Game of Thrones Memory Lane 408: The Mountain and The Viper


With less than two weeks to go until the new season, we bring you one of the series’ most talked about episodes for today’s trip down memory lane. “The Mountain and The Viper” was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves and premiered June 1st, 2014. It was a shock to Unsullied and Sullied alike as it depicted one of the series’ most anticipated moments which the episode was named for. This was a fantastic episode for conflict, climax, and characterization, as we’ve come to expect from the Game of Thrones showrunners.

We begin in Mole’s Town with Gilly as the wildlings further descend south towards Castle Black. The carnage commences in tune with Ramin Djawadi’s “Thenns” as Gilly takes Little Sam and hides while the townspeople are slaughtered. She is found by Ygritte who spares her and the baby and warns them to shush.


In an interview with Zap2it, Rose Leslie comments on why Ygritte spared them:

I do believe that it was the child. I believe that underneath it all, yes of course she is a scorned woman, but she is still a woman who has loved, who does still love Jon Snow, and I think the whole maternal side of that came out. Seeing this rather innocent-looking woman with her baby in her arms and knowing that she was innocent, knowing that she wasn’t really part of the fight and knowing she has nothing to do with the rampage that [Ygritte] in her head is on, which is to pursue Jon Snow and to make sure that he hurts as much as she has done in this last season. I was so grateful for being able to have the character trait that she can see that divide and not just, as they say, go on this murderous rampage and destroy everything that she sees.

At Castle Black, Sam is inconsolable and riddled with guilt as he believes Gilly and Little Sam are both dead because of him. There’s a dark irony in Sam’s choice that is luckily undercut when they’re reunited. In a way, because Ygritte spared them, her relationship with Jon gets to live on through the two even after they’re both gone. It’s nice to see that some characters still get a happy(ish) ending when such is very rare on Game of Thrones.

Outside Meereen, the Unsullied are bathing when Grey Worm spots Missandei with interest. She later confides with Daenerys where she asks the great question surrounding eunuchs:

Daenerys: When the slavers castrate the boys, do they take all of it?

Missandei: All of it?

Daenerys: The pillar…and the stones? Haven’t you ever wondered?

Missandei: Yes, your grace.


Grey Worm and Missandei later converse in Dany’s audience chamber and further set up a (slowly) blossoming relationship between the two. We’ll see this more in Season 5 and hopefully much more in Season 6.

In the North, Ramsay and Reek prepare to take Moat Cailin.
He mocks the Greyjoy sigil as Reek avoids his gaze. tumblr_n6izy9wDf21r66lnho2_250Ramsay demands his attention to go over the plan again ensuring he remains obedient. A minute detail but avoiding eye contact while Ramsay teases the Kraken could be taken as an insubordinate effort to retain what small bit of Theon he has left. By keeping that small piece of himself, it leaves room for Sansa to help redeem him in Season 5. Sadly, the small effort is diminished when Ramsay reminds him who/what he is and for how long. He’s Reek, not the lordly, formidable, Theon Greyjoy.

Ramsay: Until your rotting in the ground. Remember what you are, and what you’re not.

The shot of Theon riding to the gates of Moat Cailin with the Greyjoy banner is haunting. His singularity represents his journey throughout the series so far where no matter how surrounded he was, he always felt lost and alone. Additionally, the graveyard around him acts as subtle imagery to the death (The Starks) that surrounds him.


His attempts to free the ironborn are subdued as he’s mocked and called a “whipped dog” for suggesting surrender. Reek struggles between playing Theon and obeying his master as his inner conflict crawls across his face. Their commander takes an axe to the head as the ironborn agree to a surrender and Ramsay flays them all regardless. “You didn’t really think I’d let them go, did you?”

In the Vale, Baelish is questioned following the death of Lysa and is surprisingly vouched for by Sansa who also reveals her true identity. He also snags the support of their soldiers by proposing Robin leave the Vale to train.

Back in Meereen, Ser Barristan receives word of Jorah’s betrayal through a pardon from Robert Baratheon. He is later called before the Khaleesi where she exiles him, disgusted by his betrayal.

Jorah: I have loved you…

Khaleesi: Love…love?! How can you say that to me? Any other man and I would have you executed but you, I do not want you in my city dead or alive. Go back to your masters at King’s Landing, collect your pardon, if you can.

Jorah: Daenerys…please….

Khaleesi: Don’t. Ever. Presume to touch me or speak my name again. You have until dusk to collect your things and leave this city. If you’re found in Meereen past break of day, I’ll have your head thrown into Slaver’s Bay. Go. Now.


An exceptionally powerful scene from Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen. Both actors perfectly convey the long-awaited confrontation between the two and the wave of emotions between. From Dany’s fiery anguish in the betrayal of the man who she trusted almost her whole life to Jorah’s broken heart and clear remorse, the scene cuts deep and leaves a scar that won’t even begin to heal until next season.

