TV review: Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 4 (Oathkeeper) – spoilers
Selina Pearson | On 30, Apr 2014
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
If you speak to anyone who watched Episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 4, they will mention one of two things. Which of these is mentioned first will depend on whether they have read the books.
Currently, the biggest problem for the television series stems from the nature of the novels. Martin has, by and large, split his books geographically – Feast for Crows, for instance, does not cover the plots of three of the saga’s major characters. But what this means across the board is that various characters narratives occur at different rates. It means that while some have a lot of plot to plough through, some characters merely need to get from point A to point B with the correct people dying en route. This has resulted in added bits of plot that have had fans grimacing. Some of these bits have worked out for the best – Jaime Lannister’s early arrival meant that he was present at the Red Wedding, something that feels like it has added to the story.
First up for Danaerys is the apparently easy invasion of Meereen, furling which the slaves consider and accept Dany’s offer of freeing themselves and swiftly take out their masters. This is an odd bit of narrative, as this could conceivable have taken Dany’s storyline through to the next season; the revolt of the slaves is barely shown and is over within the first 10 minutes of the show.
The second major deviation in Oathkeeper is Jon Snow’s wish to take out the former Night’s Watch members holed up in Craster’s Keep. In Season 3, some of the Watch who accompanied Jeor Mormont north of the wall murdered Craster, as well as killing the Lord Commander. Acting commander Alliser Thorne, egged on by Janos Slynt, former commander of the King’s Landing city watch, encourages Jon’s expedition north of the wall, no doubt in hopes that he fails. Neither is particularly fond of Jon, Thorne having been mocked by him and the other recruits when they first joined the watch and Slynt being the commander who arrested Ned Stark in King’s Landing prior to his execution.
Jon isn’t the only Stark heading for Craster’s Keep, though – Bran’s company following the three-eyed crow have also stumbled across it. This seems to be a ploy to keep Bran’s somewhat dull wanderings north from stagnating, but also gives more welcome screen time to Karl Tanner, leader of the mutineers; Burn Gorman does creepy psycho well, as far from his roles in Torchwood and Pacific Rim as possible.
Meanwhile, more information about Joffrey’s murder is emerging from Petyr Baelish and Olenna Redwyne. Sansa pushes for the information, learning that Baelish supplied the poison – “a thoughtful gift for new friends” – and it would appear that Olenna’s desire to protect her beloved granddaughter gave the Queen of Thorns the motive to use it. As it is, having escaped King’s Landing Sansa is a suspect, her having more reason than almost anyone following the execution of her father. Baelish is very eager to control Sansa’s destiny, but other than his creepy obsession with Sansa’s mother, Catelyn, his motives are still hard to guess. “What do you want?” she asks. He grins. “Everything.”
As the Game continues, Margaery must make an impression on new player Tommen as quickly as possible – if she is to control the throne, she needs to be able to exert more power over him than Cersei. Margaery will have a headstart with Cersei in mourning, but don’t expect Cersei to give up her son without a fight. Also, this being Cersei, don’t expect it to be a clean fight.
After last week’s anti-climax, Episode 4 manages to be rather gripping, despite not much actually occurring. Scenes in Craster’s keep are a little jarring, fulfilling this week’s rape and nudity quota. Aiden Gillen, meanwhile, can’t seem to decide where Baelish’s accent is going, deteriorating from a slight lilt in previous seasons to a complete road trip across Wales and Ireland. Highlights are Jaime finally visiting his imprisoned brother, as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s level-headed delivery contrasts drastically with Lena Headey’s hysterical accusations of Tyrion.
But the excellent climax of the episode is what really stands out. The sacrifice of Craster’s sons opens up the realm of the white walkers in a way that hasn’t happened in the novels. Is this the ritual by which the Night’s King (the blue-eyed chappy with the horns) turns babies into walkers? Is it the ‘Other’, the second god of cold and dark to whom Melisandre the Red Priestess referred in the previous episode?
The questions open up a whole new aspect of Westeros – to both viewers and readers. The answers are guaranteed to be chilling.
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