Game Of Thrones season 4 episode 8 review: The Mountain And The Viper

Review Ron Hogan 2 Jun 2014 - 08:31

This week's Game Of Thrones features spectacular one-on-one fight and a shed load of heartbreak...

This review contains spoilers.

4.8 The Mountain And The Viper

The ultimate theme of Game Of Thrones, or I guess of A Song Of Ice And Fire as well, is that there's no such thing as a happy ending. Fighting and dying, marrying, bleeding, joining together and breaking apart... it's all about as useful as beetles getting smashed in the garden and you can do about as much to stop it. The hand of fate comes down, soft innards get scattered across a killing floor courtesy of a giant. However, the broken heads are perhaps less damaging than the broken hearts, and there are a lot of those going on.

The fight scene that gives this episode its name, between the Mountain That Rides and the Red Viper of Dorne, is not just a matchup between two of the coolest nicknames in Westeros, it's also a match-up between two of the deadliest fighters in the Seven Kingdoms. Not that we've seen the Dornish involved in any of the conflicts of the War of Five Kings, or had much experience with them at all during our time in Westeros. However, with the introduction of Oberyn Martell and Elleria Sand, we got a brief look into Dornish style, Dornish morals, and Dornish fighting in one of the most impressive moments of the series as far as one-on-one fights go.

The Mountain, as played by hulking Icelandic power-lifter Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, is nothing but crushing instinct, all brawn and no brains. The other, the deft and delicate Oberyn Martell as played by Pedro Pascal, is a combination of showiness and skill, using speed and the reach advantage of a spear to his benefit. It was a beautiful contrast of styles courtesy of show swordmaster and stuntman C.C. Smiff and Pascal's stuntman Liang Yang, who is presumably some sort of wu shu master given the way the spear was used during the fight. Styles make fights, as they say in the boxing game, and the styles of these two fighers made the trial by combat for Tyrion Lannister one of the show's more entertaining moments. With every bite of the spear, the Viper seemed more and more likely to win, and yet... and yet, his obsession blinded him to the job at hand.

It's a brilliant, crushing moment from Dan Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the writers of this week's episode. Just when you think it's going the way everyone wants—the way that suggests there is truly justice in the world—the episode ends with the one-two punch of Oberyn's demise and Tyrion's death sentence, communicated impressively through a variety of reaction shots throughout the fight. Cersei's queasiness turns to joy; Jaime's amusement turns sour. Tyrion's joy turnes to ashes in his mouth, and Elleria's heart is ripped out of her chest as her paramour's skull explodes between the ham-like fists of a giant.

Strangely, that's not even the biggest downer of the episode. Tyrion's death sentence is nothing compared to the heartbreak of when Jorah Mormont, the man who turned down his freedom and a chance to end the Targaryan dynasty, turned it all down to serve his queen and secret love interest. Betrayed by a letter from (presumably) Tywin Lannister, Jorah's life gets turned upside down and he goes from advising a powerful warlord to have another powerful warlord as an enemy. That means Jorah is 0-2 in pleasing kings, though the current king in Westeros has little to do with anything it appears.

It's crushing to see Jorah reduced so low, and to raise such ire in his queen that she refuses to look at him; the whole scene is brilliantly staged by director Alex Graves, to provike maximum sympathy for Jorah from the first interruption from Barristan to his wholly unsatisfying banishment. Graves also does a great job, with a sweeping long take into the doors of a Moletown brothel, at establishing that Gilly's so-called sanctuary is anything but a good place to raise a baby. It might be warm and relatively dry before the wildlings show up and put every one of them, whore and customer alike, to the spear, but it's definitely not a good place to be.

That Gilly and Sam survive this ordeal, for now, is one of the rare kindnesses of the episode. At least Missandei and Grey Worm got to advance their cute little romance (as cute as it can be for a eunuch to romance a woman) before that all ends. That was, a few moments of black comedy involving the Lannister brothers and Arya apart, the only lighter moment in the episode. The break for the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US provided a gap in between the break-up of the Bronn/Tyrion gravy train and the disollution of one of the show's original pairings, Jorah and Dany. Perhaps no match, no matter how perfect, can survive the meat grinder that is the game of thrones.

I'm not sure I could have handled so much depressing, heart-wrenching stuff in short chronological order like that. For the second episode in a row, Game Of Thrones has been brutal, brilliant television, handled with a grace and style that few television shows can match, all without lessening its impact on the viewer. To think, all this incredible television, and we're still not to the ninth episode of the season. If this is the lead-up to the traditional craziest episode of the season, what must that particular episode contain?

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Mockingbird, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is not sure what's going to be next; all he knows is that it is going to be bad for everyone he cares about in TV land. Such is the nature of the game, after all. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Smashy smashy egg face

Honestly, I think that, for the last three episodes, Game of thrones has performed at a level far beyond anything I've seen on TV. Ep 6 and Ep 7 were filled with some of the most dramatically amazing moments of the series- Tyrion's Trial, "I will be your champion", Littlefinger pushing Lysa, etc. This episode is the out-of-this world culmination of what those episodes built up, truly one of the greatest hours of the show.

If this season so far is any indication, the battle on the wall that will take up the whole of next episode will be beyond anything we've ever seen on TV (at least battle wise).

One of the best episodes of GoT yet! Totally amazing from start to finish.
I was wondering why they spent so much time on Tyrions beetle story but looking back, it perfectly related to the theme and conclusion of the episode and perhaps the show and book and even life itself...that maybe there is no answer or reason

Use of music was pretty perfect. As Oberyn brings the mountain to his knees, a quiet calm melody of justice sets in... I was ecstatic that the Viper would live on...

