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Spoilers through season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the novels follow.
Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones spent most of its screen time setting the stage for episodes to come. We’re seven deep with three left to go, and Season 4 looks to have at least one major event prepared for each remaining episode.
Rather than a tightly focused story, following just two or three characters, in Mockingbird we fly all across Westeros and beyond.
In the East we’re introduced to Dany’s odd romance with Daario. Arya and the Hound’s weird synergy continues as the two scrounge their way from the Riverlands to the Eyrie. Tyrion’s torment continues as each of his potential champions turn him down.
The list goes on: Jon Snow’s frustration at the wall; Sansa’s bizarre adventures at the Eyrie; Melisandre fully nude, provoking the queen; Brienne and Podrick making some headway in their search for Stark girls. Even the Mountain makes an appearance.
I suppose that’s my first quibble with Mockingbird. The episode was a perfectly fine set-up, shifting all the pieces toward the inexorable conclusion of the fourth season.
But the Mountain was hugely disappointing. I always pictured him as much more terrifying—much more than a gargantuan brute. This man who embodies so many horrors—the Hound’s burnt face, the slaughter of the Targaryen babies—is hardly horrible here. He’s just a caricature; a mountain certainly, but a cartoon monster nonetheless.
So much for the Mountain. I’ll take the Imp any day, and Tyrion’s scenes were all terrific.
Bronn’s betrayal was touching in its pragmatism. While Jaime was embarrassed by his inability to champion Tyrion, Bronn takes the matters in stride saying that perhaps he could kill Clegane, but the slightest misstep and he’d be dead.
And so prince Oberyn comes to Tyrion, determined to meet out his vengeance on the Lannisters. And what better place to start then the man who killed his kin, raped and murdered his sister?
I’ve really come to like the HBO adaptation of Oberyn, and I’m afraid I like him even more after this episode.
King’s Landing aside, the most important event in tonight’s episode was Littlefinger’s betrayal of the mad Lysa Arryn—Sansa’s aunt, who very nearly throws the girl through the “moon door” after spotting her kissing Littlefinger. Sansa is quite possibly the luckiest and unluckiest character in the show, all at once.
First she’s set to marry the prince and she’ll become queen one day—huzzah! Then it turns out that the prince is a maniac who, prior to even reaching King’s Landing, orders her direwolf killed. Then her father, mother, and brother are all killed, and her two younger brothers are presumed dead as well, leaving a missing Arya, her bastard brother Jon Snow locked away at the Wall, and her aunt Lysa.
But she’s still trapped at King’s Landing and married off to the Imp. As dreadful as she finds this, her luck is on her side again in this, as Tyrion is one of the only good men in King’s Landing. Then she’s rescued and taken to the Eyrie to her last remaining family—and both Lysa and her son Robin turn out to be completely and utterly insane. Seriously, as bad as things were in King’s Landing, at least they didn’t have a Moon Door. One imagines Joffrey would have quite liked that toy.
So Sansa finds herself in the clutches of her aunt, sprung from one horrible fate and about to meet one just as terrifying. And then Littlefinger shows up.
Of course, he doesn’t so much come to the rescue as he accelerates his ambitions, convincing Lysa to let Sansa go before tossing the poor, lovesick lunatic into the void. “My sweet silly jealous wife,” he tells her, just before the plunge. “I’ve only loved one woman, I promise you. Your sister.” (This is taken almost verbatim from the book, and oh what a gloriously awful thing to say to someone right before you kill them. Littlefinger is diabolical.) At least he didn’t kill her at their wedding….
I’m still not sure what his overarching plans or strategy is at this point, but Littlefinger has just established himself lord of the Eyrie, and Sansa seems a very likely bride.
After all, Petyr even tells the Stark girl that she’s more beautiful than Catelyn ever was. But how does he plan to use the Eyrie to his advantage? It’s a terrific defensive point, but he wouldn’t have the ability to strike out. And it’s unlikely that he’s in league with the Boltons or the Freys, though he is allied with at least certain members of House Tully. Sansa is a strong claim to the north, and Petyr has the Vale, but I’m still uncertain where he can maneuver to from here.
Speaking of Stark girls, Arya and the Hound get a few great moments of their own in Mockingbird. Arya is becoming more ruthless with each passing episode, more and more like the man she’s captive to, and less and less like his captive. She stabs a man that tries to kill the Hound when it turns out he was one of her former captors, and she doesn’t flinch. Killing is easy for the youngest Stark girl.
All told, another good episode in an increasingly bloody Season 4, even if it was largely just setting things up for the show’s more climactic episodes. What did you think?