Some humanisation of Stannis!
This week’s episode, The Sons of the Harpy, certainly had its ups and downs. So let’s discuss the lower points before moving onto the arguably better aspects. Firstly, the Sand Snakes. What a load of monkey poo. The Sand Snakes are the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, with various women. In the books, there are eight in total, so you can see why Benioff and Weiss have cut that down a bit, which is fair enough. Naturally, they are pretty pissed off about Oberyn’s death, as is Ellaria Sand. I mentioned before about how Ellaria is partially seeming to take the role of Arianne Martell, who is Doran’s daughter and overall great character, sadly. So why was it a bad scene? Believe it or not, this is largely due to TV-stuff as opposed to “that didn’t happen in the book-stuff”. Book Sand Snakes are still bent on revenge, and filled with anger, so no real problem there. The problem was that their introductory scene was so bland that it was cringey. I think a mixture of bad acting and bad writing is to blame – the Sand Snakes themselves just seem extremely wooden, especially Obara and her bloody exposition. Yes, we understand; you’re the ‘tough one’. And Tyene is a mummy’s girl. Brilliant. Established. Game of Thrones is chocka-full of monologues – some of which are brilliant (Jaime in the bathtub) and some…are not so. This was certainly one of the latter. Ellaria too. She was great in Season 4, but seems to just be so awkward this season. Such a shame – the Martell’s are my personal favourite house, due to the likes of Oberyn, Doran and Arianne. Here’s hoping that we see more Doran action in the next few episodes to redeem this. This is perhaps one of the worst scenes in the series far (though not quite as bad as Yara’s rescue mission of Theon in S4 and Ramsay’s plot armour).
Moving on, to somewhere in the middle. We got to see another side to Margarey. Away with the façade of purity and kindness, is this her true face? It was certainly interesting to see the type of king that Tommen is – a bit of a wet wipe. Knock Joffrey all you want, but he would have sorted those religious fanatics good. Their whole ideology, combined with their violent approach, makes the seemingly docile High Sparrow even more terrifying. They represent the Faith Militant – an army that serve the Gods. We discussed last week how big religion is in Westeros, so if it were to come down to crown vs religion, I think we would see a close fight on our hands. Of course, Cersei describing a sinner hid behind gold…could very easily describe her too, couldn’t it?
Before we look at the closing scene in the episode, I think it’s important to note how often Rhaegar Targaryen was mentioned this episode, leading many fans to believe the truth behind a certain theory surrounding this character. By now, you should know all about how Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister), sparking Robert’s Rebellion. It all began at a tourney in Harrenhal. As Littlefinger explained whilst Sansa was in the Winterfell crypts, Rhaegar won the tourney. However, instead of presenting the traditional flower to his wife, Elia Martell (you raped her, murdered her etc.), he gave it to Lyanna Stark (who was with Robert Baratheon). Cue gasps. Rhaegar then kidnapped and raped Lyanna….that is, if you ask a supporter of the Baratheons and North. If you ask a Targaryen supporter, they will tell that Lyanna willingly ran off with Rhaegar; indeed, Barristan himself, a good friend of Rhaegar’s, states how he would go into the town disguised as a bard and sung to the poor folk. Here’s where the theory kicks in. As this is all just a theory, there are no spoilers, but if you want to bypass this anyway JUST IN CASE then please skip down until after the next image.
I might well have mentioned this before, but there is a huge fan theory that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark are Jon Snow’s real parents, making Jon a Targaryen. There a numerous reasons and nods to this, but I’ll just go over the most basic. Firstly, as Stannis points out in this episode, Ned Stark was extremely honourable (to a fault), so it seems extremely unlikely that he would be unfaithful to his wife and sleep with another women. Secondly, after the Battle of the Trident, in which Robert kills Rhaegar, Ned travels to Dorne to a place called the Tower of Joy. After killing what remains of Aerys’ Kingsguard (excluding Barristan and Jaime), Ned enters the tower to find his sister, Lyanna, dying in a bed of blood. She keeps saying “promise me, Ned. Promise me.” In his point of view chapters, Ned never reveals what he was made to promise, but many fans believe that Lyanna gave birth to Jon and died. Ned promised not to tell anyone the baby was hers because Robert would have had Jon killed. Hence, Ned, sacrificing his honour, pretends Jon in his. There is a wonderful extract in the book detailing the events at the Tower of Joy, which can be watched/listened to here.
Righty right. That last scene. I’ve expressed before my feelings towards Emelia Clark’s ok-ish acting (though she has gotten better), but on top of that, Daenerys has very little idea of how exactly to rule. Can you fault her? Kind of. She had queen-hood thrust on her quite literally in the form of Drogo’s penis. After his death, she makes it her mission to liberate the slave cities in the aptly named Slaver’s Bay. But, ultimately, she has no idea what she is doing. Her people are too many to feed, and she has a massive uprising in the city. She completely underestimates her enemy – an enemy at her front door. Which resulted in the climax of this week’s episode. The Sons of the Harpy are a rebellion group that seems to be comprised of ex-slave Masters and even some ex-slaves, who do not want to live in Dany’s new world. Whilst the final scene of this episode did provide us with some fancy sword fighting, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the outcome. The Unsullied are supposed to be the greatest warriors…well, ever. With such strict discipline, they become master fighters. Even when outnumbered like they were in this episode, they still kick-bum. Arguably, fighting with a spear in such a confined place may be what led to their downfall, but I still think that they should have had a better chance than they did. But then again, they lack ‘real’ combat experience – all they know is training. Whilst the Sons of the Harpy are made up of civilians, some of these may well have been pit-fighters, explaining their skill in battle. Nevertheless, what went down will certainly leave a certain khaleesi most angry. Most angry indeed! This brings us on to Barristan Selmy. Barristan the Bold is one of the greatest knights in the Seven Kingdoms. He has so many bad-ass accolades to his name, such as the time he singlehandedly snuck into a fortress after Aerys was kidnapped and rescued him. His skill and mentality reflect that of a typical Arthurian knight. Finally, we got to see him fight. Obviously now he is an old man, and was wearing very little armour, but he still held his own. Whilst his (and Grey Worm’s) fate is left unknown (unless you watch the preview for the next episode, in which it I spoiled in the first five seconds…), I think we can all agree that he fought brilliantly. They are both still very much alive in the books, however, so keep your little fingers crossed!
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
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!
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!
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, which 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?
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!