Game of Thrones – Oathbreaker Review
Now that's more like it. With "Oathbreaker," season six of Game of Thrones
finally moved beyond the exposition stage and started moving stories forward. For fans of the novels, there were a few key questions that were answered, and for those who only follow the show, it was a fully enjoyable hour packed full of plot.
One of the key mysteries of both the series and the books is the parentage of Jon Snow. I think, by now, no one believes that he's really Ned Stark's bastard (both because Ned was too good of a guy to do that to Catelyn, and because Jon is clearly incredibly important to the story's endgame). And that flashback sequence this week at the Tower of Joy pretty much cemented that fact. One of the most well-trod fan theories is that Jon Snow is actually the child of Ned's sister, Lyanna (she of the expert horse riding last week, and the one screaming in the Tower- likely giving birth to Jon- this week), and Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany's brother, and the guy who ordered those exceptional knights to guard the Tower). Now, "Oathbreaker" pulled us from the flashback before we could get confirmation of this theory, but all the pieces of the puzzle were there. If we know Lyanna dies moments after Ned reaches her side, and we know Rhaegar wanted her protected at all costs, it is highly unlikely Targaryen soldiers killed her (mostly because there didn't appear to be any additional soldiers there). So, death in childbirth (Rhaegar would want his unborn child protected at all costs) seems to be the answer.
As for adult Jon, I have to say I'm enjoying the resurrected version of the character a lot more than the previous one. With Jon now officially retired from the Watch (he did die, after all, so he isn't really breaking his oath), it frees him up to be a much more interesting character. Rather than sitting in Castle Black and brooding about things, he can actually get out and make a difference in Westeros. He can command that powerful wildling army. And, once he gets word that his youngest brother (or, as we now suspect, cousin) is alive and in the clutches of Ramsay Bolton, perhaps he can lead that army to overtake Winterfell (I have a sneaking suspicions Sansa might find herself leading an army of her own to the same goal).
Let's talk about the great Rickon surprise, since I think it will factor into the remaining Stark plotlines this season (and, perhaps, beyond). I have gone on the record with my dislike of Ramsay, and my disgust with the show for continuing to ratchet up his sadism without any real reason beyond the idea that we, as an audience, need to be reminded how awful he can be (because we don't need that, thank you very much). Now Ramsay is in possession of the last living Stark male heir (at least, the only one people know is alive- although, it doesn't look like Bran is going to be doing much in Westeros for the immediate future). This story can only end in one of two ways- either Ramsay kills Rickon outright next week (which would be stupid from a narrative standpoint, bringing back a character only to kill him the next week) or he installs Rickon as the Warden of the North and treats him as a puppet ruler to gain greater support in the North (which would show Ramsay to be the smart tactician that the show has occasionally shown him to be). As for Osha, best we don't even get into that.
Continuing the episode's trend of advancing Stark storylines, Arya's arc has suddenly gotten a lot more interesting now that she has passed her Faceless Man training (at least, that's what I assume has happened, since she now has her sight back and has literally drunk the Kool-Aid). From the training montages (which were some of the best work of the season to date), it appeared that a significant period of time has passed (which only future complicates the season timeline as a whole- if only a few days have passed at Castle Black since last season's finale, yet weeks have passed in Braavos, are the stories even synched anymore?). I'm eager to see what this newly trained and indoctrinated Arya does. And if she can keep to her promise that she is no one if and when she is faced with one of the remaining names on her list (why mention the list again if someone else from it isn't going to cross her path down the line. . .).
All-in-all, it was a solid hour of plot movement, with the show spending just enough time with each story to advance them along. While nothing particularly thrilling happened (unless you are a huge Rickon fan), I'm thoroughly excited to see how these stories play out across the season.
-- The only story that is really dragging is the Mereen arc, since nothing can really happen there until Dany (or, at least Jorah and Daario) returns. That being said, so long as Varys and Tyrion are there to chew the scenery, I'm perfectly content to continue checking in across the sea.
-- I'm not sure what Cersei and Jaime think they can accomplish in King's Landing at the moment. I understand that they are ultimately buying time until Cersei gets her trial by combat, but I would hope there is more to their arc than simply jumping into Small Council meetings.
-- Another Rickon theory: Perhaps the Umbers (Smalljon Umber, son of loyal Stark bannerman Greatjon Umber, was the man who brought in Rickon and Osha) are simply trying to infiltrate Winterfell to take down the Bolton guard? It would be a ballsy move, for sure, but I can't imagine the loyal Umbers turning their backs on the Starks after years of being in their corner.
-- It strikes me as curious that the Waif spent so much time talking about the Hound with Arya. Perhaps we might be seeing him again in the future?
-- Sam is just the most lovely character on the series. Which is why I am really worried that something awful is going to happen to him every time he is on screen.