Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 4: Oathkeeper

Across the Ocean, Daenery’s White Lady Saviour Tour

Missendei and Grey Worm are practicing Grey Worm’s… English I guess (Westerosi?) and belatedly adding some back story and character development and Grey Worms’ determination to kill the Masters. Is it coincidence that Daenerys comes in just then? And they both start guiltily?

Grey Worm leads several Unsullied into Meereen, sneaking into the slave areas where there’s a large meeting of slaves deciding whether to revolt or not. Grey Worm sings Daenerys praise and gives them a huge stash of weapons. He also has the fun line “no-one can give you freedom, you must take it.” Which would have more impact if Daenerys wasn’t cast as doing just that.

The uprising happens and the badly outnumbered masters are defeated. Daenerys enters the city to adulation and broken chains and more people calling her “Mhysa”. Step two of the conquest is to remember all the slave kids the Meereen rulers nailed to mileposts – and pick 100 masters to be treated the same way, though Ser Barriston advises against it; he advises mercy. She doesn’t take that advice.

In Kings Landing with lots of plotting (always)

Jaime continues to be schooled in the art of dirty fighting by Bronn, with Bronn’s usual irreverence. At the end of which Bronn and Jaime discuss Tyrion’s innocence and Bronn throws in a little shame at Jaime for not visiting his brother

So he does which includes much attempt to cheer Tyrion up and Tyrion outright dragging on the carpet the fact that Joffrey is Jaime’s son. Jaime can’t help Tyrion escape because treason and all that, which Tyrion makes a mockery of, even Jaime sounds disbelieving when he talks about the trial as if it’s some source of justice. Jaime raises Sansa as an alternative (adding her convenient disappearance, Cersei’s hate and bounty) but Tyrion is sure Sansa isn’t a killer… yet anyway.

Nope, Sansa’s on boat with Littlefinger, being taken to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Arren (Sansa’s aunt, Catelyn’s sister, daughter of Lord Tulley and the kingdom that has most determinedly tried to stay out of everything). Sansa asks if Littlefinger killed Joffrey he tries to dodge the question so she firmly backs it up without the question now – Littlefinger killed Joffrey, using poison in her necklace that Dontos gave to Sansa. And why since the Lannisters were good to Littlefinger? Because Littlefinger is playing politics at a level that doesn’t come close to being comprehensible to anyone (except, maybe, Varys). Joffrey was too unpredictable an ally, he likes his new friends and his new friends wanted Joffrey dead.

New friends? Hey, let’s have a totally unrelated cut to Olenna and Margaery Tyrell who I’m sure had nothing to do with Joffrey’s death AT ALL. Olenna is leaving (nooooo) having already defeated the Lannisters so often it’s probably not fun any more (and lampshade-snarking the number of scenes where she’s been walking through the gardens). Olenna gives us a nice insight into her past where she decided she couldn’t be having with an arranged marriage to a Targaryen so shagged her sister’s betrothed silly instead. As you do. And she’s sure Margaery is better – speaking of, it’s time to get Margaery hooks into Tommen while Cersei is all busy grieving for her son and falsely accusing her brother (and yes, Olenna knows it was false – of course she does, as she happily confesses to the murder herself. She wasn’t going to let Margaery marry that monster after all).

Olenna is a masterful plotter in her own right, but Littlefinger may even top her

Cersei, drinking her way through the castle’s wine cellar, calls Jaime to her to complain about her dead son, about the insufficient protection for Tommen, Brienne, why Catelyn released Jaime, hunting down Sansa (and whether Jaime will do it despite his oath to Catelyn), Jaime visiting Tyrion etc etc.

In fact, she complains about everything except the fact he just raped her by her dead son’s body. Which we seem to be pretending never happened.

Margaery pays a late night visit to the young and innocent Tommen and sets to work talking about keeping secrets from Cersei, arranged marriages (and their marriage being inevitable) and his adorable kitty (it’s an actual cat. It’s called Ser Pounce. And yes, Tommen is still a child and so very very very different from his brother).

