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

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Three episodes in, and the most notable difference between season six and the five that came before it is pacing. Game of Thrones is really moving some of its storylines along this season, which, for a few characters who remain very far from the rest, is a great thing. This may not be the last season, or even the second to last season, but the show is getting ready for the end.

Case in point is Bran’s flashbacks to his father’s conquests decades before he was born. Lyanna Stark is one of the great mysteries of this series, and we aren’t just taking about her anymore. We’re getting the background of what Ned went through to find his sister after the fall of the Mad King. The Three-Eyed Raven presses pause before anything revolutionary can be revealed, but the fact that we’re even being showed this stuff means we’re going to be getting answers to some very big questions in the near future. Possible the biggest of them all, who are Jon Snow’s actual parents?

Speaking of the newly resurrected Stark, his first full episode on the side of the living moved his story along in some really interesting ways. There’s no annoying amnesia or anything, just disappointment in himself. It’s understandable, in this world, death is the ultimate failure. Robb and Catelyn perhaps learned that the hardest. But sometimes heroes need to fail to push forward. Jon’s effectiveness as a leader in the past is put on display when Tormund cheerfully hugs him and makes fun of the size of his privates. It’s an oddly touching moment of former enemies, but like Daenerys, Jon just has the qualities of a leader people want to follow. That’s why nobody really bought his death after five seasons of building that piece of him. We’ve known since his father sent him to the Wall that he didn’t belong in the Night’s Watch, and death is the only real way out of it. “My watch is ended,” he says after a final act of executing the men who murdered him. Jon is now free to lead the wildlings and any other followers he may gain along the way to whatever end the show or George R. R. Martin see fit.

Though “Oathbreaker” sure points to the first stop on Jon’s list being Winterfell. After disappearing in season three, Ramsay Bolton now has Rickon Stark, and Osha, in the city he’s captured. With a huge battle teased for later in the season, and these early episodes building to a Jon/Ramsay bastard showdown, Rickon may be a major bargaining chip once another Stark returns to Winterfell.

It was fitting for Arya’s training montage to include a bit of a recap of the Stark family tree. But that was hardly her chunk of the episode’s only purpose. Arya is well on her way to becoming Westeros’ own Daredevil, learning to fight without her eyes. But just as she’s proven herself, Jaqen gives her her eyesight back. Now Arya is a very capable assassin without a name. Her eventual reunion with her siblings may not be as joyous as the one Jon and Sansa look to be sharing next week.

Even with the bulk of “Oathbreaker” spent with the Starks, we still got an extensive look at how Cersei and Jaime are trying to retake King’s Landing. Their power plays aren’t working, and it seems the High Sparrow is even turning Tommen to his cause. But watching the Lannisters scheme for power will never not be entertaining.

Less entertaining are the happenings in Essos. There’s no way to go about it but to just admit that Daenerys being stuck in a widow’s hut is very boring. Back in Meereen, it’s hard to care because this city has no true allegiance to any main character. Dany sort of just took it on her run of conquerings. The only interesting thing here is that it seems those other cities she took are funding the Sons of the Harpy, forcing the past to come haunt Dany’s present. Well, if she was in Meereen that is. These are the only storylines not moving at season six’s new and improved pace.

But even those aside, “Oathbreaker” did a great job pushing things forward. Thrones still manages to pack some big surprises, like the return of Rickon, in every episode, even when some storylines seem a little too predictable. Still, this new energetic pace is doing wonders for the show as it sets up its endgame. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • We caught up with Sam this week too. Did anyone care?
  • There’s now potential for a bigger Stark reunion this season than we thought. If Jon retakes Winterfell, with Sansa potentially around, Rickon could also rejoin a few of his family members. After that, it’s just a matter of getting Bran and Arya back with the family.
  • That long shot of Olly’s dead face was pretty uncomfortable.
  • Next week’s episode looks to continue the quick pacing. Sansa and Brienne appear to be at Castle Black, while Theon is already back home. Meanwhile, Jorah and Daario look like they’re at the Dothraki village. Not a second to waste this season apparently. Except when Tyrion feels awkward.

By Matt Dougherty

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