This is a recap of the Game Of Thrones episode “Oathbreaker” (season 6, episode 3).
“Daenerys meets her future. Bran meets the past. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow. Arya trains to be No One. Varys finds an answer. Ramsay gets a gift.”
See below for full SPOILER-ific recap!
1) Jon Snow’s watch is ended.
The good thing about an oath that lasts until death is that after you’ve died, your oath is over. In case you are one of the few GOT fans who hasn’t committed the Night’s Watch oath to memory yet, here it is:
The operative words here being: “It shall not end until my death.”
Contractually speaking, since everyone is in agreement that Jon Snow died, it seems clear that his watch is over, much like a coupon for a free back rub with a one-year expiration date on it.
With a mic drop moment, Jon Snow hands over his Lord Commander Feather Coat to a surprised Edd and leaves Castle Black to head to parts unknown.
What we know:
Jon is not a zombie white walker, which is confirmed when Edd tells him he’s still got those beautiful brown eyes of his.
What I’m pretty sure we know:
Jon is himself, not some Lord Of Light being occupying his former body. Jon is just a shell-shocked version of Jon, which is understandable since he got murdered and all.
What we don’t know:
Where is newly freed Jon heading off to? Wherever it is, I sure hope he’s planning on taking Ghost with him, because direwolves are dropping like Brans from tower windows lately (too soon?). Jon and Ghost have a bond and they make each other stronger when they’re together.
Also, worth remembering: Sansa and Brienne are currently headed to Castle Black in order to find Jon, but what if he isn’t there! What a zany situation!
But that’s how the episode ends, so clearly I’m getting ahead of myself.
In keeping with how other episodes have played out so far this season, the structure of this episode:
Beginning: start at Castle Black and advance plot incrementally forward
Middle: briefly touch on most other storylines
End: return to Castle Black for a big moment
So, we covered the end. What happened at the beginning?
2) The award for this season’s moment of greatest existential dread so far goes to Jon saying the afterlife consists of “nothing”
Jon died. In case he wasn’t sure about what happened, Davos and Melisandre are there to remind him that he died.
Jon must, as show creator David Benioff puts it, “…learn how to live with the memory of being murdered.” That’s rough. Sort of like having to play football at recess again with the memory that yesterday nobody picked you to be on their team.
That learning process begins with this exchange:
Melisandre: After you died, where did you go? What did you see?
Jon: Nothing. Nothing at all.
Damn. That’s bleak. Not only does Jon Snow realize that his brothers wanted him dead (the betrayal he feels is apparent as tears come to his eyes remembering that Olly stabbed him in the heart), he has also stared into the Abyss Of The After and knows that what awaits us is only darkness.
Melisandre tries to cheer Jon up by telling him that he might be the reincarnation of Prince Azor Ahai, since she was wrong about it being Stannis. But as we all know, talking about an ex never works to cheer someone up, even if you are trash talking the ex.
Davos steps in and gives a pep talk that seems to be a bit more effective.
3) Davos improves his pep talk game over last week’s episode
As you might recall, last week Davos gave a pep talk before a fight to the death that went something like “I’ve never been much of a fighter. Apologies for what you’re about to see.”
This week, Davos stepped up his game and delivered a speech that I think is HBO Store poster worthy:
Davos: You were dead. And now you’re not. That’s completely fucking mad, seems to me. I can only imagine how it seems to you.
Jon: I did what I thought was right and I got murdered for it. And now I’m back. Why?
Davos: I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. What does it matter? You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the shit as you can.
Jon: I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but … I failed.
Davos: Good. Now go fail again.
I hope to see these words over an image of Davos up on /r/getmotivated soon.
4) Funniest line of the episode award goes to Red Beard Wildling! Also, it is not a surprise that wildlings are adept at dick jokes.
Red Beard Wildling (known by his peers as Tormund Giantsbane) shares with Jon the rumor going around that he is a god, and then quickly confirms that he knows it can’t be true on account of Jon’s “pecker” size.
