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”Everybody dies sooner or later but don’t worry about your death, worry about your life”
Yep. Total bummer. Fool us once, shame on Game of Thrones. Fool us this many times, shame on us. Ramsay Snow, sorry, Ramsay Bolton said it best, "if you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." At least "The Mountain and the Viper" contained a suitably epic send-off for the charismatic and instantly popular character. A showdown they'll write songs about. Forget the fantasy's former formula of delivering a major death in the penultimate installment of the season, this year every episode says goodbye to someone we've come to love. Or hate. This time both at once.
”Have they told you who I am?”
We might as well get right to the trial by combat because I can't get that blood-curdling scream out of my head. Oberyn's final cry will forever be seared into my memory. That and the head popping. The fight that came before the screaming and popping was extraordinary, probably the most exciting action choreography on the series to date. And it's definitely the best remake of the showdown from The Princess Bride. Maybe, Mandy Patinkin is on board to play Oberyn's older brother Doran? Whoever they cast as the Lord of Dorne will have big shoes to fill thanks to Pedro Pascal’s season stealing performance.
I already discussed the history between "The Mountain and the Viper" in great detail leading up to the heavyweight bout so I won't waste too many words on what Oberyn was shouting at his opponent. Instead, let's talk about the wonderful scene between Tyrion and Jaime with Peter Dinklage once again nailing the monologue before the brother's brisk but emotional goodbye. I also got a kick out of Jaime's reaction shots, he seemed rather impressed with the Dornish fighting style. Unfortunately, so was Oberyn. And because of his hubris and blinding passion, it will be death for Tyrion too.
”Go back to your masters in King’s Landing.”
Oberyn Martell and Ser Gregor Clegane weren't the only significant losses that occurred in the episode. Jorah didn't die but he was banished from Daenerys' side which, for him, is probably worse than death. The sole rider with all of Meereen behind him was a striking image. A shame because he does love his Khalessi and stopped spying for Varys a long time ago. Of course, when Tywin heard that the knight was now a trusted advisor and no longer providing them information, the Hand of the King made sure to send that pardon Jorah's way and sow discord in Dany's camp.
However, the rest of Dany's camp seems to be getting along swimmingly. Sorry, the opportunity presented itself much like Missandei presented herself to Grey Worm. I mean, she covered up in the end but not before ensuring that he looked her way. And her line, 'I wanted you to see' was a sweet contrast to the lies in the location's other main relationship. Even eunuchs need love and comfort. What better fit than another former slave? What do you think the brutal world has in store for Jorah now? At least Dany still has Barristan in her Queen's Guard. I was worried that Jorah was going to test the old man. And lose.
”Better to gamble on the man you know than the strangers you don’t.”
It's sad to see Jorah go but that's what happens when you play the Game of Thrones. And no one plays the game better than Littlefinger. That's when he's not distracted by a dead Cat or her very much alive lookalike daughter. The last episode saw our "Mockingbird" have to toss Lady Arryn out the moondoor after his weakness resulted in the top player getting caught red handed and this week was spent struggling to cover up the uncharacteristic slip.
Fortunately for him, he received some help from Sansa, a rising star in the game. The eldest Stark daughter is starting to get a little scary in her own right. She's not a killer like her little sister (more on her in a moment) but she's learned a lot from her time time surviving in King's Landing. Perhaps more than Dany has in all her time conquering cities? Sansa could have sent Petyr packing during the meeting with the other Lords of the Vale, yet she decides to put her faith in the devil she knows. And can maybe even control. Cue her costume change. Margaery came to mind.
”Not a child any longer.”
Sansa is not the only one in the Vale growing up, Lord Robin is also about to finally spread his wings and leave the nest. I wonder if Littlefinger really has the young boy's interests at heart or merely wants to be alone with Cat 2.0 in the Eyrie? I don't think Petyr would mind if the sickly little Lord were to fall off one of those horses or get stuck with the pointy end. And that brings us to the other Stark child who no longer acts like one.
It's actually been seasons since Arya has behaved like a kid but her reaction to the news of the death of her aunt shows just how far she's come. At this point, you can't really blame her for laughing. She's had her hopes of reuniting with her family dashed many times before and now she's more concerned with crossing the names off her list. As great as the crazy laugh was, the sequence with her and the Hound did end rather abruptly. The only hint as to where the thread is headed was Arya saying that the wound was slowing him down. I suppose the Stark girls could cross paths with Robin's trip leaving immediately.
”Remember what you are.”
Sansa's reveal to Lord Royce could actually have implications for the Boltons as well because Roose's claim to the North depends on the region believing that all the Starks are dead or married. And since Tyrion, her husband, is not long for this world, she'll once again be available and have a claim to Winterfell. That's if the boys weren't around, of course, and, unlike most of the North, we know that the two male heirs are still alive. It's all very complicated.
Roose and Ramsay (no longer Snow) seem fine assuming that Bran and Rickon died in the time since fleeing Winterfell, especially since Roose has his best hunter looking for them. He doesn't know that Bran as Hodor already took care of Locke. Again, he doesn't really seem to care because Theon helped remove the Iron Born from the area and he's riding to Winterfell with a lot of men behind him. Yep, that's where the Warden of the North lives. Bittersweet seeing that castle again since the Boltons were the ones about to call it home.
”Once I’m done with this world, I don’t want to come back.”
I saved this sequence for last because it felt like mostly set-up for next week's showdown. That's right, "The Mountain and the Viper" is by no means the biggest fight of the stellar and shocking fourth season with Mance Rayder's much touted army finally closing in on the Wall. How do Jon and the other brothers of the Night's Watch know the wildlings are close? Because we just watched them sack Mole's Town, the place Sam stashed Gilly and the baby to keep them safe. You had one job, Tarly!
Luckily for Sam's pseudo-family, it was Ygritte, the kindest and prettiest wilding who found them hiding and she spared their lives. The ugly, scary lady was not so lucky. Three Crows cheating on their vows were also killed and now the Night's Watchmen are even more outnumbered! I know they have a Wall but I don't like those numbers. What I do like is that Game of Thrones brought back Neil Marshall, director of "Blackwater," for the penultimate installment that features the fantasy's biggest battle yet. No wildfire this time, just an angry woman kissed by fire. Those reds!
”How do a 102 men stop 100,000?”
The fourth season of Game of Thrones continues with Episode 9, “The Watchers on the Wall,” next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Based on the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R.R. Martin, the TV series was adapted by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.