REVIEW: Game of Thrones 6.03 ‘Oathbreaker’ is a frustrating unfulfilled promise
Warning: Please be aware this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season six episode three ‘Oathbreaker’, which aired at 2am in the UK. If you are waiting for the 9pm repeat, please click back.
After last week’s spectacular ‘Homeward Bound’ and a promising teaser for the third episode ‘Oathbreaker’, we probably raised our hopes too high. ‘Oathbreaker’ is a teaser of an episode, lacking substance and refusing to submit to the demands of the viewer. While it does achieve the groundwork for future episodes, ultimately ‘Oathbreaker’ feels frustrating.
With the Jon Snow question finally resolved last week, fans spent time speculating how the experience of murder might have changed the Night’s Watch Lord Commander. Kit Harington said this week that death “changes him”, but we see only a smidgeon of it in ‘Oathbreaker’. It’s a let down. Jon Snow executes the men who mutinied, apparently with the inner struggle we would expect. And then, surprisingly, gives up his cloak. Jon Snow’s “watch has ended”, but what that means he will do next is a mystery. He knows there is an ice zombie invasion on the way, and yet the character seems to have abandoned the responsible route forward. Will he prepare for the White Walkers away from the stifling Night’s Watch, or else head South to his familial home in Winterfell?
The latter looks possible with a new twist seeing the Umbers offer Ramsay a captured Osha and Rickon Stark as “a gift”. Although a predictable twist, it seems to set the groundwork for the Jon Snow vs. Ramsay Bolton showdown we desperately want. Seeing Rickon again was more of a tease than anything else, and we assume his whereabouts for the last two seasons will be explained in a later episode. Heartbreakingly, Shaggydog is dead – and this does not bode well for Rickon.
The bitter taste left by the Rickon Stark reveal only added to the already frustrated feeling towards Bran’s earlier scene, which portrayed the long-awaited Tower of Joy vision witnessed by Bran and the Three-Eyed-Raven. Fans hoped it might reveal what truly happened with Lyanna, but what we actually saw was a young Ned and Howland Reed behaving dishonourably in probably the most surprising moment of the season so far. As Ned follows Lyanna’s screams, Bran tries to follow against the Raven’s counsel. He calls for his father, and Ned seems to react – can Bran interact with his visions? It’s another predictable reveal, but one that adds an interesting layer to the flashback sequences. Can Bran change the past? Did Bran create the past?
Fans can at least rest assured Bran will learn “everything” (the Three-Eyed-Raven said so himself), but if it continues going at this rate it won’t be soon. And if Game of Thrones continues to offer massive teasers for the Tower of Joy, there is going to be a lot of disgruntlement along the way.
Elsewhere, Sam tells Gilly he’s taking her to Horn Hill; Danaerys is told her fate will be decided by a group of khalasars; Varys learns about the Sons of the Harpy’s financiers; Jaime and Cersei fail to integrate into a High Council meeting and Arya gets her sight back after improving rapidly with her training. Oh, and Tyrion has a hilarious attempted conversation with the humourless Grey Worm and Missandei, which is one of the few highlights of ‘Oathbreaker’. None of these really advance the plot in any substantial way, and act more to frustrate the viewer rather than excite.
Perhaps we were too spoiled by last week’s episode, but ‘Oathbreaker’ felt like a jerk backwards – the pace was slow and disjointed, the surprises few, and the promises made by last week’s teaser trailer remained unfulfilled. In short, it’s a frustrating episode to watch. We hope the pace will pick up with Rickon’s unfortunate return to Winterfell next episode.