Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Deadly Games

"The Mountain And The Viper" was a fine episode of Game Of Thrones, but aren't they all?  From the title we know we're going to get the trial by combat for Tyrion's life, but we can also guess they'll save it for the end.  And they do--the show doesn't even get to King's Landing until the final scenes.

Instead we start in Mole's Town, where the Wildling marauders slaughter the place.  Only Gilly is smart enough to know they're coming, and Ygritte decides to leave her and her baby alone.  But Samwell, over at Castle Black, fears she's dead and it's his fault.  Of course they all feel pretty bad over there.  They lost three Brothers, and once Mance shows up they know they'll be outnumbered about one to a thousand.  But as Jon Snow reminds them, they can't leave--that's just what the enemy wants. (I'm still waiting for the newly-rich Stannis to show up.  Next week looks like it'll be Wall-centric, so his people better pop over soon.)

We cut to the East, with Grey Worm bathing in a river, watching the naked Missandei across the way.  I don't like it.  I like both characters, but mostly in how they serve the greater cause of Daenerys.  I don't need mushy stuff on the side--the only tension in that story would be how much of the Unsullied have been cut off.  I'm now waiting for next year's episode "The Pillar And The Stones."

Over at Moat Cailin, Ramsay has brought Reek/Theon Greyjoy.  He convinces his servant to march into the castle, held by Ironborn, tell them he's Theon, and convince them to give up.  He gets in and tells them the story, though he seems to hate thinking he's a prince.  The men in the Moat aren't faring well, but their leader makes a big speech about how they won't give up, even when they're far away from water.  And then he gets an axe in his head.  I guess what is dead may die again.  The rest surrender, and, of course, are flayed and killed by Ramsay. Theon himself once made a big speech at Winterfell before his men knocked him out, gave up, and were flayed and killed by Ramsay. I guess the Ironborn never learn.

At the Eyrie, they're dealing with the aftermath of Lysa's death.  They've never liked Baelish and think he's probably responsible--she's not the type to commit suicide. Petyr's usually pretty savvy--he was able to kill Joffrey without getting his fingerprints on it--so I'm surprised such a penny ante murder has him in trouble. I guess it was a case where he had to improvise.  They bring in the supposed simpleton, Alayne, who immediately admits she's Sansa Stark and is going to tell the truth.  The audience isn't surprised, however, when the "truth" ends up with her making an excuse for Littlefinger and explaining how her jealous Aunt flung herself out the moon door.  They buy it, and Sansa just looks at Petyr--"remember when you said I was the worst liar in town?"

In fact, they apologize to Petyr for being so harsh. He convinces them to back Robin against the Lannisters.  Of course, the boy will need some tough love first.

Back at Meereen, Ser Barristan gets a message from the King's Hand.  How odd.  It's the pardon for Ser Jorah, signed by Robert Baratheon.  We've been waiting for this shoe to drop longer than any other plot point in the series.  Barristan (with a sense of honor like Ned Stark) goes first to Jorah (who seems to be glancing longingly at King's Landing on his map) to tell him about it.  Jorah thankfully has more honor than Cersei, and doesn't try to kill Barristan.  As Jorah figures out, this message has been sent, probably by Tywin Lannister, to sew discord in Dany's camp. But it's too late to do anything about that.

Jorah appears before the Queen.  She's quietly furious.  He admits what he did, and though he claims to be faithful, how can she let this go?  She banishes him.  While I understand how this works (and it's certainly a lot nicer than beheading him), we know he's truly faithful. And for all the information he sent to Varys, can't she remember, for instance, when he followed her into and helped guide her out of the Red Waste?  He didn't have to, and she had few followers then.  Doesn't this mean something, along with all his other services?  The relationship may be the longest-lasting in the show--they've almost never been apart--and Jorah is one of the most sympathetic characters in the show, so this is painful.

He rides out of town.  What will he do next?  I see five choices.  1) Sackcloth and ashes, and he'll live his life quietly as a hermit (or in some religious order) to deal with his regret.  2)  Out of anger and spite he'll raise up an army to fight against the woman he once loved.  3)  He'll sail back to King's Landing, where he's got his pardon, and try to start again.  4)  He'll take the Black and do his penance on the Wall.  5)  He'll try to figure out some way to make it up to Dany, though I'm not sure how. After all, Joffrey's already dead. (By the way, each week I ask where are the dragons. Last we saw them they were flying around free, burning up the place.  They need to be dealt with.)

After Ramsay's success at Moat Cailin, daddy Roose returns.  He's Warden of the North, after all, so this is a big moment.  Though, without word from Locke, the canny Roose does seem to dismiss the threat of Bran and Rickon a little too easily.  Anyway, surprising no one, he tells Ramsay he's no longer a Snow, he's a Bolton.  The moment the Bastard's been waiting for.  It's interesting, though, with the death of Joffrey, that the show has established so quickly another psychopath we all want to see dead. (We may not love Theon, but we want him to recover a little and kill his captor.)

Back at the Eyrie, Littlefinger wants to know why Sansa helped him.  She figures better the devil she knows. Besides, unlike Varys, she knows what he wants.  Her.  I like the new Sansa.  Up until recently she was the show's most simpering character, now, with a little training from the master, she's learned about the game of thrones.

Meanwhile, the Hound and Arya approach the Vale.  They're old pals now, trading death stories.  Looks like she's going to surpass him in quality pretty soon, if not quantity.  Right now I'm just impressed he's gotten this far without dying of that festering wound.  They get to the gate and announce themselves.  He wants money from Lady Arryn for Arya.  Except she's dead.  Arya can only laugh.

One thing though.  Don't tell me they're turning back.  They've got to go forward.  Someone in the castle simply has to be interested in getting a Stark.  If the show gets Arya this close to reuniting with her family one more time and she doesn't make it, I might shoot out my TV.  Back at the Eyrie, Baelish is preparing Robin for his future.  And the new, hot, Sansa joins them, like Stella walking down the staircase to meet Stanley.

Finally we get to King's Landing.  Tyrion's in his cell, talking to Jaime. He has a long speech about watching a simpleton smashing beetles when he was a kid.  What is it about dungeons that make people tell long stories about their past?

So the event finally starts. Tyrion is nervous, as is Ellaria, but jaunty Oberyn?  Never.  He enjoys a little wine first.  The Mountain is well armed and armored, but Martell keeps it light and simple.  He's an acrobatic fighter, moving around quickly, mostly out of the Mountain range.  And, as we could see from last week, he goes full Inigo Montoya on Clegane.  This is why he came to King's Landing--to get revenge for his sister's death.  Over and over, he says the Mountain raped her, murdered her and killed her kids. He cuts the Mountain's leg out from under him and buries a spear in his chest or stomach (couldn't tell).  Tyrion might just get out of here alive.  Except Oberyn demands the Mountain confess before he finishes him off.  This hubris allows the Mountain, flat on his back, to pull Oberyn down and literally crushes his head.  Short season, huh, Oberyn?  And Tyrion goes shit, I was home free.  Tywin, with cold satisfaction, announces the Imp is sentenced to death.

End of show.  But plenty of question marks.  The Mountain collapsed afterwards. Is he dead too?  Does that make any difference?  Will this show dare kill Tyrion, the single most popular character. (He does have some champions who might set him free--Jaime, Bronn and Varys come to mind, though I'm not sure about Shae these days).  Where will Jorah go?  Is Dany ever going to leave Meereen and on to her destiny? Will Arya and Sansa be reunited (one a killer, one a lying sexpot)?  Will Gilly be reunited with Samwell?  And quite a few other problems left standing.  Plus, Stannis, Davos, Mesliandre, Bran, Brienne and Pod MIA.  Only two hours to go.  There's no way they'll wrap up everything, but let's hope they can clear up the more basic plotlines.


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