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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 8

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

And this isn’t even episode 9!59Fwway

This episode was fantastic, in my most honest and humble opinion. Whilst sections diverged from the books slightly, it was all very well written and coherent. My only gripe this week was the Meereen scenes, so we will dust over that first.

Some people are outraged/confused about the whole Grey Worm/Missandei thing. Two arguments have arisen here: 1) THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOKS! And 2) but he is a eunuch! Whilst these are both true, I believe that this little filler story is just a harmless side plot. Firstly, no, nothing like this is in the books – I mean, book-Missandei is only ten years old, for starters. And Grey Worm has no interest in her. In fact, if I remember correctly, the two barely interact. But that isn’t a pivotal plot point, I don’t think, and ergo it can be altered and changed to add some show content. So calm your booky faces. Now, I’m no scientist man, but I think that the fact that he is a eunuch may mean that he has no sexual desires at all – isn’t that the point? So I think that his attachment to Missandei is purely on an emotional level. In the books, it is stated that the Unsullied often go to the brothels to lay with the girls, just for comfort. Perhaps Grey Worm’s infatuation is driven by the same desire? Also boobs. But anyway, that scene wasn’t what let the episode down – no, that honour goes to Daenerys. Jorah’s exile should have been a much bigger deal. I mean, how many “Lord Friendzone” jokes are there out there? In the books, this scene is heart-breaking, and unfortunately I think it is one of those ones that just hasn’t translated too well. I think that this is partly down to the writing for that scene, and partly down to Emilia Clarke’s acting, who seems to be getting progressively worse. I don’t know. I think that she was going for the whole “numb” approach, which is fine, but it just didn’t have the emotional impact that it should have. To add some context, in the books, Barristan and Jorah’s ‘reveals’ happen at the same time: Before Joffrey dismisses him, book-Barristan sat on Robert’s Small Council meetings, and as a result knew about Jorah’s spying from day one. After leaving King’s Landing, he dons the disguise of Arstan Whitebeard – an old man – and seeks out Daenerys. He finds her as early as Qarth, still under the guise, and joins her. For obvious reasons, this couldn’t really be done in a TV adaptation, as we would all know who he was. Anyway, eventually Barristan’s disguise is revealed, and Jorah’s all like “you’re spying on her!” and then Barristan is like “mate, you’re spying on her!” The reason why Jorah is exiled and Barristan isn’t, in a nutshell, is because Barristan comes clean straight away and apologises (Dany still punishes him), whereas Jorah just makes excuse after excuse about his spying and never actually apologises. With a heavy heart, Daenerys banishes him. It’s a shame that this hasn’t been translated well, because obviously it’s quite a big deal, and one that has been bubbling for a while now. I’m starting to think that every episode has one ‘meh’ scene in it…

But there were plenty of good ones to counteract it, s’not all bad! At the Wall, the Wildlings have reached Mole’s Town, and are closing in fast. In fact, episode 9 of this series is going to be another Blackwater-esque episode; that is so say, one fat off battle at Castle Black. According to the episode director, it’s going to dwarf Blackwater. Is that a pun? That might be a pun.

Staying in the north, can we please just take (another) moment to appreciate Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Reek? I know I keep going on about this, but it’s absolutely brilliant. You could see how constantly petrified, broken and terrified he is, especially considering he was this cocky little so-and-so in the earlier seasons. So the story here is that Ramsay wants to please Daddy Bolton by taking the stronghold that is Moat Cailin (we saw it in the opening credits). Moat Cailin is an extremely strategically placed fortress, built in the centre of the swampy lands that separate the Northern Kingdom and the south of Westeros. The Ironborn took it over when Balon Greyjoy decided again that he wanted the North…and just kind of sat there. Reek manages to convince them to leave, promising them safe passage…and then they get flayed. If you were wondering what Reek was muttering through the scene, it was “Reek, Reek, rhymes with meek” – a  rhyme (or variation of) that he repeats consistently throughout the book to remind himself ‘who he really is’. Anyway, in a “one day, all of this will be yours” kind of manner, Roose Bolton, pleased with his bastard, rewards him by legitimising him – he is no longer Ramsay Snow, but Ramsay Bolton. And if you didn’t work it out, that castle that there were heading to at the end of their scene was Winterfell – Roose, as Warden of the North, is claiming the castle as his seat of power.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 8In the Eyrie, Littlefinger is being confronted about Lysa’s sudden, suspicious death. The three people interrogating him are Lord “Bronze” Yohn Royce (who lead the interrogation), Lady Anya Waynwood, and Ser Vance Corbray. The former two are the heads of houses sworn to House Arryn, and the latter is a knight from another noble house in Vale. What’s interesting here is that this may well have been the first time that we see Littlefinger without a plan. Pushing Lysa out of the Moon Door was quite impulsive, I think, and he may not have considered the consequences.  For all he knew, Sansa would spill the beans, which would probably have resulted in fox lord Baelish following in his wife’s footsteps… But, luckily for him, Sansa has picked up a few things in her time at King’s Landing, and uses her own weapon – her tears – to defend Petyr. Oh yes, introducing a new player to the Game: Sansa Stark. These two are going to make quite a formidable team, I think – especially when you think about how much combined influence they have together: Petyr Baelish has the Vale (which is pretty darn big) and Harrenhal (also pretty darn big), whereas Sansa is the key to the North (pretty darn biggest). Fun bit of trivia – Lord Yohn Royce’s son, as Sansa mentioned, joined the Night’s Watch. He was one of the first people we saw brutally die in the very first Game of Thrones episode, in the prologue. So that’s nice to know.

 

Ok, so once again the climax of the episode was King’s Landing, which is generally where shit’s going down. Tyrion’s beetle story was a show-only inclusion, and fans have been baffled about what it meant. There is no right answer, really, so you can decide for yourself – though I think it may allude to how pointless all the killing in Westeros is, and how the gods (if they exist) really don’t seem to care. Another lovely speech though.

On to the main event of “The Mountain and the Viper”…the Mountain and the Viper! In my opinion, this scene was done perfectly. I was worried that Oberyn’s shouting may have been drowned out by

Alternate ending
Alternate ending

the sound of steel on steel, but the fight was paced very well, allowing intervals of mocking-to-hysterical shouting. It was brilliant, epic and gave me chills. Sure, some of the choreography was different to how it is described in the book, and the Mountain didn’t accidentally slice an innocent bystander in half during the fight (yeah…) but who cares – it was exciting, tense and very impressive. But, alas, Oberyn’s hubris got the better of him. See, he had multiple chances to kill the Mountain where he stood. But Oberyn didn’t simply want to kill Gregor Clegane: he needed a confession. There is a passage in the book where Oberyn says something along the lines of “if you die before confessing, I will hunt you through the seven hells”. The Red Viper of Dorne is a renowned fighter, and it shows – and to take down the Mountain is no easy feat. But unfortunately Oberyn makes one wrong move, and it costs him um…pretty dearly. Whether the Mountain died or not is not yet revealed, although even if he did, Tyrion still lost the trial as his champion died first. What’s important to remember here too is that Oberyn wasn’t just some knight or sellsword; he was a Prince of Dorne…I don’t imagine that his death, despite the fact that he willingly put his life on the line, will go down well back home.

I have seen a lot of posts on t’internet in the last few days in which people have been posting their anger at Oberyn’s death. Not the gruesome, horrible manner of it – but the death itself. People claiming that it was only done for shock value, for example. This is all wrong. Events such as Ned’s death, the Red Wedding, and the outcome of this fight are obviously shocking, but that’s not why they’re there. There are very few “good guys” or “bad guys” in Game of Thrones; pretty much everyone is morally grey. Oberyn, no matter how awesome, died due to his own neglect. In a recent post I read on reddit, one user summed it up perfectly: “the whole point of the Song Of Ice And Fire is that characters face the consequences of their actions whilst playing the game of thrones. Ned died because he was naive and put his trust in the wrong people. Roose/Ramsay are still alive because they are playing the game correctly by being intelligent in regards to their alliances.” There is a much deeper meaning than just ‘GRRM likes to kill off characters’ – there is a reason behind all of their deaths. I just hope that fans can see that, and don’t just look at is as ‘an attempt to top the Red Wedding’.

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To tide you over, here is Arya’s slightly maniacal laugh, accompanied by the biggest “….fuck” face I have seen, on the Hound. DON’T READ THE YOUTUBE COMMENTS.

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Game of Thrones Episode Companion: Season 4 Episode 7

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This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.

The title of this episode, “Mockingjaybird”, is an odd one. On paper, it seems to refer exclusively to Petyr Baelish – his homemade sigil is a mockingbird – but usually Game of Thrones’ episode titles have a bit more depth. I’m wracking my brain trying to think of what else this title may refer to (mockingbirds are known to imitate other sounds – could that be something?) but I haven’t really come up with anything, so if you do holla back, gurl.yMtkUCG

This episode re-reintroduced us to Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain That Rides. We’ve seen him a few times before, but just in case you can’t remember, here is some Mountainformation. Gregor Clegane is…a beast. He is a psychopathic powerhouse. It is alluded to in the books that he suffers from major headaches due to his size, so is constantly on painkillers (milk of the poppy), meaning that he can probably take quite a beating. As you are probably aware, his brother is Sandor Clegane: the Hound. We first met Ser Gregor (yes, he is a knight) in season one. He fought in the Tourney of the Hand, killed Ser Hugh of the Vale (lance through neck) and was then unhorsed by Loras Tyrell, before getting in a fight with his brother and storming off in a huff. A few episodes down the line, it is reported that the Mountain is out pillaging the Riverlands. Ned Stark, as Hand of the King, puts a bounty on his head and sends Beric Dondarrion to “bring Ser Gregor to justice”. The Mountain actually kills Lord Dondarrion (more than once, I believe – Dondarrion then goes off and forms the Brotherhood Without Banners) and ends up in Harrenhal, when Arya and Tywin are there. This is when we see him next – in season 2. He was recast, so you may have missed him – he was the lanky fellow who didn’t look particularly intimidating at all, pottering about. He wasn’t very Mountain-y. After leaving Harrenhal, Edmure Tully attempts to lead Clegane and his army into a trap (remember Robb scolded him for it?), resulting in the Mountain fleeing back to the King’s Landing area, where we meet him now. Once again, he has been recast. This time, he is played by Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (no relation), who seems to represent the Mountains physical build a little closer than his predecessor did. Long story short, the Mountain is a big, mean killing machine. And Cersei has chosen him to be her champion.