A great Jon Snow dick size joke, and also a poignant theological point about the arrogance of deities!
5) Sam and Gilly are still on a boat!
So much stuff has happened and they don’t even know!
Sam and Gilly are on their way to Oldtown with baby in tow. In keeping with his character game of “Being A Big Wimp”, Samwell stays true to form and keeps puking in a bucket as he breaks the news to Gilly that when he goes to grad school at the Citadel to become a Maester (which have the supremely dorky nickname of the “Knights Of The Mind), she will go on to his old home of Horn Hill to seek the protection of House Tarly.
It’s a tender-ish moment (except for the puking) but as we all know, long distance relationships while one partner goes off to college and the other stays home never work.
Hopefully, our Samwell and Diane will make it work.
6) In a Bran flashback, young Ned Stark fights a double-fisting sword master Ser Arthur Dayne and wins … kinda.
This episode’s Bran flashback is all about, in words of show creator D.B. Weiss, “the discrepancy between received history and actual history.”
As Bran and the Three Eyed Raven watch the ensuing battle at the Tower Of Joy, a battle that Bran has heard about many times, he sees that his father Ned only beats the sword master Ser Arthur Dayne (fearsome nickname “The Sword Of The Morning”) by having some other guy (who looks like Jamie Lannister but is not Jamie Lannister?) stab him from behind with a cheap shot.
Pro tip: if you go to a sword fight and your opponent is bad ass enough to have two blades, go ahead and run away.
As has been happening, the Three Eyed Raven pulls Bran back to the present before he was ready to go, which makes Bran whine. Bran wants to know what Ned is going to go find in the Tower Of Joy. But like Bran, it looks like we won’t find out until episode four of five (Spoiler alert: Lyanna Stark).
7) Khaleesi just got told by the High Priestess that her shit stinks too
When Dany gets introduced to the Dothraki High Priestess at the Temple Of Widows, she tries her same old strategy of introducing herself with a dozen titles, but it doesn’t work. Dany is like that annoying friend who works into every conversation that she went to Harvard, and after a while it’s like, “Chill, we get it, your fate is still going to be decided by a counsel of elders.”
And that is exactly what’s going to happen to our beloved Khaleesi, as we’re told that next episode she’ll face the Dosh Khaleen, who will decide her fate.
Best case scenario: she gets to live out her days with the other widows of khals.
Worst case scenario: they throw her a puppy party? No, it’s probably death.
8) Varys is working his whisper magic in Meereen
Varys does what he does best, getting some intel about who is funding the Sons of the Harpy (big surprise: their rival cities).
Meanwhile, Tyrion tries to get Grey Worm and Missandei to play a drinking game with him even though they don’t drink.
Missandei: We don’t drink.
Tyrion: Until you do.
Honestly, Tyrion? That’s sort of shitty. Respect people’s individual drinking choices and don’t be a peer-pressuring enabler to make yourself feel better because you obviously have an unaddressed drinking problem.
9) The award for the line that sounds the most profound but actually doesn’t really mean anything goes to Varys for some nonsense about his little “birds”
It comes at the end of the previous scene, when Tyrion asks Varys if he can get intel from Astapor, Valentis and Yunkai, to which he replies:
— Varys, Season 6 Episode 3
Men can be fickle, but birds I always trust.
Ah yes, of course, what sage wisdom from … wait, what does that mean?
10) … although that line about “birds” does set up the next scene well, when we see Qyburn recruiting Vary’s former spies to do Cersei’s bidding
Varys’s “little bird” spies were orphans that beg in the streets, but now Qyburn has recruited them to do Cersei’s bidding. And Cersei’s bidding is to send their “little birds” to Dorne, High Garden and the North to find out who is plotting against them.
