‘Game of Thrones’ Episode 603 Recap: “Oathbreaker”

It’s not every week that a show features an event as momentous as a main character coming back to life, so don’t worry if you didn’t feel the same adrenaline rush as last week. This week’s “Oathbreaker” fleshes out numerous stories and gives the season a sense of direction going forward.

It also — unsurprisingly — gives us a lot of oathbreakers, though saying that a Game of Thrones episode is filled with oathbreakers is like saying an ocean is full of fish. The severity and reasoning behind these broken vows varies between characters, but you can find one in nearly every scene.

We begin right where we left off, at the Wall, where a gasping Jon Snow comes to grips with the fact that he’s no longer dead. Davos and Melisandre share their astonishment, with Davos proving slightly more adept at hiding his. He asks for a little privacy to give Jon a little I-know-this-is-bloody-mad pep talk, and the resurrected Lord Commander goes out to meet his men, who see him as something of a god. Which he can’t be, says Tormund, because his pecker is clearly too small. Obviously. Before the episode is out, he’ll have to decide how to deal with some oathbreakers of his own.

We see Sam and Gilly in the bowels of a ship en route to Oldtown, where Sam will attempt to become a maester. Sam can’t seem to keep his dinner down, yet Gilly is embracing the adventure and having the time of her life. He reveals to her his intention of leaving Gilly and little Sam in the care of his mother and sister, while he trains in Oldtown at the Citadel. She says that isn’t what he promised (Oathbreaker count: 1) but comes around when she realizes he’s doing it to protect them.

Bran gets another vision quest, and this time he gets to see an older version of his father, Eddard Stark, hoping to rescue his sister, Lyanna, who had been abducted and imprisoned (or so we are told) by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen at the Tower of Joy. He and his five companions — one of whom is Meera’s father, Howland Reed — face off against two members of the Kingsguard, Oswell Whent and Arthur Dayne, the latter considered the best swordsman in Westeros. Despite the six-on-two advantage, the fight quickly dwindles to Stark vs. Dayne and is unceremoniously ended when Reed fights through an injury to plunge a knife in Dayne’s back. With Eddard too concerned about his sister to care about honor in that moment, he makes a quick end of Dayne and rushes to find Lyanna.

Back in the tree roots, Bran is upset once again that the Three-Eyed Raven didn’t let him remain in the vision for long. But Mr. Raven again warns that too much vision fun will ruin Bran’s brain. He’s much too important for that. Bran’s got to learn everything first. Cryptic, old man. Cryptic.

Daenerys finally ends up at Vaes Dothrak, where she once ate the heart of a stallion and listened to the prophecy of the widows of slain khals. Indeed it was to Vaes Dothrak that she should have returned, as all widowed khaleesis are sworn to do to live out their days (Oathbreaker count: 2). But come on, she says, she had to break chains, and birth dragons, and liberate Meereen. The crazy ladies aren’t convinced, and her reticence has earned a special sort of judgment: all the gathered khals will decide her fate, and spending the rest of her life with the other widows is her best possible outcome. Until the dragons arrive, of course. (Just a guess, but come on.)

Back in Meereen, Varys uses different techniques than most to determine that the Sons of the Harpy are being funded by Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis. Tyrion tells him to send his “birds” with a message to those cities. What that is, we’ll have to wait to see.

Speaking of those “little birds,” we finally see what they actually are: children, who gather whispers in exchange for food and candy. Cersei wants Qyburn to place “birds” everywhere in Westeros to hear every possible whisper uttered about her family.

When she, Jaime, and Ser Robert Strong, a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as The Mountain, show up to the small council meeting, they find Margaery’s hilariously droll grandmother and not much cooperation. The rest of the council simply leaves them in the chamber. The shot of the three of them left behind, unsure where to go from there, was highly entertaining.

Arya’s training continues with a truth-telling/beating montage, before she has her sight restored by what she thought was poison water. And hey, she gets her sight back! Slowly but surely, we’re getting somewhere with her storyline.

Ramsay Bolton continues to have allies fall in his lap, unless some trickeration is going on behind the scenes. Smalljon Umber arrives in Winterfell, unwilling to kneel, but plenty willing to deliver Osha and Rickon Stark to Ramsay. In order to prove it’s actually Rickon, the Smalljon plops the head of Shaggydog down as proof (Oathbreaker count: 3).

Finally at the Wall, Jon Snow decides on punishment, and no leniency will be forthcoming. Bowen Marsh, Othell Yarwick, Ser Alliser, and Olly are all strung up on nooses, ready to be hanged (Oathbreaker count: 7). Ser Alliser goes out with his head raised high, so I suppose we have to at least give him props for that. Olly elects not to share any words. Jon pauses and the audience wonders if he’ll go through with it. Sure enough, he does. He gives his cloak and Castle Black to Edd, before marching off and stating, “My watch is ended” (Oathbreaker count: 8).

Whether we’ll see him make the journey to Winterfell or whether the action (Brienne and Sansa) will come to him will have to wait for a another episode. In any case, this season has been given some unmistakable direction, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Stray Observations:

– If the Three-Eyed Raven’s statement about waiting for Bran for a thousand years is true, it puts a damper on a fan theory about the Raven’s identity. Not that it can’t change in the books, but you wonder if the show will bother giving us much of his backstory.

– I suppose having Arthur Dayne use two swords is supposed to convince us he’s amazing, but isn’t it more impressive to be great with one sword? I was looking forward to seeing Dawn, the greatsword of House Dayne, which is supposed to be white and all sorts of cool. The two-handed thing was … slightly disappointing.

– Maybe this is delving too much into the books and making too much out of nothing, but I always gathered that Varys’s system of “birds” was such that it was only possible to orchestrate in the Red Keep, where the children would inhabit the crawlspaces and hidden tunnels within the castles, returning to Varys with the juiciest news and secrets. Maybe the show is trading the idea of birds for what we’d normally just call spies, so I’m not sure what we’ll get from these “birds” going forward.

– Tyrion’s dialogue in this episode was, frankly, garbage; it wasn’t even funny. It makes you realize how good George R. R. Martin is at writing such snappy lines for him. Seeing Tyrion discomfited by Grey Worm and Missandei over a lack of conversation just doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen from the character in either the books or the show.

– Not many shows can pull off fart humor, but in the hands (cheeks?) of Grand Maester Pycelle seeing the Mountain after throwing some shade, it was pretty fitting.

– Come on, Tommen. Don’t let yourself be convinced. Doesn’t Tommen seem like the kind of dude who will go with the last opinion he hears?

– I was all set to write a correction stating I was wrong last week when I said Greatjon Umber was killed at the Red Wedding. We don’t know exactly how he died, but apparently he’s gone. Rather than complying with the Boltons because his father was a hostage, it looks like Smalljon Umber is simply treacherous.

– On that note: Shaggydog! No! If you’re keeping track, our living-direwolf chart is down to 50%. Living: Ghost, Summer, Nymeria (we assume). Dead: Lady, Grey Wind, Shaggydog.

Episode 604 Preview:

Synopsis: “Tyrion strikes a deal. Jorah and Daario undertake a difficult task. Jaime and Cersei try to improve their situation.”

Thanks for reading. See you back here next week for “Book of the Stranger.” Valar dohaeris.

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