And he will be fighting….Oberyn Martell! Nicknamed the Red Viper, Oberyn is a fierce warrior in his own right, but also very intelligent.  He blames Gregor Clegane for the death of his sister, Elia: Clegane raped her, murdered her, and killed her children. He also seems to sympathise with Tyrion – we were treated to a lovely, heartfelt speech about how Oberyn and Elia visited baby Tyrion, and how Cersei was…well, a bitch. When Tyrion was born, rumours spread of this monster that Tywin Lannister had conceived – but the truth was, apart from a slightly misshapen head and arms, Tyrion looked relatively normal. This drives home the point that Tyrion made last episode – he has been on trial his whole life for being a dwarf. Oberyn fights for vengeance and sympathy. Some questions have arisen as to why Bronn “abandoned” Tyrion. The truth is, Bronn, as we know, is a sellsword. He never hides it, and in fact not fighting for Tyrion is very consistent with his character: he won’t do anything unless he sees personal gain in it. He has been married off (by Cersei) to Lollys Stokeworth – a noblewoman and daughter of a lord. And then there is Jaime, who, in his current condition, would not stand a chance against the Mountain. Though as Tyrion said, if they were both to die, that would royally screw up Tywin’s direct lineage, as Cersei’s children are Baratheon (in name, anyway).

Whereas the last episode was the first in which we saw zero Starks, this episode gave us another first: the first time we see the Hound without armour! He and Arya were attacked by Rorge and Biter – the two criminals that were in the cage with Jaqen H’ghar in season 2. Arya saved the three’s lives, which is why Jaqen owed her three deaths.  So, to tend to the wound left by Biter, Sandor strips down. Incoming symbolism: when he takes his armour off, he tells Arya the story of how he was burned, leaving him both physically and figuratively vulnerable. This is deep stuff.

Appropriate post-coital clothing.
Appropriate post-coital clothing.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is still being a shit leader. The scene with Daario was a little haphazard, in my humble opinion. This, I think, is largely down to her age scaling from the books, in which she is – at this point in time – about fifteen. Hence, you can kind of see why she falls for bad-boy Daario quite quickly, and might be prone to making rash, cruel (see: Mad King) decisions. It’s just something that hasn’t translated too well, sadly. It all seemed a bit quick and inconsistent with her character. The following scene with Jorah, however, was very good. Remember, the reason why Jorah fled into exile was because he sold slaves for moneyz to please his at-the-time wife. To try and win back favour, he began to spy on Dany for Varys/Robert, but abruptly stopped when he began to fall for the Mother of Dragons. The idea to take back Yunkai is quite grounding for Daenerys, showing that she can’t just conquer three cities and frolic in sunshine and rainbows.

Lastly, the final scene. Sansa building Winterfell in the snow has been a point of inspiration for Deviantartists everywhere since the books were released, as in its own way it is a very beautiful scene. Though fleeting, this is probably the first time that she has felt any notion of safety since leaving home. The cold, the snow, it reminds her of Winterfell. That is, until Robin comes along and gets all spoilt-child-unhealthily-obsessed-with-the-Moondoor on it. Technically he is the Lord of the Eyrie, though his mother rules in his place until he comes of age. Enter creepy Uncy Pete, who has probably had a thing for Sansa since he first laid eyes on her. By eliminating Lysa, the bat-shit crazy bitch, Baelish becomes Lord Protector of the Vale. So, in his possession, Littlefinger currently holds the Eyrie, Harrenhal (Joffrey made him the lord of it), and Winterfell/the North vialf Sansa. This guy, guys, this guy. Not sure how Baelish and Sansa are going to get away with this though – looks awfully suspicious. In the books there is a singer in the room with them, who is a bit of a tool, so they just blame it all on him. One thing, it’s a shame that the climactic scene missed out a pivotal line from the books – instead of saying to Lysa “your sister” before pushing her out the Moondoor, he says “only Cat”, which in my opinion is a lot more impactful. To paraphrase a post from reddit, this line is to Littlefinger what “I am your father” is to Darth Vader. They probably omitted it to avoid confusion, as Catelyn isn’t referred to Cat that often in the series, and some watchers may be like ehhh? Same reason why they changed Roose Bolton’s line at the Red Wedding from “Jaime Lannister sends his regards” to “The Lannisters send their regards”, in case peeps thought that Jaime somehow orchestrated the whole thing. Neither changes really took anything away from the scene.

Well there you have it. Another week, another episode. The next episode is entitled “The Mountain and The Viper”, which is obviously a direct reference to Gregor Clegane and Oberyn Martell. Another weird title, and a bit of a spoiler. We also have to wait two weeks for it, due to Remembrance Day in America next week. So, see you then!