Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones left us with a mighty cliffhanger — a resurrected Jon Snow (Kit Harington) opening his eyes to the land of the living. We were left wondering who would return in his place — Evil Jon Snow? Zombie Jon Snow? Weird undead Jon Snow à la Ser Gregor? (We’ll come back to that lazy character re-introduction).
Well, evidently we’re getting a completely, and conveniently, normal — albeit confused and slightly aged — Jon Snow. In this week’s episode, he woke up, freaked out a bit, and was pretty much immediately back as the brooding Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Oh, and he casually reveals that there’s no afterlife. Good to know.
It was all pretty anticlimactic. Even Tormund’s crack about Jon’s very un-God-like manhood (a funny, yet misplaced attempt at levity) felt ridiculously blasé. Come on, is nobody blown away by a man literally coming back from the dead?
After all that highly publicized secrecy surrounding the fate of Jon Snow, you’d think his return would’ve been much more epic. The only part of this segment that felt appropriate was the hanging execution of Ser Alliser, Olly and co. You got served, traitorous b*tches.
But, overall, Jon Snow’s long-hoped-for resurrection felt rushed. Granted, it’s probably so we can get moving on with his inevitable coup as the alleged “Prince that was Promised.” He’s technically free to do whatever he wants now, as his death has released him from his title as Lord Commander. And he’s obviously taking that out. As he hands his cloak to Edd and says “My watch is ended,” we know Jon Snow is no longer beholden to the title of Oathbreaker.
I guess we should talk about the other characters, too. It was certainly a jam-packed episode (which reaffirms my belief that there are just too many characters in this show), but to lighten the load, here are some CliffsNotes: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) tried to play a drinking game with Missandei and Grey Worm. Rickon Stark is back after three seasons of radio silence. Another direwolf was needlessly murdered. Sam and Gilly had a scene to remind us that they’re still on the show.
OK, now onto some details, beginning in King’s Landing. It’s a lot of fun to watch how little respect Cersei (Lena Headey) commands even with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Gregor in tow. Yeah, by the way, the big scary dude always by Cersei’s side is no longer “Ser Strong” or “Maybe-sort-of-Gregor,” turns out he the full-fledged resurrected Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Alright, then. At the Small Council, the Queen of Thorns’ crack about Cersei’s incestuous tendencies was a great, and appropriate, scene-stealing moment. It’s clear that the former Queen Cersei is going to have to work at regaining any sort of power — including prompting her pet Maester Qyron to reel in Varys’ orphans (with candy) to gather “whispers” around the realm. Apparently nothing is beneath a Lannister scorned.
Both Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) and Arya’s (Maisie Williams) storylines aren’t doing either of them any service. They’re both flawed, badass characters who are criminally underused by their stagnant plots. We all know Daenerys, Queen of Meereen, Mother of Dragons, is a force to be reckoned with. Yet she’s stuck in the Dothraki Widow Colony. Can we get back to her conquering lands, kicking butts and taking names? And WHERE are her dragons? Arya, on the other hand, is busy trying to become a non-person — fighting with the Waif, constantly repeating “a girl has no name,” and referring to Arya Stark as “her.” Finally, at the tail end of the episode, she regains her eyesight, thus becoming No One. Now can we get on with her hit list, please?
Arguably the most interesting part of the episode has to be given to the second-youngest Stark, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). Once again he and the Three-Eyed Raven take a freaky white-eyed trip down memory lane, although this time around was much more intriguing and insightful. We’re privy to a young Ned Stark battling the overthrown Mad King Targaeryan’s knights in order to free his kidnapped sister Lyanna, who is presumably being held in a nearby tower. It was an epic scene that saw the end of the greatest swordsman in Westeros, Ser Arthur Dayne (who, apparently, is a bigger deal in the books). But that’s not really what’s important here. After Howland Reed (another character I had to look up) stabs Ser Arthur in the back, Ned is free to climb the tower. However, the vision abruptly ends there. Bran asks to go back, as he must know more. But the Three-Eyed Raven tells him he must learn. “Learn what?” Bran asks. To which the Three-Eyed Raven replies, “Everything.”
And with that, new questions arise — what is “everything”? and will this somehow provide any clues as to Jon Snow’s parentage? Yup, it all kind of comes back to Jon one way or the other, and hopefully next week we’ll be transported back to see what exactly happens in that tower.
“Oathbreaker” was a good episode overall, but with just too much going on, and with too little plot payoff. ~Shelby Morton
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/MT.