Episode 4 Recap: Oath Keepers and Breakers: Killers Revealed and Rapists Redeemed?

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Is justice just another word for revenge? Perhaps some promises should be broken. (c) HBO.

Last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (Episode 4, Season 4) reveals not just oath keepers but also oath breakers. We catch up with Jaime, who fulfills his promise to Brienne to help return Sansa to her mother (and failing that at least keep her safe), Brienne who pursues Tyrion’s fleeing wife, and Daenerys who fulfills her promise to “meet justice with justice.” We also meet up with the oath breakers — namely the “mutineering” men of the Night’s Watch who remain at Craster’s Keep — and those who, at the very least did not keep the faith, even if they might not have officially broken any vows: the people who killed Joffrey.

After last week’s fury over the, at a minimum, poorly executed rape scene with Jaime and Cersei, it is ironic that an episode whose key theme is redemption, shows us yet more rape. (As one reviewer wrote, “Just when we thought Game of Thrones couldn’t get anymore rapey.”) This time the rape scene comes from the former men of the Night’s Watch at Caster’s Keep. If you’re still hating Jaime from last week, perhaps this episode will help redeem him a little.

Interestingly, George RR Martin commented on Jaime’s redemption in this issue of Rolling Stone:

“One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? I don’t have an answer. But when do we forgive people? You see it all around in our society, in constant debates. Should we forgive Michael Vick [convicted for dog fighting]? I have friends who are dog-lovers who will never forgive Michael Vick.”

Meereen: The Retelling of Spartacus?

The episode opens with a touch of romance. In the soft glow of firelight, Daenerys’ hand maid, the polyglot Missandei, is teaching Grey Worm the common tongue. Although this is just language training, the atmosphere is much more intimate. Missandei has three Unsullied brothers, so perhaps she won’t care Grey Worm is a eunuch. Missandei tells Grey Worm became a slave when she was five years old. The Grey Worm can’t remember his life before he became Unsullied.

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Missandei (portrayed by Nathalie Emmanuel) from a previous episode. (c) HBO

The intimate scene ends when Daenerys interrupts the lesson to ask Grey Worm to leave for his expedition into Meereen.

At Meereen, Grey Worm and some men climb through the sewers and break into the slave quarters to deliver weapons to the slaves. When they arrive in a windowless room, the scared but excited slaves debate their choices: risk their lives for freedom or live in servitude.

The slaves tell Grey Worm they have no weapons or skills as fighters. He rallies their morale with a speech:

“No one can give you your freedom brothers. If you want it, you must take it.”

The slaves decide to revolt. At day break, they race down the narrow alleys of Meereen and corner one of their masters: the motto “Kill the masters” is painted in red on a stone wall.

Shortly afterward, there’s a touching scene with thousands of newly emancipated slaves greet Daenerys with cries of “Myhsa” as they drop their slave collars. But, this is Game of Thrones so it’s not all sweetness and light.

Despite the counsel of her advisers, Daenerys decides to savagely crucify the slave masters of Meereen. Is this a walk on the edge of darkness for Dany? To Barrister Selmy’s advice, Daenerys replies, “I will answer injustice with justice” and gives the command to crucify the slave masters as they crucified the children at each of the 163 mile markers on the way into the city.

 George RR Martin Discusses Meereen

Kings Landing

Jaime

Jaime has another secret fighting lesson with Bronn. Jaime loses when Bronn knocks Jaimes “ass to the dirt” with his own hand. Bronn continues to instruct Jaime in the art of winning vs. “looking pretty.” In other words, Bronn challenges the precepts of chivalry and he posits survival is more important.

The indirect message is that fighting should be about survival and not a performance art as it is embodied in chivalry – an ironic lesson from a sellsword. As Bronn puts it, “Do you want to fight pretty or do you want to win?”

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Jaime Lannister (portrayed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) (c) HBO

After the men take a break, Bronn and Jaime discuss who murdered Joffrey when it comes out that Jaime hasn’t been to see Tyrion yet.

Bronn recalls the story of how he came to be in his service at the Eyrie. He tells Jaime that Tyrion originally named Jaime as his champion because he knew that “you would ride day and night to come fight for him.”

