I am the sword in the darkness
On one hand, you could view Jon’s plot line as disappointing. We wanted him to emerge from death with guns blazing: a changed, more assertive, angrier man. Instead we got a shell-shocked depressive who is poutier than ever. (When he says, “I did what I thought was right and I got murdered for it,” that might as well be the show’s motto). When Davos tells him to keep on keeping on and clean things up, he says, “I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but I failed.”
If you wanted “Oathbreaker” to definitively give us Targaryen Jon, you’ll also be disappointed, as the show made a point of addressing that fan theory with Jon’s Night’s Watch pal Edd definitively pointing out that Jon’s eyes are still brown (not Targaryen purple, as some fans hoped).
But on the other hand, Jon’s return might not be badass, but by failing to make it epic, the show still subverts fantasy tropes — specifically, the Chosen One trope. His big debut to the Night’s Watch is intentionally anticlimactic; his execution of his killers not quite-triumphant. Jon’s return is underwhelming, but maybe that’s the point. Game of Thrones is inverting the Chosen One narrative by making his return anticlimactic and uncertain and inglorious. Resurrections should be magnificent, but his is quiet and sad and filled with a feeling of, “what now?”
Jon’s watch has ended; his future is a void.
The North Remembers
Osha the Wilding and Rickon Stark make a less-than auspicious return, as Ramsay can’t go more than one episode without screwing over a Stark. Ramsay also gets in some disparaging Jon Snow remarks, to build up their inevitable conflict later in the season.
My dreams are different
Bran’s story is the heart of the episode, as we finally get a tantalizing glimpse of the Tower of Joy and dance around the R + L = J fan theory (otherwise known as Rhaegar Targaryen + Lyanna Stark = Jon). The casting on Young Ned is once again spot-on, and with Luke Roberts (aka Woodes Rogers on Black Sails) as Arthur Dayne, we finally get that Black Sails/Game of Thrones crossover we’ve been waiting for.
When Ned says, “Rhaegar lies beneath the ground. Why weren’t you there to protect him?” the two guards respond, “Our prince wanted us here.” What could Rhaegar have considered more important than saving his life — surely not saving his pregnant lover!
To ours and Bran’s mutual ire, the Three-eyed Raven cuts the scene short before we get to go up into the tower and see Lyanna Stark give birth to Jon Snow — but we do get a scream that would indicate childbirth. And intriguingly, though Bran’s place in his visions seems to be in an observational capacity, we learn he can be heard, as young Ned turns around when he calls, “Father!”
The Lannisters Send their Regards
The Small Council was home to schemes, clever dialogue and delightful snark during the first few seasons largely thanks to Tywin. Ever since his death, the scenes in King’s Landing has suffered from that void. But in “Oathbreaker” we finally get a scene of that nature back in the form of the four way snark fest between Cersei, Jaimie, their uncle Kevan Lannister, and Lady Olenna Tyrell.
Lady Oleanna delivers a zinger to Cersei right away with, “Margaery is the Queen. You are not the Queen because you are not married to the king. Though I do appreciate these things can get a bit confusing in your family.”
Nothing gets resolved, but a Small Council scene hasn’t been this compelling in far too long, and it lays the groundwork for future strife and Franken-Mountain wreckage.
A girl goes to Braavos
At last we get some long-awaited movement on Arya’s story. Not only does A Girl get her eyes back, but she mentions how The Hound wasn’t on her list anymore by the time she left him for dead. This is not only good to hear because Arya and The Hound were an awesome partnership and it’s heartwarming — it also lends credence to our certainty that The Hound will be back in a few episodes. Otherwise, by mentioning him now, the show would be making him a Chekhov’s gun that doesn’t go off.
Uneasy is the head that wears the crown
Varys and Tyrion continue to wrestle with ruling Meereen, with Varys dropping veiled threats like they’re going out of style and and Tyrion giving a nice call back to his first meeting with Bronn and Shae in Season 2.
Spare coins from the Iron Bank
- There isn’t much to say about Daenerys’s plot line this week— the other Dorthraki widows are predictably unimpressed with her recitation of her titles and insistence that her place is not with them.
- Seeing dead direwolves never gets easier. In fact, it might be more of a gut-punch than seeing dead humans.
- Tormund, in response to Jon’s insistence that he’s not a god: “I know that, I saw your pecker. What kind of god would have a pecker that small?” Never change, Tormund.
- We get our first check in with Sam and Gilly, and plot twist, she’s not coming to Old Town. She’s about to get a hell of a Meet The Parents with the Tarly family.
- In the scene with the Franken-Mountain, Jaime says, “that’s one trial by combat I wouldn’t mind seeing.” This could be a hat-tip to the Cleganebowl fan theory.
- Yes, children of King’s Landing. Trust the creepy man with the creepy laboratory and the terrifying Frankesntein creature who tells you he’ll give you candy.