Game of Thrones: Mockingbird

Littlefinger: "A lot can happen between now and never."

This is my first Game of Thrones review, and I have a small confession to make. I've only read the first book so I have absolutely no idea what's coming in the next three episodes. Although I thought this was a good episode, I'll reiterate my fellow reviewer's sentiment about Ser Pounce. Every scene would've been better with Ser Pounce in it.

King's Landing

Tyrion's plotline is one of the more frustrating stories for me, not because I dislike it, but because I'm fairly sure Tyrion isn't going to die. So I'm constantly trying to figure out how the plot is going to get him out of this situation. His first would be champion was Jamie, of course. That scene was bittersweet, as the brothers worked through the aftermath of Tyrion's speech at his trial. Tywin had gotten everything he wanted, and both Tyrion and Jamie were willing to go along with his choices for them. Then came Shae's betrayal, and Tyrion couldn't handle it.

Unfortunately Tyrion's first choice to champion for him can barely sword fight anymore. Jamie really is no longer a match for The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is now the third actor to play this part), and his acceptance would mean they would probably both die. I did love Tyrion's reaction to Jamie's refusal because his singular wit was infused with several layers of emotions; disappointment, understanding, and ultimately sadness that his brother could no longer defend him all hidden behind a smile and a quip.

Bronn's entrance, though, was kind of amazing. Within a second it was obvious not only to Tyrion, but also the audience, that Bronn was no longer in the running to be Tyrion's champion. The betrayal wasn't unexpected, but at least it was never malicious. Tyrion has always known who and what Bronn is, and he has always known that one day someone would offer the sell-sword more money than Tyrion was capable of countering. I liked that there was no bad blood in this scene, although it was a bit more bitter than Jamie's refusal. And that last moment was tragic in a way, because Bronn has always liked Tyrion. Unfortunately it all boiled down to one inescapable fact -- when has Tyrion ever risked his life to save Bronn?

Then we had Oberyn show up. He's an interesting character, in that his motivations are guarded but at the same time he's been very forthright with Tyrion. The story Oberyn told Tyrion about the monster Lannister baby was so descriptive of Tyrion's life that it was clear Oberyn understood Tyrion better than almost anyone else in King's Landing. That even as an infant Tyrion was hated. That Cersei has spent Tyrion's entire life waiting for this moment, as revenge for being born and taking her mother away. It's unfair of course, but when has Cersei ever been fair? She's about as heartless as her father, who is seated next to Cersei on the Tyrion hate wagon.

What sold that scene for me, besides Oberyn's delivery of the dialogue, was Tyrion's face. Throughout that entire conversation he thought he was being mocked, perhaps even in preparation for an assassination. Oberyn's motivations in that scene were so ambiguous at first, that I wasn't sure exactly what was about to happen. It does make perfect sense though. Fighting for Tyrion would also accomplish two things: it would humiliate the Lannisters by having an honored guest and prince stand for their disgraced brother, and it is a chance for Oberyn to finally avenge his sister by killing the Mountain.

The Eyrie

Sansa's discovery of the garden covered in snow was rather beautiful. It allowed us to see that she really is still a young woman whose childhood, home and family have been ripped from her. That lovely little snow village was a sad reminder of Winterfell, and Robin's little tantrum unfortunately paralleled his mother's role in its destruction, and yet again it was Littlefinger who stepped in to 'save the day'. Except this time he finally let his reasoning come through.

He confessed to loving Catelyn, and lamented the fact that Sansa could've been his daughter. Talk about creepy, it was shuddery and wrong how he compared Sansa's beauty to her mother's. Then he kissed her, which finally cemented his intentions towards Sansa which he has been dancing around since season one. Of course Lysa was watching, and of course she flew into a jealous rage.

Threatening Sansa with the Moondoor was probably the final straw for Petyr, but I've hoped that someone would toss Lysa through it before, so to me it was a very satisfying end to her character. Unfortunately that means Robin is now the Lord of the Eyrie. That's unsettling, because he's one evil act away from becoming a dark haired clone of Joffrey. Still, I imagine Littlefinger won't be quite so willing to bend to Robin's demands.

