Oathbreaker (Game of Thrones)
|Game of Thrones episode|
A young Ned Stark fighting at the Tower of Joy.
|Directed by||Daniel Sackheim|
D. B. Weiss
|Featured music||Ramin Djawadi|
|Cinematography by||Anette Haellmigk|
|Editing by||Katie Weiland|
|Original air date||May 8, 2016|
|Running time||53 minutes|
"Oathbreaker" is the third episode of the sixth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 53rd overall. It was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Daniel Sackheim, his directorial debut for the series.
Jon Snow is found alive by Ser Davos Seaworth and Melisandre; Ramsay Bolton is presented with the gift of Rickon Stark; Bran Stark, accompanied by the Three-eyed Raven witnesses the confrontation at the Tower of Joy, where his father attempts to rescue his sister, Lyanna; but Bran is ultimately prevented from entering the tower; Daenerys Targaryen arrives at Vaes Dothrak where her consequences for leaving the khalasar will be determined, and in Braavos, a blind Arya Stark gives up her old life and sees anew as "no one".
"Oathbreaker" received high praise from critics who found the episode to have strong, forward-moving storytelling, although not presenting as many shocking moments, while also listing the Tower of Joy flashback as the highlight of the episode. In the United States, the episode premiere achieved a viewership of 7.28 million in its initial broadcast. Filming of the first exterior scene at Castle Black took place over the course of several months, as a result of a rock slide that occurred on the set. The episode earned a nomination at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.
In the Narrow Sea
Samwell Tarly begins to feel seasick as he travels by boat to Oldtown with Gilly and her baby, Little Sam. Sam explains to Gilly that women are not welcomed at the Citadel and that he intends to leave her with his family at Horn Hill while he trains to be a maester. He tells Gilly that she and Little Sam are all that matter to him.
Beyond the Wall
Bran Stark and the Three-eyed Raven observe a vision of a young Eddard Stark, Lord Howland Reed and several other northern soldiers arriving at the Tower of Joy in Dorne's Red Mountains at the climax of Robert's Rebellion. Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Gerold Hightower greet Eddard as he arrives. Bran remarks that Ser Arthur Dayne was the best swordsman his father ever saw.
Eddard says Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and the Mad King have been killed and asks why Ser Arthur was not present at the Battle of the Trident. Ser Arthur replies that he has been ordered to stay at the tower. After Eddard demands to know where his sister is, a battle ensues. Eddard is able to defeat Ser Gerold, but Ser Arthur - wielding dual swords - easily defeats most of Eddard's men by himself. As Eddard and Ser Arthur duel one-on-one, Bran is puzzled by this vision, as his father had repeatedly boasted of his defeat of Ser Arthur. It is quite apparent that his father is no match for the superior swordsman. Just as Ser Arthur is about to defeat and kill Eddard, a wounded Howland rises and plunges his dagger through the back of Ser Arthur's neck, before Eddard delivers the fatal blow, leaving Bran shocked.
When a woman's scream emerges from the tower, Ned and Howland begin to run inside. The Three-Eyed Raven begins to end the vision, explaining the rest is intended for another time, but Bran demands to stay and calls out to Ned. Ned turns for a second, seemingly having heard Bran's voice, but eventually continues inside, before the Three-Eyed Raven pulls Bran out of the vision. Back in the cave, Bran demands to know what was in the tower. The Three-Eyed Raven does not attend Bran's demands, saying he will eventually have to leave the cave but first must learn "everything."
In Vaes Dothrak
Daenerys Targaryen arrives with Khal Moro's khalasar at Vaes Dothrak, and is escorted to meet with the Dosh Khaleen by Moro's bloodriders. The elder of the Dosh Khaleen tries to sympathize with Daenerys, saying she was once married to a great khal with whom she thought she would rule the world but met the same fate. After giving Daenerys a change of clothes, she explains that the various khalasar have gathered at Vaes Dothrak to discuss which cities and towns to conquer. They have also met to discuss what to do with Daenerys, noting that she hopes for her safety should they decide to let her remain with the Dosh Khaleen.
Varys summons Vala, a woman allied with the Sons of the Harpy, to the throne room in the Great Pyramid. He accuses her of conspiring to kill the Unsullied and Second Sons, but she replies by calling them foreign invaders. Varys tries to explain his perspective and mentions her son, Dom. Vala explains that if she gives him information on the Sons of the Harpy they will likely kill her. Varys offers her safe passage to Pentos with a bag of silver for information.
Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister awkwardly tries to entertain Grey Worm and Missandei while waiting for Varys. Varys arrives and explains that he has discovered that the slave masters of Yunkai, Astapor, and Volantis have been financing the Sons of the Harpy. Grey Worm notes that the Unsullied have taken Astapor and Yunkai once before, but Tyrion warns him that marching on the cities will leave Meereen defenseless. They come to the conclusion that the only way to defeat the Sons of the Harpy is to hunt them down. Tyrion asks Varys to send his "little birds" (street children who act as spies and messengers) to deliver a message to the leaders of Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis.
