There was a lot to love about “Oathbreaker.” but one scene in particular just left me incredibly upset. I see death and gore and sexual violence and get angry, but then this happens and it immediately becomes the worst thing of the season. I can’t help it.
Usually when something on Game of Thrones pisses me off it’s the unnecessary sexual violence or gratuitous nude scenes. I get this frustration out by pounding out reviews of episodes or op-ed pieces that carefully highlight my issues with those narrative tools. This time around, though, oh my no it’s not even close to that. We actually got off relatively easy on that front this week. The part of “Oathbreaker” that made me gasp out loud and shout “NO” at my screen came near the end of the episode when it’s revealed that yet another Direwolf has been lost. This time it’s poor ‘Baby Stark’ Rickon’s untamed Shaggydog. Yes, okay, Rickon and Osha are captured by the Boltons and I get that’s horrifying, too, but they’re alive right now. Shaggydog has been beheaded and everything is terrible.
Please tell me the fans have already started conspiracy theories about this? Please tell me we have clues that that’s some random wolf’s head and not Shaggydog? It was rather small, right? Usually the Stark’s relationship with their Direwolf represents their relationship to Winterfell. Lady was killed when Sansa basically betrayed her sister to side with Joffrey. Nymeria ran away and in a few short episodes Arya had also fled, slowly shedding any true relationship she had with Winterfell over the course of the next couple of seasons. Grey Wind’s was much more straight forward. Robb died and Grey Wind died with him. Sadly, I can see how Shaggydog’s death could fit into this pattern of symbolism, but I don’t want to believe it. Tell me I’m wrong, guys. Where are the conspiracy theories around this scene in “Oathbreaker”, guys?!
But I guess I need to move on from that, because really there was so much else that happened in “Oathbreaker” I almost don’t know what topic to jump to next. I’m upset, guys. Sorry. I guess sequential order is the best here because everything else in the episode took a backseat to that moment. I’m an animal lover. Sue me, okay?
“Oathbreaker” starts off right where the last episode ended. A recently revived (and quite nude) Jon Snow wakes up confused and disoriented. Melisandre immediately implies that Jon Snow is the Prince that was Promised, which fits my theory quite nicely. I’m in the camp that feels the Prince that was Promised and Azor Ahai are two different people, though, which leaves the latter open for Daenerys fulfilling that role. On the show Melisandre has used the two terms interchangeably, but there’s enough of a distinction in the books that it’s a reasonable theory that they are two separate entities. Song of Ice (Jon Snow) and Fire (Daenerys) anyone? If L+R=J is true, that theory doesn’t hold too much water, and it looks like things are headed in that direction, but it doesn’t kill the theory completely.
Jon Snow is revered as a God among the Wildlings at this point, but his closest friends are just shocked and pleased to have him back. Things don’t go as well for the traitors, though, who end up executed by the end of the episode. Even the kid, Olly, gets killed. On the one hand, he is a murderous little kid. On the other hand, he’s just a kid. It might be difficult the forgive the person who stabbed you in the heart, but a small part of me feels like his lack of mercy for someone so young could bite him in the ass later. The kid was angry and orphaned and easily led astray. I don’t think he was truly evil, but hey, this world is a harsh one so one child execution isn’t something to get too hung up on, unfortunately. I’m sure I’ll be shocked and sicked by something else in the next few episodes.
Like another Direwolf dying! God, I’m not over it, okay? Yeesh.
“Oathbreaker” also brought the return of Sam and Gilly, the most adorable sunshine couple in the whole show. They’re on their way to Oldtown, but Sam wants to drop her and the baby off and Horn Hill first so his mother and sister can look after them. It’s clear that Gilly is very attached to Sam, though, and would give up living in a comfortable and safe environment in favor of living in a dangerous city near Sam. If either of these characters gets killed before this show ends it’ll be more upsetting than all the Stark deaths to this point. Because I mean, okay, the Starks are important and we’re very attached to them, but these little rays of sunshine are innocent little cuties and I want them safe when all is said and done. Do you hear that George RR Martin? Protect them.
