One constant theme of the fourth season of Game of Thrones has been motherhood and the difficulties thereof. But in last night's episode, the duties and disappointments of brotherhood took center stage, with painful exchanges between Jaime and Tyrion coupled with the Hound's of hurt and betrayal after the horrible abuse of his older brother.
And let's not forget Prince Oberyn, so obsessed with revenge for his murdered sister he's willing to champion the most hated man in Kings Landing to get his chance. It's a fight I'm looking forward to, because if there's anything we need in GoT, it's more bloodshed.
Locations (* = new): King's Landing, The Dreadfort, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Meereen
Ser(s) Not Appearing in this Episode: Stannis Baratheon, Davos Seaworth (presumably returning from Braavos), Theon "Reek" Greyjoy, Ramsay Snow, Bran Stark, Jojen and Meera Reed, Hodor. I'm assuming we'll see Rickon and Asha again some time in Season 12.
In Kings Landing, Jaime's (Nikolaj Coster-Walda) not happy with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) screwing up the plea bargain and giving up life (at the Wall) by demanding trial by combat. More to the point, Big Brother isn't up to task of defending him. Who, then? Bronn? And who will be Cersei's champion? That question is answered right quick, when we find out Cersei (Lena Headey) has invited the Mountain, real name Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), back to Kings Landing, where he's getting in fighting shape by disemboweling prisoners malnourished prisoners. Might want to have a talk with his trainer, Cersei.
The Hound, real name Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), and Arya (Maisie Williams) come upon a gut stabbed old man on the road, who waxes Jedi philosophical for a moment ("There's no balance anymore") before the Hound puts him out of his misery. He's then jumped by Biter and Rorge, who you'll remember were two of the cage occupants Yoren was taking north to the Wall (and if you didn't, they were shown in the previews), now out for the bounty on the Hound's head. Naturally, they're quickly dispatched by the pair (Jaqen would be so proud). Later, Arya tries to convince the Hound to cauterize his bite wound, but he's not having it, offering a rather melancholy account of Gregor's brutal attack on him when he was a kid.
Between the sepsis foreshadowing and the increased humanization of the Hound, I'm not optimistic about his future.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) returns with the rest of his squad from Craster's Rape Shack, and Lord Commander Thorne (Owen Teale) promptly orders him to lock up Ghost. Jon grudgingly agrees, then gives the rangers a sitrep on Mance's army, advising them to seal the tunnel under the Wall. Thorne disagrees, and it looks like they'll continue to be woefully unprepared unless that leadership change telegraphed three episodes ago comes about.
A newly engaged Bronn (Jerome Flynn) pays Tyrion a visit in stir. The Imp's pitch falls on deaf ears: "Aye, I'm your friend; and when have you ever risked your life for me?" Simply put, given the choice between hand to hand combat with a 7' mutant and getting fat and happy as the new Lord Stokeworth, the sellsword wisely opts for the latter. This looks like the end of a beautiful friendship, and the parting is actually quite poignant. I'm going to miss Bronn.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) pay Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) a sexy visit. He's chomping at the bit to kill/have sex with someone. Dany tells yes on both, but opts for the second part immediately. Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) encounters Daario the next morning on his Walk of No Shame, but his warnings are dismissed as Danaerys tells him she's sent Daario and the Second Sons to kill the masters at Yunkai. Jorah convinces her to give them a choice between accepting her rule or getting the shaft. Literally.
And because we have to even out Daario's man ass, her are some Red Woman boobs. Queen Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) visits Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) while she's having a soak, and it's clear the Queen is struggling with the fact Melisandre and Stannis did the nasty. It's also clear -- from the way her gaze (and the camera) lingers on the Red Woman's haunches -- she's possibly a little curious. More to the point, she doesn't want to bring her "heretical" daughter Shireen with them ... wherever they're going. Melisandre insists "the Lord of Light needs her," which is fairly ominous, given how he "rewards" his followers (where the hell is Beric Dondarrion anyway)?
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick's (Daniel Portman) travels take them to the Inn of Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey), last seen pissing Arya off because he wouldn't accompany her to Riverrun. She's not really interested in his gravy conversation, but does let on that they're looking for Sansa. Probably a bad move, as Podrick advises her. I tend to agree, though the fact Hot Pie informs them Arya is alive would appear to mean she's going to make that mistake again. They go down to the crossroads, apparently headed for the Eyrie.
Tyrion, already the most popular prisoner in the Black Cells, gets a visit from Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal), who talks about his conversation with Cersei: "It was rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters." He tells a heartwarming story about the time a young Cersei wished death on Tyrion even while he was in the cradle. And in an episode full of touching performances from Peter Dinklage, his face during the tale may be the best acting he's done all season. Long story short: Oberyn wants justice for the Mountain murdering his sister, and agrees to be Tyrion's champion to get it.
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Finally, at the Eyrie, Sansa (Sophie Turner) occupies herself making a snow Winterfell, before Robyn (Lino Facioli) comes along and fucks it up, prompting Sansa to slap him. You can hardly blame her for taking out a little of the frustration over the murders of her parents and a marriage to a Lannister by slapping a bratty kid. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) is sympathetic, and, uh, *affectionate*. Lysa (Kate Dickie) sees the two kiss and threatens to chuck Sansa out the Moon Door. In what is something of a bold move for a guy who usually operates in the shadows, he gives her a shove, but not before confessing his love. For Catelyn.
Lannisters aren't the only ones skilled at defenestration, it seems.
Stuff That Will Piss Off Book Purists: The Mountain/Hound story wasn't precisely as depicted, and the Hound never expressed actual sadness at their sorry relationship, plus they're growing this friendship out a lot for dramatic purposes; Hot Pie wasn't the one that told Brienne about Arya, but I doubt the TV series will waste much airtime on the Quiet Isle; Sansa's a lot more assertive in the show, and certainly never slapped Robyn; no Marillion?
Next In Two Weeks: Ramsay Snow's plan is coming together, Littlefinger faces the music for Lysa, the raiders get closer to the Wall, and Oberyn clashes with the Mountain.