Alas GOT does what it does best. It is devastating that there won't be any more Cersei Oberyn interaction; gotta give it to Pedro though, Outstanding brief performance, and still looks more beautiful than the majority of humans, with a mangled face!

Maybe this is just me, but I thought the skull-crushing veered across the line into comedy. Still an awesome episode though. The sad thing is, after the next couple of episode, we're into all the tedious stuff where nothing interesting happens for ages. Season 5 is in danger of becoming GoT's Sam & Frodo in the Dead Marshes. I hope they have a plan to avoid that.

I'll miss Obi. It was a great performance though!

Can we talk Sansa Stark here. From beaten child bride to the master (or mistress) manipulator I think she is going to become in later books. As Cersei said a woman's power is between her legs and Sansa now knows Baelish's obsession with her/her mother and the power she has over him. He thinks he's in control but I think Sansa is learning how to play the game.

Hmmm.. mixed emotions on this one. The theme, as I saw it, was a juxtaposed 'bad things happen because life isn't fair' vs 'we bring these bad things upon ourselves with our behaviour' (Tyrion (his whole life), Oberyn (thirst for revenge), The Mountain (evil killer had it coming), The Hound (failed ransom due to his greed), The Whore (you get what you deserve?) Jorah (his betrayal)... again in Tyrion's 'life is unexplainable' Beetle speech ('nobody knows why')...these things happen... does it make us the way we are, or is it the other way..? classic chicken and egg palindrome....

A lot the ep was a bit heavy handed though, and almost amateurishly acted at times... that said, a GREAT performance by Sophie Turner this week, wow... turning Sansa into a lying coy-sex kitten in the space of ONE episode, really great furtive looks and 'acting' (such a contrast with the often wooden, monotone Emilia Clarke). Just 'my opinion'. Also good work by Iain Glen.

Agree on that Sansa!!!

It's just you, I found it horrific. Maybe you're overly desensitised to violence.

For some reason during the fight I kept hearing in my mind "hello my name is indigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die"

The letter is from TYWIN, not tyrion that exposes Jora as a spie.

look, human with the iq of a beetle.

No, it;s great but has not reached the heights and complexities of the wire, Breaking bad, sopranos.

some typos:

Martell, Targaryen, Barristan,

"Betrayed by a letter from (presumably) Tyrion Lannister, Jorah's life gets turned upside down and he goes from advising a powerful warlord to have another powerful warlord as an enemy. "

I think you mean Tywin Lannister and not Tyrion.

That was so totally bad ass. And so much better handled than in the book. This scene actually rivaled the closing fight imo. Sophie Turner was astonishing!

Wow nothing about Sansa or Petyr and your entire post full of spelling errors. Are you 9 years old or something?

Having not read the books, I was gullible enough to feel a glimmer of
hope that Oberyn was going to win outright and Tyrion would live, only
to have it crushed in the most brutal way possible. And that look on
Tyrion's face afterwards, that "ARE YOU FCUKING KIDDING ME?" look, was
so beyond perfect. It was also a subtle stroke of genius that they began
the closing credits with about a minute of pure silence, just words on
the screen, leaving viewers with nothing but their own immediate
thoughts and reactions to what they just saw.

On a separate note, my favorite GOT character, Arya Stark, still provided my favorite moment of the episode with her fantastic laughing at the news of Lysa's death.

When all is said and done for GOT, this won't just be remembered as one of
the best episodes this season, but one of the best episodes in the show's entire run. A+


A slightly quieter series giving a greater insight to the mind and madness of Cersei wouldn't be terrible even if that was what happened. Plus they'll drag out the events at the wall with Mance's attack for quite a while, meaning lots of fighting (if minimal hand-to-hand). And although I never cared much for Victarion and Euron in the books (perhaps because I just never gelled with their way of thinking, so may have found the same events from a different POV more enjoyable), the Iron Islanders might translate well to the screen as they accelerate their conquest. Some battles on the sea would be something different for the series- Blackwater was more of a slaughter with actual fighting mostly limited to the land. As we are introduced to Quentyn Martell there will be scope for seeing him and his friends in some battles while posing as sell swords.

I agree with the comment above that the skull-crushing was more horrific than comedic- eye-gouging in particular is one type of violence to which I'm not completely desensitised.

I never understood why Gilly was moved to Moletown. They knew there were wildlings south of the wall who were going to make their bloody way back towards Castle Black. The failure to react at all to that threat so far is one of the few points where I'm annoyed they didn't more rigidly follow the books. but I suppose (SPOILERS) that they wanted to drag out the attack from the south so next series can focus on the attack from the north to help pad out series 5 better

I think we will only see the southern attack on the wall. Mance's advance from the north will wait for next series.

Pure ecstacy man! This show cannot be compared with anything on t.v right now in my opinion to be honest. Pity it's only 10 episodes.


This word... I do not think it means what you think it means.

Also there's a difference between a "sex-kitten" and a young woman who uses her looks to gain an advantage over another person. As for amateurish acting... where? What? The only example that comes to mind is the guy who plays The Mountain, who also seems to lack any training in how to use a sword (which is odd considering Pedro Pascal was trained in moving with a spear). Unless you mean Emilia Clarke, in which case we must be watching two entirely different Emilia Clarkes.

Palindrome - a thing whose meaning can interpreted the same way from both directions. The point I was making is how the episode deigns that 'people can arrive at a situation from two different directions; by chance/fate, or by will/choice, but end up at the same destination, having travelled the same route, regardless of which it was'. I think that qualifies as palindromic in the context. But, of course you may not. In which case, you'd be wrong. :)

Bad acting examples in this show:

The whore at the start (complete cut out character, overacted), that entire segment was trite and obvious 'The Rains Of Castermere, The Bear And The Maiden Fair'.. jesus guys, we know the songs, yeah?
Ramsey Snow (pretty much constantly, good job)
Emila Clarke (yes, that one, sorry)
And yes.. the Mountain... well... I'll let you off there. He's the only one of the actors playing Gregor Clegane who's actually had proper lines so... Besides which, he won't have many more.

