Game of Thrones “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

by Matthew Thompson (Images-HBO. The Game of Thrones site can be found here)

It has been no secret that I have been looking forward to the big fight that closed out this latest episode of Game of Thrones. The trial by combat between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane in A Storm of Swords is about as thrilling as anything I’ve ever read and despite my concerns going in, I think the television show did a great job of portraying this sequence on screen. Oberyn is as you would expect  in the fight. Cocky and showy, he uses his quickness to stay ahead of the hulking Mountain. There are moments where he gets caught off guard. A spear is snapped. He finds himself on his back a couple times, but wriggles out of harm’s way before landing what looks like the killing blow.

Game of Thrones The Mountain and the Viper 1

“You’re going to fight that?” “I’m going to kill that.”

But it is the other aspect of this fight that does him in. Oberyn spends as much time taunting Clegane as he does fighting him. He wants his confession for the murder of his sister and her children. So when he has done The Mountain in and Tyrion’s life looks to be saved, it isn’t good enough. But Tyrion’s life wasn’t his main concern. He is here for his own vengeance and the confession is something he needs. But unfortunately this is where the rug is pulled out from under us and Oberyn as The Mountain is able to brutally take out Oberyn with what little life he seemed to have left in him. And boy is it gruesome. Even the screams that accompany it from both the Prince and his paramour are enough to give you shivers. And with the Prince of Dorne’s death, Tyrion is pronounced guilty, but we will have to wait and see his ultimate fate play out as this episode ends with the verdict.

Again though the fight lived up to the hype for the most part. Oberyn’s flashiness comes through in both his fighting style and his dialogue, just as The Mountain’s own style comes through in his. I was impressed with the way they managed to work in many of the lines from the book. I was never sure if Oberyn’s repeated, “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children,” would come off as goofy on-screen, but they don’t at all. It really works

Unfortunately, that is the end of the road for Oberyn who has been one of the highlights of the season so far and I really am sad to see him go. Pedro Pascal played the part perfectly and I hope to see the actor pop up in more things after his brilliant performance here. I sort of wish he could have had one more scene pre-fight this episode, but that is just because I would have loved to see him just a little more.

Game of Thrones The Mountain and the Viper 3

“Have they told you who I am?” “Some dead man.”

While that was certainly the main event, it only accounted for a fraction of the episode and there were definitely some other moments of significance throughout. Jorah Mormont’s spying on Daenerys back in Season 1 is something the writer’s have had in their back pocket for a while and it finally came to light this episode. Jorah’s banishing was definitely a moment of importance, but I didn’t love how the actual scene played out. While I understand Dany felt betrayed, I hope his leaving is something she wrestles with going forward. Because despite his motives for joining her originally, he has done some great things by her side since.

We also get to see a new side of Sansa in this episode. Her speech as a witness to Lysa’s death was calculated and shows she could be a real player in this game going forward after spending much of the series as a mere pawn or worse in some cases. While I felt the turn was a bit sudden, I do think it will make her storyline more interesting going forward, so it is hard to complain. Her dress though was ridiculous.

Another interesting development is the one involving the Boltons this hour. Using Theon to take Moat Cailin is a smart move by the volatile Ramsey and it results in him getting something he has coveted for some time: legitimization. He is a Bolton now and considered Roose’s trueborn son and gets all the rewards that come with that. Their scenes also end with them marching towards Winterfell, our first look in some time at the location that played such an integral part in this series’ earlier seasons.

Game of Thrones The Mountain and the Viper 2

“You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!”

A few more things:

  • Scene of the Week: The trial by combat for sure. I prefer the book version still and there were a few little things I might tweak in the show (like adding a few lines they omitted or the crowd encroaching on the battle), but I think this was a really entertaining scene. Glad they kept the leaping spear thrust at the end in some form.
  • The Wildlings attack Mole’s Town this episode, but I am just ready for them to attack The Wall already. This scene did help prove the point that Sam wasn’t thinking straight to send Gilly there. I did like the shot of blood seeping through the floor boards from upstairs. A nice detail if a bit morbid.
  • I don’t really mind the Grey Worm and Missandei storyline even if it seems completely unnecessary.
  • Arya laughing at the Bloody Gate was hysterical.
  • The Tyrion scene didn’t light my world on fire, but I guess it is good to have another scene between the Lannister brothers.
  • I guess Oberyn does get his confession. Just a little too late.
  • Moat Cailin in the intro sequence!
  • Missing in Action this Week: Bran and Stannis? I think that is it.

