Robert Smith (has read every book, watched every episode, owns several T-shirts, and possibly has a George RR Martin shrine in his bedroom):
Game Of Thrones
might spend most of its time on the bloodshed and politics behind the fight for the Iron Throne, but every now and then then is a stark reminder of the real danger, north of the wall. The last few scenes of this week's episode - notably, all scenes that are not in the books - offer a view of a terrible future that could happen if the ultimate threat of the story isn't stopped. It's a world where the last few living men have fallen into nasty and savage barbarism, and white walkers roam a dead land, stealing infants to swell their silent ranks. Despite the best efforts of the Tyrells and Littlefingers, it won't matter who is sitting on that throne if the wall comes down and the world enters a never-ending winter. The real long-running suspense of this story is in seeing how long it takes the men and women of Westeros to wake up to the real danger.
Cameron McMillan (a Thrones trainspotter who can always be relied upon for up-to-date statistics and random factoids):
"To reach your destiny you must reach your destination." I'm pretty sure I saw that motivational quilt-poster hanging on a wall in Tommen's room, right next to one of his true loves, Ser Pounce. For so long, so many characters in Game of Thrones have been going places. You can't be blamed as a viewer for wanting these characters to get where they're going faster. As usual in Game of Thrones though, be careful what you wish for. One journey, presumably, ended last night for Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor (hang in there, buddy) when they carelessly stumbled into the debaucherous hellhole that is Craster's Keep (you really don't want to read the Trip Advisor comments for this place). This journey began 18 episodes ago when Bran fled Winterfell with Rikon, Osha and Hodor (seriously man, just hang on, help is on its way) and would have been better off actually going nowhere compared to Craster's Keep. And then just as one journey ended another began as Brienne of Tarth and new buddy Podrick (the most loyal squire ever!) head out to find Sansa Stark. This journey seems more exciting at least as no doubt we'll get to see Brienne wield some Valyrian steel. Meanwhile fellow journeywoman Daenerys has it pretty good where she is after freeing another slave city. As my two-year-old son would say, she's "King of the Castle". Why leave for Westeros? It's full of dirty rascals and it's going to get cold there real soon. That will mean even more miserable people to rule. Stay in Ethos where you're loved and you can get a tan. But that's the thing with destiny, it usually choses the destination for you.
Chris Schulz (has watched every episode, is halfway through book one, and has a not-so-secret obsession with Brienne, the Maid of Tarth):
Okay, Cersei, we're beefing now. In previous episodes, you'd been a simple annoyance, with your evil-eyed twinkle and subtle manipulation of the minions around you. You thought you were a major player, but, like a piranha feeding off scraps at the bottom of the barrel, you just used and abused those with real power. But now, I'm gunning for you. How dare you call Brienne "a great cow". Seriously? She could fell you with one swoop of her giant man hands. Did you see how awesome she looked in her new Dark Knight-inspired armour? She's probably got nun chukas and bat stars tucked into her utility belt. How about that weighty Valyrian blade she's swinging around these days? Brienne may be off on a Jaime Lannister-inspired mission to save Sansa, but her next job is surely to take down the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Cersei has finally messed with the wrong woman. Bring on the Bat Girl.
Bridget Jones (a latecomer, but only because she is incredibly impatient and prefers binge-watching. She'll look at spoilers, but will always deny it):
Chris, I think you are backing the wrong horse there buddy. Don't get me wrong - I love the quiet, brooding intensity of Ms Maid of Tarth, but surely we now know it is actually Margaery Tyrell who will dispatch with Cersei and all her drunken power. The confusion on the face of Joffrey's widow as Grandma Olenna spelt out just how her wedding got that purple tinge merely belies just what a sharp cookie she is. By sneaking in (seriously - how did she get past four guards?!) for a midnight chat with wee Tommen and Ser Pounce, she has set some big old wheels in motion to surprise Cersei right when she finally emerges from that Joffrey-stained cloud of grief. But, for the love of all the Gods Marge - definitely, definitely stay away from Little Finger. I don't care what sort of deal Grams has done, that man ain't no good for you. Or anyone, I suspect.
Hayden Donnell (has memorised every word of every book and spends his evenings correcting historical inaccuracies on the Westeros Wikipedia page):
Oathkeeper provided more evidence that director Alex Graves screwed up the controversial rape scene in last week's episode. Jaimie Lannister seemed to be on a path to redemption before forcing sex on his sister Cersei over her repeated objections in Breaker Of Chains. It was a much-maligned scene, not least because in the books the encounter was consensual. This week Jamie arrived on screen smirking, quipping, lavishing gifts on Brienne like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman and generally carrying on like nothing happened. His conversation with Cersei was a little frosty - she asked him to murder his brother, he wasn't keen - but didn't seem like an encounter between a victim and her recent abuser. I'm not saying characters capable of doing good are not also capable of evil, or that Benioff and Weiss aren't entitled to change things from the books. But if you're going to go out of your way to portray a rape, it needs to be seen as more than a minor hiccup in the life of an otherwise-sympathetic character. Graves said after Breaker of Chains that the encounter had become consensual "by the end". Maybe that's how he intended it. But it sure didn't seem that way on screen. Now directors like Oathkeeper's Michelle MacLaren seem to have stuck with portraying Jaimie as a winsome rogue. They really should address the ugly act he carried out in that sept.
Russell Baillie (may possibly be hate-watching the show, we're not entirely sure where his allegiances lie):
So far as I can tell this happened: Um, isn't this a bit from Superman? His ice-bound Fortress of Solitude? No, this is where the White Walkers, who seem modelled on metal band Iron Maiden's old mascot Eddie, come to pick up the babies they've been left by the nasty humans down the road. There was some White Walker hocus pocus and the wee fella instantly became part of the snow-zombie family (and awww, look, he has his new father's eyes.).
Well that's how episode four of Game of Thrones fourth season finished. It was a chilling ending to an otherwise fairly tepid casually repellent instalment. This chapter was called - sound the medieval horn section! - Oathkeeper.
That was the name that Brienne (the one who is definitely the goalshoot in the GoT netball squad) gave her new sword which she was given by Jaime Lannister so she could go out and find Sansa Stark, who's been missing since the murder of Joffrey. Talking of which, shouldn't he have been buried by now? He was nasty enough when he was alive. Surely he's ponging a bit lying in state?
Anyway, despite being a show of fairly high body count - having conquered the city of Mereen by inducing a slave revolt, the Mao-like Daenerys had the local bosses nailed to posts as punishment for doing the same to the local peasantry - it was another hour of talking over doing.
Jaime and Cersei seem to have forgotten last week's unpleasant incest-rape-next-to-body-of-dead-child business. He's gone back to being noble. She's gone back to being nasty. He's finally gone and seen his brother Tyrion in jail where the little guy is awaiting his day in kangaroo court for the murder of Joffrey.
Meanwhile, the newlywed'n'widowed Margaery Tyrell has taken to sneaking into the bedroom of Joffrey's king-to-be much nicer little brother Tommen, a 12 year-old boy, who, by the looks of it is about to undergo an accelerated puberty. Don't fancy the chances of that pet cat of his surviving the season either.
But if there was an outbreak of characters being almost reasonable to each other at King's Landing, it was fairly localised. Up north at the mutineers hideout of Craster's Keep, the rape, cannibalism, and other heinous acts like drinking out of skulls and leaving babies out in the snow continued, as gratuitously as ever.