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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 5

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

Oh, Petyr!

It’s taken three and a half seasons, but there it was: arguably the biggest reveal in the series so far. The mystery that started it all: Jon Arryn’s death. A quick recap: Jon Arryn was the Lord of the Vale (the area where Sansa is now), and Warden of the West. He was Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon’s foster father, and was the spark behind Robert’s Rebellion – after Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, murdered Ned’s brother and father, he demanded that young Eddard be turned over too…because, you know, justice and all that. Jon Arryn declined, and thus the rebellion began. When it ended, as we all know, Robert Baratheon sat on the Iron Throne, and Jon Arryn was his Hand.

Fast forward a good few years, and Jon dies suddenly and mysteriously. Robert rides to Winterfell, jon arrynand Game of Throne s begins. Cast your minds back to the very first episode. Ned was originally going to decline Robert’s offer, until Catelyn receives a coded letter from her sister, Lysa (Jon’s widow) stating that the Lannister’s murdered Jon. This changes detective Ned’s mind – he wants to find out the truth, and protect Robert. His investigation is the basis for most of the King’s Landing scenes in season one, which ends with his execution after discovering truth about Cersei and Jaime. But the mystery behind Jon’s death was never solved, and although many fans may have forgotten about it, just remember that it was the catalyst that started everything!

So here we are. In case you missed it, Lysa Tully/Arryn/Baelish poisoned Jon under the instructions of Littlefinger.  There was probably very little love in the marriage – Jon Arryn was quite a bit older – but would anyone have expected the grieving wife? To cover her back (again, under Littlefinger’s instructions) she wrote the letter to Cat blaming the Lannister’s, who due to their past and nature seemed like the obvious suspects. So, if you needed any more reason to dislike Lysa and her sickly child, just remember that that whole thing with Tyrion’s trial is season one was a farce and she knew it. So this leads us into some new territory – what is Petyr Baelish’s game (of Thrones) plan? He has been the mastermind behind it all: Jon Arryn’s death, eliminating Ned (“I did warn you not to trust me), possibly Joffrey’s death, the alliance with the Tyrells. But why? “He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.” He’s an ambitious so-and-so, and wants the world. This is the first time we have really seen one of the key players, apart from maybe Tywin, of the Game revealed. Eeek! Also, Sansa is now going by the name of Alayne Stone, so that no one knows who she is. Stone is the Vale’s equivalent to Snow or Sand as a surname: it is a bastard’s name. Lysa revealed her inner insanity, and proposed a marriage between Sansa and Robin, her little putrid cousin. Pretty normal stuff, all in all.

Littlefinge eyebrows

Ok, enough of that. What else did we see… Well, there has been some debate as to what the whole Cersei/Margery scene was about, as they seemed very civil with each other. But I think they both know what the other is playing at. But did you notice that Cersei also spoke with Oberyn (was nice to see him in a quieter, less sexy environment) and her father? With regards to the former, she discussed her daughter, Myrcella – a topic that she has hardly touched on. Showing some humanity perhaps? And with her father, she discussed her marriage to Loras – a subject which usually has her all up in flames. And what do Margery, Oberyn and Tywin have in common? They’re all linked to Tyrion’s trial. Oberyn and Tywin are judges, and the third is Margery’s bumbling father, Mace. In my opinion, Cersei is trying to score sympathy, empathy and friend requests from those who hold Tyrion’s fate. You sneaky mummy! We also learnt that the Lannister’s seemingly infinite supply of money is running out, with more references to how scary and powerful the Iron Bank of Braavos is. The Lannister’s running out of money epitomises one of the most consistent themes: power resides where people think it resides. So you can bet your hat that Tywin will do his upmost to keep this little dry spell a secret!

“What have I done?!”

As mentioned before, all of the Wall and beyond scenes in these last couple of episodes have been original show-only stuff, and as a result have some book fans a tad irate. But in my opinion these scenes have been great to further flesh out certain characters: we see how devoted Bran is to his quest when he decides not to inform Jon of his presence.  We see Jon’s devotion to the Watch, eliminating his former Brothers out of both vengeance and caution. And we see gentle Hodor (involuntarily) kill Locke, who if you remember wanted to kill Bran on Roose Bolton’s orders, therefore strengthening the Bolton domain over the North. Whilst overall I enjoyed this final scene, I did have some issues. In fact, it was all a very large case of deus ex machina. Firstly, the only indication Locke had of Bran’s whereabouts was that he may have gone to the Wall to see his brother. Locke arrives, and Bran isn’t there…but it just so happens that he has been captured by the very ex-Brothers that Jon now wants to go and eliminate. Bran could have literally been anywhere in the world, and whilst I understand that this is a plot device, it seems a bit lazy how easy Locke’s little hunt was. In the same figurative paint stroke, Karl’s (Burn Gorman) death also seemed very happenstance – it just so happened that one of Craster’s wives was in the hut…and it just so happened that Karl then turned his attention to her, for some reason, forgetting about his armed opponent. Maybe he thought that Jon would fight with honour and not stab him through the back, but I don’t know. Just seemed a little bit lazy on the writing side of things. Well, that wraps up that little sub-plot, ending with Jon lighting what is probably the biggest fire the north has ever seen! Wait, didn’t someone else want to do that? Oh raspberries! That’s exactly what Mance was going to do to signal to Tormund et al to attack Castle Black! Has Jon made a big faux pas, or is this all part of his plan? Or maybe this was just an oversight and I’m looking too much into it…? Tune in next time!

