Game Of Thrones: 4.08 The Mountain and The Viper
Don’t come anywhere near this review if you haven’t seen episode 8 of season four.
And that, dear television viewer, is how you come back from a two week break. In what was one of the best episodes this season, and there are a few vying for that award, Game Of Thrones showed its greatness through mastery of pacing, dialogue, acting, plotting, directing, and basically anything else associated with TV.
‘The Viper and The Mountain’ was built up to be all about the fight, the big fight, the moment that has been building since we first met Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne in the first episode of the season. And boy did they deliver. No other show does jubilation - yay The Red Viper has won and Tyrion is free - to despair – holy crap he’s crushed his head in horrible fashion, there’s no vengeance for The Viper, and Tyrion is sentenced to death!!! – in a few fleeting moments like this one. The fight scene itself was fantastically choreographed, with the lithe, whippet quick Oberyn whirling round the massive, immoveable Gregor Clegane, all chipper quips and shouts for confession "You raped my sister. You murdered her. You killed her children." After a couple of slashes and a spiky stick to the chest Oberyn’s got him. Now all he needs to do is finish it. Well go on then. Stop going on about your sister. You ju… oh...
If you kept your eyes on the screen well done, let’s just say that Oberyn died minus most of his teeth, his eyes, and with mush instead of his head, one of the nastiest deaths ever to be shown on mainstream television.
The minutes pre-fight were well judged too, with Tyrion well aware his fate is resting on this drinking, cocky, Prince of Dorne. His lover too worried about The Mountain “You’re going to fight that?!?!”, “I’m going to kill that.” And his bravado makes you believe. But honestly, with Game Of Thrones we should all know by now not to believe. Your belief will just turn round and kick you where it hurts. Much props to Pedro Pascal who made the character a huge favourite and lit up every scene he was in.
The outcome of all this is the definite death of Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, the likely death of Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane, the sentencing to death of Tyrion Lannister, and repercussions that we have no idea about.
If that wasn’t draining enough, before all that elsewhere in Westeros and beyond it was an emotional hour. Ser Jorah’s betrayl of Danerys was pointed out to Ser Barristan who dobbed him in and he was banished. A terrific piece of acting from Iain Glen was matched by Emilia Clarke who hasn’t been given a whole lot to do this year. Also out in Slaver’s Bay is the blossoming romance between Greyworm and the Khaleesi’s beautiful translator. Even though these two are bit part players of the tiny kind it is touching to see this relationship blossom, again this is a testament to the quality of the writing. Although given what we know of this world it won’t last long.
Up in the North The Wildlings have started their attack. Castle Black is unable, or unwilling, to do anything about it and there’s more moping about from Jon Snow and his buddies. You have to wonder how the Bolton’s, Roose and his newly named son Ramsay Bolton, are going to fit into this. The Wards of the North aren’t likely to be too happy about those from beyond the wall taking over. But the less said about Ramsay and Reek the better…
The Stark girls are both learning far more quickly than their brothers ever did. Sansa is playing Petyr Baelish’s games with him now, the two of them now ensconced in her late aunt’s castle. Has Baelish got what he wants or is Sansa turning the tables at last? Whilst Arya is outside, neither knowing that the other is within reach, laughing her head off at the news her aunt is dead. Poor Sandor Clegane, the look on The Hound’s face said it all.
Finally, bringing it back to the top, was the weekly mini episode of Tyrion’s talk show, The Cell. This week his brother entered for a chat that took in both the usual best lines of the show (“Who gives a dusty fuck about a pile of beetles?”) and the best metaphors (the beetle story).
Only two episodes to go, what on earth else can happen now. Brace yourself fellow viewers, there’s a feeling it’s got a ways to go yet.