Review: GAME OF THRONES S4E04, OATHKEEPER (Or, Hey There Chilly Men, Nice To See You Again)

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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ScreenAnarchy continues with its ongoing series of recap / reviews of HBO's Game Of Thrones, written from the perspective of someone who has made the deliberate choice not to read the books so he can experience the series cold. Feedback is, of course, always welcome and encouraged but please respect the perspective of the writer and other readers unfamiliar with the source novels and limit discussions to the events that have unfolded on screen thus far and do not roam ahead.

Season Four, Episode Four: Oathkeeper

Lots of important stuff happens in surprisingly understated fashion this week in Game Of Thrones land with episode four driving the story forward on multiple fronts with lean efficiency while tossing in a bit of underage sexual manipulation humor (yay!) and the return of some chilly old friends (double yay!) by whom I very definitely do not mean Mance Rayder and his ever-so-scary because clearly the thing to do after assembling a massive army to assault one very particular castle is to sit around on your collective asses for months on end without ever attacking anything, never mind the castle in question. So, no, no Mance. I'm beginning to think he will never, ever reappear at all and his existence in previous seasons was nothing but a cruel ruse. If you count the number of times other characters - who all have to move slowly and stealthily - have made it to and from the north (hell, to and from Mance, before getting home all shot up with arrows and spending further weeks returning to full health) with Mance seemingly not advancing at all and it's just ridiculous. Here ends pet rant.

That rant over, shall I begin another about the troubling pro-colonial politics of the entire Danaerys storyline in its current configuration, with the cultured, intelligent white woman roaming the countryside to liberate the poor, ignorant brown people? Nah, but only because I don't know what the end point of this particular story is going to be - meaning what appears pro-colonial now may very well not be at the end. And, of course, because the main problem is that Danaerys has gotten bloody well boring. Enough with the posturing and speechifying. Send a dragon to eat someone, already. Nobody cares about the fact that you're taking control of cities that we didn't know a thing about before you arrived to take control of them and you're just repeating yourself ad nauseam. Enough of that. Dragon. Eat. Now.

Meanwhile, the Lannister Brothers of King's Landing are conspiring to make Todd feel clever. By which I mean of course, that the splinter faction of Jaime and Tyrion that I guessed would start to form last week has indeed started to form with Jaime reaching out to his imprisoned brother, defying Cersei and taking steps both to ensure Pod gets out of the city safely and to find and secure Sansa. Cersei doesn't know all of it but she certainly knows enough to be pissed off - you can tell by the particularly forceful way she guzzles her wine, angry drunk that she is increasingly becoming - and you know she's just going to get angrier. Tywin will probably be pissed to, when he learns that Jaime has given away his sword. Also, though Margaery makes it close later, Bronn wins the episode.

And where is Sansa? Still on a boat with Littlefinger, who also continues speechifying in a manner equally as tedious as Danaerys, confirming what we already knew about his involvement in Joffrey's murder while further expanding that he did it to appease some powerful new ally. The really important bit here? Word that Littlefinger is taking Sansa to her aunt - who he is marrying - where, if we're very lucky we may again witness a teenage boy breastfeeding. Also, it should be noted, this is where The Hound is taking Arya, hoping for a reward. Stark reunion? Could be coming.

Oh, Littlefinger's new ally is Gramma Tyrell who is apparently not at all worried about spies as she just tells Margaery flat out that she had Joffrey killed and now, dear, why don't you go get his pubescent younger brother all hot and bothered to swing his allegiance to you instead of his mother? Right-o. Tommen has no idea what's just happened to him, really, though with the sorts of dreams he's likely to have I doubt very much he cares, either.

And then off to the North where the interesting (but non-Mancy) stuff happens. Stuff that should soon lead to yet another Stark reunion. Moving quickly:

1. Bolton's man Locke arrives at Castle Black to keep an eye on Jon and see if he plans retribution for Robb's murder. Jon, surprisingly, does not with his attention on more pressing matters and Locke may actually prove useful as a skilled fighter. Unless he stabs Jon in the back, of course.

2. Asshole Commander continues being an Asshole but agree to let Jon take a volunteer force against the mutineers at Craster's Keep, hoping that the mutineers will kill Jon off because this is the sort of thing that Assholes hope for when guarding a radically under-manned castle against a vastly superior force. Yes, kill that guy off. That'll help.

3. Bran stumbles into Craster's Keep where he interrupts a spate of raping and is captured.

Two important notes here: First, Bran is where Jon is going. Reunion impending! Two, there are now two very large wolves at Craster's along with two young men who can control animals with their minds. Bets on how many mutineers have their faces bitten off before Jon arrives? I say six.

