Game Of Thrones season 4 episode 7 review: Mockingbird

Review Ron Hogan 19 May 2014 - 07:45

Game Of Thrones season 4 has shifted its focus and is all the better for it. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.7 Mockingbird

Of the changes made in the fourth season by producers and television adapters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the most logical one is to tighten the focus of episodes. At points, especially in the second season, it felt like the show hopped around to every character and every setting at least once an episode, creating for a disjointed viewing experience. Five minutes of Dany, three minutes of Arya, seven minutes of Theon, and so on. This season, the episodes are much more satisfying because they are making certain characters focal points for the episodes, concentrating on a few characters at a time, and allowing more of the stories to play out during the course of an episode. It may be a few episodes before you return to Hodor, but when you go back there, you'll get enough Hodor to Hodor Hodor's Hodor.

Fewer characters for longer also creates for smoother transitions between scenes; for example, Dany's hook-up with Daario 2.0 is matched amusingly with Selyse Barratheon having an in-depth conversation with the naked Melisandre about the merits of seduction and tricking men with potions to force them to see the Red God before giving them the actual power to see the Red God at work in the flames. Even when it's a story element that isn't quite as attention-getting (Jon's political struggle at the Wall), it's more tolerable because you won't see it every week, just every couple of weeks; the Jon segments also stay long enough to gather a little steam, rather than just being a pop-up appearance. It helps, and as usual Game Of Thrones wastes no time in reminding us of the characters we'll be running into with the opening “previously on” montage.

Director Alik Sakharov once again turns in a top-notch episode, as expected. The reintroduction of The Mountain is handled brilliantly, as the massive Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson just shows up with a giant sword, guts a guy (with impressive entrails spillage), kills a few other prisoners, and has a brief conversation with Cersei Lannister while being shot from below to emphasize just how gigantic he is. That visual flair continues on with Tyrion Lannister's time spent in prison. The imp gets shot in dark gray, or framed by light through the bars of his cell, and is deliberately shot to emphasize just how alone the character is.

The scenes with Tyrion and his various friends and relatives are somehow more heartbreaking even than Shae's betrayal in the closing moments of the trial. Bronn has been Tyrion's constant companion, the man who saved Tyrion during his first trial of combat, and the co-star of one of the best sitcoms in Westeros along with his imp bankroll and running buddy. Somehow, the fact that it's an amicable split that neither man is really happy about makes it even worse; it's hard to see Tyrion in pain, but to see good-natured Bronn looking depressed is astonishing and agonizing by turns. Even though Bronn is marrying a rich, dense noblewoman and getting a castle, it still kind of feels like a defeat. Peter Dinklage is top-notch, and Jerome Flynn is able to bring some surprising pathos to the role.

Pulling together great writing, brilliant acting, and brilliant cinematography is the wonderfully disturbing series of confrontations in the Eyrie. What starts out as surprisingly beautiful and touching—Sansa getting to enjoy a lovely snowy trip to the garden—very slowly goes out of control. She bonds with her creepy cousin/fiance Robin (Lino Facioli makes a good spoiled kid, even if he's not Joffrey) over a snow castle version of Winterfell, only for him to completely flip out and stomp the castle before getting slapped and storming off in a huff. Because it's Sansa and she can't have nice things, Petyr shows up to creep on her, and then after getting kissed by her uncle/guardian, Sansa nearly gets thrown out of the Moon Door by her Stark-raving mad aunt Lysa (Kate Dickie is back with a vengeance and gnawing on the furniture for good measure). It's just a great compounding of problems. With every possible saviour comes another problem, and just when one problem is solved, another problem shows up and shoves aunt Lysa out Chekhov's Moon Door.

Everyone involved in that little story point, from Favioli and Dickie to Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen, deserves props for the way they handled that little exchange. It's refreshing to know that there's no depth Littlefinger won't sink to, and Aidan Gillen is great at playing sleazy and prideful. That little smug smirk he gives whenever Littlefinger does something clever has made him the second most slappable face in Westeros after the late King Joffrey; Sophie Turner is able to keep Sansa sweet and kind, even hopeful, despite being as unlucky as a Thomas Hardy character. It's a tough balance to strike, because by all rights Sansa should have PTSD after all she's gone through, but it's her innate goodness that has allowed her to survive her accumulating traumas. That little kernel of hope she keeps hanging onto is what makes her such a sad character. At least Arya can run her tormentors through with Needle, but Sansa just takes her lumps and keeps smiling like Hot Pie during a discussion of gravy.

Some emotional torment, a ruthless fight scene with Arya and the Hound dispatching Biter and Rorge, the craziness of Littlefinger, and a new champion for the Lion of Lannister and the Queen Regent... even without adding in the fun of Brienne, Pod, and the returning Hot Pie and it would have been a great episode. It just goes without saying that everything's better with Hot Pie. It's always fun to have old friends return.

