‘Oathkeeper’ – If you go into the North today, you’re in for a big Zombie surprise

The title of this episode refers to Brienne’s new valyrian sword, ‘Oathkeeper’, given to her by Jaime Lannister to assist with her quest. This, all in all, sounds rather high fantasy, which is fitting for this episode of Game of Thrones. There weren’t any dragons, but this was more than made up for by the other elements viewers were offered.

The fourth instalment of season 4 opens with Daenerys’ plan being put into action to take Meereen. A small group of the Unsullied led by Grey Worm head under cover of night into the city to provide the congregated slaves with a rousing pep talk and a cache of weapons. The message given is that Daenerys is promising them freedom, but first they have to kill a load of people (a quarter of the city’s population in fact). Well, fortunately for Daenerys, the slaves are perfectly happy with this plan – especially the bit where the Unsullied are ordered to nail the masters to posts as ‘justice’ for the murdered slaves found along the road to Meereen. This last act seems unnecessarily gruesome and unmerciful for a leader who prides herself on a self-aggrandised sense of morality. At least Ser Barristan showed a voice of reason by expressing his dismay at her decision. One cool outcome of this successful siege however is the raising of Danearys’ flag: flame-red dragons on a black background. Almost looks like the flag of a villain.

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Jaime is still practicing his swordplay with Bronn; the latter manages to inspire some brotherly loyalty in the Lannister, who finally deigns to visit Tyrion and experience a rather nice sibling bonding moment: “Are you really asking if I could kill your son?” Tyrion asks. To which Jaime responds – “Are you really asking if I’d kill my brother?” These two can be so sweet when they want to be; when they aren’t whoring about, throwing children off roofs or raping their sisters.

Sansa is on Littlefinger’s boat, bound to the Eyrie where her Aunt Lysa dwells. It turns out that, in the sinister way of his, Littlefinger had both everything and nothing to do with Joffrey’s death. Much like an incompetent bad guy, he spills the beans to Sansa that the necklace she wore on Joffrey’s wedding day contained the poison that killed the King. Petr Baelish reveals to Sansa that he has made powerful new allies, and then the scene cuts to the Tyrells. These new friends of his are wealthy, beautiful and lethal, and perfectly willing to murder one King before seducing another. Although surprisingly it seems like Margeary had no clue about how Joffrey died, with Olenna’s admission that she was involved being as shocking to her granddaughter as it is to viewers (in other words, not very). Olenna has always been a wily one, and by far one of the best characters this show currently has to offer. With Tyrion locked up we need to get our snark from somewhere.

Jon Snow almost looks like he’s having fun in his scenes, training the new recruits in how to fight Wildlings, until Alliser Thorne shows up to give him a stern talking to. Jon then scowls a lot – which sums up this character’s journey throughout first to fourth seasons quite well. Locke, the guy who chopped off Jaime’s hand a while ago, has made his way to infiltrate Castle Black in order to befriend Jon Snow and locate Bran and Rickon for Roose Bolton. At Craster’s Keep the rebel men of the Night’s Watch cross paths with Bran, Ghost and Hodor, locking them up as their prisoners.

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In King’s Landing Cersei’s getting drunk in her chambers. Typical. Her and Jaime have words regarding his debt to Catelyn Stark, and Cersei questions the extent of his underlying loyalty to his sister. Since Jaime won’t be searching for the remaining Starks anytime soon as per his promise to the late Lady Stark, he sends Brienne in his place. Podrick Payne, the most loyal squire in the land, also joins Brienne in her quest.

Finally, the White Walkers . . . this was a very intriguing twist to add to the mix, as we got to see how these zombie-monster-icemen are created. Head honcho white walker appears on his horse strolling through the winter wildlands with a tiny baby in his arms. There must be magic happening here because there’s no way that baby (a) hasn’t already frozen to death or (b) isn’t crying hysterically. The baby is laid upon an ice altar among Stonehenge-esque pillars. Suddenly another white walker appears (think an ice-blue Darth Maul lookalike), who cradles the baby’s face and turns its eyes a crystal blue. The babies haven’t been taken as food; they’ve been taken to expand the white walker ranks.

This episode was beautifully shot – especially those moments spent venturing through the north with the white walker – and well written, certainly a significant improvement from episode 3. Thrones is back on track!

★★★★