In the adventures of The Stark and The Hound (term coined by Oz, the Unsullied), Arya finds hilarity in the darkness as they finally reach their destination to learn her Aunt Lysa died only three days ago.


The look on both of their faces is ultimately priceless and adds to the many gif-able scenes this episode. Shortly after, it’s worth noting the quote about death Baelish gives to Robin:

People die at their dinner tables, they die in their beds, they die squatting over their chamber pots. Everybody dies sooner or later. Don’t worry about your death, worry about your life. Take charge of your life, for as long as it lasts. That is what it means to be Lord of The Vale.

While he’s speaking to himself in this moment, it’s fun to go back and see that he teased Shae and Tywin’s deaths only two episodes before. His “take charge of your life” statement is especially appropriate once we are impressed to learn Sansa picked up some tactics from him as she explains why she lied. As they prepare to leave the Vale, we are introduced to Alayne Stone aka Dark Sansa.


In Tyrion’s cell, he goes through all the “-cides” finding there’s no word for killing your cousin, another example of his witty deflection defending him from the present. He then reflects on his cousin who found pleasure in smashing beetles with a rock. Tyrion displays his own befuddlement, even weeping for the dead insects, with those who enjoy killing (akin The Mountain). Jamie mirrors his confounded nature and wishes him luck.

Before the trail, Tyrion advises Oberyn wear more armor, at least a helmet (ouch, that foreshadowing) and not to drink before a fight as their fates are linked. Oberyn assures him that “today is not the day I die” and assures a worried Ellaria that he is “going to kill that.” Phew, I thought this might end badly. The two share a kiss and an exchange before the combat begins.


Ellaria: Don’t leave me alone in this world.

Oberyn: Never.

The Red Viper shows off his skills with a spear as The Mountain is unimpressed. He doesn’t know nor care who he is referring to him as “some dead man.” Oberyn reveals why he came to King’s Landing and demands a confession for the crimes against his sister.

It’s the first time we’ve seen a spear used as a weapon and it couldn’t have been in the hands of a more impressive fighter. Pedro Pascal channels the venomous tenacity for justice of Prince Oberyn perfectly and quickly, if not instantly, became a fan favorite that will sorely be missed. In a final plunge with his spear (“YOU KILLED HER CHILDREN!”), we breathe easy thinking he’s won. Victorious glances are shared around the audience (Ellaria, Jamie at Tywin, and, of course, Tyrion) as the match appears finished. Oberyn, however, is not. He demands a complete confession and the name of the individual who gave The Mountain the order of execution. He smiles at Ellaria one last time and the tables drastically turn.


And in that moment, we were all Ellaria

Being Unsullied for this episode was especially a treat. You really thought Oberyn was going to win. Not only through seeing him gain the upper hand towards the climax of the match, but also for having his fate linked with Tyrion’s. You “knew” Tyrion would live so Oberyn had to. I remember making the exact motion as Ellaria, grabbing my head in absolute shock at what I’d just seen.

Cersei and Tywin grin as he sentences Tyrion to death in the name of King Tommen.

Fading to black with no initial music for the end credits allows time for one to reflect on what they just watched.

Introductions: Citizens of Mole’s Town, Ironborn men at Moat Cailin, and the jury that questioned Baelish: Lord Yohn Royce, Lady Anya Waynwood, and Ser Vance Corbray.

Deaths: Many of those just introduced quickly met their demise as the citizens of Mole’s Town and Ironborn men were executed, Price Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell also met his gruesome end.

Notable Quotes: 

“I’d have killed Joffrey with a chicken bone if I had to.” – Arya
“I’d pay good money to see that.” – The Hound

“Whoever dies last, be a good lad and burn the rest of us. Once I’m done with this world, I don’t want to come back”. – Eddison Tollett

“Today is not the day I die.” – Oberyn Martell

Creative Fandom:

tumblr_n6ptx5PPgk1tuzdqso1_1280Robert Ball’s The Death of The Red Viper from his Beautiful Death Collection

A Happy Ending.

The amazing video version denying Oberyn’s death with some edits by Ozzy Man Reviews

Join us tomorrow for Season 4’s famous exclusive Castle Black episode 9: “The Watchers on The Wall.”

42 responses

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    1. The trial by combat was my favorite moment on the show and my favorite moment in all the TV / movies I’ve watched. Did not know the outcome and was stunned. Actually, I thought the opposite outcome was supposed to happen based on what I had heard. It was so fucked up!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    2. Just an amazing episode. I did learn, from viewing Jorah’s map in the scene with Barristan that Slaver’s Bay is directly across the Narrow Sea from King’s Landing (at least that’s how it looked on the map, assuming the map is correct) so it is a short voyage from Meereen to Westeros (on the show).

