Game of Thrones fans beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect.
If you're in need of a catch up, you can read this to get you up to speed. This week: the humour level is up, Bran sees the past again, while Dany confronts a potential future.
Jon Snow and the occupants of Castle Black deal with his return.
Fair play to show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who wrote this episode; they do at least allow the characters around Jon to react with appropriate shock over his return, even if we're fairly certain a few of the Night's Watch should be running for the hills (or maybe the snowy plains.) Top marks to Davos for reclaiming his composure and returning to the practical man we all know and support. "You were dead. And now you're not. That's completely f*g mad, seems to me. I can only imagine how it seems to you." But line of the night (see below) goes to Kristofer Hivju's Tormund Giantsbane. One thing, Jon... If someone asks you if you're a god, you say "Yes!" Well played by all, and the humour isn't lost, either.
The Narrow Sea
Sam and Gilly on still voyaging towards the Citadel. Or so Gilly thinks...
More humour, this time as Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West, great as always) proves to have the sea legs of a drunken foal. Sam's still trying to find his way in the world, and he'll do anything to protect the woman he loves and her child. Their little "argument" brings a smile to the face and we get the additional snippet of information that Sam intends to have her stay with his family. Get ready to meet the rest of the clan... But not yet, which is par for the course with this season so far, even if it is moving more quickly now. We're still just on the journey, but when it's as entertaining as this, we don't mind as much as last week.
Beyond The Wall
Bran and the Raven watch a young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) battle Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts)
More Bran-and-The-Raven time travelling adventures as the producers start to fill in some more of the backstory between young Ned Stark (effectively brought to life by Aramayo) and Arthur Dayne, the Sword Of The Morning. The sword fight is particularly effective – savage, chaotic and, refreshingly not just a lot of one-on-one conflicts. And it's intriguing to learn (unless you were a book reader) that Ned's scrap with Dayne didn't end the way he'd told his family. Plus we finally get to see the Tower Of Joy, with hopefully more to come on that front. Though does anyone else feel that the Raven is a little like the show at this point, dragging you away when it has your interest stoked?
Dany is brought to the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen
Another episode, another character who has no time for Daenerys rattling off her list o' names. In this case, it's the woman who appears to run the Temple where the widows of the Dothraki tribe's Khals are sent when their husbands go to run with the great horses in the sky (or something). Turns out the Dothraki are meeting at Vaes Dothrak to plan their next moves – AKA Where To Invade Next (Copyright Michael Moore) – and the widows... Well, we've yet to learn exactly what part they play beyond what we know of them already. We doubt Dany will be happy just sitting around telling sad stories by firelight, polishing armour, or trying to divine the future from signs and portents.
Varys wheedles information from a supporter of the Sons of the Harpy. Tyrion tries to engage Missandei and Grey Worm in conversation
Varys and Tyrion work so well as a double act that it's always good to have a reminder that they bounce perfectly off others too. In Varys' case, it's Vala (Meena Rayann), who we saw last season helping the Sons take down members of the Unsullied. In typical style, he's sticking to the carrot approach for information instead of the stick, though there's always an undercurrent of danger: the iron fist/velvet glove method of getting intelligence. Some less than subtle satire of torture aside, it's a solid moment, topped shortly after by Tyrion trying in vain to get Grey Worm and Missandei to chat. You might as well be hitting your head against a brick wall, T. It's both humorous and horrible as Missandei in particular reveals the only thing she knows of "games"... Amidst all of the jocularity, we get some useful exposition that nearby rich cities, who have thrown off their rule since Dany disappeared, are funding the attacks in Meereen. Time to strike back!
Qyburn recruits Varys' former young spies. Cersei demands answers and crashes a council meeting. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow
A long but welcome visit to King's Landing this week, as several plots tick over. Doctor Frankenst, sorry, Qyburn is charming and funny with the children (it's like a production of Oliver!), and there's humour to be had again when Cersei, Ser Gregor and Jaime show up. With Cersei looking to expand her intelligence network, there's also the wonderful sight of her and her gang arriving at the Small Council meeting chaired by her uncle, Ser Kevan (Ian Gelder). More laughs to be had here as Maester Pycelle shows his fears of Ser Gregor in embarrassing fashion – fine work from the sound department on a classic fart gag, the show proving once again (as with Sam vomiting) that it's not too classy for lowbrow humour when the moment demands. There's also the pleasant return of Diana Rigg's Lady Olenna, typically sharp as a knife and quick with Lannister put-downs. Finally, we have Tommen meeting the High Sparrow full of vim and vinegar but seemingly ready to listen to the Sparrow waffle on about faith. The gods, we're told, work through everyone, even Cersei. Those are some messed up gods...
Arya faces more trial by combat, but finally receives something she wants
Poor old Arya is still on the receiving end of abuse from the Waif, but she's finally starting to fight back. Maisie Williams has really made this endless torment compelling on screen, but it's a relief to see her win some favour from the Many-Faced god and his minions, receiving her sight back. Sadly, she did not channel this moment from Trading Places.
Ramsay demands allegiance from Smalljon Umber (Dean S. Jagger) but mostly gets lip in return. But also, a gift...
It's largely Ramsay's job to sit around and take abuse from Umber this week, though he gives back almost as well as he gets. The big "twist" is Umber delivering Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson, looking like he's grown four years older in two) and Osha (Natalia Tena). Great: another prisoner, a Stark, no less, for Ramsay to be a total bastard to. Why do we feel like we've been here several times before? And the proof he's who Umber claims he is? The severed head of Direwolf Shaggydog. Poor Shaggydog: he deserved better. Definitely the least entertaining of the scenes this week, mostly just plunging home the theme that Ramsay's obnoxious even though we all know he's awful by now.
Alliser Thorne, Olly and Jon's other killers receive their justice. Jon makes a decision.
Alliser and the rest meet their fate, strung up in the yard at Castle Black. It's a particularly brutal way to die, and the Thrones team doesn't shy away from showing how nasty their end is. But the meat of the moment is Jon's decision after the men hang – he hands his coat to Edd, relieves himself of command and strikes out southwards. We never see him pick up provisions or find a horse, so one assumes it won't be a long quest... (Or he'll just grab what he needs before we see him again next time). You have to feel for Edd, Davos and the rest – they brought the big hero, the last hope back and he leaves? Charming.
A much funnier episode than might have been assumed, it also moves things on a little more effectively than last week. Of course moving pieces happens every episode, but it can be handled well or it can be a bit of a chore. Oathbreaker manages to keep our interest without needing big surprise endings.
Highlight: The fight at the Tower of Joy.
Lowlight: Another episode of Hell's Bitching with bored-on Ramsay.
Kill of the week: One of Ned's comrades, whose neck is neatly sliced by Arthur Dane.
Quote of the week: "I saw your pecker. What kind of god would have a pecker that small?" - Tormund, delivering the level of comedy burn Jon Snow will need another spell to recover from.
MVP: Davos and his pragmatism.
Random thought: Could anyone seriously beat Tyrion at a drinking game even if they drank in the first place? We're not sure, but we'd watch someone trying.
Season 6, Episode review guide