Game Of Thrones is taking a break next week and will return with episode 8 on Sunday the 1st in the US and Monday the 2nd of June in the UK.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, The Laws Of Gods And Men, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see that Hot Pie is back and that his baking skills are better than ever. More wolf cookies, please! A living Hot Pie gives me hope for a happy ending for Pod. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Great episode :)

What's with the upcoming gap? Is there a specific reason?

'Stark raving mad'? Ron. Ron. Ron. You didn't.

Next weekend is the Memorial Day holiday in the US, presumably that's why they're not showing an episode.

Perhaps they should do an Oscars style 'In Memoriam' role of all the dead characters since the show started. It would probably take up most, if not all, of the 50 minute run time. :P

For all the people I'd like to see dead in GoT, I think the new hosts of Thronecast would be the most satisfying.

Oberyn's story of meeting Tyrion was a great example of the show bringing out the books' vivid backstory and making it real to the viewer. It's something you don't get with other shows, and I for one am grateful the series' mythos is getting the treatment it deserves. Brilliant episode before what should be an incredible three week finale!

most brutal break up...ever.

I loved the fact that they moved it from a moment where Oberyn is making fun of Tyrion in the books, to an emotional moment when he is using it to convince Tyrion of his humanity. A truly genius move by the show!

Yay for Hot Pie! I think Hot Pie is one of the very few characters in Westeros who will have a happy ending. Making Pies and trying to get his Gravy right. I want to see a spin off featuring Hot Pie. The Great Westerosi Bake off

I think Ramsay could help us with that one

Why does a national day holiday in the US mean an episode won't be aired? If people aren't at work, doesn't that just translate into more views because more people aren't at home? In my country movies and tv shows airing on holiday days are over advertised! Is there a specific explanation?

Doesn't work that way in America. Episode 9 of season 2, Blackwater, aired on Memorial Day weekend and ratings dropped considerably for what was expected to be a record braking show. So last season and now this season they take a break over that holiday weekend.

Enjoyed Biter's half a second cameo neck-snap appearance. "Wait, was that Biter?" Oh. Yes. Yes it was. Guess he's not going to be chewing off Brienne's face. I can imagine the conversation with the actor:

"We want you to come back to reprise your role from season 2"
(gleefully)"That sounds fantastic"
"Yeah, well..er... it's a non-speaking part, but certainly something to get your teeth into.."
"Okay sure, where's my script and stage directions?"
"Er.....Just turn up. I've booked you a train for 10.30am and a cab for 10.41am. Wear brown."

Te last time they did it it was black water and the had a pretty significant drop in numbers. It sucks, but that's the way of it! But the last three episodes are going to be amazing, trust me on that. It will be worth the wait

Boo! No Hodor.

I second that one.

I find it interesting that Sky in the UK don't show a previously on (though we can still see who'll be in the episode from the credit sequence) - I guess they just assume everyone who cares is up to speed, or it would be too much to fit in? it's odd, though.

Excellent episode and the Oberyn & Tyrion scenes had me gripped, and I loved the "I will be your champion" hero shot too! It was good that the high drama in the Eyrie was counter played with the comedy of Brianne, Pod and Hotpie because without that to lighten the mood it would have been a really dark episode.

I'm also enjoying watching Littlefinger get crazier by the minute; particularly creepy ' you could have been my daughter / more beautiful than she ever was' kissing scene was a highlight. Only to then be topped by pushing mad Aunt Lysa out of her moonhole five minutes later!

Excellent television !

It's amazing how the backstory involving characters we've never met, and events we've never seen, feels as relevant and real as what's happening right now. You get the real sense that you've dropped into something that's been going on for millennia - this isn't a special time, it's how the game of thrones is always played (ok, bar some white walkers who have been gathering strength not seen for aeons!)

Maybe they'd increase their viewing figures if they actually aired it at the same time everywhere...hint hint.

The best performance of the episode for me was the gut stabbed and dieing farmer - he nailed that scene. Seriously I was really impressed with how he played that.

It reminded me of the bit in 'Wayne's world' where they have a small bit part (guy giving directions in a garage) and they wheel in Charlton Heston to do it, far better then that scene required, but all the better for it.

Really good review this week. Love 'Chekhov's Moon Door'.

I had to look up "Chekhov's Gun", but the world is a better place for me now that I did :)

Ever since I first heard the books were going to be made into a TV series I've been looking forward to this era of Arya/Hound, Baelish/Sansa, Brienne/Pod. This episode was a delicious "best of" of all three.