      Also, in listening to Roose’s comments to Ramsey about how large the North is … essentially 700 miles that way, 400 that, and 300 that. I’m not sure where they are … if Moat Cailin they are toward the end of the North. So either the North is 700 miles by 700 miles or we are missing a vector. If so, it’s about the distance from El Paso to Texarkana and Oklahoma City to Brownsville or a little larger than the state of Texas and Westeros is twice that size … again jsut conjecture

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    3. Nate’s Memory lane won’t get a lot of attention because all of today’s season 6 activity, which is a damn shame. But this episode still rips me up. I always feel like throwing up in the end scene. And it’s not just the gore. It’s the sheer savagery of it, how utterly awful and unfair it is. I felt the same way when I read the book.

      I want to pretend the Ozzy-Man Denial version is real.

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    4. Darkrobin:
      Just an amazing episode.I did learn, from viewing Jorah’s map in the scene with Barristan that Slaver’s Bay is directly across the Narrow Sea from King’s Landing (at least that’s how it looked on the map, assuming the map is correct) so it is a short voyage from Meereen to Westeros (on the show)

      It looks that way, but it’s actually two separate maps. Look at this clip and pause it around 0:49 – there’s a gap where you can see the table.

      Meereen is the same distance from Westeros in the show that it is in the novels – separated by most of the continent of Essos. Thousands of miles. The opening credits sequence gives a better sense of how far Meereen is from Westeros than Jorah’s map does.

      (I don’t blame you for the confusion – I was confused myself until I studied the clip and saw that Jorah was looking at two separate maps)

      Also, in listening to Roose’s comments to Ramsey about how large the North is … essentially 700 miles that way, 400 that, and 300 that.I’m not sure where they are … if Moat Cailin they are toward the end of the North.So either the North is 700 miles by 700 miles or we are missing a vector.If so, it’s about the distance from El Paso to Texarkana and Oklahoma City to Brownsville or a little larger than the state of Texas and Westeros is twice that size … again jsut conjecture

      Moat Cailin is the southernmost point of the North, in a region called the Neck. Below that is the Riverlands. I believe Roose means that it’s 700 miles from Moat Cailin to the Wall, where the Northern kingdom ends. The North is also 700 miles wide – extending either 400 miles west and 300 miles east of Moat Cailin, or vice versa.

      I pulled this map off Google – there are better ones out there.

      For as much as I love the show, I don’t claim to be an expert on the geography of Westeros and Essos (I just rely on the maps in the front of the books). If someone else has a better understanding, please chime in.

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    5. This was THE episode for me. Up to this point I had remained mostly Unsullied (give or take some spoilers I accidentally stumbled upon). Once this episode aired, however, I just could not wait to find out the aftermath. (It didn’t help that the next episode was completely centered at Castle Black, a location I didn’t particularly care for at the time.). After years of resisting the urge to read the books and spoil the show, I finally succumbed. I had to know Tyrion’s fate and I couldn’t wait two weeks to find out.

      And thus, one visit at later, I became Sullied. I ended up reading the entire series in the off-season between S4 and S5.

      This is my favorite episode of GoT. That trial of combat was mind-shattering. Literally. Poor Oberyn.

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    6. Kind of feel sorry for you Nate, since most people will probably skip this recap. The Mountain and the Viper remains one of my favorite episodes.

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    7. Wonderful write up, Nate! “The Mountain and the Viper” is such a beloved and powerful episode for so many – it comfortably makes my personal list of Top 10 episodes for the series. It’s unfortunate that your piece commemorating it happened to fall on the same day that we got a brand-new Season 6 trailer and clips to discuss. But you did this great hour justice! 🙂 Hopefully more people will circle back to read this article once some of the hype subsides.

      God damn it, Oberyn. You had him.

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    8. This is one of the best episode in got …
      that horror that shock……that scream ….man …its hard not to feel …..sick…..the whole episode is action packed …..

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    9. They nailed Oberyn’s fighting style. Loved all of his moves and the spinning and jumping and twirling of the spear. Pedro Pascal must be quite an athlete. And Hafthor was great in the fight as well, easy to take for granted his agility and coordination for such a big guy. He looked awesome out there. Richard Ridings voice dubbing during the key scene was absolutely terrifying. One of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema / TV.

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    10. FreeParking:
      Kind of feel sorry for you Nate, since most people will probably skip this recap. The Mountain and the Viper remains one of my favorite episodes.

      Not me! I really enjoy these Memory Lane recaps. I hope the WotW readership comes back to this after wallowing in all the Season 6 hype with the new trailer and clips. All good stuff of course, but no way will I trawl through and read 700+ comments 😉

      Like the Red Wedding, this took me completely by surprise. I was shouting at the TV to Oberon to finish off The Mountain, but he just wouldn’t listen! What happened next was so incredible and to see him get his head crushed in was more gruesome than Visarys getting his golden crown. As deaths go, this one really took the biscuit and the worst by far.

