Airdate: May 18, 2014
Directed by: Alik Sakharov
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), David Benioff (written for television by), D.B. Weiss (written for television by)
When I said in my sneak peek of “Mockingbird” earlier this week (read it here) that I suspected Benioff and Weiss would leave us on a cliffhanger, I had no idea how literally they, in fact, would (okay, I had my suspicions due to having read the books, but I didn’t want to give too much away). We got some good solid movement in several storylines tonight, and the next episode, “The Viper and the Mountain,” is setting up to be a nice lead in to the final three episodes of the season – has it really gone so quickly? For now, click through after the break to get my take on tonight’s events, and where they may be leading us in the near future.
Note: Beginning with tonight’s review, I will no longer be doing the complete synopses I have been doing in the past. Please refer to my editorial regarding this decision here for my reasoning, if you’re interested.
<<Spoiler Alert: This article is a review and complete recap of Game of Thrones S04E07 – “Mockingbird” – it will discuss major plot points and events in detail, and may contain strong language based on dialogue from the episode; read further at your own risk!>>
We begin tonight’s episode where we left off last week, tight on Tyrion. He’s back in his cell, and we visit the cell several times throughout the evening as visitors come to see him. His is the unifying thread that runs through the episode, acting as a kind of bookmark for each of the other arcs touched on. Each visitor is a potential champion, but the outcome is somewhat surprising, if not appropriate.
First is Jaime, who is quite miffed that his brother undermined his well-laid plans – which Tyrion quickly points out to him were in fact Tywin’s well-laid plans. He tells Jaime that “It felt good to take that from him.” He admits that he fell in love with Shae, and Jaime admonishes him, only to have Tyrion point out all of Jaime’s foibles, despite which their father continues to love the elder brother. Tyrion seems to expect that Jaime will be his champion, but Jaime claims he cannot even beat a stableboy in his condition. Tyrion accepts this, though he does make Jaime grin when he suggests that they’d both enjoy the look on Tywin’s face if Jaime did die in his defense, “Our family name snuffed out with a single swing of a sword.” He asks who Cersei’s champion will be.
We cut to the yard outside the Red Keep, where we see the enormous form of Gregor Clegane, The Mountain, as he hews his way through a series of unarmored prisoners. Cersei comes to see him, stepping over entrails strewn across the ground, and welcomes him back to King’s Landing. Guess who her champion is going to be?
In the Riverlands, Arya and the Hound come upon a burnt out farm and an old man, pierced through the gut, who is dying slowly. Arya asks the man why he still struggles to live; “Habit” he replies. She can’t quite comprehend his desire to live, questioning his fear of the nothingness of death. She says, “Nothing isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing.” The Hound shows that he has a sense not only of honor (which we’ve seen before), but of humanity as well, giving the man a drink of water, and then stabbing him in the heart to give him a quick end.
He starts to tell Arya about the location of the heart, when he’s jumped from behind and bitten on the neck. He roars, and throws his attacker over his shoulder, breaking the man’s neck as he does so. He turns to see another man – it’s a familiar face. Turns out that Rorge and Biter, the two murderers we first saw caged together with Jaqen H’Ghar back in season one who were being transported to the Wall by Yoren. There’s no telling what trouble they’ve been up to, but here they are. Biter lies dead, and Rorge tells them that the Hound has a large bounty on his head, which is why they attacked. When the Hound suggests it’s because he insulted the king, Rorge denies it, telling him that Joffrey is dead – the real reason was his killing of Lannister soldiers. Arya recognizes Rorge, and the Hound asks if he’s on her list. She says no – she doesn’t know his name. The Hound asks, “What’s your name?” Rorge replies, “Rorge.” “Thank you,” says Arya, unsheathing Needle and piercing Rorge through the heart in one fluid motion. The Hound nods his appreciation, saying, “You’re learning.”
