The Viper and The Mountain

HBO

Moving is hard work, especially when you’re a chubby blogger who doesn’t normally lift things and has an affinity for buying heavy things. Though even through all the strife of moving into a new home, there’s no large bookshelf that’s quite so heavy as the weight of the nice man from the cable company telling me that my cable wouldn’t be installed in time to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. You see, it wasn’t just about being timely or being able to come through with my weekly column on the subject, it was about knowing what was coming… There was no way I was missing the fight between The Mountain and The Viper.

Luckily I’ve got great friends with quality internet connections and HBO Go logins, so the day was ultimately saved. Weary from my moving adventure and with a system pumped with muscle relaxers, I settled in for what I and any book reader knew would be one of the more brutal and explosive episodes of the entire series. And now it’s time to have a little Game of Thrones spoilers chat about it.

Below is a picture of Walter White Walker: Lord of Spoilers. Below that are book spoilers that include information from all published material in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series and plenty of wild speculation. Read on at your own peril.

white-walker-walter-white

Is Lena Headey spoiling everything on her Instagram feed?

Before we get too far into the nuts and bolts of the episode, I want to address Lena Headey’s Instagram feed, where she has been posting little hints and gems that speak directly to events that have happened or will soon happen on the show. Like the image of her playfully pressing her thumbs into Pedro Pascal’s eye sockets, similar to the way The Mountain playfully crushed Oberyn’s head like a Gallagher skit in the most recent episode. And of course, there’s one about a stone heart. One can only hope that this solidifies the oncoming appearance of Lady Stoneheart. In fact, it appears as if a lot of book reader types are on the same page. In his AV Club experts review, Todd VanDerWerff echoed a lot of the theories I’ve been spewing in this column and on the Storm of Spoilers podcast for weeks: “My guess for how this all plays out: The assault on Castle Black plays out for all of next week (something I’m not sure the show has done the adequate work to built to, but whatever), then the final passages of the season finale feature Tyrion killing his father and Shae, followed by Brienne coming across Lady Stoneheart.” 

With next week’s episode seemingly all at The Wall (similar to the way the show handled ‘Blackwater’), the finale’s title is ‘The Children.’ The indication based on that and what else is left of A Storm of Swords, the reveal of Lady Stoneheart seems like a perfect bookend to the season. She is coming back to avenge the deaths (and supposed deaths in her mind) of her children.

Will my non-book reader friends ever recover from the death of The Red Viper?

Many of the non-readers I know who have been watching are emotionally drained by this season. The long march of death from The Red Wedding to now has taken its toll. And as we readers know, it’s not going to get any better this coming week. In fact, the show did a little bit of setup in the opening raid on Mole’s Town where we see Ygritte, hot on a murderous rampage, stop and show mercy to Gilly and her baby. This is the show doing its best to remind the audience that Ygritte was a character we liked before Jon Snow turned her into the fiery gal who murdered that one kid’s parents and let the Thenns eat them. “See, Ygritte does still have a heart,” the show is telling us. Now we get to see it stop beating.

To answer the question: Yes, I think show watchers will eventually recover, just as book readers recovered after reading the last third of A Storm of Spoilers. Oberyn Martell is one of Martin’s best characters by far, so wonderfully realized on screen in the performance of Pedro Pascal. He is a tough one to lose for all of us, but as I’ve said many times over the last few days: he was too awesome to live long in Westeros. That’s the cold reality of the world in which these books and this show exist.

Is there some redemption in the deaths that will likely happen in the finale? That’s a mixed bag. Seeing Tyrion kill both Shae and Tywin, which is likely to happen very late in the episode for the most dramatic pop, is going to be tough for audiences. Sure, Tyrion lives and he gets to enact some revenge on his father. But he’s also going to kill Shae, the one he genuinely loved even as she was turning on him. He tried to save her and it all backfired. In Tyrion’s mind, this will be the much more difficult kill. Also, as Jaime Lannister proved for show watchers earlier in the season, we don’t like watching characters we like doing bad things, even if it’s to characters we don’t like. And don’t rule out how much we have grown to enjoy Tywin through the performance of Charles Dance. He will be missed.

Those Stark girls… am I right?

The subtle changes to the Sansa/Littlefinger storyline have done wonders for the character, who has always been rather bland in the books. Seeing her rise from the pits of being a stupid little girl to a place where she seems on even footing with the most manipulative man in Westeros is never something I gathered in reading the books. She always seemed like another piece in Littlefinger’s long chess match with the rest of the realm. But in the show, she’s playing on a different level. It’s hard not to applaud such a change and Sophie Turner’s stellar performance in her scene of testimony.

As for Arya, I wish she could stay just the way she is forever. The laugh at The Bloody Gate over the death of her aunt is one of the most jovial moments of the series, a fitting balance to several of the show’s more bold and horrific visuals (not just Oberyn’s death, but our first look at what a real Flayed Man looks like after the Moat Cailin siege.) It will be interesting to see if that levity continues as her storyline gets much darker next season.

Will they show what happens to The Mountain post-fight before the season is up?

This has been a hot topic of conversation between myself and my roommate Theo, a fellow book reader. Will they show The Mountain suffering to further prove the awesome long game of Oberyn’s revenge? I imagine they might do a little bit of it when we return to King’s Landing in the finale. Though much of that storyline — which eventually evolves into the Ser Robert Strong storyline — seems fit for next season. The recently leaked casting list for season five involves a lot of Dornish characters, including Doran, the Sand Snakes and Areo Hotah. Much of that storyline is in the wake of Oberyn’s death. The show has also introduced Qyburn and his off-book ways as a Maester. Plus, the imagery of Ser Robert Strong showing up to pick up a nude and shamed Cersei late in season five is too good for the show to pass up, right?

Short version: yeah, he’s going to suffer for his crimes.

Please feel free to let your spoilery thoughts fly in the comments below. Use it as therapy, as we won’t tolerate such chatter anywhere else on the site. As a programming note, I will be absent this week from A Storm of Spoilers, but you should still listen, as Joanna and Da7e will likely have a great discussion.


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