Last week’s episode was called “Oathbreaker” and while many oaths have been broken since the beginning of the show these broken oaths have yet to fully manifest in the world. People who remained faithful to old traditions and oaths and institutions of Westeros have not faired well. Let’s check out some of the important oaths broken lately and how they might impact the story going forward. Night gathers and now the spoilers begin.
The episode starts with a newly resurrected Jon Snow trying to come to terms with being alive. The protocol for reboot is apparently more than an “I’m alive!” exclamation; in fact, Jon says, “I shouldn’t be here,” and he definitely looks a little worse for the wear. Interestingly enough, when asked where he went when he died Jon responds in the same way that Beric Dondarrion did after Thoros revived him, that there is nothing after death. This puts to rest the theory that he warged into Ghost. Jon realizes he has failed in his attempt to do the right thing in saving the Wildlings and Davos encourages him to go fail again. The realms of men will need more people failing while doing the right thing. Jon broke his oath to the Night’s Watch by letting the Wildings through the Wall and he paid for it.
We finally get to see how the journey for Gilly, Sam and Little Sam has been going. They are caught in a storm at sea on the way to Oldtown, or so Gilly thinks. She is actually on the way to Hornhill, the home of Samwell Tarly. Sam believes that if he leaves Gilly there she will be safe, as his goal to join the Maester’s will prevent him from being able to care for them once they reached Oldtown. Sam turns out to be another oathbreaker, but again, breaking oaths might be what saves people in the end. It will be interesting to see how their stories play out.
The Tower of Joy. This place is central to so many theories regarding the entirety of the events that have happened in Westeros since the time of Robert’s Rebellion. Bran gets to experience this pivotal moment through his power of greensight. He sees a young Ned Stark ride up with six companions to rescue his Aunt Lyanna. Arthur Dayne (The Sword of the Morning) and Gerold Hightower, two of the best fighters in the realm and members of Aerys Targaryen’s Kingsgaurd were ordered by Rhaegar to guard Lyanna while the battle raged in the Trident. The importance of this fight to the story and the legacy of Ned Stark is immense and Bran finds out that it was all a lie. Arthur Dayne was not defeated by Ned Stark in single combat, but stabbed in the back by a wounded Howland Reed and then slain by Ned. And then just as Ned is climbing the stairs to go speak to Lyanna, Bran calls out his name, which Ned hears! Wait what?! Bran can interact with the past, not just see it?! This theory about Bran and the Mad King Aerys will melt your mind. The terrible thing is that we don’t get to see the R+L=J payoff that everyone expected, which makes me believe that the payoff might actually be slightly different than we expect.
Daenerys’ Targaryen has also broken an oath. She was taken to Vaes Dothrak the massive open city of the Dothraki people. She is questioned as to why she didn’t come to the capital after Khal Drogo died to become part of the Dosh Khaleen. Basically, her response to them is that she the Mother of Dragons…and they really don’t care. It’s a good thing Jorah and Daario don’t care either and are on the hunt to rescue Danerys. Ruling Mereen in her place, Varys and Tyrion are doing their best to work their particular political skills to keep the peace and find information regarding the funding of the Sons of the Harpy trickling in from Yunkai, Astapor and Volantis.
In the vacancy that Varys has left in the Red Keep, Qyburn—the former maester responsible for resurrecting Gregor Clegane—has taken Varys’ little birds and employed them for the Lannisters. With Myrcella dead and the atonement that Cersei has gone through, Cersei is building a dark web to enact her revenge; she wants to know when anyone is planning against the Lannisters. Although, it does not seem that anyone is interested in enacting revenge for what has happened to the Lannisters except Jamie, Cersei and Tommen. Strangely when Tommen goes to the High Sparrow and tries to show some element of strength, he immediately backs down under the weight of conversation. Tommen is a very thoughtful boy and he does respect people who he perceives to have power. When the High Sparrow tells Tommen that a good king avails himself with the best council possible and that the Gods are the best council it becomes clear that the High Sparrow is trying to manipulate him and gain some kind of leverage, or rule by proxy. These people have too much power in Westeros. Why do I actually find myself rooting for the Lannisters?
A girl continues her training after breaking her oath and losing her sight. A girl then regains her sight. A girl will be a deadly assassin.
The North is just filled with oathbreakers, and not the good kind: Umbers and Karstarks among them. Ramsay fears Jon Snow on the wall and is looking to consolidate power to attack him. In a back and forth between Ramsay and SmallJon Umber who refuses to kneel before his new lord, Ramsay questions: “Why would I trust a man who won’t honor tradition.” And Lord Umbers response is to present Ramsay with the gift of Rickon Stark and Osha, the wildling last charged with his safety. He went to the Umbers as Bran went North of the Wall and he could not have anticipated that he would have been betrayed. To prove to Ramsay that it is Rickon, SmallJon throws the severed head of Rickon’s direwolf, Shaggydog, on the table. RIP Shaggydog. It’s hard to say how this really changes things; many people already believe Rickon Stark to be dead so it’s not likely that Ramsay will kill him, at least immediately. There is now (again) a Stark in Winterfell. Perhaps he can use him as some kind of bargaining chip with Jon? Good luck, Rickon!
The last scene of the episode shows Jon enacting punishment on those that betrayed him, oathbreakers. There is a certain dignity to Alisair Thornes last words. He has resigned himself, “I fought. I lost. And now I rest.” He gives Jon an ominous warning that he will be fighting battles forever. After hanging the traitors, Jon gives Edd the coat of the Lord Commander and declares that his watch has ended. Jon isn’t technically breaking an oath here; He served the Night’s Watch until his death, which freed him from his obligations as Lord Commander. It is likely that Jon is going to have to fight Ramsay at some point this season and I hope that they meet each other in single combat: The Fight of the Former Bastards, as it were—and Jon mythologizes Ramsay.