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Published on May 12th, 2016 | by Bean

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Game of Thrones Review – Season 6 Episode 3 “Oathbreaker”

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WARNING! SPOILERS!

Hooooweeee. Game of Thrones is bringing it this season. It’s fifth season had some detractors – for reasons unfathomable to this reviewer – but part of the much touted excuse was that it wasn’t moving fast enough, not enough happening. Well, that allegation (duff as it even was then) can certainly not be leveled against it’s sixth.In the last three episodes we have made vast strides in the narrative arc of Westeros; significant deaths, shifts of power, positive progress. New characters, ones long-lost or benched have made their presence felt, and while their ultimate purposes may yet be opaque, their potential is overwhelming.

 

The rollercoaster of storylines pick up pace again in “Oathbreaker”, seemingly giving audiences everything they’ve been chomping at the bit for these last several years. Opening on the previous episode’s cliffhanger of Jon Snow’s resurrection, the scene plays very beautifully. Kit Harrington has never given a more visceral, heartbreaking performance than a man reborn into a harrowed body. As he slowly becomes cognizant of the trauma he has experienced, and the people who have betrayed him, it is Ser Davos and Melisandre whose counsel he receives. This turns out to be fortunate; a heady combination of “you’re the chosen one” and “yep, this is fucking mad, just go with it” seem to be exactly what this new man needs. And new man he is, but more on that later.

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Spinning us off south, we pick up with Sam and Gilly who are travelling on turbulent seas to the Citadel. The minor bombshell that Sam intends to drop Gilly and little Sam off at his home in Hornhill with the family that shunned him and sent him to the Wall is troubling, but not without sense. The touching love and affection between this chosen family of three is a tiny candle in the mire of pain and violence that makes up the rest of the world. It is the hope at the show’s core.

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Next we travel through time to Brandon and the Three-Eyed Raven who explore the Stark family pass a little further. The mounting intrigue of this past storyline gives everything that plays out a delicious edge, and the casting of young Ned is an extra delight. The scene with the Targaryens and the Starks is a staggering feat of gorgeous filmed combat, but it is all just distraction from the questions. Is Lyanna really captive in the tower? What does the wailing mean? Did Ned ‘hear’ his unborn son’s call? Despite the lack of answers, the scene doesn’t frustrate, merely whets the appetite for more revelations in coming episodes.

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We make a little headway with Daenerys, who arrives at Vaes Dothrak to be interred alive in the veritable tomb of past Khaleesis. There is an amount of threat in the exchange, but it forbodes very little in truth, as it is about as likely that this is the Mother of Dragon’s final resting place as it was that Jon Snow was dead. It’s fine to make another pitstop, and I’m sure there are allies to be made in Vaes Dothrak, or wisdom to be accrued, but let’s not spend too long there.

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Varys and Tyrion, meanwhile, attempts to get to the bottom of the power source behind the Sons of the Harpy. Through a ‘softly, softly, here’s some silver’ approach to interrogation, Varys gets his answers – the freed cities, now back under Master rule are funding the enterprise against Daenerys’ coups, and this means war. Fine. Lets. Tyrion counsels the middle way, so we shall see where that lands things, but one way or the other, there will be dragons.

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His brother and sister are facing there own challenges in King’s Landing, where the Sparrow is whispering in boy-king Tommen’s ear, and the Small Council is flouncing about unnecessarily. Ok, sure, siding with Lannisters is at this point just asking to be used for another’s ends. They continue to make it abundantly clear their supremacy is paramount and expecting Lady Tyrell, who has been bankrolling them for decades, to take their imperious orders is worryingly short-sighted. As ever. Still, there does need to be some serious teamwork if the Faith Militant are to be overthrown. I imagine Lady T has something up her sleeve, though what it is remains to be seen.

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In Braavos, Arya endures a grueling montage of abuses from a staff-wielding Waif. Thank the seven this all gets wrapped up in one scene, though those whiners who moaned of last season’s narrative dragging will likely be complaining they’re missing out on that very thing now. It is surprising to find Arya’s sight restored this quickly, but Maisie Williams does sterling work selling the arduous task before her – truly release her old identity and earn her vision.

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And so we wing our way back up North to Winterfell, where Ramsey Bolton is experiencing real entitlement for the first time, after last week’s patricide. Getting an Umber to bend the knee is a futile effort, but the latter proves his allegiance with a gift. Osha. And Rickon! Oh, may the mother protect them! It is doubly crafty to get the audiences hearts to simultaneously leap and fall with this kind of character revival. RIP Shaggy Dog.

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Back to the Wall we go, for the third time running this season coming full circle on the map. Jon Snow, Lord Commander, must pass sentence on those traitors before him at the gallows. We are forcibly reminded of the moment in Game of Thrones’ pilot where Ned Stark is forced to carry out his duty and behead a defector from the Night’s Watch. And Jon finally advances to his true manhood, in the saddest way imaginable.

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This is a brutal rite of passage, but until this point being Ned Stark’s son has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand – honourable. On the other – honour gets you murdered. But ‘he who passes sentence swings the sword’. The old Jon would have given a reprieve, at least to Olly, and you can see him battle the choice. There is just enough debate in his eyes to make it truly tragic, but swing he does. What next? To paraphrase Ser Davos and Churchill, Jon must go “from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm”. Passing the office of Lord Commander to Edd, he leaves, resolute. And so his watch is ended.

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REVIEW BY NINA CLARK

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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