UK TV review: Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 3 (Oathbreaker)
Paul Greenwood | On 10, May 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers. For more on how to catch up with Game of Thrones, click here.
Could it be said that this episode of Game of Thrones was a little on the dull side?
In terms of anything of note actually happening, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Oathbreaker (meaning what, exactly?) has to rank as one of the least impressive of the 53 episodes we’ve had so far. Almost all of it was talk, which is usually far from a problem. In fact, it’s frequently where Game of Thrones excels, allowing its incomparably rich characters to dig deep into their motivations and desires.
But this seemed for much of the time awfully like inconsequential talk, time-passing talk, small talk. At best, perhaps, you could call it preparatory talk, laying some of that ever-necessary groundwork for what’s to come.
And what is to come? On most fronts, who can say? Something to be thankful for is that the GoT makers are keeping things very close to their chest, giving very little away, which is as it should be, and progressing the story in tiny increments, so that if something of import happens soon, it’s sure to be worth the wait.
But back to the dullness – maybe it’s something to do with Daniel Sackheim’s directing, which made proceedings seem frustratingly static, often just a couple of stationary characters sitting around a set waiting for an injection of life and momentum into the drama.
Sam and Gilly on a boat, Varys and an informant in a throne room, Tommen and the High Sparrow on a bench – it was all so very pedestrian. Even Tyrion looked a trifle bored, as he tried to talk Missandei and Grey Worm into a drinking game to pass the time. Jaime had the right idea, wanting to send the Frankenstein-ed Mountain in to sort out the High Sparrow, until he was persuaded otherwise.
Yet just look at the difference whenever a little movement was squeezed into a scene. Mostly, that came with Arya, being questioned all the while she was being endlessly pummelled by Waif, tested by Jaqen in her journey to become No One. Just as it looked like she was going to become a fearsome blind warrior, a la Rutger Hauer in Blind Fury, a man gave a girl back her eyes, but she remains among the most promising and intriguing characters in the show.
At least in terms of retribution, some uppances did come. Alliser Thorne, with his face like a grumpy Ridley Scott, has been a consistent, well, thorn, in the side of Jon Snow, during his entire time at Castle Black. Yet for all his treachery, he always acted in ways that he firmly believed were the best for the Night’s Watch.
He continued his principled stand until he was blue in the face, hanged alongside fellow Snow-stabber Olly. As we’ve seen time and time again, don’t expect mercy from Game of Thrones, just because you’re a child. As for the show’s resident Christ-figure, he was off in the huff at the end, his reincarnation not dwelled upon in any meaningful way.
The flashback stuff with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven provided our lot in terms of fights, and it went all Phantom Menace, as young Ned and his pals took on a double-sworded Ser Arthur Dayne in a very skilfully executed skirmish. It was a bright spot in what felt a lot like treading water. We’ve had a rest – time to get moving again.
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