On the Road

I really like the way Brienne and Pod are bonding. That scene in the pub was a good example of their growing relationship. Then Hot Pie showed up. It might've been a bit of a coincidence that one of Arya's friends just happens to be the one serving Brienne, but it didn't bother me too much. Hot Pie's rambling about food fit the scene perfectly though, so I'm willing to forgive a bit of hand of fate here. So after a bit of logical conjecture Brienne and Pod are now heading towards the Eryie, because Tyrion forced Pod to learn the houses. I guess Tyrion is always right.

Arya and the Hound had two small scenes of bonding, where they put some poor man out of his misery after he was left for dead. Arya killed again, and I loved her asking for her victim's name before stabbing him through the heart. Lastly we learned why the Hound hates fire. Not necessarily because of the fire itself, but because his brother was the one who burned him over a fight with a toy. How young was he? That small confession explained so much about his character, and Arya tending to him was a nice subtle way to express the fact that she no longer actively wants to kill him.

Across the Narrow Sea

The Daenerys and Daario scene was a little difficult for me to buy into. I like the new actor playing Daario and I get the attraction, but I'm not sure what it says about Dany. It isn't about her exploring her sexuality, that's the positive part of that scene since her exposure to sex has been uneven at best. It felt off to me because everyone around her must obey her command, so even though it was clearly consensual, it was still a mild abuse of power, much like her demand to have the Masters of Meereen slaughtered. At least Jorah was able to convince her that justice is not black and white. Still, they aren't really giving the Masters of Meereen much of a choice; surrender and be ruled or die horribly.


I have to mention how wonderful Peter Dinklage is. If he isn't nominated for some award for this season I'd be surprised and mildly disappointed.

Pedro Pascal (Oberyn) has really stood out for me this season. He just had a long arc on The Mentalist, and although I recognized him immediately, he looked, sounded, and behaved in such an opposite way from Oberyn that it would've been easy to think he was a different actor altogether.

Bronn's bride to be is named Lollys Stokeworth. What a name.

Melisandre and Selyse had a small scene that seemed to be centered around Shireen, but I think it was also about faith. The red woman admitted openly to using tricks to get people to believe, basically saying the ends justify the means. It speaks to a lot of her behavior throughout the series, basically she's just a zealot and a con-artist (even if her god is real). Unfortunately she's sold her con to a king.

Jon's continued attempts to protect the wall are still falling on deaf ears. It's not surprising, but very disappointing. I have to say I'm really liking what they are doing with Jon this season. He feels stronger and more deserving of being Commander of the Night's Watch (which I've always assumed is where his character is headed).


Bronn: "Aye, I'm your friend, but when have you ever risked your life for me."

Dying Man: "Could I have a drink? Dying is thirsty work."

I think this was a good episode, but the plots didn't really coalesce into a single driving narrative. In a show this serialized, that's not a bad thing, but it does make it very hard to rate an episode that was basically a bridge between plots.

So tentatively I give this one;

3 out of 4 Bodies broken on the rocks below the Eryie

Reminder: The comments on these episode reviews are appropriate for newbies. If you haven't read the books, you're safe! If you have read the books and would like to talk about upcoming events, please do so here, in our Season Four spoiler thread.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Amalie said...

Nice review! It's always fascinating to read the musings of someone who hasn't read the books ;)

Actually we learned why the Hound is afraid of fire back in season 1. Petyr tells the story of the Mountain and the Hound to Sansa during a tournament.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid Game of Thrones is showing me to be a psychopath. Nice of them to make you disregard Robin as a mad little psycho, only to catch yourself enjoying the sight of Lysa flying every bit as gleefully. Oh, how I laughed and laughed! Not even a tinge of disgust or discomfort as with Joffrey earlier in the season.
I even smiled when Arya stabbed that man so matter-of-factly.
And now I'm seriously horrified of myself for enjoying murders this much.

Mark Greig said...

I doubt that Littlefinger will have to worry about Robin. He is still too young to rule, and as his stepfather Littlerfinger will now be Lord Protector of the Vale. I'm sure this is what he planned all along. He probably had Lysa's death all planned out before he even left King's Landing. Her attempt to Moon Door Sansa simply forced him to act ahead of schedule.

Josie Kafka said...

Excellent review, JD!

