TV Recap: Game of Thrones, ‘Oathbreaker’


Oathbreaker Plot Summary:

Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is alive, and begins to come to grips with both his resurrection and his betrayal. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is taken back to the infamous ‘Tower of Joy’ story that his father told countless times — only to find out there’s a lot Ned neglected to tell him. Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) begin to re-entrench themselves into the power structure of King’s Landing. Dany (Emilia Clarke) is brought to her new “home” by the Dothraki. Varys (Conleth Hill) begins his inquiries of who are funding The Sons of the Harpy.

‘Oathbreaker,’ the third episode of Games of Thrones’ sixth season, is the kind of bridge or table-setting episode we’ve all come to know over the first five previous seasons of the sword and intrigue series.

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

To some, these episodes are snoozers. They’re just set-up episode that, if you watch next week’s ‘previously on Game of Thrones,’ you’ll be all caught up.

However, this episode really exemplified what makes Game of Thrones a great series — the intrigue, and the set-up…and a pretty fun sword fight. ‘Oathbreaker’ is all about furthering the immediate and series-long storylines in an intriguing and sometimes delightfully infuriating manner.

Jon Snow’s resurrection was handled extremely well (although it was a bit telegraphed) last week, and the writers handled his newfound lease on life perfectly. There’s nothing supernatural or godlike about Jon Snow — he remains the same humble, loyal, slightly confused, and headstrong character he’s always been — which is the way he should be written. Anything else would have been silly.

Snow’s ‘mic drop’ at the end of the episode was a bit surprising — he executes his betrayers, and then leaves The Knight’s Watch behind…or does he? This was a complete ‘from left field moment.’ You’d expect Snow to continue leading the “wall” contingent of The Watch and The Wildings. Yet throwing this wrench into the works is actually really well-done, because we’re now left in the shadows wondering what Jon Snow is actually going to do. This is a natural step for his character’s evolution. We’ve seen him at The Wall for a few seasons, now it’s time to move him on to something new.

Equally as surprising was Jon not sparing his betrayers, particularly Olly. One could surmise that pre-death Jon would’ve spared them. However, this probably would’ve stalled the story, as it was time for Thorne to go.

Photo Credit: Macall B.Polay/HBO
Photo Credit: Macall B.Polay/HBO

Harrington’s performance was particularly noteworthy this week. His interaction with the Wyndham Wizard aka Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) was a wonderful moment of much-needed levity. Then his two interactions with his friend Edd (Ben Crompton) really showed that Jon was a new man. It was also a nice story moment to see a side character like Edd get the command of The Wall.

An infuriating moment in the show (in a good way) was watching The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) continue to outdo King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). It finally seemed like the youngest Lannister was going to put his foot down, and make his demands not only heard, but make them law. Yet, as per usual, the silver tongued Sparrow used his religious logic to pour evangelical honey into the easily manipulated king’s ear. Come on Tommen, you can’t keep falling for the same trick every time! What’s so good about this scene, outside of Pryce’s performance is the potential of Tommen falling completely under The Sparrow’s influence — and the fall-out that will come with his mother and father.

Then there’s The Tower of Joy. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow) continued their Rick and Morty meets Doctor Who-esque journey through time and land at one of the most anticipated moments in the series — the rescue of Lyanna Stark. First, let’s give a huge round of applause to whomever cast Robert Aramayo as young Ned Stark. Aramayo nails both the look, cadence, and soul of Sean Bean’s character, and that really makes the scene phenomenal. The sword fight between he, his men and Ser Arthur Dayn was tremendous. However, it’s the outcome of the fight that leaves you (and Bran) jaw agape — Ned doesn’t beat the famed knight. He wins through one of his men stabbing Dayne in the back. Does this ruin the character of Ned Stark? Of course not. However it sets up what we’ve all been waiting for….

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

How much has Ned Stark lied about…in particular who is the heir of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.

That answer, which we all have theories on, is one we’re all waiting for.

If ‘Oathbreaker’ did have some flaws it was probably the fact the stories of our two of our biggest female characters, Arya and Dany, moved at a snail’s pace. Sure, Arya did regain her sight (which signifies she’s ready to be a faceless assassin), but where is this all leading us? We’ve seen her get pummeled for three episodes, can we move her to something more significant. As for Dany, well she’s moved to the Dothraki widow’s retirement home. She’s not given much to do in this episode outside of giving the same ‘here’s my resume of titles’ speech. Luckily, it looks like this arc will advance next week with the return of the buddy duo of Jorah and Daario.

The kicker in all of this, which may have been lost in the Tower of Joy scene, and Snow’s mic drop, was the fact Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) now has Rickon Stark. Yes, the most vile and heinous character in the entire series now has leverage in the impending “Boltons vs. The North” war that seems to be brewing. I love the fact they’ve given this character something new to play with. Rheon has done a marvelous job keeping, what is essentially a one-note character (he’s evil), so intriguing. His performance eschews from scene chewing and camp, and rather builds with evil smirks, and blood-soaked whispers.

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Lest we forget two other scenes — the return of Sam and Gilly, and Mereen. Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah) have a nice, vomit-covered scene where we basically find out what’s going to happen to them this season, and that their love is very much true and honest. It’s a nice little scene that serves its purpose. Mereen is bolstered by a commanding performance by the always awesome Conleth Hill. The man was born to play this role, and he owns every second he’s on screen in this episode. Peter Dinklage had some nice moments of comedy, but overall his role was reduced greatly from last week’s dragon taming.

‘Oathbreaker’ is an episode that gives us a lot to look forward to for the next seven weeks, while also giving us a pretty entertaining episode.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites