I must start at the very end. The powerhouse ending of The Mountain and The Viper is probably one of the single finest sequences every produced for television. Everything about Oberyn and The Mountain’s trial by combat is just astounding: the way Oberyn keeps flipping around – slowly raising his voice as he taunts his opponent into admitting the truth, the tense stares from Tyrion and the royal family as we slowly reach a climax, and the utterly traumatic way The Mountain rises back to life and gouges Oberyn’s eyes before popping his head into a million bits. Every single detail is gruesomely effective, creating the kind of television moment you don’t get to experience very often. Spectacular stuff in every way!
And what of Tyrion’s speech about his cousin Orson and the beetles? A lot of fan theories have surfaced regarding the monologue’s true nature, but I choose to look at it as a sermon about how demented and vicious human beings can be. A case could also be made that it’s about trying to unravel the mysteries of our world and the answers we seldom receive. Of course there’s also the obvious similarities between the Mountain and Orson, as the former crushed Oberyn just like the latter did with his bugs. Whatever its meaning, it’s an ominous scene that’s exquisitely performed by Peter Dinklage, and it also manages to be heartwarming as we witness two brothers share a potentially final laugh together.
The Mountain and The Viper is also notable because it finally causes a rift between Jorah and Dany. The reveal that he had been spying on Dany since the very beginning (while simultaneously helping her) is a definite stunner, and the scene in which Dany exiles Jorah and threatens to behead him is beautifully played by Emilia Clarke. The actress capably channels Dany’s rage and betrayal, and the end result is an emotionally-charged scene that could only be paid off after years of buildup.
Finally we’ve got Sansa who completes her transformation into a manipulative player in the game of thrones. Watching her lie to the Vale’s council to protect Littlefinger is a fine character-building moment for the young Stark, as she finally accepts what she must do in order to stay alive in this cutthroat world. In case the subtleties of this storyline were lost on you, we also got to witness Sansa unveil a brand new look (hello extreme makeover) as Littlefinger watched in awe.
Bits & Beheadings
– Loved Ygritte protecting Gilly and her child during the Wildling attack on Mole’s town.
– Wonderfully innocent scene with a shy Grey Worm watching a naked Missandei as she bathes in the lake. Then she covers herself and he ducks underwater. I’m rooting for them as a couple.
– Dany referring to a man’s reproductive organs as “The Pillar and The Stones” – that’s what comedies are made of.
– If the episode had any letdowns, it would be the tedious storyline with Ramsay sending “Reek” to masquerade as his old self (Theon) before taking over The Moat.
– Amazing continuity as always with Dany mentioning the poisoned wine and Drogo’s child.
– After retaking the Moat, Roose Bolton legitimizes Ramsay as a true Bolton. Basically Ramsay is just another needy boy aching for his father’s approval.
– The most epic moment in a long time: Arya’s hysterical laugh when she arrives at the Vale and learns of her aunt’s death. The echoes of her laughter are just priceless. I love Maisie Williams.
– Will we ever see Robin again?
– Foreshadowing for anyone who’s watching subsequent seasons: the line about people dying while squatting on their chamber pots. Ha!
– When it’s time, Jaime can barely look at his brother and mutters good luck under his breath before leaving the cell.
– Hilarious bit: Oberyn is so confident he’s drinking before the big fight.
– It’s a quick moment but Cersei gets the most sinister smile of all time when Oberyn is slaughtered.
– It’s interesting to note that the line Oberyn keeps repeating is “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” But when The Mountain finally turns the tables, he shifts the order into “I killed her children. Then I raped her. Then I smashed her head in like this!”. Chilling isn’t it?
Kings & Quips
Arya: I wanted to see the look in his eyes when he knew it was over.
The Hound: Aye, nothing in the world beats that look.
The Hound: Little shit deserved to die, but poison– poison’s a woman’s weapon.
Arya: I’d have killed Joffrey with a chicken bone if I had to.
The Hound: I’d pay good money to see that.
The Hound: You’re her blood. Family, honor, all that horseshit. It’s all you lords and ladies ever talk about.
Arya: I’m not a lady.
Jaime: You’d think being tormented from birth would have given you some affinity for the afflicted.
Tyrion: On the contrary. Laughing at another person’s misery was the only thing that made me feel like everyone else.
Tyrion: I was the smartest person I knew. Certainly I had the wherewithal to unravel the mysteries that lay at the heart of a moron. So I went to Maester Volarik’s library. Volarik.
Jaime: Tried to touch me once.
Tyrion: Turns out, far too much has been written about great men and not nearly enough about morons.
Ellaria: You’re going to fight that?
Oberyn: I’m going to kill that.
The rest of the hour might not be as perfect, but the final sequence alone makes this episode an unforgettable classic.