      The scene where Sandor and Arya arrives at the Bloody Gate was brilliant and so funny – I rolled up 😀

      “Who will pass the bloody gate?” – “The Bloody Hound Sandor Clagane and his traveling companion Arya Stark. Niece of your Lady Lysa Arron”

      When the guard says she died three days before, the expression on Sandor’s face is priceless and then when Ayra bursts out laughing, one just can imagine how pissed off The Hound was on hearing that news and not able to receive his reward! It was sad in the sense that Arya was so close to meeting up again with Sansa her sister, but alas twas not to be.

      The ‘Dark Sansa’ scene was epic also and seemed like finally things were looking up, but as we later found out, that was not to be either – re the Black Wedding and the events later that night!

      As for Dany’s question to Missandei: ‘Do they they take the pillar and stones’, I wonder if that will be addressed in Season 6? I’m just as curious as I guess many are regarding the Unsullied and what tackle they have between their legs (if any) 🙂

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    11. I’d read the books so I knew what was coming, but the trial-by-combat was so well done that I forgot for a moment how it turned out. I had this crazy moment of hope that maybe he’d live, on the show. And then that ending. It remains the only episode where I launched out of my seat and paced around the room muttering, “No, no, no.” I’ve never watched that scene again.

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    12. Jared,


      Thanks for shedding light on the fact that there were two maps … completely missed that … I’m one of the nerds who has bought the map set so I knew from the books where Meereen was vis-a-vis Valyria/Volantis/the free cities, etc. but thought the map Jorah was looking at was an indication that the show locations were somewhat different (and that it would be a much easier trip for Dany back to Westeros (assuming she heads out from Meereen) as opposed to having to travel back past Valyria, etc).

      The reason the comments regarding the North confused me was that Westeros usually narrows around Moat Caitlin but I think they mean north of the neck … it’s just a matter of me understanding the size (for the show) and the distances involved. Just me being a nerd.

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    13. Josh L,

      I agree. One of the best scenes, given the stakes, even though it is not as long and as intricate as other excellant fight scenes, it still gives me thrills upon rewatching. By Season 4, I’d read the books, but the visuals were outstanding! The cinematography was amazing (as it was on the trial scene before, etc.). The last half of season 4 was, to date to me, the pinnacle

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    14. I remember watching this with my Unsullied friends… my brother loved Oberyn and was grinning when he put The Mountain on his back. He went pale and silent as the credits rolled. My other Unsullied friend, who cried at the Red Wedding, shouted, “I f**king told you! Everyone dies!” Good times.

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    15. Oh boy. THAT episode. What a shock that was. I think this was my #2 episode (just after Hardhome). Rest in peace, Oberyn. We all miss you!
      Excellent recap, Nate.

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    16. Good post, Nate, in the memory lane series! I read it even with all the excitement going on with HBO releasing trailers and footage. Thanks.

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    17. Great post, Nate. As the Theon/Reek fan I am, I’m sad to see how this memory lane visit took place on one of the most hyped days in fandom ever after the release of trailer #2 and the 3 new clips.

      Because can we talk for just a second about Alfie Allen’s stellar acting in this episode? I will never forget Oberyn’s violent death, but Theon/Reek portrayed by Alfie….. Since the middle of season 2, he’s never failed to impress me and this episode marks one of the highlights of his acting in this series. I can watch that scene where Kennick’s words gets through to Reek pretending to be Theon over and over. I just sit there and stare in awe (and pity and pain) as we see him breaking in front of the soon to be dead commander of the garrison. It totally floors me ever single time I watch this man’s acting and it’s so damn annoying to read how both Alfie and the character are mostly ridiculed on the internets. Because he should have won an Emmy singlehandedly a long, long time ago.

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    18. Definitely the most gruesome death on the show, was wondering before if they could do the horror justice and since I find it hard to watch again (I almost always quit just before the Mountain drags him down to his level) they succeeded briliantly (those flying teeth still make me cringe, shame Ellaria never got to enjoy that hockey smile). The rest of the episode is great as well, with Moat Cailin and the Joran/Dany scenes as the best dramatic scenes and Mole Town with some beautiful cinematography before the massacre begins. Nice write-up!

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    19. The Viper/Mt. is one of the scenes that I could never want to see again. Just the unfairness of it all is so frustrating for one thing. That said, I enjoyed the memory lane recap, it brought back some other events I haven’t seen for quite some time due to avoidance of the ep 🙂

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    20. Ugh. I hate this fight scene. Well the result
      I was soo shocked
      But I did love the episode.

      Oberyn was one of my favorites.

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    21. One unmentioned point.

      This show has never had a set – shot from afar, so I don’t know if it’s special effects or how it is rendered – more awesome looking than Moat Cailin. The smoke rising from around the castle, the bogs to the south, it’s so haunting and perfectly done. It’s such a gem, and I was thrilled when they used it again in season 5 — and shot from the *other direction* when Sansa and Littlefinger were looking at it, so perfect in terms of geography. But what a masterpiece, and those scenes are just awesome.

