Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper Review

Posted June 8, 2014 by Roshan Krishnan in Nerdy Bits

WARNING: Heavy spoilers for the episode reviewed and past episodes

The latest episode was an exhilarating ride, with some subtle nuances that ultimately demonstrate the brilliance of Game of Thrones. Although it had its weak moments, the episode had more than enough drama and action to tide us over till the notorious episode 9, that always proves to be the one that shakes things up the most.

The episode starts out near the Wall at Mole’s Town, where Gilly is incidentally hiding out. Mance Rayder and his army raids the town, killing everyone they see. Gilly hides with her baby, and Ygritte, in a moment of kindness, decides to spare her life. It was nice to see Mance’s army finally approaching the wall after what seems like an eternity. This scene featured some interesting characters from Mole’s Town and provided a light introduction into a decidedly heavy episode. Also, did anyone else catch that casual name drop of ‘The Rains of Castamere’?

We see John and his buddies on the Wall looking as morose as a Crow could ever look. Sam takes the apparent death of Gilly hard, although we know that she survived. Jon’s Crow friends, Pypar and Edd, try to console him by speculating the truth; Gilly might have managed to live. But Jon has bigger worries. Another Crow, Grenn, is realizing the preposterousness of the looming battle; Mance’s army is 100,000 strong while there are just over 100 Crows.

The Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan(Sam)

The scene shifts to Mereen where Grey Worm, commander of the Unsullied, is bathing. He stares at Missandei bathing naked, who covers herself. Missandei discusses this incident with Dany, resulting in one of the best phrases of Game of Thrones to date; “Pillar and stones”. Dany was curious about the extent of the castration of the Unsullied. Grey Worm apologizes to Missandei later, and it turns out that she is actually glad that he saw her.

I think that this relationship is a bad idea. Call me a purist, but I want the intelligent 11 year old Missandei from the written version, who is more like Grey Worm’s sister than lover. Although I forgave the show for having Missandei being much older, I don’t think that the Grey Worm romance is excusable. This show doesn’t need another romantic relationship, but Game of Thrones might prove me wrong and go the whole nine yards with this new pairing.

We’re back to the North, with the best of friends, Theon / Reek and Ramsay. Ramsay’s plan nears fruition as Reek successfully impersonates Theon. Although the Reek identity almost surfaces, the inhabitants of Moat Cailin are mostly sick. Theon grants them safe passage on the word of Ramsay. But of course, Ramsay flays and kills all of them. The flayed man isn’t the Boltons’ symbol for nothing.

I love the Theon storyline now, even though it took forever to set up. The plotline has picked up steam in season 4 and it’s great to see the wonderful acting of Alfie Allen as he portrays two identities of the same man.

Theon / Reek

Petyr Baelish explains himself to a mini-tribunal at the Veil explaining Lysa’s death. For those of you that had no idea who those people were, fret not; they are Lady Anya Waynwood, Lord Yohn Royce, and Ser Vance Corbray. These accusers are rightfully suspicious of the conveniently timed death of Lysa Arryn. Littlefinger tries to tell them it was a suicide, but they are not convinced and demand to see the only other witness, Sansa, whom they believe to be Littlefinger’s niece.

Sansa mostly tells the truth, but sticks to Littlefinger’s lie of Lysa killing herself. She also says that Petyr only kissed her on her cheek, though the truth is much, much creepier. In the end, Littlefinger saves himself, and it looks like Sansa realizes that his continued existence rests in her hands. We see her later in the episode dressed in all black, turning Littlefinger’s head. Also Littlefinger appears to want to have little Robyn visit all the towns around the Veil.

Sansa’s change of attire was especially significant as she looked a lot like Catelyn, who similarly dressed in black. I would have preferred if this change had been subtler, but it was still effective. Sansa’s character is in need of a change, as she has become one of the most hated characters, based on fan reactions. I definitely want to see her portrayed differently in the future.

Sansa is all about goth now

We’re back to Meereen, as Ser Barristan Selmy has just received a letter with the seal of the Hand of the King. He confronts Jorah about it after he realizes that it isa royal pardon. This is followed by one of the biggest revelations in Game of Thrones; Jorah was actually sent to spy on Daenerys. He reveals that he loves her, but she orders him to either leave the city, or be executed. Jorah is seen leaving Meereen.

