***Spoiler Warning: This post contains show and possible book spoilers for Game of Thrones through Season 6, episode 3. “Oathbreaker” Spoilers Ahead. ***
“You were dead, and now you’re not. That’s completely fucking mad, it seems to me; I can only imagine what it means to you.” Davos’ trademark forthrightness has served him well, but unlike book Stannis, the Stephen Dillane version refused to listen to the Onion Knight’s counsel and…well, look where that got him. So, here’s hoping NuJon is smarter than a Baratheon, and heeds Davos’ words: “You go on, you fight as long as you can, you clean up as much shit as you can.”
As Jon went out to once again face the men he’ll lead, presumably to kick some Bolton ass, it was impossible not to see what a changed (and naked — thanks, Season 6 Nudity Equality clause!) man he is.
Pecker-size and eye color aside, Harington’s broken countenance set the stage for the first in a line of terrible and necessary tasks. After greeting loyal friends and astounded others, the once and former Lord Commander faces his traitorous murderers. Stolid Thorne defends his choice, and a hateful, defiant Olly make it no less difficult for Jon to raise his sword overhead, but Snow does what he must, and watches every gruesome second of death taking hold.
If we were heartened by the strength of a bookended Castle Black opening and the hour’s final, somber moments, it was the in-between that left us wanting. Following Bran and Three-Eyed Raven to the series’ most anticipated flashback, we’re privy to an all-too-short accounting of the showdown between young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo), on a rescue mission to save his sister Lyanna (kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen), and the two guards stationed outside the Tower of Joy. Ned and his men, including Howland Reed (Leo Woodruff), take on Oswell Whent (Eddie Eyre) and legendary swordsman, Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts), a master fighter who (TV version) wields two blades.
The all-too-short, fantastically choreographed fight is nearly over before it starts; Bran notes Dayne’s superior skills and wonders how his father won (“Did he?”). Along with Bran we discover that it’s actually Reed’s blade in the back that takes down Dayne, allowing Ned to finish him off and race toward the steps as his sister’s screaming rings out. And like Bran, we are crushed, realizing the Three-Eyed Raven isn’t going to allow the rest of the scene to play out now; Benioff and Weiss are holding back the R + L revelation for another day. In one of the hour’s emotional moments, the possibility that Ned heard his son’s call carried across the winds of time registers on Bran’s face, but Raven calls the Little Lord back — “The past is already written; the ink is dry.” Torn between anger and admiration at TPTB dragging on the pseudo-mystery of Lyanna’s whispers and Ned’s promise, I found myself ranting, Jack Shepard-like on deaf ears: “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!”
Of other goings-on, there was little forward movement. A girl answered queries and gained back her sight, but compared with her book tale, the whole of Arya’s storyline seems rushed and inconsequential. Likewise, Daenerys’ drive-by scene yielded almost no gained ground. “Escorted” to Vaes Dothrak, where she meets the Dosh khaleen, the widows are unimpressed by Dany’s claims of importance, and we’re left waiting another week for either Jorah and Daario to pull off her rescue, or (more likely) Drogon to swoop down from the sky and scoop up his mother. At the very least, we’ve come to rely on the humorous in-between moments: Lady Olenna (“Margaery’s the queen; You’re not the queen”), Kevan and Mace Tyrell listening in as Pycell rants about destroying Cersei’s (eavesdropping) Mountainous “abomination”; a Sparrow’s barely-veiled sneering as he manipulates young King Tommen (is there anyone who doesn’t?); Qyburn tempting little birds away from Varys (whose whisperers have already led him to the informant he needs); Tyrion desperately trying to find fun with a very serious Grey Worm (“That’s a report; I was thinking of conversation”) and Missandei (“A wise man once said…me, just now.”) to pass time. But, we’re left wondering if that’s all the writers are doing — stretching out hours in between perceived big moments. It can’t be just me thinking we used to leave every episode breathless, and wondering why we suffer these long, empty-feeling passages.
Seems things wouldn’t be complete these days without a Ramsay-related trauma, and “Oathbreaker” is no exception. The previewed gift made its way from House Umber (another dead father), inexplicably brought to Lord Bolton by Smalljon (Dean S. Jagger). Holding our collective breath in fear of seeing Theon returned to a monster, the reveal was possibly even worse: Osha, Rickon (last seen in Season 3) and Shaggydog’s severed head seal the deal between two terrible sons. While some think maybe Smalljon’s delivery is a ruse to gain Ramsay’s trust, the rest of us are hoping Osha and the littlest Stark don’t end up on burning Xs. *shudder*
The hour ends as powerfully as it began, with the last few moments again belonging to Jon. After handling his last task as Lord Commander, Dolorous Edd reminds Snow the job’s not completely done. Passing his furs and Castle Black to Edd, Harington soberly closes out “Oathbreaker” with a final declaration: “My watch is done.”
Can we just not waste time with Sam and Gilly? There are so many things that should be further delved; Sam’s seasickness and Gilly’s sea vs. see astonishment are not among them.
On the other hand, more Tyrells, please. Seeing Lady Olenna for a moment was delightful as always, but I’m constantly longing for more Queen Margaery vs. Queen Cersei verbal throwdowns. Tyrion could use the comedic competition.
Varys is ever s a gift, and Conleth Hill’s perfect delivery rivals Peter Dinklage. His masterful manipulations are so underrated, and they wouldn’t be half as effective without Hill’s superior skills.
And hey, for not saying a word, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is killing it.
Can someone please tell me we aren’t going to have to wait until the last episode to finish that Tower of Joy scene? B&W aren’t that cruel, are they?