GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Mockingbird”

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I’m filling in for Allison this week, and to quote Oberyn, “I will be your champion!” Okay, probably not so much, but I will be going through this unusual episode of Game of Thrones [side note: I haven’t read the books].  When I watch Game of Thrones, I expect horrible things to happen, and so this episode threw me for a loop because it was primarily people being nice to each other.  Granted, the specter of death looms large (as always), but as our characters peer into the abyss, it’s a bonding experience…for the most part.  Hit the jump for why “a bit of comfort never hurt anyone.”

game-of-thrones-season-4-final-posterFor a show that likes to tease big moments and epic action, “Mockingbird” was captivating even though almost every scene was just a conversation between two people.  When there was a third party, it was a minor character meant to illuminate either a fact (like Arya’s chubby friend talking to Brienne and Pod) or an existential crisis (Arya and the Hound coming across the dying man).  And that made for great television.

Beginning our trip through Westeros, we began with the aftermath of Tyrion’s big speech as Jamie and Tyrion wistfully imagined what could have been if they weren’t always bent to Tywin’s will.  Looking through the talks with Jamie, Bronn, and Oberyn, this episode could have functioned as an episode of “This Is Your Life” for Tyrion.  Even Bronn was kind in his betrayal, if you can call it that.  Betrayal implies trust, and Tyrion was too smart to every truly trust a sell-sword, even if he did consider him a friend.  It was a bit confusing, however, that rather than hire Bronn to fight Tyrion, Cersei bought him out and then brought in The Mountain.  It would have been crueler to have Tyrion killed by his pseudo-friend then bring in a heavy, especially a heavy who is loathed by Oberyn.

Moving on, the bizarre friendship between Arya and the Hound continued to be one of the best parts of this season, and the young Stark is growing quite adept at killing people.  She just stabbed that goon through the heart like it was no big thing.  But what was really great about Arya and the Hound’s first scene was the meditation on death and dying.  Plopped into the middle of a show with zombies and dragons, we got a philosophical conversation on the purpose of living.  “Nothing is just nothing,” is a fine line of dialogue.  Their second scene, sitting in the countryside while the Hound tries and fails to mend his wound, wasn’t philosophically deep, but it was important as it showed that the Hound can be vulnerable, but it’s not so much because of fire.  It’s because his family betrayed him. It was a poignant moment in an episode about people trusting each other.

game-of-thrones-mockingbird-peter-dinklageWhen we went over to Meereen and Dany’s private chambers, I realized she had not gotten laid in a long time.  In this episode she forged not only a physical connection with Daario, but also built upon her pre-existing one with Jorah.  Dany wants to stick to the old divisions (“They can live in my new world, or die in their old one”), but Jorah convinces her that she can’t go on like that, and it’s not simply about forgiveness.  From a strategic standpoint, it’s poor leadership.  He may be stuck forever in the Friend Zone, but the friendship and trust between Dany and Jorah paid off in a tangible way this episode.

Then there was Dragonstone and the Stannis plotline.  The Stannis plot is like an old, feeble, sleeping man.  He doesn’t do much, and the only reason you check on him is to see if he’s still alive.  I assume there will be some big payoff down the line, but in this episode, the Lord of Light’s big reveal was that Melisandre should take a bath.  While her conversation with Selyse wasn’t exactly bonding, it was at least honest (or at least I’m giving the episode the benefit of the doubt and taking Melisandre’s nudity as a representation of her being forthright with Selyse).

The weakest scene this week was back on the Wall as Jon once again pleads his case about needing to defend against the Wildlings and being ignored by his superior (I don’t know the guy’s name).  We’ve done this before, and we didn’t need the reminder that Manse Rayder was coming.  It also didn’t add any thematic value.  It wasn’t nice.

And that’s what Game of Thrones was this week: people being nice to each other, or at least as nice as people on this show can be.  There was bonding between the Hound and Argya, Jamie and Tyrion, Tyrion and Bronn (even though their paths are now diverging), Dany and Jorah, Dany and Daario, Brienne and Pod, and Melisandre and Selyse.  When bonding failed, as it did between Sansa and Robin, it led to ultimate betrayal when Lysa is thrown to her death by the man she loved.  After all, this is Westeros, and “If you want justice, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

Episode Rating: A-

game-of-thrones-mockingbirdMusings and Miscellanea:

- I really liked that when Dany finally got some, she was in control.  A male character had to strip for a female character’s sexual gratification and not vice versa.  Naturally, this moment was immediately followed by Melisandre topless in a tub because this is Game of Thrones.  Additionally, while Daario was naked for about five seconds, Melisandre is naked for almost the entire scene.  Again, I understand this may have been symbolically important, but that symbol’s power dwindles somewhat when female nudity is in almost every episode.