I have been waiting for this moment for a long time, mostly because I’m a sadist. It was nice to see faster development of the story in Meereen, although I wish they had stayed true to the books and had the reveal with Ser Barristan Selmy also. But, the show decided to have no suspense about his identity. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the reveal, as it didn’t seem sincere to me. Emilia Clarke overdid the ‘powerful queen’ look, and honestly appeared to be on drugs with her wide-opened eyes. The reluctance of Jorah to apologize wasn’t explored, and I honestly felt cheated. But, it still rocks the show as it ended up with the departure of a character who was with us since season 1.

Well, at least he isn’t in the friendzone anymore

The next scene shows the legitimization of Ramsay Snow Bolton, which was arguably one of his desires. Roose and Ramsay talk about the extent of the vastness of the North. Of course, as Roose is the Warden of the North, he now controls it all. I am constantly amazed by Iwan Rheon’s acting, and this episode merely augmented this amazement. His portrayal is chilling; though I’m sure he isn’t sadistic in reality, I can’t help but wonder.

Arya and the Hound approach the Eyrie and it seems like their lengthy adventure is over. However, as the Hound attempts to receive ransom for Arya’s return, he learns of the death of Lysa. Arya starts laughing uncontrollably upon hearing this, clearly at the irony of the situation. Arya remains one of my favorite characters, and Maisie Williams just nails the role, almost like she was born to play Arya. I was chilled by that laugh, and I just want Maisie to keep surprising me with her portrayal.

A true ‘LOL’

The last setting is King’s Landing. Jaime and Tyrion are worried about the trial by combat, as they are unsure about Oberyn’s skill as a fighter. Tyrion is of course spot on with his assessment of the barbaric trial by combat; two other men decide the fate of one man, and the gods supposedly favor the righteous. They end up reminiscing about their cousin Orson Lannister, a child who was dropped on his head, who smashed beetles all the time. At first, I was thoroughly confused by this scene, wondering why they decided to add it. The resolution of the story is also incomplete as Tyrion and Jaime are not able to uncover the reason of Orson’s beetle rampage(considering their discussion about –cides, coleoptericide?). I eventually realized that much like an assignment in my English class, there was a plethora of interpretations that could be analyzed based on this story. Without detracting from the review, here are a few of them. Orson could be used to personify the Gods and their seemingly unjust operation, and killing of people, or beetles. Or, the beetle story could simply serve as a vessel to deliver one of show’s recurring themes of the cycle of oppression. Oberyn’s story, a while ago, showed us that Tyrion was hated by most of his family even in childhood. Orson in turn was the subject of laughter, while the beetles were the outlet that he used. There were many such pertinent theories that related to this story that I thought were interesting. One such theory popular on the internet was the juxtaposition of Orson to George R.R. Martin; the author is of course notorious for killing many major characters, especially ones that fans like.

Eventually, Tyrion goes to witness his trial. He beseeches Oberyn to stop drinking and wear a helmet, but Oberyn shrugs this off. Oberyn wants justice for the death of his sister, Elia. The fight starts out with him displaying his prowess with a spear. He orders the Mountain to confess of raping Elia, killing her, and her children. It is difficult to tear your eyes away from this action-packed fight, as Oberyn seems more than able to match the Mountain’s strength with his agility. He stabs the Mountain a couple of times, all while convincing him to confess to his crimes. He finally pins the Mountain to the ground by spearing him through the stomach, and bellows at him to plead guilty before dying. The Mountain sweeps Oberyn off the ground, using the last of his strength. He then punches some teeth out of Oberyn, before crushing his eyes and breaking his head, all while grunting out his confession. Tywin delivers the words that mean Tyrion’s death.


The titular fight was masterfully handled, and I was glad to see that the choreographers managed the fight with ease. This is one of my favorite parts in the book, and I feel the show really did it justice. Ellaria’s scream was heartrending, and I really couldn’t tell if Indira Verma was acting or not. I’m sure fans were shocked by the death of Oberyn Martell, a colorful character.

On the whole, this was a strong episode, and the fight was definitely one of the best on the show(so far…) I enjoyed this episode, and found many instances such as Arya’s demeanor, the Orson story, and Sansa’s transformation interesting.

Next week’s episode will be a big one, and it looks like it will mostly feature the Knight’s Watch and their battle against the wildling army led by Mance.

About the Author

Roshan Krishnan

Roshan is an avid writer and was recommended by four out of five doctors. He loves watching TV shows, reading as many novels as he can, and generally surfing the internet. He would be a much better writer if he knew how to finish stuf