Sunday night’s Game of Thrones is a bizarre and, at some points, rather revolting look back for some of our main characters, with a few slightly mismatched scenes sprinkled throughout.
We open in King’s Landing, where Tyrion finds it difficult to sincerely apologize to Jaime for pulling the rug out from under Tywin’s scheme. Last week’s phenomenal outburst on the stand ruined any hope he might’ve had of shipping off to Castle Black with an intact head, and now he’s in an even bigger pickle: who will fight for him in the trial-by-combat? Jaime? No, for all his talk, Jaime’s one-handedness has cost him dearly in terms of swordsmanship. Bronn? Bronn has totally sold out – he’s all set to marry a dim-witted lady with a substantial inheritance, and nothing Tyrion can offer will change his finely-dressed mind.
By the middle of the episode, Tyrion is utterly alone. Potential salvation comes in the form of Prince Oberyn’s torch-lit visit in the middle of the night. In true GoT style, Oberyn takes forever to get to the point – he prattles on about Tyrion’s birth, recalling that all of King’s Landing was abuzz with tales of the horrible monster baby (which proved anti-climactic when actual baby Tyrion was just a little bit disproportional – not at all the beast anyone had expected). Oberyn reveals the depth and longevity of Cersei’s hatred for Tyrion, remembering that she pinched his “tiny little pink cock” hard enough for lasting impact.
It’s an uncharacteristically teary scene for Tyrion – perhaps because he’s facing the gallows, perhaps because he doesn’t have his wine to keep him company, perhaps both. Oberyn takes his sweet time, but eventually reveals his cause for the visit: in an attempt to avenge his sister and destroy the Lannisters, he will fight for Tyrion in the upcoming trial-by-combat. Alright, Oberyn, do what you want – but you are fighting The Mountain – you know that, right? Tyrion’s relief feels a little bit premature in that sense. I’d be surprised if the trial didn’t end with Oberyn’s victory, though – this is TV. But what’ll that mean for the Hound? And won’t Cersei just find another, perhaps illegal way to do away with her son’s supposed murderer? I feel like there’s no real way out of this for Tyrion except skipping town.
Somewhere far from their desired destination, The Hound and Arya continue to slog on. Arya continues her killing spree when she sticks Needle through the chest of an attempted assailant, after which The Hound tells her chillingly, “You’re learning.” Is that a good thing? After doing away with the assailants, however, The Hound is left with a rather severe wound on his shoulder. You’d think that as a seasoned veteran of battle, he’d know how to take care of an injury, but he mainly grunts and swears until Arya finally steps in “I know you don’t like fire,” she says, holding a flaming stick with which she plans to burn away his infected flesh. Despite her best intentions, The Hound has a bit of a freak out and wholeheartedly rejects her advances. “Shut up about all of it,” he shouts – and she does, which leads her captor to go off on a surprisingly vulnerable spiel about what actually happened with the fireplace all those years ago. “I didn’t steal it,” he says, referring to the toy over which Gregor took fiery revenge over his little brother. “I was just playing with it. […] But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it. And my father who protected him – told everyone my bedding caught fire.”
It seems that sooner or later, even the show’s most difficult characters finally crack open for us. Despite his brusqueness a few minutes before, The Hound’s childlike confession and eventual submission to Arya’s helping hand display the evolving nature of their relationship. At this point, the whole captor/captive scenario is just a formality – they’re both entirely willing to venture on to the Eyrie, and maybe even entirely willing to do it side-by-side.
Speaking of the Eyrie, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Sansa’s newfound home is only the tiniest bit better than King’s Landing in terms of circumstances. She, too, looks back to her childhood when she constructs a sweet little snow-replica of Winterfell, a pastime from which she clearly derives some significant comfort. Whereas in sunny King’s Landing, Sansa looked consistently wan and unwell, she appears to welcome the Eyrie’s snow as a relic of better times – she belongs in the cold and seems all the better for it. That is, until Robin joins her.
