Tales From Westeros – The Mountain and the Viper
And another one bites the dust during last week’s episode, appropriately titled “The Mountain and the Viper”…but let’s start from the beginning, everyone. The opening scene is your typical “going-out” scenario: some friends, some brews, some debauchery. However, in Mole’s Town (the village closest to Castle Black) the revelers look a bit like creatures that have recently emerged from the Bog of Eternal Stench, and the “fun” is perpetually tinged with mean spirits and danger. You can understand why Gilly is just doing her work and not participating in the revelry. All of a sudden—it seems wildlings favor sneak attacks—the place is ransacked by invaders, including Ygritte, Tormund, and the Thenns (The Wildlings You Know®). It’s a brutal scene of flagrant killing and destruction—however, as Ygritte comes upon a cowering Gilly holding her infant son, she shows mercy, giving a curt nod and moving on. The war has begun, kids.
Over in Meereen it’s much warmer and more peaceful, at least for the moment. A bunch of folks are bathing naked in the river, like you do. Dany’s lovely right hand lady Missandei is one of them, and she gets majorly creeped on by the supposedly not-a- sexual-threat Grey Worm. I imagine his internal monologue: “Of all the filthy rivers, in all the slave towns, in all of Slaver’s Bay, she walks into mine.” Later, Missandei is telling Dany about the situation, much like how girls talk about dudes during a hungover boozy Sunday brunch, and Dany’s all like “Girl, you’re a prude. I’ve been traveling with the Dothraki for years.” Anyway, the main takeaway is that Grey Worm may or not still be able to use his “pillar and stones.” And that he is “interested.” And Missandei is cool with it.
Speaking of romance, next we’re treated to the love that dare not speak its name between Ramsay Snow and Theon/Reek. Theon has been charged with taking Moat Cailin, the strategically placed fortress currently held by the Ironborn. Theon knocks on the door, is all like, “Hey I’m the son of the kraken or whatever, please give me your castle in exchange for your lives?” and expects the fierce men of the Iron Islands to simply comply. Their apparent leader sneers at Theon, effectively hitting the nail on its head when he spits out “Only a whip dog would speak this way, or a woman.” (Burnnnn.) The problem is that the Ironmen have been holed up there for too long, and they’re weak and kind of dying. So, the guy behind the leader sinks an axe into his skull and agrees to hand the castle over to Lord Bolton in exchange for survival. The OTHER problem is that this is Ramsay Snow we’re talking about here—he immediately flays the men, as the Boltons are wont to do, and turns the place into a Bodies Exhibit. Later, Ramsay tastes a little slice of heaven as his daddy tells him he’s now a legit Bolton. The North is theirs.
Up in the Eyrie, Littlefinger is having kind of a tough time. The Lords and Ladies of the Vale are suspicious of this “moneylender and whoremonger” (I mean, fair enough) that sneakily moved into the castle—and now Lysa Arryn is dead of an apparent suicide, making him Lord of the Eyrie, and Defender of the Vale? They’d like to speak to his niece Alayne, and at this order Littlefinger starts sweating like one of his former employees in a sept. The moment is tense; we don’t know if Sansa will take this opportunity to remove herself from the clutches of Lord Baelish, or take his side. When she opens up the discussion by claiming she must tell the truth, it’s STILL not clear if she will lie or not. As it turns out, Sansa chooses to do a little of both. She reveals her true identity as Sansa Stark to the astonishment of the crowd, and paints Littlefinger as her savior. You guys…this was awesome. Not only did Sophie Turner kill it again acting-wise, but also Sansa is finally, finally starting to play the game. It helps that she’s learning from a master. You never know if her choice to pledge allegiance to Littlefinger was made in gratitude for his getting her out of King’s Landing, or if it’s a “better the devil you know” situation, because Sansa is keeping her motives to herself. (Remember who taught her that trick? Yeah, Baelish.) The Lords and Ladies are convinced by her performance. Later, Littlefinger asks Sansa, who barely looks up from her needlework, “Why did you help me?” As she claims to know what he wants without explicitly saying it, her handle on the art of feminine wiles seems complete—and even more so when we see her all dolled up, exuding confidence and self-possession as she prepares to be one half of a new power couple.
Back in Meereen, Ser Barristan receives a message that he immediately brings to Ser Jorah. The message is a royal pardon signed by Robert Baratheon, a thank you for spying on Dany early on. Jorah was one of the little birds Lord Varys uses to get his valuable information from, and it was his intel that nearly caused Dany to drink poisoned wine a few seasons ago. Of course, he stopped it from happening because at that point he was devoted to her, but old sins cast long shadows. In a rare instance of mercy, Dany chooses to spare Jorah’s life, excommunicating him instead. Honestly, I’m sure he would have preferred death. Her anger is icy and final, translating into clipped words that leave no question as to his ever getting back in her good graces. Frankly, it’s scarier than her fiery dragon wrath. With a “You betrayed me from the first,” she aims and fires, and Ser Jorah leaves her service.
Probably my favorite part of the episode is when Arya and the Hound finally reach the Eyrie only to discover that Lady Arryn died only three days prior. Arya erupts into hysterical childish laughter that echoes throughout the valley, as the Hound is stunned into silence. It’s like—OF COURSE. And, what now?
Actually, scratch that. My favorite part was definitely the scene between Tyrion and Jaime as they hang in the dungeons before the trial. Tyrion is in his cups, and the brothers reminisce about a simple-minded cousin of theirs named Orson Lannister. As a child, Orson would spend his days smashing beetles just for the fun of it, and Tyrion’s drunken lamentations about how much time he spent trying to figure out WHY are heartbreaking. We knew from the beginning that Tyrion Lannister owned a fine mind, intelligent and curious, compassionate and caring, damaged yet strong. His intimate conversation with Jaime, a monologue really, displayed all of Tyrion’s finest traits and highlighted not only how beyond repair the world seems to be, but what kind of person the world would lose if the trial did not play out in his (and our) favor. It was a nice segue to the main event of the episode, what viewers have been anticipating and fearing…Tyrion’s trial by combat.
Talk about heartbreaking. I watched with eyes half-covered as the brashly confident Oberyn Martell entered the ring with a final kiss to his paramour and a swig of wine. He fought elegantly, with exceptional skill and knowledge of his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, while the Mountain just hurled his mass around and grunted. Oberyn channeled his pain and rage and desire for vengeance, putting on a show that spread looks of amazement and hope on seasoned warriors such as Jaime Lannister. Oberyn’s graceful fighting and repeated mantra of “You raped my sister, you murdered her and you killed her children,” lent a taut rhythm to the scene that paced the suspense to an almost unbearable pitch, until the moment you think the Mountain is finally a goner. Except he’s not. HE’S NOT. He hulks up, throws his worthy rival to the ground and what does he do? He audibly crushes in the eyes and skull of the Red Viper of Dorne. It was vengeance and pride that got Oberyn to that point of near-victory, and it was those same things that caused him to lose sight of the real goal. It’s goddamn tragic.
What did you think? Did the trial play out like you thought it would? Are you sad about Oberyn? (I’m still pouring out a bit of Dornish red for my fallen homie days later.) Oh, and yes it has been confirmed by G.R.R. Martin himself that Oberyn’s mantra was indeed inspired by Inigo Montoya!
-Izzy Vassilakis Eden
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Posted on June 4, 2014, in Geekology, Tales from Westeros, TV and tagged Game of Thrones, Geeks, HBO, nerd, Tales from Westeros, The Mountain and the Viper, TV, Westeros. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.