S6 E3 - Oathbreaker

Spoilers! Only read on if you've seen Game of Thrones S6E3.

Four words.


Hoooooh, boy. All hail the supremacy of the televisual medium.

George R.R. Martin is a fine writer, but not even a bastard hybrid child of Wordsworth and Sir Mix-a-Lot could conjure up verse that would adequately describe the magnificence of those sweet cheeks.

No, it was best left to the camera to really hug the smooth, toned curves, the surprisingly-tanned-for-such-a-cold-climate surfaces, and that deep, beckoning central line of intrigue.

The curvature, the musculature…. Dang, by any nomenclature that was a fine posterior.

The shot may have been less than a second long, but that’s why we have the pause button, people. Don’t tell me you didn’t rent Basic Instinct on VHS and try to jog shuttle the leg-crossing bit.

Oh wait. Wait. I’m being sexist again. I’m sorry, hetero fellas. Clearly the matriarchy is at it again. But you know me, I’m an equal opportunity ogler, and you’ve had lady bumps all up in your grill since this show began. I believe this is my first set of buttocks since Bangin’ Robb Stark back in Season 3.

"I had to search "Robb Stark naked" to find this image. I very much advise against doing that. People are into some messed up stuff."

Now if a narrative structure that starts with some fine booty and ends with a metaphorical mic drop is good enough for every Beyonce video clip ever, it’s good enough for Game of Thrones. What I loved even more about this episode (if possible) was how all the stuff between those two things was amazing too.

It started out with a lot of promise, and kept that going throughout. The line between succeeding and failing became blurred, and you couldn’t quite tell whether breaking or keeping a promise was the right thing to do.

Season 6, Episode 3: “Oathbreaker”

Ahhh, Jon Snow. I finally understand why the Dothraki’s favourite term of endearment is “moon of my life”.

The poor fellow was rather traumatised by his return to the realm of the living (well, mostly), and it probably didn’t help to wake up to Davos’ face staring at him intently. I almost asked aloud “Why hasn’t he popped a blankie over Jon to keep him warm?” until I realised what I was saying and slapped myself quiet again.

Eventually Davos realised Jon was naked and trembling and proffered his own furry robe for comfort (wa-hay) just as Melisandre entered. The Red Woman looked remarkably restrained for someone who not only just resurrected the dead, but was also the first woman to top the UK pop charts with a self-penned song.

“What do you remember?” probed Davos. Not even a “Hey buddy, you’re back, good to see you,” or “This is totally like those horror movies where you think they’re dead, but then they come back all like RARRRR and you almost pee your pants.”

Jon’s famous last word - “Olly” - here becomes almost his first word back. Jon’s face as he remembered his steward’s betrayal was so sad. Fair enough, Jon probably expected Ser Alliser Trump to shiv him one day, but for Olly to stick a knife in your heart… well, that really sticks a knife in your heart.

Unfortunately Jon can’t help out Melisandre with her request to know what was beyond death. “Nothing,” Jon replied, thrilling Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens’ ghost. But Melisandre is still convinced that someone has to be The Prince That Was Promised, so visions or no, that might as well be Jon.

Davos, for his part, is far more pragmatic. “It’s completely f-ing mad,” he says, before telling Jon it’s best not to look for answers, but rather get on with job of kicking ass and blowing bubblegum. Davos is such a good Dad in this moment, telling Jon it’s OK to fail, which is something I wish my Year 12 maths teacher Mr McNaught (not even kidding) had told me. Well boo sucks to him because I failed maths and look at me now - surrounded by cats and an unhealthy collection of barely-used makeup. I have MADE something of myself, and I didn’t even need algabranometry.

Jon is welcomed back with a mixture of terror and batshit terror by most of his fellow Brothers, but it’s not all happy fun times at Rancho Castle Black. Justice must be meted out, which means Ser Alliser Trump, two random conspirators, and Olly, must suffer the consequences of their stabby, stabby actions.

“Do you have any last words?” Jon asks. Ser Alliser has had no change of heart, no moment of regret - he is satisfied with what he did and would do it again. Every step of the way, he regarded killing Lord Snow as the only way to fulfil his oath to the Night’s Watch. I guess you’ve got to respect that level of self-awareness and determination.

For his part, Olly said nothing. Well, his eyes spoke bitter words, but his tongue remained silent.

I half expected Jon to grant clemency to his youngest attacker, given that he has been a soft touch in the past (and hopefully, in my future). But the internet had spoken, and no amount of Reddit hate pages could rival an actual, terrible punishment. Jon was brought up too well to avoid that.

There’s a reason why hangings in movies are generally done in a long shot, or with cutaways at the gruesome moment. But this show doesn’t shy away from showing the bulging eyes, the blue skin and the crumpled necks, even when it’s a young boy like Olly. Hanging truly is a terrible way to die, and makes you wonder how funsters back in the day considered a dance-on-air the high point of their week. I suppose they didn’t have Game of Thrones, because their whole lives were probably like Game of Thrones, so needs must when the devil drives.

Dolorous Ed suggests to a brooding Jon that the bodies should be burned. Jon responds by shucking off his big Lord Commander cape, handing it to Ed and telling him Castle Black is his now.

Back to his form-fitting leathers, he declares “My watch is ended”, and stalks off into the tunnel, never looking back, leaving former comrades agog behind him, as cool a mic dropper as Obama at the Foreign Correspondents’ Dinner.

Ye Gods, if anything, I think death has made Jon Snow even sexier. I’d reani-mate him over and over again.

Book readers, you must be going nuts right about now with that whole kickass Tower of Joy sequence! I’m sure most TV watchers have heard of the R+L = J theory by now - it’s easier to find on the internet than sideboob photo galleries. But if you’ve managed to keep yourself pure then I won’t spill the beans - although I may have you scrubbed and sent to my room so I can pollute your innocence (let’s just say my karaoke version of Africa by Toto is next level).

As I’m sure you worked out, the Three-Eyed Raven (aka “Exposition Man”) has taken Bran on an awesome mind meld back to a key moment in Westeros history - the fight at the Tower of Joy. This is when Ned and his gang managed to cut down two highly skilled Kingsguard, including the famed Ser Arthur Dayne, who are there to protect some...thing.

The Sword of the Morning turned out to be Swords of the Morning, as Ser Arthur whipped out a truly impressive pair, as well as two battle swords. “Now it begins,” he tells the Ned Gang. “No,” replies Ned, already showing signs of Sean Bean’s war weariness, “Now it ends.”

(Also, I loved the way they kept the Young Ned’s hair in the same half-up ponytail arrangement as Sean Bean would sport years later/earlier, just so you knew it was him.)

The six-versus-two fight sequence was astonishing well choreographed. Ser Arthur Dayne - who, by the way, had a very nice Clive Owen meets Daniel Craig thing going on - shone everyone up, and it was wonderful to see just how much he deserved his reputation as the best swordsman Ned had ever seen.

It was at once a beautiful and a scrappy fight, with both sides battling to fulfil a promise: the Kingsguard to obey their oath to Rhaegar Targyren; Ned and his men to rescue Lyanna.

Eventually the battleground whittles down to just Stark V Dayne. Bran observes to the Three-Eyed Raven that Ser Arthur was much better than his father, and you can see him starting to wonder how on earth he walked away alive. The answer is - dishonourably. Howland Reed, knocked out of the fight early on, was not dead, and took advantage of a pause to shove his dagger into the back of Dayne’s neck. Ned picked up the Sword of the Morning and finished the job.

It was the kill of two desperate men, losing their honour in the moment for a necessary victory. You can just picture Ned, so devoted to doing the Right Thing, wearing that victory like a hair shirt for the rest of his life. But fulfilling his promise was worth the personal sacrifice.

Hey Ned, tip from me to you. Always be honourable in the future, to the point of being unbearably honourable. I promise it'll all work out for you.

Enemies vanquished, Ned set off to investigate the Tower itself, from where a faint scream could be heard. The TER wants Bran to leave, but the young Stark is eager to know what mystery the Tower contains. He calls out after Ned, and his father briefly turns around, as if it he had heard the future scream of his as-yet-unconceived second son.

Before he can follow any further, the TER brings him back to the Treehouse Meth Den, and explains again that Bran cannot progress as fast as he wants. He reveals he’s been waiting in the tree for a thousand years, waiting specifically for Bran. But he vows Bran won’t end up like him; as long as he learns “everything” first. And you know what that means - more flashbacks!

Danerys isn’t just having a flashback to a former life, she’s living it. The Mother of Dragons is trying desperately to hold onto her status in a world that doesn’t care about her many other achievements and goals. As far as the Dosh Khaleen - the widows of former Khals - are concerned, she is either one of them, or she’ll be done away with in whatever form the great Khals want.

