Game of Thrones Revisited: 6.03 Oathbreaker
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Game of Thrones, the critically acclaimed TV series by David Benioff and DB Weiss and developed from the best-selling series of novels by George RR Martin, has become a cultural icon. The tentpole of HBO's programming with a stellar cast and mix of medieval-style political drama and war with a healthy dash of fantasy, Game of Thrones has enthralled audiences worldwide. And this year, the show will come to a dramatic end in its final run of feature length episodes. In the lead up to season eight, I explore every episode leading up to the final battle for Westeros, continuing the somewhat uneventful season six episode Oathbreaker...
Warning: There may be spoilers for seasons one to seven...
After the dramatic opening two episodes of season six, Oathbreaker feels like a little bit of a let down, the momentum faltering after the tense resurrection of Jon Snow that capped the last episode Home. While it's lovely to see him welcomed back by his friends and allies - the man hug from Tormund in particular is a delight - the episode never really delves into the emotional fallout of being brought back from the dead.
However, we do see the consequences of Alliser Thorne's actions in the climax, sent to the noose with his two men and young Olly. The death of a child is unfortunately not something unheard of in Game of Thrones and Olly was complicit in killing Jon for his betrayal, but it is hard not to feel sorry for the boy whose parents were killed by wildling then be killed himself by the man that welcomed his parent's killers with open arms. Alliser Thorne meanwhile is true to his word to the very end, claiming he would do it all over again; there's something almost admirable about him as he goes to his death.
Jon's proclamation that his watched is ended as he hands his cloak to Eddison truly is the end of the chapter he begun when he first took the oaths as a member of the Night's Watch way back in season one's You Win Or You Die. His death is a clever way to leave that path behind without actually breaking his vows - of course being murdered for your actions is not something that would instill a happy work ethic in anyone.
The episode is filled with a lot of characters moving from one place to another, resulting in that lack of momentum. Sam and Gilly are on a boat heading south to his family estates where she and baby Sam will be safe. Arya trains with the waif, ridding herself of her identity, her family and her list, gaining her eyesight in return. And Daenerys is brought before the Widows of the Khals, the Dosh Khaleen, in Vras Dothrak. She remains defiant in the face of a life of imprisonment, setting up her actions in the next episode. It is all engaging fare, but nothing particularly memorable.
The Mereen scenes continue to provide a good measure of entertainment as Tyrion attempts to engage Grey Worm in a conversation, while an ever more confident Missandei demands vengeance on the slavers of Astapor and Yunkai. It's good to see both characters grow in confidence as Tyrion works with them to rule the city in Daenerys's absence, while Varys gets his own little mission, confronting the prostitute Vala from last season, who holds much power with the Sons of the Harpy. There's a little less wisdom in Kings Landing; Tommen continues his subservience as he visits with the High Sparrow while there are greater tensions between Cersei and Olenna as the Queen of Thorns takes a seat in Kevan Lannister's small council while Cersei herself remains ostracised. Again it all feels like good but uneventful plodding for bigger things to come.
Oathkeeper does have its strengths however; Bran's training with the Three-Eyed Raven explores his father's past, with a younger Ned Stark and Sam's father Lord Tarly engaged in the battle with Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. It's another intriguing bit of fleshing out of the past - the attempted rescue of Lyanna Stark the scene alludes to will have big consequences once Jon's past is fully revealed next season. And there are surprises too in Winterfell with the surprise return of Osha and Rickon Stark, who find themselves the prisoner of Ramsey Bolton. It's a terrific surprise and one that will add greater tragedy as the season progresses.
This is a decent episode; there's not much that remains memorable compared to other episodes but the character work continues to be excellent and the performances solid throughout. But it suffers, like many other Game of Thrones episodes with getting its characters from one place to an other without offering much in the space of those 52 minutes...