Truthfully, though, she doesn’t need to go that far afield to find out who is plotting against them. She just has to go to the Small Council…
11) The award for the most shade thrown in this episode goes to Olenna Tyrell for shutting down Cersei’s intrusion on the Small Council’s meeting
As Cersei, Jamie and Mountain Murder Monster burst in uninvited, Cersei tries to pick a fight with Olenna Tyrell, demanding recompense for the shame of the queen being made to walk naked through the street.
Olenna quickly retorts, though, Cersei is not the queen, since the queen is the person who is married to the king, to which she adds on the harsh burn:
— Olenna Tyrell, Season 6 Episode 3
“You are not the queen. The queen is married to the king. I do appreciate how these things get a bit confusing in your family.”
After Cersei makes it clear that they don’t intend to leave, her uncle and current Hand Ser Kevan Lannister stand and leads the council out.
As they leave, Old Man Pycelle looks positively petrified as he shuffles past. This season’s GOT Murder Forecast calls for a 100% chance of the Mountain smashing in the skull of Pycelle. Which leads us to this important update:
BREAKING STORY! Did Pycelle fart when he saw the Mountain?
The internet is abuzz with a theory that Pycelle farted (or possibly defecated!) out of fear when the Mountain showed up in the Small Council meeting as he was trash talking him.
Here’s the clip:
After re-watching, I’m convinced that is indeed an intentional fart moment, and as Facebook user Adam pointed out in the comments, the official HBO closed caption subtitles indicate that a (fart) did indeed occur:
Wow, a fart joke and a dick joke in one episode. Game Of Thrones, you have outdone yourself!
12) In a very special Mother’s Day episode of Game Of Thrones, the High Sparrow and King Tommen talk about the importance of a mother’s love
King Tommen marches in with his chest puffed up ready to rumble with the High Sparrow, but he is quickly deflated by the old man’s gentle touch.
The High Sparrow then tells Tommen two things that deep in his heart he knows to be true:
1) His mother Cersei’s love for him is one of the truest things in the world.
2) Otherwise, Cersei is full of deceit.
13) Arya got her groove back
In a quick training montage, we see that Arya’s getting more accustomed to having lost her vision, eventually besting The Waif in their stick battles. Jaqen watches on, impressed, and once again tells Arya she can have her vision back if she says her name, to which she aptly replies that she is no one.
Jaqen offers her a drink from a pool that appears to be the same pool that they also use to euthanize their, um, customers?, but tells her that if she is truly no one, then she has nothing to worry about.
Arya drinks, and her vision is restored, which seems to indicate that Arya’s training to become no one is finally at an end.
But hold the phone! Earlier in the episode, The Waif asks Arya to talk about the family she had before she was no one, and also asks her to recite her “List.” Some people have a “List” of celebrities their partner would allow them to cheat on consequence free, but Arya’s “List” is of people on her vengeance kill quest.
This little set up leads me to believe that Arya’s training is not actually complete. Arya still has an ultimate choice to make. I imagine a moment of reckoning is coming where we will see Arya choose between:
1) Aligning herself once again with being a Stark.
2) Fulfilling her quest for personal revenge (which was her original reason for training to become one of the Faceless Men in the first place).
3) Truly choose to become No One as a member of the Faceless Men, forsaking all previous allegiances and grudges.
14) Rickon Stark is back! Hooray! … but in the clutches of Ramsey Bolton. Oh dear God no …
Lord Umber comes to Winterfell to pledge his loyalty to Ramsey, the new Lord Bolton (a title he achieved after killing his dad).
Well, Umber doesn’t actually pledge his loyalty so much as spit on the idea of pledging loyalty or taking a knee. Instead, he offers a gift:
This isn’t good.
We haven’t seen Rickon since season 3 when he and Osha split off from Bran and his journey to reach the Three Eyed Raven. Rickon being at Winterfell is seriously bad news, since Rickon has a legitimate claim to being the Lord of Winterfell.
