Airdate: June 1, 2014
Directed by: Alex Graves
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)
The current one week hiatus (and thus two week wait) for Game of Thrones gives everyone a bit of a breather heading into the final three episodes of the season, the time at which Benioff and Weiss have traditionally given us their best, most frenetic events and scenarios. The ongoing story in King’s Landing is definitely coming to a head in this episode, and things are heating up all over the place, even in the normally cold north. Click through to get my take on what to expect when Game of Thrones returns from its brief hiatus.
<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E08 – “The Mountain and the Viper” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous episodes and the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>
Last week’s episode left us with a bunch of questions, but few answers, specifically: what will happen to Littlefinger now that he’s killed Lysa? And how will Oberyn contrive to defeat The Mountain, if he is even able? And is Selyse going to be willing to make the call when Melisandre demands her daughter’s blood? We will get answers to the first two of these questions in “The Mountain and the Viper,” but likely not to the third one until sometime later.
What’s in a name?
The episode title tells us what the main focus will be. “The Viper” is Prince Oberyn, who is also known as the Red Viper. His nickname, for those that are interested, goes back to a duel he had with an older Lord when he was still a teenager (Oberyn, in typical Oberynian fashion, was caught sleeping with the Lord’s mistress). Although it wasn’t a duel to the death, the Lord died of his wounds after they festered and got infected; the suspicion at the time was that Oberyn poisoned his blade, hence the viper connection. “The Mountain” hardly needs an introduction. He is the older of the Clegane brothers, Gregor. He is huge, towering over other men, and has a strength to match. Watching him swing that Greatsword over his head in last week’s episode shows just how dangerous he is, due to his sheer brute force alone.
One of the interesting aspects of their pending match (you know, besides the fact that they are two of the most formidable fighters in all of Westeros) is that Gregor and Oberyn have a connection that runs very deep. As we discovered in recent episodes, the Mountain was the Lannister knight who raped and killed Oberyn’s sister Elia during the Sack of King’s Landing, and he has long sworn vengeance due to this act. His willingness to be Tyrion’s champion stems from this desire for revenge, and will drive him in the trial by combat (I realize that this differs slightly from his motivation in the books, but we’ll stick with the show for now – the end result of fighting for Tyrion is the same). For the Mountain, his entire motivation comes from a desire to maim and kill. If done properly, this should be a battle for the ages.
The episode synopsis at IMDB reads: Unexpected visitors arrive in Mole’s Town. Littlefinger’s motives are questioned. Ramsay tries to prove himself to his father. Tyrion’s fate is decided.
Mole Town, for those who need a reminder, is the support town just south of Castle Black at the wall. It provides merchant services, as well as other, less savory services on occasion, all of which keeps the Night’s Watch in food and supplies (not to mention relaxed). Note that it says “unexpected,” not “unwelcome” here. This could, on the surface, mean one of two things: either some of Mance’s advanced party arrives, but doesn’t attack the town, or help from the south is coming to the wall. If the former, expect tensions on the wall to reach a boiling point; if the latter, everything will depend on who it is. However, the Promo video does clear this particular question up, so I’ll discuss this further below.
Littlefinger’s motives being questioned is an interesting bit of teaser, as he himself purports to keep changing them as needs be. We do see a bit of a preview in the clip below, with Sansa speaking in front of several lords. Robin is still, in name, the Lord of the Vale, and the lesser Houses of the Vale will all be vying for stewardship over the young Lord, but don’t expect to see Littlefinger give up his situation easily.
Ramsay, needing to appease his father in order to make up for his treatment of Theon (and thus ruining him as a potential pawn in their games in the north), will try to gain a legitimate name by helping Roose to consolidate power in the north. Specifically, we’ll be seeing the follow-up to the bath scene two episodes ago, when Ramsay told “Reek” he was going to a play a part: Theon Greyjoy. We see more specifics in the Promo video below. Their target? Moat Cailin, the gateway to the North, and thus the most strategic castle in the region not yet in Bolton hands.
“Tyrion’s fate is decided.” Four simple words, but so much weight in them. The lead up to, and the fight itself between Oberyn and Clegane, will likely take up the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the episode, if not a bit more. It should be, to this point, the best one-on-one fight we’ve seen in the series, and I’m hoping that they make of it the full spectacle that it should be. Tyrion’s fate is, of course, in the balance, but so does much of the future of King’s Landing hinge on this event; things will never be quite the same, regardless of the outcome.
Now let’s take a look at the Promo video:
We open on the lovely Ramsay Snow, training his pet Reek. He asks him, “What do you tell them?” and Reek replies, “I’m Theon Greyjoy, son of Baelon.” “Now bring me Moat Cailin,” the Bastard of Bolton finishes, clapping Reek on his arms. Reek/Theon is completely a creature of Ramsay at this point, a shell of a man. It will be interesting to see if his father’s Ironborn men will see his weakness, or fall for his trickery.
In the Eyrie, we see Sansa speaking to a council of lords. “Lord Baelish has told many lies,” she says, while we see an apparently cowed Littlefinger looking up from under his eyebrows. “I have to tell the truth,” she continues. What truth will it be, however? Sansa feels at this point that she owes her life to Littlefinger – despite the fact that the only reason her life was in danger was because he used her in Joffrey’s assassination – so the “truth” she shares with the lords may be one of Littlefinger’s own devising. There’s no way such a careful man would put his life in her hands if he didn’t have things prepared to his liking.
Next we see Tormund Giantsbane, Ygritte, and the leader of the Thenns as they’re approaching Mole Town – so, we know who the “unexpected” guests are. We also see Sam’s sweetheart Gilly, pulling a knife to defend herself. Cut to Jon Snow, speaking with Sam: “Mance and his army must be close. They hit Mole’s Town – we’re next.”
We finish on King’s Landing, Tyrion asking, “Do you think Oberyn has a chance?” Ellaria sees the Mountain taking his sword, and asks Oberyn, “You’re going to fight that?” We finish on the two men, long spear swirling through the air to meet greatsword. It looks epic.
The addition of the Dornish contingent has been one of the best things about an already excellent season. They live larger, love larger, and from the looks of things, hate and fight larger than any other people on Westeros. Oberyn has quickly become one of my favorite characters, his scene with Tyrion in the prison last week being one of the finest moments of the thirty-seven episodes we have seen so far. Despite some very serious questions earlier this season about choices made by Benioff and Weiss (as well as the director of Episode 33), it appears that the show is actually gaining momentum as we head into the last three episodes we’ll see until next April.
Things are also heating up for Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch – if Mole’s Town is attacked (despite the “unexpected” wording seeming to mitigate any damage that might be done), it can only be a matter of time before Mance’s main force approaches the gates. Ramsay and his pet Reek are also doing Roose Bolton’s bidding in the North – but if winter truly is coming, it isn’t a Bolton the North needs – it’s a Stark.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how much Sansa has become Littlefinger’s creature at this point. While his manipulation hasn’t been nearly as overt nor physical as has Ramsay’s of Theon/Reek, I still see Sansa as becoming more and more indebted to Littlefinger, and a pawn in the game he is playing. Will an honest emotion ever exist in this man’s heart?
We have another week of speculation and wondering before the next episode. If you have any thoughts as to what I might have missed, or things that you think might be happening next week, please feel free to leave a message below, and we can discuss your ideas.