Welcome to the Fresh Prince of Westeros, a Game of Thrones Recap. Needless to say, MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILERS lie within these walls. Enter at your own caution. This week, we recap ‘The Mountain and the Viper…’
…in which new mysteries are revealed, new questions raised. Why is Sansa dressed like a Maleficent stunt double? How is Pycelle still alive? How badly would it actually hurt to have your skull smashed to powder? This Game of Thrones episode promises blood, being tiled after the champions of Tyrion’s trial: The Mountain, Gregor Clegane, Tywin Lannister’s ruthless top soldier, and Oberyn Martell, the Prince of Dorne, also known in swankier circles as the Red Viper. As Tyrion says, you don’t earn a nickname like that without being a badass.
But, of course, the showrunners tease us with the promise of a fight and make us wait the whole episode before we get to see it. Before blood is spilled on that nifty little arena, we spend some time with Sansa, Reek and Ramsay, Arya, and Gilly.
First, Gilly. Poor, sweet, inbred Gilly.
We open on Mole’s town, a village that doubles as a brothel (convenient!). Prostitute #4 carouses with some lonely Night’s Watchmen, while Prostitute #7 confronts Gilly about her noisy baby. An ‘owl’ hoots outside and Gilly shuts the woman up, recognizing the sound for what it actually is: a Wildling signal. Ironically, Gilly is the only one who’s got the savvy to survive. The wildlings, led by Tormund, Ygritte (*spits*) and the creepy scar guy that looks like an Engineer from Prometheus, hack and slash their way trough Mole’s Town in an attempt to lure the Night’s Watch out of Castle Black and slaughter them in the open. Ygritte spares Gilly, either because she’s got a baby or because she recognizes a fellow Wildling… I’d put my money on the latter.
Erstwhile, Sansa is finally learning to play the game. Least Starky Stark and all around Game of Thrones not favorite, Sansa’s finally getting a new spin on her character. Rather than lie to the Lords of the Vale about her aunt’s murder, Sansa begins with the truth and tells them all that has happened, from her father’s beheading to Littlefinger’s aide in her escape. Then, seamlessly mingling truth and deception, Sansa single-handedly covers up the murder of her aunt and wins the Lords of the Vale over to Littlefinger’s cause. Littlefinger gives the faintest smile, as though surprised and more than a little impressed at the cunning of his ‘niece.’ And that look Sansa gives him as she looks over the old woman’s shoulder… love it!! It says complicity and coldness, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Sansa’s less couth sister has meanwhile arrived at the Eyrie, and approaches the Bloody Gate with the Bloody Hound, only to be told that her aunt has taken a nasty tumble and is now a stain on rocks hundreds of feet below. And Arya laughs! In case there were any doubt that she were starting to crack… it’s hardly an inappropriate reaction though. When you’ve lost so many members of your family, another one almost begins to seem absurd.
I don’t like spending much time talking about Ramsay
Snow Bolton and Reek, because I don’t like either one of them. Reek slinks into Moat Cailin, the principal stronghold of the Ironborn in the North, and convinces them to open their doors, letting in the Bolton army, which proceeds to murder and flay them. Having secured the southernmost castle in the North (and the one that will keep all the irksome southerners out), Ramsay, now confirmed by his father as a Bolton, sets his eyes on his new ‘home’: Winterfell. Oh hey Winterfell, haven’t seen you since Game of Thrones season two. You’re looking a little Harrenhal-ish.
And then finally, with only a handful of minutes left in the episode: the fight! Being American, the grisly action is naturally the thing I look most forward to. But it’s not just a fight: it’s a match to the death, loaded with history and hate and desire for vengeance. The flips and twirls and parries look pretty and please the crowd; Oberyn is every bit the Viper he has the reputation of being, and his spear as he lashes it out at his colossal, clunky foe is nothing if not serpentine. His armor even looks like snake scales. A little on the nose, but still, badass.
And it all works! The panache pays off. The Mountain’s moves are strong but too slow, and Oberyn dodges like quicksilver, even rebounding when he gets knocked to his feet. A few slashes here and there and the Mountain is on his feet, and then a serious blow to the gut seems to do him in. But then. THEN. Oberyn has. To. Talk. WHY DO THEY ALWAYS HAVE TO TALK?! STAHP!
His temperament is his victory as well as his downfall. We can see it coming before it happens: The Mountain grabs his leg, throws him down, gets on top of him, pries his thumbs into his eyes, and pops his head like a water balloon. A really messy, bloody water balloon. Is it too soon to make a ‘farewell, sweet prince’ joke? Cersei smirks when it happens, her victory clenched, and she solves a mystery for us: why was she being so sweet a few episodes ago? Only buttering up the judges, trying to sway them to her cause. Doesn’t matter now; Tyrion has been sentenced, and it looks like the ax will fall. It was a last ditch effort, and it did not work. Excuse me, while I’m over here wiping up tears and puke.
^^^ from Pedro Pascal’s (Oberyn’s) Instagram. An alternate universe, where everything turns out okay? Either way, no staging or CGI necessary. The Mountain is MASSIVE.
- The little boy whose father was killed by Ygritte will kill her. There’s a shot where he watches her slaughter other villagers, as if he’s imprinting her face.
- Newcomer of the year award goes to Oberyn Martell, whose presence was regrettably
cutcrushed short. Oberyn was a man with a motive, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like he was able to achieve very much during his brief tenure on Game of Thrones. Maybe his death will have ramifications in upcoming seasons? I think very much so.
- Granny Olenna Tyrell will show up in the last scene of the season, riding Nymeria the direwolf, and storm King’s Landing with Daenerys’s Unsullied, whom she’s seduced into her service.
Click on Jon Sneeeuuuuu to check out this 1986 remix that Super Audio Time! did of the Game of Thrones theme. Having been born in 1986, I can contest to its badassery.
On a semi-related note, take a gander at this art by Mike Wrobel. If anyone would like to chip in and get me a print of one of each… or just one…
Someone (I can’t find who) re-enacted “that scene” with their baby, and it is a thing of beauty.
+11 Mole’s Town Villagers (and more offscreen)
+2 Ironborn (and a lot more offscreen)
+1 Oberyn Martell
GAME OF THRONES KILL COUNT: 5406
Here’s a preview of whats’ next: