Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 7 "Mockingbird" Review

Positives this week included... Tyrion's arrangement of scenes, Dany's steamy scene with Daario, Arya and The Hound's monologues, Jorah getting cock blocked, Hot Pie, Jon not earning respect from Thorne, The Eyrie's shocking moments

Negatives this week included... Cersei and The Mountain's cliched villain moment, Selyse and Melisandre's unnecessary scene 

More Aiden Gillen is never a bad thing!
How do you follow up one of the strongest Game of Thrones episodes of all time? Well, exactly how you follow up The Lion and the Rose; with a piss poor episode in comparison. Make no doubt about it, GoT never boasts a blatantly bad episode, just less impressive episodes, in the scheme of things. And Mockingbird is just that, unfortunately. Nonetheless, we still have an impressive episode in the making, which has it's fair share of WTF moments, as well as impressive monologues, and proper character building scenes. So let's explore into Mockingbird! 

Tyrion has a lot going on in the capital this week; visitors such as Jaime, Bronn, and our favourite Dornish Prince, Oberyn Martell! The most notable visitor was undoubtedly Oberyn, who unveiled his support for Tyrion, and finally allowed Tyrion a proper moment to smile, giving him his sword (or spear), for the upcoming trial by combat, which he will be fighting against The Mountain. Whilst Oberyn's reveal was handled masterfully by all those involved, The Mountain's introduction to this season was utterly cliched and idiotic. It was as if the director, Alik Sakharov, and the writers, Benioff and Weiss, got together and went "Let's make the most cliched villain entrance of all time! Let's get Cersei and The Mountain together, and just have them doing evil things; The Mountain killing people viciously, and Cersei walking over entrails as if it was nothing. Sounds great!" That has to be my biggest negative of the episode, unfortunately.

But getting more into the big positive here, Oberyn and Tyrion's scene was chillingly good. Pedro Pascal is a fantastic actor, no doubt about it, and this is one of his best performances. Peter Dinklage furthers his Emmy chances, simply from the look he gives Oberyn as the Red Viper volunteers to fight for him. And Alik Sakharov seems to serve as his very own character within this scene, delivering an exceptionally well shot and lit scene in his own right. For book readers, this scene also served as a wonderful reminder that Benioff and Weiss still do take from the books; this isn't just their little project. They do respect George RR Martin enough to take one of the better monologues from Oberyn in the books, and adapt it for live action, to make for one of the strongest Oberyn scenes all round, rivaling his introduction to Season 4, my favourite scene to date. Good job from everyone surrounding this moment!

Stop it Oberyn with your monologues! You're overshadowing the rest of the cast!

Bronn/Tyrion and Jaime/Tyrion were both fantastic scenes as well, most especially Bronn/Tyrion. This was probably the scene I was most dreading this week, as I knew it had to come sooner or later, and now was the perfect time. If this is the final time we see Jerome Flynn as Bronn, then I'm happy; they really couldn't have given him a better send off. There is a slim chance we could see him later on down the track, but the odds are very much stacked against us. His role in the books is now significantly downgraded after this event, and we don't actually get to "see" him from this point on in A Storm of Swords and onward, so the possibilities of him reappearing later on down the track are next to nil. Jaime and Tyrion's scene was strong, again, as always. As I've always said, Nikolaj and Peter really do have some strong chemistry, and it must have something to do with their friendship outside of the show. It really does feel like brothers conversing at this point, not just two actors trying to act like brothers. It's a very genuine scene, with Jaime scolding Tyrion, and the Imp trying to defend his actions, trying to make light of a juggernaut of a situation. It's touching stuff, that is until it launches into The Mountain and Cersei's scene. 

Arya and The Hound have their strongest scene to date, with Maisie Williams and Rory McCann both pulling off incredibly strong performances. They come across a dying farmer, who asks for a quick death, and they engage in a lengthy but worthwhile conversation with the dying man, discussing death, among other things. They are then attacked by 2 of the men who burned the farmer's home to the ground, one of them Rorge; Rorge being one of the men in the cage on the way up to the Wall with Yoren, all the way back in Season 2. Arya takes the opportunity to kill the man who threatened to "fuck her bloody" with the wooden stick she had back in that same Season. Her taking of the opportunity to kill him, without hesitation, speaks more to her change in personality and attitude from Season 1 than anything else. And The Hound has taken a wound, which leads to him repeating the story we heard in Season 1 about how he got his scars from his brother The Mountain; this made for something we haven't seen in a long time. A somewhat human side to The Hound. Speaking from the heart to Arya, a girl whom he's really hidden his true feelings from since they first met up. He's always seemed so burly and uncaring around her, but for the first time in a long time, we get to see him really show his disappointment and despair. Arya and The Hound's friendship is really quite fun at this point, and I hope it doesn't end too soon, especially after what we got this week.

I have no words...

