Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

GAME OF THRONES: 4.08 “The Mountain and the Viper”

My apologies for such a last, and what may likely be a short, post. But man, while this was a very well done episode, it was also a brutal, difficult episode to watch. I remembered the fight between Oberyn and Ser Gregor in the book, and I remembered its outcome. It was a disappointing result, mostly because it made me fear for Tyrion’s fate, but coming in the same book as the infamous Red Wedding, I think I may have been a little emotionally shellshocked already, and it didn’t have as much of an impact as it could have. I didn’t really care that much for Oberyn on the page; sure, I wanted him to win because Gregor is pure evil, but I think I even resented his careless arrogance a bit.

So, I was surprised that, all throughout the last two weeks, I was dreading this episode. I think it’s because the show did such a good job making Oberyn so darn likeable. We saw more of him on the screen, and Pedro Pascal’s performance was so vivid and full of life. Yes, he was arrogant, but he was charming, sarcastic, funny, and seemingly one of the few people on the continent that knew how to enjoy life and even laugh from time to time. And though both book and TV Oberyn were driven to seize some kind of justice for the murdered Elia and her children, it seemed like TV Oberyn was at least in some small way driven to defend Tyrion in order to prevent him from suffering injustice as well. The story he told of his childhood, when he first met Tyrion, made me feel that the prince of Dorne felt deep empathy for Tyrion; empathy for his situation at the time, and empathy for the horrible life he’s had that was inflicted on him by his horribly broken family. I don’t recall if this monologue was in the books or not, but I never quite felt like the book version cared quite so much. So I doubt I was the only book reader to wonder, fleetingly, if perhaps Oberyn would escape his grisly fate. Sadly, he didn’t, and actually watching his graphic death play out on screen made everything worse. I think, for the first time in the run of the show, I felt ground down by the tragedy. I felt hollowed out all night, and sad for days later.

It’s too bad, really, because this was a great episode packed with some great stuff: Sansa’s expertly handled political manipulation of the Lords of the Vale; Arya’s manic laughter; Gilly narrowly escaping the wilding attack; even Reek’s attempt to impersonate “Theon,” and Ramsay’s unexpected legitimization. But in the end, I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again for quite a while. It was just too much.

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One thought on “Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

  1. Boy, are you right. Kudos to a great post. As you know, I haven’t read the books, so I didn’t know Oberin’s fate. But I didn’t have such great hopes. Before the episode aired, I thought he might make it. But as the theme song was starting, I realized what show I was watching and felt that this would have one terrible end.

    Like you, this is one that stuck with me. For days after, I was left sad (partially because I think we got to see the real mourning in his lover’s face and Tyrion’s own reaction). And maybe it’s because he was such a great, likable character, one that I really didn’t want to have a last impression of him screaming in pain as his eyes were gauged out and disfigured in death, blood pouring out on the ground below him. It was a horrible image and it made an impression.

    Oddly enough, though, I almost do want to watch the episode again, perhaps so I can truly pay attention to everything else that happened in this episode (like Sansa, who I’m really curious to find out more about now that she seems to have taken on the same devious expressions as her captor), and now that I know what happens in the end, I can perhaps breathe through the fight and not hide behind a blanket (though, let’s be honest, it’s ugly, so I might still).

    Anyway, curious to see what happens next, but still sad about our fallen prince. (I have more thoughts, but anything else requires a post on its own.)

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