By James Hancock May 8th, 2016
After the resurrection of Jon Snow in the previous episode, it was inevitable that episode 3 of season 6, ‘Oathbreaker’, would feel a little anticlimactic by comparison. On a weekend where I immersed myself in the awesome power of Captain America: Civil War three times, just about any show or movie would come up short by comparison. All the same, I enjoyed getting brought up to speed with some characters that we have not seen in a while and learning about the immediate aftermath of Jon’s resurrection. What I liked was how the episode found a way to incorporate some material from George R R Martin’s novels in spite of the fact that the show has for the most part outpaced where the plot stands in the original text. There are plenty of viewers who don’t give a damn about the books and never plan on reading them, but trust me when I say there is a dramatic difference in quality with scenes that lift dialogue and structure from the novels versus those purely written for television. Anytime you feel like the plot is screeching to a halt with the characters talking about nothing that actually drives the story forward, 9 times out of 10 it is because those scenes are filler made up by people who are not named George R R Martin. So while I would have to rank this episode as the weakest of the season so far, there were enough good scenes to sink my teeth into to keep my enthusiasm and curiosity for the rest of the season going strong.
‘Oathbreaker’ opens with Jon coming to grips with his resurrection, a fact that is as confusing to him as it is to Melisandre who brought him back. She begins to suspect that he may be the figure she has prophesied about all along. We see a little of Samwell and Gilly en route to Oldtown before cutting to the most interesting scene of the episode. Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven visit one of the most crucial events in Ned Stark’s life as a young man. After the Battle of the Trident and the death of Rhaegar Targaryen at the hands of Robert Baratheon, Ned went in search of his sister Lyanna Stark. They found her being guarded by Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, a legendary swordsman who Ned managed to defeat only with the help of a few friends and a little backstabbing. For fans of the book, this is a crucial chapter in the fragmented history of Lyanna and whether or not she was in love with Rhaegar Targaryen or abducted. In the episode, we can hear her screaming from her room and many fans of the books suspect that she was giving birth to Rhaegar’s son, who was adopted by Ned as Jon Snow in order to conceal his identity from Rhaegar’s enemies. If this proves to be the case, Jon would have an even stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys in that Rhaegar was her older brother. Sadly the Three-Eyed Raven makes Bran leave the vision before we are able to learn any more information.
For the rest of the episode, we catch up some crucial stories such as Daenerys’s predicament among the Dothraki and what fate they might have in store for her. Varys and Tyrion continue to work to discover who is funding the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen. Cersei and Jaime plot and scheme about how to reassert control over King’s Landing with the help of their zombie Gregor Clegane. For the first time in a long time, we encounter the wildling Osha and her ward Rickon Stark who are now the captives of Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay appears to be preparing his forces for an assault on the wildlings camped near Castle Black. And thankfully we see Arya completing her training in Braavos and finally having her eyesight restored. I am eager to see what her first assignment will be and how she can be reincorporated back into the central storylines of the show. The episode draws to a close with Jon executing those who betrayed him before surprising everyone by turning over his responsibilities to his friend Eddison Tollett. According to Jon, his death means his watch has ended meaning that for the first time since the beginning of the show Jon is a free man to do with his life as he chooses. I was not at all prepared for this twist and only hope that his freedom means that Ramsay is about to receive the surprise of his life with Winterfell being taken from him. The post-credits teaser suggests that Sansa and Littlefinger will also play a role in that inevitable confrontation. So, a week from tonight I’ll once again be glued to my television set to see what happens next. Until we find out a release date for Martin’s much-delayed ‘The Winds of Winter’, this show will continue to have my undivided attention.
I am one of the Co-Hosts of Wrong Reel.