And then there's the end. White Walkers! Yay! Walking! And riding horses! And taking a baby but not eating it, which is kind of what I thought they were going to do! Does this mean much for the story? Not as such at the moment, no, but good lord it's nice to finally see some of the core mythology that drove the show early on and that was at the center of the original crisis return and be fleshed out a bit. They're the ice bit of 'fire and ice', after all, and they've scarcely been present at all. Happy to see you, Chilly Man, stick around.

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More about Game Of Thrones

Ard VijnApril 14, 2014 8:44 AM

Wow, they are getting a move on! I was afraid Joffrey croaking would turn out to be THE big event this season, delicately held aloft until episode nine...

What I love about this series (and I mean both the book series and the television series) is that the moment you're lulled into a sense of status quo, one peg will be removed which changes the whole balance, again and again.

Without checking the books, would anyone at this point be able to tell who's next to die? I seriously doubt it. Nobody is save, and I love that.

Jesse Thomas CookApril 14, 2014 9:41 AM

Without spoiling anything, Joffrey's younger brother Tommen was at the wedding, seated beside Cersei. He was laughing at the mock battle before sharing an uncomfortable look with Tyrion. His younger sister, Marcella, remains in Dorne.

Todd BrownApril 14, 2014 9:49 AM

Ah! I was wondering if that might be him or if it was yet another unnamed Lannister cousin ... seems like there are a lot of them roaming around.

marllApril 14, 2014 2:42 PM

great episode! i am awed by how consistently entertaining this show is... love it

arnold3kApril 14, 2014 3:56 PM

BTW Cersei's "younger son" Tommen was at the wedding and not in EXILE or somewhere. He was the kid sitting beside Tyrion at the wedding table.

ToxicpicApril 14, 2014 11:47 PM

Cersai did it. Everyone has a motive of some kind to kill the little bastard but Cersai will regain her position as queen. The clinching fact for me though was the fact that Tyrion looks guilty and is kind of framed. Cersai hates him and would definitely like to see him take the blame.

Jesse Thomas CookApril 21, 2014 9:57 PM

I thought Episode 4.03 was the best yet. Seemed to effortlessly move the plot forward in all storylines save for Bran and Theon.
Glad to see Littlefinger resurface, he's one of my favorite chess players in all of this, although Aiden Gillen's accent is rather odd at times.
Not sure if you remember a character from season one and two, named Ilyn Payne? He's a distant relative to Pod Payne and he executed Ned Stark. The actor who played him died and it seems rather than re-cast him, the writers have given his storyline unto Bronn, which is quite interesting. And another deviation from the source, that I look forward to, is the potential mission back to Crasters Keep. I'm guessing this is to buy more time til Neil Marshall's episode. It's been a long time since we've last seen Mance Rayder, as you noted last week.

KurtApril 21, 2014 10:34 PM

Agreed on Baelish's accent, it was all over the place, and in a single scene no less....

CJApril 22, 2014 5:14 AM

I didn't know that about the guy who played Ilyn Payne. That's a shame. He had the perfect face and demeanour for that character

But I did like Bronn taking over that part of the story. It adds much-needed humour to the show, which Martin's books (great as they are) severely lack.

As for Littlefinger, my guess is they may have gotten Aiden Gillen fresh off another role so he may still have residual accent issues. Especially since he is Irish and has quite a thick Dublin accent.

Todd BrownApril 22, 2014 8:22 AM

God, it's the slowest invasion ever and the White Walkers may as well be crawling for all the progress they've made. It really saps them of their strength as a plausible threat when they NEVER DO ANYTHING.

Ard VijnApril 22, 2014 9:47 AM

Non-spoiler challenge: you keep assuming the White Walkers WANT to go South. They don't, it's probably still too warm for them. They're the reason for Mance to move South though, because when Winter arrives in earnest, no human North of the wall will be able to stay alive with all those Walkers in their element.

So yes, Mance definitely should get a move on.

Todd BrownApril 22, 2014 11:15 AM

Ah. The Dutchman makes an interesting point ...

Stephie59April 28, 2014 11:50 AM

Jesse, the actor who played Ilyn Payne, Wilko Johnson, is very much alive. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but is still performing in his band (see article link below - I researched it):

Jesse Thomas CookApril 28, 2014 1:27 PM

Steph, my mistake. Glad to hear he's still rocking.

