Tuesday, May 10, 2016

That's The Breaks

The third episode of this season's Game Of Thrones, "Oathbreaker," had a lot of callbacks to older times.  So as the show moves forwards, it's also moving backwards.  For that matter, as it continues to go outwards, it's also starting to move inwards.

We start where we left off--with Jon Snow coming back to life.  Everyone (but Ghost) left the room, but apparently the last to leave heard him gasp.  Ser Davos comes back and asks exactly what I would: "What do you remember?" Snow remembers the gang-stabbing, even Olly's final blow. Now the Red Woman comes in and wants him to take the place of Stannis. Hey, give a guy a little time to get his bearings.

Davos asks for some private time with Jon.  Sure, I'll leave--I'm only the one who brought him back to life, after all.  With the Red Woman gone, Snow and Davos go over the ramifications of what just happened. (I first would have told Jon the mutiny has been put down so he doesn't have to worry, but I guess the audience already knows that.)  Davos tells him to keep fighting the good fight.  It looks like Mel and the Onion Knight have got a new cause.  Sorry, Stannis, but you can be replaced.

Snow returns to the yard.  The people at Castle Black have seen a lot--including others coming back to life, by the way.  But this is a big moment.  They all know Jon is special.  He greets Tormund and Edd, and winces as they hug him.  Easy there.

Now we're at sea in a storm.  Hey, it's Samwell and Gilly--haven't seen them this season.  Jon Snow has died and come back too life while they've been on the ship.  Sam's sailing all the way south to the Citadel at Oldtown to become a maester.  But he tells Gilly he's gonna drop her off at his home on the way, since they don't allow women at the Citadel. (I'm surprised no one's organized a boycott.) He doesn't want Gilly and their baby to live by themselves in Oldtown.  Or is he going to get off with her?  Wasn't clear to me.  In any case, I don't get it--having your old lady nearby while you're at college sounds like a sweet deal. Anyway, Gilly takes it pretty well, and reminds Sam he earlier promised a "whither thou goest" sort of deal.

Cut to some guys we don't know riding on horses toward a castle we don't know while another guy we don't know is sharpening his sword waiting for them.  Turns out it's a vision of Bran and the Raven.  And it's way back when Bran's dad was a young man. (There are a bunch of other names involved that I don't remember.) There's a sword fight and the only thing we know is Ned will survive (though this guy doesn't look much like Sean Bean--others I've read disagree--so maybe he'll get carved up a bit).  This is after the Mad King has died and Ned is searching for his sister Lyanna, who seems to be screaming from the castle.  Bran has heard glorious tales of how his father beat this magnificent swordsman, but it turns out as he's about to die he's saved by a guy stabbing the swordsman in the back. Honorable Ned Stark told a false tale? What else has his been lying about? We won't know this week because as he climbs up toward the castle the Raven takes Bran back to the cave.  What a rip-off.  They better let us know soon.  Bran, once again, isn't happy--he doesn't want to be stuck in a bunch of roots like his mentor.  The Raven notes he needs to learn a lot of things--actually "everything"--before he leaves.  But at least he'll be leaving at one point (which we actually knew from last week, though Bran didn't). One more thing--he shouted "father!" and Ned seemed to hear, even though this happened in a past that can't be changed. (The moving finger writes, and, having writ, moves on.)  How much effect can Bran have on the scenes he witnesses?

Next we're in Dothraki land.  Though they know Dany is a Khaleesi widow, she's still being treated pretty rudely, being led along like a slave.  Couldn't they at least put her on a horse?  She goes into the large hut where all the other Khal widows hang out.  Her dress is removed (though we don't see anything since the actress decided a few seasons ago she'd stop doing nudity) and she's given mourning clothes.  The others remember her, and were surprised when she moved on to see the world--when a Dothraki leader dies, his wife's life might as well be over.  Dany isn't happy and says she shouldn't be held there, but they reply you better hope that happens.  The top people are going to meet and decide your fate.  Good.  Up the stakes so she has to make her move.

Cut to Meereen, and we get to see Varys in action.  He has one of the women who conspired to kill the Unsullied, luring them to their deaths.  He won't torture her (not yet, anyway), but he does mention it would be a shame if something happens to her...and her son.  He offers her money and a boat ride out of town if she gives up some info.  It reminds me a lot of Varys from season one.  He visited Ned in the dungeon telling him to confess to crimes he didn't commit.  Ned had too much honor to do that (he was honorable by this point) until Varys noted it wouldn't go well for his daughters if he did nothing.

Meanwhile, Tyrion tries--and fails--to make small talk with Missandei and Grey Worm as they await the news from Varys.  I was reminded here of season one where he was in his tent, getting to know Shae and Bronn, though those two were better talkers. (He also threatens to play the drinking game where you tell the truth, which I've seen done in a number of TV shows--the first time on Lost over a decade ago.) Finally Varys comes in and tells them the rich slavers out of town are funding the Harpies.  How to respond?  Missandei says killing them is the only language they understand, and she should know.  Who knows what they'll do next (and do we care?--we like these characters, but what happens to Meereen, especially without Dany, isn't a big deal). When you think about it, they're a motley crew, all designed to serve a leader, none completely comfortable leading.

