April 29, 2014 - 2:45pm
BY CHLOE GILKE AND ALEX INTNER
Chloe Gilke: The typical midseason of "Game of Thrones" is an interesting beast. Once all the initial fireworks have gone off and we've established each character's trajectory for the season, by episode 4 or so, everything sort of tapers off. We're always left with Dany exploring some foreign land or Jon and Sam navigating relations with the wildlings. I appreciate the unique structure the show employs (approximately 100 main cast members and a few minutes of every episode devoted to each of them), but sometimes the plot can stall a bit. For me, this was one of those episodes. Compared to the Purple Wedding or even last week's mostly stellar aftermath episode, “Oathkeeper” was a little weak. But, we still had some strong moments and good forward momentum, especially in King's Landing. And, we got to meet the glorious creature that is Ser Pounce.
Alex Intner: I agree with you on this episode. The show wasn't going to be able to keep up its momentum at the pace of episodes like the Purple Wedding forever, and it was apparently this episode where things tapered off. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as shows like this need the occasional episode where there's time to breathe, but episodes like this certainly won't be why the show is going to remembered. Granted, we did get introduced to the best cat in Westeros — Ser Pounce (in a scene that had a very creepy vibe to it). We also got the amazingness that is Diana Rigg talking about her past with her granddaughter about how good she was at sex and Dany taking yet another city for herself (this time without the help of her CGI dragons).
Chloe Gilke:Yeah, seeing Margaery seduce Tommen (even with the most PG-13 of forehead kisses) was pretty gross. It's another iteration of the political marriage we've seen so many times before in Westeros — Tyrion and Sansa, Cersei and Loras, Olenna and her Targaryen. It may be entirely loveless, but at least both parties are getting some benefit from the relationship. Margaery could keep her position as the most powerful lady in Westeros, and if she's got to be with one of the Baratheon Boys (that seriously sounds like a '90s boy band name), then at least Tommen is a total sweetheart. Even if he is, like, twelve years old. And, I just loved Olenna talking her through the complexities of royal unions. No wonder Margaery is so cunning, when she's learning from one of the most manipulative ladies in Westeros.
Alex Intner: In another life, Joffrey would be the drug-addicted diva of The Baratheon Boys.
A marriage for love is something that is rarely seen in Westeros. (Robb was one of the few to do it, and look at what happened to him when he did!) Even one of the happiest marriages we've seen, Ned and Catelyn, was completely political. For Margaery, remaining the queen is the right move, especially when she's not marrying The Piece of Shit. And, Margaery is learning from the best. Olenna is the perfect amount of cunning and intelligent to survive for as long as she has with her amount of power. She's even capable of (possibly) playing a hand in the king's murder without being caught. Her, Tyrion, and Petyr Baelish should have a fight to see who can out-smart the others. (I would love to watch that!)
Chloe Gilke: Add Ser Pounce to the mix and there's a spin-off I'd actually watch! Though Margaery probably saw the most plot development in this episode, Sansa and Littlefinger also had a standout scene. Littlefinger explained that "a man with no motive is a man no one suspects" (now he's got my vote for smartest in Westeros) and subsequently told Sansa that, yeah, he totally helped kill Joffrey. However, poor Sansa isn't without blame, as it was her necklace that hid the poison (of course, without her knowledge). The exact details of the murder plot are still a bit murky, but it is refreshing to get some clarity on how that all went down. But, as much as I love talking about Joffrey's death, I hope the show swiftly moves on from this. I'm satisfied with where we are now, and wasting precious time in the remaining six episodes on such minuscule details of the murder plot might be overkill (I apologize for the pun). Especially when King's Landing is really the place for interesting and complex plotlines, it does not do to dwell on deaths.
Alex Intner: What the show has done so well over its run is it used death as a catalyst to move the plot. They are piecing together the pieces of the murder slowly but surely. We'll probably have a clear idea in the next episode or two, (with exactly how Baelish and Olenna Tyrell did it). You're right that the show is dwelling a lot on Joffrey though, especially with what's going on with the Lannister siblings. Tyrion needs to trust Jaime's ability to help him, and that he won't just go to Cersei. That was a great scene between the two of them. It's rare in Westeros that sibling trust is stronger than any politics, and it's nice to see that it can occasionally happen.
