The Ninjabot

“The Mountain and The Viper” Square Off – Game of Thrones Review

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 12:19 am by Amanda Andonian

game of thrones mountain and viper

Although it probably goes without saying, there are show spoilers (but not book spoilers) ahead in the following review. For those who have read A Song of Ice and Fire and know what’s coming next, please don’t jump the gun in the comments or pick apart this review based on knowledge of the books. It’s purposely written for those who have not read the books.

So many loose ends, so little time! This week on Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper,” we travel all over the known world, from the Wall to Meereen to King’s Landing, and it seems like everywhere else in between. Petyr Baelish deals with the aftermath of Lysa Arryn’s death, the wildlings get closer to the Wall, Ser Jorah’s past comes back to haunt him, and Tyrion’s trial by combat commences. As with most episodes of Game of Thrones, the last ten minutes are when the real action happens, but it’s a hell of a ride when we finally get to it!


game of thrones mountain and viper

Continuing from last week, Petyr Baelish has to answer to the other Lords of the Vale for Lysa’s death, which he tries to pass off as suicide. They don’t buy it, of course, because no one ever actually likes and believes what Baelish says, so they call upon Sansa for her version of events. I thought at first that he’d somehow managed to get their stories straight beforehand, and that the two of them were just putting on a big show for the benefit of other lords; but it’s clear from their private conversation later that Sansa took it upon herself to testify on Baelish’s behalf. Her performance was indeed a put-on in order to placate the Lords of the Vale, but it was not one that Littlefinger orchestrated. Sansa obviously doesn’t have to reach particularly far within herself in order to dredge up tears borne out of powerlessness, so it’s hardly any wonder that the other lords take her at her word that Lysa did in fact commit suicide.

Now that the Lords of the Vale are willing to listen to Baelish again, he convinces them that Robyn Arryn needs to leave the Vale and grow up a little, hopefully in an effort to challenge Tywin Lannister some day. Not totally sure what makes him think that Robyn would ever be up to that task, but no doubt he has some kind of plan in mind. This is Littlefinger we’re talking about! However, he now has to contend with Sansa, who it seems is finally becoming more calculating. In a single wardrobe change, she manages to convey to Baelish that she not only knows what he wants, but she’s also willing to play ball when it comes to his attentions. It’s no wonder that she takes the gamble to throw in her lot with Littlefinger; he’s the only person who’s managed to help her in any concrete way, and she knows exactly how she can manipulate him for a change. Her coquettish exchange with Baelish says, “I’m taking charge now. I won’t sit on the sidelines anymore.” I think I may be a Sansa fan now!

game of thrones mountain and viper

Elsewhere, Jorah Mormont’s past dealings as a spy for Varys come back to bite him in the ass. Presumably, Tywin sent a letter to Barristan Selmy telling of Jorah’s part in the assassination attempt on Danaerys way back in season one. Should’ve told her about it when you had the chance, Jorah! She’s super pissed about it, of course, and exiles him immediately, which is a big mistake if you ask me. Sure he was a double agent, but he’s proved himself more than trustworthy since then. If not for him, Danaerys wouldn’t even have gotten as far as she has. Unfortunately, being the immature and short-sighted girl that she is, Danaerys won’t listen to his pleas and sends him away. As emotional as this scene is supposed to be, I felt like only Iain Glen was bringing it. Emilia Clarke continues to be cold and distant, which would kind of work if not for the fact that this is how she portrays Danaerys ALL of the time. Blah blah blah, Danaerys. Blah. Blah. Blah.

All that’s left is the titular event of the episode, the trial by combat between the Mountain and the Viper, and man is it a doozy! Even though I knew what was going to happen, I watched with bated breath the whole time. I loved Tyrion’s anxious pre-fight nagging, Oberyn’s cocky swagger, Jaime’s hopeful smile and Cersei’s sour frown when it looked like Tyrion would live, and even Ellaria Sand’s horrified scream when the Mountain punched the Viper’s teeth out, then crushed his head between his meaty paws. As Justin would say, OH DANG! It was exciting, gory, and downright heart-stopping. Oberyn’s litany of, “My sister was Elia Martell. You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children,” will go down in history alongside, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” As brief as the fight was, it could not have gotten any better than this. I’m sad to see Pedro Pascal go, but he got one hell of a send off.

But I imagine that’s not the scene that left us all thinking, “WTF just happened?” No, the truly bizarre point of the episode was Tyrion and Jaime’s conversation in the dungeon about their beetle-crushing cousin. If after hearing Tyrion’s story, you wondered, “What the $#%& was THAT all about?” then rest assured you’re not alone. Honestly, my gut reaction was that it was a waste of five minutes. After watching it a couple times, though, Tyrion’s question, “What was it all about?” finally jumped out at me. He’s not just telling Jaime about his quest to uncover why their simple-minded cousin liked to smash beetles. This is Tyrion’s way of asking Jaime, “What’s the point of all this? Why is this happening?” without saying it outright. His imminent death is finally becoming a tangible reality for him, and so Tyrion looks to his older brother for some kind of advice or reassurance. Unfortunately, Jaime has none to give him.

Oh, and this stuff happened too:

  • The wildlings attack Mole Town, where Gilly is holed up (har har). Sam beats himself up for sending her there, so it’s a good thing Ygritte shows some compassion in letting her live! Next week, the battle for Castle Black.
  • Grey Worm and Missendei have a moment, suggesting that maybe the Unsullied are not so “unsullied” after all? It also serves as the requisite boob-time that every Game of Thrones episode seems to find indispensable.
  • Ramsay fulfills his lifelong dream of becoming a card-carrying Bolton, making daddy Roose proud by wresting control of Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys, thus securing the North for House Bolton. Also, Theon/Reek (it rhymes with “meek”) helped.
  • The Hound and Arya make it to the Vale, only to find that her Aunt Lysa died three days previously. Looks like he won’t be getting his reward after all! Arya’s hysterical laughter was priceless, though; she keeps getting within a hair’s breadth of safety, only to have it torn away from her again.

Tell us what you thought of the fight between the Mountain and the Viper in the comments!

“The Mountain and the Viper” – B+

Game of Thrones: Season 4 Episode 8, “The Mountain and the Viper” aired June 1st, 2014 on HBO.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

Please Note – Due the nature of this show being inconsistent with the books’ timeline in terms of plot, we want to remind everyone that there is a zero tolerance policy regarding spoilers in the comments. Keep discussions relevant to the show only!

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