Welcome to Game of Thrones: A show with so much plot that even the narrative-heavy, transitional episodes have all sorts of important things to talk about. Even if Tyrion didn’t move one step closer to life or death, even if nothing new happened at Castle Black, even if Arya is still only wandering through the wilderness with Sandor Clegane, enough is happening that would make you think that this little setup episode is still one of the best of the season.
Spoiler Alert: As usual, the first two books and any episodes including and preceding the one reviewed are fair games for discussion. Everything else is off limits.
This week, things pick up right where they left off. Okay, we’re not in the court room with Tyrion but it’s Jaime and Tyrion in the dungeons. Poor Jaime is trying to save Tyrion from getting his large-ish head lopped off his shoulders. Tyrion, on the other hand, is far too proud to let people to keep lying about him. And, definitely not for the first time, Jaime admonishes Tyrion for falling in love with a whore again. Instead of fucking a group of Lannister men in front of him, Shae instead fucked him in a court room in front of the whole of King’s Landing.
Anyway, Tyrion’s scenes this week were almost the goodbye scenes of a dying character. He looked for Jaime to be his knight in shining armour but Jaime couldn’t (more than wouldn’t). Even Bronn wouldn’t stand up to The Mountain as Tyrion’s champion having been bought off by Cersei. Bronn always said that he shouldn’t be trusted. The irony is that the two still love each other but both understand that parting ways is what’s best for the both of them. Okay, it’s what’s best for Bronn but I think that Tyrion respects his sellsword friend’s decision after all he’s done for him, even if it kills him.
The best scene of the episode was the scene when Oberyn came to visit Tyrion. It was sort of obvious what the outcome was going to be the second he walked into the room. When they had the justice scene from the Season Four trailer, you knew instantly that this would turn out well for Tyrion. Still, going into this episode, I wouldn’t have expected Oberyn to step up. If it wasn’t for the chance at revenge on The Mountain, perhaps Oberyn would have stayed on the sidelines. It certainly provided some fodder for a great scene between a previously very mysterious Prince Oberyn and a desperate for any help Tyrion.
A commenter over on et geekera told me that this was the first scene that Pedro Pascal shot for this season. Imagine coming in to a new job and you have the single most important task of your whole year thrown at you straight away. That’s what happened here. The whole season swung on this scene. Sure, Tyrion may not get through next week in one piece but it’s that critical glimmer of hope that’s been missing from the show. It’s just a pitch perfect scene and I would have expected this to be the last thing they filmed, not the first.
Last week, I said that Dinklage was going to get the best actor nomination but Charles Dance was the show’s most valuable actor. With Tywin Lannister not in action this week, everyone that had show-stealing scenes had them with The Dinklage. The writers and actors all stepped their game up in those scenes this week. Granted, everyone in those scenes has had great moments before but the quick succession in which the great scenes happened this week made it all the better.
By the way, that’s the third Mountain in the four seasons of this show. Actually, it’s really the third Gregor Clegane in three seasons since The Mountain That Rides did not appear in Season Three. What is with this show and recasting supporting roles?
While many of Game of Thrones’ best episodes spend a lot of the episode focused on one particular location, Mockingbird doesn’t. Instead, it bounces around between scenes. Those three Tyrion scenes were three separate King’s Landing segments.
The Littlefinger scenes of this week’s episode seemed almost like an afterthought that would build into something into the future instead of having the payoff this week. We weren’t looking forward to more plot after the climax of this week’s Tyrion story.
It’s funny, though, that we got from Tyrion to Mrs. Tyrion. Watching Sansa slap Robin certainly confirmed that a bit of her husband rubbed off on her. Well, at least, she picked up how to slap little momma’s boys from Tyrion. And Lord Baelish’s creepy attraction to Sansa confirmed that a bit of her mother rubbed off on her.
On thing that hasn’t rubbed off on anyone is Lysa’s insanity and jealousy. That she’s kept all to herself. Going into this episode, we knew that Littlefinger would still rather have Lady Catelyn and eyed up her daughter as his prize. Every one of Lysa’s actions seems to be motivated by her jealousy of Catelyn.
The ending scene with Lysa’s jealousy driving her truly over the edge and nearly driving Sansa through Chekhov’s Gun- I mean, the Moon Door. Chekhov’s Gun is the dramatic principle that nothing in a narrative should be unnecessary. In this instance, Robin kept going on about “making people fly” out the Moon Door and so we had to have someone fly out the Moon Door. For the longest time, it looked like another Stark was going to bite the dust (at the end of a long fall). In reality, Littlefinger heel turned… or did he face turn by telling Lysa he never loved her and pushing her to her death.
