'Game of Thrones' Season 4, episode 4 recap: 'Oathkeeper' delivers justice and mystery
That ending! Never before have fans of the "Game of Thrones" franchise seen what happens to Craster's babies when they are taken from him. There's been speculation, sure, but absolute proof that there is a race of White Walkers -- not to be confused with the zombie-like wights -- who are turning the babies into their own kind never happened before this episode.
The implications are huge. Before there had just been the concern that there was a huge army of White Walkers picking off people north of the Wall. Now it certainly seems like the White Walkers are building their own army, and they've been doing it for quite some time. This is a "Song of Ice and Fire," after all: Daenerys is the fire, and here is the ice.
Beyond that, some huge events happened in Season 4, episode 4 "Oathkeeper." Both Daenerys and Jon Snow struggle with how to dole out justice, as both attempt to act as leaders. Meanwhile at King's Landing, Jaime Lannister finally chooses between his brother and his sister. Once you've stopped obsessing over that ending, here is what happened in the episode:
Daenerys's taking of Meereen was just as easy as her taking of Yunkai; easier, perhaps, because she let the slaves of Meereen defeat the Masters for her. But Dany takes a dark turn when she metes out the same injustice to them that they gave to the slaves: She crucifies them leading up to the gates of Meereen.
That shot of Daenerys standing at the highest point of Meereen with the Targaryen banner blowing out behind her is hands down one of the coolest shots in the entire series. She is a conqueror now, and she has taken all of the slaver cities. But what will she do next? Will she just be a conqueror, or will she be a ruler? It's worth noting that Dany made one of the ruler mistakes Tywin pointed out to Tommen in last week's episode in that she didn't listen to Barristan's advice not to crucify the Masters.
In King's Landing
Though Jaime Lannister's controversial rape of Cersei wasn't brought up again in this episode, it did serve a purpose. Cersei never once let Jaime come near her in this episode, and it's clear she doesn't plan on letting her former lover close to her again. There is a breach of trust between the two of them, and his defense of Tyrion as being innocent of Joffrey's murder doesn't win him any points with his sister. When she tasks him to find and kill Sansa and he instead turns to Brienne to go protect her, it's clear he sees Cersei for who she truly is now, and that relationship is finally dead.
As for the other relationship in Jaime's life, all of the scenes between him and Brienne are truly heartbreaking. If Cersei is everything that is bad about Jaime Lannister, then Brienne is everything that is good about him. In "The Lion and the Rose" the audience gets proof that Brienne has love for Jaime, and in "Oathkeeper" Jaime proves his love for Brienne in the best ways he knows how. He gives her a new suit of armor, gifts her his Valyrian steel sword, gives her Pod as her squire, and sends her away from King's Landing to find and save Sansa. It's a sad farewell, but proof that there really is good in Jaime. The fact he is siding with Tyrion backs that up as well.
The mystery of Joffrey's death is finally revealed too. Littlefinger allied himself with Lady Olenna, who poisoned Joffrey at his wedding. Margaery was unaware of the plot, but is quickly willing to follow her grandmother's lead and win over Tommen before Cersei can poison him to her. Diana Rigg gives another amazing performance as Olenna in this episode as she explains how she slept with her sister's betrothed to take him as her own because she was bored with her own husband. She is no villain, just smart, and it's fantastic she is raising Margaery to be the same.
On the Narrow Sea
Only days out of King's Landing, Sansa Stark is already showing the kind of backbone fans wished out of her for the past three seasons. She unravels Littlefinger's plot fairly quickly (though he explains the Tyrell connection to her) and also shows she has some love for Tyrion for knowing he wouldn't kill Joffrey. Though she questions Littlefinger's motives, he teaches her an important lesson by saying, "A man with no motive is a man one never suspects." Sophie Turner has long been saying Sansa will learn much from Littlefinger this season, and let's hope she takes that line to heart.
At Castle Black
It didn't take long for Locke to make his way into Castle Black at Roose Bolton's orders. It also didn't take long for him to eavesdrop on Jon and Sam and discover they do know Bran is alive and are kind of sort of looking for him. Too easy? Maybe, but this is a fun twist to this whole storyline.
Alliser Thorne decides to let Jon go north to Craster's as a way to have him hopefully be killed off by the mutineers. Of course Locke is one of the volunteers to go with him, with Jon being none the wiser of Locke's ulterior motives. Then the audience learns that Locke traveling with Jon is bad news for Bran, as the young Stark gets a bit too careless with his abilities.
At Craster's Keep
Karl gets booted up the scale of evil characters on "Game of Thrones" for drinking out of Jeor Mormont's skull and being just about one of the most horrible human beings alive. He continues Craster's sacrifice of his male sons (more on that later) and encourages the rape and torment of Craster's daughter/wives.
Oh, and they have Ghost captured and imprisoned, which Jon likely won't be too happy about when he gets to the keep. It's an unfortunate trap for Bran as well, who is close by Craster's just like Jon and Sam suspected and accidentally gets Summer -- and then him, Meera, Jojen and Hodor -- captured as well.
Seeing the torture of Hodor was one of the hardest things to watch in this episode. The capture of Bran & Co. is a huge departure from the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels, and one that certainly sets up a reunion of Bran and Jon. Who else is out there to save him, since it doesn't seem likely Bran will be able to save himself? Maybe a cold-handed fellow?
Speaking of the cold, let's talk about that White Walkers scene again. The mystery of the White Walkers is one that remains unsolved and unexplained in the "Game of Thrones" series, but showing that they can turn humans into their own kind by touch is pretty huge. They likely are taking babies so that they can be raised as their own kind, and raise the undead because they will easily do their bidding. It certainly seems like the White Walkers are raising an army not just of wights, but of their own species.
It may or may not be important to note that the creature Bran saw in his vision is the same one in this episode. And is that a crown he is wearing? Is there a hierarchy to the White Walkers? And why are they wearing robes instead of armor? Finally the TV show is giving away story spoilers, and this development should be hugely exciting to both book and show fans.
- This entire Craster's Keep/Bran/Locke storyline is entirely new to the show, and makes Jon/Bran/Roose's storylines that much more interesting. It's worth noting that Jon and Bran never meet up north of the Wall in the books, and so that would be a major -- and exciting -- departure.
- There is speculation that the Other with the crown at the end of the episode is someone known in the books as the Night's King. For more spoiler-filled information about that character, read his A Wiki of Ice and Fire entry here.
Jon Snow: "All we can give him now is justice."
Ser Barristan: "Sometimes it is better to answer injustice with mercy."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I will answer injustice with justice."
Tyrion Lannister: "Sansa's not a killer. Not yet, anyway."
Brienne of Tarth to Jaime Lannister: "I'll find her for Lady Catelyn ... and for you."
Lady Olenna to Margaery: "I was good. I was very, very good. You are even better."
Littlefinger: "A man with no motive is a man no one suspects."