These past few episodes have felt like a lot of set-up to me, but that might be because I have some sense of what to look forward to in the rest of this season. So it's the little things that I love--this week, it was Hot Pie. I giggled my way through his speech about kidney pie.

Jonathan said...

I don't even think the scene auntie Lysa made at the Moon Door forced Littlefinger to act ahead of schedule - I think it was part of Littlefingers plan. When he kissed Sansa, he immediately looked up, to the place where Lysa was standing. He knew she was there. He wanted her to act out, to give him an excuse for killing her. And I think it is also all an act, to win over Sansa. Maybe he eventually wants to marry her (thinking Tyrion will be out of the picture soon), to gain controll over Winterfell as well as the Vale. Does that make any sense?

Jonathan said...

I don't even think the scene auntie Lysa made at the Moon Door forced Littlefinger to act ahead of schedule - I think it was part of Littlefingers plan. When he kissed Sansa, he immediately looked up, to the place where Lysa was standing. He knew she was there. He wanted her to act out, to give him an excuse for killing her. And I think it is also all an act, to win over Sansa. Maybe he eventually wants to marry her (thinking Tyrion will be out of the picture soon), to gain controll over Winterfell as well as the Vale. Does that make any sense?

Juliette said...

Great to have a review from a non-book reader! I tend to have to avoid speculation cause, well, that wouldn't really work.

Loved Hot Pie coming back. I love even more that he's still alive. Part of me hopes the final episode of the final season shows everyone having massacred each other/been killed by dragons, with just Hot Pie standing in the rubble and bodies, the lone survivor! (OK, not really. But I hope he stays alive!)

Otherwyrld said...

Excellent first review!
I watched Games of Thrones and Orphan Black on the same day and found it interesting that both had scenes where a powerful woman basically forces a man to have sex with her. For Once, Games of Thrones was the more subtle of the two.
I loved Hot Pie appearing again, but where is Gendry?
Jonathan, I think you're right that Littlefinger wants to marry Sansa and gain control of Winterfell as well as the Eyrie, as most of the characters at this point believe that all the Stark men are dead and Sansa is heir to Winterfell. Tyrion also mentioned it when trying to bribe Bronn into being his champion - he suggested carving a territory out of the Northern lands for Bronn.
There were so many good scenes in this episode - Arya and the Hound, Brienne and Pod, Tyrion and Oberon - you don't even realise how many characters don't appear. No Tywin or Cersi, for example.
I know where this is going, having read the first three books, and it's going to be great.

Freeman said...

Sir Friendzone, just give it up man. Daenerys isn't the same innocent girl you fell in love with. There's plenty of other fish in the sea, time to shove off and find clearer waters my friend.

Further into the world of death Arya goes. The ease with which she took that man's life. Where will she end up by the end of this series? I can't say but I doubt it's gonna be anywhere good. Maybe she'll have her revenge, but sill it have been worth it standing on a mountain of corpses. Hopefully there will be some kinda turnaround somewhere down the line, but this series is so dark it doesn't seem likely. On the plus side, it seems like everyone else is killing off the people on her list for her. At this rate all she'll need to fight is The Hound.

So, Littlefinger's pretty gross yeah? I guess years of running a whorehouse have left him a bit rusty on the finer arts of seducing a woman, but telling a young girl she could've been your daughter and then planting one on her doesn't seem to be the most sexy approach. He did kill for her though, some chicks in Westeros dig that.

I feel like when the Wildlings finally arrive at The Wall it's just going to be very awkward for everyone involved. Like what do you say when a giant's finally crushing the gates in it's bare hands as a hundred thousand barbarians rush in? "Well, Lord Snow, the giants aren't THAT big."

I-ku-u said...

Regarding the scene with Daenerys and Daario, remember how she changed her relationship with the Khal by first changing the nature of their sex (IIRC, first by learning the words to say she wanted to see his face)? Whatever her motivations may have been, I expect she easily noticed the change it had on their relationship everywhere else - if she hadn't already anticipated them.

So I wouldn't be surprised if part of her motivation with Daario, both with the sex and how she initiated it, stems from her reasoned need to control him when she lacks faith in him. What isn't clear is how aware she is that Daario might eventually do likewise with her as she did with the Khal.