'Game of Thrones' Season 4 Episode 4 Review: 'Oathkeeper'
“Oathkeeper” is split into three distinct parts, with a few asides to continue stories happening elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms. Across Slavers’ Bay in Essos, the freedom of Meereen, which was interrupted by the end credits last week, completes with the freeing of the Meereen slaves. In King’s Landing, Jaime continues his progression to decency. North-of-the-Wall, and at The Wall, there are, uh, happenings. The structure of the episode isn’t that different from previous episodes in the show. Benioff and Weiss, and whomever is credited with the actual script, whether it’s the world-builder himself George R.R. Martin or Jane Espensen or Bryan Cogman, like to move from character to character (and story to story) with nary a theme present. Benioff or Weiss—I can’t remember whom—once told a critic that connecting everything with a theme was too similar to an 8th grade book report. One of the issues of adapting the books is the elimination of point-of-view storytelling. The audience can’t perceive the Game of Thrones story through any of the characters because of a need for an objective point-of-view, the demands imposed by the camera. Of course, TV shows and film can follow the mind of a character through a myriad of ways that don’t require the ballyhooed narrative device. A character needn’t tell the audience what’s what like in Veronica Mars or My So Called Life. Game of Thrones, though, maintains an objective point-of-view. There are small moments that penetrate a character: Arya’s reaction to her father’s beheading; all of Bran’s story; Brienne’s deliberate way of being; and etc. “Oathkeeper” adopts a style similar to the structure of the books. The story stays with Jaime when Jaime’s story begins. Cogman’s script finished the Meereen conquer in the opening ten minutes. In the final 20-25 minutes, the Night’s Watch, and the rebels of the Night’s Watch, set in motion a distracting but entertaining aside for the next episode or two.
The best of the bunch in “Oathkeeper” is the Jaime section. Some of the beats from “Two Swords” are repeated in “Oathkeeper.” Jaime actually says the line about writing his own story in the Kingsguard book, three weeks after “Two Swords” implied that through Joffrey’s condescending attitude about his uncle’s blank chapter. Jaime’s story begins with a sword-fighting session between he and Bronn. Bronn guilts Jaime out about not visiting Tyrion in his cell, his brother who thought Jaime would ride through wind and rain to fight for his life at the Eyrie. Jaime and Tyrion have an honest conversation about the truth and what may or may not happen. Jaime shows no desire to follow his sister’s pleas to take their brother’s life or, later, to hunt down Sansa Stark. Tyrion explains simply that his dislike of the child would not motivate him to murder the son of his brother and sister. Tyrion’s words are oddly touching. Cersei wants the head of Sansa and her brother and is so grief-stricken that she thinks not about what the Martells plan on doing. Jaime continues to act opposite of his mother’s wishes by arming Brienne with his Valyrian sword, his armor, and the task of keeping Sansa safe, thus keeping his oath with the dead Lady Stark. Jaime’s story doesn’t end; his transformation continues. “Oathkeeper” allows for the audience to follow Jaime from point A through Point E in the episode though. Benioff and Weiss and Cogman didn’t reduce his time to a scene.