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Monday, 9 May 2016

Game of Thrones S6E3: Oathbreaker

Game of Thrones
Series 6, Episode 3

It's interesting: A phenomenon I noted last week is that now that the series is mostly in original territory, the book fans who would complain constantly about how it's not true to the books are now desperately searching for anything they can use in aid of that. Last week, it was 'I can't believe Hodur's name is Wylis and not Walder, that completely changes the entire meaning of the books.' 

Anyway, this week's episode sees Bran once more sending his mind back in time, this time to see his father attempting to gain entrance to Rhaegar's Tower of Joy, and learning that he can exert some influence over the past. Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Ramsay deals with the Umbers, who in place of swearing their oaths to him bring him a gift: Osha and Rickon Stark. At Castle Black, Jon reveals his return to life, and has the heads of the conspiracy against him executed. Meanwhile, down in King's Landing, Tommen appeals to the High Sparrow to allow Cersei to see Myrcella's tomb, while Cersei and Jaime attempt to corral the Small Council into working with them, to little success. In Braavos, Arya continues her training under Jaqen and the Waif, as she is pushed to abandon her identity as Arya Stark. In Meereen, Varys and Tyrion make a plan to strike against the Masters and the Sons of the Harpy, while elsewhere in Essos, Daenerys arrives at Vaes Dothrak.

Let's start with the Essos plotlines this week: I'm still finding Daenerys' plotline, and all the Meereen stuff, deeply unsatisfying. Meereen has always felt like an unneeded and unwanted diversion from Daenerys' main goal, keeping her busy in Essos while everyone in Westeros plays out their games until they reach the point in the plot where Daenerys can show up - compounding that with what feels like another pointless diversion from the pointless diversion we already have is a step too far for me, and just leaves me feeling more irritated than anything.

Just stab someone, Daenerys, I beg of you.

I will possibly find it in my heart not to be too annoyed, so long as Daenerys ends up with another Dothraki horde or ten out of this, since this episode raised the problem that she doesn't have the numbers to hold Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, but I somehow don't see that happening.

Similarly, the stuff with Varys and Tyrion advances the plot by a tiny bit, but as it feels like they're just treading water until Daenerys gets back, I wasn't interested. It's a bit irritating, because one of the things I praised about the last series was how it finally had Daenerys and Tyrion interacting, and now she's off elsewhere and they're not interacting anymore.

Arya's storyline in Braavos is a bit better, as we see her having a cliche learning-how-to-fight-while-blind montage, and a much less cliche and thus much more interesting learning-how-to-recite-the-details-of-her-life-with-total-detachment montage. It all culminates in her drinking the water from the House of Black and White's well - remember, that water is poisonous - which restores her sight, for reasons which are unclear but charmingly so. I've seen some people saying that Arya getting her sight back defeats the point of her learning to fight without it, and it does, a bit, but at the same time, I don't think any of us thought she was going to be blind permanently.

(We also get a little hint of her keeping some of her individuality, as she hides someone on her list from the Waif. I actually have no idea who, though, because I haven't memorised Arya's list.)

So does Meereen just have an endless supply of wine, or ... ?

King's Landing also gives us some good stuff. Not from Tommen and the High Sparrow's chat, that was interminable and I wanted to die, but from Kevan and Olenna shutting down Cersei and Jaime's attempts to interfere with the Small Council. This doesn't bode well for Kevan, obviously, he is almost certainly going to die a horrible death quite, quite soon. Possibly at the hands of Zombie Mountain, possibly not.

As with the Meereen and Vaes Dothrak stuff, it's mostly bridging, meant to set us up for a more meaty conflict next episode, but it was fun nevertheless.

Castle Black, meanwhile, gets the lion's share of this episode's plot, which is strange, because not all that much actually happens in it. Jon is back from the dead, of course, but apart from chatting to Davos, Melisandre (who's mostly interested in what happens after death, and nobody try to pretend that wouldn't be at least the third on your list questions), Tormund and Ed, he doesn't do a lot. Okay, he hangs Alliser, Ollie, and two more conspirator ringleaders - Ollie glaring at him hatefully the whole time, which, to be honest, fair enough, I'd be pretty annoyed if someone I stabbed didn't stay dead and then executed me, too.

"Hello, naughty children, it's brainwashing time."

The biggest plot turn at Castle Black, then, is Jon leaving the Watch, presumably on the grounds that, as he's died, he's been released from his vows. It's solid logic, and it sets us up for when Sansa and Brienne arrive next week, because presumably Jon and Sansa are going to start plotting to take Winterfell back. Hey, maybe what remains of Stannis' troops - or Stannis himself, if he's alive - can join them! That'd be nice.

So, a good episode, but it didn't really measure up to the standard set by the first two this series. Those two weren't even that brilliant, they were just a nice change from the relentless plot holding patterns we've become used to.

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