- I can’t remember the name of Arya’s chubby friend, but it was nice to see him again.  He also provided a nice reminder that “you cannot give up on the gravy.”

- “You’re not interesting enough to be offensive.” – Brienne to Pod.

- Oberyn visiting Tyrion was reminiscent of Varys visiting Ned in season one.  The twist was that Oberyn decides to help the innocent man.  Granted, it’s not strictly out of the goodness of his heart, but it’s more than Varys did.

- I really could not get over everyone being nice to each other.  I thought I was watching Downton Abbey.

- Credit to Littlefinger for providing this episode’s creepiness factor.  His conversation with Sansa went from “You could have been my daughter,” to “Let’s make out.”

- I knew someone was going down that hole at the end of the episode.  Given my assumption that Game of Thrones is nothing but misery, I assumed it would be Sansa.  Imagine my joy when it turned out to be Lysa.  This show can only endure so much crazy lady.




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  • Leo Spaceman

    I normally quite enjoy a seeing a nice, well-proportioned pair of Boobs, but tonight’s Boobs of the week will forever be associated with watching her birth an evil Ghost Baby, and it just takes all of the joy out of seeing them.

    • Grayden

      Carice Van Houten is a well put together, and kept together, woman. I don’t think about smoke baby, my willpower forbids it.

      • Leo Spaceman

        I agree, she has a near perfect body. But pregnant bellies and screams of child birth do not easily become forgotten.

        There is no bigger turn of for me than to think of the actual functions of the female genitalia beyond what pleasure men may find within.

      • Sweet Pea

        Oh yeah, this guy sounds like a real smooth operator when it comes to the ladies.

      • dolphin558

        Sweet Pea – I LOL’d at your comment.

    • liquid

      Her nipples are oddly tiny, dont you think?

  • Leo Spaceman

    Great Review Matt. To put it nicely, I think I prefer your interpretation of the show to Allison’s.

    • Leo Spaceman

      Only thing I didn’t agree with though was that not even Tyrion thought that Bronn had betrayed him. While yes, he wasn’t loyal as a dog to Tyrion, Betrayal is not the right word for the situation. Tyrion understood it, and he took it like a man and shook hands with a friend for the last time or maybe not, I really don’t know.

      • Grayden

        yeah, how many times did Bronn bring up money. Tyrion knew exactly what kind of man Bronn was. I don’t think he was even surprised by it in the least. He was just outplayed by Cersei again. He was beat, but not betrayed.

      • astr

        The author did say “if you can call it that”

      • astr

        The author did say “if you can call it that”

      • astr

        The author did say “if you can call it that”

    • Pk

      I agree. Allison comes off as an annoying fan girl. Plus her constant bitching about there being to much female nudity than the opposite sex is quite annoying

    • utazdevl

      I also like the way Matt doesn’t throw in random spoilers for no reason.

  • Leo Spaceman

    As a guy who knows full well the feelings that Jorah felt as his heart sank in his chest upon seeing Daaro walk out of Dany’s Chambers shirtless, I have to say that it is Girls like Dany that have made me no longer care about what the girl wants and brought me to the conclusion that I should take what I want first and if the girl wants affection then it comes after my own needs.

    • Sweet Pea

      Lol… Maybe keep those lines about the actual purpose of female genitalia (!?) beyond what pleasures men may find (Lol even worse than the weird genitalia line) to yourself and you’ll have better luck with the ladies matey…

  • Redjester

    Man, they’re really putting off that big scene that I will not name.

    First I thought it would occur last week and then this week. If it doesn’t occur during the next installment, I’ll be at a bit of a loss.

    • Daniel O’Reilly

      Probably next episode. So that other big thing that happens later can happen in episode 9.