Later, he’s trying to stitch his bite wound closed, and Arya warns him it’ll fester if he doesn’t burn out the germs. The Hound panics at the approaching torch she carries, and then opens up about his brother. Turns out he pressed his face into the flame because he thought the Hound had stolen one of his toys, and his father later defended his eldest son, saying Sandor had been burned in a fire in his bed. He points out that Arya isn’t the only one who feels alone. She asks if she can at least clean and stitch the wound, and he reluctantly agrees.
Up north, Jon returns to Castle Black to the cheers of his fellows, but their cheers are cut short by the appearance of a stern Alliser Thorne and his lackey Janos Slynt. Jon reports to the council, and then recommends the tunnel through the Wall be collapsed – he say Mance Rayder’s picket fires approaching, and feels this is the only way to prevent Castle Black falling. Thorne will have none of it, and intimidates the Master of Builders into agreeing with him against Snow’s entreaty. It’s interesting to see that, among the common Night’s Watchmen, most seem to be siding with Snow at this point – he gets things done, unlike Thorne, who just sits around the castle bullying conscripts. This will lead to some fine tension on the Wall, especially once Rayder’s men arrive. Thorne ends the audience by assigning Jon and Sam to night duty on the top of the Wall.
Tyrion’s second visitor in his cell is Bronn. He asked Jaime to send him, but apparently it’s been several days since his request. Bronn is dressed in finery, and informs Tyrion that he’s to be wed to Lollys Stokeworth, the second daughter in line for the Stokeworth minor house. He suggests that accidents do happen, and she may yet inherit the title. Tyrion immediately discerns that Bronn has been bought by Cersei, but doesn’t express hard feelings. They part as friends, bittersweet, but recognizing that reality means Bronn can’t be his champion. Tyrion suggests that this means that he must kill the Mountain himself, something that will make a fine song. “I’d like to hear that song,” Bronn says, bowing and taking his leave.
In Meereen, Dany is retiring for the night when she sees Daario in her room. She’s annoyed, and initially rebuffs his advances. He asks a favor of her – let him do “what he does best.” He asks that she send him to kill her enemies. She says to him, “Very well, do what you do best.” She then tells him to take off his clothes. He does so, standing naked in front of her, as her eyes drift downward and a smile creases her face.
The next morning, Ser Jorah approaches her chambers, and is surprised to see Daario leaving, who tells the knight that Daenerys is “in a good mood.” Ser Jorah gently reproves Dany for trusting Daario when he sees her, but she tells him she doesn’t trust him – which is why she’s sending him and the Second Sons to Yunkai to retake the city, and put all the Masters to the sword. Jorah again does not approve, and he points out that had Eddard Stark, notorious for his sense of right and wrong, been as harsh as she is being, he himself would not have been here to help Dany, seeing as how he was caught years before selling his enemies into slavery. Jorah’s main angle is to point out that no one is all good nor all evil, and Dany does come around. She tells him that she will send Hizdahr zo’Loraq along with Daario, to act as ambassador. Through him, she’ll give the Masters an opportunity to join her crusade – or they will die. She sends Jorah off to tell Daario of her change of heart, then she stops him. “No,” she says, “tell him you changed my mind.”
In Dragonstone, we see Melisandre further winding her tentacles around Stannis’s wife, Selyse. She is in a bath, and she asks the older woman to hand her a potion, which she then uses in the water. She gets out of the bath, naked, and goes over the uses of several of her potions and powders, telling Selyse that most of them are illusions and lies, but they are useful in bringing people around to seeing the truth of her Lord of Fire. Selyse at this point shows her own blindness: she fails to see how Melisandre is using verbal witchery and illusion to get her to do what she wants, just as surely as she uses physical trickery in the fire to bewitch other followers. She appeals to the Elise’s vanity, telling her that she is more intelligent and powerful than others, that she can look into the flames and see the truth of their Lord on her own. Then she tells her that they must bring Shireen with them when they travel out from Dragonstone – “The Lord needs her,” she says, a thinly veil promise of sacrifice in store for Stannis’s daughter. But the question is – can Stannis be pushed so far as to sacrifice his own daughter to his cause?
