TV Review: Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 3 “Oathbreaker” (USA, 2016)

Like Season 4’s similarly-named “Oathkeeper”, “Oathbreaker” is very much one of those in-between episode of Game of Thrones. There’s a little bit happening on almost-every front here – but not all that much overall.

We checked in with Sam to see how things are going en-route to Oldtown, we checked in with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) who are being edged out of power by the small council and we checked in with Dany (Emilia Clarke), who arrived in Vaes Dothrak. Despite this disparate-structure, it could be said that the episode did do job of positioning these different arrivals and departures as its central concern.

We got to see the return of Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson), delivered alongside Osha (Natalia Tena) by the newly-arrived Smalljon Umber (Dean S. Jagger). While it was nice to see the youngest and most-commonly forgotten Stark return, it was a little underwhelming to see him immediately become just another bargaining chip for the Boltons – though Lord Umber’s careless attitude about the whole affair proved unexpectedly funny.

It’s already clear that Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon) capability for political machinations isn’t on the same level as his father – and while the Wildling incursion offers him a good chance to win over the northern lords, the sudden “resurrection” of Rickon could offer up a good opportunity to turn on him .

Speaking of resurrections – it looks like Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is still Jon Snow. He seems pretty shaken up about the betrayal to be sure but he’s still very much himself – at least for the time being.

His interactions with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju)and Davos (Liam Cunningham) added some neat gallows-humor to the episode and the execution of the mutineers ended the episode on a pretty grim note – though it did answer another long-running fan theory.

There were some hopes that Bran’s vision of Ned’s battle outside the Tower of Joy would confirm another long-running theory another but alas. The scene, while an awesome display of the late Arthur Dayne’s (Luke Roberts) swordfighting prowess, was disappointingly stopped short of any big reveals by the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow).

If anyone had any sort-of major plot movement this week it was Arya (Masie Williams). She finally got a grip on fighting while blind, and had her vision restored as a reward. With any luck, she’ll be a honorary “Faceless Man” before season’s end, though her first target remains a pretty quantity.

Despite these merits, “Oathkeeper” is ultimately a lot stage-setting. It picks up the pieces left by “Home” and “The Red Woman” and while it moves them, it doesn’t move them all that far. Thrones is still Thrones, but this is far its best.

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Game of Thrones airs at 11AM on Monday through Foxtel.

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