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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “Oathbreaker” (S6, E3)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.


Season 6, Episode 3: “Oathbreaker”

Original Air Date: May 8th, 2016
Director: Daniel Sackheim
Written by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

In George R.R. Martin’s novels the Three-Eyed Raven isn’t even the Three-Eyed Raven, he’s the Three-Eyed Crow. That’s far from the only change the television show made to the character though. In the books, the evidence overwhelmingly points to him being a former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (a crow), the infamous Targaryen bastard Brynden Rivers, better known as Lord Bloodraven.

HBO’s Three-Eyed Raven isn’t necessarily the same person though, making him far more mysterious, and as a result his connection with Bran is far more ambiguous. But this episode, “Oathbreaker,” which gives us our first glimpse at what happened at the Tower of Joy, points to why he came to be this way, and, more importantly, why Bran needed to find him.


We’re going to ignore the travesty of the show trying to make Ned Stark look like a lying, dishonorable glory boy (no exaggeration, my single biggest complaint about the entire series), and focus on what Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven discuss after they leave the vision.

Bran believes Ned heard him at the Tower of Joy when he screamed, “Father!” Ned did stop and look around as if he heard him before continuing on, but the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran it might have just been the wind. “The past is already written; the ink is dry,” he says (though we’ll see with poor Hodor that’s not exactly as clear cut as it sounds).

When Bran complains again about having to leave a vision too soon, the Three-Eyed Raven tells him again that if you, “stay too long where you don’t belong and you will never return.” For a crippled, frustrated, and confused Bran, that doesn’t sound all that bad. In the past he walks and experiences life, only to have to return to a crappy life in the present where he talks to “an old man in a tree.”


We then find out the Three-Eyed Raven is extremely old, and therefore likely not Brynden Rivers who (in the books) was Maester Aemon’s uncle. “You think I wanted to sit here for 1,000 years watching the world from a distance as the roots grew through me?” he asks Bran. But he says he did so because he was waiting for Bran this whole time. Whoever the Three-Eyed Raven was before he came to this place we don’t know (might never), but his entire life’s purpose seems to have been defined by being here and being ready to teach Brandon Stark.

Bran takes this information about waiting for him for 1,000 years to mean he must take his place, but he doesn’t want to be a tree-man. The Three-Eyed Raven assures him that’s not the case.


“I don’t blame you. You won’t be here forever. You won’t be an old man in a tree,” he says, but he does tell Bran he can’t leave until he learns “everything.” Of course, Bran doesn’t have a thousand years to learn everything the Three-Eyed Raven has. He has a very short time to learn what he must to defeat the Night King and his army. So it’s the job of the Three-Eyed Raven to teach Bran “everything” he must know to do that.

We now know what some of “everything” includes:

  • Despite playing dumb with whether or not Ned heard him at the Tower of Joy, Bran can alter the past, like he did with Hodor. (Or rather, he can move through time and impact events throughout history, as though time doesn’t really exist for him.)
  • He must know the truth of the White Walkers, how the Children of the Forest created them from mankind itself.
  • He must discover important secrets, like who Jon’s real parents are.

Those all seem like major, potentially deciding factors in the coming Great War with the White Walkers, and they also raise some great questions about Bran’s ultimate role in that war.


Did a “future” Bran go back in time and make Jaime Lannister push him out that window so he’d end up meeting the Three-Eyed Raven? Will a victory over the White Walkers only be possible thanks to what Bran learned about their creation? Or will it be because he now knows Jon, whose mother was ice (Stark) and father fire (Targaryen), is The Prince That Was Promised and the savior of the world?

And how does that all tie into the theory that Bran, the most powerful warg alive, will save mankind when he controls one of Daenerys’ dragons and defeat the White Walkers with dragon breath? The Three-Eyed Raven did tell him when they first met that Bran would never walk again, but he would fly. And it is here, under the tutelage of the Three-Eyed Raven, that Bran has learned to harness his abilities.

We might never know exactly who the (show’s) Three-Eyed Raven was in his past life, but his role in the Great War seems to be defined by him truly learning everything over a thousand years, so that he could teach Bran “everything” he needs to know.


And that’s why, despite what he was told, Bran’s fate might yet be to become the Three-Eyed Raven. That role doesn’t seem to be defined by living in a tree under the ground for 1,000 years, but rather in knowing all the secrets and lessons of history needed to save the living from the dead.

Bran might never be an old man in a tree, but he will become the Three-Eyed Raven, and that could be everything.

But what do you think? What is the real nature of the relationship between Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Images: HBO

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