Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 3 “Oathbreaker”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: Bran and the Three-eyed Raven are once again in a visit to the past sequence. They see some young men approach a small tower, guarded by two formidable looking men in armour. The approaching group is led by a young Ned Stark, who Bran recognises as his father. The Raven says the man at his side is Lord Reed, father of Meera (and the late Jojen). Okay, that’s interesting. The guards don helmets and prepare for a fight as the group approaches, wielding two swords each.

Ned walks up and exchanges some words with the guards. He says something about the Mad King being defeated, and asks why the guards were not present at the battle. They respond that they were ordered to guard this tower. Ned asks where his sister (Lyanna, who we saw last episode) is. Rather than answer, the guards start to fight. The presumption must be that she is being held in the tower, but for what reason is not clear.

In the fight, pretty much everyone is wounded and falls, leaving Ned facing one of the guards. Bran comments to the Raven that he heard his father tell this story a hundred times, of how he defeated this swordsman at the tower. But Bran is puzzled, because he can see that the guard is a far superior swordsman to his father at this age, and he wonders how his father can possibly win. Indeed, the guard disarms Ned, and is about to strike a killing blow… when the wounded Lord Reed stands up and stabs the guard in the back with a dagger, taking him down. Ned stands with relief as he is surrounded by the dead and dying. Bran is shocked – he realises his father has lied, and that the great foe he bragged about defeating in combat was actually stabbed in the back by Reed.

Ned and Reed start running into the tower. The Raven tells Bran it’s time to leave the vision, but Bran is defiant and calls out to his father – and Ned turns around, apparently having heard his voice, but sees nothing. The Raven grabs Bran and pulls him back to the cave under the tree. Bran complains and says his father heard him. Raven says it was just a coincidence, he probably heard a bird or something. Bran says he wants to see what was in the tower. The Raven goes into Mr Miyagi cryptic mode, and says, “Do you think I enjoyed sitting here and letting this tree grow over me for a thousand years?” Bran asks him why he did it than. The Raven tells Bran that he was waiting – for him! – and that before he can see more visions he must learn more things. Bran asks what things, and the Raven replies, “Everything.”

At least that seemed to be the gist of it. The Raven keeps warning Bran that spending too long in these visions of the past is risky, and he might end up not being able to return. And that he can’t change the past; it’s a story that’s already written and “the ink is dry”. This may be ominous foreshadowing of a time when Bran is tempted to stay in a vision for too long and may end up trapped, at least for a while. The fact that Ned seemed to react to Bran’s shout may also be foreshadowing that the Raven is wrong – maybe Bran can change the past. And what is in the tower? Logically, it should by Ned’s sister Lyanna, but in what state? She’s not present in the story at the beginning of season 1, so presumably she met some ill fate. Comments on my previous write-up pointed out that Lyanna was mentioned in passing near the beginning of season 1 – references which I didn’t note as being very important at the time. I guess more of this story will come out soon. And it sounds like the Raven is preparing Bran for a fateful future in which he will play a large part (a bit like Arya). The kids growing up to continue the story of their father.

Braavos: Speaking of Arya, she is deep in training in the House of Black and White. “Training” involving the older girl whacking her with a stick repeatedly and asking her questions about her former life, which Arya answers in the third person, as part of her quest to become “no one”. She mentions four brothers, which garners a whack on the side of the head. She amends to three brothers and a half-brother, and a sister. She has no idea where any of them are now, or if they’re even alive. Arya talks about the list of people she was going to kill. She says the names of Cersei Lannister, Gregor Clegane, and Walder Frey. The other girl asks if there’s anyone else. Arya says Sandor Clegane was on the list, but she took him off, before walking away to let him die (rather than killing him). Presumably she took him off because he saved her.

The two girls spar with staves, until finally Arya manages to firmly block an incoming blow. Jaqen appears and sends the older girl away, then leads Arya to the large room with the poison well in it. Jaqen says if she will tell him her name, he will give her eyes back. Without hesitation, Arya says she is no one. Jaqen fills a cup with water from the poison well and hands it to Arya. She hesitates. Jaqen says if she is no one, she has nothing to fear. Arya drinks… but is unharmed and her eyes clear up! It looks like she can see again.

Finally! It looks like this is the episode of plot advancement. Bran is making progress, and now Arya is too. Hopefully this is some sort of culmination of her training, and she can soon go out into the world and hunt down Cersei and Gregor and so on. Although frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if she had to spend another season of episodes here, doing still more training.

