With week three’s episode, “Oathbreaker,” the Game of Thrones crew is starting to pull its storylines together. While not one of the most action-packed 50 minutes we’ve seen, this episode was driven by pathos. For me, it was a bit of a relief we well, as I’d been itching for the new season to dig deeper into these characters.
The episode’s title, “Oathbreaker,” certainly refers to Jon Snow, who leaves the Night’s Watch. After he hangs Ser Alliser Thorne and his cronies, (also oathbreakers) he hands his fuzzy, black cloak over to Dolorous Edd, giving him control of the Night’s Watch. Alliser gives a seemingly sound argument in his defense, that Jon made them break their oaths to the Night’s Watch by asking them to bring the Wildlings in, but ultimately, we know desperate times call for desperate measures. After all, winter is coming.
So the “is Jon really dead?” cliffhanger is solved (who really believed that one, anyway?!), but another is introduced: what will Jon do next? Most of his Stark family has been killed off—Eddard (“Ned”), Catelyn (sort of family), and Robb; Sansa, Arya, and Bran are hiding, and Rickon has been . . . gasp! . . . captured! That’s right, Rickon Stark and his Wildling protector, Osha, are returned by Smalljon Umber to Winterfell, a Winterfell held by Ramsay Bolton. Despised as Ramsay might be, the Bolton’s hold in the North has been steady (regardless of the sass and disrespect Umber shows him) and his influence is spreading. Could Rickon Stark change that influence? He seems so lost and confused but he may have some tricks up his sleeve. Remember when he predicted Ned’s and Catelyn’s deaths in Season 1?
But this episode gave us more backstory than to simply reintroduce a long-lost character. Bran continues to explore the past in the Godswood and it suddenly becomes clear we are going to learn about a story that has only ever been passingly referred to: the story of what happened to the beautiful Lyanna, Ned’s sister and Robert Baratheon’s former bride against whom Cersei still holds a grudge. Bran’s visit to the past at the Tower of Joy shows him the epic battle between the usurpers (Robert Baratheon’s men) and Ser Arthur Dayne, a member of the Kingsguard of the House Targaryen. The legend was that Ned Stark defeated Dayne, but here Bran sees that Dayne was stabbed in the back by Lord Reed (the father of Jojen and Meera, Bran’s travel companions). Here’s an interesting question: why would Reed have helped spread the lie that Ned won the battle?—could it have been a savvy political move? We know the Reeds like to stay out of the limelight, so maybe they prefer to throw their weight behind their allies. Ned and Reed are the only two survivors of the fight. Even more important though, is that they are the only two who know what happened in the Tower of Joy where Lyanna dies in childbirth. This is a secret that could mean a lot, and which ties into the lineage of the show’s most prominent characters: Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys.
In a less fulfilling plotline, which is starting to frustrate me as a viewer, Daenerys can’t seem to stop falling. Each way she turns, she finds herself in another mess, looking like a hot mess (but who’s complaining—it’s a great look on her). Because of this, however, there’s not enough information for us as viewers to anticipate what’s next for her, though I do think it’s safe to say she won’t wallow in Vaes Dothrak for the rest of her years.
Lastly, it seems that Jamie and Cersei are finally getting what’s been coming to them for a long time. They are no longer part of the small council and are unable to bribe or force their way into it, and the High Septon is winning over young King Tommen. Will Tommen, the last Lannister heir, side with the High Septon or fall with his parents? An interesting plot twist could develop here. Stay tuned for more next week!