Last night's episode was an instant favourite for me. Pretty all I was hoping to see was there. This really was a book readers episode and I for one really loved it!

Loved all of this episode apart from the Melisandre scene. Yes it's GoT and it's only expected that there is gratuitous nudity once in a while, but it was a bit much don't you think?

loved loved loved this episode, best ep of the best season so far, best show on tv ever imo!

Hodor

the scene between Oberyn and Tyrion was the best written and acted scene in the series to date imo, the 'I will be your champion' line was slightly borderline cheesy but nonetheless the whole scene was superb, acting brilliant and overall amazing

One thing i noticed, don't know if any of the other book readers did, was a bit of foreshadowing when Oberyn was talking to Tyrion. At one point when he is sitting. a shadow on Oberyn's face look as though he only has one eye...

I wonder if that scene has much relevance for what is to come, maybe notable he was talking about balances and such, but yes great acting by that man right there

well that scene was followed up with the hound being bitten, and with the amount of attention given to that wound afterwards, I would guess there is a bit of foreshadowing there?

I was more talking about what is to come towards the finale of the whole show but yeah that wound did look nasty, feeling a bit sorry for the Hound these days, his re-telling of his brothers torture of him and subsequent actions of his dad protecting his brother was pretty sad viewing

Seeing Hot Pie again brought a tear to my eye... Brilliant episode!

i just read the part in the books where oberyn and tryion have that conversation and was delighted at how the show utilised it
for me last nights episode was the best of the season thus far, no bulls**t, just pure thrones

It would be great if the US ratings system stopped depending so much on actual time viewings (Nielsen, I believe) and took into account DVR, later showings and international ratings as well. In this day and age, no one has the time or energy to watch everything on the first showing however good it is.

Personally I never turn my TV on anymore but watch everything on catch up and know a lot of people who do the same and this constant hiatus / weeks off situation is frustrating at best (they don't do that here in the UK at all).

I take it he loses an eye then???...cheers for that

Are you gay?

The great Irish actor Barry McGovern there. He's a massive fan of Beckett and his turn in Waiting for Godot is considered one of the best performances in that play. I believe one of the showrunners was a Beckett scholar in Trinity College so probably no coincidence Barry was chosen.

That's interesting to know - thanks for that.

To be honest, in hindsight I didn't mind there being a gap, as it was the Red Wedding that skipped the week, and had it not, I would've been sat alone at University, in an empty house, on my birthday. The week gap allowed me to be home with my family, therefore several shoulders to cry on and free food.

people on here need to stop doing that, 2nd time in as many weeks

Maybe they could still go ahead and air it in the UK. We'd be ahead for a change ... Please? Pretty please?

Agreed. Shut up about future happenings, thanks very much.

...says the fellow with the furry penis avatar. :-)

Cheesy, yes. It was a great episode, but the whole 'Oberyn will fight Gregor' thing was completely inevitable once Gregor was named Cersei's champion. Everyone knows the crimes Gregor committed to earn Oberyn's undying animosity. So if Cersei or her pops express any surprise or anger at Oberyn choosing to stand for Tyrion it will make this whole duel intrigue even more cheesy. By the standards of the story, you would really have to guess that in naming the Mountain the Lannisters are scheming to try and rid themselves of Oberyn as well.

Yeah I found it unnecessary. She is a hottie but why was it needed for the scene? Just for the T?

Maybe he does maybe he doesn't... Maybe you should read the books

Or maybe I want to watch the show, like I have from the beginning, to see how things pan out, without some twat spoiling things every second!!

So I've now learned a bit more about Chekhov and about Waiting for Godot....you Game of Thrones fans, what is it with all your drama breadth?? You'll be giving fantasy a good name at this rate.

I thought it was rather tame by GoT standards! The scene showed the power play between the two women which I really enjoyed. Although most people were probably looking at Carice van Houten's unbelievably perky boobs, I was watching Tara Fitzgerald. She barely said a word, but her face as she silently compares herself to Melisandre and comes up wanting was a masterclass in acting.

Without being contentious I would avoid any threads about GOT then as too many people have read the books and it is quite easy to forget that others have not. These stories have been in many people's heads for years so it might not feel like they are that revealing.

Surprised the book spoiler nazis didn't jump on that one ...

Is it just me who didn't recognise The Mountain or realise that it was The Mountain upon his reintroduction. He was not referred to by name in that scene and I am not sure we have ever seen his face properly before. But the idea of The Imp vs The Mountain sword fight is a brilliant one.

I watch on Sky catchup and I'm glad there's no Previously sequence. I do struggle sometimes though to remember things from 10 or 11 episodes ago!

And the actual pie he made looked damned good too!

Cersei calls him "Ser Gregor".

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