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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode three, season six of HBO’s Game of Thrones.]
Heavy lies the crown … or the robe, as it were.
With the weight of the world’s heaviest cloak on his shoulders, the recently resurrected Jon Snow (Kit Harington) made his most important choice yet as Lord Commander in the latest episode of Game of Thrones — namely, to abandon his post.
Snow ditching the Night’s Watch was only one of the major status quo shifts for House Stark in “Oathbreaker,” however. Jon’s living brothers interacted with the past and present of Winterfell in very different but equally profound ways, while in Braavos, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) accomplished a major milestone in her Faceless Man training.
Here are the 10 biggest moments of the episode.
1. The Prince Who Was Promised
In the excitement of Jon Snow’s resurrection, don’t lose sight of this gem from Melisandre (Carice van Houten): “The Lord of Light let you come back for a reason. Stannis wasn’t the prince who was promised, but someone has to be.” Abbreviating for the sake of ease, TPWWP is a loaded term in Thrones lore, and one that many fans have assigned to Jon in the past. At its core, it suggests Jon’s role as the person who will save Westeros from the White Walkers; his resurrection already indicated this direction, and Melisandre’s explicit shoutout of this term only further fans the fire.
2. “And Now it Ends”
At long last, viewers witnessed the historic events at the Tower of Joy … up to a point, at least. The greatest Game of Thrones conspiracy theory centers on Jon Snow’s possible birth at the Tower, as the son of the late Lyanna Stark. If that theory comes to pass, it did not pass on this night; instead, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) witnessed his own bombshell, as his childhood myth of his father Ned Stark’s war record was tarnished before his very eyes. It wasn’t the nuclear reveal fans were hoping for, sure, but it was a powerful scene all the same.
3. Bran to the Future
It’s worth mentioning on its own that Bran’s superpowers unveiled an entirely new layer in “Oathbreaker.” When Ned heads toward the Tower, Bran shouts after his father, causing the young Lord Stark to swivel around at the sound. Even though the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) tells Bran he cannot change the past, one has to wonder whether or not he’s being truthful, or if he’s trying to stop Bran from doing something dangerous. Either way, Game of Thrones just took a turn for the science fiction, with Bran’s possible ability to not just witness the past, but actively influence it.
4. Never Say “I Never”
Things are moving slow in Meereen, even with the reveal of the other Slaver’s Bay cities backing the Sons of the Harpy. But it’s all worth it for a classic season one throwback. In his one scene of the episode, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) tries to convince Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) to play a drinking game he invented once upon a time, called “I Never.” It’s the same game Tyrion played with Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) all the way back in the first season of the series, one of the show’s most memorable moments.
5. The Birds in King’s Landing
Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser) finds himself inheriting Varys‘ (Conleth Hill) network of spies — a group of young children patrolling the streets of King’s Landing for information. It’s an interesting choice to include these children, as readers are fully aware of their important role in the fates of a couple of King’s Landing players in the books. No names mentioned here, but it looks like the wheels on this twist are in motion, albeit with one character filling in another’s shoes. Expect more in the near future.
6. Eye on the Prize
At long last, Arya has regained her ability to see. This more or less catches the character up with her current place in the books, meaning the future is wide open for the Faceless Wolf moving forward. Will Arya remain in Braavos, loyal to the House of Black and White, or will she sail back to Westeros? The character is surrounded in mystery right now, making her one of the most alluring figures on the show at the moment.
7. Hounding for a Comeback
Fans should have noticed a few references to the late Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) in this episode. During her training, Arya mentioned her cognitive dissonance over the Hound’s death. In King’s Landing, it was confirmed that Robert Strong is actually Gregor Clegane, and that Cersei intends to set him loose during a future Trial by Combat against the High Sparrow’s forces. Many fans believe in an event nicknamed “The Clegane Bowl,” which would see Gregor battling it out with his secretly alive brother Sandor. The mere mention of The Hound in this latest episode only further fuels the hype.
8. A Shaggydog Story
It was a big night for all of the Starks, but not in a positive direction for everyone. Take Rickon (Art Parkinson), for instance. Yes, it’s great to see the youngest Stark sibling back in the mix for the first time since season three … but not under these circumstances. Hostages rarely do well when placed in Lord Ramsay Bolton’s (Iwan Rheon) custody; see Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Theon (Alfie Allen) for further proof. Judging purely on the death of poor Shaggydog, it’s not going to be an easy road for Lord Rickon in the episodes ahead.
9. Lord Commander No More
Jon’s days as the main man at Castle Black are behind him. After killing the mutineers who killed him episodes earlier (turnabout’s fair play, of course), Jon removed his cloak and handed it over to Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton), the Game of Thrones equivalent of Peter Parker tossing his Spider-Man suit into the trash. Where does he go from here? It’s hard to imagine he’s forgetting about the White Walker conflict anytime soon, but apparently, he doesn’t feel he needs to use the Night’s Watch in that war.
10. And So Their Watch is Ended
Finally, pour one out for Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), a fixture on Thrones since the very first season of the show. He and Jon never got along, but there was a modicum of respect between the men during the Battle of Castle Black in season four, and even in Thorne’s final moments of life as he explained why he made his move against Jon. And then there’s Olly (Brenock O’Connor), the most loathed teenager on television after burying his blade into Jon’s heart. Now that revenge has been reciprocated, are fans feeling satisfied with their blood-lust … or does vengeance taste more bitter than expected?
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