      • Daan

        Big chance that that other big thing happens at the start of season 5, just like Joffrey’s dead was the start of this season

      • Marisa

        I believe the director of the purple wedding said after that episode that he directs either the last two or last episode of the season and he implied that he directs a big scene between Tyrion and …. so I’m betting it does happen on episode 9 or 10 this season. I’m really curious to see if they end the season on that other big reveal from right at the end of book 3.

    • James

      It will be the next episode. Since the beginning of the season, episode 8 was named The Mountain and the Viper.

    • James

      It will be the next episode. Since the beginning of the season, episode 8 was named The Mountain and the Viper.

      • Redjester

        Nice! I’ve been looking forward to that episode for a while now!

    • utazdevl

      I don’t know what scenes are being discussed, but at EW the recap says episode 8 has the Mountain and Oberyn’s fight, Episode 9 is almost entirely the fight between at Castle Black and Episode 10 packs a huge punch that in previous seasons would have happened in Episode 9 (on the level with Nedd’s death, the battle of Blackwater and the Red Wedding).

  • Redjester

    Fantastic episode as always. Not sure why the ‘A’ ratings are only reserved for the big moments of the season when smaller moments are this well done. As you probably can guess, I rate this episode an ‘A’. This show can really do no wrong.

  • Spencer VonHershman

    How could you forget that Arya’s friend, who essentially only talks about pie, was named HotPie?

  • Daniel O’Reilly

    John’s nemesis at the Wall is Alliser Thorne. And It’s not “Manse,” but “Mance.”

    Otherwise, good review.

  • Gabe

    Good write-up. But Allison still needs to come back because we’re missing a Mad Men recap!

    • Gabe

      Oh wait, now I see you just posted it. Nevermind.

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    Last week I talked a little bit about how I thought the show had been setting up a Bronn/Jamie fight all season, and it was amusing to me to see that Benioff and Weiss addressed that issue fairly head on. This was the most obvious and natural pairing, with both sides having more or less divided loyalties, and our sympathies laying with both of themö. As the setup was done, it pointed to Jaime being the “villain”, fighting for Cersei in a misguided attempt to win back her favor, and when he would lose it would be well deserved because he was a rapist.
    Had this been a Whedon show, for instance, I’m pretty sure that’s what would have happened.
    But. No. They dispensed with the whole thing, instead having Cersei bring in the most obvious choice, the most feared fighter in Westeros, who is also a Lannister lackey. That is the smart move, and the most obvious one at that.

    And then we got that FANTASTIC scene with Tyrion and Oberyn. That might be my favorite moment of the show so far. It was just… so great. Dinklage plays the humiliation and sorrow and helplessness perfectly. And Pascal tells the story with warmth and compassion AS WELL AS complete and utter disdain. “I hate your entire clan, here’s why. And that is also why I will help you, your clan seem to hate you almost as much as I hate them.” Emmy submission ep. for both those guys, I’d guess.

    Viper vs Mountain, bring that shit ON, I say!

    • Agent777

      There is nothing to be proud of in not reading books. What you do it you put your hands over your ears and go “lalalalalalala i can’t hear you”. You wrote three paragraphs of speculation… all of which is wrong. Get help, buy the books, read them. You obviously like the story and the characters and you are only cheating yourself.

    • Agent777

      There is nothing to be proud of in not reading books. What you do it you put your hands over your ears and go “lalalalalalala i can’t hear you”. You wrote three paragraphs of speculation… all of which is wrong. Get help, buy the books, read them. You obviously like the story and the characters and you are only cheating yourself.

  • cruzzercruz

    There’s this thing called Google that can fill in those pesky lapses in knowledge. Also, why would Cersei choose Bronn when Tyrion is going to try to get a champion. He obviously wasn’t planning to do the fighting himself. The Mountain is supposedly unbeatable, he was always going to be her choice.

  • Lance

    “You _cannot_ give up on the gravy.”

    Truer words were never spoken, Hot Pie.

  • the king of comedy

    I liked the episode overall, the only thing that buggs me is that Littlefingers`reveal that he was behind everything that happened since season 1 has been diminished and lost its impact, in the books this moment was huge

    • Redjester

      I agree. That moment should have been the big “aha”/”no sh*t!” moment of the season.

      • the king of comedy

        I guess most of the casual viewers of the show don`t even remember who Jhon Arryn is, Lysa`s letter that started the Stark`s distrust agaisnt the Lannisters and Tyrion`s dagger that started the war beetwen these houses, but still they could have made it work with some clever dialogue.