      “Theon Greyjoy…or whoever the FUCK you say you are….” – Kenning is terrific. It’s a great bit of casting, as usual with all of the GOT small roles, and it captures the arrogance in the face of all common sense so integral to the ways of the Ironborn. Your entire garrison is dying of dysentery or infection, and you still look at your only lifeline and spit blood in his face. I love it.

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    22. And the great climax to the impressive 4-episode ‘winning streak’.

      With regards to Oberyn’s demise, it wasn’t for me exactly as described in the review. Though unsullied, by the 4th season I knew far too well this story doesn’t have happy endings. Meaning I fully expected Oberyn to lose.
      BUT, then Oberyn actually managed to dance around the Mountain and place some hits. Eventually the Mountain sustained (what seemed to be) a fatal blow and I breathed in relief that for once I was wrong in being pessimistic.
      And then I was crushed (absolutely stunned, actually, I sat silent for a good 10 minutes trying to make heads and tails of this).

      Believe me, there’s little worse than having a newly found hope crushed right at the moment things turn for the better.

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    23. Greatjon of Slumber,

      I was also quite impressed with the design of Moat Cailin. Excellent VFX work in the wideshots to make it look as haunting and imposing as it’s reputation suggests. It’s all the more notable because according to an interview that Alex Graves gave after the episode, the show essentially had no money left to use on the set during that point of the production. Apparently Moat Cailin became jokingly known as “No Cailin” for those who working on the scene.

      Yet whether they managed to stretch that little bit of money a long way or just used clever camera angles and like to disguise it, I couldn’t really tell. It looked like a standard (i.e. excellent) Game of Thrones set to me, albeit dressed up in such a way to emphasize how sick and festering the Ironborn were at that point. By cutting from Kenning’s murder to the shot of the flayed Ironborn, they told the entire story of what happened in just a few gruesome images.


      Totally agree about Alfie Allen. He’s superb in this episode, as he always is.

      I believe that Allen has said that during Season 6, Theon will still be feeling like Reek in many ways. While he may have ostenisibly reclaimed his identity, he’ll often be a Theon ‘performance’ in many way as he struggles to overcome his trauma and conditioning. If Allen’s work in this episode is a preview of what that we’ll look like, we’re in for some great stuff this year.

      To wrap up the Moat Cailin scenes, I absolute love the shot of the Bolton armies opposite one other in the open field (it was in the first Season 4 trailer as I recall). And Iwan Rheon is excellent in the scene where Roose legitimizes Ramsay, at which point Ramsay, overcome, kneels and swears to be worthy of his father. I may not have felt sympathy for the no-longer Bastard of Bolton in that scene, but I understood the character better than I ever had before, in either the books or the show. It was an important moment.

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    24. I think it’s fair to say that few scenes in the history of the show faced higher expectations that the duel between Oberyn and the Mountain. Expectations were impossibly high. Personally, I think they pulled the sequence off amazingly well. Once you strip away all the fantastic hyperbole of idealized imagination, the trial by combat is brilliantly realized, anchored of course by Pedro Pascal’s great performance in his (sigh) final appearance.

      “I had other interests”/“Yes, other interests.” Tyrion just cannot resist giving Jaime shit for fucking Cersei, can he? I love the looks that Jaime and Cersei exchange during the duel – their lovers’ spat continues.

      I know that it’s controversial in some circles, but I really like Tyrion and Jaime’s conversation about Orson and his beetles. This is the kind of conversation that a man who believe he’s about to die has with his family. What was the point? What did it all mean? Viewing the scene as a meta-commentary on the way life is so callously disregarded and disposed of in this world – as well as the unforgiving nature of the story we’re watching – isn’t exactly a fresh perspective, but it’s a valuable one. I particularly like when Tyrion says “Father droned on about the family legacy, and I thought about Orson’s beetles. I read the histories of Targaryen conquests. Did I hear dragon wings? No, I heard … kuh, kuh, kuh.”

      Whether it’s rock or sword or dragonfire, the result is the same: piles and piles, years and years of living things smashed and dried up and returned to the dirt. And in the end, there’s always someone there to wake up from the nightmare, “weeping for their shattered little bodies”. It’s worth noting that Tyrion spends most of the monologue letting an insect crawl over his hand. In the end, he lets the creature go.

      Again, it’s not particularly subtle. But I see that scene, and that moment in particular, as a hopeful sign. Maybe one day, as Varys has dared to venture, Tyrion Lannister will stand as one of the few people in the world who possesses the mind, the will, and the right last name to find a better way.

