Game of Thrones: “Oathkeeper” (Season 4: Episode 4) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Game of Thrones: “Oathkeeper” (Season 4: Episode 4) Recap/Analysis

HBO, Sundays 9 p.m.

Apr 28, 2014 Game of Thrones
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[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Oathkeeper,” then read no further.]

The problem with Game of Thrones mid-season is that so many things are going on that there’s not enough room in a single episode to really let anything happen. Given that dilemma, “Oathkeeper” managed to progress a few stories that were growing kind of stale, and as a natural result, it suffers a case of road-weariness.

First, we see Daenerys sack Meereen. It was quick, and executed by the slaves she arrived to set free. As punishment for their crimes, Dany crucifies the slavers, mirroring their own atrocitieseven against Barristan’s protesting. Here we get a glimpse of Dany’s potential cruelty, as she chooses justice over mercy against her enemies.

In a parallel case of a mother blindly seeking justice against good counsel, Cersei tasks Jaime with hunting down Sansa and bringing her head back to King’s Landing. Jaime is appalled at the idea, and instead sends Brienne to protect Sansa, renewing her vow to the late Catelyn Stark. In the first true test of Jaime’s newfound heroism, he passes brilliantly. The same man who thoughtlessly crippled Bran in the first episode is now risking his good standing with Cersei (or what’s left of itthe painful, much talked about scene from last week is the apparent elephant in the room) to protect a Stark.

It’s also worth noting that sending Podrick as her squire is a gift not just to Brienne, but also to Tyrion. Podrick will no longer have to grapple with the dilemma of loyalty by testifying at Tyrion’s trial. That’s not to say that Jaime’s gifts to Brienne aren’t pretty significant on their own. For the first time, he lets his guard down and honestly shows Brienne that she’s the only person in Westeros he truly respects. But now that it is clear that Jaime is willing to actively oppose his sister, his own fate now seems as uncertain as Tyrion’s.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow plots to search for Bran, and finds a surprising ally in Lockethe same man who rid Jaime of his sword hand. Jon supposes that the most likely place Bran would find shelter is Craster’s Keep, where the Night’s Watch mutineers now live in depravity. Sure enough, Bran stumbles upon the keep, and is captured. We’re gearing up for an assault on the Night’s Watch mutineers, but Locke’s presence makes the journey north a bit more uncertain.

The episode ends with a mysterious sequence featuring a White Walker picking up Craster’s last son and taking him to an altar in the middle of the wilderness. He’s then picked up by another White Walker, who touches his cheek, and the last shot is of the child’s eyes freezing blue. It’s ominous and creepy, and jumps ahead to a major plot point that likely won’t be revisited any time soon. It’s a good move on the showrunners’ part, giving viewers a taste of the threat from up north before we forget about the oncoming winter.

The pace of “Oathkeeper” is deliberateand well-timed, even if it does slow down the season as a whole. The aftermath of Joffrey’s assassination is starting to stabilize, and now that the panic and confusion have subsided, the characters are looking to get back into their agendas. We finally see some significant movement on Bran’s story, and have the possibility of a reunion with him and Jon Snow. Sending Brienne off to protect Sansa is reassuring as well, if we can handle her separation from Jaime. Indeed, “Oathkeeper” is a perfect example of building tension that will sustain over at least a whole week, with everything left unresolved and dangling.

Oh, and Joffrey’s killer confesses. Was anyone really surprised? Apparently Margaery was.

www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones

Author rating: 7/10

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