April 28, 2014 06:00 AM

Book readers occupy a privileged position in Game of Thrones fandom, looking down at Unsullied fans with the smug knowledge that, no matter how crazy things get, they at least have their literary road map to fall back on.

Not this week.

For most of its runtime, “Oathkeeper” was one of Game of Thrones‘s catchup episodes, advancing characters and storylines piece by piece to set up more interesting things down the road. Then the ending happened, answering a question that had dogged fans since the ’90s, and in typical prestige-drama form, raising whole new questions of its own.

Major spoilers below! Proceed at your own risk.

Iain Glen (left), Ian McElhinney and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones


Daenerys’s gambit at the end of last week’s episode worked; Meereen is about to erupt in open revolt. The city’s slaves – who, since the controversy over the third-season finale, seem slightly more racially diverse – are discussing rebellion when they receive an unexpected gift: Armfuls of weapons, delivered under cover of darkness by Grey Worm. As we know from the real world, this kind of plan never ever backfires.

But it works, for now: Dany’s successfully fomented a rebellion without getting her hands dirty. The Mother of Dragons celebrates her third conquest by chaining of hundreds of slaveowners and crucifying them on the walls of Meereen. Again, history has taught us that there will be no downsides to this whatsoever.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones

King’s Landing

New alliances are forming all over the place in the capital this week. First up is Jaime and Tyrion, who share their first scene since early season one. The brothers Lannister both agree that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, but aren’t sure what to do about it. Who done it? The answer seems to rest on lovely old Olenna Tyrell, who wastes no time in advising Margaery to do what she can to win good king Tommen over. Since Tommen is a shy 13-year-old boy and Margaery is played by Natalie Dormer, this turns out to be not very difficult. His evil brother’s dead and his new fiancée likes his cat – things are looking up for young Tommen.

Elsewhere, the show decides to act like Jaime didn’t just rape his sister last week, as he gets to play hero and send Brienne off to find Sansa, along with his new sword (which she names Oathkeeper) and Podrick (who stays Podrick). We’ve got ourselves a good-old-fashioned quest! Knowing this show, it will not end well, but at least the beginning is cute.

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones

North of the Wall

It didn’t seem possible, but Craster’s Keep is somehow worse off since Craster died. At least back then there was only one violent psychopath around; now there’s a whole army of them. The new bosses are the Night’s Watch mutineers, who are introduced drinking out of skulls and raping all of Craster’s daughter-wives, in case we were feeling bad about Jon Snow’s plan to murder all of them. That mission gets the green light from the Night’s Watch management, but there’s a traitor lurking: Locke, who gets into Jon’s good graces with a story about how highborn lords are jerks. Hey, he’s a disarming guy.

Isaac Hempstead-Wright in Game of Thrones

The Bran Gang stumbles upon Craster’s Keep, but they’re soon captured. Continuing their parade of antisocial behavior, the mutineers stab Hodor and take the rest of the kids hostage. They also continue Craster’s tradition of giving his male children up to the White Walkers, which leads us to the episode’s big shock. We see the ice demons’ city for the first time, and find out what exactly they’ve been doing to Craster’s sons this whole time: turning them into baby ice demons. Those White Walkers take foster parenting very seriously.

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