I'll concede 'sex kitten' was perhaps an exaggeration. But a colloquialism, at that; I really meant what you meant.

(e.g. - 'sex kitten'. :))

A palindrome is just a word or phrase that is the same with the letters reversed. You're using the word wrong.

Also, you're really pretentious.

Cheers Maxy, here's to trying to perform some analysis on a layered, creative product and getting labelled 'pretentious' for bothering.


'A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of symbols or elements, whose meaning may be interpreted the same way in either forward or reverse direction'

"SEQUENCE OF ELEMENTS whose meaning may be interpreted the same way in either forward or reverse direction". You've heard of 'metaphors' and 'anology', right, and applying it to literature and television? Never mind, mate. Never mind.

..liked your 'Princess Bride' reference btw.

Watch it at STREAMLANDIA w/o downloading

Nope- both are confirmed for this episode. Did you see the mammoth leg in the preview?

No, I agree that fight scene conclusion left me a bit sick, and I've been to war. The Viper deserved a better death than that....

Sam didn't know that when he put her there. He thought she would be safer in a place where men had access to other women rather than just Castle Black, where she was the only target.

You really need to tone down the puns. I don't know how many times the words "crush" and "crushing" were thrown around in this review, but everytime I read it, I relived the moment. Which was not very pleasant.

I completely agree =(

I'm desensitized and even I found it horrific - mainly because he immediately become my favourite character in that scene alone and BAM... he died straight away. That was so crushing... no pun intended.

How do they surpass themselves every single
episode this season, which began with none other than Joffrey’s death!?

My favorite scene was Sansa’s. I mean WOW!
Such badassness, a perfect stroke of genius and masterfully acted by Sophie
Turner. Much better than the scapegoat in the book. Does her sudden change in
appearance and demeanor mean she did Littlefinger, or she’s simply embracing
her new role? And by the way, for those who don’t know, she was wearing Lysa’s
clothes. Creepy.

The whole thing with Gilly in the brothel;
I’m pretty sure it’s all to build sympathy for Ygritte because of what is
coming (it’s not winter).

Loved how Tyrion lets his beetle live. I
interpreted this as foreshadowing. The whole speech about his life, how pretty
much everyone beats him down for no apparent reason. And I think Jamie got it.

Dany… so many times in movies, TV shows and
books, characters get in trouble simply for not being honest and speaking their
mind. Again here with Jorah, he could’ve spilled his guts to Barristan (bit of
a jerk imo, he deserves better treatment) and perhaps avoid the outcome.
Thankfully, what is supposed to happen much later in the Song is awesome…

Jon… I know he gets off his butt soon, but
why did he send a ranging party to Craster’s to maybe kill a bunch of deserters
and traitors, but he wouldn’t, at least, let Sam go and save Gilly?

Finally, the fight. Am I the only one who
was whistling the Sith theme from The Phantom Menace during Oberyn’s prancing?
It was the same bloody technique; I actually thought Ray Park was his stunt
double for this fight. And again, when the ego takes over, so does Evil.

2 episodes left and at least 4 major deaths…
and hopefully THE epilogue... Can’t wait!

Watching Oberyn scream as his eyes were gouged was worse than the Red Wedding. Gut-wrenching stuff. And I knew it was coming, too.


Yeah, I agree. The tug-of-war over Tommen will be interesting to watch, as that's very political and subtle. Looking forward to more characters appearing at the Wall and across the Narrow Sea too. Can't wait to meet the Sand Snakes and Arianne. The Dorne story is probably my favourite, especially with Quentyn Martell's bit in it. Looking forward to Connington's introduction. My pick for him would be Kevin McKidd, from HBO's Rome, as well as Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers. When I read his parts, I picture Kevin McKidd in the role.

It's an open homage to that scene.

It looks like Sansa is finally getting something more interesting than simple crying all the time. Her character development in this episode was the most intriguing.

It was indeed.

The beetle story was great - positioning the story of the cousin killing beetles against Tyrion gently playing with the beetle and letting it scurry away. You could see Jaime realizing how his brother had a good heart (naive maybe) worrying about all those beetles.

Thanks for kinda giving future events away though, do you have to make hints? :/


1. AccessTV. info/

2. on any device

3. all top events


1. AccessTV. info/

2. on any device

3. all top events.

I was careful not to spoil, but leave it open for speculation. If I did spoil, for anyone, I humbly apologize (and I can't edit).

The Viper just picked up the idiot ball. It was a truly contrived scene. Like The Viper wouldn't have thought to literally disarm The Mountain. Poor plotting and comical dispatching. Sure The Mountain is strong, but to crush a human head, while his guts spill out all over the floor? Dumb.

Cool Ep dialogue/prop highlight goes to The Hound: "I'm not the bloody wine taster". Takes MASSIVE swig of wine.

I'm quite shocked ^^'
by nearly everything in this episode.
Thankfully, there was Arya's laugh to cheer me up

Agreed. My stomach is still in a bit of a turmoil... it was SO violent, in spite of that I knew what will happen from the books.

You could have said paradox/self-contradictory/interdependency...etc, but you thought you sound more clever by saying palindrome. Which is wrong, palindrome implies symmetry, not conflict.

Thats the most brutal death ive seen on the show don't know why its affected me so much.

