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

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Wow. So that was quite an episode. Every once in a while you get episodes like this that are filled to the brim with important events.

To start, the episode ends badly for Prince Oberyn and Tyrion, but we’ll get there.

Interestingly enough is the development of an alliance between Sansa Stark, erstwhile lady of Winterfell, and Petyr Baelish, her deceased aunt’s husband and thus, by law, her new uncle. After the dramatic events of the last episode in which Lady Lysa Arryn took a plunge out the Moon Door with a little help from Lord Baelish, the lords of the Vale have come to question Petyr about this sudden drastic move on the part of their former lady.

As they point out, Lady Lysa was eccentric but not crazy enough to abandon her child, Robin. Petyr begins to spin a tale otherwise when they interrupt him with a desire to hear Sansa’s version of events, hoping to catch him in a lie through interrogating her.

Sansa not only solidifies an alliance with Lord Baelish, she reveals her true identity to the lords and lady of the Vale in hopes of continued sanctuary and protection from the Lannisters. Apparently the lords of the Vale and the Lannisters really hate one another so it’s not entirely irrational for Sansa to take this gamble.

They believe her and lose all questions concerning Lady Lysa’s death, quite too conveniently for my taste. Suggestions from Lord Baelish that Prince Robin begin acting more the Lord of the Vale that he was born to be are taken as logical next steps following his mother’s death. It would seem all suspicions surrounding Lord Baelish are dismissed by the testimony of a random girl claiming to be Sansa Stark. Nonetheless, the plot moves forward.

At the wall, the Wildlings invade and sack Moletown, burning it to the ground and killing its residents. Samwell’s girlfriend Gilly is spared by Jon Snow’s love interest Ygritte. The Night’s Watch continue to debate whether or not to take direct action against the rampaging Wildlings and Sam blames himself for putting Gilly in Molestown because he thinks that if he had sent her elsewhere she would have lived. Of course, we know that Gilly is alive and well so the emotional weight of this moment isn’t really there.

Ramsay Snow is made official heir to Roose Bolton’s name after successfully capturing Moat Cailin from the Iron Born through intrigue. Sending Theon as his emissary, Ramsay promises the Iron Born holding the castle that they will be given safe passage back to the Iron Islands if they surrender the castle. In keeping with Bolton tradition, and Ramsay’s penchant for sadism and the extreme, the Iron Born are, instead, flayed after the castle is taken.

Daenerys continues to rule Meereen but is struck by the revelation that Ser Jorah Mormont, her trusted advisor, was once on the dole for the Baratheons in King’s Landing. A pardon is delivered mistakenly to Ser Barristan Selmy and the document reveals King Robert’s pardon of Ser Jorah for his crimes. Daenerys does not take this lightly and banishes Jorah from her presence and Meereen, a major development indeed as she is now without many of her original coterie.

The most disappointing development of the episode came during Prince Oberyn’s duel with Ser Gregor Clegane. The trial by combat to clear Tyrion Lannister’s name for the regicide of King Joffrey ends with Clegane smashing in Oberyn’s face before gouging his eyes out and crushing his skull like an overipe fruit. Yeah. Brutal is one way to describe it. This is not to say that Oberyn didn’t get his hits in before dying. Indeed, it looked like he was going to win but his taunts and need for Gregor Clegane to confess to the murder of his sister ultimately cost him his life.

The episode ends with Tywin Lannister proclaiming a death sentence upon his own son’s head and sets the audience up for one heck of a ride for the rest of the season.