Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 7: Mocking Bird

Kings Landing: The Usual nest of vipers

Jaime is very very annoyed with his brother for ungratefully throwing his life away. Tyrion, being much more astute, doesn’t see any reason to be grateful for being sent to the wall for a crime he didn’t commit – and yes, the whole farce is a joke. Tyrion also throws some hard truth at Jaime – Tyrion is always going to be disposable to Tywin. More, Tywin wants to dispose of him; Jaime protests that Tywin would sacrifice any of them and Tyrion calls bullshit – Jaime could (quite literally) “kill a king, lose your hand, fuck your sister” and still be the golden son.

Jaime can’t fight for Tyrion in his trial by combat – without his hand he isn’t ready yet (though the idea of Tyrion and Tywin both dying because of the trial is faintly amusing to Tyrion). Tyrion asks Jaime to find Bronn.

And Cersei chooses her champion – Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain. Who is happily butchering some prisoners for funsies.

Unfortunate for Tyrion, Bronn has been nobbled. He has been married off to a wealthy lady through Cersei’s influence giving him much more luxury and a considerable lack of need to be chopped into itty bitty pieces by the Mountain. It’s Bronn’s turn to lay on some hard truths, Tyrion no longer has wealth to offer him and while he is Tyrion’s friend, that doesn’t extend to risking his life for Tyrion – after all, Tyrion has never done the same. They part as friends.

Tyrion gets a visit from Oberyn who, in between making it clear he knew Cersei was trying to turn him against Tyrion and he tells of his first visit to Castlery rock when Tyrion was a newborn baby and how rumour had painted him as so monstrous. But when a young Oberyn was so eager to see this monstrous baby, he was surprised when Cersei showed him Tyrion – a pretty normal baby without any of the claws and tails Oberyn had pictured. But Cersei hated him and blamed him for the death of their mother.

And Oberyn wants revenge on the killers of his sister – the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, who raped and killed his sister and killed her children. Being Tyrion’s champion gives him that chance. I feel this scene would have been far more powerful without Oberyn mentioning cocks every 5 seconds.

The Riverlands: Arya and the Hound

They find a man, injured from an attack, a wound in his stomach killing him slowly. The Hound and Arya both wonder why he doesn’t commit suicide since he is suffering and cannot possibly heal from the wound. He thinks nothing – death - could be worse but Arya creepily refutes: nothing can be neither better, nor worse. It’s nothing. The Hound gives him a last drink before finishing him off, showing Arya a heart blow

And some fool attacks the Hound by biting him. He gets his neck broken – but that leaves his companion free to tell them there’s a price on the Hound’s head and that Joffrey is dead. Arya recognises the man as a prisoner heading to the wall who threatened her. The Hound asks if he’s on Arya’s death list but alas it cannot be – she doesn’t know his name. So The Hound asks, the bounty hunter rather foolishly tells them – and Arya stabs him through the heart. Even the Hound is a little impressed.

When they rest, Arya points out the Hound needs to cauterise the wound or it will become infected. Of course, he’s terrified of fire. He pouts and stomps about the trouble Arya’s caused him – before seeming to regret and telling Arya the truth about his scar; his brother (the Mountain) held his face into the fire). His brother did it and his father protected his brother. Arya washes the wound instead.

On the Road: The Brienne and Pod show!

This time joined by a long absent Hot Pie (one of Arya’s companions to the Night’s Watch) who makes exceedingly good pies and is obsessed about them. Very very obsessed. When Brienne mentions the Starks, he quickly leaves assuring them how traitorous and wrong the Starks are, yes. To which Brienne merrily declares how she is pledged to Catelyn and swore to bring her daughters home – Pod thinks this rather unwise. But Hot Pie, being Arya’s friend, tells them all about Arya being alive, last seen captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners (remember them?) with the Hound.

Brienne wonders where Sansa would go – and Pod says the Eyrie since he knows Lysa is Catelyn’s sister, something Brienne didn’t know. Pod explains Tyrion expected an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Houses of Westeros.

The Eyrie: Sansa

Sansa builds a replica of Winterfell in the snow when she’s joined by Robin. As he talks it’s clear how paranoid Lysa is of the outside world and how she’s passed the opinion on to Robin – and how much of a vicious spoiled child Robin is, taking joy in the idea of dropping people through the Moon Door.  Robin damages Sansa’s castle and he has an epic meltdown temper tantrum when she gently chides him for it – she slaps him. All watched by Littlefinger who agrees that Sansa shouldn’t have hit him – but Lysa should have a long time ago.