Dany's scenes are getting a little more sexual this week, or at least more sexual than we've seen in a long time. Firstly... damn, that second dress she wears this week is utterly fantastic! Secondly, Michiel Huisman is really starting to fit into the role of Daario well, and I take him as a believable Dany love interest. I mean, if I was in Daenerys' place, and Michiel Huisman just happened to appear inside my quarters late at night, I would probably go the same route she went. Apart from the fact that he doesn't look anything like a Tyroshi, he fits the role well. The dialogue between both Dany and Daario, directly before the man strips, is fairly poor, but I can forgive that; let's be honest people, it wasn't about the dialogue in this scene. Following that steamy, suggestive scene, Jorah barges in on Dany the next morning, and they contemplate whether or not the masters who are now retaking Yunkai should be dealt with by execution, or with much more merciful tactics. Jorah references Eddard Stark's dealings with himself, which eventually seems to sway her to more merciful standards. It's a little strange to see Dany already going back to her "killing the bad guys is justice" stance, after last week's confrontation with Hizdahr zo Loraq, where he convinced her that not all the Masters were horrible people. Contrary to that, though, I'm sure it won't take just a single petitioner to sway her on her overall stance towards the Masters of Slavers Bay. That issue aside, Jorah got a little cock blocked, Daario is having some sexy time with Dany, and our Queen is finally getting the hang of this "mercy" thing she seems so intent on dismissing.

Give Gemma Jackson a cookie for this dress! Damnnnn.

So.... over at the Eyrie, we have some shit going down! It's a bit like a soap opera, to be honest; a blood thirsty, murderous soap opera. Sansa is building a castle, fighting with her betrothed, getting kissed by an older guy, almost getting thrown out of a bottomless trap door, then witnesses that same older guy pushing out the assailant who tried to push her out the door; very confusing, just like a soap opera! It's funny actually, because this scene is literally the final official scene in the Storm of Swords book, before the epilogue, and yet here it appears, only 7 episodes into the Season. The epilogue will no doubt be featured as the shock moment of the Season, the final scene before cutting to black for another year. Tyrion will have a lot going on in the finale, as will Arya, Jon, and probably Bran. So there's a lot set for the finale, so I can partially understand the reasoning behind moving this scene back a bit, but what does that mean to other plots that conclude late in the book? Will they occur earlier than necessary? Will some of Tyrion's shocking moments be moved into the 9th episode? Unlikely, as a matter of fact, seeing as the 9th episode is entitled "The Watchers on the Wall" hinting that the majority of the episode will centre around the Wall, and the imminent fighting between the Night's Watch and the Wildings. But who knows? The Rains of Castamere focused primarily on Catelyn and Robb, but that didn't change the fact that characters like Dany and Jon got some big moments thrown in as well. It's unknown to all what exactly the final 2 episodes will include, but seeing as such a late scene as this is thrown in at the 7th episode, I can assume things will be a little out of order. 

The actual scene was quite well done, with Aiden Gillen stealing the show, as always. A lot of people hate on his portrayal of Petyr Baelish, but for me at least, he perfectly captures the essence of such a sly and evil character like Baelish, from stance to voice tone. Sophie Turner again provided a convincing performance, and her turn from happy and joyful to angry and aggressive towards Robin was believable. And poor old Kate Dickie; you were great as the angry and protective Lysa Arryn, but it's time for you to go. As my friend Jack said, "The Game Of Thrones episode before this one was a cliff hanger, the end of the latest one was a cliff dropper!" which is a perfect way to summarise the final event within this episode. I'll be honest, I was worried as to how they would handle the shocking moment leading up to it, but I think the writers and director pulled it off pretty damn well; it was no doubt a shocking and intense scene for all those who hadn't read the books, and those who had alike. Big thumbs up for this one! 

What a lovely day at the Eyrie!

Running out of time; let's zip through these final few scenes worthy of mention, both positive and negative. Dragonstone was lacking some Davos and Stannis, but we did get Selyse and... breasts. I'm already too much of a Carice van Houten fan, but watching a 2 and a half minute long scene with her breasts out near the entire time is a little too much for my inner pervert. Apart from her nudity, though, this scene felt unnecessary. It let us in on the information that Shireen is to have a much bigger part to play in Stannis' war than we first believed, but apart from that information, this felt like filler. This wasn't the fault of the director or the actresses involved, but more so Benioff and Weiss. We got a mighty fine Night's Watch scene, which involved Jon being ridiculed by Alliser Thorne (surprise surprise), and Ghost making a CGI appearance! And finally, Brienne and Podrick meet up with everyone's favourite baker, Hot Pie, at the crossroads inn! Ben Hawkey is a welcome addition back to the cast, and he brings a bit of humor to the episode, as well as advancing both Brienne and Pod's plot line. So all in all, a well rounded and enjoyable scene. 

Whilst Stannis' absence is greatly felt, and Selyse and Melisandre's scene feels out of place, this episode is a strong one nonetheless, as are all Game of Thrones episodes. Strongly acted, at points somewhat emotional, and shocking to say the least, Mockingbird serves as one of the weaker episodes of the Season, but still stands tall on it's own merits. See you in two weeks, unfortunately; no Thrones next week because of Memorial Day, but we will be back with a trial by combat two weeks from now! For now, enjoy Stannis and a promo!   

Check out the next episode's promo! Moat Cailin, Tormund, and a fight between Oberyn and The Mountain! Yippe!


Junkie Score: 8.9

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