Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 8: The Mountain and the Viper REVIEW

Well… that happened then. 

But, in typical Game of Thrones fashion, let’s wait right up until the end to talk about, well, that. We knew it was coming all episode, and I was damn near on the edge of my seat for it, but they teased us with some other good stuff first. And some great stuff. 

I suppose I should begin by saying: Poor Jorah!! Dany finally knows his original purpose for being with her – to spy on her for Varys. His information, that she was pregnant with Khal Drogo’s child, earned him a pardon that was never sent back in Season 1. At least, until now. Jorah rightly surmises that Tywin Lannister is behind this, eager to part Dany with her closest advisor. He rightfully assumes she will be the weaker without Jorah at her side. The truth is, I don’t think even Dany realizes just how much she has relied on Jorah since day one. And for that matter… I think she was ridiculously harsh with him. 

Yes, he was reporting on her at first. But put yourself in his place. He’d been vanished from the Seven Kingdoms, from his home, his family name in tatters. Imagine growing up with Jeor Mormont as your father, and how disappointed he would have been in him. He gets an offer from Varys, telling him that if he spied on the last two Targaryen children, he could come home. Bare in mind, at the time he thought of the Targaryen’s as the rest of Westeros did – spawn of the Mad King, nothing more. In all honesty, I can’t say I wouldn’t have agreed to spy on them. It’s what he did after that matters. He chose to save Dany instead of watch her die. He stood by her in Quarth. He helped her take Astapor and Meereen. Yes, he dreamed of home, but he dreamed of taking her there with him. And, of course, he utterly loved her. And was forced to watch her drool over “bad boy” Daario (yes, I still dislike him). He more than proved his loyalty, and deserved better than what he got. 

If I’m honest, this was probably one of the few times the book has surpassed the show. In the novel, if I remember correctly, Dany is shocked by the news, and in her anger sends Jorah off on a mission involving him wading through a sewer while she debates what to do. When he returns, she is actually ready to forgive him, but he will not properly admit what he did was wrong – he is too focused on everything he has done for her since. In a fit of rage she banishes him, but it is NOT easy. In the show, it seems that it was no hard decision for her. It was almost like she was firing a bad employee. This should have been a much more difficult situation, and I hope the coming episodes will show that this was, indeed, very hard for her. 

And on the subject of Meereen, did we really need 5 minutes of Grey Worm and Missandei? I guess they’re leading up to something here, but I dunno… I was just seriously wanting to get to King’s Landing, damn it! 

Things improved up on the Wall, as we see Tormond and Ygritte storm Mowestown and kill both Crows and Whores alike. Ygritte may be a fierce killer, and may seriously want to suspend Jon by his Theon Greyjoys, but she does have a heart. She let Gilly and her child live, and even told her to keep quiet so as to stay alive. But she’s damaged, angry and extremely dangerous. There is a showdown coming between her and Jon. 

Up at Castle Black, Jon, Sam, Ed, Pip and Grenn look tired and already defeated. Tormond’s lot are coming from the South, while Mance Rayder’s army of 100,000 are coming from the North. With barley 100 men, this promises to be a very Helms Deep situation. And a very promising 9th episode. After all, episode 9 is usually where some serious shit goes down on Game of Thrones. 

Things do look bleak in the North, as it seems the Boltons now have complete control of it. The Iron Born have pretty much all been driven back to the Iron Islands with their tales between their legs… those lucky enough to make it out. It was interesting here to see Ramsay show a moment of weakness. He craves acceptance from his father, and its this craving that has probably turned him into what he is. I knew for a fact that the Iron Born who surrendered would be facing a flaying, not a safe trip home. Ramsay got his wish tonight, now fully named as a Bolton and his father’s heir. And now the Bolton army have returned to the stronghold of the North… Winterfell. And, as a bonus, Ramsay gets to keep his Reek.

This was, I think, Sansa Stark’s finest episode yet. Sophie Turner had a lot to act through tonight, and excelled at the lot of it. The show did a very good job in making you think that Littlefinger was done for – that Sansa would come in and confess all. Instead, she tells a blatant lie for him. From the outside, it looked like Sansa has finally toughened up. She played the situation to her advantage, deciding that Littlefinger was more useful to her alive than dead. She certainly seems more confident now, and it even suggests she thinks she now has Littlefinger under her thumb. But I don’t think so. Littlefinger is not the type of man to take a risk as big as killing Lysa Arryn in her own castle and not have a plan. He manipulated Sansa into doing that, and now he basically has control of the Lord of the Vale, Robin. Which, basically, puts him in charge of the Vale. Littlefinger is making his own move, one that does not support the Lannisters, the Boltons, or the Starks. Just another example of how dangerous he is.

This also led to the hilarious scene with Arya and the Hound. You gotta feel sorry for the Hound. He kidnaps Arya and drags her to the Twins, just in time to witness the Red Wedding. He then drags her all the way to the Vale, to find her aunt is dead. Where the hell does he take her now? The biggest bit of karma this show has done so far… I had Arya’s reaction also. However, there was a hint of bleakness, as its looking as though the Hound is falling ill. Will he even survive the season, right when he got some redemption with Arya?  

But now, we get to the major set piece of this episode: King’s Landing. When we finally saw Tyrion in that dungeon, with fifteen minutes to go, I couldn’t help thinking, finally! That nice little talk between him and Jaime, using the beetle analogy, was yet another example of how damn good the writing on this show is. That Lannister cousin, crushing beetles just because he wanted to and could, sums up the Lannister in a nutshell, and just how mindless it all is. Except with Tyrion, as far as his father is concerned, he’s just another beetle. 

Then, we went outside. And that fight happened. 

What a spectacle. The producers have come out and said that this fight was always on their minds from the beginning, and they wanted to get it right. In that, they succeeded. It was just as much about the characters as it was about the fighting, though by God was Oberyn good with that spear. He finally was getting an opportunity to face the Mountain, something he has craved for years. And, for the most part, he out fought him at every turn. Except when the Mountain landed a blow. Oberyn’s failure was his pride, and his gloating. More than the Mountain’s head, he wanted his confession. And his incrimination of Tywin. In the Lannister stronghold, in front of the man himself, Oberyn publicly accused him of ordering the rape and murder of his sister and her children. Alas, he wanted this so much that he did not sense the danger, even when others did. All it took was one chance for the Mountain to get hold of him, and Game of Thrones delivered the best death scene its done yet. By far. Splash!

If I’m honest, this was one death that really bugged me. Yes, Game of Thrones is famous for killing off its characters, but we at least get a chance to properly get to know them first. Oberyn was introduced quickly then offed even quicker. Yes, his death is going to have serious repercussions – the Mountain did confess, but I still feel its a shame to say goodbye to such an awesome character so soon. But, I suppose it was worth it for that final scene alone. 

So, Tyrion’s been sentenced to death. Will Tyrion see this season out? 2 episodes to go…

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