The last of the secondary stories tonight finds Brienne and Podrick enjoying a lovely kidney pie. When they comment on how delicious it is, the cook sits down to extoll its virtues – it’s Hot Pie, one of Arya’s friends from the group Yoren was taking to Castle Black. Brienne shows patience with his description, but not for long. She interrupts, asking if he’s seen Sansa. He suddenly becomes much less talkative, but she tells him she was sworn to Catelyn Stark, and he looks thoughtful.
Later, Podrick suggests gently to her that she shouldn’t bandy the Stark name about to easily, but they are interrupted by Hot Pie coming outside. He tells them about Arya, and asks them to take one of his namesake hot pies, baked in the shape of a wolf, that he has made for her. Brienne looks at Pod and says, “You were saying,” with a raised eyebrow. As they walk, Pod suggests that the should go to the Eyrie, where Arya and Sansa’s aunt lives. Brienne hesitates, but the two head down the path going eastward instead of north.
Tyrion’s third and last guest comes late at night – fewer prying eyes. It’s Prince Oberyn, and Tyrion is surprised to find that here is a man that has some sympathy for his plight. In fact, he tells Tyrion a story about the first time they met, at Casterly Rock. Tyrion denies any memory of the meeting, and Oberyn tells him that this is because he was a mere babe at the time. He tells Tyrion a story that confirms for him that his sister has hated him since he was born.
She and Jaime took Oberyn and his sister in to meet the baby Tyrion, but Oberyn was disappointed – he was expecting a monster based on all the tales. Instead, as he tells Tyrion, he only saw a baby with a head a little too large, arms and legs a little too small, but a baby nonetheless. Cersei disagreed with him. Oberyn tells Tyrion what happened next, beginning with what Cersei said: “’He killed my mother,’ and she pinched your cock so hard I thought it would fall off.” Oberyn continues, telling Tyrion he “wants justice for [his] sister and her children.” He’s determined to start with the man that murdered the children, and then raped and murdered his sister: Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. The fact that he has been named Cersei’s champion means just one thing for Oberyn and Tyrion: Oberyn will be his champion. Tyrion is nearly in tears, both from hearing the story about how deep-seated is his sister’s hatred, and in gratitude to the prince for offering his sword.
Finished for the moment with Tyrion, we turn to the Eyrie, the source of the name of tonight’s episode, “Mockingbird,” Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish’s symbol. Sansa is building a snow castle copy of Winterfell, when she is joined by her cousin Robin. He wants to help her, and is concerned that her castle has no Moon Door – how can she make her enemies fly without one? He offers to build one, but knocks over one of the towers. She reacts petulantly and, frankly, inappropriately. Yes, she’s been through a lot lately, and yes, she’s reminiscing about home and is therefore more prone to emotional response, but her response to Robin here seemed over-harsh and not characteristic at all for a woman who has been through what she has, and kept her cool in much more trying circumstances.
When she yells at Robin that he’s ruined her castle, he throws a tantrum, having a complete melt-down and kicking over the rest of her castle. She slaps him hard, and he runs away crying. Littlefinger enters the courtyard, and she apologizes, but he tells her that Robin needed that and more, and should have been getting it from his mother all along. She asks him why he killed Joffrey. He replies, “I loved your mother more than you can ever know. Given the opportunity, what wouldn’t you do to protect the ones you love?” He then tells Sansa that she might have been his child in a different world, which makes his next action that much creepier. He gets close – really close – and then he leans in and kisses her passionately on the lips. Unbeknownst to either of them, Lysa is in the background, watching the whole interaction.
We cut to the throne room, Sansa entering at Lysa’s behest. Lysa is standing by the open Moon Door, the wind blowing below her. She brings Sansa closer, telling her about what happens to the bodies of those who go through the Moon Door in graphic detail. Sansa is obviously intimidated, and apologizes for hitting Robin. Lysa doesn’t care about that at all, saying, “Don’t be coy with me, you little whore.” She grabs Sansa, forcing her to her knees at the edge of the Moon Door. She’s practically frothing at the mouth, and on the verge of tossing her niece through the gate, when Littlefinger appears at the door. He tells Lysa to let Sansa go several times, talking her down as if approaching a mad boar. She eventually does, sobbing. Littlefinger goes to her, lifts her up by the shoulders, and says to her, “I have only loved one woman, only one my entire life. Your sister.” With that, he shoves Lysa, and she falls screaming through the Moon Door, hundreds of feet to her death below.
