All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
4.8 The Mountain and the Viper
Anyone want to take a guess at the meaning of this title? No? Boooooooo. The Mountain, the nickname for Ser Gregor Clegane and the Brother of the Hound, and the Viper, the nickname for Oberyn Martell, Prince of Dorne. The sigil of the Martells is a snake and Oberyn specializes in poisons and so- the Viper. If you recall from the last episode, the Mountain agreed to be Cersei’s champion and Oberyn is representing Tyrion in Tyrion’s trial by combat against claims that Tyrion killed Joff. Oberyn is also seeking personal revenge against the Mountain for murdering his niece, nephew, and sister in Robert’s Rebellion as to end Raeghar Targaryen’s line- who was next in line after the Mad King. This is the culmination of a lot of pieces being moved and a lot of old politics brimming at the surface again.
The episode kicks off in Molestown, a town south of Castle Black where many men of the Night’s Watch get their rocks off with some peasant girls. Gilly’s been sent there by Sam so… she doesn’t get raped at the Wall even though she’d probably get raped here but anyway. Kick in the Thenn music as they start slaughtering every man and woman in sight.. The brothel is attacked by Tormund and Ygritte’s band of Wildlings and Ygritte sees Gilly but lets her go, either identifying her as a Wildling or feeling sorry for the baby- it’s not clear. It’s a frantic and violent fight.
Back at the Wall, the Night’s Watch has been notified that Molestown was attacked and the Night’s Watch that snuck out are now dead. Edd assures Sam that Gilly probably survived because she has a great track record against winter, Craster, and you know, a White Walker. Pyp is more worried about the 102 men of the Night’s Watch vs. 100,000 Wildings, and for obvious reasons.
Across the Shining Sea, Grey Worm spies of Missandei as she’s bathing and Dany proclaims that nakedness is nothing to be ashamed of as the Dothraki make love under the stars for all the world to see, which is a very generous description of being raped by Khal Drogo. (I know, it’s a scene taken from the book, but it never made it into the show so. Yup.) Dany’s more curious about if the Unsullied lost their penis and their testicles (“pillar and stones,” lolz)- it’s a good question. Someone educate the rest of us. Grey Worm then comes to apologize but Missandei immediately asks if he remembers being “cut” because now she’s curious too. Grey Worm tries to get all touchy feeling saying it’s good that he became a slave and got his peen chopped off because that’s how he met Missandei and that’s sweet and all but this is all fanfiction because shit in Meereen is slow and the showrunners were looking for a way to keep us somewhat distracted from the fact that Dany’s not doing anything.
Over to Moat Cailin, where Ramsay is releasing Theon to convince the remaining, occupying ironborn to surrender to the Boltons. Ramsay quizzes Theon- I mean Reek- to make sure he will loyally return to him instead of running away with his men. Inside, he proves he’s Theon by… throwing out some geography, stating his family lineage, and repeating the words of the Drowned God, which literally anyone can do. Kenning, the leader inside, tells Reek that only a woman or whipped dog would surrender (how did he know!?) when he’s killed by his own men. Theon, on behalf of Ramsay, appropriately rewards the remaining ironborn with a warm hot bath and-
JK, THEY GOT TORTURED AND FLAYED. I don’t want to make light of this scene too much, as it’s some pretty good acting by Alfie Allen. Enough to show us that he doesn’t believe a word he is saying but enough confidence that he would convince this group of people. Good jorb.
In the Vale, Littlefinger is giving the other noble houses some insight to Lysa’s death and they don’t believe a word he says. They all know that Lysa was crazy but are in agreement that she wouldn’t have committed suicide because of her son. The nobles insist on speaking to Sansa, who they believe to be as Littlefinger’s niece. When she reveals herself as Sansa, Littlefinger almost poops his pants but Sansa supports his story on her own, saying the Littlefinger has been protecting her since Ned’s death. And of course, with Ned having been so close to Jon Arryn, they immediately take pity on her. It’s a beautiful performance by Sophie Turner and pretty stunning on Sansa’s part that she can lie just as well as Arya without any teachings from the House of Black and White. Like Arya, there’s just enough truth and lies that she weaves together to make it believable to those who knew Lysa.
Back in Meereen, a child hands Barristan Selmy a scroll with the seal of the Hand of the King- a letter from Tywin, who was brought his paper and will by Mace Tyrell before furiously scribbling away when he heard of Barristan and Jorah supporting Dany. It’s Jorah’s royal pardon, from Robert Baratheon. Jorah knows that it’s forged but it doesn’t matter as the damage has already been done. Barristan knows Jorah’s history in Westeros, understands his desperation to return, and already doesn’t like Jorah as it is. When Jorah approaches Dany, he chooses to tell her the truth and describe how Tywin wants to rip her council away but she takes it personally and sends him away. You know what, this is one of Emilia Clarke’s better and more subtle scenes. You can see her struggle to stay composed and regal and her refusal to even look at Jorah is a nice touch.
