VOD TV recap: Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 8 (The Mountain and the Viper)
Inigo Montoya tribute match10
Finding the meaning of life in crushed beetles8
Selina Pearson | On 04, Jun 2014
This recap contains spoilers.
Over its four seasons, Game of Thrones hasn’t exactly been squeamish about killing off characters. Until The Mountain and the Viper, The Red Wedding had so far been the grimmest event. Murder of women and unborn foetuses? Check. Defiling a corpse by sewing on a wolf’s head? Check. Violation of the laws of hospitality by killing almost all visitors under your roof? Check, check and check. But all that paled in comparison with the sheer goriness of the climax of Season 4 Episode 8. The question on everyone’s lips: “Did you see it? I COULDN’T WATCH.”
The TV series has done a fantastic job with Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal). In the books, you don’t spend much time with him. He is mentioned, he is met, but you don’t get to know him. Here, we’ve not only gotten to know him, but grown fond of him – a big mistake in this show. As played by Pedro Pascal, he has such flare, such splendid dialogue, even if he does channel The Princess Bride during the trial by combat. Almost the worst part is that he almost cleared Tyrion Lannister. He dealt multiple blows to the Mountain Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) – except he got cocky while demanding vengeance for his sister.
Oberyn’s death is a blow for the Lannisters’ increasingly tenuous hold on the Iron Throne – with it, they may lose Dorne and, with that, Princess Myrcella.
The climax somewhat overshadows an otherwise excellent episode. It opens in Gilly’s brothel in Molestown, leading to the fastest boobs real in Game of Thrones so far and a burped rendition of The Rains of Castermere, all of which is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the reaving Wildlings making for the wall.
The Hound (Rory McCann), meanwhile, has finally gotten Arya (Maisie Williams) to her aunt’s home in the Vale, only to find that Lysa is dead. Maisie Williams’ laughter echoes off Thingvellir with the ridiculousness of the situation – first Winterfell is destroyed, then her mother and Robb slaughtered at the Twins, and now her aunt’s gone through the Moon Door. She’s running out of relatives to crash with.
In the North, thanks to Theon’s assistance, Ramsay Snow takes Moat Cailin – bloody flaying ensues. Roose Bolton then legitimises his bastard, making Ramsay heir to the post of Warden. It’s starting to look like there is no going back for Theon. Will he forever remain Ramsay’s plaything?
In Mereen, Barristan Selmy receives an incriminating piece of paperwork from King’s Landing. It outs Jorah Mormont as a spy for Varys. On hearing this, Danaerys exiles him. The small council back in Westeros has been wanting to separate Danaerys from her two strong generals. Now, it looks like they have succeeded in removing Mormont.
Events are also unravelling fast in the Vale of Arryn. The Lords of the Vale have appeared at the Eyrie, which means the whole show skips briefly to book 5 to make judgement on Lysa Arryn’s death. Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) maintains that it was suicide, but Yohn Royce (Rupert Vansittart) is suspicious that Petyr and Lysa had been married all of five minutes before she went and conveniently killed herself. They insist on speaking to the only other witness, Sansa (Sophie Turner) who is disguised as Petyr’s “niece”, even though she now looks more adult than ever.
Despite his protestations, she confesses who she is to the Vale lords, only to corroborate Littlefinger’s account of Lysa’s death. The question is: has Sansa made the right call?
Baelish is still an unknown quantity (we’re not referring to his accents); perhaps she has decided that she would rather be his ally than his enemy. The lords also like the idea of young Robin Arryn travelling about to harden up the whiny little twit, though after Littlefinger begins reeling off all the place people die – “dinner tables, in bed and on chamber pots” – you have to wonder what he has in store for the boy.
While all this drama takes place, The Mountain and the Viper is punctuated by humour – provided by Tyrion and Jaime musing on whether there is a word for killing your cousin, and why their simpleton relative Orson spent all day crushing beetles as a child. Climaxing in a humorous, though dark, monologue from Peter Dinklage, it highlights one of the weaknesses of the books: their lack of humour, something the series (and Dinklage in particular) has introduced well.
An outstanding episode from beginning to end, The Mountain and the Viper is not for the fainthearted: it packs a punch right through the skull. As it now suddenly looks like Tyrion’s beetle speech might be his last, you suspect that maybe the programme makers are going to run out of book to adapt. Or at the very least, run out of characters.
Where you can stream Game of Thrones online? For more information, click here.