Game of Thrones Season 4 Review “Oathkeeper”

Many times when I watch an episode of Game of Thrones, I have a difficult time gathering my thoughts. The reasons for my difficulty varies. Sometimes it’s the ping-pong nature of some episodes that force me to try to recall everything that happened in a given episode. Occasionally, the show will do something so large it’s difficult to fully get a grasp of my own feelings. Reviewing episodes like “Blackwater” makes you have to engage your analytical part of the brain when all you want to do is cheer. However, tonight’s episode leaves me struggling to gather my thoughts, and most of the reasons have nothing to do with actually happened in the episode.

For those of you who are enjoying your first ever trip to the internet, allow me to catch you up. A rather disturbing sex scene in last week’s episode got several people up in arms for different reasons. TV viewers were upset because the Jaime Lannister Redemption Train seemed to careen violently off the tracks. Book readers were upset because it was a narrative choice made by the TV show that was different from what was in their precious tomes. What’s more, it seemed like the creative team behind Game of Thrones were on different pages. The director of the episode, Alex Graves, made comments to seem to indicate there was a level of consensuality (I know that’s not a word) to the sex. On the other hand, David Benioff, one the of showrunners, felt very strongly the scene depicted Jaime raping his sister. Regardless of how the scene plays in your head, there is no doubt it is a disturbing scene that doesn’t cast the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard in a very flattering light. Therefore, the show created a heightened expectation for the resolution of that scene.

What came this week seems confusing, and suggests that maybe it is difficult to run a show with 189 regulars (rough estimate) shooting on 11 different continents (there’s 11, right?). I understand that Westeros is not a world of good and evil, but of people who do things to improve their position. Jaime remains a man very much at war with himself. After the internet firestorm of last week, it’s going to be difficult for those people to reconcile that Jaime with the one who gives gifts to Brienne, including finding a way for Podrick to escape, and goes to his brother’s side in his of need. Now, Jaime forcing himself on his sister (as the interwebs contend) does not turn him into a mustache-twirling villain incapable of being nice to anyone, but it is interesting to watch it play out in the next episode. If Benioff really did believe the scene to depict rape, then why would he give us all of these wonderful scenes (which Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays brilliantly by the way) where we are supposed to find Jaime sympathetic? Watching a beloved character break bad is a startling thing for an audience to watch, and Benioff all but ignores it in this episode. It’s an interesting narrative choice from a guy who believed Jaime raped his sister last week. Game of Thrones has largely enjoyed a television hegemony to this point. Most likely, this moment will pass, and the scene will be put into the file of Horrifying Things I Wish I’d Never Seen on Game of Thrones. However, there is a chance Benioff and Weiss aren’t the Old Gods or the New of television, and their impressive hot streak is finally cooling. As usual, time will tell.

Some other thoughts:

*Tommen has to be the happiest guy in all of Westeros. He’s a second son king, and he gets to marry Margaery Tyrell. Do you think he went back to sleep after that encounter?

*Jaime may not have grown a mustache to twirl, but the guy running Craster’s Keep may as well have one down to his chest. It seems the King’s death hasn’t created a power vacuum, but it has created a scumbaggery vacuum, and that gentlemen intends to be the one to fill it.

*Now that I’ve seen what the White Walkers do with the babies from Craster, I have no need to ever see it again. Now THAT made me uncomfortable.

*The show and the world are so large, that I realize I’m not going to see Brienne again for a loooooooong time.

*Don’t taunt Danerys Stormborn of House Targaryen. That is all.