Like I said in my introduction, a much more literal cliffhanger than I had originally suggested. This murder will force Littlefinger to speed up whatever plans he has going on in the background, and it thoroughly marries Sansa to his cause. She’s seen how easily he can kill, and knows now of several of his acts – in fact, she may even suspect Lord Arryn’s death was his machination, after hearing her aunt admit as much in front of her just before dying. Being that she is alone with this man, and that she herself is a fugitive, she is largely at his disposal. She daren’t speak against him, with no one to champion her; let’s just hope that he doesn’t try to go any further than the one kiss he’s already forced on her.
Brienne and Podrick heading in her direction may be her saving grace, ultimately. Littlefinger won’t be expecting them, so it will be interesting to see what kind of effect they will have on his plans. It was also nice to see that Pot Pie has found a good home, one where his skills will be put to good use.
Speaking of familiar faces, seeing Arya dispatch Rorge so handily shows again how much she is developing, and how dangerous she has become. The Hound tells her, “You’re learning,” meaning that she has learned not to hesitate, to take advantage of the situation you are given before your enemies can do the same. Rorge did not expect such a slip of a girl to finish him so easily; hopefully for Arya, neither will many of her other enemies.
Jon Snow will have to deal with Sers Alyser and Janos sooner or later up at the Wall. The rest of the Night’s Watch seem to be edging over toward his camp, and with the impending arrival of Mance Rayder and his enormous army, things should sway in his direction soon. Thorne telling Jon to cage Ghost was a mistake – you don’t keep prodding an angry bear – or in this case, an angry wolf.
Daenerys, for the second time in as many episodes, has shown an ability to adjust to new realities as they are explained to her. She has flirted with a Manichean, black/white dialectical approach to leadership, but Ser Jorah is helping her to see the shades of grey that actually make up reality. Her decision to send an ambassador, and a former slaver at that, to Yunkai is a good move, and may end up earning her more allies, even if it is a more complicated approach. My worry with her storyline is that the action will likely shift more to what Daario and his men are doing, rather than sticking with Dany herself.
Melisandre has Selyse completely entangled in her web, but I remain unconvinced that Stannis is entirely so. How will he react when asked to sacrifice his own daughter? If he hesitates, look to see Ser Davos intervene once again to maintain some humanity in the Baratheon claimant. Of interest tonight is also Melisandre’s talk about leaving Dragonstone. Where are the headed? Where can they do the most damage, or gain the most allies? We should get more of this before the season is out.
The glue that kept the episode together was Tyrion’s search for a champion. The plot synopsis did state that it would be an unexpected ally, and none could be more unexpected than Prince Oberyn, who has plainly stated that he hates all things Lannister. The story he told of Tyrion as a baby shows that he actually sees Tyrion as, in some ways, an innocent. This is not to say that he thinks Tyrion is innocent of any sins, but he knows he’s innocent of murdering Joffrey, and that he had nothing to do with the murder of his sister and her children. Tyrion is not his friend, but he is useful to Oberyn in this moment, and vice versa. The two do not fool themselves about what this marriage of convenience is really all about, but it might just turn out to be enough to keep Tyrion alive a while longer.
Overall, I really enjoyed tonight’s episode, and feel that it shows the shape of the last three outings for this season. We have a one week hiatus, so episode 38 will air on June 1st. Personally, I can’t wait to see the fight between the Viper and the Mountain.
Steve’s Grade: A-
Another excellent episode, moving two key storylines forward, while giving us insights into several of the peripheral characters that still may have key roles to play. The surprise power-play by Oberyn shows why Dornishmen may just be better at politics than the Lannisters.