And, then Bronn lays down the gauntlet — “Are you going to fight for him now?”

**

Finally Jaime shows up for Tyrion – and it’s fantastic. Why aren’t there more scenes between these two actors? They’re magic together.

Tyrion receives a visit from Jaime (c) HBO

Jaime visits Tyrion and notes his cell isn’t so bad. Jaime was tied to a post, “covered in his own shit for months.” But Tyrion’s truly in hot water now. His father is one of the judges and has wanted him dead for years.

When Jaime asks if Tyrionn murdered Joffrey, Tyrion replies makes a stab at Jaime’s heart: “The Kingslayer Brothers? You like it?”

Tyrion asks Jaime to free him to which Jaime replies that he can’t –  he’s the captain of the Kingsgaurd and Tyrion’s accused of murdering the king.

All of this is forcing Jaime to make some tough choices. While Bronn is encouraging him to let go of his adherence to the conventions of chivalry, a new nobility appears to be growing inside of Jaime.

**

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Jaime is becoming disillusioned with Cersei. Despite telling Cersei that Tyrion didn’t kill their son, she won’t listen. When she asks him to bring her Sansa’s head, he will not.

**

This becomes clear later on when seeing the storm clouds gathering around Sansa, he makes plans to protect her. Jaime urges Brienne go out to protect Sansa, but not without first expressing his gratitude and deepest admiration.

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Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) around when she receives the sapphire blue armor from Jaime. Photo: Macall B. Polay/(c) HBO.

Jaime gives Brienne his Valyrian steel sword forged from Ned Stark’s sword Ice, which in a touching moment she later names “Oathkeeper.” Jaime tells her that she will use it for a just purpose: to find and protect Sansa Stark.

Jaime also gives Brienne a suit of very fine sapphire blue armor he had made for her, which even has a rather masculine skirt. (Presumably the blue color is a tribute to Brienne hailing from the “Sapphire Isle” of Tarth.) Brienne is deeply touched. She tells him, “I will find her for Lady Catelyn…. And for you.

But the last gift is one that she may not want quite so much. Jaime gives Tyrion’s squire Pod to Brienne. As we learned last week, Pod needs to flee the city or else risk being killed for not testifying against Tyrion.

On Tyrion’s behalf, Bronn gives Pod Tyrion’s battle axe from Blackwater to thank Pod for his exceptionally loyal service.

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For more details about Brienne’s armor and Jaime’s sword.
check out HBO’s Galleries in their Viewer’s Guide. (c) HBO.

 

**

Sansa is still trapped on the ship with the growing-creepier-by-the-hour Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger). Petry is taking Sansa to the eyrie since he is marrying her aunt Lysa. Sansa confronts the schemer about his role in Joffrey’s death.

“Did you kill Joffrey?” she asks him.

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A ship of fools? Hopefully, this isn’t an example of the insane and the naive setting sail. (c) HBO.

Littlefinger points out he has been away from King’s Landing in the Vale for weeks; he could not have done the deed himself. It would have had to have been a conspiracy. He also confirms Tyrion wasn’t involved, but “Sansa was.”

Littlefinger then reveals that Sansa’s lovely paste “heirloom” necklace he smashed last week contained a stone in it with the poison. Sansa is bewildered. The Lannister’s treated Littlefinger like gold. They made him Lord of Harrenhall.

Although his friendship with the Lannisters was “productive,” Joffrey was an unreliable ally. Littlefinger notes that his new friends were predictable, much more reasonable and reliable.

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(c) HBO

He implies that Joffrey’s death is something Littlefingers’ new friends wanted very badly – “nothing like a thoughtful gift to make a friendship grow strong.” And whose motto is “…growing strong?”

House Tyrell

When we encounter Olenna and her granddaughter Margaery, they are chatting, also known as in their case as scheming, again. We get a juicy (and character building) insight into Olenna’s past. The matriarch reveals how she managed to wrangle her sister’s almost-fiancé away from her. While returning from her embroidery lesson, Olenna accidentally “got lost” and ended up in her sister’s fiance’s bed chamber.

