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Season 4, Episode 8, “The Mountain and the Viper”

Tonight’s episode isn’t just about death or battles; it’s about proving your worth as a player. For some, it cost them their lives while others gained power through careful manipulation. And what really lies beneath the surface is the human spirit. It can be easily destroyed or resurrected through choices one makes. Alex Graves directed this phenomenal episode with even more intensity and excitement  building towards the final 2 episodes.

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The Wall

Moles Town falls under attack from the Wildings and the only one to sense danger is Gilly.  Thenns and Giantsbane kill the inhabitants at the Tavern; while Ygritte kills the loudmouth, drunken madam. She hears a baby cry and finds Gilly with her son hiding. She tells her to keep quiet and lets them live.

The next morning, Jon tells Pyp and Grenn, the Wall is next. There are only 102 NW men defending it against the Wilding army of 100,000. Sam sits in tears as he realizes leaving Gilly alone was a mistake.  His friends remind him that she survived Craster and a WW; so she might have escaped. They drink to the upcoming battle and pledge not to come back as “wights”.

It’s evident that the next big battle is at the Wall. It’s going to be epic! Let’s hope Gilly is safe.

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The North

Ramsay reminds Reek to play Theon Greyjoy in order to treat with the Ironborn. He enters the castle with a white flag. Reek meets Ralf Canning who isn’t buying him as Theon Greyjoy.  He becomes terrified as Canning refuses Snow’s terms. Just then, the captain is axed by his fellow mate who wants safe passage home.  The Ironborn surrender as Snow and crew flayed the remaining men.

Later on, Ramsay meets up Roose, informing him that Moat Cailin is taken. Bolton rewards his son by legitimizing him as a Bolton. The caravan makes way to Winterfell as Ramsay looks forward to a bath.

A significant turning point for the Boltons as they capture the Moat and begin to yield their power in the North. Ramsay’s sociopathic nature has kept his pet in line without much hesitation. The horror in Reek/Theon’s eyes said it all when he turned on his own, the Ironborn.

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Meereen

During a moment of peace at the river, Missandei and Grey Worm exchange glances as she stood naked bathing. Daenerys questions her about how the Unsullied are cut. Her handmaid isn’t sure but has often wondered about it, herself.  Later on,  Grey Worm and Missandei meet up in the Throne room where she asks him in the Common Tongue if he remembers being cut but he can’t. He only knows being Unsullied, led him to meet Daenerys and Missandei.  In High Valyrian, he does apologize for making her feel uncomfortable earlier but, she replies, it was ok.

As Selmy patrols the city, he receives a letter that has come from Hand of the King. He discovers Jorah’s secret. Next, Barristan confronts Mormont with the pardon before seeing Dany.  As Jorah is summoned to her Throne Room, Daenerys questions him about being an informant. Jorah tries to defend himself by saying that Tywin Lannister along with Varys; were masterminds behind his betrayal. Dany orders him to leave the city before dawn or he’ll be beheaded.  Jorah rides out into the desert alone.

It’s about time that Jorah’s lies caught with him. We were reminded of this at the beginning of the episode.  The atmosphere was pungent as Jorah begged for forgiveness to an unrelenting Dany.  Perhaps  Selmy’s words to balance injustice with mercy  resonated with the Khalessi since she  banishes him from Meereen .   What will be in store for Jorah, is anyone’s guess. Selmy seems to be the only person Dany can trust now. The budding romance between Grey Worm and Missandei ?

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The Vale

Baelish is questioned by the Lords of the Vale, suspicious of Lysa’s apparent suicide. They question his niece, Alayne. LF becomes uncomfortable as Sansa is brought into the room.  She apologizes to Lord Baelish first, but reveals her true identity as Sansa Stark, taken hostage by the Lannisters after her father was beheaded. She  convinces them that Lord Baelish rescued her from KL and the only person she could trust. She recounts that her aunt tried to threaten her with the Moon  Door after seeing LF kiss her on the cheek as well as corroborates his claim of Lysa falling to her death. She convinces the Lords , as she breaks down in tears while giving her mentor a victorious glance.

Later Baelish visits Sansa in her chambers.  He questions his young prodigy as to why she lied for him. Without looking up, Sansa states that if he were gone, she wouldn’t know what would happen to her.  More importantly, she lets it be known;  she knows what Petyr really wants.

Meanwhile, the Hound and Arya make their way towards the Bloody Gate.  He educates her that men fight with steel but poison is a lady’s weapon. Arya insists she would have killed Joffrey with a chicken bone. They come upon the Gate and announce their arrival. The Hound is stunned as Arya laughs hysterically as both find out, Aunt Lysa is dead.

As Littlefingerand Robin prepare to leave the castle and tour the Vale, Sansa comes down the stairs in revealing, black feathered dress and raven hair.  Baelish is stunned by her new look but pleasantly surprised.

Finally, Sansa is going from pawn to player in GOT. Her convincing testimony to the Lords of the Vale and the priceless look at Littlefinger sealed her deal. Obviously, she has been paying attention to the lessons. Unlike her brothers or Arya, Sansa will have to use her wits/charm to get what she wants including Littlefinger. Kudos to Sophie Turner as Sansa, for giving us a new power player in Westeros.

