Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 8 "The Mountain and The Viper" Review

Positives this week included... Oberyn and The Mountain's fight, Tyrion's somewhat random story, Daenerys' dismissal of Jorah, Grey Worm and Missandei flirting, Arya's laughing fit, Sansa taking control of her situation, Theon winning Moat Cailin, Ramsay getting promoted to "Bolton"

Negatives this week included...  Absolutely nothing!


But.... I loved him! After a 2 week break, Thrones returns to us with... easily the most devastating episode since Episode 9 of last year, and now I think I'm fully into Game of Thrones shocker season. We're past petty character building for the season; it's all about the shocking moments, the grotesque gore, the incredible battles, and some of the most emotional moments. And this week delivered all of that criteria. So, shall we explore this episode? I think so! 

So lets begin with what had me crying the most, and going into an entire 12 hour long denial, which included me lying in the fetal position for half an hour, crying myself to sleep, and eating barely half of my dinner. This is all after a long day of walking around in the city. The world truly hates me. Oberyn Martell seems to have been upgraded in the books, and that for me at least, is the worst thing that could've happened. I knew from the beginning of Season 4 he was going to go out in this fight, and I was scared of it. But to begin with, I thought Oberyn was going to be more of a side character, someone who didn't do much, talk much, win me over like he has. Pedro Pascal's performance has been magical, and David and Dan have given him a bunch of extra scenes, all of which made me invested in his character, and had me totally rooting for him. It wasn't that Tyrion's life was on the line in this fight that made this such a stressful and emotional climax to the episode; it was the fact that this character, Oberyn, had quickly become my favourite character on the show, and was killed off in a way that had no similarities to his actual persona. Oberyn is cocky, confident, fun... and he died screaming for mercy. And the gore... I should probably go into the gore, but at this point, my guess is you've already seen it, and you don't need me to describe it for you. By the gods though, that was some of the most brutal imagery I've ever seen, in my life. On any medium of entertainment! Television, film, gaming; all of it pales in comparison to this. 

Going into the actual fight though, this was easily the best fight we've seen all Season, and even all throughout the series. The choreography was hysterically good, the monologuing throughout the fight worked perfectly thanks to Pedro's great final performance, and the buildup to the final climatic finish was outstanding. Tommy Dunne, whom is the weapons master, and Paul Herbert, stunts coordinator, absoutetly killed it with everything involving the fight this week! The way Oberyn was jumping around was awesome and completely worked for the character, and not once did I think I was looking at a stunt double. In terms of final battles for characters, this is a fairly admirable one. And I love that for the most part within this battle, no music was used! It felt like a legitimate fight, without a big battle cue booming over the backdrop. And Oberyn's showboating was fun to watch, of course; that is until it became his (literal) fatal flaw. But come on people, the eye gouging is truly sickening. I knew that Oberyn was going to die coming into the episode, but since my love of him was so much greater than I'd expected of the character, I'd thought something a little less bloody would be attempted. Nope! Instead, he is eye gouged and his head is, for all intensive purposes, blown up. All whilst screaming. It's one of the most traumatizing things ever put to film, and whether or not you like the Red Viper, this will make you pity him all the same.

Why does this have to be what I remember him for?!
Shall we move on? Probably for the best. So, over in Meereen, Jorah's not having much fun! His pardon from Season 1 shows up in a minor plot hole that could be described as Tywin intervening, though that seems unlikely. Nonetheless, Jorah's pardon from Robert Baratheon shows up in the hands of Barristan Selmy, whom has to be the second most honourable and truthful man in the seven kingdoms and beyond, behind Ned of course! Selmy takes the pardon straight to Daenerys, and we get the most plainly emotional scene of the episode. This wasn't as shocking as the ending, but it still garnered tears from my eyes, even though I knew it was coming. And even fans of the show solely should have been able to see this coming as well. We've known that he spied on Daenerys in Season 1, so it was only a matter of time before something like this popped up. And Emilia Clarke actually gave a staggeringly good performance in such a pivotal scene! Whilst I enjoyed her scene with Daario last week, she felt off; much too stiff, and biding by the screenplay a little too much, instead of making the performance something of her own. Emilia is by far the most overrated actress on the show, though here, she somewhat manages to back up her bloated status by giving a silently emotional performance. You can tell from her facial expressions that she's holding back anger and tears, and sometimes, action is not as strong as a single look. And the looks that Iain Glen and Emilia gave each other were truly heartbreaking. I think, in some ways, that scene was fueled by real emotions; based on where the books are at, these 2 actors won't be able to see each other for another few years into the production, even with the show moving so quickly, and already digging into a few Dance With Dragons plot lines. So this scene earns a thumbs up!

Still in Meereen, we get a bit more Missandei and Grey Worm action, with Missandei bathing naked whilst Grey Worm is cleansing himself. And... well, very strange things occur. I can understand why people hate this love interest angle between these characters, but I'm sorry; I love it. I adore Missandei, and Grey Worm is a cool eunuch. They're a fairly good match, if only Grey Worm could consummate it! Yet still, love can flourish in unexpected places, and this is a place I'm happy to find it in. Whilst some of their dialogue together was fairly stilted, it was understandable; remember people, Grey Worm is a eunuch who has always been punished for asking questions, standing up against his master, doing anything his masters don't like in general. He hasn't had much experience with girls. So the fact that he can't flirt with Missandei, and can't maintain any flowing conversation with her seems a lot more accurate to his character. And Missandei, I believe, has also been abused her entire life, so finding someone with genuine feelings of love towards her would be a difficult thing to accept. It's quite an interesting arc, if you really put your head into it! If you don't like it, I can understand; it takes away from Daenerys' screen time, and these two characters don't initially stick well together. But for me at least, this seems like a strong character joining.