I can only hope that viewers found the titular final showdown as thrilling as I did. It certainly felt like it delivered for me and a couple other substantial moments helped fill out the rest of the episode. We have two episodes left to go this season and if the season so far is any indication, there is plenty of excitement ahead.

Did the trial by combat go as you expected? How do you see things playing out for everyone’s favorite dwarf now? Any final predictions for the rest of the season? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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8 comments on “Game of Thrones “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

  1. Two days later and the fight still hasn’t left me. I watched two comedies right after the episode and I rarely laughed. Beautifully disturbing. The worse thing about it is what it means for Tyrion. (HOWEVER do the gods have a ruling if both of the combatants are dead? Can we call it a tie? I’m grasping at straws here) But it was obvious going in that Oberyn was overconfident. And even more so once he’d run him through.

    I noticed in the Tyrion and Jaime scene that the kid they were talking about could easily be named George RR Martin and it made me laugh out loud. “I don’t know why he likes to kill his popular characters,” Tyrion explains to us, apologizing for his impending doom as the most popular character on the show and also the best actor on the show, “Maybe he was dropped on his head as a baby.” (that was genius and not at all subtle)

    Sansa finally coming to play was awesome. She’s a Stark after all. I was beginning to doubt it. Littlefinger gets a reprieve from me as well. After killing Lysa, his motives are crystal clear. He is still in love with Kaitlyn (sp). He got her husband to the capitol by killing the hand. Got him killed by not choosing his side. He even avenged her untimely death by killing the boy king. And smuggled her oldest daughter out of King’s Landing. You know what, I actually like him now.

    Arya cracking up was funny as hell. I don’t know where that will go but the Stark Sisters are as close as they’ve been since season one.

    So happy there are two more episodes left. This has been the best season and I think it is because it’s the second half of a book. A whole lot of stuff has happened and we still have room enough for two major battles, two more weddings and an execution. (maybe The Hound will ask for a trial by combat again just as Lady Brienne arrives. I’d love to see those two go at it)

    • Littlefinger is so clever that even with the creep factor you have to respect what he can do. Oh and I saw this funny image online in reagards to the Martin/beetle thing:

      Thanks for the comment. I love hearing your thoughts each week.

  2. Great review. I like your point that Tyrion’s life wasn’t Oberyn’s main concern. Out of all the reactions during and after the fight, my favorite is Ellaria Sand, even for smaller roles GoT picks excellent actors.

    I feel like Sansa/Littlefinger and the Bolton/Reek story line is at good end point for the season so I’m perfectly fine if we don’t check in on them in the finale. I liked Sansa’s speech and the direction they are taking her character.

    Overall, this episode holds up pretty well on a second viewing. A couple of the scenes that weren’t my favorite were a bit better on rewatch and after reading people’s thoughts on them.

    I’m super pumped for next week! 🙂

    • I’ve enjoyed Ellaria as well. I’m curious if they will work her into more stuff going forward. They got a pretty talented actress for a rather small role. Working her into the Dorne stuff next year could be good.

      Tomorrow’s episode should be awesome!

  3. Great review, good episode, awesome fight, sad/disturbing ending. I really grew to like Oberyn and as you said, Pedro Pascal was perfectly cast for it. The fight itself was fun to watch and it wasn’t the brutal beatdown of the Red Viper I expected…until it was.

    Also poor Arya and Sansa and Littlefinger…ewwww.

    Interested to see how this season ends.

    • Haha. You were one of the few calling for a Mountain win. So I guess you got to be right there. You were also mentioning a double KO of sorts and that is close to what happened as well. Some good predictions from your fan fiction this past week.

  4. Sansa’s turn was a bit sudden but I think it was now or never for her. She’s in a safe place and she knows what Littlefinger wants, so she steps up to keep him around. So it made sense despite how quickly it happened.

    One of the lower key subplots I’m most interested in seeing playing out is Brienne’s journey to find the Stark girls. At this point I really don’t see either of them going with her willingly. Especially if Arya learns about her relationship with Jamie

    • Oops. I totally forgot about Brienne… haha. Didn’t even include her in the MIA section. It will definitely be something to watch for. As I mentioned on Twitter things are a little different than I expected in the show, so I am not even sure how the Stark girls stuff shakes out from here.

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