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Game Of Thrones Episode 4 Oathkeeper Recap

Apr 28 2014, 2:38am CDT | by , in News | Latest TV News

Game Of Thrones Episode 4 Oathkeeper Recap
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Game Of Thrones Episode 4 Oathkeeper Recap

Spoilers through Season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the books follow.

Change has come to Game of Thrones. Sunday night’s episode, “Oathkeeper,” departed as much from the books as any episode so far in HBO’s adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire.

The deviations from the plot leave both readers and newcomers to the story of Westeros and its motley band of heroes and villains entirely uncertain as to what’s coming next.

After all, these aren’t small changes we’re talking about, minor conversations added in to flesh out non-point-of-view characters. What happened in this latest episode completely changes the landscape, especially in the north at the Wall.

For one thing, the man who—in the show—cut Jaime’s hand off is now at the Wall, an impostor in the Night’s Watch, sent by the Boltons to eliminate the last of the Stark threat.

For another, the entire trajectory of the mutineers at Craster’s Keep, and of Bran’s story, has been altered.

Now, instead of an extended walkabout beyond the Wall, Bran and his merry band have been abducted by the sadistic mutineers who murdered Lord Mormont and Craster and have set about raping all of the wildling lord’s myriad daughters. Now, Jon Snow is headed north beyond the Wall (with Bolton’s spy) to put an end to the traitors.

And we’re left to wonder: Will Jon and Bran somehow reunite here? Will Jon rescue his little brother? None of this happens in the books, and we have no idea what’s coming next because of it. Non-readers, meanwhile, are given a much more entertaining—or at least action-packed—version of events. Bran’s story is intriguing in Martin’s fiction, but this is certainly more exciting.

On the other hand, the Bad Crows are almost caricature villains at this point. It would have been nice to have somewhat more subtle enemies, perhaps subtle enough to win Bran and the Reeds' trust rather than simply capture them.

Where all this will go remains to be seen, but I think it’s a nice change from the books. While Storm of Swords is a pretty action-packed book, the events around Bran in particular can drag and meander and I’m happy to see a higher-stakes game played out on a more personal level.

Perhaps most interesting, however, was the end of the episode, when the Other (or White Walker) took the baby to an icy altar where another Other appeared to transform the babe into one of them. That’s a huge revelation, something we’ve never witnessed in the books, and certainly a glimpse into the secrets of these strange creatures we only ever rarely see in the novels.

What does it mean, though? I suspect that it’s in keeping with Martin’s over-arching plot, since the only changes made in the show tend to be more contained rather than major alterations of the broader story and epic conflict.

What I was most curious about this episode was how the show would handle last week’s bizarre sex scene between Jaime and Cersei, in the Sept (or church) next to the body of their dead child. An incestuous sex scene is bad enough, let alone one next to a dead child king, but this particular encounter seemed to be a rape.

After the controversy exploded last week, the director of that episode claimed that it was eventually consensual, and wasn’t meant to be viewed as a rape at all. That’s certainly how things feel in King’s Landing, where Jaime and Cersei’s icy relationship continues without much in the way of change. Cersei still wants Tyrion dead, and Jaime still won’t do it. There’s nothing said of last week’s event, and while Cersei treats Jaime with a certain extra iciness, it’s hardly out of character or unexpected, since this is exactly how she’s been treating him since his return. In other words, last week didn’t really happen—or at least not the way it seemed to happen. We’re still given a version of Jaime that’s increasingly noble, and Cersei is every bit as hideous as ever.

Jaime also practices swordplay with the marvelous Bronn—who hits the Lord Commander of the King’s Guard full on in the face with his golden hand—and then discusses Tyrion with him. Jaime and Tyrion have a brief conversation as well, in which we’re reminded just how much the two men really do care for one another.

Finally, Jaime sends off Brienne to find and rescue or help Sansa Stark. He gives her his sword and a new set of armor, sets her up with Tyrion’s squire, and bids her adieu. There’s a bittersweetness to this. So much of Jaime’s newfound honor and nobility seem wed to Brienne, and he seems pained to watch her go, and doubly pained by her faith in him. She even names her new sword Oathkeeper.

Meanwhile, Margaery Tyrell sneaks into the room of the soon to be king Tommen. She’s been unlucky when it comes to wedding kings, but the young Tommen appears to be both kind, unlike his recently deceased brother and straight, unlike the late Renly Baratheon. The only problem? He’s just a boy.

More interesting is the revelation that Littlefinger did indeed have a hand in Joffrey’s death, and that he was working with his “new friends” the Tyrells, and in particular the Queen of Thorns. The mystery is solved, then, just a few episodes after the king’s death, but Tyrion remains on trial.

Highgarden is very much a precarious ally to Casterly Rock, and Lady Olenna is much smarter than Tywin Lannister. Unfortunately, she plays the game without remorse, and Tyrion is just the price one pays to ensure one’s granddaughter doesn’t have to suffer the cruelty of a husband like Joffrey. One can hardly blame her.

If only the Starks had played the game of thrones so well, we’d never have ended up in this mess to begin with.

Beyond these critical events, not a whole lot happened this week. We didn’t see Arya or the Hound in their trek toward the Eyrie, though it would have been nice to remind the audience that the Hound is bringing the youngest Stark daughter to the very same place Littlefinger is bringing Sansa. Stannis was also absent this week, as was Prince Oberyn of Dorne.

Dany’s moment consisted mainly of showing, once again, just how ruthless the Targaryen princess is in her quest for justice, and the fall of Yunkai.

All told, a bit less eventful than the previous three episodes this season, but still one of the more intriguing we’ve seen since the first season, with some major changes and one pretty significant glimpse into the heart of the White Walker phenomenon. I’m curious to see how the Craster’s Keep conflict plays out, and whether Jon and Bran have some sort of reunion, and I’m just as curious to see what happens with Bolton’s man in the Night’s Watch. These new changes could become even more interesting as the season unfolds and the politics of the Night’s Watch begin to take precedence.

As I mentioned when discussing the rape scene last week, the show and the books continue to split into two very distinct, divergent stories. Thankfully HBO has done a really good job at telling their own story, and I find the contrast between the two—even as it splits ever further—both fascinating and strangely satisfying. I’m really enjoying not knowing exactly what’s coming next.

Follow me on Twitter or FacebookRead my Forbes blog here.

 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
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