Airdate: April 27, 2014
Directed by: Michelle MacLaren
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), Bryan Cogman (written for television by)
I’m not going to get into the controversial events of last week’s episode here (I cover my thoughts in an editorial posted yesterday), but will rather focus on what I expect to see in this week’s upcoming episode, the beginning of the middle stretch of the fourth season. The fallout of the recent assassination (no names before the break) still hasn’t died down, and it is bound to have an affect, near term or long, on everyone, regardless of whether they know about it yet or not. For my breakdown of the Promo video and suggestions on where things are heading, click through after the break.
<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E04 – “Oathkeeper” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous events and the events shown in the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>
The focus of this week’s episode should be on Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister. The title, “Oathbreaker,” names them both – Jaime for becoming the Kingslayer when his oath was to protect the king (something which he has failed to do three times now, with Joffrey’s death and King Robb’s in season one); and Jon Snow for sleeping with Ygritte and killing a fellow Night’s Watchman (Qhorin “Halfhand”). It is also a play on the name of Jaime’s Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper, which is as ironic a name as one will find in the show, but one which Tywin used unironically in naming the sword he had made for Jaime.
The episode tag on IMDB reads: Dany balances justice and mercy. Jaime tasks Brienne with his honor. Jon secures volunteers while Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor stumble on shelter. As usual, these short descriptions give some insight into what we’re going to see, without giving away too much – and these short blurbs are notoriously loose in their use of double entendre to try to obfuscate while appearing revealing. Dany’s “justice and mercy” is almost certainly a result of taking Meereen – she will need to decide the fate of an entire class of people, and it won’t be just the ugly face of the slavemasters themselves – it will be their families, their elderly and their young, the non-slaves who are complicit but not necessarily directly guilty of the atrocities borne by the slaves within the city. Jaime’s honor here, including Brienne in the description, is likely his promise to Lady Catelyn Stark that he would ensure the safety of Sansa and Arya; with Cersei placing a geas upon him in the opening moments of the Promo (see below), his loyalties are going to be torn more than ever before – asking Brienne to take on part of his task may be the only way he can resolve his inner conflict. Jon securing volunteers is explained in the short clip we see of him in the Promo (again, check it out below), where he’s sparring with and training Watchmen, much to Alliser Thorne’s displeasure. Bran’s stumbling on shelter does resonate with a similar scene in the book – but then again, Benioff and Weiss have shown a determination to stray from the source material a fair bit, so nothing is certain. Bran’s story is definitely far from done, however, so look for him and his group to be safe for the time being, though decidedly behind enemy lines at this point.
Now let’s take a look at the Promo video. It gives some insights into Dany’s situation and also into Jon Snow’s, though it serves only to potentially confuse Bran’s – seeing a White Walker right after we see Bran looking frightened is not a good sign.
We open on Cersei looking across a candlelit chamber at Jaime, saying, “If I told you to leave the capital right now and find Sansa, and bring me her head, would you do it?” Focus on Jaime taking his Valyrian steel sword with his left hand. Next we hear Littlefinger’s voice, saying, “He wasn’t involved in Joffrey’s death,” as we see Sansa below decks standing at a window. He continues, “But you were,” as the camera focuses on his smug face, and then back to Sansa, looking pensive – she knows she’s walked into a giant trap here, but does not yet see a way out other than to continue moving forward. The camera lingers on her as we hear Tyrion saying, “It wouldn’t matter to Cersei.” The camera switches to show Tyrion, first leaning against a post, then facing what appears to be Jamie, continuing, “She won’t rest until my head’s on a spike.” Cut to Jaime being backhanded by Bronn on the seawall, and a close-up of Bronn as he says, “You going to fight for him now?” We jump north to the Wall, where Jon Snow appears to be sparring with another member of the Night’s Watch in preparation for the impending attack from the wildlings, as others watch and carry on their business in the background. Focus in on Alliser Thorne, face to face with Jon, saying, “You’re a steward, you traitorous bastard;” the camera shifts to Jon’s face, grim, not backing down as Thorne continue, “Give me an excuse.” I never realized before this moment how tall Thorne is (or is it that Jon is short?) – but Jon shows no desire to back down from the larger, more experienced man.
Cut to a brief flash of what looks like Grey Worm, wearing a slave’s collar, lighting a torch, then running through a narrow alley with other men following, bearing their own torches as well. Daenerys speaks, saying, “I will answer injustice with justice,” as we flash through three quick scenes: Dany from behind with Ser Barristan beside her, looking at a huge mob of former slaves holding their collars above them; a close-up on Dany’s face, as she finishes the last few words with a look of sincere intensity; and a city wall inside Meereen, as a guard and a slavemaster inspect graffiti, saying “Kill the Masters,” written in what appears to be blood. Cut to Dany looking off to her right with Ser Barristan behind her, and a nice quick cut to Lady Brienne riding a horse, looking back over her right shoulder (cut to look like she’s looking back at Dany). Brienne’s in full armor – where’s she going? We end on a quick montage: Tommen waking in his bed, looking like he’s seen a ghost; Hodor rising from his bed of snow beside Jojen and Meera, looking much the same as Tommen; a man with whom I am not familiar holding a skull with the crown lopped off (forgive me if he was introduced last week – I won’t be able to view last week’s episode until May 2nd); Bran, his face lit by fire, gasping and turning quickly to look over his right shoulder; and a fuzzy, brief shot of the face of a White Walker partially obscured, but its glowing blue eyes unmistakable.
So it looks as though we’re going to get a little of everything again this week, although perhaps no Arya or Stannis. This is not guaranteed – in fact, Arya’s scenes are rarely advertised, as I think Benioff and Weiss like to surprise us with her (last week’s blurb being an exception) – this has worked well over the last season and a half, and I don’t see them changing their approach anytime soon. Stannis, on the other hand, can do with a week off – his scenes just seem to serve to show how disturbing Melisandre is, and how far Stannis is willing to go in order to grasp power.
Hopefully no more missteps like last week’s controversial choice to change the scene between Cersei and Jaime in the Sept – time will tell whether fans are willing to continue with the series despite their misgivings over choices being made by the showrunners.