Well, tonight’s episode has kept consistent in a season full of twists and turns. I mean, we all knew Lord Baelish was an evil bastard, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen him actually get his hands dirty. And we’ve already built sympathy for Sansa and the Starks, so Lysa’s death seemed somewhat justified. Justice; what is it really? Justice is a theme that has permeated this season; raising questions about what is right and what is wrong in George R.R. Martin’s world and in extension, our own world. What would a man or woman do in the name of justice when all the former customs and rules of civility in what is now a war torn continent are no longer honored boundaries? We see this play out in many different ways all through the moral codes each character carries within them.
In a post trial rendezvous, Tyrion sees the perfection of the plan his father is getting away with, and he tells Jaime as much. The deal that Tywin made with Jamie would have wrapped Tywin’s world up with a neat little bow, beneath it the bones of his dwarf son, Jaime as heir to the family legacy in Casterly Rock, a grandson on the throne, and Cersei established in a fruitful family alliance. All of which would have come to fruition before Tyrion ripped that from his father with his damning speech and his prideful proclamation of innocence demanding a trial by combat.
But who will fight The Mountain? And is it just me, or does this seem like a horrible re-casting? Yes, like Bronn says, he is freakishly large. But the previous actor cast as Gregor Clegane at least looked as though he had wits and was related to The Hound. But this guy seems like a simpleton killing machine; Hodor with no conscious and a really big sword. We see him butchering men in chains. This isn’t battle practice, this is cruelty and murder. Cersei steps over entrails in her blind vengeance, her sense of justice being realized by the death of her brother, and she thanks The Mountain for coming when she sent for him to act as her champion.
Jaime’s out of the running as Tyrion’s champion for obvious reasons. And Bronn is a sellsword who has sold himself to Cersei, securing an advantageous marriage and possible lordship one day. It was sad to see yet another person turn their back on Tyrion, but at least this time Tyrion was able to anticipate it, not like with Shae. He always knew that Bronn was a man of little honor and that’s why he kept him around. What was once the show’s most entertaining duo part on amicable terms, and while I want to be mad at Bronn … can anyone really blame him?
It isn’t until the end of the episode that Tyrion actually finds his champion. Oberyn Martell. In a scene that was as equally moving as it was intense, we finally got to see Oberyn stripped free of his kinky sex façade. He tells Tyrion of when he went to see him as a baby: the monster born to Tywin Lannister. Even then Cersei hated Tyrion and wanted him dead, abusing him as a baby. The story is a disturbing reminder of how twisted Cersei’s perception of Tyrion is in her own mind. It felt successfully emotional, an unjustified hatred stemming back to Tyrion’s birth and the subsequent death of his mother. But this isn’t the reason Oberyn wants to be Tyrion’s champion. His underlying agenda has always been to seek justice for his sister Elia’s rape and death at the hands of The Mountain under orders given by Tywin Lannister. It seems that fate has drawn him into an opportunity to begin unleashing his vengeance plan starting with The Mountain.
Arya and The Hound
Arya’s slow decent into darkness and a world defined by death is fascinating to watch. She’s a complicated character, and only in conversations like with the dying man are we able to comprehend the extent of her internal evolution. She is another example of the hazy line between justice and vengeance. The names that slip her lips at night are what fuel her; delivering death has become her purpose, and yet we feel she is justified in the matriculation of this particular list. In this very scene the aspect of fairness is discussed, the dying man having caught some of Tyrion’s fervor from the end of last episode. On the cusp of death, a dying peasant man is the land’s voice of discovery, the discovery of a world no longer tethered to civility and customs that secured fairness and balance. The Hound makes a mercy kill, teaching Arya where to kill immediately by striking the heart.
She’s a quick learner.
After Biter attacks The Hound, Rorge delivers a quick bit of current events including the news of Joffrey’s death, and Arya kills him in this precise method. Perhaps it is the news of Joffrey’s death, or the irony of the bite wound on his neck needing to be cauterized, but something sends The Hound into a downward spiral of regret. We get to hear the story of his burn again, but this time it isn’t creepily whispered into Sansa Stark’s ear, it comes from The Hound himself. His story just further proves that there is no good in The Mountain. He is a man without morals named the Queen’s Champion in a trial grounded in unjustified hate.
Dany and Daario 4 Eva
It was only a matter of time. I’m actually glad they didn’t show this sex scene, it would have felt forced and gratuitous. I think the more interesting part happened afterwards when Ser Jorah bumps into Daario in what can be called the exact opposite of the walk of shame. Daenerys has decided to send the Second Sons to Yunkai to kill all the masters that have reclaimed their power.
