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June 2, 2014 - 11:41pm

Game of Thrones' RECAP: Double the wait, double the brutality



Alex Intner: After a long two week break (taken because HBO needed a place to air “The Normal Heart”), “Game of Thrones” is back. "The Mountain and the Viper" featured updates from several stories, but the standout moment in the episode for me was the final fight between The Mountain and Oberyn. Although the point of the fight was to save Tyrion's life, it ended up being all about Oberyn Martell. Just when it looks like he has the fight in control, he seeks a confession for the horrible atrocities the Mountain committed against his family. The Mountain takes this opportunity to take control and crushes Overyn's skull with his bare hands. Not only was the scene very well directed by Alex Graves (who also directed The Purple Wedding), Pedro Pascal did an excellent job bringing Oberyn's emotion as he confronts The Mountain for his actions. It was the perfect mix of tense and brutal (especially with that whole getting a skull smashed in thing … )

Chloe Gilke: Oberyn's death was likely one of the most disturbing things I'll see on TV all year. Like you said, it was especially horrifying to watch because Oberyn seemed to be in control for most of the fight. He wore little protective armor because he assumed he'd have the liberty to move around unencumbered. Oberyn was still Tyrion's "champion" and fighting to save Tyrion's life, but for him, it was more about avenging the violence committed against his sister. His mantra of "You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!" was the climax of all that pent-up rage he'd been harboring all season. He didn't just want a confession; he wanted justice. And, since this is "Game of Thrones" and there are no happy endings, Oberyn's near-victory over the towering Mountain was cut short. Pedro Pascal absolutely killed that scene (ouch, no pun intended), and he will definitely be missed. But aside from that tragedy, Jorah also had the misfortune of being called out as a traitor by Dany (probably the second-most heartbreaking scene of the episode, since Jorah has come a long way since he was King Robert's spy back in season 1.

Alex Intner: It's amazing how much the motivation of Jorah had changed from the beginning of the series to now. From his current perspective, he made a mistake and he paid for it. Emilia Clarke has done some great work on the show, but this was my favorite moment of hers so far. The heartbreak in her voice as she addressed her closest confidant and told him to leave or she would have to kill him … so good! Also, across the Narrow Sea, we had a great little story between Missandei and Grey Worm. After seeking advice from Dany (playing the role of the advisor and friend here), she tells Grey Worm that she's glad she met him (and he saw her naked). The scene in the throne room was heartwarming. I'm glad "Game of Thrones" has the time to tell stories like these, giving the random ensemble members their chance to shine.

Chloe Gilke: That scene was sweet, but also tragic in its own way. He'll never be able to act on his affection for her because of his castration, but is still grateful to have been part of the Unsullied (it's the only way he'd have met Missandei, after all). Even so, I liked the quiet little human touch that this scene added in an episode that was so destructive. Speaking of destruction, Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish appear to be the new platonic power couple (move over, Frank and Claire Underwood). Sansa's elaborate lie (poor lovesick Lysa committed suicide) may have saved Littlefinger, but she effectively proved that she's not the same scared little girl who left King's Landing. She's powerful in her own way, and has a new black dress and dark hair to match her confidence. Arya would certainly be proud.

Alex Intner: The whole Littlefinger and Sansa relationship still has a giant creep factor for me. (There's still a glimmer in Petyr's eye that is just so creepy). However, what I loved about this story was what you talked about: Sansa proving yet again that she is a smart, strong, and capable player in this game of thrones. She has shown on multiple occasions that she is more than the girl who arrived at King's Landing and enamored herself with marrying the king. In this case, she realizes that it's better to work with Petyr than against him. This is probably the closest to Arya we've seen Sansa be. Speaking of Arya, we get a brief scene with her and the Hound where they arrive at the Vale and they get the news that Lysa Arryn died. It ends with Arya laughing hysterically. Speaking of changing Starks, the Arya that laughed and talked about how much she enjoyed killing those people is not the same as Arya at the start of the show. She's much stronger, and her personality is much harder.

Chloe Gilke: With how slowly everyone's stories seem to advance, it's easy to overlook just how much every character has changed since earlier episodes. Poor Theon is one of the most striking examples. He started out as a petulant jerk, but is now so broken and belittled that you can't help but sympathize with him. This week, Reek hit a new low as he was forced to play an Ironborn leader again, this time manipulated by Ramsay into overtaking a garrison. Ramsay finally got what he wanted, as Roose legitimized his son for all his brave accomplishments (and father and son literally rode off into the sunset together). I'm always skeptical of a happy ending in Westeros, though, and this is no exception.

Alex Intner: Theon's transformation is probably the most striking of the bunch. We have talked a lot about how he is no longer the strong, womanizing Lord in any form. He's just gone. He lives at the whim of Ramsay. I was slightly angry at seeing Ramsay get everything he wanted after what he did to Theon. Granted, committing evil acts usually carries a price on this show, and I look forward to seeing what the price for his actions is. (Have I said I don't like the character?) As we go further North, the Wildings wreaked havoc on Mole's Town in what was a brutal and graphic fight scene. Gilly was able to survive because Ygritte saw the baby and didn't kill the two of them. Somehow.

Chloe Gilke: Jon, Sam and the Night's Watch have to deal with quite a bit. Between safety for Gilly (and the burping hookers), they're planning the inevitable arrival of Mance Rayder's army. From the looks of the previews, next week's episode will be set mostly north of the Wall. I'm not shy about my dislike for the boring Sam and Bran subplots, but I'm actually pretty excited about this episode, if it means moving toward meeting Mance's 100,000 person army. Back in Westeros proper, we didn't get to see much action in King's Landing aside from the Red Viper vs. Mountain smackdown. We had a sweet scene between Tyrion and Jaime, though, detailing his cousin Orson's obsession with killing beetles. He can't rationalize Orson's odd behavior, but as Tyrion faces the possibility of his own death, his musings on the nature of violence are especially heartbreaking.

Alex Intner: That scene between Jaime and Tyrion felt like a continuation of the last episode's "people visit Tyrion in prison and talk about the meaning of life". It was another reminder of how great Peter Dinklage is on this show. That monologue is layered with emotions and deeper meanings, and he was able to convey all of them. I agree that it was a heartbreaking scene. And, next week looks like it's going to be the Battle at the Wall. Neil Marshall (who directed "Blackwater") is back. I'm really looking forward to this one!