Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper” Season 4 Episode 8 Review

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I throw in the towel. There’s no way to predict anything on this show. Just know that I, like Arya, am going to start saying names every night before I go to bed.

After two weeks of the Internet treating The Mountain and the Viper like it was the most important boxing match in history, Oberyn Mertell’s head was reduced to a puddle after his fight with the Mountain. Now Tyrion is sentenced to death and I am begging Jaime to stop sitting on the sidelines and help his brother.

The climactic fight was a great cap to an overall great episode of Game of Thrones. That being said, Oberyn was only introduced this season and a lot of his scenes kind of feel like a waste now. Pedro Pascal stole just about every scene his was in, making the most of his short time on the show. But the death was handled in a manner that seems like it was supposed to carry more weight. I wonder if I would have felt more for Oberyn had he somehow been introduced in Season 3. Oh well, it was still a great fight, and the implications on Tyrion are grand enough.

But King’s Landing wasn’t the only eventful locale in this episode. The Stark sisters in particular had some great material.

Sansa hasn’t had it all that easy since Littlefinger bailed her out of King’s Landing, but her mostly truthful defense of him was quite clever and felt natural. Littlefinger has done a great deal for Sansa, and the Veil is certainly better than King’s Landing. Now she appears to be destined to marry her cousin. So maybe that won’t last for very long.

Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound arrive at the Veil. The Hound’s plan to trade Arya over hits a roadblock when they find out her aunt is dead. Arya’s response? Uproarious laughter. How could it not be? The frustration Arya must feel is so immense that she can’t help but laugh. It was a startlingly self-aware moment for the series, as sometimes I find myself laughing at how bleak these characters’ lives have become. The question remains: will Arya still go into the Veil and meet up with her sister? My guess is no. I’m not convinced Game of Thrones has any plans to let any of the Starks see each other ever again.

They’re not the only loners out there now though. In a very depressing turn of events, Daenerys banished Jorah from her presence. Barristan receives a letter from King’s Landing that pardons Jorah, who was originally meant to spy on Daenerys. The Mother of Dragons was cruel to her most trusted ally. If only she knew how devoted he was to her. Hopefully we’ll see Jorah soon.

On the other side of the world, Theon appears to be completely lost. Ramsay Snow’s pet is so far out of his own head that he has to pretend to be himself. For a storyline that used to be so repetitious, I now see the reasoning. Theon’s story has become so disturbing that I feel nothing but sadness while watching him.

The only other story we visited this week was the building battle between the wildlings and the Night’s Watch. The enemy, including Ygritte, appear to be closing in on Castle Black. Tension has been building all season for this fight, and it looks to be the basis of perhaps all of next week’s episode. It would be a first since Season 2’s showstopper Blackwater.

The Mountain and the Viper was a very strong entry to the season. Just about every story had strong moments that moved us toward the end of the season. I do feel weird about how much time the show put into Oberyn in previous episodes and how little it ended up mattering. But it sure makes for some shocking television. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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