Dothraki lands: A huge horde of Dothraki escort Daenerys to a dusty valley, passing under two enormous bronze rearing horse statues. She’s a widowed khaleesi, and they have to treat her with some respect, though apparently that doesn’t extend to giving her a horse to ride, or to not calling her names and prodding her to keep walking through the dusty heat. They approach a round wooden building, and Daenerys is taken inside by two men, who are quickly told to leave by the matron inside. This would be the place where all the widowed khaleesis come to live out their lives. It immediately has the vibe of Prisoner, or Orange is the New Black. There’s a pecking order in here, and Daenerys thinks she’s at the top of it, until immediately put into her place by the true head ex-khaleesi, who has Daenerys stripped and reclothed in the same outfits as the rest of the dozen or so women. The top dog tells Daenerys that all the khals have arrived to have a meeting and decide what cities they will sack and conquer this year – and also to decide what to do with her. Apparently it’s not a given that Khal Drogo’s widow will be accorded the tradition of living out her life here. Top Dog tells Daenerys that she hopes, for her sake, that they decide to let her stay, leaving the alternative dangling unsaid.

Well, this is really just a waiting game for Daenerys. Daario and Jorah are on the trail, although we don’t see either of them this episode. But honestly, how hard can it be to track a horde of Dothraki? They can’t be far behind. And then there’s Drogo, who may well get antsy and decide to find Daenerys. I’d back a dragon against any number of Dothraki you care to name. He just has to fly around and burn everything, and pick up Daenerys unharmed from the ashes. Either way, I can’t see Daenerys being stuck here too long. Which of course may just mean that she does end up here for several episodes, as that seems to be the way the writers work…

Meereen: Varys is alone in the pyramid, talking to a woman, accusing her of knowledge of the Sons of the Harpy and the plot to kill Unsullied. She is defiant, until Varys mentions her young son. She accuses him of threatening her son, and says if she talks the Sons of the Harpy will kill her and her son anyway. Varys very calmly explains that he’s not threatening anyone. On the contrary, he’s offering her and her son a safe passage out of Meereen on a ship, plus a big bag of silver to help look after her son. If only she has any information to tell him…

Meanwhile, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missendei seem to have given up wondering about Daenerys altogether. They are sitting bored around a table, and Tyrion tries to liven things up by suggesting they play a game. Grey Worm dismisses games as for children. Tyrion says it’s a drinking game, but Grey Worm and Missandei say they don’t drink. Tyrion decides to start anyway, but then Varys comes in and delivers the information from the woman he was interrogating. He says the masters of Astapor and Yunkai, and Volantis are behind the Sons of the Harpy. Grey Worm immediately says that the Unsullied can retake Astapor and Yunkai, but Tyrion says that would leave Meereen unprotected. Tyrion instead suggests that messages need to be sent to the masters of the other cities, and asks Varys. Varys says he doesn’t trust masters or normal messengers, but he trusts his “little birds”.

King’s Landing: Speaking of little birds, Cersei’s Doctor Frankenstein Maester – whose name I finally manage to learn is Qyburn (I looked up the spelling) – seems to have taken over using Varys’s street urchins in King’s Landing. He curries their favour by handing them candied plums in return for their spying activities throughout the city. Qyburn is clearly setting up shop as someone of import and influence in the future. Cersei arrives with Gregor “The Mountain Monster” Clegane, and asks Qyburn to send his spies all over, particularly in Dorne, to help track down the murderers of Myrcella and Prince Trystane.

The Small Council is having a meeting, led by Kevan Lannister as the Hand of the King. Maester Pycelle is there, and Mace Tyrell (Margaery’s dad) and Olenna (Margaery’s grandmother). Pycelle is complaining about Qyburn, as usual. Cersei and Jaime arrive and sit down, saying that Dorne is becoming a problem. Kevan tells them they’re not on the Small Council. Jaime counters that he is captain of the King’s Guard, and does in fact have a place on the Council, and Cersei simply refuses to leave. Kevan says very well, he can’t force them to leave, but that doesn’t mean he and the others have to stay. He gets up and leads Pycelle, Mace, and Olenna out of the room, leaving Cersei and Jaime pondering what to do next.

Tommen heads to the Sept to talk to the High Sparrow. There’s a bit of a stand off between his guards and a bunch of the Faith Militant, before the Sparrow dismisses his guys, and Tommen follows by having his guards stand down. Tommen demands that Cersei be allowed to see Myrcella’s body. The Sparrow declines, saying she hasn’t atoned enough. Tommen is livid, saying she’s been humiliated. The Sparrow says it’s not for him to judge, but for the Gods, and they aren’t happy yet. Tommen is a bit indecisive, not wanting to go against the will of the Gods, which is all the opening that the Sparrow needs. He starts to tell Tommen about the love of The Mother, and how the goddess relates to him and Cersei. It’s all a bunch of fast talking hooey from the Sparrow, designed to bamboozle Tommen, but it seems to work. Tommen’s either going to leave without having his demands met, or even worse, the Sparrow will start to have influence over Tommen. Oh dear. I didn’t think I’d say it, but I miss Joffrey. At least he wouldn’t be so wet behind the ears.

