The Oathkeeper and others
Game Of Thrones Season 4 Episode 4 recap
Things got interesting, but that’s not the same thing as saying that they got fun. There are movements in the stories, of course, but I was really hard-pressed for a laugh this week. Mostly that’s because we weren’t watching my favourite sitcom, Arya & The Hound, and because Tyrion in a regular shirt sitting in a cell doesn’t bring many laughs. Without humor, the episodes are a lot of self-righteousness and a lot of CGI. It does make you really appreciate the people who try to make it amusing though…
Like the man keeping Sansa on a boat. Sansa’s on a boat! Littlefinger is always so open and fair of face. I can’t help but like him, and that is stupid of me. Sansa’s face is open and pretty too, and I might like this pairing more than I ever thought.
He’s so pragmatic as he explains to her what he’s going to do and why she’ll be safe (…ish) wih Lysa Arryn. Sansa’s never been my favourite, but you can see her realizing in this exact moment that there’s a game to be played and she can choose to go left or right. The wheels really begin to turn as he tells her, “If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they can’t know what you’re going to do next.” After all, everyone else is a liar, so when you tell the truth, no matter how ugly it is, it seems to resonate. I still need to know some of the mechanics of how a stone from Sansa’s necklace just happened to fall out into the right place to off Joffrey, but I should know better than to ask this show about physics. Still, nobody thinks Littlefinger has noble intentions, do they? But it turns out that, in being straightforward about one’s selfishness, you wind up coming off as quite open and honest.
This could very well be called The Cersei Method since that’s how well this particular tactic was used tonight. I love how she’s frequently just casting around for someone to berate, and whomever falls into her path – even if they’re her beloved – will do. So Drunk Cersei is of course drunk, and decides to wound Jaime by criticizing the number of guards he doesn’t have on Tommen, and variously accuses Sansa and Tyrion of killing Joffrey. What’s most interesting about this is that her hatred for Tyrion is partly rooted in wanting desperately to believe that Tyrion is as terrible as she is. He did hate Joffrey but she can’t believe that doesn’t mean he would kill him. Cersei dismisses Jaime like a servant, and she’s still so goddamn watchable. The fact that she remains in distinct pain about Joffrey’s death makes her both believable and an anomaly, as she’s quite literally the only person who isn’t happier that Joffrey has gone to his reward.
We’re really supposed to be liking Jaime though, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Three sequences devoted to showing us how sensitive he is and how much he has changed and all the things he sees now that he’s a “cripple” who isn’t treated like a young kingslayer. First, the incredibly beautiful sequence with Bronn that had to be shot at magic hour, then the heart to heart with Tyrion on the chamber floor. Basically, Jaime’s a softie. Particularly when watching the scene in the cell, I thought that they were surprisingly lovely with one another. I don’t know quite how these two are this brother-y, but you can imagine that they lay in their nursery at night talking like this; that, even as children, Tyrion, despite being young and manly and mainly marked as just so much genetic refuse, was the only one who saw Jaime for what he was – just a regular boy … and then man - with foibles. If there’s one thing Tyrion knows, it’s the way that a man or woman can be measured. “Sansa’s not a killer. Not yet, anyway.”
Then, of course, there’s Brienne, who has every reason to believe that the Kingslayer is as noble as she believes him to be. He hasn’t disappointed her yet. At least, not much. At least, not often. And so he sends her off with the Valyrian sword and the hilarious round face that is Podrick and some truly sexy armor. Not quite as cute as that armor sweatshirt hoodie on Etsy that is both so nerdy and so good, but great nonetheless. She’s going to take over the pledge to return Sansa to safety. As she names her sword “Oathkeeper” I am reminded that Arya thinks lots of people name their swords, and that Jaime encouraged her to do so, and well, you know what the Hound thinks of things like this. But on a serious note, these two have continued to each make the other better while they were in the same presence. Can they maintain it and overcome their flaws when they’re apart?
And, of course, are we supposed to see this quiet, sensitive man as not a rapist? The theories from last week run fast and furious, the interpretations of what we saw versus what was read in books versus what was scripted. Shades of grey are all very interesting but this isn’t one, even if you allow that Jaime probably thinks his sister “belongs” to him.
Speaking of a lack of shades of grey: I’ve said before that I want the Khaleesi’s story to move along (and yes, thank you all of you on Twitter and email who snicker as I say that) so that something happens. The fact that nothing’s “happening” isn’t actually the issue. Lots is happening: Grey Worm is learning English (and not a moment too soon) and trying to create an uprising in Meereen. Daeny is enacting justice on 160 to commemorate the 160 children who were killed on the road to get there. Shackles are being brandished like they’re tour merch. But the thing is, the woman never sweats. She never falters. Cersei never sweats but she has deep nights of sorrow and wine and regret. Daenerys has nothing. No regrets. No anxiety. No wonder if what she’s doing is right. Who wants to watch someone perfect? It’s boring.
One exception, however. I can continue to watch Margaery Tyrell be a perfect disappointed debutante for another 5 episodes. But I’m getting ahead of myself:
OLENNA TYRELL gave the order. Of course she did. Or she wants us and her granddaughter to think she did. I could sit back and listen to Grandma Tyrell tell stories all day about her various wiles and how they were deployed, all matter-of-factly saying, “Of course I saved you from a monster, I love you. Now don’t worry about it, proceed seducing the 12 year old”. I’m sure I’m going to get angry letters telling me Tommen has been fourteen for six days already but the point is that he looks like a small child when she goes to visit him in the night. Tommen, who hilariously calls his cat Ser Pounce, may as well wear a sign that says “not my crazy brother”. It takes approximately one second for bitterness about Joffrey to come out, and so she softpedals the seduction, he’s totally drunk on her, and I kind of adore him and his innocence. It’s alarmingly well-played.
But that’s the last bit of warmth you feel this hour. Instead, we go between Castle Black, where the Acting Commander, a dick trying to set Jon Snow up to fail, and Locke, who chopped off Jaime’s hand and whose name gives me Lost flashbacks, agrees to help Snow advance on Craster’s to take it back from those who captured it. He’s nicer to Samwell than anyone generally would be, even if all Sam can think about is “Gilleh”. Snow is trying to find Bran, and does he know that Rickon is also alive? Regardless, he’s about to take his mission on the road, possibly with a traitor in his midst. Or like seven.
At Craster’s, of course, the most terrible, debaucherous scenes are there to test your strength of stomach and willingness to put up with garbage just to point out how bad someone is. The scene is over the top and for what? We know they’re brutal hedonists. It’s like breaking a teacup with a wrecking ball, but basically, Karl – that’s his name, the lead dirtball – makes a giant point of saying that they’re going to quite literally rape until every Craster daughter is dead. Just as your stomach is turning, the alternate situation comes to call – a baby boy, Craster’s last, turns up. Karl has him sacrificed to the Gods, and busies himself with the prize that is Jojen and Meera and Bran Stark having walked directly into his midst. He figures out they’re all high-born and decides he’ll hold one for ransom – but when he goes to kill Meera ,Bran has to shout out who he is, which is noble but also going to get them all into still deeper sh*t.
Oh and meanwhile, the baby left as a sacrifice to the Gods is swept up and touched by a craggy old fingernail and becomes a tiny baby white walker, and they still look a little bit like Muppets. Less so, but still. And while we’re thinking about the fact that all the white walkers might merely be unwanted and abandoned babies sacrificed to the gods, we have to accept that the entire white walkers’ species might be offspring of Craster’s incest?
Well, God. No wonder, then.