On a side note, this episode also slightly reinforced a certain ‘tinfoil’ theory concocted by the A Song of Ice and Fire fans. In the show so far, only a few Kingsguard members have been referred to by name. Excluding Jaime, others you may have heard are Mandon Moore and Meryn Trant. Ser Mandon was the scallywag whom Pod impaled on the Blackwater after he tried to kill Tyrion. Ser

Meryn is the one that fought Syrio Forel (Arya’s

‘dance’ teacher) and frequently beat Sansa. Why is this relevant? Well, this particular theory states that Meryn Trant didn’t actually kill Syrio – Syrio managed to escape (or killed Ser Meryn and is ‘wearing’ his face). The idea behind this stems from the fact that Syrio was supposedly the First Sword of Braavos…you would think that cruel, boastful Ser Meryn would gloat about defeating this great warrior, wouldn’t you? Additionally, in “First of His Name”, the Hound states that a child could beat Meryn Trant. This may just be Sandor Clegane having a jolly jape, but perhaps there is truth it in. Who knows? Perhaps Syrio did indeed escape and he is still

Is this the face of a killer?
Is this the face of a killer?

alive? One extension of this theory is that Syrio was a Faceless Man – the same Faceless Man that was Jaqen H’ghar, the super cool assassin that helped Arya out in Harrenhal in season two. This is all crazy speculation…the kind that happens when readers are left for years between book releases, but it’s pretty cool, no?

 

Also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s name was like…first in the opening credits, but Jaime only appeared in the background of one scene. That was weird.

Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 4

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

I want Jaime’s coat duster.

After the slight disappointment of last week’s episode, “Oathkeeper” restored my faith (that was never really dwindling) in the series. And it did something even more magical: it made me actually quite excited at the prospect of the series differing from the book. Stay tuned to find out more.

A big theme in “Oathkeeper” seemed to be character relationships – some deteriorating, some growing – most of which had Jaime at the centre. It seems like the show is pulling an X-Men: Origins and bypassing the rape-that-may-or-may-not-have-actually-been-a-rape. So Jaime is back to being likable: huzzah! We’re treated to some wonderfully performed scenes between him and Brienne, Cersei, Tyrion and Bronn. So let’s tackle them in reverse, just for fun. The idea to have Bronn fill Ilyn Payne’s shoes just keeps getting better and better. This week Bronn didn’t just deliver funtastic banter – he actually showed some humanity and persuaded Jaime to go and speak to Tyrion. Not only did give Bronn’s character more depth, but it also showed that he does actually care about the fate of Tyrion, which is nice to know. So, Jaime and Tyrion. Despite the fact that they are obviously quite close, we haven’t really seen that much interaction between the two of them, apart from in the first couple of episodes and some of the most recent, so this is always a welcome scene-share to see. It’s also very reassuring to see that Jaime doesn’t believe that it was Tyrion that murdered Joffrey…for what good it does. As much as I’m sure everyone would love to see Jaime fighting his way out of King’s Landing with Tyrion on his back (waving an axe, obviously) after breaking him free of the cells, I don’t think that that is going to happen. Jaime faces an eternal predicament – does he side with his brother whom he loves and knows is in the right, or does he side with his sister whom he loves and knows is a total bitch. As one relationship grows, the other fades. I think that he is in love with the idea of Cersei rather than Cersei herself: they have been together their whole lives, quite literally, and thus that has become the norm. Anything else is different. And different is scary. Cersei, on the other golden hand, blames Jaime for everything. “You took too long”, “you let him die.” Bear in mind that since his departure, she has also been having sexy sex with her dear cousin Lancel et al. Perhaps the most heart-warming scene in the episode, was Jaime and Brienne. I still don’t know how Brienne sees Jaime: does she love him as a brother, or a lover (though, this is Game of Thrones, so are the two mutually exclusive?) Either way, their relationship grows and grows, and as I said before, I just want to see them ride off and have wacky adventures (with Tyrion on their backs waving an axe, obviously). But unfortunately that also doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. Though Pod is joining her!

