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Looking Back: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Four, Episode 4: “Oathkeeper” Review


(The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones debuts on April 14th, marking the beginning of the end for HBO’s cultural touchstone. Over the years, we’ve covered all 67 episodes of the series, and are revisiting those original reviews in our new retrospective series titled, “Winter is Coming”. We’re pulling these straight from our vacuum sealed digital time capsules, so step into the virtual time machine with us and read our impressions from way back! With the benefit of hindsight, there is plenty of reasons these reviews will raise some eyebrows)

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Let’s begin in the south, where Daenerys’ army grows ever larger. Turns out catapulting broken chains over the walls of Meereen didn’t exactly spark an outright rebellion, so Grey Worm and the Unsullied go undercover, sneak into Meereen to bring the slaves an assortment of weapons to help incite an uprising. It’s great to kick things off where last week’s “Breaker of Chains” ended, but how disappointing is it that once again, we are denied any sort of intricate battle? All we get to see is three masters trapped in an alley, and a Targaryen banner perched atop a high tower, and that’s about it. In return for the 163 children that were nailed to posts along the desert path to Meereen, Dany shows no mercy, and goes against Ser Barristan’s advice to answer injustice with justice – a decision we can assume will come back and bite her in the ass.

Over at King’s Landing, it’s nice to see Jaime participating in another dueling lesson with Bronn, who shames Jaime for not having visited his brother in prison. This leads to a great scene between the two brothers, and just like that, we’re back to liking The Kingslayer. “Are you really asking if I killed your son?” says Tyrion, and Jaime replies, “Are you really asking if I’d kill my brother?” The titular sword comes to us in the episode’s warmest sequence — Jaime giving the Valyrian steel sword to Brienne and assigning her the task of finding and protecting Sansa (and Podrick), is without a doubt the highlight this week. The hope is that we get more of Brienne and Pod, as they could prove to be another excellent pairing.

“Oathkeeper” promises that the Stark children will soon reunite

Meanwhile, Sansa figures out that Lord Petyr Baelish was instrumental in orchestrating Joffrey’s death, and that the crystals on the necklace given to Sansa by Ser Dontos carried a poison called The Strangler made from purple crystallized plants. Anybody paying close attention shouldn’t be surprised that Lady Olenna also had a hand in the murder since there is a clear shot of her pulling one of the stones off the choker.

Oathkeeper Game of Thrones Review

Bryan Cogman, the show’s story editor has written some memorable episodes in the past including “What is Dead May Never Die”, “Kissed by Fire” and “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.” This week, he does a great job in shining a light north of The Wall. Over at Castle Black, what few crows left standing are being trained by Jon Snow to help defend against the thousand-or-so wildlings set to descend on them very soon. But Snow has more than the Wildlings to worry about – Alliser Thorne and Slynt feel threatened by the growing popularity of Ned Stark’s bastard son, and Roose Bolton’s right-hand man Locke poses as a new recruit for the Night’s Watch, in the hopes that Snow will lead him to Bran and Rickon. (In case anyone forgot, Locke is the man who chopped off Jaime’s hand, attempted to rape Brienne, and later threw her in a bear pit. He’s an ally to the Boltons, and was sent North to find Bran and Rickon Stark in order to kill them.)

Last week on our Game of Thrones podcast, I made it clear that I didn’t like the decision to have Jaime rape his sister, but I wasn’t surprised by it either. For a show that features women getting raped, or threatened with rape, or at least mentions a rape each and every week, it didn’t come as a shock that a man who pushed a child out a window, murdered his own cousin, and so on – was capable of doing terrible things. That said, the scene was unnecessary and undermined his character growth throughout all of season three. Even worse, Jaime is back to being the charming, conflicted, and caring man we saw last season. Given the controversy and flood of online think-pieces caused by the rape scene last week, I don’t want to spend too much time discussing Cersei’s scenes, but let’s just say that Cersei is clearly angry with him, and for many reasons, none of which touch on rape. How weird is that?

Game of Thrones Oathkeeper Review

Over at Craster’s Keep, Karl Rast is busy drinking out of Mormont’s skull and raping all of Craster’s daughters… cause you know, what’s a Game Of Thrones episode without rape? After one of the ex-Crow mutineers leaves Craster’s last born son out in the forest as a sacrifice, somewhere close by, Bran and company hear the baby’s cries. Bran assumes the point of view of Summer and sends his direwolf out to investigate. In his vision he sees Ghost (Jon Snow’s direwolf) locked in a cage, just seconds before Summer falls through thin ice. Unfortunately, that leads to Bran, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera to be taken captive. The good news is, we know Jon Snow is on a collision course with Bran, which means we will see Jon reunited with both Ghost and his brother soon. The bad news is, we’re not sure if Summer survived, nor if Jon will make it there in time. With Jojen having seizures, Hodor locked in chains, Ghost in a cage, Summer in a trap, and Bran unable to walk, things are looking dire for the Stark boy and his friends.

Finally, “Oathkeeper” ends with a White Walker riding some sort of zombie horse with the male Craster baby in tow, and headed to some sort of Fortress of Solitude. Before the credits roll, the White Walker touches the baby’s cheek, its eyes turn ice-blue. “Oathkeeper” isn’t the strongest episode, but a necessary one, allowing mysteries to unfold and promising that the Stark children will soon reunite.

– Ricky D

Other thoughts:

It’s nice to know that Margaery had nothing to do with Joffrey’s murder.

Lady Olenna is all business as evidenced in her conversation with her granddaughter Margaery this week.

It took Sam long enough to realize that sending Gilly to a Moles Town whorehouse was a bad idea.

Jon and Bran will soon reunite.

Brienne and Pod start a new adventure!

Even though Joffrey is dead, we are constantly reminded how terrible he was!

Joffrey hated Ser Pounce and wanted to skin him alive.

“You just do what needs to be done.” – Lady Olenna

I wasn’t too fond of the Spartacus reference.

I honestly don’t give a shit about Hodor. I don’t understand the internet’s obsession with him.

“Sometimes it’s better to answer injustice with mercy” – Ser Barristan.

“A man with no motive is a man no one suspects.” – Little Finger.

 

Game of Thrones, Season Four, Episode 4: “Oathkeeper”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Bryan Cogman
Featured music Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography by Robert McLachlan
Editing by Crispin Green

Originally published April 27, 2014

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