It’s rare that a scene of this show can keep you guessing until the end. You sort of knew that Joffrey was actually going to off Ned. There was no way Tyrion was going to die in the Eyrie or at the Battle of Blackwater. In this instance, right until Lysa pulled Sansa back from the door, I was certain that Sansa was going for a trip out the door. When the writers have you conditioned to expect the worst, you expect Sansa to fly out the door because she’s still one of our quote-unquote heroes. It’s almost relief when Littlefinger does something undeniably villainous that saves the day. It’s kind of like when he had Joffrey killed. He’s still evil but in a not evil way.
One recurring theme I seem to have with these Littlefinger scenes is that I don’t really know what his plan is. The end game is obvious. He wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms. It’s clear that he’s got two under his control as Lord of the Vale and as the likely to be future Lord of Winterfell when he marries Sansa. Of course, that’s assuming that Roose Bolton doesn’t object to that and start war. How controlling two territories will help Littlefinger control the other five remains to be seen. I don’t see how given that no one would consider him a ruler or leader. He has power but who will let him use it on them.
And, shockingly, this week, something happened in Essos that makes me want to write more than “Dany was Dany.”
This week, Dany started playing the men in her life. She got her… “swagger” back. (I hated writing that but it’s probably the best way to describe what happened.) Daario tried playing suave Daario and pulled the old flowers for Daenerys trick. Instead, Dany turned the tables and went from predator to prey. Instead of being eyed up by Daario, she eyed him up and used him as a piece of meat. It’s a nice character turn. She’s supposed to rule and now she’s acting like she’s in charge of everyone and everything.
It also furthers a difference between Jorah and Daario besides age and who is in the friend zone. Dany feels free to put Daario in his place by making Jorah point out who her change in orders came from. She wants Daario to know that, even though he thinks he’s hit the jackpot, she’s still the one in charge and Jorah is just her trusted adviser. How Daario reacts will be more interesting that what Jorah does. At this point, I think Jorah has gotten used to being perpetually friend zoned. Daario is used to using women and now Dany has made it clear that she’s using him. It’s about time that the Dragon started showing some fire.
Like I said off the top, even when Game of Thrones does a very narrative-heavy episode, it can still be fantastic. Characters develop. Storylines progress. Everyone has meaningful moments. Basically, things happen that keep you interested in this episode and get you excited for the next.
No, there isn’t a single moment in this episode that tops the end of The Laws of Gods and Men. Mockingbird probably isn’t better than that episode either. It’s still a great watch and makes you hate the fact that we have to wait two weeks for the next one.
Other random points of note:
- I was serious when I said nothing happened at Castle Black. Jon Snow is trying to save the Night’s Watch but they aren’t going for it. So, basically, it’s the same storyline that we’ve seen between Jon and Ser Alliser since Season One.
- By the way, it’s almost sad that Ser Alliser is more of an irredeemable asshole than Littlefinger. Even if Littlefinger is trying to trade in Catelyn for her sister and then her daughter, murdering Lysa, and killing anyone standing in the way of his achieving power, I still want to cheer him. He’s the second most evil man in Westeros (next to Tywin Lannister who is the leader of evil and therefore the big bad) and he’s still not the most hateable man on the show.
- Was I the only one excited by the return of Hot Pie? I figured that nothing would come of it but it turns out that Hot Pie, while talkative, is a pretty sharp kid when he wants to be.
- All this and I didn’t mention Arya stabbing a guy through the heart. Valar morghulis.
- And Hot Pie and Brienne #TrueDetectiveSeason2 What? You thought I was going with The Hound and Arya?
The next episode of Game of Thrones is two weeks from now. We get a Memorial Day break from the sex, wine and murder of Game of Thrones. When we come back, it’s The Mountain and The Viper. No preview synopsis was released but there was the preview trailer. Ramsay Snow sends Reek/Theon to Moat Cailin to take it back from the Iron Born. Sansa tries to tell people about Littlefinger’s evil plans and actions though I doubt she gets anywhere. And, as the title of the episode indicates, Prince Oberyn does battle with Gregor Clegane. It’s The Viper vs. The Mountain and it’s next on Game of Thrones… Read that in Jim Ross’ voice and it’s a lot cooler sounding.