Game of Thrones: Oathkeepers
A brilliant Game of Thrones episode lays bare the politics of King’s Landing and reveals something strange about the White Walkers.
The first half of the episode mainly concerned goings on in King’s Landing. What I loved is how it made all the scheming and plotting and lying clear to the viewers. Often Westeros politics are so complex it’s hard to sort out why anyone is doing what they’re doing and what deep game is being played. But this week we could watch the wheels turn and see how they all connect.
First of all we have Littlefinger, who explains a great deal to Sansa, and seems to be training her to become a better schemer herself. Until recently she’s been almost entirely without guile. Littlefinger also seems to have creepy impure plans for Sansa, but that’s another matter entirely. He reveals that he set in motion the events leading to Joffrey’s death despite how fruitful his alliance with the Lannisters had been. It’s partly to keep his opponents off balance (and everyone who has power that Littlefinger wants is his opponent). But mostly it’s because a lunatic king is a shitty ally. Too unpredictable. We learned two other interesting things. One is that Littlefinger’s alliance is now with the Tyrells. The other is that he literally wants to become king. That’s his actual ambition. Everything he does moves toward that goal. Marrying Lysa Tully makes him officially a noble. It’s a huge move in the game of thrones, like the ball boy making the starting lineup for the first time.
The Tyrells are vying for a much larger share of the power in Westeros. Lady Redwyne seems to be spearheading the efforts, almost admitting to Margaery that she was the one who murdered Joffrey. She also dispenses some valuable advice. This particular battle in the game of thrones is Margaery versus Cersei, the prize being King Tommen’s loyalty. Grandma Redwyne suggests a young man can be won over by straight up rocking his world. I suggest that if you have the vulpine features of Natalie Dormer, this is totally true. Tommen seemed won over, even though she played it very very cool and left him with just a kiss.
The irony of all this clarity is that Cersei, who used to be so good at this game, sees none of it. She’s blinded by grief and rage, totally focused on getting revenge on Tyrion. Cersei’s power and influence are slipping away week by week.
There was a lot going on with Jaime, all of which would make for a great part of his story arc if not for the rape last week. So much of what he did this week fits the story of redemption, from the asshole who tosses a little boy off a castle tower to someone we actually feel some respect for. So, again, that rape scene made no sense and was just bad story telling.
But in any case, Jaime seemed like kind of a good guy this week. He went to visit Tyrion in jail and had a nice talk and even offered some comic relief against Tyrion’s Byronic brooding. Then he sort of stood up to Cersei, daring to suggest to her that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey. Finally, he sent Brienne on her way to fulfill both her and Jaime’s oaths to protect the Stark girls (if she can find them). He gave her some kick ass armor and…the Valyrian steel sword! She named it Oathkeeper, which is pretty sweet. Then, he has Podrick accompany her as squire, solving that little dilemma as well. That scene had such a great, “Going off on a noble quest” feel to it.
We had only a brief stop in Mereen to visit Daenerys, but a whole lot happened. She conquered the city without really using any of her troops. Grey Worm and some other soldiers (it’s unclear if they were all Unsullied) snuck in through the sewers. A proper dungeon crawl! There they provided weapons to the slaves. “There are three slaves to every master. Kill the masters!” It would make a hell of an Occupy Wall Street slogan. Dany denies the slave keepers any mercy, crucifying them the way they did to the slave children. We see Daenerys looking very pleased with herself, walking among the freed slaves. But we also see hints that she will not be an effective ruler. She claims she answers injustice with justice, but vengeance is not justice. True justice means ensuring it never happens again, not feeding a perpetual cycle of hatred and revenge. We also see her atop the masters’ citadel, their statue covered with a Targaryen flag. Again, she looks quite pleased. But dismantling a brutal system is not the same as replacing it with a better system. Mereen is now the center of a huge economic void. How will she fill it?
Let’s turn our attention north of the wall, shall we? Jon Snow is trying to train recruits for the coming war against the wildlings, but acting commander Alliser Thorne shuts it down. No one likes Thorne because he’s a dick, and his lackey suggests this could be a problem if at some point the men of the watch must choose between him and Prom King Jon Snow. So Thorne decides to agree to Snow’s wishes to raid Craster’s keep and defeat the Black Brotherhood traitors who murdered Mormont (and Snow wants to find Bran). Amidst all this, Locke, the man Roose Bolton sent to find Snow, has arrived as a highly skilled recruit, and he volunteers to join Snow’s quest. When did Castle Black politics become more complex than King’s Landing?
By the way, does anyone else think Alliser Thorne looks like old Jimmy Page?
Bran and friends get captured by the dudes at Craster’s place, who are all total degenerate monsters. I mean literally there are like three rapes going on concurrently in one scene. Why is Jojen Reed so sick? I know he has his fits, but he looks about to drop dead.
The episode ends with a huge reveal. I mean huge, because this is stuff that hasn’t turned up in the books yet. We now know more about the White Walkers than ever. The guys at Craster’s leave a baby out as an offering. A Walker collects it and rides off with it riding a skeletal horse. It eventually arrives at a strange formation of ten ice monoliths with an ice plinth in the center, where it leaves the baby. The baby has apparently been unaffected by the intense cold of the region and the supernatural cold that seems to emanate from the Walkers. A line of 13 Walkers looms in the distance, out of focus. One approaches, taking the baby into its arms. It presses a nail to the baby’s face with a smile, and the baby starts to freeze and turn into a White Walker baby.
So. They seem to have some kind of citadel, and some kind of culture (there’s a strange writing visible on the ice plinth). They’re not just ice zombies. They do something the babies other than just eating them. Craster’s been delivering kids to them for decades, and who knows if the practice goes on with other Wildlings. There might be generations of ice people, raised from infancy by these weird creatures.