'Game of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 4: spoiler discussion

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The night is dark and full of spoilers. Below we'll be talking about the HBO series Game of Thrones, up through and including tonight's episode, "Oathkeeper." Open discussion of future episodes — or information from the books — is off limits.

There had to be a lull sometime, right? Much has been made of this season's quick start, but tonight Game of Thrones delivered one of its more methodical, check-the-boxes episodes — a visit to the home of the White Walkers notwithstanding. After last week's build-up, the show seemed poised for an epic battle at Meereen — which actually ended up being the easiest uprising in the entire history of the Seven Kingdoms. Three dozen slaves ambushed just one of their masters, and then we zipped right along to the aftermath. After Daario's takedown of Meereen's champion, it was all rather anti-climactic — though Daenerys did prove her ruthlessness yet again by nailing 163 Meereen citizens (Meereeners?) to signs as payback for the grisly sights a few episodes back.

Oh, and remember that whole murder mystery about Who Killed Joffrey? Never mind. In a quick succession of scenes, the show revealed with almost casual disinterest how the pieces came together. Baelish? Yep. Sansa's necklace as the method of smuggling in the poison? Indeed. Lady Olenna as the on-site enabler? Bingo. Given what a huge event Joffrey's death was, it felt far too rushed — as if every character suddenly decided to start telling the truth for no reason — though Lady Olenna's explanation to Margaery was fantastic. ("You don't think I'd let you marry that beast, do you?")

As for the Lannisters, we mostly got Good Jaime, though it's impossible to erase the memory of his actions last week. In the hopes of protecting Sansa from Cersei's wrath, Jaime enlists none other than Brienne, gifting her his Valyrian steel sword. (Even better, Tyrion's squire Podrick is going along!) No matter what we think of Jaime now, it was hard to not feel something between the two of them when they said goodbye. Not knowing what happens in the books, I'm not sure what their respective fates are, but it felt as if one of them will be leaving this world sooner rather than later (though maybe that's just me responding to the show's ruthless death count).

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Then it was time for The Jon Snow Chronicles, a storyline that increasingly feels like it's untethered from the rest of the show. Locke — is it me, or is he basically Game of Thrones' answer to Snidely Whiplash? — spends some time buddying up to Jon, and then Jon and Sam decide Craster's Keep is a logical spot to find Bran. In order to get a posse together, Jon makes a passionate speech to the members of the Night's Watch about stopping the deserters. One by one, accompanied by heroic, swelling score, men stand up to join his group... and then Locke steps up to the strains of Very Scary Music. So that's probably not going to turn out so great.

Not that Craster's Keep is a good scene as it is. The women are being abused, Craster's last child is dropped off as an offering to the White Walkers, and Bran, Hodor, and crew all get captured. Not that it's particularly upsetting when they get picked up, mind you; like most of tonight's episode, it felt like just one more event the show was using to pad out time while more interesting events are around the corner.

And the end of tonight's episode may have given us a glimpse at what that means when it comes to the White Walkers. The last Craster child is picked up and taken back to the White Walker castle (it's the Fortress of Solitude, only scary), and then a demon-esque elder picks up the boy. With a single touch he turns the child's eyes to ice blue. Yes, it appears Daenerys isn't the only one slowly amassing an army, and given that Thrones has been teasing the White Walkers since the very first episode we imagine it's going to be a pretty big payoff when that army finally arrives. Hopefully, the shows along the way will be a little more fun than what we saw tonight.

Were you engaged by tonight's episode, or did you find it lacking the energy this season has had thus far?