7:02pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': Jon Snow Makes a Fatal Choice in 'Oathbreaker'
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode three, season six of HBO's Game of Thrones.]
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) died, but that's not the only major change for the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch ... if you can even call him that anymore.
Hours after his return from the dead, Lord Snow made the fateful decision to turn his back on The Wall, abandoning his responsibility as Lord Commander and choosing to forge a new path forward. In the closing moments of "Oathbreaker," Snow dealt a fatal blow to the mutineers who killed him episodes earlier, including Olly (Brennock O'Connor) and Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale).
"I had a choice, Lord Commander," Thorne tells Jon shortly before dying. "I fought, and I lost. Now, I rest ... but you, Lord Snow, will be fighting those battles forever."
With that, Jon hanged his killers, his last act as Lord Commander before handing the title over to Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton). What's next for Jon? That's anyone's guess, but it doesn't involve commanding Castle Black.
Here's everything that happened leading up to Jon's big decision.
At the Wall
We pick up immediately where we left off, with Jon's return from the dead. Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) stares at the resurrected man in disbelief, shrouding him in his own cloak. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) is similarly shocked at Jon's return, and wants to know exactly what he saw during his time of death.
"Nothing," he responds. "There was nothing at all."
Melisandre believes there was a reason the Lord of Light brought Jon back. "Stannis wasn't the prince who was promised, but someone has to be," she reasons. For his part, Davos feels it's not the time to fill Jon's head with prophecy. He calls for a moment alone with Lord Snow, acting as therapist while Jon works out his issues.
"I did what I thought was right, and I got murdered for it," says Jon. "Now I'm back. Why?"
"I don't know," answers Davos. "Maybe we'll never know. What does it matter? You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the s—t as you can."
With that, Jon hits the snowy trail, revealing himself in front of the whole Night's Watch for the first time since his rebirth. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) cuts through the tension with a joke — "They think you're some kind of god… [but] what kind of god would have a pecker that small?" — while Edd opts for hugging it out with the resurrected Lord Commander.
Out at Sea
The Night's Watch reels from Jon's return, while Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) sails toward Oldtown. Sadly for Sam, sailing is not his strong suit, prompting him to puke his guts out all over the place.
Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) have a somewhat tense conversation about their next destination. He tells her that she won't have a place at Oldtown, where he's planning to become a maester of the Citadel; unlike Castle Black, he doesn't have a Jon Snow who can bend the rules and allow a woman to live within the sacred order. Instead, he plans to send her to Horn Hill, the seat of his father Randyll Tarly — not the nicest guy on the planet, but at least Sam's mother is "lovely." (Happy Mhysa Day for all who are celebrating, incidentally!)
Ultimately, Gilly's not thrilled with the choice, but she chooses to trust Sam, saying she would never rule against "the father of my son." Sam realizes he's Little Sam's surrogate father, and proceeds to once again spew out the contents of his stomach.
In the Past
The Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) once again shows Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) a piece of Westeros history, this time one of the most legendary moments in the entirety of Robert's Rebellion.
Bran sees his father Ned and companion Howland Reed as young men, walking up with an entourage to the Tower of Joy, a Dornish stronghold protected by members of the Targaryen kings guard, including historic fighter Arthur Dayne, the so-called "Sword of the Morning." Ned demands to know what's happened to his sister, but receives no direct answer.
"I wish you good fortune in the wars to come," says Dayne. "Now it begins."
"No," Ned replies. "Now it ends."
With that, Bran witnesses an epic battle play out between the Baratheon and Targaryen loyalists, believing he knows how it will end: Ned besting Arthur in combat. Instead, he watches as Arthur kills most of Ned's allies, and nearly Ned himself. He's only rescued after Howland stabs Arthur in the back, a move that completely shocks Bran's notion of his father's heroism.
Seconds later, there's a scream heard coming from inside the tower. Ned storms off toward it, and a curious Bran shouts out to his father. Shockingly, Ned seemingly hears Bran's voice, but when he looks for the source of the sound, he sees nothing.
The Raven immediately pulls Bran back to reality. Inside the cave, Bran expresses his frustration about not knowing more about what happened at the Tower. The Raven warns Bran that there's nothing he can do to change history: "The past is already written. The ink is already dry." Bran doesn't care about that; he wants to be away from the cave, and doesn't want to become an old man in a tree like the Raven.