The most anticipated scene was finally seeing the Tower of Joy. We’re one step closer to a major reveal that fans have been speculating about for years, but every time we get a taste of it it gets pulled away from us. Damn that Three-eyed Raven. What a damn tease. Show us what’s in the tower already. It’s not like there’s a looming threat on the horizon that can wipe out everyone and everything in their way. Oh wait. Show us the damn tower. Please. This scene also establishes two other points worth noting. First, it appears Bran can affect the environment he’s walking into. Ned heard him, though he may have brushed it off as the wind. Secondly, good old honorable Eddard Stark fought a little bit dirty to get into that tower. A man was literally stabbed in the back, which is a big taboo for honest and fair fighters. But screw that, we need to get in the tower. Get in the damn tower already oh my god this is killing me.
Then “Oathbreaker” hops the Narrow Sea and visits Daenerys, who’s having a hell of a time in Vaes Dothrak. She’s sent to the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen, which is basically a place where the wives of khals get secluded away from the rest of society. An interesting moment of note is when they strip her to give her the ceremonial garb. Actress Emilia Clarke won’t do any more nude scenes, though, so the camera kept well above her naked breast. It’s interesting that while the actress won’t get naked for the show anymore, the writers still feel the need to write her character being stripped into the script. Are they incapable of keeping their female characters clothed? Is it really that difficult? I’m just stunned they still chose to do it despite the actress obviously not being comfortable with the idea anymore. But hey, I don’t know what the contract says exactly and maybe as long as she’s not exposed on screen maybe she’s actually okay with this. Who knows.
And then we have Varys, the hero of everything. He manages to pull the strings behind the scenes without every actually putting himself in harm’s way and his presence in Mereen is no different. The dude was wise enough to get out of Westeros while he had the chance, and now he’s playing politics in Slaver’s Bay with the same skill and care that he did in King’s Landing. I have no doubt this character will make it to the end of the series. He’s far too smooth of an operator to get stabbed or captured or otherwise harmed by the bad guys trying to get power. I’m on Team Varys and I’m proud of this.
Back in Westeros, Varys’s little birds are now under the control of Qyburn, the extremely creepy former Maester who was thrown out of the order for his super extreme creepiness. And now he has an army of children that he’s bribing with sweets (what’s in those sweets?? Is he going to turn the kids into zombies or something I’m scared someone hold me please). The presence of Qyburn, and the subsequent resurrection of The Mountain, has caused a hell of a lot of tension on the small council. Things would be awkward with Cersei and Jaime around anyway, but the whole “raising your giant wall of a guard from the dead” thing seems to have tipped the scales for them. The Lannisters are basically being shut out of the small council and I’m totally on board with that idea. The only Lannister in Westeros I care about is Tommen.
Speaking of Tommen, his roll in “Oathbreaker” was short, but continues to endear him to me. Unlike most of his family, he’s not one to make a rash decision that could have bad repercussions later down the line. Some may view this as weakness and indecisiveness, but I feel like he’s really listening to everyone and taking it all in. When he’ll actually set into motion some sort of resolution between the Sparrows and the royal family is anyone’s guess, but he’s certainly not just going in and chopping everyone down like his brother would have done. I like this kid. I want him to succeed. But as I mentioned in my review for “Home“, I predict he’s going to die tragically and I’m not going to be happy about it. I’d rather have Daenerys sit on the Iron Throne, but I don’t want this sweet little kid to get butchered in order for that to happen. But oh man it’s going to happen, guys. I can see it now.
Meanwhile in Braavos, Arya’s plot is actually inching forward this time. I feel like since she arrived in Braavos things have been moving at a snail’s pace, but we got some progress in “Oathbreaker.” She can fight blind. She was able to talk about her life as Arya and relieve some much needed tension on her background. And to top all of it off she got her vision back. This is progress, people. Arya is actually going somewhere now. I’m not sure if this momentum will keep up for the rest of the season, but I hope so. I want to see more of what she’s capable of instead of her just learning to be disciplined and nameless. Let my Arya be badass again, please.
“Oathbreaker” was intense, but overall a very quality episode. I’m upset, yes, but the excitement and eagerness for these characters to move forward in the plot outweighed my anger (barely…. Shaggydog, man, come on). I’m looking forward to more of the season and for us to finally see the interior of the Tower of Joy. These are things that need to happen. Please, writers, don’t let us down.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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