Chloe Gilke: I had a weird, visceral reaction to Jaime this week. He had a lot of sweet moments, especially with Brienne, but I just can't take him seriously after he assaulted his sister last week. But, seeing him try to help Tyrion and sharing a poignant moment of mutual respect with Brienne was great. Her name for the sword, "Oathkeeper," is perfect. Brienne is unflinchingly loyal and brave, and when Jaime and Brienne look into each other's eyes before she departs, it's not necessarily out of romantic love, but his realization of just how special she is. To find someone with such a good heart and perseverance is rare in our world but pretty much impossible in Westeros. Even if Jaime can't be so respectful toward his sister (I’m forever bitter about last week's scene), at the very least, he's a proper gentleman to Brienne.
Alex Intner: The show is kinda pretending that the scene didn't happen and it didn't negate most of Jamie's character development. However, for me, that didn't mean that the scene between Jaime and Brienne wasn't powerful. I have many favorite characters in Westeros (probably too many...) and Brienne is one of them. I agree that she is one of the few with a kind and loyal heart. I can't wait to see her search for the Stark girls. (Imagine a scene between her and Arya!) I know there are Jaime and Brienne ‘shippers out there, but I'm not one of them. They have such a strong relationship and it's not built on a foundation of lies and treachery. There are very few relationships that are built on genuine loyalty in Westeros. While he's no Brienne, we had Jon Snow at Castle Black, trying to be just and brave and save the Night's Watch. The Night's Watch isn't the most interesting aspect of the show, but this was one of the stronger episodes for them. I guess it's hard for a Snow to get some respect in Westeros.
Chloe Gilke: Also an unsung hero of "Game of Thrones" — Bran, who doesn't have nearly enough screentime. After he yelled his own name (I thought Dany was the only one who loves to do that!), he and his ragtag gang of non-wildlings (and HODOR) are in more danger than ever. Even though Jon might try and protect Bran's whereabouts, if he's shouting them for all the realm to hear, it's probably hard to keep that a secret. As worried as I am for Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor, I think the Starks have suffered enough already and Bran will probably be okay. I see Karl as being more protective and preventative than actually dangerous or malignant like Ramsay or Joffrey. Also, LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT SCENE WITH THE WHITE WALKER AND BABY because it really needs to be talked about.
Alex Intner: You mean how Craster has been creating a small army of White Walkers without knowing it? Yeah that was both terrifying and amazing at the same time. The way the made the scene, with the baby being placed on the altar and the "elder" walking up to him, with the music getting bigger … it was so tense! We've only gotten small hints at what the White Walkers are and what they can do. Now, we know a little more, like they can take humans and turn them into White Walkers with just a touch.
Chloe Gilke: With all the politics and disastrous weddings, I can get how it's easy to forget that an army of killer snow zombies are on the prowl. Still, it's not any less exciting whenever we get a little taste of them. I rewatched part of the pilot episode with my sister this weekend, and it's interesting that the first scene of the show featured the White Walkers. It's pretty ominous — the context that their world is falling apart within and such a great threat is barely contained beyond the Wall provides an interesting dynamic. I'm not expecting next week's episode to be 60 minutes of White Walkers, but this was another standout scene in an episode mostly standing still. I might be too picky, though. Looking back, this episode wasn't nearly as slow as I'd thought. We had some excellent stuff at King's Landing and covered a lot of ground (literally, from north of the Wall to King's Landing). I look forward to more monologues, Petyr Baelish and SER FREAKIN' POUNCE next week!
Alex Intner: An "only ok" episode of Game of Thrones is still a great episode of TV. There was a lot of great stuff in this week's episode. And, if we don't get more Ser Pounce in the next episode, I think we're both going to be very disappointed. Next week, we'll be back to talk about "First of His Name." Talk to you then!