And right here is the Game of Thrones episode where I start to feel the creep of ennui settling over me like a thick blanket. I knew this day would come, but, four seasons in, it still feels too soon.
Why bother getting attached to characters who will likely die grisly deaths? Why wait for seasons-long plans to come to fruition if your side never, ever wins?
And then we get a scene between a handmaiden and a warrior and Game of Thrones proves its still got surprises.
Heed this raven: Major episode spoilers after the cut. Book comments are fair game in the comments.
First things first—this episode was one I’ve been dreading since Oberyn stole my heart in the season opener.
His really, really grisly death just felt like too much for me. And I’m not talking about the graphic violence, though it was extremely fucking disgusting, even for HBO. Me, diehard Spartacus fan, covered my eyes a bit and squealed.
It’s just too much disappointment. Littlefinger tells Robin “People die on the battlefield, they die in their beds, they die squatting over their chamber pots.” Oh, you don’t say? I just really wanted this one character to live and get his vengeance on. And I know it’s maybe not what Game of Thrones is—no one gets what they want and the bad ones always live—but it is damned frustrating to give oneself over to continued masochism.
I wanted a win, just this once.
Instead Tywin wins again. Instead we get to watch pretty much the only sexy character left on this show have his eyeballs stabbed out and his skull squashed like a ripe tomato. And at this point, I just kind of have to shrug and admit it’s not satisfying. It’s just frustrating. The fight between the (Teddy Bear) Mountain and the Viper was a big huge scene in the books and now that events from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons—my least favorite books in the series—are looming, there just doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to.
But the fight itself, separate from any context, was really pretty cool. Damn, Oberyn, I will miss you and your sexy accent and your bed-hopping and your paramour. (Will she stick around on the Small Council? It’d be a shame to lose Indira Varma, too.) But really… BEHEAD FIRST, GLOAT LATER. What a rookie mistake! Tyrion couldn’t predict Prince Pantydropper would peacock around his fight more than is wise?
While the titular fight was only the last fifteen minutes of the show, the lead-up brought some nice foreshadowing and some excellent performances from Sophie Turner and Emilia Clarke.
So as depressed as I may be about the death of Oberyn, things in the Vale are getting really, really interesting and Dany’s story is still one I’m invested in, even if I’m not liking her this season.
With Lysa Arryn out the Moon Door (that was still one of the more impactful deaths of this season), Littlefinger can take control of the Vale. We know why he wants Sansa, but why would Sansa lie for him? The Creepy Uncle you know? She certainly is learning how to play the game of thrones and ladders, slinking around in that crow feather dress. Damn, Sansa was just short some black lipstick and she could’ve gone full-on Mia Sara in Legend.
Dany? Not so much right now.
Dany was way, way too harsh on Jorah. He hasn’t been spying on her since season one, right? That pardon was from two freaking kings ago. Jorah is not the same man she met in Pentos. She’s changed. Is it so hard to believe that Jorah has been changed by all that they’ve been through, too? Kudos to Emilia Clarke for a great, cold performance—she wouldn’t even look at Jorah — and it broke my heart a little.
I’m not a big fan of Jorah’s. He’s one Fedora short of writing a scroll lamenting the plight of Nice Knights. But he didn’t deserve the extreme cold shoulder and no chance to defend himself. If that’s Dany using her queenly judgment, well, may the Seven help the people of Meereen.
- New scenes are some of my favorites. I love the interactions between Missandei and Grey Worm. What will become of them? It’s just nice seeing two small characters getting their own small story. I wish the show wouldn’t follow the books so closely sometimes, so we could have more opportunities for unusual pairings—and not just romantic ones.
- Loved the cinematography in the scene where Ramsey Snow gets legitimized by his father. It reminded me painfully of Ned and what he could have done for Jon Snow if Cat had let him.
- Theon’s trip to Moat Cailin. It was brief. There was a flaying. That’s about it. I don’t think Theon’s story is getting any payoff at this point. Better luck next year, Reek.
- The ladies of Moletown are as classy a bunch as you’d expect. Also, hooray! Everyone else thinks Sam’s a dope for leaving Gilly and her baby in a town of drunken whores, pimps, and johns.
- “I’d kill Joffrey with a chicken bone if I had to.” Arya’s just precious.
- The Hound’s not looking too good. And he’s having a damned hard time finding a living, breathing relative to sell Arya back to. He and Arya do have comedic timing.
Next week: Things liven up with “Castle Black” directed by “Blackwater” and Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.