IN DA NORTH, Ramsay presents a scruffy looking Roose with the kraken banner that was flying over Moat Cailin and Roose doesn’t care. Ha. Also, either they had great mics or they dubbed these scenes really well because that is WINDY. Roose hasn’t heard from Locke and chalks up Bran and Rickon as having must died because the show just doesn’t get the Roose Bolton character at all. I can see Roose’s indifference to losing one of his men, but he wouldn’t brush aside the Stark boys like that. ANYWAY. Roose and his men have taken back most, if not all of the ironborn-occupied North and he gives Ramsay a lesson on how big the region really is- larger than all the other kingdoms combined. Roose then gives Ramsay a gift- he’s taking away the name Snow and giving Ramsay the name Bolton and naming him as his official heir. This is all Ramsay has ever wanted, but it’s not because Roose actually believes in Ramsay, it’s because Roose needs a legitimate heir so he can take over their body and live forever! BOLT-ON THEORY.
Kidding, of course- this is mostly a ploy to ensure that the Bolton name will live on and Roose has no other children yet. This act keeps Ramsay in this emotionally abusive relationship that will benefit Roose who is now Warden of the North- because he’s legitimized, Ramsay will feel more obligation and perform larger deeds and Roose can guilt him a little bit more. Roose doesn’t do anything unless he, himself, is getting something out of it. He’s a little bit like Tywin but doesn’t care about his family name so much as he cares about wielding power over others. And he definitely lacks that bit of warmth that Tywin so wonderfully got the chance to display in his scenes with Arya.
But those voices- like if Charles Dance barked orders at me and then Michael McElhatton was all, “No, don’t listen to him- you should actually go do this,” I think my head would explode. Just so much bass. Anyway, Roose marches his men to Winterfell, the seat of House Stark and the Warden of the North. I’m not sure if the Warden absolutely has to be at Winterfell, but I assume Roose wants to keep an eye on those that might still be loyal to Ned.
Over in the Vale, Littlefinger wants to know why Sansa helped him out and it pretty much comes down to Sansa preferring to deal with a dude she already knows rather than to have him die and then deal with a bunch of people she doesn’t. She’s starting to look out for herself. She says she knows what Littlefinger wants and that puts her in a bit of control- but does she really? I’d hope that at this point, she’s started to piece together Littlefinger’s ultimate fantasy of ripping up Westeros from the inside out, ruling it, and sleeping with his surrogate daughter who happens to be the daughter of the woman he got turned down by and so sort sleeping with his childhood crush and it’s weird. I hope she knows it’s weird.
My absolute favorite Arya scene ever, as they approach the Vale’s Bloody Gate and the dude’s like, “No, Lady Arryn is dead.” Arya is so amused by everything in her life going wrong with yet another person dead just moments before her arrival that she bursts out in a fit of giggles. Super adorable and it cracks me up every time.
Inside, Littlefinger ejaculates in his pants because Sansa has fastforwarded puberty and comes down the stairs in a low-cut black dress with feathers- she’s a new bird or dark wings, dark words or some shit like that.
In the dungeons of King’s Landing, Tyrion and Jaime are having one last talk about Orson Lannister, a cousin of theirs who was dropped as a baby and only wanted to smash beetles all day. Tyrion couldn’t understand why this act of terrorism against beetles brought his cousin so much joy- basically his way of saying that he doesn’t understand the nature of killing and the aggression that comes with others, if we are comparing the Mountain to his cousin and the Mountain’s victims to the beetles. If anything, Tyrion has always identified as being one of the underdogs and in this case- the beetles. He feels both victimized and compelled to do something about seeing harm done to others, unprovoked.
Outside, Oberyn is getting ready for his fight by getting his drink on. Ellaria’s outfit is badass here- she has pointed shoulder pads with a snakeskin texture and a dress in a very bold orange. Why did they not keep this style for the rest of Dorne!? Oberyn warms up with some fancy spear twirling and he’s probably the fastest fighter we’ve ever seen on the show. The Mountain is able to block him, swinging hard, but Oberyn moves quickly out of the way while chanting that he raped and murdered Elia and killed her children. Oberyn slices the Mountain until he falls, even stabs him through the heart- but Oberyn won’t kill the Mountain until he admits what he did to her.
Jaime and Tyrion both look excited and Ellaria looks on lustily while Tywin and Cersei look more and more agitated, until the Mountain gives Oberyn a big leg sweep rolls over on him, and smushes his head like a big loaf of bread. One wrong step, remember? Eh? Eh? One of the most gruesome deaths and the only reason I found this one surprising at the time was because of how recently Oberyn was introduced to us. I mean, the amount of time they spend on him and then just completely off him… Wild. Other than Oberyn, Dorne and its capital Sunspear are largely insignificant. They really only even mentioned Dorne because they wanted to use Oberyn and this scene for the gore. This is kind of where the show got carried away by its own shock value and started putting the story second. What a waste of Indira Varma. She fits in so perfectly in Season 4 and they really struggled with how to use her after.
4.9 The Watchers on the Wall