Although fans will no doubt balk at the description, ‘Game of Thrones’ may be the greatest primetime soap opera to ever air on television. It has such delightfully awful characters who do such terrible things to one another.
Case in point: Lord Baelish, who can lay on the charm when it serves his purpose, but can also turn into an uber-creep on a dime. In episode ‘Mockingbird’, he finally brings his plans for unfortunate, dim Sansa Stark out into the open. After Sansa slaps her moron cousin Robin for being a brat, she immediately regrets the action and fears what her crazy aunt Lysa will do to her. Baelish oversees this and oozes in close to take advantage of the girl’s fragility. When she asks why he killed Joffrey, he says that it was to avenge Catelyn. He basically tells Sansa that, since he can’t have her (now deceased) mother, she’ll serve as an acceptable substitute, then forces a kiss onto her before she can pull away. Of course, Lysa sees the whole event from a balcony above.
Lysa calls Sansa to her throne room and goes totally batshit, threatening to throw her out the “Moon Door” to plummet to her death on the rocks below. Baelish intervenes and promises to send Sansa away. He then reassures his new wife that, in his entire life, he has only ever loved one woman…
…her sister Catelyn.
Boom! Baelish tosses the psycho nutbag right out the Moon Door. So long, Lysa.
I’m sure that Baelish will have no problem framing Lysa’s death as a suicide. With her out of the picture, I assume that Robin will inherit her throne, but the boy should be little effort for Baelish to manipulate. Clearly, he intends to marry Sansa and lay claim to Winterfell and the northern territories.
Still an obstacle to that plot, of course, is the little matter that Sansa is married to Tyrion Lannister. That may not be an issue for long, however. Cersei has chosen an opponent for Tyrion’s upcoming trial by combat, and it’s none other than The Mountain himself, Ser Gregor Clegane. (The character has been recast on the show for the second time. The latest actor to play him is plenty burly enough, but looks a little too clean and well-groomed. I expect someone greasier.)
Meeting in his cell, Jaime informs his brother that he can’t fight as his champion. He’s too weak a swordsman with just a left hand. Later, Tyrion is visited by Bronn, who also turns him down. Bronn admits that Cersei has bribed him with wealth and an arranged marriage. As a purely pragmatic matter, he knows that he would probably die in a fight with the Mountain, and the potential reward simply doesn’t outweigh the risk. Tyrion understands and thanks him for his honesty.
Finally, when all seems lost and Tyrion assumes that he’ll have to fight the Mountain himself (what a spectacle that would be!), Oberyn pays a visit. He tells Tyrion a story about meeting him for the first time when he was a child and Tyrion was an infant. Even at that young age, he understood that Cersei had it in for Tyrion and wanted him dead. (She blamed him for their mother’s death in childbirth.) In a big surprise (to Tyrion, if not to audiences), Oberyn offers to be Tyrion’s champion in combat. He feels sympathy for the Half-Man, and the opportunity to kill the Mountain would further his own quest for vengeance.
For once, Tyrion feels some hope and optimism for his situation. I suspect that the outcome of this battle was foreshadowed for us a couple weeks ago.
- The Hound and Arya finally hear about Joffrey’s death. The Hound is bitten on the neck by an attacker who wants the reward Tywin has placed on his head. He laments that rescuing the girl was not worth all the trouble it’s caused him. Arya attempts to cauterize the wound, only to realize how terrified he still is of fire. This leads to the Hound telling her the story of how his brother (The Mountain) burned his face.
- Brienne and Podrick stop at an inn for a meal and meet Hot Pie, the baker’s boy. When they inquire about Sansa, he tells them that he knows her sister, Arya, and points them in the direction he last knew she was heading. Podrick puts two and two together and reasons that the Hound would most likely attempt to bring her to the Eyrie for ransom.
- Jon Snow returns to Castle Black. He warns the leaders of the Night’s Watch that they need to seal the tunnel to the north or Mance Rayder’s army will plow right through it. Commander Alliser dismisses his warnings and treats him like an idiot. It seems inevitable now that Snow will need to stage a coup for leadership of the Watch.
- Daenerys consummates her flirtation with Daario. When he explains that he’s an outdoor cat, not an indoor cat, and asks permission to go fight her enemies rather than stay cooped up working protection detail in Meereen, she sends him off to reclaim the city of Yunkai. However, upon Jorah’s advice, she also agrees to temper her quest for vengeance and offer the slave traders an opportunity to submit to her rule, rather than rashly slaughtering them all first. They probably won’t listen, but it’ll make her feel better for asking.
- Melisandre has a conversation with Stannis’ wife in which she implies that she has plans to sacrifice Stannis’ daughter to the God of Light. The wife is pretty far lost at this point and has no problems with this, but Stannis will probably be a bit miffed.
Baelish pushing Lysa out the trap door is a stand-up-and-cheer moment for the show. It also nicely echoes Jaime pushing Bran off the castle wall in the pilot episode. Even if this doesn’t necessarily turn the dynamic of the show’s storyline upside down (as Ned Starks’ death or the Red Wedding did), it will surely lead to a significant power shift in the seven kingdoms. Even four seasons in, this series still has the power to surprise us.