What’s a supple young Queen to do? I can’t imagine Dany settling down for a life of raw-heart eating and chanting, not when she’s pledged her life to regaining her inheritance. Let’s hope she brings down Drogon-fire upon them all. I’m sure he’d enjoy a bit of horsing around.

Over in Meereen, a hot and bothered Varys is probing a local woman named Valla for information regarding the Sons of the Harpie rebellion. He manages to sweet talk her into providing him with information by offering her and her young son money and safe passage to Pentos and a new life. Varys never threatens the child; oh no, he lets the woman do that herself with her imagination. He just offers the goods. You really can catch a lot more flies with honey.

The information is not much of a scoop - the wealthy slave owners in Astapor, Yunkai and Volantis are shelling out the dough to fund the rebellion in Meereen. I could have told Varys that, and I am pretty dim when it comes to observation, as evidenced by the fact I am generally a good two days behind where I should be when it comes to replacing the foster kittens’ litter (seriously, cats, how can such small things produce such a deadly output?)

After unsuccessfully trying to draw Missandei and Grey Worm into conversation, Tyrion says he wants to try that approach instead with the slave owners. Varys offers to send off his “little birds” - the ones he can always trust.

The revelation that Varys’ little birds turned out to be actual children, coupled with his pledge to not harm Valla’s son, make a fair bit of sense. Mutilated as a boy, it’s understandable he would treat children with respect and kindness. Sure, he’ll utilise them to get information, but he won’t harm them. He’ll just give them sweets. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

Meanwhile, ex-maester and Dr Frankenstein cosplay champion Qyburn is in charge of the birdhouse, and Cersei wants all the flocking gossip about enemy movements and razzing on her nudie walk of shame. Girl, you can’t make yo’self listen to all those bad vibes. You’ll go crazy. More crazy. Oh, OK, whatever floats your boat.

Cersei and Jaime are still getting around everywhere with the freakish Zombie Mountain, who is causing quite a ruckus with the Small Council. Maester Pycelle is caught out in a classic “He’s behind me, isn’t he?” moment as the twincesters and their beast glide silently into the council chamber while Pycelle blethers on about irregularities and monstrosities and unsanctioned experiments like an old fart.

And when he’s caught out - there is an audible, actual old fart that sounds out. Understandable, if not particularly classy.

Tell you what though, how AMAZING was it to see the superlative Lady Olenna back in the fold, talking business, doling out quips and basically sassing Cersei no end. If there’s one thing the Queen of Thorns is obsessed with - apart from cheese - it’s the safety of her granddaughter Margaery. She did organise to murder Joffrey to protect her, after all.

"Bitch, please."

Cersei and Jaime insist on joining the meeting, intent on seeing justice for Myrcella and working out a plan of attack after the Sand Snakes’ revolt in Dorne. But the distaste Hand of the King Ser Kevan Lannister has for his niece and nephew precludes him from listening or even staying in the room. He storms out, with Olenna, her son Mace Tyrell and Pycelle in tow.

I still have trouble working out exactly what the High Sparrow’s plan is. Tommen goes in to see him all fired up, demanding he leave Cersei alone and not subject her to a formal trial for her sins, but winds up sitting down next to the Big Bird and taking some kindly counsel about the role the gods play on earth, and the qualities they funnel through mere mortals.

Tommen, devoid of any real father figure, is susceptible to this not because he’s easily swayed by religion but because he’s genuinely interested in doing a good job as king. And the High Sparrow seems to want him to fulfil his potential. Now Big Bird is a fanatic, but there’s something about his all-too-showy-do-gooder-ness that just irks me, and makes me think there’s something else under the surface. How can a truly good-hearted religious person sanction humiliation and torture? Answer that insert appropriate reference here.

Can somebody please cut together Arya’s scenes with Eye of the Tiger? ‘Cause that was a training sequence that needed montage music if ever I saw one. Back in the House of Black and White but still blind, she is put through her paces by the Waif and Jaqen H’ghar, learning to master hand/no eye co-ordination while confessing everything she knows and remembers about her life as Arya Stark.

Any incorrect information was dealt with by a sharp thwack of birch, such as Arya describing Jon as first a brother, before clarifying he was a half-brother. Eventually, the smouldering Jaqen led her to one of the pools in the Great Hall, and bade her drink from it. “If a girl is truly no one, she should have no fear,” he tells her. Arya drinks, and lo! She is healed. “Who are you?” Jaqen asks. “No one,” she replies. She’s fulfilled her potential. Her training seems complete.

