not being a killer, followed by Littlefinger talking about being involved in Joffrey’s death, and then finally the switch to Olenna and Margaery. I can’t be the only one questioning how heavy-handed the show is being this season…

Speaking of Olenna and Margaery, while the latter’s involvement in Joffrey’s poisoning is questionable in the books, it’s strange to me that Game of Thrones depicts her as such an ambitious schemer, yet she knew nothing about that little plot? That’s certainly an interesting route for the show to take, but I think it would have been better left unsaid.

Elsewhere in King’s Landing, after last week’s Jaime and Cersei debacle it was extremely difficult to watch the two of them interact. I can’t say that they were acting as if nothing had happened, but for me at least it will be a while before their scenes together stop feeling tainted. (If they ever do.) Also, so much for Tommen’s guards, as apparently Margaery was able to sneak right past them. Her midnight visit to our preteen prince (seriously, how old is he supposed to be now?), while not Littlefinger creepy, still seemed a bit questionable – though the Ser Pounce cameo was a great nod to book readers.

Considering the episode is named Oathkeeper, when they finally got around to the reason behind its name the scene was, like last week, surprisingly short. I do think the show did justice to Jaime presenting Brienne with the armor and sword, as well as smoothly transitioning Podrick from Tyrion’s squire to hers. The one thing I wasn’t quite sure about was the weird camera angles and focus on Pod’s face throughout that particular exchange.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.26.59 PMAs for what rendered me speechless for a little while after this episode ended, that would be pretty much everything that happened at Castle Black and north of The Wall. First, how in the world did Locke get to Castle Black so fast? I can only assume that Roose’s order for Locke to find out about Jon Snow happened in a much older timeline, because if it didn’t, Locke must have borrowed Littlefinger’s season two Tardis. Also, I know the Night’s Watch are short on men, but from what I could tell Locke isn’t a brother, and since when do they let new recruits go on dangerous missions? I’m not even sure what’s worse, the plot holes in this entire scenario or the fact that when Jon gave his little speech and asked for men to join him I almost expected someone to start a slow clap.

Another thing that could become an issue is the fact that Sam apparently told Jon about Bran heading north of The Wall. In the books Bran makes Sam promise not to say anything, but between the fact that Jon knows in the show and what happened toward the end of the episode, I definitely have some concerns as to where they’re going with this.

And so I arrive at my biggest gripes regarding Oathkeeper – what was all that nonsense involving Craster’s Keep and the White Walkers? Besides the fact that the drinking from Mormont’s skull and the constant raping going on in the background were completely unnecessary, how are the writers going to conspire to keep Jon and Bran from running into each other now that Jon is on his way to Craster’s and Bran is there as a ‘hostage’? And how did Ghost end up there???

To compound my confusion, Oathkeeper ended with some White Walker action that left me wondering what in Westeros I’d just watched. This wasn’t the first time the show has taken liberty with things that are merely mentioned or inferred in the novels in regards to the White Walkers, but did they go too far, actually showing us this sort of ritual involving them and the babies? I can’t help but worry that the answer to that question is yes.

As I mentioned previously, this episode had a specific, uncomfortable tone to it. Yes, there were some interesting and even enjoyable moments, but after the issues with Breaker of Chains, Oathkeeper simply wasn’t strong enough in its own right. Here’s hoping that next week’s First of His Name will do a better job of setting things back on track.

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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5 thoughts on “Game of Thrones 4×4 Review: Oathkeeper

  1. The episode started off pretty strong, but then once we got to Beyond the Wall, things fell a little flat. I can’t help but wonder where exactly they’re going with this Bran at Caster’s Keep storyline. And what in the seven hells is supposed to be wrong with Jojen?! With concerns to the White Walkers, I can only hope they did that with Martin’s supervision. And what the hell was the purpose of that scene?! Will we be seeing more White Walkers now?

    1. Well, Jojen gets sick in the books too, but I think perhaps it’s a lot slower coming on than what they portrayed in the show. It takes him a while of being beyond the Wall to get that ill, from what I remember, and it’s because they have been traveling all that time without proper nourishment or whatever. Not sure if the show is going for different reasoning behind his illness though ::sigh::

      As for the White Walkers, my guess would be that they wouldn’t reveal them and then ignore them forever? But I doubt we’ll see them in every episode. Hopefully. Because they’re weird.

  2. You summarized so much of what I felt about this episode I feel like I can hardly add anything to it at all. One question though since it’s been a cuople of years since I read Storm of Swords, but did we find out about Olenna’s involvement that fast? I remember there being a bit of a wait between the incident and the reveal. There was enough of a gap that I formulated theories that were… horribly wrong.

    1. It’s actually not that long – I mean, timeline wise it’s probably a couple of weeks before Petyr and Sansa get to the Fingers and he tells her, but there are only like seven chapters between Joffrey’s actual death in Tyrion VIII of ASOS and when Sansa finds out in Sansa VI. However, GRRM writes fairly lengthy chapters, and depending on how long it took you to read from one point to another, I can see there being some theories forming 😉 (I had friends who took months to read some of these books, haha)

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