tv review – HBO’s Game Of Thrones, episode 4.8

Let me preface this review by stating that it does contain spoilers for the latest episode, like all my TV episode reviews do. If you haven’t seen Game Of Thrones‘ ‘The Mountain And The Viper’ yet, I recommend you watch the episode first and return later. Or proceed at your own risk. Still here? Good, let’s go.

Can the good guys please catch a break? ‘The Mountain And The Viper’ once again proved that everyone watching Game Of Thrones is a sadomasochist to some extent because, once again, a guy everyone was rooting for bit the dust in the most unpleasant manner possible, leaving viewers shocked, in tears, depressed, furious, or all of the above. The big fight that’s been dangled in front us all season, the dual between Oberyn Martell and Ser Gregor Clegane, finally took place and while it was a marvelously executed scene, its wrap-up was the stuff of nightmares. “I’m going to kill that,” Oberyn boasted in front of his lover and of course Tyrion, the man whose life he was also responsible for, before he entered the arena. And for a while it seemed he was actually going to succeed. Oberyn stuck his spear into Clegane’s gut, sliced the Mountain’s leg, had him on his back, could’ve won… but then he got too cocky. Desperate for revenge and answers the Red Viper kept prancing around the arena demanding a confession, until he gave Clegane the one opening he needed: the Mountain threw Oberyn on the ground, knocked his teeth from his mouth and gouged out his eyes before he finally crushed the Viper’s head like it was nothing. Cue Cersei’s pleased grin, Tywin’s smug face, Jaime’s disillusionment and Tyrion’s expression of utter disbelief and fear. Good times.

Fortunately the episode also gave us a few feelgood moments, by Game Of Thrones standards at least. The conversation Tyrion and Jaime had in the dungeon was another example of brotherly love between the two and both Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s sweet subdued performance and Peter Dinklage’s wonderful acting sold a scene that was basically little more than an analogical anecdote. Because of these two actors it was abundantly clear these two just wanted to spend some time together before Tyrion’s fate was decided. It’s subtle scenes like these that nicely balance out the big tough moments and convey so much by using very little. But the best scenes, apart from the titular fight, were Sansa’s scenes. Now the character finally has more to do Sophie Turner really shines as the eldest Stark girl, and this week’s episode was no exception. Following her aunt’s death, Baelish was interrogated and Sansa herself got called in to testify, with fantastic results: Sansa won the jury’s sympathy by twisting the truth in her favor, effectively saving Baelish and finally revealing her own identity. She’s on her way to become a smart and gifted manipulator and it will be interesting to see where she goes next. The final shot of her this episode, which saw her stride down the Eyrie’s stairs in a black feathered dress, really hinted at greater things to come. She’s well on her way to transform from timid victim to an empowered woman with a lust for vengeance. Will Sansa use Littlefinger’s feelings for her to her advantage? Will she become the next Lady of the Vale? Will she become the strong Stark woman that finally brings down the Lannisters? One can dream.

Furthermore ‘The Mountain And The Viper’ treated us to the Mole’s Town slaughter (which Sam’s girlfriend and her child survived thanks to Ygritte’s one moment of mercy), a bathing Missandei and a interested Grey Worm, and the mandatory Castle Black scene of Jon Snow and the rest talking about the impending siege. I didn’t much care for the latter or, what seems to be, the budding romance between Daenerys’ translator and her Unsullied commander, but there were a handful of much more interesting scenes too. Ser Barristan received a message, for example, that finally revealed that Jorah Mormont used to be a spy for the Lannisters, something that got him banished by Daenerys and sent to King’s Landing. Another scene saw Reek “masquerade” as Theon, resulting in the capture of a fort, which gave Ramsay Snow what he longed for: his father’s approval, which means he can now finally call himself a Bolton. The most wonderful moment to me was the scene of Arya and the Hound making it to the Vale, where they were told that Arya’s aunt had died, to which her response was to start laughing insanely. I was half expecting Robin Arryn to pass by at that moment, after Littlefinger got rid of the little creep, but that didn’t happen. Sansa and Arya also didn’t meet… yet. Hopefully they do soon: we can use a little happy Stark family reunion.

‘The Mountain And The Viper’ was a fantastic episode all around, its final note a gut punch. 9/10

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