From what I remember from the book I don't think it was the same

Oh right, was Jon not back from his time time with the wildlings at that point then?

Excellent telepathy, and / or understanding of my psyche and concious thought pattern. Whatever it may 'imply' to you, the simple fact is, the definition, as per the internet, reads:

'A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of symbols or elements, whose meaning may be interpreted the same way in either forward or reverse direction' I have extrapolated. My point was that these people, whether by their own choice, or because of fate, find themselves at the same place, regardless. That fate decides, no matter what you choose - be it trial by combat, death by Mule-kicking (great line), surviving a Wildling attack by chance or .. as one great piece of foreshadowing in the episode goes puts it 'we're all going to die one day, whether it's... or sitting on the chamberpot" . That no matter the order of the events or the motivations of the characters, the end destination is often unfathomable and random. It's the palindrome of the CHOICES that, whichever way they are arranged, all lead to the same place. Anyway, nevermind. :)

Surely the Mountain died too, right? Spear to the chest and all. So if both champions are dead, is it a draw and must they find another two champions? I haven't read this far yet, so I'm confused (and seriously pissed off that Oberyn is dead).

It's funny, because I saw an interview with Benioff and Weiss where they talked about a scene in series one where a guy gets a lance rammed through his throat then lies on the ground with blood spurting out of his mouth and they felt that had crossed the line into comedy, whereas I didn't feel that at all, but with this I did.

I think maybe it's because with this, maybe the effects didn't entirely convince me, or perhaps that it's so obviously not happening that it broke the suspension of disbelief for me.

Perhaps it's a bit like the theory that the reason people get so upset when they see a dog die in a film is because, on some level, you can believe in the death of an animal more than you can in the death of a person.

For whatever reason, I didn't entirely believe in the skull-crushing, so it ended up seeming funny rather than horrifying. I've seen plenty of things that were less objectively horrific that bothered me more, so I don't think it's an issue of being desensitised to violence.

was it just me who thought the writers of this episode were being slightly playful in foreshadowing events to come during the dialogue of Petyr Baelish to Lysa's son Robin and also with Tyrion while chatting to his brother about the names of different titles for killing ...trying to be not too specific and give away spoilers but if you watch the scenes and know what is to come book wise then when you rewatch the scenes with this knowledge then it seems very intentional by the writers

No I don't always bother with previews. That does surprise me, as they've taken the time to show us little bits of the small force behind the wall but nothing other than talk about the large force beyond the wall.

I'm a bit disappointed that the bits at the wall are different to the books, with Thorne and Slynt apparently going to be present for the attacks. I liked the way they victimised Jon upon their return to Castle Black in the books, even though he had played a key part in the defence of the wall. Also the way that in the books Jon almost immediately had the chance to prove himself (following his 'desertion') to those open-eyed enough to see it, and that the wall seemed to have far less time to prepare adequately.

don staples has had no dick to suck today hence why he is so grummpy and keeps trolling cheer up don im sure business will pick up soon till then jog on

Ah, nope, when Oberyn died, the Mountain was alive, so that's it, no matter how grave are Clegane's injuries (trying not to spoiler anything)

Actually the book was almost the same, But of course, seeing this depicted so graphically.... was shocked, and I still am.

I’ll just respond here.

I completely agree. I’m actually still shocked!

My emotions survived the red wedding, Joffrey’s funky wine, Ned’s move to Sleepy Hollow. But this was a bit too brutal for my taste (and I never enjoy a-holes winning a fight.)

Maybe it was because this was the first time events weren’t spoiled to me. Quite the new experience.

yeah I guess that makes sense. They'd have to have died at the same moment, and clearly Oberyn was dead first. yuck.

A palindrome, as I’ve always been taught, is a word or phrase that can be read backwards and forwards. Like madam or (I had to look one up, not being English…)
"A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!".

So more a technical term concerning the arrangement of letters, (in my humble opinion therefore) not a suitable term for exploring narrative structures or textual meanings. I
think the term ‘fate’ is more appropriate.

Having just finished ploughing my way through all of The Wire, I have to say I disagree. It was good but nowhere near the quality of GoT. It compares very favourably to BB, I'd say equally as complex.

I'm with the others on this. A palindrome is simply a word that reads the same backwards and forwards. At a stretch you could poetically call your scenario palindromic, but it's not a palindrome.

Does anyone else feel as mentally violated as I do? Easily the most graphic violence I've ever seen on TV; a slot knocking Irreversible (French film, pretty bleak with a traumatic opening) down to 2nd place

A palindrome is a word, phrase, sentence or any other collection of letters that READS the same forwards and backwards. There's not a thing about the meaning of it or any room for interpretation at all.... Are you seriously using Wikipedia as a source?


That's not the definition, that's the first line of a wikipedia page that happens to be badly written. I have corrected it now.

If you say something is palindromic, you are implying that it surface appearance, not it's meaning, is exactly the same either side of a mid-point. i.e. that it is has reflectional symmetry. This doesn't really lend itself to metaphor, hence why it is rarely used as one. I suppose you could say it of climbing up and then down a mountain or something similar, but generally in drama things tend to finish at a peak.

If the end destination is random, do they all actually end in the same place? Chaos isn't a single place and fate can't decide by chance. You're confusing the point by trying to say that these things actually co-exist.

I think the point you want to make is simpler than what you've stated. It's not that fate and chaos are two sides of the same coin (or palindrome if you must), It's that human experience has an inherent cognitive dissonance between the two. We want to believe that good things that happen to us happened for a reason and bad things happen to us by chance. By being given narratives that explore both perspectives simultaneously, we are led to question the limits of either view.