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Kings Landing

Jaime and Tyrion share a last drink before his trial by combat.  Tyrion recalls their cousin, Orson, a simple minded man that killed beetles. He asks his brother if the Red Viper stands a chance. The bells tow and Jaime’s wishes him luck.

As Tyrion enters the arena,  he sees that Oberyn isn’t armored up and concerned that he is drinking before the fight.  The Mountain comes forth with his squire. Ellaria is stunned by Clegane’s sizeand tells her man, not to leave her alone in the world. Obyern assures her that he will not die today.  Pycelle recites a prayer as Tywin cuts him off.

The Red Viper shows off his skills with a spear to the crowd. He entices the Mountain by making him confess his part in killing his sister and her children.  The Viper constantly jabs at Clegane beginning to unnerve him. Jaime, Ellaria and Tyrion look rather impressed at the moment.  Martel continually taunts Gregor about the murders using it to his advantage and stabs him in the leg and chest. It’s not good enough for the Viper as he removes the spear questioning his rival about who gave the orders implicating Tywin

Martel makes the mistake of getting too close to his opponent; who grabs him and smashes his face and teeth.  The Mountain, out of control, begins to gauge the Viper’s eyes and head as he confesses he killed Elia the same way. Ellaria screams in horror as Oberyn’s brains are splattered on the ground. Tyrion is speechless while Jaime is shocked. Tywin  Lannister proclaims Tyrion’s  guilt and sentences him to death while a smiling Cersei looking on.

Another  well-crafted fight scene between the Viper and the Mountain, one of the best of this season. The landscape outside with an ocean view was the perfect setting. The scene was not only riveting but emotionally intense through the eyes of Jaime, Tywin and Cersei. Oberyn’s death was shocking to all. Tyrion’s fate is sealed with no possible way out. Now we’ll have to wait until the season finale to see what happens. Pedro Pascal  embodied the Red Viper, Oberyn Martel, making him a fan favorite and introducing us to Dorne making the wait for Season 5, even greater.

Random Thought/Quotes:

“ When a slave is castrated, the masters take “all of it”-both the “pillar” and the “stones.” Danerys to Missandei

“You’re going to fight that?” Ellaria Sand to Oberyn Martel, “ I’m going to kill that”

“Poison is a women’s weapon, men kill with steel” Sandor to Arya

“Remember what you are and what you are not, “ Ramsay to Theon

“Better to gamble on the man you know, then the strangers you don’t”  Littlefinger to Sansa

Here is a preview of Episode 9, “Watchers on the Wall”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Limaxis June 8, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Another episode with enough deviation from the canon to keep those who have read the books guessing. I do not recall the sack of Mole’s town from reading, but I’ve missed stuff there before, and besides, it just wouldn’t make sense that the Wildlings (and especially the newly cannibalistic Thenns) would have passed it by. Putting Gilly there instead of in Castle Black added suspense – not whether she’d survive, but how. That bit with Ygritte was clever.
    I, too look forward to the battle to defend the Wall.
    Once again, I find it hard to watch the Theon thread. the Boltons are being well written into the pantheon of great evil villains.
    The introduction of the Missandre/Grey Worm thread is intriguing. I have to go back and rewatch it (and not just to see Nathalie Emmanuel naked) and see if you got the punctuation of the “pillar and stones” quote correct. My recollection was that it was a rhetorical question, not a statement of fact. That would make the prospect even more intriguing. Historical trivia: The Italian opera Castrati only lost their “stones,” and were capable as (even sought after for) lovers.
    As for Ser Jorah, this was another element that had those of us with foreknowledge wondering when the axe would fall. It opens the gates for juicy plot twists to come.
    You read the scene in Sansa’s chamber to indicate that Sansa really knows what Littlefinger wants. He asks, “Do you?” I hope you are right, but I reserve judgement. This is a rare instance where GRRM’s writing reveals nothing of the future yet.
    The Arya/Hound thread is left dangling. If I were the hound, I would ask more questions. If Lady Lysa is indeed dead, someone is still in charge, Robin is Master of the Vale, and Arya is his blood relative. For the plot to return to the canon in Arya’s case, they have to leave the Vale, but that will require skillful writing to carry it off without making the Hound look less clever than I give him credit for.
    About all I can say about the trial by combat is that it was well done. It followed the “script” well and as you say, Pascal did an excellent job portraying the Red Viper as I’d imagined him.
    Ah, hubris! Whom the gods would destroy, they first make proud! At least he got what he wanted – Ser Gregor’s death, and a confession, but at what cost!
    In the Vale, I liked Arya’s contribution to the discussion of Joffrey’s death – that she only wished she’d been there to see the look on his face when he knew it was over. And the Hound’s, “Aye, that’s the best feeling” – or suchlike. And her reply to his statement about men’s and women’s weapons. “I’d have killed him with a chicken bone if I had to;” and his “I’d like to see that, I would!”
    Oh! And foreshadowing! I trust everybody picked up on the last of Baelish’s “many ways people die.” Mwuuhahaha! That’s the kind of thing that makes writing fun!

  • nightshadow June 11, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Good call on the foreshadowing!!
    I wonder how much Theon/Bolton storyline will appear next season.
    Sansa’s story was definitely heavily adapted. I almost wished it happened like that in the books.

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