Ser Jorah talks her out of the decision, his counsel striking a personal note as he was once in the business of slave trade before Ned Stark banished him. Instead, Dany decides to send Hizdhar zo Loraq to Yunkai as her ambassador to provide the masters with a choice.
It’s obvious Ser Jorah is pleased he has swayed her, and she throws another bone to his testosterone by sending him with a personal message to Daario that Jorah changed her mind. Looks like Dany is starting to play her own games. But what does she gain by pitting these two men against each other by using their affection for her? It’s an interesting manipulation.
It all started with such an act of innocence. Sansa is inspired by the snow, no doubt feeling nostalgic for Winterfell, for uncomplicated youth. She builds a snow replica of Winterfell. I thought this scene was plucked straight from the books and onto the screen in the significance of the action. It’s so pure and reflective of the good that is in Sansa. But it’s Robin’s demands for a moon door that turn the whole thing dark. He tells his cousin that when they are married he will throw anyone out the moon door that she doesn’t like, and you can see an expression of the exact opposite of innocence flash across Sansa’s face. Sophie Turner isn’t the best actress on the show, but this season has proven her ability to portray a growing depth of emotion in subtle expressions, like that look back at King’s Landing before leaving with Ser Dontos.
Robin destroys the castle because he’s a little dick, and Sansa gives him a well deserved smack. Enter creepy whispers. I can’t help but call him that. High on thoughts of vengeance and having just struck the Lord of the Eyrie, Sansa asks Lord Baelish the real reason he killed Joffrey. His response isn’t one that I trust, but there might be some truth to it: to avenge her mother’s death. “Given the opportunity, what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?” Well, we throw them out moon doors apparently. Or at least that’s what Lord Baelish does to Lysa after she catches the kiss he steals from Sansa.
Lysa is obviously unstable; she threatens to throw Sansa out the door for coming between her and Petyr. But, Lord Baelish is a man motivated by his own self interest, and he is obviously interested in Sansa. So when Lysa threatens to harm her, he simply shoves her through the hole. And for some reason, I think Sansa will be completely adaptable to this change in the game in the Eyrie. But what is Petyr’s plan? How will he talk himself out of this mess once Lysa’s death is discovered? And if Sansa doesn’t return his affection, will he be as understanding as Tyrion or will he manipulate her into submission to his advances? That guy is by far the most dangerous and unpredictable man in Westeros.
Other awesome stuff I will mention from this episode …
- Jon returns to The Wall from Craster’s Keep. He tells the council of crows that Mance Rayder’s army will reach The Wall before the next full moon. He suggests sealing the tunnel through The Wall into Castle Black. Allister Thorne is against him at every turn. He has the head builder side with him in refusing Jon’s suggestion, which is obviously the result of political pressure. But it is Jon who knows what is coming, and his idea doesn’t seem so bad when considering Giants are on their way.
- I don’t know why the scene between Melissandre and Queen Selyse had to take place while the sorceress is bathing. Perhaps she is making herself seem open and vulnerable to Selyse in order to garner even more of her fanatic trust and devotion. I did like Melissandre’s revelation of her deceptions to trick men into believing in the Lord of Light, tricking them into truth. This doesn’t happen until much later in the books and it isn’t something that she externalizes, so I like that this information is being offered up to the audience much earlier. Should this serve to lessen Melissandre’s mysticism and elevate her power of manipulation, like she leveled up or something? Queen Selyse came to advise against taking Princess Shireen with them when they set sail. I know where they are going – but do the viewers? There’s been enough said to piece it together, but you’d have to reach back into last season and I’d rather not ruin that surprise. Melissandre says that Princess Shireen is a part of the Lord of Light’s design. So, that should be an interesting development.
- Brienne and Podrick are on the road looking for lost Starks when oh, look Hot Pie! He’s so cute. I guess now that the Bronn and Tyrion show is over and Arya and The Hound border on the edge of nihilism, Brienne and Podrick are the lighter side of things. They have a humorous relationship I find refreshing. And now, after Hot Pie’s revelation of Arya still being alive, they have a mission to find the girls at the Eyrie. Knights need missions or else they wander around aimlessly getting into trouble. It’s true, or at least that’s the trope that Fantasy commonly feeds me. I wonder if they’ll make it. And if they do, what will the Eyrie be like when they arrive?
Amanda Lowery lives, writes and studies in Baltimore where she is held hostage by potholes, stray cats and rats that make her watch way too much TV and rhyme unnecessarily. You can find her book reviews and pop culture thoughts at amandasthinkingoutloud.blogspot.com.