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    25. Darth Sansa arises! Seriously, Sophie Turner is great in this episode. The little bird has finally learned how to lie, and lie convincingly – by weaving her deception with several threads of truth and real tears. As Tyrion said of Cersei in the previous episode “Making honest feelings do dishonest work is one of her many gifts.”. Cersei isn’t exactly the kind of role model Sansa should look up to, but if she learned that lesson from her, it will serve her well.

      “She did as her father commanded, as so many of us have.” I always loved Anya Waynwood’s little smile and knowing glance downward when Sansa says that. She knows what’s up. Good moment from Paola Dionisotti. It’s a shame she hasn’t returned.

      Iain Glen is so freaking good as Jorah. The exiled knight is a character who has risen amazingly high in my estimation relative to his counterpart in the novels. I never liked the character all that much in the book, where he was brusque, unsubtle, and too often came across as entitled, both to his position and to Dany’s affections. On screen, Glen’s admittedly more noble portrayal and set of motivations have done wonders to cultivate my sympathy for and understanding of Jorah. He’s just so, so, so much better than he is in the book. (Some people find that uncouth version of the character in the novels more interesting. Those people and I will never see eye-to-eye on this issue).

      When Jorah admits to spying, you can see Dany swallow and brace herself – she didn’t want to believe it. I believe if she could have forgiven him there, she would have. But his unforgivable sin to tell the Small Council about her unborn child, knowing that it would bring on assassins. So she banishes him, and if your heart doesn’t break for Jorah there, check your chest cavity, because you may not have one.

      Emilia Clarke also does a great job in the scene playing Dany’s steely fury. Apparently in real life, she’s said wanted to throw herself around Iain’s ankles and be like “No! Don’t leave!” We were all there, Emilia. We were all there.

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    26. Jared,


      The conversation between Roose and Ramsay where Roose mentions the size of the North happens near Winterfell. The next scene shows them and the Bolton household riding up to Winterfell, so presumably Ramsay has met the Bolton party as they converge on Winterfell from Moat Cailin and the Dreadfort respectively.

      Looking at the Westeros map , considering where they most likely are (near Winterfell at a convergent point between Moat Cailin and the Dreadfort), the directions he points and the distances he mentions, I would suggest that the 700 miles is southwest towards The Rills and the Stony Shore, the 400 miles is southeast towards Old Castle, Ramsgate or Widow’s Watch and the 300 miles is towards the coastline opposite Bear Island.

      That’s how I see it, anyway.

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    27. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      I’m don’t think that the conversation between Ramsay and Roose happens near Winterfell. Roose wasn’t arriving from the Dreadfort – he was passing through Moat Cailin. The primary reason that Roose needed Ramsay to take Moat Cailin was because “our armies are trapped south of the Neck.” When Roose returned to the Dreadfort in “The Lion and the Rose” he did not have most of the Bolton army with him – only a few retainers. Because the Ironborn controlled Moat Cailin and many castles across the North, Roose had to “smuggle myself into my own lands”. He could travel covertly by sea, but he couldn’t bring his army with him – probably because he didn’t have enough ships to ferry them all. If he did, he could just bring them north and attack Moat Cailin himself. He wouldn’t have needed Ramsay at all.

      After tasking Ramsay with taking Moat Cailin, Roose presumably left the Dreadfort and returned south to rejoin his army somewhere between Moat Cailin and the Twins. Once Ramsay took Moat Cailin from the Ironborn, Roose and his army were able to pass through. Why wouldn’t Ramsay wait for them just north of the neck? There’s little point in him marching north without his father, then stopping just short of Winterfell so that Roose can catch up. Ultimately, they arrive there together.

      The show tends to play fast and loose with travel times (it has to, or we’d wind up with Martin’s problem where characters spend eight turgid chapters trekking from place to place). Generally they accomplish this by skipping an indeterminate amount of time between episodes, but occasionally that time jump will happen within the episode itself. My interpretation was that final shot of the Boltons approaching Winterfell took place much later than Ramsay’s legitimization (several days or weeks, perhaps). The show just cut it together for dramatic effect.

      We actually see almost the exact same cut in Season 5. Sansa and Littlefinger pass through Moat Cailin early in “High Sparrow”. Later in the same hour, they arrive at Winterfell. The show just skipped over the travel in between the two locations in the interest of saving time and getting to the good stuff.

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    28. Jared,

      Sorry, but it makes absolutely zero sense that Roose would smuggle himself back to the Dreadfort, send Ramsay to take Moat Cailin and then smuggle himself back south to join his men south of Moat Cailin.

      The scene between Ramsay and Roose cuts straight into a shot of them approaching Winterfell It is heavily implied that their two parties have met up somewhere on the way to Winterfell and there’s nothing to suggest any significant passage of time between shots.

      There’s also nothing to suggest that it was Roose rather than Ramsay leading the majority of their forces.