Pod
And we are all very excited for it.

Part of the reason why the Jaime and Brienne scene (in which he presents her with the eponymous Oathkeeper) was so powerful was because of Brienne’s background: despite being a highborn woman, she has never been treated this kindly before. Her life has been ridicule after ridicule. It wasn’t really until Renly that she saw any kindness, and that ended very quickly. Speaking of Renly, the blue armour that Jaime gifts Brienne may be a nod to, in the bookiverse, Renly’s Rainbow Guard. Yes, the book didn’t have any scenes of Renly secretly porking Loras. Instead, his homosexuality was portrayed via subtle/not subtle hints. Instead of naming his king’s guard his King’s Guard, he names them the Rainbow Guard, and gives them all lovely rainbow cloaks. There were seven members of the Guard (seven gods, you get the picture) and Brienne was ‘the Blue’. The blue colour may also allude to her home of Tarth, the Sapphire Island. So there are some fun facts!

"I...just have to stay here for a second."
“I…just have to stay here for a second.”

Book fans will rejoice at the inclusion of Tommen’s cat, Ser Pounce. Though he is a kitten in the books, I think that this will suffice. After seeing this story progress a little, I take back my comment about Tommen being too old. It looks like they are drawing on the nativity that he may face as a pre-pubescent male behoved to a super-hot sex diva. I mean, that scene in the bedroom was like every boy’s wet dream. “Shh, it’s our little secret”.

The title “Oathkeeper” may also refer to the scenes surrounding the Night’s Watch. The story up north is perhaps where this episode differed mostly from the books (if you were to draw a book to series comparison chart, it would look like a spikey double-helix, methinks) but it all works. Firstly, Locke is there. You know, the Bolton man that cut Jaime’s hand off. He was told by Reek via Ramsay that Bran is still alive, so it seems that he has come to Castle Black with hopes of finding and eliminating him, thus strengthening Roose Bolton’s claim to the North. Jon has a lovely “oh captain, my captain” moment as he recruits Brothers to help him take back Craster’s Keep, where Bran has now been captured. Interestingly, in the books Jon has literally no idea that Bran is still alive – but it appears that Sam dropped the ball and let it slip. The whole story at Craster’s Keep is written solely for the show too. After the mutiny there, and the death of Jeor Mormont, the Keep is never revisited. But the show gives Jon good reason to go back there, what with Mance on the way, to silence his traitorous ex-Brothers. Also we get to see more of Burn Gorman, White wlaker kingwhich is always welcome. Furthermore, the climactic scenes gave us something that even the book hasn’t covered yet: a look into the Lands of Always Winter, which is, like, mega north. And (now this very exciting) the White Walker community! So it’s confirmed that Craster’s sons essentially became Wights (quick recap, the Others, or White Walkers, are the beings that ‘bring the cold’ and create the Wights, whereas the Wights are the zombies). This is big, guys. This ‘leader’ of the White Walkers has been nigh confirmed as a character called the Night’s King. Long story short, this is a character who features quite majorly in A Song of Ice and Fire lore. He was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and fell in love with a female White Walker. Some say that he was a Stark, as his brother (who later killed him) was the King in the North. If he is the Night’s King and/or leader of the White Walkers, this answers a lot of as of yet unproved theories…whilst, obviously, raising even more. HBO referred to the character in various episode guides. Since the episode premiered, the name has been changed to ‘White Walker’. Now, did HBO make a typo, or have they accidentally revealed a major spoiler that not even the book readers have seen yet? This is exciting.

Goodness I’m all giddy. I’ll close with a few comments on Dany’s opening scene, which was very strong, especially considering recently hers have been a bit meh. Talk soon becomes action as Daenerys takes Meereen, the final city in Slaver’s Bay. Grey Worm’s character is fleshed out a lot more than it is in the books, which is brilliant. And Daenerys…well, make what you will of her. Is she doing the wrong thing for the right reasons? Barristan Selmy, who served her father, tries to dissuade her from punishing the slave Masters, but she doesn’t listen. Perhaps, for that moment, he remembered that she was her father’s daughter. Daenerys has already shown a few signs of slight madness – are we seeing her slowly, but surely, fall deeper into insanity?

Mereen

Oh, also, so Joffrey’s murder was pretty much unraveled (go back and pay close attention!) But now new questions arise: were Littlefinger and Grandma Tyrell working together? Or did Littlefinger find out about Olenna’s intentions and take advantage of it? What’s clear is that Margery was not involved, and had no knowledge of the plan, yet still knows that now she must manipulate Tommen as she did Joffrey. These Tyrells, man – they have a game plan. A Game of Thrones plan. Ayyyyy!