It wouldn't be a Game of Thrones recap without SPOILERS! Don't keep reading if you aren't caught up to Season 4, Episode 8 of the show. Also, keep the book spoilers to yourself please!
It never ceases to amaze me how [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) manages to keep surprising us with its shifty plot moments. After all of the weddings, betrayals, Reek baths and Stark beheading, I'm still shocked when George R.R. Martin pulls the "LOL JK" on us with our favorite characters.
This episode had a pretty heavy theme of how powerful a name is. Ramsey Snow received a gesture of love in the form of a name, Dany denied Jorah from ever speaking her name and Oberyn obsessed over hearing THE MOUNTAIN confess the name of the one he killed. Oh, and the episode had a lot of death and turmoil.
Let's talk about "The Mountain and the Viper," an episode that goes to incredible lengths to show us that nothing we love matters.
Mole's Town Massacre
Like everyone else, I was frustrated with how the episode started with a ripped off "Masters of the House" bit pulled straight from Les Miserables. I'll admit, though, it was funny to view this side of the North (or Westeros in general), but who really cares about Gilly at this point?
Well, maybe that's just me. After getting a tongue-lashing from the bar wench (not what you think), Gilly's Wildling senses kicked in as she heard the signaling of an attack.
Ygritte and Thenn arrived (where you been, guys?) and wiped out the lot of them, with Ygritte mercifully sparing Gilly, who had the sense to hide. Apparently, Ygritte reads the books or something because I can't understand why she would care about Gilly at all. Perhaps she could tell that Gilly was a fellow Wildling?
Later, Westeros' Finest (Jon Snow, Sam, Edd and friends) discussed the massacre within the soon-to-be-massacred Castle Black. It was a healthy reminder that in next week's episode--"Watchers on the Wall"--Mance Rayder's army of 100,000 men will be assaulting the Night's Watch...of 105 men (which includes a blind guy, Sam and a bunch of criminals who don't even want to be there).
Needless to say, the Night's Watch will have to rely on a miracle to make it all the way to Season 5.
Meereen's Top Unsullied
I'm definitely in the GoT camp that doesn't care in the slightest about Grey Worm and Missandei. Yes, the whole "Pillar and the Stones" bit was the making of a Tumblr meme that I will no doubt be laughing at for months to come, but let's be real. The romance is nowhere to be found in the books, which means it's probably going to end up like a lot of GoT stories: Unresolved.
After all, Grey Worm (as we know) has a pillar, but no stones. But confound it if I don't still enjoy an underdog story. When I saw Grey Worm gawking at Missandei from across the bathing river, I couldn't help but feel for the guy, who is (let's admit it) a catch considering he's the leader of the bloody Unsullied.
For the sake of fairness, I'll admit that there are two more books to come, which means the show might be setting up for something that Martin has not yet published. We've seen this before with how Season 3 stretched out the torture and transformation of Theon Greyjoy, which was glossed over in the books.
Later in Meereen, Ser Barristan received a letter from King's Landing. It was the pardon meant for Ser Jorah signed by Robert Baratheon. Of course, he never sent it because the assassination was never carried out (plus, he died and whatnot).
Barristan was at least a man about it and let Jorah know he was screwed before presenting the pardon to Dany, thus revealing that Jorah was spying for the king back in Season 1.
At first, I wondered if Dany would show forgiveness after everything these two have been through, but Jorah did not present his case very well, which made me (a guy with no legal background) itching to represent him in Law and Order: GoT (a show I'd watch the crap out of).
Instead of explaining himself to Dany and how his allegiance was changed by her Dragon Mothering, Jorah instead confessed his love to her like an idiot, maybe hoping she'd feel the same? Weird hail Mary considering their subplot has been a Game of Friend Zones.
Rather than forgive Jorah, Dany points out that his betrayal led to her attempted assassination, which ultimately led to the death of her child. You could see the realization in Jorah's face that there was no coming back from that. Still, Dany showed some mercy by banishing Jorah, rather than executing him.
So what's next for Jorah? He'll probably stay away from King's Landing, as he suspects that the pardon was sent by Tywin to divide Dany's advisors. Heading back to the Lannisters would probably prove his undoing.
Reek Takes Moat Caillan
If you weren't convinced that Theon Greyjoy has made the full transition to Reek, then this was the episode for you. Ramsey Snow instructed Reek (Theon) to pose as Theon Greyjoy (OK, this is getting confusing) in order to force a surrender of Moat Caillan to Roose Bolton's forces.
Reek/Theon obeys and pulls off a stunning performance of "himself" and eventually gets the tired and weary Ironborn to give up. Naturally, Ramsey doesn't keep his word that he'll spare him, and their forces are "flayed" exactly two seconds later (I love how the show didn't even show their death, probably because there would be enough gruesome moments to come).
