Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 8: The Mountain and the Viper

In the North where it’s bloody cold and rather boring

Gilly isn’t exactly fitting in in the raucous brothel, nor is her crying baby popular; but being a Wildling (kind of) means she does recognise the signals the Wildlings make when planning to attack a place. Ygritte and her band have a merry little massacre (we saw prostitutes apparently having fun. This will not stand on Game of Thrones!) while Gilly hides – but her noisy baby leaves Ygritte to her. Ygritte indicates for her to be quiet and leaves them alone – awww heart of gold on Ygritte (ignore the gazillion dead innocents in her wake).

At Castle Black, the Nights Watch are angry and upset about the town being massacred, including several Nights Watch brothers sneaking out of town to visit the brothel; Sam is obviously gutted about Gilly and the baby (who he thinks are dead. On other shows I might say “hah, they’re not going to kill a baby” but I think if I say that now George R R Martin will hear and consider it a challenge). Though the other watchmen point out that Gilly’s actually pretty damn tough all things considered so may have survived. Anyway they’re all grim about the Wildings killing them all and then I don’t get to listen to the pouting! Yay.

Meereen Daenerys, who has learned that “kill all the things!” is not a ruling method.

Grey Worm and his men are bathing (in trousers) while Missandei and some other women wash (completely naked); Missandei notices Grey Worm watching her and tries to cover her breasts – and Grey worm, embarrassed, ducks beneath the water

Missandei talks about this with Daenerys (while Daenerys does Missandei’s hair) who, not very helpfully, tells all about the Dorthraki having no concept of nudity and happily having sex in front of everyone. She then tries to claim that Grey Worm and the Unsullied don’t care about naked bodies and Missandei counters that he most certainly was. Daenerys then muses on exactly what is involved in the castration of slaves. Daenerys’s mind works in odd ways.

Grey Worm finds Missandei and apologises for scaring her. She responds with “I’m sorry you were castrated” because spending too much time around Daenerys does odd things to your thinking. Grey Worm isn’t sad about it because, through a convoluted chain of logic, being cut allowed him to meet Missandei. Awww such a sweet and…. strange little romance.

Away from that, Ser Barristan receives a message – which he takes to Jorah. Robert gave him a full pardon for spying on Daenerys (it took this message rather a long time to reach Jorah). Jorah wants a chance to explain this to Daenerys in private but Ser Barristan (who, it has to be said, doesn’t have the best record of living monarchs) decides letting a proven spy be alone with their Queen is not something they’ll be doing.

He gets to try and explain it to Daenerys with her guards. She won’t let him distract or dodge and forces him to confess to betraying her from the very beginning – he falls to his knees begging forgiveness. He finally admits to loving her but she won’t hear it – not from the man working for Robert Baratheon who killed her father. She exiles him from Meereen to really angsty violin music.

Moat Cailin Where Ramsay makes a determined attempt at being the creepiest guy in Westeros

Ramsay Snow coaches Theon on how to be… Theon, while still reminding him he’s Reek. Theon goes to the garrison of Iron men who are not exactly living the high life. Theon offers Ramsay’s purported deal – the garrison is outnumbered, hungry and dying of sickness – he will let them leave unharmed if they surrender. Theon manages to sell it with only a little whimpering – it doesn’t convince the garrison commander but he gets quickly axe murdered by his men who don’t really like the idea of dying slowly of plague. They agree to the terms

And Ramsay has them all flayed for funsies. Of course he does (he believes in keeping tradition alive. And being creepy).

Roose Bolton arrives and is very pleased; dismissing the missing Stark kids and exalting over the huge Northern kingdom, he acknowledges Ramsay as his son – Ramsay Bolton. Just what Ramsay always wanted.

