'Game of Thrones' recap: Fight and flight

Published on Monday, 19 May 2014 21:57 - Written by Derek Kuhn, dkuhn@tylerpaper.com

 

*CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD*

 

I was really hoping to see Tyrion’s trial by combat this week, but with so many characters off screen last episode, I understand why the producers are waiting for the showdown.

At the very least, the combatants were revealed.

In Cersie’s corner, standing at well over seven feet, a man renowned for how he tortures men, women and children, he is the Mountain.

In Tyrion’s corner, hailing from Dorne and having a doctorate in poisons, he is known as the Red Viper, he is Oberyn Martell. Metaphorically speaking, it’s geography versus zoology. But that battle will have to wait until June 1 because “Game of Thrones” is taking a Memorial Day weekend break.

This week’s episode starts off with Jaime berating his younger brother Tyrion. Jaime is convinced that Tyrion threw his life away by demanding a trial by combat instead of taking the deal he struck with Tywin. Unbeknownst to Tyrion, Jaime isn’t the fighter he once was, and he won’t be able to be Tyrion’s champion. Jaime also reveals to his little brother that Cersie’s champion will be the Mountain.

In perhaps having the clumsiest to date and worst scene of the series, the Mountain is revealed for the third time. Personally, I don’t have “warm-and-fuzzies” about this guy. I think I preferred the first season’s Mountain. This new one just didn’t seem to fit. He seems too young. Also, his one liner in the episode is just sad. But I’ll reserve full judgment until the new Mountain gets more screen time — hopefully with less dialogue.

Tyrion’s second choice, Bronn, has been bought out by Cersie. I suspected that much during the trial when Shae was called to testify. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise (and didn’t to me) because he has been a consummate sellsword from his first appearance in the series. (And, that’s what sellswords do.) Regardless of his friendship with Tyrion, Bronn’s life is better than it has ever been, and he doesn’t want to fight the “freakishly big and freakishly strong” Mountain. The Mountain wields a great sword with only one hand. I’m not even sure if He-Man could do that.

However, not everyone is afraid of the Mountain. In fact, one person really, really wants to kill him — Oberyn. The Red Viper makes his way to Tyrion’s cell, and after a story that highlights the depths of his sisterly cruelty, Oberyn tells Tyrion that he’s his man and will be his champion. So the fight is now set.

We catch up with Jon Snow just as he returns to Castle Black. Jon advocates what some Crows would consider drastic defense measures in preparation for the wildling army that is less than a month away from the keep. Yet the elite of the Night’s Watch, who are threatened by Jon’s popularity, disregard Jon’s suggestion and write him off. They also assign him late-night sentry duty until the wildling army is spotted. With the way this season is playing out and how previous seasons unfolded, I’m guessing the trial by combat will be episode 8, and the battle at Castle Black will be episode 9 with episode 10 tying up the loose ends as well as providing a hook for next season. Call my timeline a hunch, but history is on my side. For instance, Ned stark was executed in episode 9, Season 1, the battle of Blackwater Bay was Season 2’s episode 9 and Season 3’s episode 9 was the infamous Red Wedding.

Meanwhile in Meereen, Daario is finally successful in seducing Daenerys. After much *ahem* negotiating, Daario persuades Daenerys to send the Second Sons to take back control of Yunkai and to have the mercenaries slay all of the slave masters. Jorah, who is perpetually in the friend zone with Daenerys, convinces her to spare the slave masters’ lives in a merciful effort to sway the regions wealthy.

Arya and the Hound (the Mountain’s younger brother) continue their trek through Westeros, though by the time it’s taking them to reach the Eeryie, I would think that they were on their way to Mordor. Bad “Lord of the Rings” joke aside, the dynamic duo is becoming closer (like a weird father-daughter relationship). The Hound tells Arya how he got his “spatula-face.” He tells her how the Mountain held his face up to a fire when they were boys because he was playing with one of his larger brother’s toys. After that character defining tale, Arya stitches up the Hound’s recently acquired bite wound. The Hound received this wound as a result of the bounty Tywin placed on his head last episode. Arya also got to cross a “new” name off her list. Perhaps one day, she’ll be a faceless man like Jaqen H’ghar from Season 2.

When we catch up with Brienne and Podrick, they find themselves at the inn where Hot Pie from Season 2 remained as Arya and Gentry left with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Although it seems like Hot Pie has honed his cooking, his conversation skills still leave some to be desired. Bre and Pod don’t really care to know how hard it is to make good kidney pot pie, but their conversation eventually leads to Hot Pie telling them of Arya. At first, I didn’t like the pairing, but now they are growing on me.

In the Vale, Sansa has a run-in with Robert “the snow-castle stomper” Arryn. After he stomps Sansa’s miniature Winterfell into oblivion, the red-headed Stark slaps him and the coddled boy runs away. Littlefinger witnesses the entire exchange, and he tells her that Robert deserved it. Sansa asks Littlefinger why he really had Joffrey killed, and he claims that it was because he had Sansa’s mother, who he loved more than anything, killed. Then kind of out of nowhere, Littlefinger kisses Sansa. Lysa, who was spying on her husband, catches the two kissing. That makes the unstable women crank her craziness up to 11.

Sometime after the kiss, Lysa summons Sansa to the Moondoor. It’s there she threatens to throw Sansa through it. In a most timely fashion, Littlefinger arrives and gets his wife to unhand Sansa. As Littlefinger is talking to Lysa who’s back is to the Moondoor, he reveals that he’s only loved one woman ever — Catlyn Stark. Immediately after revealing his affection, Littlefinger shoves Lysa through the Moondoor. Bye Lysa! I knew you were going away because you were just too much of a liability for Littlefinger.

Interestingly enough, in previous episodes, Littlefinger’s personal emblem is revealed to be a mockingbird. This episode was named “Mockingbird,” and I think that it’s fitting considering the mockingbird changes its song to match other bird’s tweets just as Littlefinger changes his song depending on whom he is talking to. The bigger question remains: What’s Littlefinger’s end game?

 

VERDICT

Another strong episode, but the scene with the Mountain was really subpar for the series. The first thing about the new Mountain is that he looks much younger than his storyline younger brother the Hound. Other than that, the Hound and Arya continue to delight. They are developing a really interesting kind-of-like/hate dynamic. For the first time, I enjoyed the pairing of Brienne and Pod. Hopefully they’ll keep developing the two characters in a good way. Melisandre also had a nicely creepy scene with Selyse.

And all the questions about Tyrion’s trial by combat were nicely and succinctly wrapped up. I am glad they didn’t draw it out over two episodes.

 

Rating: 8.6/10

 

PLUSES AND MINUSES

+ Viper to face the Mountain

+ Lysa can’t fly

+ Bre and Pod are gelling

- Casting of the Mountain (they had it right the first time!)