In King's Landing
Qyburn gives orders to the "little birds" that he has inherited from Varys as Cersei, Jaime Lannister, and the re-animated Ser Gregor Clegane arrive. Cersei orders Qyburn to put spies in the North, the Reach, and Dorne. Later, Cersei and Jaime interrupt a Small Council meeting at which Lord Kevan Lannister, Lady Olenna Tyrell, Lord Mace Tyrell, and Grand Maester Pycelle are present. Cersei and Jaime mention that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have taken Dorne for their own, and demand to sit in on the Small Council; when they refuse to leave, Kevan instead orders the council to leave the room.
Tommen Baratheon marches into the Sept of the Faith Militant with his Kingsguard, demanding to let Cersei see Myrcella's tomb. The High Sparrow explains she will be able to once her sins have been atoned for and she has faced trial. After telling their respective soldiers to stand down, the High Sparrow explains the importance of the Mother in the Faith of the Seven, showing Tommen his resemblance to his mother.
Arya Stark trains using sticks with the Waif in the House of Black and White. In between sessions, the Waif questions Arya about who she used to be. Arya reveals all of her family members and reveals that she had taken the Hound off her kill list before she left him to die. The Waif questions who the other names were on the list, which Arya reveals as Cersei Lannister, Gregor Clegane, and Walder Frey.
After she is finally able to parry the Waif's hits, Jaqen H'ghar takes Arya into the main chamber and offers Arya her sight back if she says her name. When she replies, "a girl has no name," Jaqen offers her a drink from the poisonous well in the temple's entrance chamber. Arya drinks and closes her eyes, reopening them to reveal that her sight has been restored.
Smalljon Umber meets with Ramsay Bolton and Harald Karstark. He explains to Ramsay that Jon Snow has been letting Wildlings through the Wall and fears that they will make their way south. When Ramsay asks why the Umbers have not already sworn fealty, Smalljon expresses his dislike for Roose Bolton and declares that was why Ramsay killed him, despite Ramsay's false insistence that Roose was poisoned. Ramsay offers assistance if Smalljon will swear to him as Warden of the North but he refuses, citing Roose's betrayal of his oath to Robb Stark. Instead, Smalljon demonstrates his loyalty by presenting Ramsay with "a gift", two hooded figures who are revealed to be Rickon Stark and Osha. When Ramsay asks him how he can be sure that the boy is Rickon Stark, Smalljon presents him with the severed head of Rickon's direwolf Shaggydog.
At the Wall
After awakening, Jon Snow is greeted by Davos Seaworth and Melisandre. When asked by Davos what he can remember, Jon says he remembers only his assassination but nothing from being dead. Melisandre tells Jon that her religion prophesies the return of a heroic prince and suggests that this prince may not be Stannis, as she first thought, but Jon. Jon enters the courtyard to meet with the wildlings. He meets with and embraces Tormund Giantsbane and Dolorous Edd, Tormund saying the Wildlings think he is a god.
Jon presides over the hanging of Ser Alliser Thorne, Olly, Othell Yarwyck, and Bowen Marsh. He takes last words from all those who are about to be executed except from Olly who remains silent. Ser Alliser is unrepentant, declaring only that he did what was right for the Night's Watch, and while he will now be able to rest, Jon will still be fighting the wildlings' battles forever. Jon cuts the rope and the mutineers' necks break. Jon then gives his cloak to Edd, telling him that Castle Black is now his and saying, "My watch is ended".
"Oathbreaker" was written by the series' creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Some elements in the episode were based on the sixth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, which author George R. R. Martin had hoped to have completed before the sixth season began airing. It also contains elements from the chapter "The Blind Girl" from A Dance with Dragons and several chapters of Samwell Tarly's voyage to the Citadel from A Feast for Crows. The raid on the Tower of Joy was an event portrayed in a dream of Ned Stark in the chapter "Eddard X" of A Game of Thrones.
In the "Inside the Episode" feature for "Oathbreaker", showrunner Weiss stated of the Tower of Joy flashback that "One of the best things about being able to go back with Bran and look at the past is to be able to see the discrepancy between the received history, the things that everybody knows about the things that happened, and what actually happened." Benioff continued, "Every kid that grows up in Westeros, they all hear about this legendary sword fight that took place twenty years ago, and as far as Bran knew, it was just his father beat this legendary guy." Weiss also stated "Honor was so important to Ned Stark that it was worth losing his own life for, but he was completely ready to let go of that honor and excellence to do something that he really felt was more important. It could make a very, very strong defense for Ned doing what he did, and it certainly does puncture the mythology of Ned Stark that's running through this world, especially after his death."
For the first scene of the episode, when Jon Snow arises from the table, Weiss stated that "Jon coming back to life was something in the first, first version we wrote originally had more talking. And as we saw it on the page written out, we realized it was just too much dialogue, we decided to just give the kind of awe of that moment its due."
