SPOILERS! SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!
Whew. What an episode, right? You know, I’ve been a big fan of this television show since early in season one. I’ve watched kids being pushed out of tower windows, good men beheaded, people burned alive, people being gilded alive, babies being turned into ice zombies, horses decapitated… I’ve watched all that, and for the most part, have shrugged it off after an hour or so.
Then there’s Season 4, Episode 8: The Mountain and the Viper.
I’m still pretty messed up about it, and it’s been about 12 hours or so. Ok, maybe I was sleeping for 5 of those hours. Still, I can’t get it out of my head. Immediately after watching yesterday’s episode, I was useless to the world. I couldn’t do anything but graze the internet, hoping to fill this endless void that the episode created. As a matter of fact, before watching I said to myself, “Ok, Earl you’re going to finish that GUARDicle you outlined earlier, after GoT.” Nope. Couldn’t do it.
The question is, “Why?” Why, after watching the chronicles of all the tragedy that’s befallen the people of Westeros has this one episode made me lose it? Dread. The one thing that thing that this episode created in greater quantity than others is dread: The dearth of hope.
The episode starts off semi hopeful, like they’re building a film version of the “sandwich method” – except, at the end they’ve forgotten the other slice of bread. They always forget the other slice of bread. We see Ygritte (Rose Leslie) in a moment of compassion for Gilly (Hannah Murray) amidst the slaughter of a wildling raid on Mole’s Town. Is it because Ygritte recognizes her as a wildling? Mercy for the baby? Not sure. Either way, we are treated to a piece of dramatic irony as we next see Samwell Tarley (John Bradley) lamenting his decision to leave Gilly to her death at Mole’s Town after the Night’s Watch gets news of the raid. His brothers pull him out of that, however, and we have a little bit of hope peeking through the looming doom.
We continue with light, hope-filled fare as the series starts elevating the tension between the Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) relationship that they started seeding a few episodes ago. Grey Worm gets caught in high school antics, peeking into the girl’s locker room, and getting in a rather creepy staring contest with Missandei’s naughty bits. Grey Worm, being a good guy, later apologizes to Missandei, who says there was nothing to apologize for, and yes – budding love! We don’t get that very often in Game of Thrones. It’s a godsdamned commodity. Which means their heads are going to be on a pike at some point. *sigh* Also, anyone want to start a band called The Pillar and the Stones?
Everything goes to shit from here.
Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) sacks Moat Cailin with the help of the former Greyjoy prince, Reek (Alfie Allen). Later, Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), fulfilling a promise to his son, bestows the Bolton name unto Ramsay. All of a sudden the series’ one true sociopath owns land, title, men, and the power to wield those things. Fucked.
Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) is outed as a traitor. A missive, which took FOR-FUCKIN-EVER in transit, finally gets to Meereen from King’s Landing. I mean, I calculated the transit time using figures from these sites (1, 2) via a combination of ship and horse, and it would take about 47 days for a courier to get from King’s Landing to Meereen. Seven days from King’s Landing to Pentos, about 860 nautical miles, and 40 days by horse from Pentos to Meereen. This site corrobrates the 40 days, as it took Ned Stark the same length of time to travel from Winterfell to King’s Landing, which is just about the distance from Pentos to Meereen. I assume it was a courier, because I’m not sure a raven would carry a piece of parchment that large. Seems though, in story, it may have taken more than a year to actually arrive. The results are catastrophic nonetheless. Ser Jorah mewled like lovesick pup at the feet of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and was rebuked. Not only do I worry about Ser Jorah’s future (the actions of the lovesick and forsaken are rash), but I worry now that Daenerys military council is down to Barristan Selmy, probably one of most famous knights in all the realms, who is in his twilight and Daario Naharis, a sellsword. I get it, why add the traitor in the mix, right? Any way you look at it, situation: Fucked.
Sansa (Sophie Turner), who maybe has been the most naive of the Stark children (perhaps barring Rickon… perhaps) is thrown into the web of intrugue when she covers for Lord Peter Baelish (Aiden Gillen) in the face of interrogation from Lord Royce (Ruper Vansittart). Given the choice to struggle against the spider or become one, she does the latter. It seems in this moment that we see the first inkling of Sansa learning how to play the game of thrones. In her final scene of the episode, she enters frame to show off her self makeover, and it comes off a tad disturbing. While I have never been a fan of the character, mostly because of her nigh-constant victim status and naivete, I still consider this moment a bit of a loss. The last of Eddard Stark’s full children has bought into the game. And while that, along with her foreshadowed union with (or manipulation of) Baelish, may make her a force to be dealt with, I’m torn. I am both gladdened by her potential for kickassery, and dismayed at the deception and sabotage she will have wrought by the end. Fucked.
Arya (Maisie Williams), when faced of the news of her Aunt Lysa’s death does not mourn. She laughs. She laughs in the face of the Hound (Rory McCann), whose sole reason (at first) for keeping her alive was possibility of a bounty in exchange for Arya… from the woman who took an unplanned flight out the moon door last episode. While we’ve known that she had been set on this much darker path for an entire season, embracing the philosophy of the faceless men of Braavos, it’s this moment that seals it. She cares not for her dead blood in the moment, but finds amusement in the fact that one of her enemies has failed, a nice bit of schadenfreude. Alternatively, I suppose, this could be her snapping. She’s alone, for reals… the last of her blood, for all she knows, is dead, and the last semblance of life in Winterfell is lost. Fucked.
And finally, we have the eponymous matchup. Dammit, Oberyn (Pedro Pascal). Your hubris got the better of you in the end. Now, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is literally, royally fucked. While you were busy playing Inigo Montoya, Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) gathered his strength for one last, “Fuck you!” And oh, what a, “Fuck you,” it was. I wondered what kind of force that would have taken, and it looks like The Slate already did the research. According to this paper, all it takes is 520lbs of force. That’s not impossible, considering the fact that Björnsson tips the scales at 420 lbs, not even counting armor. Brigandine over chain mail, that’s an easy 70+ lbs. for someone his size. Factoring in the Mountain’s strength, and it’s completely possible. It was easily of the more greusome deaths on the show. The implications, though, are even worse. Because, barring some miracle or last minute intervention from big brother, Tyrion Lannister: Fucked.
Two more episodes to make it through. Sundays, you can’t come fast enough.
Couldn’t the fight have ended like this, instead?