#GoT (HBO) S6 Ep3: Oathbreaker or Loophole

"Not" A Game Of Thrones Recap

Howdy, and welcome to my third "NOT" a recap of Season 6.

As always, if you have not seen Episode 3, things will be shared that could spoil your enjoyment of the episode. 

In other words, *Spoiler Alert*

This was not one of my favorite episodes, it had moments, but very few of them good IMHO.

The Night's Watch Oath For Dummies

The name of Season 6 Episode 3 is "Oathbreaker." I suspect mostly in relation to the last scene where John Snow (Kit Harrington) hands over his rock star winter cloak and says (with zero hesitation) that his "watch is over." 

Here is the actual Night's watch oath:

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."

So, basically by walking away John Snow is claiming the "it shall not end until my death" loophole in the "for this night and all the nights to come" Night's Watch oath. In essence, and I am  no Westerosi barrister, he is claiming (by handing over the cloak and walking away) that unless death could end your watch, there would be no reason to include that clause in the oath. If the oath meant that you were pledged for this nights and all the nights to come ONLY why would they also include "It shall not end until my death" also? 

In the simplest possible terms, it is a loophole in the oath. 

So, in my humble opinion, Benioff and Weiss perhaps erred in calling this episode "Oathbreaker." Because I am pretty sure that John Snow is claiming the "Freedom through Resurrection Loophole."

In other news, John Snow 100% blows off Tormund who tries to embrace him as he emerges from the Keep. Reminder, Tormund just came and saved his ass.

John does make a beeline to Eddison Tollett (Ben Crompton) for a huge man-squeeze after which good-old Dolorous Ed asks him several times if he is really himself (as opposed to a white walked or some other demon).

An aside, is it an acceptable #GoT corollary to the Ghostbusters "rule" to answer the question "are you a God" with the answer "no?" Feel free to debate this out in the comments.

We have all learned (after all the books and the television show) that people don't ever come back from resurrection the same. As John puts it, "I should not be here." I suspect that "always wrong" feeling will haunt the second coming of Snow throughout the rest of the series.

Who knows what his new agenda is, but at least in the short-term, he doesn't seem anxious to rejoin the fight against the white walkers or the coming Bolton wars.

Oh, I do also get that the name could refer to our Tree Vision flashback to Ned Stark's less than heroic knightly fight with Ser Arthur Dayne. But, I suspect not. It could also refer to the Little Umber's turn on the Starks (It could even refer to Daenerys' refusal to retire after the death of her husband). So, I believe, this episode should have been called "Oathbreaker?" 

The #GameofThrones Return of Rickon Stark

Okay, I am giving this totally bizarre and almost nonsensical Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) "writers short-cut" four full "Jar Jar's."

I know that Bran told Rickon to go to Umber, but that is not where he went. 

Rickon has entirely disappeared from the books but he was presumed to be on the island of Skagos (not Umber). In fact, in the books, Davos Seaworth is on a quest to go retrieve Rickon from Skagos (he is not at the wall). I get that the television show has cut the Lord Manderly subplot entirely out of the story, but this "reeks" of a nonsensical attempt to make up for Ramsay's earlier stupidity in killing his Father, step-mother, and step-brother (not to mention choosing not to personally hunt down the fleeing Theon and Sansa).

People in Westeros do not like kinslayers.

People in the North really hate the Bolton's. They hate Roose Bolton because the Red Wedding would have been impossible without his treachery. People in the North take hospitality and their love of the Starks seriously. They see the Boltons as traitors and Oathbreakers (they were bannermen to the Starks).

People in the Noth particularly hate Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon, there are hundreds of references to the widespread distaste for him throughout the books and it should be no surprise because he is one of the most loathsome characters in the history of written fiction). No matter what the official story is (and read that as horseshit the writers came up with) there is NO WAY the north would turn to him. There is ZERO chance that an Umber would come to the Bolton's (much less Ramsay Bolton) for help. Yes, I get it, the free-folk have crossed the wall and Northerners hate the free-folk. But virtually everyone in the North knows the stories of his rapes, sick degradations, human-hunting, and tortures. Even before the Kinslaying, Ramsay is easily the most hated person in the North.

Even the show-runners know this. They had Roose try to "school" him for entire seasons about why he needs to moderate his behaviors in order to consolidate Bolton political power. The idea that somehow, magically, one of the most traditionally loyal Stark bannermen would turn one of the last of the Starks (remember not everyone knows which Starks are alive and which are dead) over to a man they find satan on earth is total horseshit.