      So Ramsay takes Moat Cailin, the Bolton army meets up with Ramsay and they head north from Moat Cailin towards Winterfell to meet up with Roose who has been informed that his men have been able to re-enter the North.

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    29. Ramsay's 20th Good Man,

      The whole conceit of Moat Cailin is that it’s impossible to take from the south, but it’s (relatively) easy to attack from the northern side. If Roose were still in the North, he wouldn’t need Ramsay to rally his forces to take the castle. As the Warden of the North, he could do it himself. Whatever Bolton-loyal forces in the North would be more likely to respond to him than his not-yet-legitimized bastard. Even if Roose just gave Ramsay the task to see if his bastard could prove his worth, the taking of Moat Cailin is far too important a task to use it solely as a test of Ramsay’s mettle. Why wasn’t he at least standing at Ramsay’s shoulder, supervising the proceedings?

      I really don’t think Roose was just waiting at the Dreadfort for Ramsay to take the castle. He is nowhere to be seen during the Ironborn’s assault on the Dreadfort. Maybe he was just offscreen, but if he was there, why wasn’t he helping defend his castle? Even if he didn’t fight, why wasn’t he at least shown in the aftermath? I think he wasn’t shown because he wasn’t there. He left, and returned south.

      I generally don’t like going to the books for support, but in the novels Roose passes through the Moat with his army after Ramsay takes Moat Cailin. Now of course, Roose never smuggles himself into the North in the book – he stays with his army the whole time. But the show has done this many times before – they move a character away from their position in the book so that they can accomplish a certain purpose, then they move them back to their original position. The show didn’t technically need to have Roose appear in “The Lion and the Rose” – he could have just sent a letter. But the writers clearly wanted to establish Roose and Ramsay’s dynamic firsthand so that Ramsay’s legitimization would carry more weight. If they hadn’t done that, the legitimization scene would have been their first scene together, and Michael McElhatton’s only appearance of the season. It was easier to have Roose meet Ramsay in person, even if they had to come up with the smuggling rationale to justify it.

      The scene between Ramsay and Roose cuts straight into a shot of them approaching Winterfell It is heavily implied that their two parties have met up somewhere on the way to Winterfell and there’s nothing to suggest any significant passage of time between shots.

      There doesn’t need to be anything to suggest significant passage of time between shots. That time jump happened at some point. You believe it happened between Ramsay’s capture of the Moat and his legitimization by Roose, which took place in a field outside Winterfell, after both of them traveled to Winterfell separately. I think Ramsay was legitimized near Moat Cailin after Roose and the Boltons army passed through, and the time jump happened between then and the Boltons arriving at Winterfell together.

      We’re probably not going to agree on this, because the show doesn’t provide us with sufficient information for a definitive answer. We have to fill in our own rationalizations to explain what happened. And that’s OK, because this a very minor point in the overall story. We’re just being nerds. 🙂

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    30. fierce as a wolverine,

      Yeah, I was hoping…but as the end was coming, reality took over and I covered my eyes so I wouldn’t see….

      And Iwan Rheon is excellent in the scene where Roose legitimizes Ramsay, at which point Ramsay, overcome, kneels and swears to be worthy of his father. I may not have felt sympathy for the no-longer Bastard of Bolton in that scene, but I understood the character better than I ever had before, in either the books or the show. It was an important moment.

      this I finally saw him as a son who so desparately wanted the love of his father. excellent acting there


      Whether it’s rock or sword or dragonfire, the result is the same: piles and piles, years and years of living things smashed and dried up and returned to the dirt. And in the end, there’s always someone there to wake up from the nightmare, “weeping for their shattered little bodies”. It’s worth noting that Tyrion spends most of the monologue letting an insect crawl over his hand. In the end, he lets the creature go.

      I was surprised that more people didn’t get that. The cartoon that came out soon after was a perfect companion – pic of little george rr martin sitting on the ground with a rock in his hand smashing all the people on the ground ,kuh,kuh,kuh says it all

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    31. Great acting moments in this ep. Alfie, Ramsay, Pedro. I’m another one who found Oberyns end difficult to watch and fervently hope he is avenged. Death to the Frankenmountain!

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    32. Jared,

      Even if Roose just gave Ramsay the task to see if his bastard could prove his worth…

      That is exactly what he did. That’s a fact.

      What happens in the books is irrelevant here. In the show Roose smuggled himself and his wife back to the Dreadfort and he tasked Ramsay with re-taking Moat Cailin so that the rest of their forces could return north.

      I really don’t think Roose was just waiting at the Dreadfort for Ramsay to take the castle.

      Why on earth not? There’s absolutely nothing in the show to suggest otherwise.

      What purpose would heading back south serve? And why on earth would Roose bother taking the risk of smuggling himself back where he had just come from?

      Why would Roose need to be with his main host, to whom there is no threat due to the pacts with the Freys and Lannisters, just to head back north again once Moat Cailin is recaptured?

