Game of Thrones 4×04: “Oathkeeper”

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Last night’s episode was like “Game of Thrones” meets “The Goosebumps”: all the creeps and heebie-jeebies plus a lot of blood, a lot of naked, and a LOT of Daenerys Targaryen—unfortunately not at the same time.

Episode 4, “Oathkeeper,” opens with the world’s most talented linguist Missandei—AKA Shannyn Sossaman in a Knight’s Tale’s doppelgänger—teaching Greyworm to read. Enter Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons to break up the flirtatious fun with another task for Greyworm to carry out: arm the slaves of Meereen with enough swords to overthrow the slavers.

After successfully conquering Meereen, Daenerys is faced with a difficult decision: to imprison, free or murder the remaining slavers.  Ser Barristan urges her to show mercy but then Dany is all like “c’mon dad you’re so old don’t you get ANYTHING?! Blah blah blah JUSTICE” and proceeds to crucify them all. OUTLAW COUNTRY!

Somewhere on water, Littlefinger and Sansa continue their jungle cruise from hell, taking the time aboard the Black Pearl to discuss Joffrey’s death. Littlefinger tells Sansa that a crystal from the necklace Ser Dontos gave her was poisonous and used to kill Joffrey, which, again, may or may not be true. It’s difficult to make sense of Littlefinger’s intentions, especially because Littlefinger’s terrible and constantly changing accent was far too distracting : why kill Joffrey? Is this all an elaborate ploy to get Sansa to fall in love with him? Will they ever get off that boat? (Is Sansa sitting there thinking “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” this guy is such a creep!?)

Little Finger explains to Sansa that he was assisted in Joffrey’s murder by “new friends” in the capital. Through use of voiceover and scene direction—by which Little Finger’s explanation is laid over a shot of Olenna Tyrrell—Little Finger’s co-conspirator is revealed to be none other than the Queen of Thorns, grandmother of Margaery Tyrell (played by Skrillex impersonator Natalie Dormer). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Olenna was involved in the plot: she was seated just beside the cup from which Joffrey was poisoned, she cares deeply for the well-being of Margaery and, in earlier episodes, she plotted to aid Sansa in her escape from King’s Landing by bringing her to Highgarden. With Joffrey dead, Tommen is slated to become King of Westeros and, equally exciting for a pubescent boy, is promised to be married to Margaery—whose eyebrows have seemingly moved farther and farther apart as the season progresses.

Last week’s episode showed the darkest side of Jaime yet as he raped Cersei aside Joffrey’s body. On this episode, however, we saw Jaime’s softest: he gifts his Valyrian steel sword (which had been crafted from Ned Stark’s sword) to Brienne and asks her to uphold the oath they took to Catelyn Stark to protect and return Sansa. Jaime—who in last week’s episode revealed that he still harbors an aggressive and violent side—shows his humanity in violating Cersei’s wishes for Sansa’s death and upholding his oath to Catelyn, the Lannister’s former sworn enemy. The sword he gifts Brienne was crafted from the steal of Ned Stark’s sword. Symbolism abound!

But while the majority of last night’s episode takes place in King’s Landing, the real meat of “Oathkeeper” is set in the North at Castle Black and beyond, where Jon Snow and Bran’s gang of misfits are soon to converge at Craster’s Keep. There, the Watch mutineers have turned what was already a freak-show of incest and Wildling weirdness into the Lost Boy’s Tree house gone wrong. At the Wall, Jon Snow is rallying troops to ride for Craster’s in order to murder the mutineers before Mance Rayder’s army reaches them. It seems that Jon is quickly becoming the leader in the Watch’s fight against Mance Rayder’s army and may be the Watch’s last hope for survival.

Bran, who is making s’mores and telling ghost stories in the Haunted Forest outside of Craster’s, hears a baby (one to be sacrificed to the White Walkers) crying and ‘sends’ his direwolf, Summer, to investigate. Summer is captured by the mutineers and, after coming to rescue him, so is Bran. Do not fear, my Stark-loving-friends, Bran is surely not to be murdered: the mutineers would be foolish to murder a highborn. And rest assured,  there is NO way that George R. R. Martin is that cruel. Besides, Jon is headed for Craster’s Keep where he will surely—either by swoon or sword—defeat the mutineers, save Bran and finally reunite with his brother.

The most important moments of last night’s episode took place at the very end. For the first time, we are given an extended look at the White Walkers, where they live and what they do with Craster’s babies.  After picking up the baby, Grandfather Merlin of the Snow Elves, who is apparently the Priest of the White Walkers (or…er..something like that…I don’t get it) rides his dead unicorn deep into the frozen tundra where a large group of white walkers await him aside a dark castle set on the side of a mountain. Through a bizarre ritual in a place that looked like the Antarctic version of Stonehenge, the Walkers effectively convert the baby into a White Walker by touching their dirty little finger nails to his cheek, turning his eyes bright blue.

And that, boys and girls, is how little White Walkers are made. D’awwww look how cute the little monster is.

Contact Sam Avishay at [email protected].