Game of Thrones 4.04: “Oathkeeper”

After last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, “Oathkeeper”, I’m convinced that my books were missing a few chapters. For the first time, I was spoiled by the show, rather than the other way around. And considering George R.R. Martin writes at the speed that Bran runs, I don’t think this will be the last time the show will reveal a major plot point previously unknown to readers.

For those who haven’t read the books, the part of last night’s episode that I’m talking about is the last scene, where Craster’s baby was carried by a white walker to their previously-unknown ice-castle. Then, a different white walker (and maybe the freaking Night King!) walks up to the baby and turns his eyes blue. There were quite a few theories about the white walkers, ranging from how they were structured and operated all the way to what they did with Craster’s sons.

I wasn’t prepared for new information last night. Up until this point, the show has only served as supplemental, sometimes confirming popular theories (For Example: Theon’s castration is only hinted at in the books. The show convincingly proved that theory to be true.), but never extending past the texts. But not anymore, and I couldn’t be happier. Some of the mystery and excitement of the show is lost for book-readers, and it’s great to finally be just as confused and surprised as everyone else.

Riser of the Week: Olenna “The Queen of Thorns” Tyrell

Dame Diana Riggs has done a wonderful job portraying The Queen of Thorns. The former Bond girl has been a brilliant raconteur, infusing every one of her scenes with wit and sarcasm. Last night, not only did we learn about Olenna’s persuasive talents from times past, but we also learned we must add her to the list of “players.” Now that you know she was working with Littlefinger and was the one who poisoned Joffrey, go back and rewatch “The Lion and the Rose” when Olenna greets Sansa at the wedding. She plays with Sansa’s necklace ever so briefly, removing the poisoned stone. Then, while Joffrey was choking on laughter during the dwarf fight, his goblet just happens to be in front of Olenna. Littlefinger referred to chaos as a ladder in season 3. Due to Olenna’s old age, most people assume her unable to climb a ladder, but as only the best tacticians do, she uses this to her advantage.

Honorable Mention: Ser Pounce, the pounce that was promised.

Faller of the Week: Bran Stark

Bran’s storyline has really been one long, slow fall (literally and figuratively), and that fall hit an abrupt bottom last night. After Hodor’ing their way north, Bran and company were captured by the mutinous brothers of the Night’s Watch holed up at Craster’s Keep. Due to Theon Greyjoy’s staged murder, Bran’s one strength he’s had so far was to remain anonymous. Everyone else thinks he’s dead. But as Jojen seized violently on the floor, Bran was forced to unveil his identity in order to let Meera save her brother. As a result, Bran now finds himself in dire need of help. He better hope there’s someone close by that can lend a (cold) hand.

Honorable Mention: Podrick Payne, for doing absolutely everything right and still having to flee.

Backstory of the Week: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

By now, it’s clear that Littlefinger is a professional when it comes to playing the game of thrones. I also feel like I must admit that he is my favorite character. You may not understand why the pervy man with a crush on Sansa is my favorite character, but I have a feeling that by the end of this season, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. That being said, I still have trouble finding fellow Littlefinger supporters. I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t give you the backstory of the man who came from nothing and rose higher than ever expected. Here are the facts; you judge for yourself:

Littlefinger’s great-grandfather was a sellsword from Braavos who pledged service to House Corbray in Westeros. When Littlefinger’s father became a hedge knight (a knight without a permanent home), he befriended Hoster Tulley during their service in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. After the war, Hoster Tulley allowed Littlefinger to be sent to Riverrun to be fostered alongside Lord Tully’s children, Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure. It was Edmure who derived the nickname Littlefinger, a reference to his lowly birth at the Fingers (a rocky shore-town with little wealth and resources). As the children grew older, Littlefinger fell deeply in love with Catelyn, who never reciprocated the feeling. When Catelyn became betrothed to Brandon Stark (Ned’s brother), Littlefinger challenged him to a duel for her hand. He lost badly, only escaping with his life at the request of Catelyn.

After losing Catelyn, Littlefinger changed his mentality. He identified his lowly birth as the reason he couldn’t have Catelyn and sought to rise as high as possible. Littlefinger made the most of his first opportunity to prove himself, and after increasing incomes tenfold in Gulltown, he was brought to King’s Landing to deal with King Robert's ever-increasing debt. He continued to prove himself and was soon named Master of Coin. Littlefinger supplemented his new job by purchasing numerous brothels, knowing secrets were easier spilled in times of pleasure. He compiled a secure network of spies and informants, making him a man with an ear in every conversation.

That’s the rundown on Littlefinger up to the start of Season 1. Since then, he’s been made the Lord of Harrenhal, where despite never setting foot inside the ruined castle, the title makes him a High Lord. Harrenhal was given to him as a reward for brokering the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, which led to victory at the Battle of the Blackwater. Ever since the battle, he’s been off-screen on a trip to the Vale in hopes of marrying Lysa Tully in order to bring the Vale into the war on the Lannister's side. As we learned last night, it appears he was successful in this endeavor, as the Vale is where he and Sansa are headed.

I could go on and on about Littlefinger. I am naturally drawn to the cinderalla story. The idea of a man overstepping his low birth by such a large margin in a society so hell-bent on keeping people in their place is nowhere else to be found in Martin's story except with Littlefinger. Sure, he might have had a hand in Ned’s death, but Ned was one of the game’s worst players. His death was going to happen regardless. And killing Joffrey more than makes up for Ned, if you ask me.

Object of Power: Oaths

Over the past four seasons, there has been a lot of mentioning of oaths. One of Ned Stark's first scenes is of him beheading a man for breaking his oath to the Night's Watch. Jaime is hated for breaking his oaths as a King's Guard. He is forever tainted for killing the Mad King, despite the fact that doing so saved all the people of King’s Landing. Oaths are held in high regard, and for Brienne of Tarth, they are all that matter. She swore an oath to protect Renly, but he died in her arms. She then swore an oath to Catelyn Stark to bring back her girls, but she’s too late: Catelyn is dead, and both Sansa and Arya are no longer in King’s Landing. And now, she’s sworn another oath, this time to Jaime Lannister, to locate and protect Sansa Stark. Brienne may have named her sword Oathkeeper, but she better start actually keeping oaths or she’ll find herself carrying a reputation that is all too familiar to Jaime.

Tommen’s doing a different kind rising this week.

Is there any area of the story you’d like explained further? Do you disagree with something? Let me know in the comments.


Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

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