I still think this would make for trite critical analysis, but at least it would make sense. Personally I think the point is just to subvert the contrived narrative tropes we are used to just for the fun of it.

Sorry my bad, I changed that. He was quoting the original.

Although i'll agree this guy is coming across as incredibly confrontational and could well do with y'know, agreeing that he might not know everything - it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to refer to his scenario as palindromic. Songwriters regularly take advantage of palindromic chord sequences which are called such. Although the word has popular ties to literacy, it's flexible.

Yeah your right I went and checked it out. Rewatched it again and no far to much, tho peter dinklage face is award winning alone

Agreed it's the worse moment so far shown. I didn't even like him that much

The trial is decided by who dies first - that's made clear in the books, if not in the TV series as far as I can remember. There are further repercussions, but the show makes it clear that Tyrion has lost.


It was pretty clear that Oberyn didn't want to risk the mountain dying before he could confess - cutting an arm or two off could easily have been enough to finish him too early, even without the benefit of hindsight. Dumb maybe, but we're given a pretty credible explanation as to why the Red Viper could have won the fight earlier, but chose not to.

watch full episode at Stream32com

For shock factor it's right up there with red wedding

I just watched it. F**king incredible! I knew something bad was going to happen at the end of that fight when Oberyn got complacent and didn't finish off his opponent, but I had no idea it was going to be that graphic. Khan did something similar to Admiral Marcus in ST Into Darkness, but this time it showed the "result" after it was done.

My mouth is still hanging open, my shellshocked expression the same as Tyrion's right at the end. The good people seem to keep on dying horribly and the Lannisters just keep on winning, when is that going to change? For me this episode was right up there with the red wedding in terms of shock.

I'm a little surprised that it seems so unlikely given that Oberyn's arrogance, his drinking before the fight, his overwhelming anger and his motivation for not wanting to kill The Mountain outright are all shown quite overtly.

If anything, him behaving cautiously, as you describe, would probably be odder.

The ninth episode is basically 102 men of the Night's Watch at the Wall, with 100,000 Wildlings coming, and what happens to them. No other storylines will be involved - its 'Blackwater' redux basically.

Thats as it is in the books - Mance's Army approaches as rumour and speculation, until it arrives

If he died second, he won.

I agree. I have read the books and knew what was coming but I thought the makers and Pascal created this character you thought would have such an important role in things, he was so layered and yet it seemed there was more to find out and then agghhhhh crushed skull. I thought they did it all so well.

In some ways more complex. There are more characters and part and parcel of GOT is whats going on off screen as well. BrBa was brilliant but didn't have the same levels of intrigue. All fantastic shows though no matter what order you rank them.

Yeah it's like when Rocky climbed the ropes he won.

a palindrome is simply a word or phrase which is symmetrical and reads the same forwards and backwards - e.g. the name "hannah", "madam" or the phrase "don't nod".

other than that i agree with you.

I really liked Victarian in the books. Not his character per se but that whole making his way to Dany and taking ships along the way story I quite liked. I do think that will translate quite well.

i'm surprised to see a lot of people - book readers especially - complaining about the skull crushing being too graphic.
i had no issue with it whatsoever...and to readers complaining about it and saying things like "that's not how i imagined it" - it was literally exactly the same as in the book!!! what exactly were you even expecting???...

Yep. I was on to it too but shhhhh the book readers have to be nice.


I'm assuming you haven't read the books. Firstly, the mountain is supposed to be incredibly strong, like beyond normal human levels. He weilds a 2 handed sword with one hand that other men can't even lift and wears impossibly heavy armour. So yes, yes he can crush a skull.

Secondly, the whole point was that Oberyn was obsessed with getting a confession. If he wasn't he would have just killed him straight away, but he purposely didn't kill him cause he needed the confession. Oberyn was always supposed to be flamboyant and showoffish, it fits with his character.

Yeah, I just didn't enjoy reading from his POV for some reason, even though he was actually a good character (at least in terms of the events he goes through) with an interesting outlook. The TV show allowing you step outside of characters will really benefit him (for me anyway).

but with big f**king giants, a 3 way battle, and i think i saw some woolly mammoth feet in that trailer too!!!

He has that middle brother issue that a few characters have but it's more hinted than said outright. Asha is much better in the book I feel. Perhaps she just hasn't had enough time yet.

Cersei and Tywin seem to keep on getting their way, it's getting ridiculous now. Something needs to happen soonish to wipe the smug looks off their faces.

Also, naked Misandei. Hooray for unecessary TV nudity.

Haven't read the books so had no idea what was coming. That said it been
GOT's I should have known better re how the final battle would end since
they love to wrong foot the unwary! Good gory stuff which reminded me of a certain
scene in ‘28 Days Later’ - what a truly horrendous way to go.

I agree entirely (except for dog over human sympathy).

While i was watching all i kept thinking was stab him in the hands to make sure kick his sword away and pierce his knees. All of this would keep him alive and have the added effect of torture to make him more likely to beg for death and confess.

Watch Game of Thrones S04xE08 recap! http://x . co/4l8W9

Watch Game of Thrones S04xE08 recap! http://x . co/4l8W9

I'm in agreement there - thus far Sansa has been the weakest character in the entire show for me, and I struggled to feel sorry for her as she was so gosh darn annoying. BUT the actress turned in a brilliant performance this week, and had me firmly rooting for her.
Christ, I love this show...

They made light of the Ser Jorah / Dany break up. It's a shame; this is actually one of the most important plot points of the series and they did not do it the justice it deserved, focusing more on Tyrion's plight. Not that I didn't enjoy last night's episode, or perhaps it's because everyone's focus is on Tyrion that they don't realise that Ser Jorah / Dany is a major bust up.