Jaime and Brienne have a moment – and Jaime gives Brienne his new shiny, Valerian steel sword his dad just made from Ned Stark’s Greatsword, Ice. Because he wants her to protect Sansa as she swore (he did swear to bring her back to Catelyn safe. This is where we’re supposed to see Jaime as honourable?). She names the sword Oathkeeper. He also has a suit of armour for her – and Brienne accepts the quest for Catelyn – and for Jaime. One last thing she gets a squire – Pod. Awwww, he looks so happy and eager to please, bless. Pod get his own gift from Tyrion – the axe Tyrion used in battle.

To the Boring North, with the Pouty and the Mopey

The Nights Watch hasn’t been killed by Wildlings, ice zombies or anything else yet. What a pity. Jon is training people with his friend whose name I don’t care about and can he be redshirted already, including a boy who has been pressed into the ranks (his name is Olver). Alliser Thorne shows up to be annoying because that is his role. After which Alliser’s minion points out how popular Jon is compared to Alliser and how Alliser needs to do something if he doesn’t want someone else to be chosen as Lord Commander. And that something is to send Jon to take care of Craster’s camp full of rebel Nightswatch and hope they kill him.

There’s also a new recruit, Locke – that would be Lord Bolton’s hunter – who works at making friends with Jon.

Sam is worried about Gilly, Jon is worried about Bran being north of the Wall. And Alliser goes with his little assassination attempt – Jon can raid Craster’s keep and kill the traitors, but only with volunteers, Alliser won’t force anyone to go with him. Of course, Alliser has underestimated how popular Jon the Pouty is and isn’t amused that half a dozen or so men volunteer – including Locke.

What’s happening at Craster’s? Rape of course. Because this is Game of Thrones and random rape is just wallpaper. In between the grandiose ranting of the rapist in chief, one of the women enter holding Craster’s last male child; the other women chant “gift of the gods.” Ringerleader Karl decides to follow Craster’s example and have minion Rast leave the baby outside for the White Walkers.

Rast does – but also takes the time to torment Jon’s direwolf – Ghost. He runs when the temperature drops

But they’re not the only ones in the North; Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor can also hear the baby cry. Bran decides to investigate by possessing Summer, his direwolf. (Which is really creepy, by the way) Summer/Bran works their way to where Ghost is captured – and falls into a pit. Bran jerks out of the direwolf

They spy on the traitor Nights Watch and Meera ralises they’re not nice people; but Bran won’t leave without Summer. And they’re captured by the traitors, Meera knocked out and poor Hodor tormented. Karl recognises the quality of Bran’s clothes and tries to find out who he is, with violence and then threatening to rape Meera (because Game of Thrones, that’s why). When Jojen starts fitting, Bran tells them who he is.

To end on a spooky note, a White Walker does collect the baby and take him to a stone circle – well an ice circle - and place him on an altar, surrounded by many more White Walkers. One walker touches the baby’s face, and his eyes turn icy blue like the White Walkers.

Ooooh look at Jaime, so honourable protecting Sansa. And Cersei is so angry about everything… except the elephant in the room. And now Jaime is all unrequited love and sad eyes with Brienne! Is everyone going to pretend the rape never happened? Are we putting Jaime back on his redemption train? Really?

There’s a lot of wallpaper rape this episode as well – rape and sexual assault is just used as a backdrop to introduce the theme of the week – ruthlessness. Ruthless Daenerys, ruthless Nights Watch traitors, ruthless Olenna… but rape shouldn’t be used as a plot device, certainly not to set a theme that is already clear without it.

Littlefinger’s plotting adds a whole new level of randomness to the gameboard… I’m just not sure entirely how much more randomness either the books or the TV series needed. He is unpredictable and a masterful schemer – but only because everyone underestimates him. Or, possibly, because his ambitions are way higher than anyone imagined or could guess.

The White Walkers keep looming, same as the Wildlings, when do either of them get involved?