      Wouldn’t he be better off back in the North busying himself consolidating his power, politicking with the other Northern Lords, for example? Why would he waste time stuck south of Moat Cailin rather than assert as much power as he can in the meantime back in the North?

      There doesn’t need to be anything to suggest significant passage of time between shots. That time jump happened at some point.

      There doesn’t need to be anything to suggest a significant passage of time, no, but given that the shots do follow directly on from one another and there is absolutely nothing to even imply a significant passing of time, there is no basis to assume that there has been.

      However, the fact that Ramsay is still reveling in his new status as a Bolton, and given that the weather and setting are near identical to the previous shot, there is evidence to suggest that the shots are close together in time.

      As you say, we do not need to agree on this relatively insignificant point. But I have to say that there is absolutely no logic or rationalization to the course of events you suggest. There’s nothing in the show to back up what you’re saying and you have to rely on illogical assumptions about what might have happened off-screen to justify it.

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    33. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

      I thought the logic and rationalization for my stated position were perfectly clear. You didn’t find them convincing, That’s fine. My belief that Roose had returned south was based on his apparent absence from the Dreadfort during the Ironborn assault, and the fact that his character passes through Moat Cailin with his army in the novels. You weren’t willing to accept those premises. Perhaps I defaulted to them because I wasn’t willing to accept the premise that Roose was sitting at the Dreadfort doing nothing while he waited for Ramsay to take the Moat, or that the show wouldn’t have shown the Lord of the Dreadfort dealing with the aftermath of a direct attack on his castle if he were still there. Your point that Roose may have been traveling around the North looking to secure support from the other Northern lords makes far more sense. I would consider that to be a far more viable alternative.

      The weather and the setting of the two adjacent scenes can look identical because all of these scenes were filmed in Northern Ireland in similar locations around the same time. I don’t consider the point Ramsay’s still reveling in his new legitimate status when the Boltons arrive at Winterfell to be any kind of temporal evidence as to when the scene is taking place. Ramsay’s been waiting for this recognition his entire life. His happiness isn’t just going to wear off during the course of a journey that’s lasting only a few days or weeks, depending on where they are.

      I’ll say it again, however – this is a minor point. To be perfectly honest, I’ve spent more time thinking about this issue during this discussion with you than I ever had previously. I would have left the matter where it stood if it hadn’t been for your last paragraph, which I didn’t care for. However, I’m done now. Your argument swayed me slightly at the end, and I accept that I haven’t swayed your position at all. I’m going to move on.

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    34. Jared,

      Taking nothing away from Iain Glen’s performance, as I think he’s done a phenomenal job, I hate show-Jorah, too. Maybe he doesn’t creep me out quite to the extent he did in the books, but I just find Jorah so creepy and pathetic. He’s that older-guy stalker who thinks, for some odd reason, he’s going to get the girl, despite all evidence to the contrary. I cheered when Dany banished him!

      Great write-up, btw, Nate.
      I haven’t done a very good job of taking a moment to thank the various writers for their work, nor let them know how much I’ve enjoyed their write-ups (and I think them being very different from writer to writer has been great).

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    35. Nate, sorry I am late to the reply here. I thought you did a wonderful job of this recap down memory lane. It was odd because as I was cooking a 2 hour meal on Monday night I chose two episodes to watch, the Purple Wedding and this episode. I didn’t even recall that it would be the “next” one to be taken down the lane.

      Both episodes were epic for me. So much to love, so much to hate. The acting by all the actors for GoT’s really turned it out for both episodes, but of course, Pedro Pascal. They hit a gold mine with this one and what a choice. From his entrance in episode 1 of season 4 to his exit, he had me at “hello”.

      Like so many others I can’t actually watch the final scene, but I do right up to that point, conveniently find some lint on my shirt or dust in my eye. 😉 How I wish that Pedro could have been a regular cast member, but maybe he wouldn’t be so special and endearing otherwise. RIP Oberyn and long life to you Pedro Pascal.

      Special nods for this episode to every actor. Alfie, Peter, Lena, Nikolaj, Iwan, Mr. Dance, Indira, oh geez, just everyone from Meereen, Moat Cailin, The Eyre (The Hound, Arya, Sansa, Petyr), KL, CB…..D & D wrote a great script and Alex Graves brought it to life perfectly.

      I don’t think I will ever get over losing Oberyn and in turns Pedro Pascal.

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    36. I’m very glad Pedro Pascal got to play Oberyn. Another actor might have made him seem corny, but he didn’t. Rip Oberyn. 🙁

      This is probably very shallow of me… but Sansa’s necklace is one of the weirdest props I’ve seen in the show. It doesn’t fit the medieval theme and it’s distracting. I wonder what the design team was thinking when they made her wear that.
      Actually, the whole raven dress, while very beautiful, always gave me the impression it didn’t fit with the rest of the costumes of the show.

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