Very rarely do I write about individual episodes of the series that I do watch. Actually, this is the first time I’m doing it and its because “The Viper and The Mountain” episode of Game of Thrones fourth season affected me so much — so much so that I’m still shaking minutes after I’ve watched it and I can’t get that final two minutes of the episode out of my head. It was that good and it was that graphic.
Tyrion Lannister invokes trial by combat when his trial for the murder of his nephew King Joffrey goes south. Luckily, he finds a champion in Dorne’s Prince Oberyn Martell, who is known in battle as The Red Viper. Its no secret that Oberyn has come to Kings Landing not to attend Joffrey’s wedding but to exact revenge on Tywin Lannister and Ser Gregor Clegane, known as the Mountain that Rides because of his sheer size and strength. Since Clegane is to be the Palace’s champion, the Prince saw it as an opportunity to avenge the death of his sister Elia Martell, whom the Mountain himself raped and killed, before killing her children. Elsewhere in the seven kingdoms, Manse Rayder’s troops draw nearer to the Night’s Watch, a traitor is found in Queen Daenerys’s camp while Arya and the Hound finally make it to the Vale. Oh, and Ramsay Snow is finally recognized by his father Roose Bolton, self declared warden of the North.
For readers of the books, perhaps it came as no surprise how the battle between Oberyn and Gregor played out. I too, actually read about it from one of the threads I visited, but nothing truly prepared me for the last five minutes of this episode. Nothing. All of the other events that happened in this episode, definitely will contribute to the development of the story in the future but I just could not get over that final scene. I have never before been so absorbed by anything I’ve watched on television as much as today and I’ve seen a lot. Usually, I would be looking forward to the next episode by this time but such is not the case now because I am totally drained emotionally.
Game of Thrones has cemented its reputation for its marvelous adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic saga of A Song of Ice and Fire. There has been no shortage of deaths in this series, that’s for sure, and there are no shortage of epic scenes like the Battle of Blackwater, or the Red Wedding, or Ned Stark’s beheading. But the timing of this episode, which came two weeks after episode 7 when audiences were already waiting for this particular battle to happen — was a stroke of genius. Placing this scene at the end, after Tyrion launches into a long monologue about their cousin Orson Lannister, a simpleton who was obsessed with crushing bugs (which opens doors for all sorts of analogies)– multiplied the impact of the scene and ensured that this will be the last thing that stayed in the audiences minds and to this end, it accomplished its mission exceedingly well.
This is not to say that there were no other great scenes in this episode — there was the one where Ramsay Snow finally gets his father’s name. Everybody knows this guy is a degenerate psycho but the wealth of emotions in his eyes made him more human. Jaime and Tyrion also shared a bromantic moment in the dungeon where they talked about superficial things that underlined Tyrion’s torment. And there was a sweet moment between Grey Worm and Missandrei.
But for each season, there is really one defining moment — for Season 1, it was the death of Ned Stark, for the second, it was the Battle of Blackwater, for the third it was the Red Wedding and I have a feeling that this is going to be this season’s best moment yet. But there are two episodes left yet, and one more big revelation to come so we’ll have to see. For now, I would have to be content by doing a Maleficent, and saying Well, Well.
By the way, this episode was directed by Alex Graves and written by David Benioff and D.B Weiss.