The Eyrie Baelish’s machinations

Lord Royce and a council of other Vale nobles question Baelish harshly about his character (money lender, brothel keeper, Lannister’s pet etc) – since the death (“suicide” and, no, not everyone believes that) of Lyssa, I take this as Baelish trying to secure his position as Regent of the Vale. They call Sansa (or “Alayne”) to serve as witness to that “suicide”. Sansa reveals her true identity; and she speaks in defence for Baelish, how he was her friend and defender, how he lied for her and protected her. Sansa also spins some rather well crafted lies about her aunt – her jealousy, her insecurity and how it drove her to suicide after Baelish gave her such an “innocent familial kiss”. Sansa’s performance is emotional and excellent. The older woman on the council rushes to comfort the tearful Sansa.

Why, I do think Sansa just started playing the game.

Vindicated, Baelish is now in a position to question Lord Royce and the other Vale lords about the Vale’s inaction in the war, Lysa held them back while their old allies (the Starks and the Tullies) were defeated by the Lannisters. He seems to be exhorting them to war but then turns it into they actually training Lord Robyn to be, well, a lord.

When she’s alone Baelish questions Sansa about why she lied for him – and she presents some pretty sensible political reasoning.

Baelish begins to bring Robyn out of his fear of the Vale, the paranoia instilled by his mother – and Sansa joins them with a lot more confidence and dressed a lot more daringly than usual.

Also in The Vale The Hound and Arya continue their wandering

They talk about Joffrey’s death, Arya’s wish to see it and The Hound’s disdain for poison – which Arya mocks. You kill your enemies with whatever tool you have. Arya constantly manages to pull out lines that make me want to both applaud her and cringe at the same time.

They reach the Gate leading to the Eyrie, though Arya isn’t entirely convinced that a woman she’s never met will pay money for her. Something even more questionable when they learn Lysa is dead. Arya bursts into hysterical laughter

Kings Landing At last, the action!

Tyrion and Jaime gossip back and forth in a really brotherly fashion and also bring up a cousin who was developmentally disabled who loved to kill beetles, both recognising the cruelty of how he was treated, but also Tyrion’s urge to understand him (and his beetle slaughter). It seems somewhat random but does remind us of Tyrion’s questioning and is, of course, a parallel to the thousands of men dying all for as little or less reason than their cousin, derided as a “moron”, had for killing those beetles.

To the arena and Tyrion is very stressing over Oberyn’s apparently blasé attitude and light armour and even Ellaria is concerned when she sees the size of Gregor Clegane, the Mountain.

They fight and Oberyn is determined to have Gregor confess to the rape and murder of his sister and her children. Gregor is huge, but Oberyn is much faster and more agile in light armour and with a spear – getting in several hits and eventually hamstringing Gregor and stabbing him in the stomach. But Oberyn gets distracted, he’s obsessed with getting Gregor to confess (and accuse Tywin) and gets too close to him – Gregor trips Oberyn and confesses to the rape and murder – as he crushes Oberyn’s head with his bare hands.

Oberyn is dead. Gregor has won the duel. Tyrion is sentenced to death.

Sansa seems to have just stepped up. She played the game and lie expertly to protect Baelish recognising him as a more reliable ally. In part because she also recognised that if she is a desireable beauty then she can and must use that – she knows what Baelish wants, she will use that to make Baelish predictable. It’s both a death of innocence and a new level of determination from her. She keeps this up and Sansa and Arya will be some really nifty and dangerous leaders of House Stark

I find myself epicly not caring about Jorah and Daenerys.

Oberyn could have been a decent character (and he was certainly better than Renly and Loras) – but after several episodes of orgies he dies. Maybe Ellaria will hang around but she's pretty much an extension of Oberyn so far and it’s more likely she will sneak into the LGBT inclusion box with Loras – but at least I don’t think Oberyn won’t get as many nasty little homophobic jokes as Renly and Loras

Gah, I get to see interminable episodes of Sam and Jon and Gilly who can all be eaten by Dire Marmots any time now to say nothing of Theon and Ramsay (whose entire character is "really freaking creepy" which, yes, he does really well, but it is kind of all there is), but the vast potential of Oberyn is snuffed out after a few episodes of group sex?