It comes out that Olenna Tyrell does know that Joffrey wasn’t killed by Tyrion – confirming the conspiracy between Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell.

Still, based on George RR Martin’s interview, something isn’t right here. “In the books – and I make no promises, because I have two more books to write, and I may have more surprises to reveal – the conclusion that the careful reader draws is that Joffrey was killed by the Queen of Thorns [Olenna Tyrell], using poison from Sansa’s hairnet, so that if anyone did think it was poison, then Sansa would be blamed for it. Sansa had certainly good reason for it.” [Read more:  ]

For the record — and I’m sure I will live to regret this foolish comment — I’m still betting on Tommen.

**

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Margaery (Natalie Dormer) pays a visit to Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). (c) HBO

Later on — following her grandmother’s advice that she needs to get Tommen on her side before Cersei turns him against her — Margaery sneaks into Tommen’s bedroom. Margaery proposes that they get to know each other. We also meet “Ser Pounce” – Tommen’s cat. (In the books, Margaery gives Tommen Ser Pounce so this is a bit of a departure.)

Tommen recounts how Joffrey threatened to skin Ser Pounce alive and mix his innards up in his food so he wouldn’t know he is eating him. (Are we sure Tommen has no motive to kill Joffrey?)

Margaery asks permission to come and visit again, but swears Tommen to secrecy about her visit.

 

The Wall

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Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) trains some new recruits at the Wall. (c) HBO.

At the Wall, Jon Snow is doing some training of new recruits, including Roose Bolton’s man Locke.

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Locke (portrayed by Noah Taylor) (c) HBO

Locke is at the Wall with a tale he is weaving to Jon Snow. Locke claims he chose the Night’s Watch over losing his hand, but really he wants to be there if Bran and Rickon show up. After all, Roose Bolton – in his bid to consolidate his power in the North — promised him a great reward if captured the Stark heirs who remain at large.

**

Later, Sam frets about Gilly’s safety and wants to rescue her from Mole’s Town. Sam and Jon privately debate this as a frustrated Jon studies maps to figure out where Bran and his party might be north of the wall. The only logical place the boys might be is Craster’s Keep. Locke is lurking nearby and overhears the conversation.

The next day, Jon receives permission to go to Craster’s Keep to capture the mutineers holed up there – provided he uses volunteers. Which of the men will want to turn in their former brothers? Jon makes a speech calling for justice for Lord Mormont, who was killed in Craster’s Keep. Men slowly volunteer. Locke volunteers as well — he even offers to say his vows to go with Jon to Craster’s Keep.

Craster’s Keep

Gathered around crackling fire, the Night’s Watch mutineers who remained behind at Craster’s Keep – after they killed Craster and Lord Mormont — drink and feast on Craster’s provisions. These former men of the Night’s Watch have become debauched. They drink from Lord Mormont’s skull and rape Craster’s wives.

Craster’s last child, a son, is being sacrificed to the gods (the White Walkers).

Rast takes the child into the woods and leaves it in a snow bluff by a tree.

Ghost, Jon’s dire wolf, imprisoned nearby. Rast stumbles over to his wooden cage and antagonizes the poor creature, clearly neglected, by pouring a liquid on the snow saying, “Are you thirsty?”

Crows caw, the ice crackles. Startled, Rast staggers backward, realizes that a White Walker has already seized the infant, and flees.

Meanwhile, Bran, the Reeds, and Hodor sit nearby, beside a fire. When they hear a baby crying, Bran wargs into Summer and trots off to investigate. Summer gets caught in a trap. They discover that Ghost is at Craster’s Keep not far away.

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Hodor (c)

 

The mutineers attack and capture Bran, Hodor, and the others. Later they have Hodor tied up like he is a bear and cruelly bait him.

Eventually, Bran’s party is brought into the “Keep.” Karl, the Mutineer leader, tries to figure out Bran and his party’s identity: Karl senses they are high born. It’s vital Bran doesn’t tell him, but he is forced to when Karl threatens to hurt Meera Reed.

