Original Airdate: May 8, 2016
This week’s episode was an interesting one. After it became clear they’re going to drag out the Lyanna Stark reveal until episode five (the brief synopsis of that episode mentions Bran learns a secret) this episode actually came across as a little boring. Sam and Gilly’s travels down to Oldtown are mostly a snooze fest, the Meereenese political drama continues to be fairly uninteresting even with Tyrion present to make jokes and drink wine, and while Team Twincest seems to be creating a rift between the Small Council and the king, it still hasn’t taken any interesting turns yet. On the flip side, the reveal of Rickon Stark and Osha was a huge surprise and their devastating hand off to Ramsay, along with Shaggydog’s severed head, was an emotional blow.
As predicted, Jon Snow took advantage of the loophole that death releases him from his vows and rejected the mantle of Lord Commander and his service to Castle Black. Though, interestingly, the episode was called “Oathbreaker,” despite Jon not technically breaking any oaths. Fans have speculated since 2011 that Jon would leave the Night’s Watch upon his resurrection and it seems he might get himself embroiled with the conflict of the North and the inevitable battle for Winterfell. Since season one, Jon has struggled with duty vs. family when he very nearly deserted to help his brother in his march south when Ned was imprisoned. And now, finally, he has the means to do so.
Jon wakes up, shocked and unstable. Melisandre informs him she believes he may be the “prince that was promised” if she was able to bring him back. He greets the remaining members of the Night’s Watch in the courtyard who are shocked and awed by his resurrection. Sam and Gilly travel south to Oldtown where Sam says Gilly will not be allowed and intends to leave her and her son with his family. Beyond the Wall Bran is granted a vision of Ned Stark fighting Ser Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy and bests him only after Howland Reed stabs Dayne in the back. Just as Ned makes the ascent into the Tower, Bran is awakened by the Three Eyed Raven.
In Vaes Dothrak, Dany is taken before the Dosh Khaleen, who strip her and dress her in Dothraki clothes while warning her that her absence after Khal Drogo’s death is not taken lightly by the Dothraki. Many khalasars have gathered to discuss her fate and where to conquer next. In Braavos Arya furthers herself in her training in the House of Black and White. The Waif tests her in between sessions and eventually Arya is able to best her in combat. After Arya convincingly tells Jaqen that she is No One, he allows her to drink water from the well and her eyesight is restored. In Meereen Varys trades safe passage and gold to a brothel owner in exchange for information on the Sons of the Harpy. He learns Yunkai and Astapor are financing them and, after debate among Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm, they decide to send a message to the cities and hunt down the Sons of the Harpy.
In King’s Landing Qyburn takes over Varys’ remaining “little birds” in the city and tells them to collect “whispers” for him in exchange for sweets. Cersei and Jaime intrude on a Small Council meeting which angers their uncle Kevan. He, and the remaining members of the council, leaves the room. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow who insists to Tommen the importance of the Mother and that his own mother holds the same powerful love for him. In Winterfell SmallJon Umber asks for assistance from Ramsay to fight off the Wildlings Jon Snow has allowed through the Wall. He chastises Ramsay’s attempt to collect an oath of loyalty from him but offers a gift as a show of friendship: Rickon Stark, Osha, and the head of Shaggydog. The episode ends with Jon’s execution of Alliser Thorne, Olly, and the other conspirators. He then walks off, proclaiming that his watch is ended.
So we got half of the Tower of Joy scene. In the first book we see snippets of flashbacks from Ned of what was in the Tower. His sister, somehow bloodied and weak, extracts a promise from Ned. Many have speculated Lyanna was giving birth in the Tower to Jon Snow (fathered by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen) and insisted her brother keep him safe. Either way Jon Snow is a bastard, it’s just a question of whose. It seems he’s more Lyanna than Rhaegar, and his devotion to the Starks will likely keep him a Snow, but with a Targaryen father he has a birthright to one of Dany’s three dragons. After all, it’s one rider to one dragon and she’s already claimed Drogon.
What we did learn from this scene is the truth behind Ned’s defeat of Ser Arthur Dayne. Ned famously defeated him in single combat at the tower, a feat considering Dayne was the greatest swordsman in all of Westeros. Some background on this guy: Ser Arthur Dayne was a member of the Mad King’s Kingsguard; he was also Rhaegar Targaryen’s best friend and most trusted fighter. He held the title Sword of the Morning, an ancestral title of House Dayne bestowed upon a worthy knight of the family. The Sword of the Morning bears the family’s ancestral sword Dawn. This is also a man considered to be the most chivalrous knight in all of Westeros.
And he was stabbed in the back under Ned Stark’s compliance.
This is a fairly big reveal, considering Ned Stark is the epitome of honor and duty and, as a young man, allowed the most respected knight in the Seven Kingdoms to be stabbed in the back before he delivered the final blow. We knew to some extent that Howland Reed was a huge factor in Ned’s victory over Dayne, but the extent to which it happened was unknown until last night. It’ll be interesting to see what part this plays in the continuation of this vision. After all, finding Jon Snow in the tower is not the only mystery to be solved here. The ancestral sword Dawn, one forged from a fallen star and said to have magical properties, is last seen at the Tower of Joy and Ashara Dayne, Arthur’s sister, has been something of an ominous and continuous presence in the books for some time now.
Besides all this, we got the first mention by name of the Prince That Was Promised. I explained last week the nature of this prophesized savior and what the book says about it. Taking Melisandre’s word for anything at this point seems iffy considering she was wrong for years about Stannis. That doesn’t mean she’s completely off track though. At this point many people believe the prophecy refers to more than one person which jives well with a concurrent little tidbit from House Targaryen: the dragon must always have three heads. Both Jon and Dany have connections to Rhaegar, both are running on a kind of parallel moment of personal defeat right now, and they sit at somewhat different ends of our Westeros spectrum (North/South, Stark/Targaryen, Ice/Fire, etc.). This will likely develop further, later in the series, so for now our savior remains anonymous.
So, like I said, we likely won’t get full R+L=J confirmation for another two weeks according to episode descriptions and it’s hard to believe we’re already that close to the halfway point. And this will likely breed dramatic irony since there’s no logistical way for Jon to learn the truth about himself this season so Bran will be carrying that info until he can get back to his brother. So that begs the question of the purpose of timing for this reveal. I also don’t think the tower reveal will be the end of these flashbacks as several things happened within that time period: Robert named king, the disappearance of Dawn, and possibly even a look at Dany’s birth on Dragonstone a few months later.
We’re gearing up for the Battle of the Bastards with Jon Snow free, Sansa making her way up to the Wall, and Ramsay now off his leash and free to attack as he pleases. Theon’s presence in the Iron Islands will be interesting considering he was not present for the Kingsmoot in the books. I am wondering if they might change the outcome a bit in the show considering the amount of attention it’s getting. As for the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen it seems at this point the identity of the Harpy has to be someone important if we’re still harping on it (ha) and the most likely candidate, Hizdahr, was murdered by the Sons. Whether this turns out to be substantial or a placeholder until Dany returns will remain to be seen.