Winterfell: A Lord Umber appears and talks with Ramsay and Lord Karstark. Umber says that he is ready to join the Boltons, which Ramsay questions, as the Umbers have been loyal to the Starks. Umber says Jon Snow has let wildlings through The Wall, and now his lands are under threat, so he wants to switch sides. Ramsay says he should kneel and swear fealty, but Umber says he won’t. Ramsay asks why he should believe a man who won’t swear loyalty. Umber points out that Roose Bolton swore loyalty to Robb Stark, and look what happened. Ramsay is like “Mmm, good point.” Umber says he can show his loyalty in other ways, and he has a gift for Ramsay.

Two hooded figures are brought in. The hood is removed from one… it’s Osha! Uh oh. That means the other must be… Ramsay doesn’t recognise the young man. Umber says it’s Rickon Stark. Ramsay, quite justifiably, asks how he can be sure it’s Rickon Stark. Umber opens a sack and tosses the bloody severed head of a dire wolf on the table. Presumably Rickon’s wolf. Oh dear. Ramsay grins evilly. “Welcome home, Lord Stark.”

Well, well. We hadn’t seen Osha and Rickon since Bran left them to head north of the Wall. Obviously they didn’t succeed in getting anywhere safe. What will Ramsay do with Rickon? He’s a valuable prisoner, but is there anyone left who this gives him leverage over? Will he simply have him killed? I can’t imagine Ramsay will be that unimaginative. Rickon is in for some trouble, I fear.

Castle Black to Old Town: Sam, Gilly, and Little Sam are on a ship heading to Old Town. As Sam fights off seasickness, he tells Gilly that women and children aren’t allowed in the place where they train Maesters, so he’s going to leave them at his home town of Horn Hill, with some family members. Gilly is upset, reminding Sam that he promised he’d take her with him. Sam argues that he’s trying to look after them. Gilly gives in and accepts that. Sam promptly throws up from seasickness again.

I’m assuming this Horn Hill place is near Old Town, and he’s not dropping her off on the way at some place hundreds of miles away. I guess we’ll find out.

Castle Black: Jon is well and truly back from the dead. Davos and Melisandre are amazed. Jon remembers his wounds and says Ollie stabbed him in the heart, and that he shouldn’t be here any more. Melisandre wonderingly questions Jon on what he saw while he was dead – obviously expecting some great revelation about the Lord of Light. But Jon says he saw “nothing”. Just nothing. Melisandre is visibly upset and Davos asks her to leave. Jon ponders his existence. He says he did what he thought was right, and he ended up being murdered for it. You can see the existential crisis unfolding.

Jon dresses and heads out to meet the amazed members of the Watch and the wildlings led by Tormund. Tormund says Jon’s eyes are still brown and asks if that’s really him in there. Jon responds with a lame joke. Tormund says, “That’s funny. Are you sure that’s you?”

Later, the men who stabbed Jon are to be hanged. Ser Alliser, young Olly, and two others. Jon asks for any last words. Alliser says he had to choose between loyalty to the Lord Commander, or to the Night’s Watch, and he chose the latter, and he’d do it again if he had to. Olly is obviously terrified and says nothing. Jon slashes the rope holding the platform and the four men hang and die. Jon takes off his thick cloak and gives it to Edd. Edd wonders what is happening. Jon tells Edd that he’s Lord Commander now, and that “my watch has ended”. Jon then strides off out the fortress gate into the snow as the others watch him leave.

That’s an interesting choice. Jon may have been transformed somewhat by his death experience, and now think he has better things to do. It’s also odd that everyone just watches him go – nobody runs after him to haul him back. Either they’re too awed by his status as a resurrected man, or maybe we just won’t see it until the next episode. Either way, it appears Jon’s time at Castle Black is done. Where will he go now, what will he do? Will he wander aimlessly, or does he have a renewed purpose and goal? So many questions. Where could he go? Winterfell? I think it’s likely he’ll spend some time alone thinking things through before deciding on anything. I don’t think Melisandre will want to leave him alone, though – she may try to follow or track him down. And Davos too.

And without Jon’s leadership, what will happen at Castle Black, and with the wildling army? Especially when the White Walkers start attacking again? Stay tuned…

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 3 “Oathbreaker””

  1. Glen says:

    Re Jon’s comment “my watch has ended” … well, he served until he died, so it seems reasonable to claim that his oath would no longer hold him, and few are left who would be prepared to use more than words to try to convince him otherwise.

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