Jesse Thomas CookApril 28, 2014 1:37 PM

Another great episode indeed. As a book reader I'm very keen for what's gonna go down at Craster's Keep, as it's all new ground for the writers, and hopefully means a Stark Reunion. I'm pretty certain Locke is on the hunt for Bran, as Roose dispatched him to the wall to see if any trueborn Stark sons were being sheltered there. Asshole Commander guy rules, whoever that actor is. And I was surprised to see one of the scientists from Pacific Rim show up as the drunk guy ruling at Craster's. The great Mance delay is nagging at me too. The only explanation is that he is travelling with 200,000 people, including elderly and children, so their great trudge to the wall is at a snail's pace. Would be advisable to throw a scene in reminding everyone of Mance and the threat he poses. Finally, you're absolutely right about Daenarys. In fact, Geroge R.R. Martin coined a term for the trouble he had writing her current storyline - The Meereenese Knot.

Todd BrownApril 28, 2014 2:00 PM

Ah, yes, Theon did mention that he hadn't actually killed Bran, didn't he? So, yes, that's definitely in play. Maybe Locke gets his face bitten off. That'd be gratifying. Drunk guy at Craster's is Burn Gorman, who was formerly a principal on Torchwood. I was kicking myself for not recognizing him earlier while watching this ep but glad I didn't because it would have tipped that he would turn out to be an important character ...

KurtApril 28, 2014 2:18 PM

Here Gorman looks like a crazy-young Willem Dafoe, and he does the comparison proud with his 'off-the-handle' leadership at Chez Craster.

Todd BrownApril 28, 2014 2:28 PM

Heh. That's a really good comparison. Gorman always looks slightly as if he's made of plastic to me, and that blankness on his face is something that a smart director can push all sorts of interesting directions. He's a great actor, too.

harumphApril 28, 2014 9:46 PM

I was wondering if Baelish has a new accent because he's left the city and let his pretensions drop. Maybe we're supposed to be hearing his rough lowborn accent now?

harumphApril 28, 2014 9:50 PM

Did you watch this episode? They revealed who did it, and it wasn't Cersei.

Todd BrownApril 29, 2014 12:03 PM

Check when the comment was posted. Because all the individual episode reviews are contained in this one post - you can cycle through them up above - this comment thread spans the entire season. So, no. They HADN'T watched the current episode when they wrote that, it was posted two weeks ago.

harumphApril 29, 2014 8:28 PM

Ah, ok. I hadn't noticed that. It's kind of a confusing conversation then.

Todd BrownApril 29, 2014 8:39 PM

Yeah, the benefit is that the entire series of reviews stay together which makes it much easier to mock me when I guess where things are going and get it totally wrong but definitely need to pay close attention in the comments ...

Stephie59April 30, 2014 3:20 PM

I was kicking myself too in trying to remember who the actor was. Then I realised he was the guy in Torchwood, and he also had a couple of episodes arc on Revenge. Talk about being made of plastic! He was like that on Revenge too and he was great. Great actor in my book! I did wonder who he actually played in GoT. I hadn't seen him on before. Who is he? What is he doing at Craster's? I even asked a friend but he didn't know either.

Stephie59April 30, 2014 3:22 PM

Who or what is Mance? If it's someone or something from the book, don't tell me, cause I don't want to know or have mine or anyone else's surprise spoilt. But if it's something I may have missed from the show or forgotten, please feel free to enlighten me. (And I'm not being rude; I genuinely am asking). Thanks much.

Todd BrownApril 30, 2014 3:57 PM

Mance is Mance Rayder, the leader of the Wildling army, also referred to as the King Beyond The Wall. He's the guy Jon Snow had to infiltrate and who all of the Night's Watch is so afraid of.

Todd BrownApril 30, 2014 3:59 PM

Gorman's got a really good arc on British show The Hour as well. As for what he's doing at Craster's, he's leading the group of Night's Watchmen who rebelled and killed off the commander while they were up north.

Stephie59April 30, 2014 5:02 PM

Thanks Todd. I just find it strange that we never saw him before (at least I don't recall, cause I would have remembered him). Maybe they just kept referring to him but never showed him until now. I kept mixing him up with Ramsey at first, as I saw a resemblance. Thanks for the response.

Stephie59April 30, 2014 5:07 PM

Thanks for the reply. Yes I watched The Hour. I loved that show and was disappointed that it was not renewed. The guy from The Wire was one of the lead stars. I had forgotten Gorman was on that. Thanks for that as well.

Todd BrownApril 30, 2014 5:36 PM

Oh, Mance has been in the show. He's played by Ciaran Hinds. He's just hardly been in it at all for a guy who poses such a huge threat.

Jesse Thomas CookMay 1, 2014 9:53 AM

"I was a fucking LEGEND in Gin Alley. A LEGEND!!!"

Stephie59May 1, 2014 11:41 AM

Just realised I was mixing up my comments about Burn Gorman (drunk guy at Craster's), with Mance (Ciaran Hinds). It is Gorman who I find reminded me somewhat of Ramsey. Your posts are what cleared it up for me. Thanks again