Did ‘Game of Thrones’ foreshadow the plot twist in this week’s episode a little too heavily a few weeks back? The scene played out much as I expected it to. I’m not sure whether I would classify that as a disappointment or not.
Do you remember the scene in Episode 5 where the Hound caught young Arya practicing the fancy swordplay that Syrio Forel had taught her? Unimpressed, the Hound ridiculed her dancing around, and demonstrated how useless all that prancing and elaborate footwork were in the face of brute strength and good armor. Even at the time, his lesson in this scene stood out as something that would come back around again.
New episode ‘The Mountain and the Viper’ climaxes with the trial by combat between the monstrous Gregor Clegane and Tyrion’s champion, Prince Oberyn of Dorne. Oberyn has wanted revenge against the Mountain for the murder of his sister, and enters the battle far too cocky. As he fleetly runs circles around the hulking Clegane, nipping away at him little by little, knocking his helmet off and slashing his leg, I knew where this was going. Oberyn eventually brings Clegane to his knees and stabs him in the chest, but holds back a killing blow until the Mountain confesses to his crimes. Tyrion allows himself a measure of hope. However, as I feared, the Mountain was playing possum. When Oberyn’s attention is distracted by the crowd, Clegane grabs his leg, drags him to the ground, and knocks all his teeth out with a sledgehammer punch. Then gleefully admitting to the atrocities that he’d been accused of, the Mountain crushes Oberyn’s head in his beastly hands, pulverizing his skull in a gruesome mess.
Oberyn’s lover Ellaria screams in horror. Tywin Lannister immediately stands and casts judgment, sentencing Tyrion to death. Needless to say, the Half-Man is in a whole lot of deep shit now.
Unclear (to me, at least) is whether the Mountain will survive this fight to walk away, or will succumb to his injuries and also die. If the Mountain dies, does Tyrion have a legal claim to challenge the outcome of the combat as a draw?
- The Wildlings and cannibals ransack Mole’s Town, the village where Sam had left his girlfriend Gilly and her baby. Ygritte finds them hiding in a closet and lets them live. However, Sam assumes that they’re dead when news travels back to Castle Black.
- Ramsay sends Reek undercover as his old self Theon Greyjoy to a castle still held by a garrison from the Iron Islands. Cut off from the rest of their army, the soldiers are sick and starving. Theon tells them that if they surrender to the Boltons, they will be let go to return home. When their leader refuses, another man kills him and takes the offer. Of course, Ramsay slaughters the men anyway. Having successfully reclaimed the castle, Ramsay is rewarded by his father, who names him an official Bolton (Ramsay is a bastard) and his son.
- Baelish is made to answer to a trio of elders at the Vale, who have many questions about Lysa Arryn’s alleged suicide. They find the details of his story suspicious. Sansa (parading as his niece) is called to verify his story as a witness. She reveals her true identity. However, rather than rat Baelish out, she puts on quite a show about how he saved her from King’s Landing, and how Lysa leapt through the Moon Door in suicidal depression caused by unfounded jealousy. Sansa later tells Baelish that she did it because she knows what he wants (i.e. her), clearly implying that he can get her what she wants (a return to status). Bealish is impressed. Sansa may finally be smartening up.
- The Hound and Arya arrive at the gates of the Vale, where they’re informed of Lysa’s death. Arya cannot help but break out laughing at the eve-escalating irony of her situation. Not shown is whether they’re allowed to enter the Vale or get turned away (probably the latter).
- Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys’ translator Missandei catches Grey Worm peeping on her while she bathes. She and Daenerys wonder just how thorough his castration as a boy may have been. In a rather touching scene, Grey Worm apologizes to her and explains that he’s actually grateful for having been castrated, because if he hadn’t been, he never would have become an Unsullied, and fate never would have brought him to Daenerys and Missandei.
- Meanwhile, Barristan Selmy receives a letter informing him that Jorah had been pardoned by Robert Baratheon for his role in spying on Daenerys. The letter was clearly sent by Tywin to divide them. Nevertheless, Daenerys is really pissed and exiles Jorah.
I must confess that I actually am a little disappointed in the Jorah storyline, which feels very contrived. The situation could have been cleared up if the characters would just talk to each other.
Otherwise, however, this is another good episode, even if Oberyn’s fate was perhaps too predictable.