I am sorry to be so strong in my denunciation, but that is NONSENSE. It is one thing to take historic license with the books to streamline the timelines and make it filmable, it is quite another to insult our collective intelligence. 

Game of Thrones fans are NOT the lowest common denominator and you are not writing for "Two and a Half Men."

Anyway, it seems that Ramsay has reverse Karma, the worse he is as a human being the more luck just falls into his  life. He loses one Stark only to mere days later have another one gifted to him by a Stark bannerman (this is so silly it is hard for me to even write it).

I cannot fully explain how badly I think this storyline is being handled.

Also, I am not happy to get to spend another seven hours of my life watching Ramsay do horrible things to Rickon and Osha (Natalia Gastiain Tena) and we all know that he will. I am starting to think the show actually enjoys Ramsay Torture Porn.

I will repeat it one final time, the Ramsay end of this story (especially the television version) is WORSE than the Meereneese knot. I would celebrate Ramsay's passing just so I did not have to ever see him again.

Cersei Lannister,  The High Sparrow, and Little Birds

It was interesting to see the differences in technique between Varys (Conleth Hill) and Qyburn (Anton Lesser) in regards to little birds. The point, I suspect, is that superior intelligence is key to winning wars.

Probably the best line of the episode was when the reliably honest Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) tells Cersei that she gets that while in the Lannister family it might be hard to keep track of who is mother and who is daughter (or daughter-in-law in the case of Margaery) Cersei is not actually the Queen of Westeros. 

Despite this, it seems pretty clear that Cersei (Lena Headey) is marshaling her forces (and intelligence sources) to return to power in Kings Landing. In an interesting counterpoint to Cersei's usual lack of subtlety, the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) has a really well-written and subtle chat with Tommen about the differences between Cersei's love for him and her willingness to ever truly share power with him (or his wife).

Jonathan Pryce is such a great actor that you know he is as much a power-schemer as everyone else but he makes you believe that he has a greater purpose in mind. You see the terrible justice he applies to people but still kind of find him persuasive (at least I do). In much the same way Lena Headey is such a great actress that despite seeing the wide-range of horrible things we have seen her do, we still empathize with her plight.

After some of the weaker elements of recent shows, it is always amazing when the camera is on Rigg, Headey, Price (or of course Peter Dinklage). I am generally critical of the writers of late, but there was some really well-written stuff during the King's Landing portion of "Oathbreaker."

Ned Stark As You Have Never Seen Him Before

We returned to tree-vision again this week. This time in order to expose the truth of the old adage "History is written by the winners."

Everyone knows that Ser Arthur Dayne (The Sword Of The Morning) was slain in honorable combat by Ned Stark, right?


Apparently Howland Reed stabbed Dayne in the back moments before he was going to liberate Ned's head from Ned's body. One of the core elements of "A Song Of Ice and Fire" has always been exposing the nasty "Realist" core at the center of how politics "really" work. Scrape away the marketing, and politics are almost always nasty, brutish, and short. Living one's nobler ethics more often than not gets people killed in Westeros (see Ned's beheading in Season One). 

This was one of the examples of the show paying homage to the spirit of the books, which was nice, it also seems pretty clear that Bran's function right now is to lead us down the R + L = J path. In other words, the story of Lyanna Stark is being laid bare in a way that has been long theorized by armchair experts, but never actually presented in the books or on the television show before.

Odds And Ends

Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West) is on a ship on his way to The Citadel to become a Maester. For once, the television show is (more or less) following the story line of the books and Gilly (Hannah Murray) will be living with Sam's partially loving family + the young "King beyond the Wall" while Sam matriculates his way to more links in his chain.

The only small difference is that Sam is well ensconced at the Citadel by this point in the books (as opposed to being still en route to the Citadel). 

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is finally becoming adept at fighting blind and seems well on her way to becoming a faceless man (assassin for the Many-Faced-God).

Daenerys has arrived at the place where the wives of slain Kahl's retire, and as predicted it seems less than awesome. Ser friend zone and Daenerys' rogue lover are still in pursuit. 

Well, that is all I have this week, hope you enjoyed my "NOT" a recap. As you probably know, I defer to the folks at Bill Simmons @ringer, "After The Thrones (HBO)" and "Ask The Maester" for the true recaps. 

In other words, I think of this as a "my thoughts about the episode" column more than a recap.

How did you like S6 Ep3 "Oathbreaker?" How did you like my "NOT" a recap? Let me know, leave a comment!