Saturday, June 7, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.08: "The Mountain and the Viper"

“She was always prone to melancholy. My lady wasn’t meant for a world as brutal as ours.”

“The Mountain and the Viper” was yet another episode of “Game of Thrones” that gained a lot of media attention when it aired because of its shocking ending. We’ve seen a lot of violence on “Game of Thrones.” Westeros is a brutal world, no doubt. This episode was a topic of conversation around the lunch table at work this week, and one of my coworkers asked those of us who watched the show “How can you watch all that violence?” In this case, I think it may have been a convenient glare on my television screen from the gorgeous sunny weather outside today that spared me the worst of it. I don’t think this episode will enter my pantheon of best/most memorable “Game of Thrones” episodes, but it was an interesting and entertaining enough way to spend an hour.

As per usual, before we get to the continuation of Tyrion’s trial, we check in with many of the other stories going on around Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. We start this episode in the North, with Molestown (the town closest to Castle Black) being sacked by Wildlings. Before the actual sacking, we see that Molestown is really not at all a pleasant place. It’s pretty raunchy, and poor Gilly is just keeping her head down and trying to do her job. Ygritte of all people finds Gilly and the baby in the middle of the battle, and it a rare moment of compassion, decides to spare them. Up at Castle Black, Sam is devastated when he hears about the attack. He thinks Gilly is probably dead, and he (rightfully) thinks that it’s his fault. His brothers try to give him hope, pointing out that Gilly is nothing if not a survivor.

Next, we head across the Narrow Sea, where we get a chapter in what I think is a kind of odd love story. Grey Worm (the leader of the Unsullied) creeps on some ladies taking a bath, one of which happens to be Dany’s interpreter, Missandei. Grey Worm watches Missandei for a little too long, and she notices. Grey Worm slinks off, kind of embarrassed. Missandei talks the situation over with Dany, who expresses surprise that an Unsullied could be interested in a woman. They both start wondering how much is actually taken when an Unsullied is castrated. Grey Worm apologizes to Missandei, but they both agree that they don’t regret the incident. And it looks like we have the beginnings of a rather odd love story.

Also in Meereen, a kid delivers a fancy document to Ser Barristan. It’s a pardon for Jorah, signed by the late King Robert. Barristan confronts Jorah about this, and Jorah admits that he sent information about Dany back to King’s Landing at several key times. Ser Barristan tells Jorah that Jorah will never be alone with Dany again. Jorah appears before Dany to admit what he has done, and Dany shows no mercy. What really upsets Dany is that Jorah’s information led to the poisoning attempt in season 1 that would have killed her unborn son. Jorah points out that he stopped Dany from drinking the poison, but she doesn’t care. It was too close a call. She banishes Jorah from Meereen (and her presence) permanently.

In the North, Ramsay is sending Theon on a mission. The plan is to take Moat Cailin, a Northern stronghold. Theon is to pretend to be Theon to gain entrance to the Moat, but Ramsay makes Theon assure him that he will always be “Reek” on the inside. Announcing that he is Theon does indeed gain him entrance, but the people of Moat Cailin figure out something is off very quickly. Theon convinces the people of the Moat to surrender to Ramsay, but Ramsay kills them all anyway. Roose Bolton rewards Ramsay for this by letting Ramsay finally take the Bolton name and making him heir. If the Boltons remain Wardens of the North, the North is in for some serious trouble. They’re plain evil. Even worse than the Lannisters, really.

There is also plenty of intrigue in the Vale this week. At the Eyrie there is an inquiry into Lysa’s death, and it appears to be presided over by the region’s small lords. Littlefinger is trying to convince the panel that Lysa committed suicide. The panel forces Sansa to testify, which could have gone very wrong. She admits her true identity, but she doesn’t tell the complete truth about what happened to her Aunt Lysa. She mentions Lysa going crazy after seeing Littlefinger kiss Sansa (although she minimizes the kiss), but then she says the Lysa was so enraged that she threw herself through the Moon Door. After the inquiry, Littlefinger wants to know why Sansa lied and saved him. Sansa’s answer basically amounts to “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” She didn’t trust the other nobles of the Vale, in other words. It is at this moment when Littlefinger realizes that he may have taught Sansa too well. She’s not the silly girl he thought she was, and she has found his weakness (her resemblance to her mother).

The Hound and Arya also arrive in the Vale. While wrapping up their journey, they talk about Joffrey’s death. Arya wishes she had been the one to do the killing, or she at least wishes she could have seen the look on Joffrey’s face. The Hound doesn’t see why it’s so important. He thinks a real good death is through steel, not poison. At the gates to the Eyrie, the Hound and Arya are informed of Lysa’s death, and all Arya can do is laugh. Inside the Eyrie, we see Petyr trying to convince Robin to come into his role as Lord of the Vale. He wants to send Robin on a big Vale-wide publicity tour, basically. That can’t possibly end well.

In King’s Landing, it’s almost time for the Trial by Combat between Prince Oberyn and the Mountain. Before the trial begins, there’s an interesting conversation between Jaime and Tyrion that does a lot to illuminate both characters. Jaime and Tyrion had a cousin Orson who had developmental disabilities and liked to spend his time killing beetles. Tyrion, being the analytical person he is, really wanted to know why his cousin killed beetles, but he could never figure it out before his cousin’s death. Being of an analytical bent myself (it’s how I make my living), I appreciated learning this about Tyrion’s childhood. The trial itself is quite a spectacle. Oberyn seems more flash than substance, compared to the Mountain’s hulking mass. Oberyn does manage to best the Mountain, though, inflicting what should be a fatal wound. Oberyn cares more about getting the Mountain to confess to what he did to the Martell family than he does about winning, though, and that leads to carelessness. While he’s demanding the confession, the Mountain gets back up and kills Oberyn by squeezing Oberyn’s head. It’s a gruesome scene to say the least, and it makes things very difficult for Tyrion from here on out.

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