This week: the end of an epic bromance and Westeros’s equivalent of the Hulk
After last week’s stunner of an episode, Mockingbird returns us to much the same unhurried pacing that’s been a staple of this season, but fortunately there are lots of really nice character beats to make up for the lack of plot. Several of them, to no one’s great surprise, involve Tyrion, firstly having one last talk with his brother about how much they resent their father. It’s still uncomfortable that they’re trying to present Jaime as sympathetic, but it’s a good scene all the same.
It doesn’t come close to when Bronn visits Tyrion in jail, though. These two have been bros since very early in the series, and their back-and-forth snark war has consistently been one of the most entertaining parts of the show. To see them finally admit that yes, they were friends, and not just rich man and sellsword, was deeply moving: Bronn clearly doesn’t want Tyrion to die, but he’s not willing to fight Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides, to keep him alive.
And it turns out that the Mountain is very aptly named. This is the first time we’ve seen him in a long while, and he is enormous. He’s played by Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (the third actor to play the character in case you’re wondering why you don’t recognise him) and who looks like he could body double for the Hulk in Avengers 2. Actually, given his ridiculous size and strength, and the fact that he’s been played by three actors, Clegane can have the Special Award for Basically Being the Incredible Hulk.
Brienne’s storyline will pose an interesting challenge for the show. At this point in the books her story is incredibly slow and doesn’t go anywhere for a very long time, and hopefully Benioff and Weiss have worked out a way to solve that problem for TV. In any case, her scenes provided the comedy this week, partly due to the return of Hot Pie, who, in another touching bit, gave her a wolf-shaped pastry to pass on to Arya. Since this followed immediately from Podrick telling Brienne that they probably shouldn’t let people know they’re looking for the Stark girls, we got a genuinely hilarious bit of smugness from her, and it would be no great surprise to see Smug Brienne become the show’s latest internet meme.
In other strong character moments, we get an unexpected scene of weakness from the Hound after he’s recovering from an attack by Arya’s old acquaintances Rorge and (presumably) Biter. The Hound is an evil man, but it’s not hard to see how he came to be the man he is, and thanks to his choices he’s now completely alone in Westeros.
Daenerys’s storyline continues to tread water, although by having her actually sleep with Daario instead of just endlessly lust after him as in the books, they do still seem to be trying to move it along a bit more quickly. One of the problems here is that we’ve seen loads of Daenerys the queen, but almost nothing of Dany the woman. We could really use some behind-the-scenes of her just being herself to reconnect with her as a character. She also looks like she’s trying to rival Margaery Tyrell for revealing clothing, deploying what must surely be the World’s Least Practical Dress the morning after she sleeps with Daario.
Most of Mockingbird was pretty slow, but things did pick up towards the end. Oberyn visited Tyrion in his cell, explaining that he didn’t see Tyrion as a monster and would be willing to be his champion. Granted, it’s less out of wanting to prove Tyrion innocent and more out of just wanting to kill Gregor Clegane, the man who raped and murdered his sister, but it’s still a fantastic monologue that shows us just how driven the Red Viper is. It’s spine-tingling stuff, and the battle between the Mountain and the Viper, one of the most memorable scenes in the books, should hopefully be something very special when it arrives.
To end this week’s instalment we reunited with Sansa and Littlefinger at the Eyrie, and learned why the episode is called Mockingbird. After Sansa’s husband-to-be Robin made Arya’s burgeoning sociopathy look mild by comparison, Littlefinger kissed Sansa – but his wife Lysa saw it. She subsequently tried to throw Sansa off the mountain, before Littlefinger managed to talk her down by declaring he had only ever loved one woman – her sister Catelyn. And then he pushed Lysa out the Moon Door to her death.
He’s now sole Lord of the Vale, and while he was probably telling the truth when he said he killed Joffrey to avenge Catelyn, he’s still power-mad and the most dangerous man in Westeros. He’s officially one of the most powerful lords of the realm now, and since Sansa is his protege, House Stark can have another 10 points – they may be broken and scattered, but they’re not beaten yet.
Lannister: 20 / Stark: 35 / Baratheon: 25 / Targaryen: 35
This week’s death toll was a relatively meagre seven: three killed by the Mountain, another three by the Hound, and one by Littlefinger and a very long fall. This brings the total kill count to 399, and there will be at least one more in the next episode, The Mountain and The Viper. It’s a holiday weekend in the States, so there’s no episode next week, but come back in two weeks to see the Red Viper of Dorne take on Tywin Lannister’s mad dog. It should be a good one.
All images: HBO