Once Karl learns their hostage is Jon Snow’s brother, he’s thrilled. Karl now has major leverage: he has Ghost and Jon’s half-brother.

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Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark. (Photo: Helen Sloan, (c) HBO.)

A White Walker reappears, riding on an undead horse.  He has collected the sacrificial son reappear and is riding across the ice with him. (To read George RR Martin’s comments about the similarities between the White Walkers and Sidhe, see this article here. This article here also has information about the white walkers. )

The White Walker brings the baby to circle of ice glyphs that looks a little like a frozen Stonehenge. He then sets the baby down on a pillar of ice in the center. Another horned Whtie Walker, who appears to be a high lord, comes forward.  He places an ashen nail on the infant’s plump cheek, and the baby’s eyes turn a startling blue like those of the undead rider.

 

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

8 Comments

  • Reply April 29, 2014

    Grant

    Looking at this, I strongly suspect that the scene with Jaime and Cersei really wasn’t intended to be rape, it was really, really awful directing. Rape in a story is something you can’t forget or set aside, it’s one of the things that has to be addressed. So we get to see that in the 21st century, well paid people can be idiots who don’t bother to stop and look at their work for suggestions of messed up gender relations too.

    As for Tommen, he had motive but we really don’t see much of him to suggest he actually could pull it off. Maybe if Littlefinger was acting for him, but that’s a serious risk on Littlefinger’s part. Also while these aren’t the books, in the books Tommen was much younger which would make it less likely that he was the ultimate culprit.

    • Reply April 29, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Hey Grant,
      You’re right. Tommen is really young in the books. I hesitated before putting forward my wacky theory because it seems absurd. I have a theory that Petyr and Olenna think that they killed Joffrey but, in practice, it was really somebody else altogether. (E.g., their attempt didn’t work). Almost like multiple daggers stabbing Caesar – except the attempts on Joffrey’s life weren’t all at once.

  • Reply April 29, 2014

    Olga Hughes

    It was written as a rape scene. In the Inside the Episode video Dan said Jaime forced himself on Cersei and the HBO synopsis also stated that Jaime forced himself on Cersei.
    The directing was dreadful, I agree.

    • Reply April 29, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      One thing that GRRM commented on that makes me think it might not have felt as much like a rape scene in the books is that the perspective in the books is more interior (thoughts) whereas the perspective in the TV show has to be shown from the outside.

  • Reply April 29, 2014

    Olga Hughes

    It didn’t feel like a rape scene in the books because it wasn’t a rape scene. Cersei verbally and physically consented. George is just being diplomatic. He also said has they retained some of Cersei’s dialogue it would have been seen differently.
    Sorry but I still get annoyed even thinking about that ill-conceived decision, there was no room for interpretation in the original dialogue.

    • Reply May 2, 2014

      Jun

      I mostly agree with Olga. I do not understand why this scene has to be about “Jaime forcing himself on Cersei” even if the producers/director do not consider it as bona fide rape. What is wrong with having a consensual (but still disturbing) scene there? This has changed the arc of the characters’ relationship. In the novel, Jaime is the one choosing to pull away from Cersei, while Cersei … well, she has always used Jaime and continues to think along the same line. The TV series is making an argument that Cersei is pushing Jaime away, especially after the “rape,” which does not work nearly as well for the characters.

  • Reply April 29, 2014

    Grant

    True, but Martin also pointed out that the circumstances were different here. In the show Jaime has been back for weeks, whereas in the books he had only just arrived home. So I think there’s also a bit of panic and confusion about what they’re doing.

  • Reply May 1, 2014

    Olga Hughes

    Hi Grant. Yes the book circumstances were very different and in the show Jaime and Cersei reunite much earlier. It makes me wonder why they needed to put the scene in at all – considering Jaime and Cersei had their scene in the first (?) episode where they start to drift apart. It could have been left out really.
    And as Jamie points out in this article, more rape! I am starting to wonder if they felt last season was a bit tame in the sex and nudity department and are making up for it this season. Oberyn and Ellaria have had a scene in the brothel to at least match each scene out of the brothel. About 50/50 so far 🙂

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