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Game of Thrones episode
Game of Thrones-S04-E04-The-Nights-King.jpg
In the episode's final scene, the Night King, as played by Richard Brake, appears for the first time.
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 4
Directed byMichelle MacLaren
Written byBryan Cogman
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byRobert McLachlan
Editing byCrispin Green
Original air dateApril 27, 2014 (2014-04-27)
Running time55 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Breaker of Chains"
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"First of His Name"
Game of Thrones (season 4)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"Oathkeeper" is the fourth episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 34th overall.

The episode was written by Bryan Cogman,[1] and directed by Michelle MacLaren.[2] It aired on April 27, 2014.[3] The title refers to the new sword gifted to Brienne of Tarth by Jaime Lannister[4] and the themes of duty that propel the episode.[5] The episode focuses on the aftermath of Joffrey's wedding, the Night's Watch's attempt to deal with the mutineers, and Daenerys's continued conquest of Meereen. "Oathkeeper" also featured the debut appearance of the Night King, the leader of the White Walkers, though he was not identified as such until the following year.


In King's Landing[edit]

Jaime continues his sword training with Bronn and visits his imprisoned brother Tyrion. Tyrion denies responsibility for Joffrey's murder but says that Cersei will not rest until he is dead. Jaime tells Tyrion that Cersei also wants to recapture Sansa, in whose innocence Tyrion is confident. In the evening, an angry Cersei is unwilling to hear of Tyrion's innocence.

Olenna bids farewell to Margaery, who is now to marry Tommen, as she prepares to return to Highgarden. She implies that she had a hand in Joffrey's death to protect Margaery from his cruelty. At night, Margaery sneaks into Tommen's room to talk with him about their marriage, and he appears smitten by her charms.

Jaime tasks Brienne with finding and protecting Sansa. He gives her new armor, his Valyrian steel sword, which she names "Oathkeeper", and the service of Podrick Payne as a squire.

In the Narrow Sea[edit]

On the way to the Eyrie, Littlefinger tells Sansa that he plans to marry her aunt Lysa Arryn. He refers to his new but unspecified powerful allies, stating that Joffrey's death was a gift to them that will help their friendship "grow strong" (referring to the motto of House Tyrell, "Growing Strong"). He adds that, because he has no visible motive to kill Joffrey, he will not be suspected. Littlefinger informs Sansa that a missing stone in her necklace contained the poison used for the murder.

At the Wall[edit]

At Castle Black, Jon trains several new recruits, including Olly and Locke, before being ordered to stop by Thorne, who reminds him that he is officially a steward. Slynt advises Thorne to send the now-popular Jon on an expedition to kill the mutineers at Craster's Keep in the hope that he will be killed before he can be elected the new Lord Commander. Jon volunteers for the mission, as do Grenn, Edd, Locke and a few others.

In Meereen[edit]

As Daenerys' army camps near Meereen, her aide Missandei teaches Grey Worm the Common Tongue, the language of Westeros. At night, Grey Worm and other Unsullied infiltrate Meereen, arm the slaves, and incite a slave uprising that leaves Daenerys in control of the city the following morning. Although Barristan advises Daenerys to show mercy, she orders 163 of the remaining masters crucified, as justice for the same number of slave children crucified along the road to Meereen.

Beyond the Wall[edit]

At Craster's Keep, the mutineers led by Karl Tanner are raping, eating and drinking their fill, with Karl drinking from the skull of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. Karl orders Rast to dispose of Craster's last child, a son, after Craster's wives ask that he be "given to the gods". Karl realizes that the child will be taken by the White Walkers, and that this is how Craster protected himself from them. He reasons that if they continue to uphold the bargain they too will be safe; Rast complies and abandons the infant in the woods. Nearby, Bran and his companions hear the infant's cries. They are captured by the mutineers, and Bran is forced to admit his identity.

Later, a White Walker retrieves Craster's son. The Walker travels to the White Walkers' fortress in the Lands of Always Winter and lays the child on an altar made of ice. The leader of the White Walkers, the Night King, approaches and places his hand on the boy, transforming him into a White Walker.


Series veteran Bryan Cogman wrote this episode.