Actors Natalia Tena (Osha) and Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark), both of whom had recurring roles in the series until the third season, make their first return appearance in the episode. The episode was also the final appearance for a recurring character since the first season episode "Lord Snow", Ser Alliser Thorne, portrayed by Owen Teale.
For the flashback scene at the Tower of Joy, actor Robert Aramayo was cast to play a young Eddard Stark. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Aramayo stated that he was a big fan of the series, and that "it was an honor and a gift to be able to be a part of it." In regards to portraying the character similar to Sean Bean, who played Eddard Stark in the first season, Aramayo noted, "I didn't want to get too hung up in sounding like Sean because I think that would've sort of got in my way if I'd have just situated all my work in that place. I watched a lot of footage of him playing Ned in the first season again, repeatedly, especially one particular fight scene that he was in and I think that was the biggest help for me when creating this version of Ned – was watching what Sean did with Ned in the first season and trying to work out what a younger man's version of that is." In a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter Aramayo spoke about auditioning for the role, stating, "The chance to audition to be on the show was a dream, even to audition. It was an absolute dream to me. I was very excited to audition, and landing the role was beyond my wildest dreams. Then when I found out the role was Ned, it was overwhelming."
Filming of the first exterior scene at Castle Black and the final scene with Jon Snow executing the traitors of the Night's Watch took place over the course of several months, with the execution scene being filmed first out of the two. As a result of a rock slide that occurred on the set of where Castle Black is staged at Magheramorne Quarry, scheduling for the filming of the scenes had to be re-worked by executive producer Bernie Caulfield and producer Chris Newman, with showrunner D. B. Weiss saying, "It actually worked out for the best – some of the stuff we were shooting in that location benefited from the additional prep time the rock slide gave us."
The Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain stood in for the Tower of Joy in the flashback scene involving a young Ned Stark and Ser Arthur Dayne, as witnessed by Bran Stark and the Three-eyed Raven. During filming of the scene, it was reported widely among media sources after a fan of the series had snuck their way onto a nearby mountain and filmed a small portion of the fighting scenes that occurred. Robert Aramayo (young Eddard Stark) spoke about the filming of the scene in an interview following the airing of the episode and stated, "We all went through a bunch of training, which continued through our three- or four-day shoot in Spain. It was intense. It was not easy. I did not find it easy to shoot that fight sequence. It's not an easy routine at all. And Luke Roberts, who plays Arthur Dayne, he's incredible, man." He continued, "If your move's getting blocked, you obviously can't know that, just like when you're playing a scene through dialogue. You can't know the response your scene partner gives you is going to be the response you'll get. You hope it is. Likewise, in a fight, if you're going to chop somebody's arm off or stab them in the gut — the intention is to chop that arm off or stab someone in the gut, and you have to play that intention fully. I didn't expect it, but it takes a lot of skill in terms of acting to play."
"Oathbreaker" was viewed by 7.28 million American households on its initial viewing on HBO, which was nearly identical to the previous week's rating of 7.29 million viewers for the episode "Home". The episode also acquired a 3.7 rating in the 18–49 demographic, making it the highest rated show on cable television of the night. In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 2.797 million viewers on Sky Atlantic; it also received 0.132 million timeshift viewers.
"Oathbreaker" was very positively received by critics, citing the Tower of Joy flashback, the final scene with Jon Snow executing his assassins, and the storytelling as strong points for the episode. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, who surveyed 48 reviews of the episode and judged 96% of them to be positive, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The most solid episode of season six so far, 'Oathbreaker' boasts no shocking reveals or breathless cliffhangers, just strong forward-moving storytelling."
In a review for IGN, Matt Fowler wrote, "With Jon's final choice in "Oathbreaker," the show seemed to make a huge step forward into the endgame. One where we might see things that have been set up for a long time start to pay off. Not everyone's story is firing on all cylinders at the moment, Tyrion was actively bored while waiting for news this week, but enough is going on in the North and at King's Landing to carry the series right now." Likewise, Todd VanDerWerff of Vox wrote, ""Oathbreaker" is a crisp, lean, nicely paced episode of Game of Thrones. It's one of those episodes where the characters are mostly being positioned for future episodes, but it's a solidly executed version of that basic template." Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post wrote that she believed this was "The strongest episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones to date." While Erik Kain of Forbes noted "The season has been full of revelations, but things are still building. That's okay. I love the tension and not knowing exactly what's coming."
James Hunt of What Culture wrote, "Another week of table setting, and a very entertaining one at that ... It didn't quite reach the high watermark of last week's instalment, but there was still a lot of great stuff here." Steve Johnson of The Baltimore Sun noted, "Instead of the heavy action of the season's first two hours, Sunday's Game of Thrones, called "Oathbreaker," was more about putting pieces on the chess board into place." Sarah Larson of The New Yorker wrote in her review, "Last week, we saw Jon Snow reënter life; this week, we may have been in proximity to him entering it, the first time, in the usual way." Tim Surette of TV.com called the episode, "Exhilarating".
|2016||Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Katie Weiland||Nominated|||
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