Sansa takes the chance to ask Littlefinger why he killed Joffrey and he tells the raw truth – he loved Catelyn and Joffrey had her killed. After reflecting that Sansa could have been his child (if they lived in a world where they could marry for love) right before saying how beautiful Sansa is. Because that is quite possibly the creepiest way ever of paying someone a compliment. And he kisses her. Littlefinger is already capable of creepy, he didn’t need to up the creep factor before the kiss

And this little scene is watched by Lysa the-not-entirely-rational-or-stable.

Lysa invites Sansa for a conversation near the Moon Door, discussing how fascinating it is to watch people fall to their deaths – and how Littlefinger is hers! HERS DAMN YOU! Littlefinger arrives and tries to talk Lysa down while she rants, holding Sansa over the drop. She throws Sansa aside and collapses in tears – and Littlefinger moves to comfort her “silliness”. And pushes her over the edge.

Dragonstone Tannis the joyless

Melisandre greets “Queen” Selyse while in the bath because the show is waaaay behind on its boob quota. She tells Selyse how useful lies are for getting people onside and how she should be totally ok with Melisandre having sex with Stannis. Selyse is a good little fanatic – though she still hates her daughter and wants to leave her behind when she and Stannis head off – but Melisandre says her god of burning people has plans for Shireen. Which is a bad sign.

The North: Where it’s cold and pouty.

Jon and Alliser continue their verbal duelling. Alistair forcing Jon to keep Ghost out of the keep and they disagree on strategy. Jon wants to seal the tunnel through the Wall to stop Mance’s army rolling over them but Alliser thinks that will just cut off their scouting and he’s confident Castle Black can hold. Alliser refuses to listen and holds too much sway over the council – he saddles Jon and Sam with night duty to prove his power.

Meereen Daenerys playing white Ruler lady.

Daario is not taking a hint and has sneaked in to Daenerys’s private quarters to bring her flowers. She’s not impressed. After a brief and not very meaningful apology, he complains, basically, of boredom. He’s a warrior and his soldiers are playing guard (Daenerys isn’t moved by that either) – with the additional talent of being good with women apparently and not having the chance to exercise that because of his Daenerys obsession (she points out there are a lot of women in the city he could pursue). Daenerys sits down and decides to let Daario do what he does best – and orders him to strip. He does.

He leaves her apartments sometimes later, retying his clothes and passes Jorah (if you listen very very very very carefully, you may hear Jorah whimper). Jorah has a long rant about how Daario cannot be trusted – but Daenerys agrees. In fact she’s sending Daario and the Second Sons to Yunkai to take it back – and execute every Master there. Jorah tries to encourage some level of mercy, that she is seeing things too simplistically and her rule is becoming as brutal as the Masters’ was; he also adds that, as a slaver himself, Jorah has committed the same crime the Masters have – and he wouldn’t be here is Ned Stark had had Daenerys’s sense of justice. Daenerys allows some slackening of her order – she also sends Hizdahr (the noble who pleaded to bury his father) with them as ambassador to deliver an ultimatum.

I liked Sansa in the snow – seemingly happy. The first time this child of the North has been happy in a long time is when she is surrounded by the trappings of winter, building a model of home: a lot of nifty symbolism there. And then Robin comes in with his childishness and viciousness – but Sansa is almost wistful at the idea of dropping her enemies through the door (after all she has more than enough cause to hate). In the same scene she says how girls were not part of executions and dealing with bad people in Winterfell – which kind of underscores the reality of Sansa – a child who was so very unprepared for the world she was dropped into, who was too sheltered and too insulated from the cruelties of the world. In her own way, she was every bit as over-protected and sheltered as Robin is and equally poorly served by it.

Is Arya and the Hound having their own similar moment? The Hound’s history bores a hole in the tragedy Arya has wrapped herself in; yes she’s completely alone, but he has always been alone.

And Littlefinger? I don’t know how much is sincere and how much is manipulation? Maybe even both – he loved Cat, definitely, he’s maybe infatuated with Sansa, but did he arrange the kiss to drive Lysa over the edge and set up the big push?

This has been an episode with a lot of hard truths. Tyrion laid plenty down last episode and doubled it over with Jaime this episode – shattering Jaime’s fool illusions that their father treated them equally (and continually hitting his brother with the hard truth of his incest). But along comes Bronn with some of his own excellent truths – about the entitlement that Tyrion feels, about how his friendships are one sided, resting on his wealth and privilege and prestige while to meet his side, Bronn risks life and limb. And this makes me think about last episode with Shae – sure some of what she said was lies, but how much of it was hard truth? How much of it is the simple truth of a sex worker belonging to a man who was vastly more powerful than her? Can we contrast his assumption of Bronn’s willingness to sacrifice himself with his assumption that Shae genuinely loved him and put them together to think that Tyrion has mistaken the vast power and control his gold brings for an extreme level of devotion?

Over in Meeren, Daenerys is continuing to hit on the hard truths that ruling isn’t just as simple as killing everyone you see who you deem bad.