The closing death reminded me of Tim Messenger, but without the church stone masonry problem.

I saw it as Tyrion trying to prolong the moment he was having with the one person left he could count on, knowing that he could be about to die. It was well acted but I don't think it had much of a subtext, other than perhaps alluding to the lack of reason for the mountain's violence: it's just what he does, you can but watch with fascination. It could also be a callback to Rickon grinding away the table with his stone. Either way, we could see how much Tyrion would rather spend the time reminiscing with his brother than attending the trial when the bells rang.

I agree!! So ridiculous. I almost punched my tv screen after watching this episode. Couldn't we have that? Couldn't we get the Mountain? He's not even a major character.
I'm conflicted, I don't know if I want to continue watching, they small pay-offs (Joffrey's disappointing death) isn't worth the utter heartbreak.

Absolutely. I was kind of sort of expecting it, because it is GoT after all, but I was not expecting THAT.

Will Arya and the Hound still go in though or are they just going to turn around and leave, because I need a Stark reunion soon if I'm going to survive any longer. On the other hand Sansa will probably have the Hound killed if she sees him, so maybe it's better if they leave.


Thanks everyone for this very entertaining thread!! I actually laughed out loud a few times...
"Also, you're really pretentious" hahahaha

Thanks Ash, I definitely do not know everything, or quite possibly, anything whatsoever. :)

That is why I LOVE DoG! Okay, look, you guys win. I made a 'mistake'. :P See you all next week!!!

I knew what was going to happen but it was still gut wrenching, the guy who played Oberyn is so good he has become a much loved character in ONE SEASON!!!! It was his screams that tore me up!

What I took from it is that even the lowest of the low, be it a whore bullying a scared mum to a lackwit crushing beetles to the strongest man in the country doing what he loves best everyone has an innate desire to crush, or control, those that they see as beneath them.
Its a cold hard world in the Seven Kingdoms.

Which makes the fact that he himself was crushed by a horse all the more ironic...

If I remember correctly he saved her more than once so chances are she would have a soft spot for him.

Another iconic moment in another fantastic episode in a series that has been full of both. I was worried at around episodes 3-5 that the season had become a bit slow. I have never been so wrong.

What, so far, has given you ANY indication this will change?
You are superimposing modern morals (good guys always win, right?) into this created where world where we have been shown time and again that it just isn't the case.

You bombard a drab mob with palindromic understanding?

Tyrion's hopeful face as he dared to think that the Red Viper might actually win only to have his hopes dashed - the look of disappointment and shock he had at the end was brilliant - excellent Peter Dinklage episode - so much portrayed with just a subtle look. I will miss Oberyn - great character.

Also, BB didn't have anywhere near as many characters or plot threads

Now I know how I'd feel if the six-fingered man had won.

The Hound saved Sansa from being raped that one time back in King's Landing so no I don't think she would ever do that.

Somebody please tell me I'm not the only person who did a little girly whimpered "" when Oberyn got his head mashed?
I think this has surpassed the Red Wedding for levels of personal trauma suffered. I'd spent the last 2 weeks justifying in my head why Oberyn would win, how it was better for the plot of the whole show etc etc, and then.....gutted.
Brilliant TV, though I feel I have a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to GoT

*Warning possible spoilers*

To book readers. Was anyone else a bit disappointed with the quickness the events at the Eyrie have taken place?

Not got this far in the books yet, but I was actually dreading to watch this episode. Was hoping Oberyn would survive and be Tyrion's champion and wipe that smug look off Cersei's face, but well, Game Of Thrones being Game Of Thrones, the inevitable happens. Dang it!

Mentally violated would be stretching it, but I must say that, although I can really stomach quite a bit, I thought this went a bit over the edge. I'm all for functional and graphic violence or nudity (and sex), but this was just gratuitous.

Joffrey's death was a huge change.

Also, I don't see how it seems to people that the Lannisters keep on winning. If anything, for me, it seems like this season is leading up to the deterioration of the Lannister clan. Whatever happens, they will never be the same again. If Tyrion dies, while Tywin and Cersei might get their wish, but Jaime will never comply with them. Not a functioning unit anymore but a disjointed shadow of the once powerful family. Also, I'm pretty sure Oberyn's death will have severe repurcussions from Dorne, probably next season.

Oh god, it was definitely horrific! I think that image has been seared onto my brain, it's there haunting me, even 14 hours after the event.

Disappointed? Not really. But I do wonder how the things are going to work out with some of the plot lines ending S4 at the end of book three (Lannisters, Jon, Stannis, Arya), some well into books four and five (Dany, Brienne, Theon) and two darned near the end of books four and five (Bran and Sansa). Fortunately, Winds of Winter should be released before next season airs, so this hyper-advanced Sansa plot shouldn't spoil anything.

You want to keep watching. Trust me. Episode 10 is going to be all that and then some. Assuming the final scene is the book three epilogue...oh please please pretty please!

Naah. They can't fit everything else into E10. There's certainly E10 scenes at the Wall, King's Landing, with Bran, and (let it be!) the epilogue. They can't touch base with all the other non-Wall plotlines within what is left. At minimum, we will have a lengthy Arya scene in E9.

I don't think that is an issue, as Martin does the same things in the book with prophecies and clever wording. The Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, the book three epilogue, certain theories about someone's mother, the gravedigger...dear Lord, can that author hide stuff in plain sight.

I thought it was handled pretty competently. What more did you want from it?

