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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “Oathkeeper” (S4, E4)

GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “Oathkeeper” (S4, E4)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.

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Season 4, Episode 4: “Oathkeeper”

Original Air Date: April 27th, 2014
Director: Michelle MacLaren
Written by: Brian Cogman

Putting aside the tone deaf disaster of the last episode, the fourth episode of season four focuses with great success on the many complicated relationships of Jaime Lannister. He dominates the episode, having individual scenes with Bronn, Cersei, Tyrion, and Brienne, and together they exemplify why his story arc of honor redemption is arguably the show’s best and most meaningful.

jaime-lannister

While working on his left-handed sword training with Bronn, who again schools him on fighting to win instead of fighting to look “pretty,” he gets guilt tripped into visiting his imprisoned brother. Jaime and Tyrion have a heartfelt talk, where they speak honestly (they openly acknowledge who Joffrey’s real father is). Tyrion asks him to free him, but Jaime balks, citing treason and his role as Lord Commander of the King’s Guard. The obvious irony isn’t lost on Tyrion, who rolls his eyes at the man who killed the Mad King he swore to protect. Of course, Jaime will not only eventually try to barter for his brother’s life, he will set him free when it’s the only option left. As much as Jaime wants to try to salvage his own honor, he won’t do so at the cost of doing what is truly right. Releasing Tyrion won’t make Jaime any fans, but he will sacrifice that to do what is really honorable.

From there he has an ice cold interaction with Cersei, who treats him as a stranger, just another servant to do her bidding. But what really stands out is when she questions if he stills honors his sworn oath to Catelyn Stark to protect her daughters. He tries to give a non-answer about how Catelyn Stark is dead, but she follows up with the more telling question.

jaime

“So if I told you to leave the capital right now and find Sansa, if I told you to find that murderous little bitch and bring me her head, would you do it?” His silence is not the answer she wants. This is not the same Jaime who threw Bran Stark out the tower window way back in episode one. It’s also the first real chink in the armor of his loyalty to Cersei, which feels like it will soon completely break. The most important person in his life, the only person he has ever really loved, can’t get him to do wrong by a slain mother. He’s done being the villain, even if it hurts Cersei.

But it’s the final interaction he has that still has us tearing up all these years later, when he sends Brienne out to find and protect Sansa, along with his Valyrian steel sword and a personal set of blue armor designed for her. Oh, and he also gives her Pod as a squire (one of the best edits in the entire series, it is still overwhelms us with joy). It’s one of the most authentic scenes of friendship and pathos in the entire series (I listed it as one of the saddest moments from the show, but the good kind of sad), and then it gets even better.

He tells her that all the best swords have names, and Brienne tells him she will call it Oathkeeper. One of the most honorable people in Westeros and the only person who knows the true depths of Jaime Lannister’s character—how the Kingslayer was a hero that day—pays the Man Without Honor a great tribute. It might be the only real acknowledgement he will ever get for being a better person than even he ever thought he could be. He not only has a real friend who loves him, he has found a respect he never thought possible.

brienne

Jaime has passed himself off to the world as unfeeling and cynical, but we know the truth about just how much he cares. And while his sins are great and many, no other character has tried to atone for their wrongs as much as he has. He’s worth rooting for, but since he might never get redemption in the eyes of the Seven Kingdoms no matter what he does, the naming of a sword might be as good as it gets for him. That might seem sad, but it’s also beautiful.

But what do you think? Do you root for Jaime, or are his past actions too much to overcome? Tell us in the comments below what you think.

Images: HBO

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