Review: Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 4 – Oathkeeper

Action and exposition make a good mix in this week's offering from Game of Thrones, as the series continues to build to...whatever this season's 'big event' will turn out to be...

Alright, so Joffrey’s dead and we’ve made our peace with it (if you fancy grinning like a fool, head to YouTube and search ‘Purple Wedding reaction videos’). Which means that this season’s equivalent of what happened on the steps of Baelor in season 1, in Blackwater Bay in season 2, and at the Twins in season 3, is yet to come. Hopefully it’s going to shred our brains to noodles, and the build up needs to start right about…now.

Oathkeeper is a practically seamless episode, each scene blending perfectly into the next with barely a notice; some superb direction going on from Michelle MacClaren. The first ten minutes or so are given over completely to Meereen, which becomes the property of Daenerys Targaryen in double quick time. We begin at the bottom with an undercover foray into the claustrophobic slave halls, and end at the top with the Mother of Dragons standing proudly above her new city while the Targaryen flag ripples behind her, and the screams of her enemies waft up from below. And she did it all without deploying the dragons.

Next we segue into what is probably most people’s favourite scene this week; Jaime visiting Tyrion in his cell (but not without first being guilted into it by Bron). For the first time ever we have the two brothers discussing everything frankly, or as frankly as we’re ever going to get, anyway. ‘Are you really asking if I killed your son?’ says Tyrion, as the atmosphere becomes so thick you couldn’t cut it with a Valyrian steel sword.

Speaking of swords, later on we also have a great few moments between Jaime and Brienne, where he requests that she and Pod head out to find Sansa in an effort to fulfil his promise to Cat. He also gives Brienne a suit of armour he had made for her, and a Valyrian steel sword which she significantly names Oathkeeper. If these two were real-world teenagers, they’d be getting told to stop poking each other on Facebook and just do it already.

However (and this is a big however) all of this seems to completely skip over that whole rape thing from the previous episode. Apparently, this episode wants to pretend that scene never happened, and although we’d really like to pretend the same, we’re not going to go along with it. The whole business has left a very nasty aftertaste, particularly as Cersei – who has been gradually hitting the sauce more and more ever since the second season – is now simply a one dimensional drunk, bloated with hate for some our favourite characters, and therefore of course deserves anything she gets, up to and including getting raped. We don’t like the flavour of this, Weiss/Benioff.

In other news, we’ve got Littlefinger in cahoots with Olenna claiming responsibility for Joffrey’s death. Mystery solved, apparently, so Poirot can get back to trimming his moustache. Besides, it doesn’t really matter who killed Joffrey, seeing as the wrong people are almost certainly going to get punished for it anyway. The only thing that matters is that he’s dead, and Margaery has to get her claws into Tommen before Cersei has the chance to sober up and bring the hammer down. Side note: what in seven hells is up with Aidan Gillen’s accent? We didn’t mention it last week because we hoped it was a fluke, but he seems to have given Lord Baelish some sort of unidentifiable hammy lilt – it’s malicious as hell, but it’s kinda distracting.

We finish up with some disturbing and hauntingly beautiful scenes north of the Wall. Jon’s character development has really come on this term, and Kit Harington plays him as the snow-hardened bastard that he is, refusing to rise to Alliser Thorne’s goading and making ready to lead an expedition to rout out the traitors that have annexed Craster’s Keep (led by the utterly unnerving Burn Gorman).

We (finally) find out what really did happen to Craster’s sons, and (finally) get really up close and personal with a White Walker. The snow covered ice-scape is cleverly shot so as to hide most of what is happening from us, but we are shown just enough to make us want to set everything that will burn on fire and start circling the wagons.

The capture of Bran and company by the delinquents at Craster’s is an intriguing development; who knows, maybe we’ll actually see some members of the Stark family reunited at last. But this is Game of Thrones, so never has the phrase ‘don’t get your hopes up’ been more apposite.

Best Kill: Dany’s merciless justice for the Masters of Meereen

Best Scene: We loved the jail cell action between Jaime and Tyrion, but that White Walker finale really put the ice (heh) on the cake

Best Line: Tyrion sums up the entirety of the Song of Ice and Fire in one short utterance: ‘Sansa’s not a killer. Not yet, anyway.’

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