This week, the controversy over last week’s rape scene lingers on. Spoilers, obvs.
Last week’s rape scene was horrible to say the least, and made far worse by director Alex Graves’s baffling and frightening statement that it “[became] consensual by the end“. Confusion was added to the mix by showrunner David Benioff making it clear that, as the scene was written, Jaime raped Cersei. Between it being unclear how the show would address the scene, and the crew’s apparent disagreement on what actually happened, there was a pretty big controversy, and rightly so.
Fortunately, going by this week’s episode Oathkeeper, they’re not treating the rape as just another part of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship. Jaime doesn’t get the comeuppance he deserves, and it’s depressing that they’ve decided to completely wreck his redemption arc by making him a rapist, but it’s satisfying to see that Cersei clearly hates his guts now and regards him with nothing but contempt. Their scene together was a very strong one, with her belittling him at every turn and coldly referring to him simply as “Lord Commander” at the end – any relationship that existed between them has been dissolved.
It’s not as much as we could have hoped for, but it’s a whole lot better than normalising rape. It does put a damper on the rest of Jaime’s scenes, though. What should have been a really nice, touching moment between him and Brienne, when he gives her his Valyrian steel sword and a new suit of armour, is instead rendered quite flat by the knowledge that he’s a rapist. It seems like he’s going to keep trying to earn his redemption, but frankly, it’s not going to happen. He’s a monster. It was extremely gratifying to see Bronn backhand him across the face with his own metal hand.
Elsewhere in the capital, we got to see some more of Margaery and the Queen of Thorns. The suggestion seems to be that Diana Rigg will be absent for a while following this episode, with her Lady Olenna going back home. Considering that a spin-off featuring her and Charles Dance snarking at each other for an hour a week would be a very viable proposition, it’s a pity we apparently won’t see more of her. She receives the award for Coolest Old Lady in Westeros.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys does finally get to do something. Her efforts to get the slaves of Meereen to revolt prove successful, and she’s set herself up as queen of the city. It’s a pity, then, that the actual slave revolt is incredibly brief and perfunctory, making the whole thing very anticlimactic. It certainly can’t compare to the magnificent sack of Astapor last season. In the same way that all the battles in season one were skipped over, this is almost certainly a cost-cutting measure so there’s more money available for the rest of the season, but it’s still disappointing. If nothing else, Daenerys’s scenes do add 164 bodies to the death toll: one of the masters killed in the street, and 163 others crucified in revenge for the slaves they crucified back in Two Swords.
North of the Wall, Bran, Meera and Jojen manage to get captured by rogue Night’s Watchmen. It’s a strong sequence, and the scene where Hodor gets treated as a dancing bear is pretty hard to watch. Hodor’s one of the very few completely good characters on this show, and it’s hard not to like him, as the multitude of memes that have sprung up around him should demonstrate. He gets a special award for being the character Least Deserving of The Bad Things Happening to Him.
The final scene of Oathkeeper was very intriguing: a White Walker carrying Craster’s last son to their stronghold, before putting him on a sacrificial altar and turning the baby into one of them. This is all new stuff, and it’s an interesting if not entirely surprising addition to the story. It’s a little odd that the Walkers’ home looks like nothing so much as Minas Morgul at the North Pole, but it sets the scene nicely for us hopefully to see much more of them in episodes to come.
The pre-release hype promised that this was going to be the grandest, most epic season yet, but the four episodes so far have mostly consisted only of build-up, and Oathkeeper isn’t much of an exception. House Targaryen is doing fairly well for itself all the same, considering that Daenerys has conquered another city and made herself a queen in fact as well as in name. Another 10 points go to House Targaryen.
Lannister: 10 / Stark: 20 / Baratheon: 20 / Targaryen: 35
Between 164 dead slavemasters and one baby turned into a White Walker, our body count is now up to 365. It’s a pity this season hasn’t been as exciting as the number of deaths would suggest. Knowing what’s to come, that should be rectified fairly soon, with any luck.
All images: HBO