Sansa humors her cousin and approves the implementation of a moon door in little Winterfell, displaying a subtler version of the bloodlust that both Arya and Dany display in this episode. All three girls have been knocked around so much; it has to feel good to even think about the idea of wielding violence as revenge or self-defense. Of course, things can only stay okay for Sansa for so long – Robin promptly destroys the snow castle and Petyr finally follows through on his horrifically creepy tendencies, kissing Sansa on the mouth while Lysa watches from afar – “You’re more beautiful than she ever was,” Littlefinger says in reference to Catelyn. The strange part is, Sansa doesn’t pull away for a good few seconds.
Therein lies my main issue with her character. Sansa just blows in the wind and meekly allows herself to be bullied by anyone and everyone – she has no conviction, no willpower, and seemingly no substance. I don’t mean to belittle the suffering that Sansa’s had to endure – I don’t blame her at all for being worn out and traumatized and introverted. But at this point, she’s nothing more than a pawn in other people’s storylines. She’s shuffled from place to place, and sexually harassed by the day – but does any of it elicit any sort of independent response? I just want Sansa to breathe and live as a character in this world – at present, she’s a wisp of a girl whose motives and emotions change with the story’s needs as opposed to her own.
Anyways, Petyr kisses Sansa. And Lysa is not happy about it. The second we get a shot of the crazier Tully sister standing over the moon door, we know what’s going to happen. “I know what you did,” she says. “Don’t be coy with me, you little whore!” She grabs Sansa and holds her head over the hole in the floor, shrieking “He is mine,” until Littlefinger finally appears to save the day and soothe Lysa’s breakdown. But, again, we all know what’s going to happen as soon as Petyr begins his advance towards the moon door with arms outstretched. “I have only loved one woman – only one, my entire life. Your sister.” He takes Lysa by the shoulders and throws her through the moon door. Another day, another GoT villain gone. But where will Robin get his breast milk, now?
In Meereen, Dany and Daario Naharis are still in the coy stages of their grossly transparent relationship. That is, until she orders him to take off his clothes. Naharis initially enters his queen’s chamber to request some assignment, any assignment where he can chop off someone’s head or woo a lady – his two basic needs are not being fulfilled at Meereen. Dany has plenty of people on her kill-list, and his request is pretty reasonable (albeit self-indulgent) – but I think we all know that Naharis has grown on her. So, instead of granting him leave, Dany orders Daario to take part in one of those basic needs and strip naked. While it’s nice to see a small reversal of traditional GoT gender roles, this scene could’ve been transplanted from, oh, about 300 romcom flicks? It’s just so tired! Their whole relationship is so tired! We all know where it’s going because it’s so damn tired! I’d like to know if Daenio (is that their couple name?) is a thing in the books and if it’s portrayed in a similarly lackluster fashion – if you know, leave it in the comments.
On the political front, Dany has resolved to re-take Yunkai and kill every last one of the slavers. “The masters tear babies from their mother’s arms, they mutilate little boys by the thousands, they train little girls in the art of pleasuring old men, they treat men like beasts, as you said yourself,” she tells Ser Jorah in justification of her plan. But Jorah points out the implications of such a coldhearted course of action, warning Dany that in order to be a true ruler, she must show her people ways of non-violence, not reinforce bloodlust in an attempt to protect them. As usual, Jorah is right, and Dany resolves to send last week’s Hizdahr zo Loraq along as an ambassador to the slave masters – “They can live in my new world, or they can die in their old one,” she says in one of the episode’s shining lines.
So, ‘Mockingbird’ was pretty weak. We had some brief scenes with Jon and Melisandre that didn’t appear to advance the plot much, we have Dany and Daario making their way onto late night Oxygen flicks, and we have a fairly predictable ending with Lysa finally getting what’s coming to her. We also have a fantastic scene with Tyrion and Oberyn, the latter of which is quickly becoming my favorite of the show’s new string of regulars.
You’ll have to wait two weeks for the anticipated trial-by-combat and, hopefully, Robin getting put in his place. The episode ‘The Mountain and The Viper’ will air June 1st.
Photo Credit: HBO