TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 4 (The Mountain and the Viper)

The Mountain and the Viper by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Warning: Major Spoilers!

The last episode ended with a real statement of intent. This episode starts with another one and rarely lets up till its unmissable climax: the fight between Oberyn Martell (The Red Viper) and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) with Tyrion’s life hanging in the balance. The episode opens with Ygritte, Tormund and the Thenns attacking Mole’s Town, the last village en route to Castle Black, and also the village where Sam sent Gilly. After the Thenns ruthlessly slaughter everyone, Jon and his friends realise the hopelessness of their situation, after losing 3 men at Mole’s Town, they have 102 men against the Thenns and the 100,000 men Mance Rayder has on the other side of the wall (as Pip comments ‘i don’t think i can kill 100 wildlings) you realise the odds really aren’t in their favour. Sam is also distraught at having sent Gilly to her death, but unbeknownst to him Ygritte actually let her go after seeing her with her baby, somewhat redeeming her character. It sets the scene nicely for episode 9, The Watchers on the Wall.

This is the episode where Sansa gets some great character development and Sophie Turner gives one of her best performances. After Littlefinger pushed her aunt Lysa to her death last week, it was touch and go whether Sansa would cover for him or not. The scene between her, Littlefinger and the Lords of the Vale kept us guessing nicely, but in the end Sansa decides to lie for Petyr and finally play ‘the Game of Thrones’. Arya barely got any screentime this week, merely laughing manically at the news of her aunt’s death and the irony that her relative has died mere hours before the Hound could ransom her. Again.

Daenerys storyline gains some momentum as Tywin Lannisters scheming finally pays off – he (or rather Varys) sends Daenerys a copy of the pardon for Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) signed by Robert Baratheon. This leads to Daenerys realising Jorah was betraying her throughout series 1 – and is inadvertently responsible for the attempts on her life that season (because his information lead to Robert sending an assassin to her and her unborn child). Daenerys thus furiously exiles Jorah from Meereen on pain of death – unwilling to kill her former advisor but unable to forgive him.

The Bolton’s story arc for this season comes to a close as Ramsay sends Reek (in the guise of Theon) to negotiate with the Ironborn who control Moat Caitlin, which controls entry to the north. Alfie Allen is on brilliant form here as he nearly unravels when the Ironborn leader stubbornly refuses to surrender (only to be saved when another soldier kills the commander with an axe to the back of the head). Ramsay predictably then kills all the surrendering soldiers, and is rewarded for his success by his father Roose Bolton, who legitimises Ramsay and makes him a true Bolton. The two Boltons and their army then depart for the ruins of Winterfell to rule the North from the former Stark capital.

But the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the trial by combat. Oberyn cuts a neat contrast to Gregor Clegane (who is entirely encumbered by a huge suit of armour and greatsword) as he twirls around in light armour with a spear. Mobility vs. Protection, Speed vs. Strength is what this battle is all about. MAJOR SPOILER INCOMING! The scene does a great job of convincing the viewer that this season is about to kill off yet another villain, as after a few twists and turns, Oberyn’s constant taunting of the mountain gets to him and he is wounded repeatedly by Oberyn’s spear. However Oberyn then loses focus while trying to extract a confession from the Mountain, who knocks Oberyn to the ground and ruthless gouges his eyes out while confessing ‘Elia Martell, i killed her children, then i raped her, THEN I SMASHED HER HEAD IN LIKE THIS!’ before brutally crushing Oberyn’s skull. Its shocking and the goriest death ever seen on Game of Thrones. The Mountain then collapses to the ground and Tywin sentences Tyrion to death while the audience is still reeling from the sheer brutally of it – he’d only been in 6 episodes!!!!

Overall another great episode with a shock ending that sets up the final two episodes very nicely.

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Next Time: Mance Rayder attacks the Wall as the Thenns storm castle black, and Jon Snow and Ygritte come face to face once more…

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