And now, let us head north to Winterfell, where Lord Smalljon Umber may just have become be my favourite new love/hate character. Initially, it was all love, given the refreshing no-bullshit attitude he displayed to Ramsay, including the deliberate and unapologetic sprinkling of c-bombs used to describe Roose Bolton.

"See you next Tuesday."

Lord Umber is quite happy to fight Wildlings, but with 1500 of them now south of The Wall and the possibility that Jon Snow could lead them to Winterfell has prompted him to make deals.

The best part about Lord Umber is that he was entirely unfazed by Ramsay. Lord Karstark, already pledged to Ramsay, still seems a bit skittish around him. But Smalljon clearly inherited stone cajones from his father, who we remember as the guy who had two fingers bitten off by a direwolf when he threatened Robb Stark, and whose reaction was “Fair cop, where’s the booze?”

So he’s entirely comfortable in refusing all the trappings of status that Ramsay now seeks to enjoy as Lord Bolton. “F kneeling, and f oaths,” he states matter-of-factly, before bringing out a “present” that he sees as far better evidence of his pledge to fight together.

Of course we knew in our gut who those figures were: Osha and Rickon, absent for more than a season now but bound to eventually rejoin the Great Westerosi Chessboard.

Ramsay is not convinced Rickon is real, and so Lord Umber produced further proof: the dismembered head of Shaggy Dog, Rickon’s direwolf and protector.


Honestly, that’s three direwolves out of six down now, with Nymeria still running around in the wild somewhere. I feel so sorry for Rickon - left without parents so young, Shaggy Dog seemed sometimes to be his substitute everything.

The disgraceful sight of a beautiful creature brought low of course brought nothing but joy to Ramsay. “Welcome home, Lord Stark,” he beamed, so creepily you’d think he was the cab driver I had the other day who offered me a personalised in-home oil massage service, preferably on a yoga mat on the floor, for just $35 or free if I didn’t like it (I actually think the guy was above board, but I did feel like he needed to rethink his pitch).

Osha had promised to keep the littlest Stark safe; but what is safety in this world of upside downs? How was she to know about Ramsay’s ascendance and the new Lord Umber’s more fluid interpretation of loyalty? Rickon’s greatest advantage had been the general assumption he was dead - will any promise he had as an able-bodied heir be able to be fulfilled, or simply snuffed out?

Yay! Best Moments

Jon’s reunions with Tormund and Dolorous Ed were so endearing I just wanted to rush in and give them all a big group hug. Of course, I settled for grabbing a foster kitten instead and was rewarded with a scratch to the arm. Longclaw, indeed.

The way Ed questioned whether Jon was actually Jon because he cracked a funny was enough to make you all gooey inside, but Tormund took the resurrection cake with his wry snap that Jon couldn’t be a god because “I saw your pecker. What kind of god would have a pecker that small?”

Which is disappointing in its own way, but still, it is very chilly up north and Jon was naked on a table, so with a nice fire and some oysters there’s hope for us yet.

Zing! Best Lines

It was purely a filler scene, but gosh Tyrion’s attempt to breathe some liveliness into Missandei and Grey Worm was a delight to watch. Grey Worm thought patrol reports passed muster for conversation, and Missandei hinted at a very dark past when Tyrion suggested games. Oh, and neither of them drink, so the poor little Lannister was left high and dry indeed.

Tyrion: “A wise man once said the true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms.”

Missandei: “Who said this?

Tyrion: “Me, just now.”

Ewww, gross

Sam Tarly’s vomit. Because of course, if Sam Tarly is at sea, he is going to vomit. Gilly clearly had no problems, despite a fairly limited history of family beach holidays. I loved her fieriness when Sam confessed that he was not taking her with him to Old Town, and that instead she would stay with his mother and sister, who were nice people, unlike his arsehole father. But I also loved that she accepted his explanation that he gave her slightly misleading information only to keep her safe. Anyone else in Game of Thrones, and yeah, I’d tell her to give them a piece of her mind. But we all know Sam not only cannot lie, but he is devoted to Gilly and her baby, and she knows it. So they’ll keep their promises to each other.

My only concern is that the last time Sam tried to keep Gilly safe, she ended up in a brothel that got raided by wildlings and only just escaped being murdered. So let’s hope Sam has utter confidence in his family and they don’t all turn out to be dead, or insane, or just really keen to mess his shit up.

Boo, hiss


Thank you so much for joining me again this week. I can't wait to read your comments and thoughts, either here on the 'Burger, or via my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nataliesthrone

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Valar Morghulis!