Overall, I thought that I didn’t like this episode as much as the others this season. It featured some of my least favorite storylines in major segments. The choppiness of the editing felt off, as we’ve been spoiled with excellent extended sequences this year. Now, looking back on last night, so many great moments stand out even before the last ten minutes. My gut dislike probably wasn’t because it lacked something that the other hours had this season. It was that I was so excited for The Mountain vs The Viper that nothing else seemed to matter. It is the title of the episode, of course! I’ll get to that final battle in a little bit, but first I’d like to start with the other puzzle pieces in what was an “under-the-radar-good” episode.
Much of this hour dealt with self-preservation, whether it’s taken into one’s own hands or having it bestowed upon them by another. In the Wildling attack, Ygritte chooses pass on Gilly and her child. Was their survival empathy on Ygritte’s part or a way for her to tell others of the ferocity of the wildlings to others? Only survivors can tell tales. Regardless of reasoning (empathy), Gilly has survived quite a lot, as the Knight’s Watchmen later point out in the episode. Additionally, in an episode with some very memorable images, the blood dripping through the planks in the ceiling was a pretty incredible visual.
I find it intriguing how this show chooses to dole out pieces of story lines. Some are instant, others take time. The first example that comes to mind is that Lysa and Littlefinger were responsible for Jon Arryn’s death. Now, this episode brings back Jorah’s original objective: Spy on the little Targaryen girl. While he has saved her numerous times after falling in love with her, this side of his duty was long forgotten. Not this week. His pardon as arrived (sent by Tywin?), Dany finds out his earlier intent. His spying led to the attempts on her life. He cannot be trusted from her point of view. Not only is she betrayed, but must ensure her own survival. His banishment was an excellent scene, as most are when they involve characters we’ve followed for the run of the show. Now what will be of Jorah? Will he head back to King’s Landing or try to make good with the Mother of Dragons through back channels?
As I’ve mentioned, Arya and The Hound are my favorite current pairing and even though we only received a little tasting of the two this week, it stood out above some other aspects. Her laughter in response to hearing the new that her Aunt had died three days before was…refreshing. There is so much senseless murder and death and horror in these character’s lives that you’d expect somebody to find it all funny at some point. This poor girl has seen all of her family murdered, travelled across Westeros to The Vale, and dealt with the ridiculousness of The Hound, only to reach her destination to be greeted by more death and hopelessness. I would probably laugh too. Let’s just hope they don’t turn around, so that we can get a nice reunion of sisters. And let’s face it, what I really want is a Brienne and Hound meet up.
Sansa Stark is a character that has always been handed her lot in life. She has been “going with the flow,” (“forced with the flow?”) season after season. This week, it was pretty incredible to see her taking life and survival into her own hands. As Littlefinger is being questioned of his new bride’s demise, Sansa’s recounting of her tweaked events was epic. For a moment, her testimony sounded like the real thing! She realizes that despite how creep-tastic Littlefinger is, he has been looking out for her—saving Sansa at every turn. He actually cares, even with his deep seeded love for the Stark-Arryn women. At this point, she makes sure that she joins forces with him, on her terms. In her final shot, she has transformed into the woman she was meant to be, circumstances notwithstanding. I guess the next logical question would be how much she is hitching her cart to Littlefinger and what does this all mean for the damaged boy, Robin? This is her route to self-preservation.
Finally, we get to the Sunday Night Fight we’ve all been waiting for—LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!! This show has an incredible fail safe built in—we really have no idea who is going to win any fight because it doesn’t play by the rules of TV. Anybody can die at any time and that’s just the way it is in Westeros. My TV watching shoulder Angel kept telling me that The Mountain would lose so that Tyrion would live. Of course—that’s how TV shows and actor contacts work! My TV Devil, on the other hand, tells me that this is Game of Thrones—soooooooooo… Those final ten fighting minutes were as exciting as anything this show has done action-wise. Even the looks of excitement and defeat shared between Jaime and Tyrion were spot on. The Viper was slick and fast, as the Mountain was strong and slow. But in the end it wasn’t the physical make up that determined the winner—it was pride and revenge that lead to the goriest death that TV has to offer. If only Oberyn just finished the job. Once he kept trying to get the giant man to open his mouth and say the word, you knew it was all over. I just didn’t expect how it ended. The eyes, the head, the blood, the splatter, the admission, the screams, the Lannister smiles, and the overhead shot (pun intended) of the body in the arena. Only in Westeros. Eat that Walking Dead! (Another pun) If we actually lose Tyrion in the next two weeks, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. I’m scared, which is why I had so much stake in that match.
Bits and Pieces
- The weird blossoming love between Grey Worm and Dany’s interpreter was kind of sweet. In a show that feels as if it has thousands of characters, it’s nice to see some moments like this from very small characters. Will anything happen? I don’t know if I want to see that visual if it does. (I also loved the “girl talk-braiding hair” sequence. Dany may be a Queen, but she is still young and needs friends/girl time.
- I find it interesting that Dany is most upset by the fact that Jorah wrote to Vayres about her pregnancy. This may be a window into her psyche and
why she treats her dragons as children, as they take the emotional place of her losing Drago’s offspring. She was made to be a mother, which conflicts with her ruling and informs many of her decisions.
- The Ramsay Snow storyline hasn’t interested me much, but Reek pretending to be his old Theon self and almost breaking down was pretty exciting this week.
- I really enjoyed the pre-fight prison conversation between Jaime and Tyrion. They felt more brotherly than ever, as there was an underlying sense that this would be the last time they would
be able to share a moment. Even the seemingly boring and pointless beetle story carried weight. (For the record, I didn’t find that story boring or pointless.)
Keep on Watchin’!