Although I would agree that I didn't feel as rocked by this in the episode as I did when reading it, I think (given the reviewer's own response) this may be because I was expecting it. Also, unlike some of the other moments this episode, a lot more of the emotional force of it is conveyed internally through Dany's feelings (almost by way of a commentary on the way Jorah handles the issue so badly and forces her to expel him) and that is always more difficult to show on screen. I would agree, though, that a post-Jorah's leaving reaction shot from Dany would have been a nice touch, rather than just showing Jorah leaving by himself. Still an effective scene, though, and you've got to feel for them both (her for being betrayed by her most trusted friend and him for the sins of his past ending whatever future he may have had).

No one knows when GRRM will be done, but the most common prediction is the first half of next year. He's traveling less and writing more.

SPOILER -------------- Let's just say that he ain't called "The Viper" for nothin'...

i also felt it was a little daft, the mountain had a spear through his chest, not sure how anyone (even him) could survive that let alone have the strength to kill a man with their bare hands, let's be honest though it's not the first time the t.v. series has dropped the ball this season
i don't know how it happens in the books as i haven't read that far yet

"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention..."

The show has skipped certain things that they can plug into next season to avoid some of the wandering. It won't be all Feast of Crows. It will have other books mixed in because a lot of stuff in different books was still taking place at the same time as the others. Not worried.

If there's a plot hole in this episode this is it. What happened?

Keep watching. The Littlefinger and the Hound have a killer sex scene coming up. totally unexpected..oops, sorry..*SPOILERS*

So the book will be out soonish? Tell me more!

Even I knew what was coming, I was kind of hoping that the screenwriter would do the same what they did with Jamie and his sister at their sons coffin. Change the storyline. But I got disappointed. Obyrin got smashed like it was written before. Brilliant fighting scene and "really Oberyn! You should have talked less and killed him how you was supposed to do". Now, the Mountain is dying a long taking death in agony because Oberyns blade is always poisened. But that is how the Red Viper wanted it to be.

It's not gratuitous. They establish how sadistical The Mountain is. This is a character we barely see on the show, one of the few we don't really know. Sure, he chopped off his horse's head in season 1 and we heard of him from Sandor, but this is the first we see just how brutal this beast is. It's also a counter to Oberyn's bravado and cockyness. If you want real gratuitous gore, check out The Walking Dead.

I read the book. It was dumb there and even dumber here. He just drove a spear all the way through the gut of the mountain. To be able to do what the mount did is to make him anatomically different than all the other humans in the show. It was lazy writing to get a cheap thrill out of a violent moment. I'm not arguing that Oberyn should have been able to take the mountain. I'm saying that the fight as shown was dumb, and contrived.

The point is, that the Mountain was made to be superhuman for the purposes of gore and, i dunno, shock. No matter the strength of a human, the blow Oberyn delivered should have paralyzed him. The bade went all the way through his body, and would have destroyed his spine. He would not have had the strength to grab him, turn over and crush his head.

To say nothing of the fact that Oberyn knew well enough to dodge the attacks, and easily could have thought to chop those hands off as he lay there.

Besides all that, the prince was able to jump around and dodge the furious attacks, but a little hand flip of his foot and he's incapacitated long enough... psh. the whole thing was dumb.

If they'd wanted to make it more real, they should have just Let Oberyn stab him. Then mid taunt, quick grab, crush. It would have been much more shocking. And achieved all the same story requirements.

It was actually supposed to be far more violent (believe it or not). In the book the Mountains blind rage makes for several other casualties during the fight as his long sword rips through some innocent bystanders (one a young stable boy) as he slices at the elusive Viper.
They did take the Vipers final ending to another level, as unless I am mistaken, they only describe it as his face getting smashed in by the armored fist of the mountain as he confesses, But as grueseome as this was, I think it was done to correctly. Losing a character you become attached to is one thing, but losing one in such a way is a truly haunting experience. And while it seems unnecessary to some, it is not one that will soon be forgotten, and I applaud the show for doing it in such a way.

Of course it was contrived, it was taken for a written context. But you cannot say it was contrived because there was no way anyone saw what occurred coming in the way it did. There was nothing 'dumb' about it and it still stands as one of the most glaring moments in a series (either written or televised) from a series that is filled with shocking moments. It was far more effective than if the mountain had simply beaten him with a well placed sword blow. He draws you into thinking that its over and that justice will be had, and then he rips hope away from you once again.
You are missing the irony completely, one in which you never quite get used to with Martins writing. If you think there is going to be a happy ending, you are not paying attention.

There wasn't anything shocking about that. It was classic monster-movie splatter. Oh no! The monster isn't really dead! He got you! It does nothing but rip the viewer out of the reality of the world, by introducing a superhuman to the mix where previously there was just a ruthless strongman.

Regarding the beetle, I saw it from a Nietzschean point of view.

"Why did he crush those beetles?"

Because he could. It's in the nature of every creature to exert their power and force over those around them. What else is a damaged child going to exert their power over?
It's a universal theme running through this entire world. Everyone trying to lift themselves up by pushing down on those around them.

I'm always a bit dubious about diagnosing fictional injuries of fictional characters by sight! If you are suggesting that it is impossible because the Mountain's spine was destroyed, I think, instead, we simply have to accept that it clearly wasn't. It seems rather like saying that Clegane couldn't have grabbed him because he was killed by the spear thrust - in the context of the story presented, he simply wasn't killed (or indeed missing a part of his spine!)

As to being cautious (preventive hand chopping, maintaining an eye for a dodge etc) I think this was, for me, clearly established - arrogance, drink, anger and, of course as you suggest, being blindsided by the fact that most people would not be any danger after that injury.

The Scream!!!!
Its still in my head

This was one of the most brutal scenes I have ever seen. Its still running in my mind!

Indira Varma's wailing was even worse imo. Powerful stuff.

