Season 6, Episode 3
Aired: May 8, 2016
Director: Daniel Sackheim
Writer: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
When you hear “Oathbreaker,” the first name that likely comes to mind is Jaime Lannister. Breaking his oath as a Kingsguard by killing the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen is a blemish that has followed him ever since, even as he’s now back on the Kingsguard faithfully serving Tommen. But you can see in the scene where he and Cersi interrupt the small counsel meeting how much distrust and disrespect he still faces. (Though, in fairness, they were definitely bending the rules and using intidimation for their own gain.)
Speaking of Rhaegar’s death, we got our first glimpse of the events that happened shortly afterwards thanks to one of Bran’s visions. We saw young Ned and his men square off against another member of the Kingsguard, Ser Arthur Dayne, “the Sword of the Morning,” in a legendary showdown. But Bran saw things played out differently than he had been lead to believe as a child. Arthur Dayne and Ser Gerold Hightower, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, were guarding Ned’s sister Lyanna in the Tower of Joy in Dorne. Bran always believe his father heroically took down the superior knight, but he sees firsthand that it was an assist by Lord Howland Reed, who stabbed Dayne in the neck from behind, that led to Ned’s victory.
This scene is likely to be incredibly important going forward. It, surprisingly, shows us that Ned Stark, long presented as the most noble character in the series, has had to make some morally-gray decisions of his own. He did nothing wrong in the fight – in fact, he seemed willing to die when Dayne had the upper hand – but he did capitalize on someone else’s cheap tactic. In addition to changing the way Bran sees his father, this could turn out to be important foreshadowing.
[Possible spoiler warning: the following paragraphs discuss a fan theory that the show may be hinting at. Skip them if you don’t want this possible future plot point spoiled.]
Bran’s vision is cut off by the Three-Eyed Raven just as Ned and Howland head up the stairs to free Lyanna. But had they made it up the stairs, it may have confirmed a long-held fan theory: that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen. Perhaps what Ned found, much to his own surprise, was a very-pregnant Lyanna waiting for him.
I’ve always thought this theory would turn out to be true. I never bought that noble Ned would have a child out of wedlock. But I do believe that he’d lie about having a bastard child in order to protect his sister and nephew. The moral-relativity Ned displayed in taking down the Sword of the Morning could be foreshadowing for an even tougher decision Ned is about to make to protect Jon. Speaking of …
[End possible spoilers.]
Past and present Jaime Lannister aside, the biggest Oathbreaker in this episode is Jon Snow. After making the tough decision to execute his would-be assassins, we see Jon turn in his overcoat and quit the Night’s Watch. Now whether this officially counts as breaking his oath or not – he did die first after all, which should relieve him of duty – it’s still a big move for Jon to make. Stannis once offered him a chance to quit the watch and take over as Lord of Winterfell. He turned down the honor then, but now perhaps he will return to his childhood home.
Of course, things remain murky on that front. For one thing, Sansa and Brienne are currently fleeing from Winterfell to find Jon. And Rickon (remember Rickon?) Stark is currently being held at Winterfell by the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. If Jon does indeed return to Winterfell, he’d be wise to raise an army first. His brothers in black already view him as a god, so the families of the north, who already love the Starks, may be quick to raise their banners for Jon.
I do wonder where this leaves the Wall. And Davos and Melisandre, who were so instrumental in bringing him back to life. I also wonder about Jon’s mental state moving forward. Clearly he’s haunted by his own death, his failings as a leader and the nothingness he saw in the afterlife. I have to wonder what the future hold for him.
After three episodes, I’m still not entirely sold on the Jon dying/being resurrected plotline. I’m guessing big things are still in store for him, but it’s been slow to develop so far. Him quitting the Watch is the most interesting twist to date, but I’d still like more from the undead Snow.
That also sums up my feelings on the episode as a whole. There were interesting moments, but by and large, it felt like it was setting up more interesting things down the line.
And another thing …
- The Daenerys plot continues to feel more and more pointless each week. Not only that, it’s starting to bring Tyrion and Varys down as well. All of her work conquering has been undone, all of the leaders of her former cities are back in power and teaming up to destroy her and she’s stuck in a Dothraki retirement home. After building her up so much, the show just keeps having her regress to a state of pointlessness.
- I’m glad they are finally letting Arya progress. I was tired of seeing her blind and beaten each week. It was nice to see her get a successful training montage.
- It was nice to see Sam and Gilly, though it seemed odd that it didn’t come up until just now that she wouldn’t be going with him to the Citadel.
Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org