Remember what Ramsey did to the last young child who had a legitimate claim to something he wanted?
The terrible scene ends with Umber placing the severed head of Shaggydog on a table, as proof that this is in fact Rickon Stark.
Speaking of which, let’s do a quick direwolf status report:
At this point, which Stark children direwolves are still alive?
In season 1, Ned Stark and his hunting party come across six direwolf puppies who have been abandoned after their mother direwolf (symbol of house Stark) has been killed by a stag (symbol of house Baratheon) (SYMBOLISM ABOUNDS!). Ned thinks that they should put the puppies down since they won’t survive on their own, but Jon talks him into letting each child adopt and raise one.
So, where are those pups now?
Lady - Sansa’s direwolf - killed season 1 to appease King Joffrey, who was mad when he was attacked by Arya’s direwolf Nymeria in order to protect Arya
Grey Wind - Robb’s direwolf - killed in season 2 at the Red Wedding, along with his master Robb Stark and, you know, everybody. Grey Wind’s decapitated head is sewn onto the decapitated body of Robb (this show is so harsh sometimes).
Shaggydog - Rickon’s direwolf - killed season 6 by Lord Umber as part of a gift of Rickon and Osha to Ramsey Bolton
Ghost - Jon’s direwolf - kicking it in Castle Black, will presumably accompany Jon after he departs the Wall.
Summer - Bran’s direwolf - lounging in the cave with the Weirwood tree and the Three Eyed Raven as Bran goes through his training. Getting a little break from Bran taking over his body warg-style.
Nymeria - Arya’s direwolf - apart from Ghost, Nymeria appears to be the most formidable of the direwolves. We haven’t seen her since season one when Arya set her free so that she wouldn’t be killed as punishment for attacking Joffrey (Lady was killed in her place). She is presumably still running around the Riverlands, and will hopefully make a grand deus-ex-lupus appearance in the future.
15) The oathbreakers are executed, and in true Stark fashion, Jon Snow carries out the sentences himself
Mirroring the episode structure, even though we already talked about the Castle Black storyline at the start of this recap, we’ll return to it for our closing thoughts.
The episode is called “Oathbreaker.” On the surface, the oathbreaker here is Jon Snow. He swore to serve the Night’s Watch, and now he is leaving. As Jon says, his watch is ended, but is he getting off on a technicality? Is he breaking his oath by leaving?
Jon fulfilling his duty and carrying out the sentence he dealt is obviously reminiscent of how Ned Stark brought him up. Both father and son did what they thought was the right thing to a fault, and their stubborn adherence to doing the right thing got each of them killed. But unlike Ned, Jon will get a new chance at life. Will Jon 2.0 have the same stubborn adherence to doing the right thing? His choice to leave Castle Black opens up the possibility that we’ll see Jon with an as of yet undefined moral compass, one that he’ll have to discover on his own.
Conversely, rather than Jon as the oathbreaker, we can see the four traitors hanging from the gallows as oathbreakers for betraying their Lord Commander. Ser Allisor Thorne justified his actions as choosing between betraying the Lord Commander or betraying the Night’s Watch, but really that’s like justifying eating dark chocolate as the healthier choice instead of milk chocolate when you’re on a diet (i.e. you’re just lying to yourself in order to do what you wanted to do anyway).
Lastly, I gotta say, seeing young Olly executed did not provide me with the schadenfreude I thought it might, or that accompanied the death of, say, Joffrey. Olly was just a kid who was upset about the death of his parents, an emotion which was manipulated by another authority figure in a chess move that had nothing to do with him.
I think the lack of satisfaction we feel for his death is intentional. As Olly and Thorne hang, we see their faces contorted in pain, and we feel disgust right alongside Jon. In a show that is dangerously close to desensitizing its viewers from horrible death and violence, this scene does an admirable job of shocking us with it again. Like Jon, we are over it and we want out.
Okay, that’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next week.