Even after writing 1,200 feverishly-typed words last night in my Game of Thrones recap, there is still more to say. In this instance, I’ve taken a second long look at this week’s episode “Oathkeeper” and decided that I need to speak to my fellow book readers for a moment. Why? Because these are thoughts I need to share with the world and because there’s so much in last night’s episode that is intriguing beyond what we know from the books that it feels like the right time to get spoilery. That said, consider this your very last warning. If you continue reading beyond this point you will be subjected to knowledge of all books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, all aired episodes of Game of Thrones and plenty of wild speculation mixed with educated guesses about what is going to happen next.
Seriously. Unlimited spoilers territory begins right after this picture of White Walker Walter White: Lord of Spoilers…
“I’m Brandon Stark of Winterfell!”
The off-book stuff in “Oathkeeper” is by far the most interesting to me, especially the elements that happen beyond The Wall. Mostly because it raises a big question: is this stuff in books to come or is the show really on its own? The scenes inside Craster’s Keep seem to be a little bit of the latter, but it’s all stuff that can be fixed. The show would have us believe that Bran Stark and Jon Snow are on a collision course to meet again, something that doesn’t happen in the books. One of a few things could be true:
1. They meet and Bran convinces Jon to let him proceed on his quest to find the Three-Eyed Raven.
2. Bran, Meera and Jojen escape before Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch show up. Perhaps with the help of someone we haven’t met yet (please be Coldhands).
3. Jon saves them and takes them back to Castle Black because I don’t know why…
The third option seems least likely, as the show has already introduced the voice of the “Three-Eyed Raven” a few episodes back. “Find me under the tree,” said the voice in Bran’s vision. My expectation is that Bran and his crew are gone before they get a chance to see Jon. Another close encounter. These Stark kids will never meet again. Then again, perhaps Locke has something to do with it. Maybe he skirts in and steals away Bran and clan before Jon knows they are there, taking them hostage. Then somewhere along the way Locke runs into Coldhands, who relieves him of his captives. The fun part about this diversion is that it opens up a number of options, all of which have the potential to make Bran’s story more interesting.
“A man with no motives…”
At first I thought the Littlefinger and Lady Olenna reveal was something new, even though it’s hinted at in the books. It’s just that it isn’t quite so spelled out in the books. A big deal is made of the way Lady Olenna fixes Sansa’s hair at the wedding (with a hairnet full of poison crystals), but we don’t get firm confirmation. For the show’s audience, it seems appropriate that it would be spelled out. It makes future actions by both House Tyrell and Team Littlefinger more sensible.
The other thing I noticed about Sansa and Littlefinger’s interaction is that they are going straight to The Vale to meet Lady Lysa. There doesn’t appear to be any stops along the way to give Sansa time to be disguised. Is there a chance the show will forego the Alayne Stone storyline? Perhaps it will just be condensed with Littlefinger showing up to The Vale and introducing her as Alayne instead of Sansa.
“It will be our little secret…”
I’m intrigued by the Battle for Tommen beginning so early. The show has eased us into this situation so beautifully, setting up Cersei as a fierce defender of her children (and her own power) and Margaery as a cunning player in the larger Game. In the “Next week on…” segment after the episode, we get yet another look at the budding rivalry. Will the show begin ushering in the power of the church and the High Septon sometime this season? We shall see.
“A gift for the gods…”
The ending left my jaw on the floor, I’m not sure about the rest of you. First of all, this felt like a complete diversion and perhaps deeper dive into things that are yet to come in the books. Then with a little research (courtesy of this great piece by Jacob Hall at ScreenCrush) we are reminded of a tale Bran told in the books along the road with Meera, Jojen and Hodor. It tells of The Night’s King, a man who was said to be “rogue Night’s Watchman marrying a White Walker and becoming a terrifying and dangerous King before mysteriously vanishing.”
There are also elements of The Night’s King’s story that say he was the brother of the King of Winterfell (aka he was a Stark) and it took the combined power of The King of Winterfell and The King in the North to defeat him. So… Jon Snow and Mance, basically…
It leads to a lot of speculation at this point, but it’s so much fun to pull back these layers, especially when we have no real idea of where this all leads.
One element that seems to be slowly slipping away from speculation is the appearance of Lady Stoneheart. On their most recent episode of A Storm of Spoilers, Joanna Robinson and Dave Gonzales talked about how the show could get away without introducing Lady Stoneheart. There are a few things that have happened this season already that lead me to believe this isn’t going to be the case:
1. Sansa made mention of her mother’s throat being sliced to the bone and her body being thrown into the river in episode one.
2. Brienne and Pod are being paired together, perfectly in line with the events of the books.
3. The showrunners seem to be delighted in showing off the mysticism of this world. They made a point to make Ser Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood elements of the third season, using the rebirth reveal as a way to ease viewers into this concept. Also, the aforementioned Night’s King intro. These guys love the supernatural surprises.
I’m a believer that the show doesn’t leave breadcrumbs haphazardly. There’s no reason to include Dondarrion or have Sansa be so specific about her mother if there isn’t going to eventually be a Lady Stoneheart reveal. My guess is that it will happen very late in the season with the introduction occurring right after Brienne and Pod are captured and hung. Nothing like going out on the high note of killing two characters the viewers love and introducing one that’s full of mystery. Don’t be surprised (I won’t) if we start hearing tales of Lady Stoneheart along the road with Brienne and Pod.
These are my spoilery thoughts for the week. Feel free to share yours in the comments below. Extra points if you can further the conspiracy theory that Jon Snow is a Targaryen (he keeps mentioning that his mother was “nobody”).
You can also listen to me talk about spoilers on the Storm of Spoilers podcast (part of the fantastic Fighting in the War Room feed) with the lovely Joanna Robinson and the handsome Dave Gonzales. I’ve embedded the episode below: