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Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

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Game of Thrones The Mountain and the Viper

On this week’s Game of Thrones, it’s the battle of the century, Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorn, versus Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides. Let’s get ready to…actually, a bunch of other, even more important stuff happened too.

After some establishing scenes that firmly establish that Moletown is a nugget of crap smothered in crapsauce (burping contests, for real), the reaving Wildlings arrive and just murder everyone. Gilly recognizes their fake owl call and hides, but Ygritte finds her, then spares her. Blood drips through the floorboards. Word apparently reaches Castle Black quickly, and Sam sheds a single tear since he sent Gilly there. Everyone’s bummed out because they know the Wildlings want to draw them from the safety of the castle and pick them off, but on the other hand what’s the point of the Watch if they let Wildlings rape and murder south of the wall?

Then we’re off to sunny Mereen, where Grey Wurm and the Unsullied are bathing in the same stream as some of Danaerys’ handmaidens. GW catches a glimpse of Missandei naked and feels things despite lacking all the necessary parts to act on those feelings. And there’s no doubt, she is a person who looks very very nice without clothes on. Later they have a sort of awkward romantic talk. While this little subplot is totally invented by the show, it does have that certain George R.R. Martin feel to it, what with the tortured, unrequiteable love and potentially tragic lust. But let’s be honest, clever people can find all sorts of fulfilling things to do together even if one of them is missing pillar, stones, or both.

Ramsay Snow sends Theon to Moat Cailin to facilitate a simplified transfer of ownership for Roose Bolton. Theon offers the sick and mostly dead Iron Islanders free passage if they open the gates and surrender, when they are promptly killed and literally flayed (it is the Bolton house sigil, after all). Some really interesting acting there, as Theon struggles to pretend he’s a lord while all the while half reverting into his tortured Reek persona. Brilliant job on that flayed corpse, too.

Later, Roose arrives and takes control of the castle, then explains to Ramsay that he basically controls the entire massive northern kingdom. Then he legitimizes his bastard son, making him Ramsay Bolton. Would have been a touching scene, a father and son bonding, except they’re both psychopaths. I loved how that scene was filmed in a brutal, whipping wind. Wonder if they waited for a windy day, or if it just happened that way.

The best scenes in this episode belonged to Sansa. The other lords of the Vale are investigating Lysa’s death, which Littlefinger has reported as a suicide. This simplifies the plot of the book, which involved a minstrel Lysa was infatuated with, whom ended up framed for the murder by Littlefinger. The lords bring in Sansa to describe what really happened. She reveals her true identity to the lords (including Yohn Royce, an impressive presence in the traditional Royce armor, and someone who appeared to be Professor McGonigall), then confirms Baelish’s version of events with a stunning performance that held just enough truth to win them over.

Sansa’s performance was great, of course, as was the look on Petr’s face and he gradually realized she wasn’t selling him up the river, she was actually saving his ass. Then later, when he asks her why, she replies evenly, without fear in her face. “I know what you want.” Shortly she emerges in a new dress, every bit the badass princess.

It’s easy to like Arya’s character arc. Everyone loves a tomboy, the misfit who resists the expectations placed on her. It’s pretty straightforward, a young girl becomes obsessed with vengeance. But Sansa turns out to be a lot more interesting. She’s designed to make you dislike her at first, a simpering child of privilege with few intellectual tools and a simple-minded view of her life. She learns political intrigue little by little, from her enemies and her allies. This episode shows her full transformation, into a woman you can finally see as someone who could truly be a queen.

The succession of the Arryn titles is confusing, but clearly Petr is sending Robyn off to do potentially dangerous things, possibly so can suffer an accident and give Littlefinger a shot at gaining control. But if Sansa marries Robyn, and there is no other heir, she probably comes to rule the Vale. On the other hand, Littlefinger may actually want Robyn to thrive and succeed as a ruler. He notes that, “Sickly little boys sometimes become powerful men,” a reference to Littlefinger’s own origins.

Meanwhile, Arya and Sandor Clegane have finally arrived at the Vale, where Sandor is certain Lysa will pay Arya’s ransom. The guard solemnly offers condolences, as Lysa is dead. The look of dismay on the Hound’s face made me burst out laughing, and shortly, Arya did too. That was seriously a classic scene. Arya laughing like that is something I’ll remember as one of my favorite little moments on this show.

Ser Jorah’s duplicity is revealed to Dany, and she exiles him. We do get a nice look at regal, royal Daenerys.

There’s a long, long scene of Jaime and Tyrion talking before the trial by combat. It revolves around a cousin named Orson who’d been dropped on his head and spent his life crushing beetles with rocks, and it probably was meant to show how arbitrary and meaningless life and death is, but it was really an overly long shaggy dog story.

The fight was a good one. Oberyn had the skill to defeat the Mountain, and indeed he did. But his obsession with forcing Clegane to confess to the murder of Oberyn’s sister cost him dearly. It was frankly grosser than I expected, and quite an emotional scene. Oberyn’s consort screaming in anguish, Tyrion being condemned to death, Cersei’s glee. Lots going on there. And it really sucks to lose Oberyn. He’s such a great character. Now all we’ll have are the Princess Bride jokes.

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Posted by on Sunday, June 1st, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.