I'm not asking for a happy ending. I'm asking to not have reality tossed out of a window just to get to some cheap ass thrill. It was out of character, and implausible.

I disagree; they could have gotten away with cutting the eye gouging and leaving a cutting series of shots between the agog Tyrion and smirking Cerxes whilst leaving the rest to our imagination..

I'm not sure it requires magic for the spear head to have passed the spine on one side or the other? Though in saying this I rather fear we will move onto trying to calculate the velocity and moment of the spear from an estimation of Oberyn's mass...

I would simply return to the point that if you have interpreted the scene as attempting to show his spine was "destroyed" and subsequent action makes it clear that this is not the case then one, at some point, probably has to accept that that was not what this fictional spear did!

I'm aware of that. The point I was making is that the stuff that's left is mostly, in my opinion, not very interesting and I'm not particularly looking forward to watching it, just as I didn't particularly enjoy reading it.

If I hadn't been following and investing in the book series for over a decade I think I would have given up halfway through Dance of Dragons. I'm sure many people disagree, but there are plenty of people who felt AFFC and ADWD were dull as hell and I'm one of them.

Nice of you to speak for everyone else in the world.

Removing all the shock in the process. No, the show wanted us to be distrought and if anything, they held back imo. We neer see his hed actually get crushed.

I guess you're the target audience, then.

As one of several audience segments, I should certainly imagine so, yes!

It makes it very clear that Oberyn is dead. Do it any other way and people will be arguing he survived.

In a show with dragons, witches, shadow babies and ice zombies you get annoyed by someone being strong.

Begone, troll.

The end of the fight reminded me of Scanners.

The sunlight behind her then her descent down the stairs in that feathered outfit. Then the look on her face. She is gonna kick all kinds of ass (I hope, haven't read that far yet...)

Uhmmm, Rob Stark's wife was stabbed in the baby repeatedly. Pretty sure getting stabbed in the baby is the worst thing they have come up with so far.

In the books I liked him at first, kind of a more selfish Ned Stark (regarding honor and all), but in book 5 he was more power hungry, closer to Euron in temperment. A bit of a jerk even.

See, now that is a spoiler.


Nah, they'll mix it up. They've been mixing it up all season long. Probably focused north though, with Jon and Bran storylines mostly, and Yara's. I think they should keep all remaining King's Landing scenes for the finale. And the Epilogue. Oh God, I can't wait for the Epilogue!

Yeah most definitely but that makes him interesting as the story goes on. You know he is going to challenge Euron as well as have a big part in Dany's storyline.

Only just watched this ep (daughter currently watching it as I type) ;) For me, this was the best all-round episode of the series so far by a long shot.

Just pure brilliant TV.

And I'm sure this has been said elsewhere in these comments but the theme of Game of Thrones is most likely "All men must die!" :)

Actually, in the book he just gets his face crushed in with one punch from Gregor.

Never forget!

it was confirmed months ago and has been several times over - episode 9 takes place totally 100% at the wall. no other storylines - it's ALL "the battle at the wall".

everything else will be touched on in Ep 10, which will cover kings landing mainly, plus dany and bran and probably a very short arya scene. there may also be some jon (depending on where they left the wall) and sansa in there too )those these will likely be very short), and possibly theon, if they bother with him (they may not. his story can easily be left until ep 2 or so of next season)

the books have the mountain gouge out oberyn's eyes, punch him in the face to knock out and splinter all his teeth, and then punch him again to smash his head in which gave "a sickening crunch" to be heard throughout the yard.
the show was the same except instead of punching a second time to crush his skull through his face, he crushed it from the back by smashing him. ffs if anything that's LESS gory!!!

Hey, now we all know what's coming too!

If I got my way I would lock him in a box with a typewriter and no contact from the outside world.

Write! Write damn you!

You'll be dissapointed, The show is over-speeding and overexaggerating once again, book- Sansa ( REAL Sansa) hasn't done anything yet except be a good girl, I really hope they stop trying to make her more "badass" than she's supposed to be just to please the crowd.

I think Arya has the bad-ass part taken care of, I think Sansa will be kicking ass in more manipulative way. I do think (hope) that the Stark women will avenge their mistreatment in all kinds of colourful and nasty ways. I'm really looking forward to that.

Completely agree where the books are concerned, however there's plenty of opportunity to add to her story, like they did with Bran's. Arya's too. since books 4 and 5 barelt touch her side of things. Looking forward to it.

Actually having just happened to re watch the scene, I'm afraid your point doesn't bear any scrutiny. There really is nothing to suggest, let alone demand, your interpretation.

Delete it then!

And it is much appreciated :)

You're right, dude. He's pretentious.

I also thought it was too much. It made me feel sick for a few hours actually. The sadistic violence in GoT is one of the only downers for me. I'm really glad the Ramsay Snow torturing is over (for now at least :()

I think TV violence should be shocking. If you ever get to the point where you don't care, the show's not doing it's job properly.

Yeah, I agree with you. AFFC and ADWD were really hard to trawl through with the goods bits few and far between. Given the nature of the show, hopefully, we'll have the concentration on the good bits and the (extensive) waffle left out.

I think it would have been shocking without being so gratuitous and sickening. There's a line you reach where the violence has achieved it's point, and they went waaaay over it with this scene. I know it's seen as part of the GoT 'culture' for lack of a better word, but I don't think it's necessary. The show would still be awesome without the overkill violence. (and sex for that matter)

Well I didn't think it was too gratuitous (it's kind of what I expect from this show) and I still think the killing of the horse in S1, Ser Rodrik's beheading and the dead baby were worse. But I do completely agree with you that the show would still be awesome without the sex and violence.

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