‘Game of Thrones’ recap: Episode 4, ‘Oathkeeper’

HBO GAME OF THRONES season 4: Kit Harington. photo: Helen Sloan 30lgbtfest
Kit Harington as Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones”
HBO Photo by Helen Sloan

“Thrones” watchers can be excused if they want to crank the heat up after the episode Sunday night. “Oathkeeper” was one of the chilliest hours on record, spending the biggest chunk of its time around and beyond the Wall. Out there, we welcome in a new member to the Men in Black: Locke, the man Roose Bolton assigned to chase down the Stark boys. He immediately gets in good with Jon Snow, who’s determined to head back to Craster’s Keep and chase down the Night’s Watch mutineers – and search for Bran and his ragtag bunch, who may be close nearby. Snow gets in a great “Who’s Comin’ With Me?!” “Jerry Maguire” speech in the Night’s Watch mess hall, and inspires a gang together to head out to Craster’s. Locke, of course, is one of his volunteers. Treachery appears to be afoot.

We finally see what’s become of Craster’s Keep since the bloody mutiny, and it’s a vision of hell on the frozen landscape. The leader, Karl (played by an actor with the great name of Burn Gorman) holds court, sipping wine out of Jeor Mormont’s skull as the rest of his men devour Craster’s food and assault Craster’s wives. As it turns out, Bran, Hodor, Jojen and Meera are nearby, close enough to hear the cries of Craster’s last son as one of the mutineers leaves it out in the snow. Bran Quantum Leaps into his direwolf to check out the situation, but the band is quickly found and captured by Karl and the Gang. It looks like they’ll be held as hostages. Still, could Jon Snow finally encounter one of his family members again?

After that, it starts to get really creepy, as we get the first real look inside the White Walker culture. That Guy-Tied-to-the-Bed-From-”Seven” Walker is back again ) riding his pale horse back to the Walkers’ fortress of solitude, a chilly little Stonehenge out somewhere in the frozen wasteland. A black-robed Walker (probably the forebear of the X-Men’s Iceman) lays a finger on the poor little kiddo, and the infant goes all popsicle-eyed. It’s thoroughly eerie, and it might cause my apartment’s heating bills to spike for a week or so. Sorry, roommates.

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The “Arrested Development” “Hey, that’s the name of the episode!” moment comes from King’s Landing, as Jaime Lannister looks to start on the road to redemption after visits to his siblings. A jailhouse meeting with Tyrion is full of confirmations; Jaime now knows that the younger brother didn’t kill Joffrey, and Tyrion knows that Joffrey was Jaime’s son, not nephew. A chamber meeting with a drunken Cersei (Lena Headey is terrific playing under the influence) is chilly – to be expected, given the events of last week. After those reunions, Jaime does his first honorable thing since the start of the show, handing Ned Stark’s remade sword to Brienne and packing her off to find Sansa Stark, with Tyrion’s loyal companion / sexual dynamo of Westeros Poderick Payne in tow. “Oathkeeper,” Brienne replies, when Jaime asks her the name of the sword she now bears. This is great. The prospect of Pod and Brienne traveling could be the greatest bit of road-trip comedy since John Candy and Steve Martin drove between two trucks.

Oh, and do we finally have a confirmation on the Joffrey murder? A seafaring chat between Sansa and Littlefinger falls into Petyr’s trademark hissings of wisdom, giving more information about Sansa’s role in the plot – it was her necklace, after all, that helped kill the beast. Sansa shows the first inklings of political intelligence in unraveling some strands, but the rest aren’t revealed until we head back to King’s Landing. It looks like Lady Olenna is about to peace out for Highgarden (she’ll be missed, if that’s the case), but not before dropping some major hints about her culpability in Joffrey’s deadening. She also delivers a rather ribald anecdote about the seduction of kings to Margaery, prompting her to perform a PG-13 bedtime visit to young Tommen. Aww. It appears we have a new royal couple on our hands. Maybe a chart of the Heimlich Maneuver would be a good wedding gift.

Meanwhile, across the narrow sea, Grey Worm and a big chunk of Unsullied sneak into Meereen through a gate and into the sewers (almost exactly like Connery, Cage and the rest of the ill-fated Marines did when they snuck into Alcatraz in The Rock, come to think about it), rousing a band of slaves to overthrow their masters. Thrones has taken special steps to avoid big CGI battles (think of poor Tyrion getting knocked out right before a big clash in season one), and this one is obvious; we get one slave master getting slaughtered, and then, bam, a newly-freed city, with Dany at its head. She immediately turns vengeful, nailing a handful of slave-masters to crosses in retribution. Wise? We shall see. One thinks there will be a bit of growing pains along with Dany’s newly-found power.

Other thoughts, as I wonder if I own anything that deserves a nickname:

- No Tywin Lannister in this episode. No Charles Dance fact of the week. That makes me sad.

- Lady Olenna was a Bond Girl. No, seriously.

- “The Kingslayer Brothers” would make a great punk band name.

- Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) is on the cover of this week’s Rolling Stone. I like Harrington fine as Snow, but he seems to only have one facial expression, doesn’t he? That squinty middle-distance glare. A note – when I made this observation on Facebook, I immediately had dozens of female friends out for my blood. Please don’t hurt me.

- For those Thrones fans who are also eagerly anticipating the “24” revival’s premiere next week, check out this picture of Michelle Fairley (formerly known as Catelyn Stark) in character for Jack Bauer & Co.’s primetime resurrection

- Next week on the show: “First of His Name,” directed by MacLaren and scripted by Weiss and Benioff. A reference to the new royalty, presumably?