Dude... when perving on naked Missandei, don't give her this look!
Whipping through the yet still important story lines, seeing as I'm running out of time to write this recap, lets dive into Theon, Ramsay, Moat Cailin, etc story line. Moat Cailin actually appears in book 5, but to be honest, taking this scene and placing it earlier in the story isn't that big a change, that will effect too much. And to be honest, it works in the context of where the story is at right now; Roose has executed the Red Wedding, and so he needs to get his army North, and so waiting for another Season to do this seems like wasting precious time. They need to get up North to Winterfell as quickly as possible! So in all reality, this was a good decision by David and Dan. Theon's convincing of the Ironborn that the entire Moat Cailin ordeal would be over and they could leave to go back to the Iron Islands was handled exceptionally well, and Alfie Allen again hands in another utterly fantastic performance. And this is probably his most difficult performance out of them all, as well; he has to play both Theon Greyjoy and Reek in this scene. He has to act the Theon part, but allow the Reek persona to shine through every so often. Playing multiple personalities like this so subtly would have been no doubt difficult for Allen, so credit should be given to the man. And once again, applaud the visual effects team, and the outstanding location scouts! Moat Cailin looks gloriously dangerous and dark, a little like Harrenhal, and all for the best. It looks fantastic! And then the location scouts really nailed the location for Roose and Ramsay's little piece of dialogue, where Roose explained to us that he is now Warden of the North, and that Ramsay is now a Bolton, not a Snow. Never before have I felt so much pleasure from an evil character like Ramsay succeeding in earning his father's approval. Ramsay may be an evil character, but like everyone else in Game of Thrones, he has his reasons for being a complete freaking psychopath. Reason 1 being that he wants to impress his father! Nothing impresses your Bolton father like when you flay an Ironborn Prince! Iwan Rheon and Michael McElhatton both gave stunning performances in their little scene together, and coupled with a remarkable backdrop, and some really sensational musical cues, this scene worked fantastically. All in all, some of the strongest Bolton-centric scenes of the Season! 

This is a proud father... proud of his maiming, angry, evil son!
Up in the Vale, everyone's gathering themselves after last week's little tumble for Lady Arryn. Poor Lysa; only got a few days after marrying her love, she gets thrown out her own Moon Door. Can't say I pity her, to be honest... Nonetheless, lets get into what went down with the living Vale-related characters. Baelish is in the shit storm, questioned by the Lords Declarant, whom are a group of Vale Lords, who believe that Baelish may have been involved in Lady Lysa's little tumble. And who would've thought Sansa of all people would save the day?! Her growth throughout this Season has been exponential, and thankfully so; her character's naivety was no longer infuriating towards the end of last season, just repetitive. Sansa basically lies to save Petyr's life, and this is where we realise that Sansa is beginning to learn to play the game. She's no longer a pawn, but more so a player, seeing as she now knows how to play Baelish. She knows Baelish is in love with her, and can use that to her advantage from now on. She actually has a one up on some other character, and a somewhat intelligent one at that! And her physical transformation at the end actually allowed that change in status from pawn to player to shine through; she's taking advantage of Petyr's infatuation with her by chucking on some slightly revealing garbs, and strutting her stuff down the stairs, with some well placed sun beams behind her. She's a smart one Sansa is, watch out for her! And another piece of the fifth book that has been moved forward in the timeline drastically happens to be Sansa's reveal. In the books, she hasn't even been revealed yet as Sansa Stark to all the other Lords Declarant; she's still known as Alyanne Stone to them all! That's set for Winds of Winter, we all expect, so this event occurring, with her announcing her identity to the Lords Declarant may be another case of the television show spoiling the books for us, as was the case with the Night's King earlier this Season. So at this point in the Sansa story line, we're pretty much in the dark with what's going to happen, even book readers, and I'm happy to see that!

It's ok people, she's 18 now!
As a final note; who didn't laugh out loud when Arya burst into laughter at hearing the news that her aunt is dead? That was legitimately hilarious, in an otherwise harrowing episode. Great job Maisie for that little gem! And I almost forgot; Tyrion's story about his cousin's obsessions with smashing beetles. A lot of people are quite confused as to why this scene was given so much focus, though I believe I have the answer; it's just a way of Tyrion saying that these bad things are happening, just because they can. There isn't much reason to it all; it's just happening because it is. And that can summarise Tyrion's Season really well! Nonetheless, people, The Mountain and The Viper is one of the strongest episodes of Game of Thrones of all time, if not the strongest. Boasting some really emotional scenes, some great character development, and a shocker of an ending that will haunt me until the day I die, or at least until next week's Night's Watch based episode, this is one of the most traumatizing and memorable episodes ever. Pedro Pascal, you will be missed, you devilishly handsome man! As for Stannis and Bran, they didn't show up this week, but I promise you both of them will have their time in the sun come next week, my friends! This proves to be my third perfect 10 of the Season, which, if episode 9 sticks to tradition and takes the top rating once again, leaves Season 4 as the best Season of Thrones yet; officially. For now, I leave you with tears stained on my cheek, a Stannis meme, and a promo! Have a good week!

Night's Watch episode next week! The biggest shocks are yet to come...


Junkie Score: 10

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