Monday, May 26, 2014

Game of Thrones (S4E07) : "Mockingbird"

Episode 7 of Season 4 of Game of Thrones is titled "Mockingbird." The mockingbird is the self-designed sigil of House Baelish, which was created by Lord Petyr Baelish (more commonly known as Littlefinger) when he was granted his lordship by the Lannisters for selling out Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark in Season 1 (the adaptation of the first book, titled The Game of Thrones). We have spent a fair amount of this season learning more about how influential Littlefinger is to the plot of the entire Song of Ice  and Fire and things go to a whole other level in S4E07.

S4E07 has a couple of really important conversations in it. I think the theme of the episode can be reduced to how we can come to hate the people we are closest to (either family or erstwhile lovers).
We see this theme played out in three significant ways, among the Lannisters, the Cleganes and the Tullys.

For example, we discover the depth of the hatred Cersei had had for her brother Tyrion (by hearing the story through an external observer in Oberyn just makes that much clearer and chilling). She was telling everyone far and wide that the new Lannister child was a hideous monster, and torturing him as a baby! We know the Lannister family is messed up but we also find out about the Clegane family drama when Sandor Clegane (The Hound) reveals exactly why he is so scared of fire and how his face was horribly scarred by his brother Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) and that their father never punished Gregor for his near murderous actions and lied about what happened. The third sibling rivalry that has clearly turned to hate is the rivalry between Lysa Arryn nee Tully and her sister Catelyn Stark nee Tully. We learned in the previous episode (S4E06) just how much Lysa was jealous of her sister but in this episode we learn that Lysa hates her sister so much that she also hates her sister's daughter Sansa and physically threatens her with death after seeing her man kissing her niece.

This last example leads to the key moment in the episode comes when we get a graphic depiction of how love can turn to hate when Littlefinger rescues Sansa from the dangerous clutches of his newlywed wife and dispatches Lysa with an unceremonial shove through the Moon Door, leading to a fatal fall.

There were many highlights of this episode, and here is a brief list:
  • I Love You, Bro! One of the key highlights of this episode was the demonstration of brotherly love between Tyrion and Jaime, as well as the fraternal respect between Tyrion and Bronn. In both cases, though, Tyrion basically is somewhat untroubled by the fact that he is asking the other person to potentially sacrifice their life by being his champion in the Trial by Combat against the Fearsome Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane.
  • The Queen's Prerogative. Finally, Deanerys let Daario Naharis do "what he does best" and got her groove on with the comely swordsman. The audience got to enjoy both the satisfied and amused look on the Queen's face and a tight booty shot as Daario dropped trou.
  • You can be my 'champion' any time. Pedro Pascal is absolutely nailing his performance as Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne. According to interviews about the production of season 4 the scene between Peter Dinklage and himself in Tyrion's cell where Oberyn offers to be Tyrion's champion was the first one he shot, which is astonishing. The chemistry between the two actors is absolutely electrifying.
  • More Hot Pie, Anyone? Another fun section of the episode for longtime fans of the show was the reappearance of "Hot Pie," the former traveling companion of Arya Stark, at the Inn where Brienne and Podrick happen to stop in on their way to find Sansa Stark (since everyone in civilized society assumes Arya is dead already). Hot Pie is much more interested in being warm and comfortable (and particular in having access to warm food and comfortable lodging) than he is in who sits on the Iron Throne. He demonstrates this with an epic monologue on the importance of gravy in kidney pie, and by the end of the scene reveals that he saw Arya Stark alive after leaving King's Landing.
Nothing is perfect; even this classic episode had some  flaws.  The only one I think worth mentioning is:
  • Gore Mountain. The sickening sounds and sight of the Mountain disemboweling some unfortunate prisoners as Cersei sauntered over to admire him and his handiwork was truly nauseating, but revealed just how single-minded and unsqueamish the female Lannister is about achieving her goals, especially the one in which her little brother ends up dead.

Grade: 9/10 (A-).
Overall,  S4E07 was one of the more cerebral episodes of the series, where we in the audience got to hear and see a lot of the motivations of the characters and plot points were set up that will come to fruition in the last three episodes as the Season ends with a bang (as usual).

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