  • coach1173

    This show makes the feminists crazy.

    • Nathan

      Crazy happy, you mean. I’m a feminist and all i can say is that compared to the sexist drivel that goes on in most sitcoms on other networks, This show is squeaky clean.

  • Johnny_Mook

    In Westeros, kindness is like gravy – people simply give up on it

  • utazdevl

    I think Cersei’s decision to have the Mountain fight in Tyrion’s trial speaks to her character’s shortcomings. Of course she would ignore all subtlety and nuance and just go get the biggest gun she could find to blow Tyrion away. She is a bull who sees red and charges. This is why Tywin doesn’t trust her judgement.

    I would have paid money to see Jamie step up to fight on Tyrion’s behalf, if only to see Tywin and Cersei’s reaction. A new reason to hate Locke when I inevitably rewatch the show.

    • Agent777

      Locke (Vargo Hoat the Goat as he was called in the book) made Jaime the more likable snot he is. I love Jaime, but he did shove a seven year old out a tower window, lest we forget.

      • utazdevl

        Yeah, but it was just Bran, and he has gotten really annoying in his search for the 3 eyed crow. Had Jamie spent more time with him he would have had a very reasonable defense.

      • utazdevl

        Yeah, but it was just Bran, and he has gotten really annoying in his search for the 3 eyed crow. Had Jamie spent more time with him he would have had a very reasonable defense.

    • Agent777

      Locke (Vargo Hoat the Goat as he was called in the book) made Jaime the more likable snot he is. I love Jaime, but he did shove a seven year old out a tower window, lest we forget.

  • Pingback: GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Mockingbird” | Sci-Fi Talk

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    No, I’m not saying I thought that was on. I’m saying the show faked us out, setting that fight up when the books had a completely different fight lined up. I read the books.

  • Joey Robinson

    “Total hack” seems a bit strong. There were some good observations but Jesus, it takes literally seconds to find these names and correct the typos.

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    I don’t think I’m making myself clear: Yes, I know what will happen, and I don’t expect the show to deviate from the books.
    I am commenting on the fact that the show uses television storytelling conventions to allow people who are unaware of what will actually happen to be surprised by the actual goings-on. It has done this several times over the course of the series, and I was merely reflecting over how elegantly it works this time.

  • utazdevl

    I can hardly wait. Starks seem to only get killed in alternating seasons, so hopefully the 3 that are left can escape this one. :-)

  • Agent777

    Yeah, it’s a shame they let the story get hijacked by hacky T.V. writing. It really is a shame I agree with you. It’s a waste of screen time, screen time that becomes pointless once you know (or already knew) was going to happen.

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    You are REALLY not getting what I’m saying at all, are you?

    If not, then… what? If you’re not interested in discussing how the show subverts TV storytelling tropes, why answer my post at all?

  • utazdevl

    Sansa, Bran, Arya and who else? John Snow isn’t a Stark (at least not that we know of).

  • utazdevl

    Wait a sec, there is a younger brother, right? He used to be on the run with Bran. He said, like, 5 words the whole series!

  • utazdevl

    Yeah, forgot the little dude. He’s off with Osha the Wildling. If I were him I’d change my name, or at least hide every year when Episode 9 rolls around.

  • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

    Hey, I don’t respond well to sarcasm. And that was not for your benefit. I don’t wanna be a dick. I try not to be.

    Also, I’d really like to discuss this, so now that we can dispense with… well, all this, here’s how I see it: They were the obvious candidates. The “Two friends being forced through circumstances beyond their control to fight” goes a way back. Think Kirk vs. Spock. I think there’s enough precedent to call it a trope, but I’m open for discussion, maybe I’m wrong to use the word. Also, it’s not just that they practiced together, but that they both have a relationship with Tyrion, that Bronn is a very… morally flexible character who would fight for pay for most anyone, that Jamie has sort-of been hinted at as being the best swordsman in the Westeros but it has never been shown… It goes on. But I also think that beyond that, this episode was aware that it was the mot obvious pairing, and therefore addressed the issue head-on, and the episode even started with Jaime explaining why he couldn’t fight for Tyrion.

  • Spanky

    Has to do with a certain Stark making a surprise appearance?

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