Valar Morghulis my friends and welcome to Season Six of Game of Thrones. Every week, I will recap Sunday’s episode and answer any questions that readers may have in a midweek mailbag that I will update as questions come in right up to when the new episode airs. Send all questions to @FawkesCulture, @Matwellsays, FawkesDotCom@gmail.com(awful email, I know), or post them in the comments section below. You could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.
Game of Thrones has a rich history of tying big moments into corresponding holidays. Jon Snow’s resurrection last week took place on Orthodox Easter and who could forget, Tywin Lannister taking a crossbow bolt to the stomach on Father’s Day 2014. This led many to believe that Sunday’s episode, “Oathbreaker,” which aired on Mother’s Day, made for the perfect moment to finally learn who Jon Snow’s mother really is.
However, those expecting the big reveal were left a bit disappointed by the scene at the Tower of Joy.
The scene at the Tower of Joy is something that I have been anticipating for a long time and despite being nit-picky about a few divergences from the canon of the fight (the battle being 6 vs. 2 instead 7 vs. 3; altering the dialogue a bit) it still managed to live up to the hype.
All book-readers knew of the Tower of Joy from Ned’s POV chapters in A Game of Thrones (so all the way back to 1996). Ned, locked in the Black Cells beneath King’s Landing and under the influence of Milk of the Poppy, dreams of the showdown outside of the Tower and the reunion with his sister, Lyanna, that takes place following the skirmish. It is this meeting between the Stark siblings that have led to the speculation and theories that are R+L=J. Ned and his party, consisting Lord Willam Dustin, Ser Mark Ryswell, Howland Reed (father of Jojen and Meera), Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassell, and Theo Wull, do battle against the legendary knights of King Aerys II’s Kingsguard: Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Oswell Whent, and Ser Arthur Dayne. The show truncated the scene to make it six versus two, with Howland, Ned as the only named combatants under Robert’s banners fighting the party of Arthur Dayne and Gerold Hightower.
Other than that, the scene played out exactly as expected. Although Bran seemed upset and shocked by Howland stabbing Arthur Dayne in the back, Ned had said in his life that “[Arthur Dayne] would have killed me but for Howland Reed” (from A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21). However, in my mind, this is not a stain against Ned Stark’s renowned honor. Remember, this is the end of a long rebellion. The men he is fighting protected a king that burned his father and brother alive and a prince that kidnapped and allegedly raped his sister – the same kidnapping that led to Robert’s Rebellion.
With my nerding out over the Tower of Joy aside, this scene again emphasizes the importance that Bran’s growing powers will play in unlocking secrets from the past, as well as the future. Another thing of note is the possibility that Bran was able to communicate with Ned, who turned around when Bran called out “father.”Could Bran have even more untapped potential than we already thought possible? This seems to indicate that he does.
Although Jon’s mother did not emerge from this scene, there was special attention paid to the bond between son’s and their mothers in the episode. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow, demanding to see his wife Margaery Tyrell. Instead, he just gets a lecture on the purity of Cersei’s love for the young king. The High Septon is sure to point out that this love is the only pure thing about Cersei. The conversation is an interesting one and shows that Tommen may be more welcoming to a future relationship with the head of The Faith than previously thought that doesn’t necessarily have to end in violence. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up of a peaceful solution with Cersei and Ser Robert Strong lurking in the backdrop.
Speaking of the former Queen, Cersei finds newfound resistance in her quest to take back her former power from inside her own family. Her uncle, Kevan Lannister, has taken up the Title of Hand of the King and shaken up the Small Council that now includes both Mace Tyrell and his mother Olenna. Along with Jaime and Ser Strong, Cersei walks into an already in-session meeting of the Council, where she and her companions are clearly unwelcome. After Jaime asserts his right to sit on the Council thanks to his position as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Kevan walks out with Olenna, Mace, and Pyrcelle in toe. We’ll see how this plays out but I wouldn’t bet against Ser Robert Strong and Cersei getting their way. This opens up a new chapter in the ever-present Lannister family drama.
Keeping with the Mother’s Day tradition, the Mother of Dragons has made it to Vaes Dothrak, which really brings her wonderings in Essos full circle. However, in meeting with the other widows of Dosh Khaleen, Daenerys doesn’t seem as welcome this time around. The former Khaleesis do not seem to care that since Dany’s last visit she has hatched three dragon eggs, freed thousands of slaves, and conquered cities nor that she is the rightful heir of the Iron Throne of Westeros. Instead, they tell her that she will be fortunate to even stay in Dosh Khaleen after the great conference of the Khals. Hopefully, my favorite pair of odd bed fellows, Jorah and Daario, will make it to Daenerys before her fate is decided, for better or worse.