"You won't be here forever," the Raven laughs. "You won't be an old man in a tree… but before you leave, you must learn."
Bran is confused: "Learn what?"
"Everything," the Raven replies.
The Meereenese Knot
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), still missing from Meereen, finally arrives at Vaes Dothrak to take her place among the dosh khaleen, the widows of fallen khals. There, Dany tries to exert her strength against the dosh khaleen leader, the wife of the late Khal Sovo… but she's having none of it, much like Khal Moro.
"I thought he would conquer the world with me at his side," says the widow. "But we all understand the way things are. You will learn as well… if you're fortunate enough to stay."
With that, Dany learns that a council will decide whether or not she's meant to remain among the dosh khaleen… and if she fails the test, it does not sound like she'll enjoy the outcome.
Meanwhile, in Meereen, Varys (Conleth Hill) resorts to his old tricks of extracting information from valuable targets. He leans on a Meereenese prostitute and learns from her that power players from Astapor, Yunkai and Volantis have teamed together to fund the Sons of the Harpy's rebellion against Daenerys. It seems the only way to pacify these men is with the language they understand best: violence. But first, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has a plan.
"Can your birds get a message to the slavers?" he asks Varys, who replies: "Sure. Men can be fickle, but birds I always trust."
In King's Landing
Speaking of Varys' birds, his former spies — the impoverished children of King's Landing — respond to their new commander, Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser). Soon, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) arrives and tells Qyburn to let his spies loose on Dorne, Highgarden, the North, and anywhere that enemies might be plotting against the Crown: "I want to know who [my enemies] are, and I want to know where they are."
Moments later, Cersei crashes a Small Council session with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) and Robert Strong (Hafthor Bjornsson) in tow. She tries to tell her uncle Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder) that they need to pool their resources in the struggle against both the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and the new Dornish regime led by Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). Kevan's not having it, however, leading his coalition out of the room, and leaving the trio of Cersei, Jaime and Strong in the dust.
Elsewhere, King Tommen visits the Sparrow and learns that his mother Cersei is not through with her trials … literally, in fact, as the Sparrow plans to put her through a public trial to prove her guilt or innocence in the gods' eyes once and for all. During the conversation, the Sparrow seemingly wins Tommen over, or at least stresses the importance of sticking together.
"There's so much good in all of us," he tells the young king. "The best we can do is help each other bring it out."
Blind Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) fights her way back into the land of the seeing. An extended training montage shows Arya reflecting on her circumstances, remembering all of her siblings, and even expressing some guilt over leaving Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) to die.
The combination of deep introspection and outward combat skills speak for themselves, convincing Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) to restore Arya's sight.
"Who are you?" he asks her after healing her eyes.
"No one," she replies, with fierce determination in her voice.
Lord Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) furthers his power over Winterfell, receiving new allies in House Umber, and earning something far more important… a "gift."
The gift, it turns out, is Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson), not seen since season three when he parted ways with Bran's group. The Umbers surrender Rickon and his wildling bodyguard Osha (Natalia Tena) as a show of solidarity with the Boltons, because they fear an inevitable assault from Jon Snow and his wildling army. But Ramsay's not entirely convinced that this young child is Rickon at all… until Umber presents undeniable proof: the severed head of Rickon's direwolf Shaggydog.
"Welcome home, Lord Stark," Ramsay says with a wicked smile.
Back at the Wall
The fateful moment finally arrives. In his first (and last) act as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch since returning from the dead, Jon Snow orders the execution of the four main mutineers who stabbed him to death. He goes down the line, asking everyone for their final words.
"You shouldn't be alive," says one. "It's not right!"
Another asks Jon to write to his mother at White Harbor, and to lie, saying he died fighting wildlings. Then there's Thorne, who makes peace with his demise, saying he would do it all over again if he could go back. Olly, meanwhile, has no final words — and Jon has none for him. The pain is too great for both parties involved.
Without further hesitation, Jon cuts the rope keeping the four men on their feet, sending them into their final dance of death. Jon, clearly shaken by the whole ordeal, removes his Lord Commander cloak and gives it to Edd.
"What should I do with this?" Edd says, confused.
"Wear it, burn it, whatever you want," Jon answers as he walks away. "You have Castle Black. My Watch has ended."
And with that, Jon Snow's oath is broken.
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