Varys says he trusts his little birds to get info, and then we cut to another unfamiliar scene, and see children we don't know. Turns out it's in King's Landing, and these are the "birds" Varys used.  He'd give them candy for their whispers.  I don't like it. I've got nothing against using kids to get information, but as a regular source they're not reliable. Regardless, it turns out creepy Qyburn is now giving the kids sweets and plans to take over the network.  Cersei, Jaime and the giant guy (they all call him Clegor, if there was any doubt) come down to discuss strategy.

Now we cut to the Small Council, with Olenna there.  Pycelle (haven't seen him in a while) says they've got to take care of Qyburn and destroy that beast Clegor. Just then Clegor walks in ("Hope I wasn't out of line with that beast remark") with Jaime and Cersei.  Jaime takes a seat as leader of the King's Guard, even if he's not wanted. In fact, when Cersei et al get too overbearing, the small council disbands--they can't force these intruders out, but they don't have to stay.  It's a standoff, but when it comes down to it, the power that really matters is in the hands of King Tommen.

Speaking of whom, Tommen confronts the High Sparrow at the Sept.  Why do you keep humiliating my mother?  He has guards and the Sparrow has the Faith Militant, but Tommen is wise enough not to resort to violence (yet).  The Sparrow tries to explain things, and is turning into another father figure--not unlike Tywin, only (apparently) nicer.  He talks about a mother's love--and why not, it's Mother's Day.  Cersei may have faults, but she loves her son.  He wants to help her. Is this the beginning of a conversion.  Ooh, that wouldn't be good for Cersei.  She does loves her son, but would she put up with that?

We cut from that to a different sort of child, Arya.  She's back in the House Of Black And White, having the Stark beat out of her.  They're still playing head games--or giving her therapy, if you prefer.  In between fights, she explains her life to the Waif, admitting (for the first time, I believe) she no longer hated the Hound or wanted him dead.  Is this part of shedding her former self and preparing to serve a new god? In any case, she's made enough progress that Jaqen is ready to work with her, and restores her sight.  So will she take on their assignments, or will she return to Westeros and avenge her family?  I'm a little unclear on this.

We're back at Wintefell, with its undisputed leader Ramsay.  He's trying to win over the big Houses of the North.  A rep from the House Umber is there and, though he's an ornery Northerner, seems willing to support Bolton.  Even better, he's brought some hostages--Osha and Rickon.  They've got a Stark back in Winterfell!  Didn't these two go to the House for protection?  We've seen people act less than honorably this episode, but this is the worst oathbreaking yet. As Bran noted a few seasons back, the horrible thing a guy like Walder Frey did wasn't the killing people, but turning on those who were his guests. Poor Rickon. We haven't seen him in a while and this is where he ends up?  Glad to see Osha, I always liked her.  Now it seems certain Snow or the Wildlings or both will have to take on Ramsay.  That's shaping up to be the big battle this season--bigger than Jaime versus the High Sparrow, I think. Is this what Melisandre foresaw?

Back at Castle Black, Snow has to do his duty.  Thorne, Olly and the other conspirators have to be hanged.  Some things you can forgive, but not killing the Lord Commander (even if he comes back to life).  Yet Snow seems to hesitate.  You wonder if this is a new Snow--last season he had no trouble killing a guy who turned on him, as Stannis watched on, nodding in approval.  But no, he hangs them. (Olly, we hardly knew you.)  But then he does something surprising.  He gives Edd command (can he do that?--I thought they had to vote) and quits the Night's Watch.  This may be the reason the episode is called "Oathbreaker," though, technically, he's not breaking his oath.  His oath was his watch would end only upon death.  Well, he died, so it's over. He's a free agent.  The question now is where will he go.  And that's a question to be answered in future episodes, since we're done.

So a pretty good episode.  Some action, some table setting, but it moved well--and the glimpses of the past are pretty cool.  We saw a lot of people we hadn't seen in a while (and some we weren't sure we'd see again).  But, per usual, we missed a lot of characters.  No Sansa or Brienne or Pod or Theon.  Nothing at all from the Iron Islands.  No Sand Snakes (happily). No Margaery.  No Meera (though we saw her dad fight with Ned).  No Jorah or Daario.  No Bronn.  And still no sign of Littlefinger this entire season.


Blogger New England Guy said...

A very profane episode.
Each character got their own blue word
Tormund, Davos, Cersei and the Bad Umber guy.

RIP Alliser, Olly, 2 other NW middle managers and, seemingly, Shaggydog.

This is pure speculation but I have hopes Bad Umber is playing the long con here- he was just too obnoxious. But that's mainly because I don't want Shaggy to be dead. Ruh-roh.

Interestingly enough young Ned fought Ser Arthur Dayne - a legendary swordsman of the Kingsguard- the "Sword of the Morning." Last week, I just finished a Ross Thomas political thriller from the mid 70s ("If You Can't Be Good") where one of the characters was Arthur Dane.

There were 1980s MLB relief pitchers named Bolton and Frey and I believe George RR is baseball fan. Maybe he's a political thriller junkie too

6:18 AM, May 10, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

You're leaving out all those dead guys in Bran's vision. They've been dead for a while, but it was the first time we ever saw them.

A lot of people were glad to see Olly buy it, but I'm waiting to hear complaints that this show is too cruel to young people.

I've heard rumors that the Umbers are trying to fool Ramsay. If they are, all I can say is putting Rickon in his clutches can't be a good plan, no matter what you hope to happen.

9:34 AM, May 10, 2016  

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