In her stead, Tyrion continues to rule in Meereen, where he is finding the company and conversation of Grey Worm and Missandei to be a tad bit dry. Luckily, Varys’ network of little birds has started singing again, informing the makeshift Small Council of Meereen that it is the Master’s of Yunkai and Astapor, previously conquered by Dany, and of Volantis who are funding the Sons of the Harpy. While this isn’t exactly good news, hopefully it’s the first step in solving Meereen’s rampant crime spree.
Elsewhere in Essos, Arya’s training continues to progress faster than I ever believed it would with a classic training montage that saw her awarded by way of regaining her sight. While some have speculated that her training is now totally over, I am not so sure that Jagen H’ghar won’t throw another test Arya’s way and that the Waif may get one last lick in.
Traversing the Narrow Sea, Sam informs Gilly that her and baby Sam will not be able to accompany him to The Citadel, as it is a male only prep school a la The Welton Academy. She will instead head to Horn Hill, the childhood home of Sam. You may remember that Sam’s father, Lord Randyll Tarly, threatened to have him killed if he did not take the black and allow his younger brother, Dickon, to become the rightful heir to Horn Hill and the ancestral valyrian steel blade of House Taryl, Heartsbane. Hopefully, Sam’s sisters and mother are kinder as he said, or else Horn Hill may prove just as unwelcoming to Gilly as The Citadel and Old Town would.
Back in the couple’s old home of Castle Black, Jon Snow is forced to confront the reality that his own men stabbed him (repeatedly) for doing what he thought was right. After a bleak pronouncement of what death is like (“Nothing. There was nothing at all.”), Melisandre declares that Jon must be Azor Ahai, the Prince that was Promised. While neither Jon nor Davos seem to buy in or care about this theory, Davos is able to convince Jon to get up off that cold slab of concrete to “go on and fight for along as [he] can.”
After getting his legs back under him, albeit with a bit of tenderness in the midsection, Jon then makes quick work of his mutineers. After allowing them to say their final words, Jon hangs Ser Alliser Thorne, Olly, and the other traitors. He then takes off the cloak of the Lord Commander and hands it to Dolores Edd, declaring that his own watch has ended. This brings up an interesting question as to whether or not Jon is in fact the Oathbreaker of the episode’s title. The Night’s Watch Oath does mandate that members pledge their “life and honor to the Night’s Watch. For this night and all the night’s to come.” But, it also states that each man shall “live and die” at their post and Jon has managed to do both. Now, it’s time to see what it is that he makes of his 2nd life.
Unfortunately and expectedly, while most of the remaining Stark’s had pretty solid weeks, it wasn’t all good news for our favorite Northmen. Smalljon Umber shows up at Winterfell to threat with the newly fashioned Warden of the North, Ramsay Bolton. While he refuses to bend the knee and swear allegiance to the Bolton’s Banners, the Smalljon gives him a far greater gift: Rickon Stark, Osha, and the head of his dire wolf, Shaggy Dog. If you are like me and keeping tabs on the Stark’s direwolves, this leaves three dead (Robb’s Grey Wind, Sansa’s Lady, and Rickon’s Shaggy Dog) and three still living (Jon’s Ghost, Arya’s Nymeria, and Bran’s Summer). My guess is that Ramsay will now use Rickon as bait to lure Jon into an attack or offer him to Jon in exchange for his wayward bride, Sansa. Let’s just hope that he has Jon’s updated mailing address with Jon set to move out of the Lord Commander’s Office at Castle Black.
Next week, I’m looking forward to seeing what my man Littlefinger has been up to. It’s been far to long since I saw my favorite conniving Lord Protectorate on screen. Don’t forget, the last time we saw him he was promising Cersei that he would storm Winterfell and return Sansa, while simultaneously plotting against Cersei. Let’s see what Lord Baelish is up to now. Rest assured, he has something up his sleeve.
What did you think of the episode? Wondering who some of those character’s were and why they matter? Send these questions and more to me on Twitter @FawkesCulture or @MatwellSays, to FawkesDotCom@gmail.com, or leave them in the comments sections below and I’ll answer them all the way up to Sunday’s episode.
By Matt Atwell