Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones Season 4 Ep 4 "Oathkeeper" Review - What's Going On?

Greg Tito | 28 Apr 2014 18:48
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As has been discussed in the annals of the Internet for a generation, it's very hard to adapt thousands of pages of an epic story like The Lord of the Rings, the Marvel universe, or Game of Thrones to a concise visual medium without changing a few things. Adaptation is not a one-to-one retelling, after all, but a reimagining. That said, the latest episode of HBO's fantasy series goes farther off the tracks lain by George R. R. Martin's story than ever before, but I'd argue the changes are what the story really needed, especially north of the Wall.

As always, be warned that this article will contain spoilers for the events of "Oathkeeper", as well as possible spoilers for the books written by Martin. Read at your own risk!

Daenerys' plotline across the Narrow Sea starts the episode with Grey Worm learning a new language with Missandre. It's a nice scene that offers some desperately-needed screen time for these minor characters, and it's easy to think that finally the situation in Meeren is going to get some interesting development. Sadly, the action quickly jumps from the intimate tent with Grey Worm to a slaves' gathering in the city, and ends with what feels like a horribly rushed rebellion sequence. Sure, we get a wonderful sweeping shot of Dany at the top of a pyramid, but it's just eye-candy with little substance. In less than seven minutes, Daenerys crucifies some slaveowners and is suddenly queen of Meeren. She even has a fancy new dragon banner.

I completely understand the series has a lot of storylines to pay attention to, but I was really hoping for some more time spent with these characters. The opening does a lot to humanize the treatment the Unsullied went through to make them such effective soldiers, but the complicated issues of mercy and justice did not receive the debate it deserved. Was Daenerys right to answer the murder of slaves with more murder? I don't know. I was never given a chance to really think about it. In Meeren, Dany must learn to be a ruler, not just a vicious conqueror. I hope that's not glossed over as much as her conquest was.

Back in King's Landing, Bronn and Jaime fight in some of the worst fight choreography I've ever seen. It's clear even to an untrained eye like mine that Jaime absolutely sucks at fighting left-handed. At least we understand why Bronn was given the role of the cripple's sparring partner over Ser Ilyn Payne: so he could drop some truths from that scene in the Eyrie in the first season. I still think it would be interesting to hear what Jaime has to say to himself rather than what he does to Bronn. Maybe then we could get him talking about why he raped his sister.

That particular miscue by the show's creators seems to have at least one repercussion - Cersei now hates her twin. The scene in which she summons Jaime, only to treat him like one of her underlings and to ridicule his devotion to Tyrion, not to mention his oath to Catelyn Stark, feels like the end of their relationship. Still, she acted much the same to Jaime in the books even without the forced intercourse in the Sept, so I don't think the rape really impacts anything, making it all the more problematic. If it didn't mean anything, the why was it directed that way? I do particularly enjoy how much wine Cersei is drinking now though. She no longer takes solace in sex with her brother or Lancel (remember him?); the grape is all she needs to love now.

The rape also makes one of the more pleasant parts of this episode much less enjoyable. Jaime meets with Brienne and gives her the Valyrian steel sword from his father, a suit of armor thankfully devoid of breast bumps, and a squire in Podrick Payne. It's all very nice, and the tears in Jaime's eyes when Brienne names the sword "Oathkeeper" could have been earned. But all I'm thinking about looking at Jaime's face is the words "I don't care" as he thrusts into his sister. How does that guy also get tears in his eyes when a woman elegantly chooses to keep a promise? As predicted, this tender moment with Brienne was ruined by the shoddy directing/editing of last week's episode.

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