For carrying out his father's orders, Ramsey Snow was later rewarded with his father's true name, so now we have to call him Ramsey Bolton. You know what? I'm OK with that because I've been equating the word "Bolton" with "needs to die" ever since the Red Wedding.
Oh, and apparently Reek gives great baths, because that is Ramsey's idea of celebrating.
Trial By Sansa
In "Mockingbird," Lord Baelish pushed his new wife (Lysa Arryn) through the Moon Door right there for Sansa to see. Rather than feel for her crazy aunt, she went along with Baelish's claim that she committed suicide in what is certainly the best performance Sophie Turner has had yet on the show.
She proclaimed Baelish's innocence to the Lords of the Vale, and they seem to have fully bought it. At first, I couldn't understand why Sansa stood up for him, especially when Baelish asked her the same thing some time later, which revealed that it was of her own volition.
But the truth is that Sansa is finally starting to understand how to play the Game of Thrones. She knows that Baelish adores her, and having him around is far more useful to her. We're seeing firsthand how a master manipulator like Baelish is formed, and Sansa is his creepy protégé in a way.
This was symbolized in Sansa's wardrobe change--a makeover that even made Robin forget about his mother's milk for a few seconds.
Speaking of Robin, Baelish protested to the Lords that he must now be groomed for becoming a formidable enemy of the Lannisters, which means he must now tour the Vale, presumably with Sansa at his side. In other words, it's time for Robin to leave the nest. I apologize for that sentence.
But what of Arya Stark? The Hound and Arya finally arrived to The Eyrie, but the watchman revealed to them that her aunt is now dead. Arya snapped into a fit of laughter (which felt earned) while the Hound stood in shock. He's finally realizing that being even somewhat related to Ned Stark is a death sentence.
I'm not sure what the Hound will do now. He doesn't have anyone else to pawn Arya off on for money, and heading to King's Landing is a death sentence. Still, I doubt the guards will let him go since he has a Stark in tow.
The Rumble in King's Landing
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, versus THE MOUNTAIN Clegane (I can't help but all-caps his name).
But first, a message from our sponsors: the beetle crushers.
It wasn't until the end credits that I understood why Jaime and Tyrion rambled in the dungeons about their cousin Orson who smashed beetles during the moments before Tyrion's trial by combat, but it makes perfect sense now. We'll get to that.
Ever since it was announced that the Red Viper would be in Season 4, book readers have been going on and on about why they love this character so much, and this was the episode that was meant to tell us why...albeit for unexpected reasons.
The battle was easily my favorite GoT bout thus far, as we watched the armor-less Oberyn do jump kicks and spear the towering MOUNTAIN, all why repeating the same sentence Princess Bride style.
He was determined that the MOUNTAIN would not die until he confessed his crime of murdering and raping Oberyn's sister, but the MOUNTAIN was too busy breaking Oberyn's spear and not giving a (expletive).
But Oberyn bested the MOUNTAIN and put him on his back, cheering to the crowd like it was a pro-wrestling match. But his cockiness did him in when (GASP!) THE MOUNTAIN grabbed him from the ground, got on top of him and exploded his head with his bare hands, confessing he murdered Oberyn's sister throughout the grisly ordeal.
I won't show the actual "mindblowing" for obvious reasons. I know most of you like to read these recaps snuggled up in bed eating ice cream and listening to Dido, so I don't want you to get sick. After the head explosion, everyone's reactions ranged from "WTF", "Get it" (Cersei), and "you've gotta be kidding me" (Tyrion).
Ellaria's reaction was easily my favorite:
Tyrion's is a close second:
You see, the real theme of this episode is that in the world of [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) , many things are left unresolved. Tyrion and Jaime never found out why Orson smashed beetles relentlessly. Sometimes, justice never really comes in Westeros. Even Oberyn, who vowed revenge against THE MOUNTAIN, was defeated, and his revenge left unresolved.
At the same time, that's the beauty of GoT. We love the show for its commitment to form, which is based on George R.R. Martin's overt tendency to treat his characters like the GoT "gods" treat the people in the story. Like beetles he can smash with a rock while we wonder what the point is.
In the end, Tywin sentenced Tyrion to death as a result of Oberyn's loss. It's unclear whether or not THE MOUNTAIN will survive (he probably will), but since he killed Oberyn first, the fight can't and won't end in a draw. What will Tyrion do now? If Tywin has his way, then we might have to watch one of GoT's most beloved characters get beheaded.
So, what did you think of "The Mountain and the Viper?"