"Oathkeeper" was written by Bryan Cogman based on A Storm of Swords. Reviewer Walt Hickey of FiveThirtyEight notes that the episode "contained the final scene of Jaime Lannister’s ninth "Storm of Swords" chapter. But lots of material from that chapter hasn't been on the show yet, so I reasoned that he has completed only eight."[6] In addition to chapter 72 (Jaime IX), some of the content from this episode is also found in A Storm of Swords chapters 61, 68, and 71 (Sansa V, Sansa VI, Daenerys VI).[7][8]

Theresa DeLucci, a reviewer for Tor.com, notes that the episode "didn't even take liberties with the books; it completely made up whole new stories" that do not appear in A Storm of Swords, including conversations between Missandei and Grey Worm, Bran's appearance at Craster's keep, and the final White Walker scene.[9] Reviewers from IGN applauded the new material, noting that the scenes at Craster's keep "give Bran something to do" and hint at the nature of the White Walkers.[10] Erik Kain, of Forbes magazine, notes these departures from the books as well, stating that the episode departed as much from the books as any episode thus far in the HBO adaptation of Martin's book series. These deviations, notes Kain, "leave both readers and newcomers to the story of Westeros and its motley band of heroes and villains entirely uncertain as to what's coming next."[11]



"Oathkeeper" established a new series high in ratings, with 6.95 million people watching the premiere.[12][13] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 1.598 million viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week. It also received 0.112 million timeshift viewers.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Like the season's other episodes, "Oathkeeper" received acclaim from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes counting 97% positive reviews from among 36. The site's consensus is that "If it's a bit more subdued than its predecessors, 'Oathkeeper' is nonetheless a rock-solid installment of Game of Thrones – one that features assured direction, strong action scenes, and intriguing plot developments."[15]

Eric Goldman and Roth Cornet of IGN commented on the episode being a "game changer" because it diverges from the book series more than any other Game of Thrones episode; a few of the changes include Jon's and Bran's storylines, how Daenerys conquered Meereen, and new information with regard to how White Walkers multiply their army. Goldman and Cornet stated that much of the episode feels like a spoiler for readers of the series because of the changes, including the show creators, who know how the ongoing book series will end, possibly having incorporated aspects that happen later in the books. Though Goldman and Cornet indicated that significantly diverging from the books could be detrimental to the show, they credited "Oathkeeper" with adding an element of surprise and intrigue for all viewers.[10]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Emily VanDerWerff (writing for viewers who have read the books) and Erik Adams (writing for viewers who have not) both gave the episode a B.[16][17] VanDerWerff commented that the scenes between Jamie and Cersei "seems to truly want us to think that what happened last week wasn't, in any way, rape" and wondered "whether the show is going to acknowledge it at all."[16] Adams notes how the episode serves as a "bridge" between episodes and plotlines well under way, but that there are "thematic riches" to be found; namely, the multiple searches for justice.[17]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2014 66th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Jane Walker and Ann McEwan Nominated [18]
2015 Canadian Society of Cinematographers TV Series Cinematography Robert McLachlan Nominated [19]


  1. ^ "Here is your season 4 writers breakdown". WinterIsComing.net. February 26, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  2. ^ Hibberd, James (July 16, 2013). "'Game of Thrones' season 4 directors chosen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  3. ^ "(#34/404) "Oathkeeper"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 4". Crave Online. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Cole, Jack (April 28, 2014). "Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 4, "Oathkeeper"". Slant. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  6. ^ Hickey, Walt (May 4, 2014). "How Much Source Material Does HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Have Left to Work With?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Martin, George (2000). A Storm of Swords. U.K.: Voyager Books. ISBN 0-00-224586-8.
  8. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (May 3, 2014). "EP404: Oathkeeper". Westeros.org. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  9. ^ Delucci, Theresa (Apr 28, 2014). "Game of Thrones Episode Review: "Oathkeeper"". IGN Conversations. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Eric Goldman and Roth Cornet (April 28, 2014). "Game of Thrones – The Biggest Change in Oathkeeper". IGN. Retrieved May 1, 2014.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Kain, Erik. "'Game Of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 4 Review: Oathkeeper". Reviews. Forbes.com. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  12. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 29, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, NBA Playoffs, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Mad Men', 'Devious Maids' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  13. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 28, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' Hits Series High in Total Viewers; Solid Start for 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  14. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (28 April-4 May 2014)". BARB. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "Game of Thrones: Season 4: Episode 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  16. ^ a b VanDerWerff, Emily (April 27, 2014). "Game Of Thrones (experts): "Oathkeeper"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Adams, Erik (April 28, 2014). "Game Of Thrones (newbies): "Oathkeeper"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  18. ^ Moraes, Lisa de (16 August 2014). "Creative Arts Emmy Awards: 'Saturday Night Live', HBO Grab Most Trophies — Full List Of Winners".
  19. ^ "CSC Awards 2015". Canadian Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved October 7, 2016.

External links[edit]