Mockingbird followed up on the strengths of last week’s episode with Tyrion and Cersei setting the stage for next week’s trial by combat as well as Sansa falling into the centre of some major shake-ups in the Vale of Arryn. That aside, it was ultimately an episode of table-setting that was structured around Tyrion’s search for a champion to fight on his behalf.
WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD
Given the explosive end to last week’s episode, it was great to dive back into things with Jaime immediately confronting Tyrion about his demands for a trial by combat. As is becoming the usual for this season, the banter between Dinklage and Coster-Waldau was spot on and his reaction to Tyrion’s suggestion that he fight the Mountain despite his injuries. While it was clear Jaime was savoring what could be one of his last interactions with his brother, he wasn’t one to let him off the hook and was quick to remind him that the people of King’s Landing see him as a monster and his speech during last week’s trial only reinforced that image.
It’s a shame that they recast the Mountain again (I always thought the first actor they had back in season 1 was perfect for the role), but his short scene this week did a good job of reminding us how much of a threat he is – not to mention utterly how screwed and dire Tyrion’s chances of winning his trial look.
Bronn’s conversation with Tyrion was pretty great in this aspect too – The Mountain is not one to be messed with and Bronn knows it. Jerome Flynn played this scene perfectly and the bittersweet but mutual understanding reached between the pair was fun to watch. We can only hope the show will give us a look at Bronn’s new life as a noble of Kings Landing at some point.
This episode spent quite a bit of time Stark-side (yes I’ve been waiting weeks to use that term again) with both Arya and Sansa getting a decent amount of screentime. Arya and the Hound found themselves sharing an Assassin’s Creed-esque moment of philosophical clarify with a dying farmer. It was cool to see Arya’s nonchalance towards death here and her fearlessness when the pair found themselves attacked by Biter and Rorge did a good job of reinforcing how much her character has matured over the last few seasons.
Sansa’s scenes this week were of a similarly high quality and Sophie Turner did a great job of capturing the range to Sansa’s character this week. It was clear that while Sansa definitely still longs for the home and family she’s lost, her frankness with Littlefinger regarding Joffrey’s murder shows that she’s no longer the naive girl she once was. She’s learning and if she keeps learning from Baelish, she may find herself a real player as the series goes on.
While Baelish kissing Sansa was undeniably creepy (particularly after he made the comment “you could have been my child”), I felt the show handled it and the ensuing confrontation with Lysa quite well. It might not have been especially surprising for some to see Baelish betray (“I have only loved one woman…..your sister”) Lysa and throw her to her death, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t satisfying.
This week’s check in with Brienne and Podrick was another one of the episodes stronger points with the pair making a brief stop at the crossroads inn. The lecture that the pair received on the finer points of baking by (“You cannot give up on the gravy”) by Hot Pie was a fun scene and it was a clever way of the pair discovering that Arya could well be alive. That said, Podrick has a point that the Lannisters may send bounty hunters of their own and it’ll be interesting to see if there are any consequences to Brienne’s frankness as her search continues.
Last week saw Dany discover that compromises are part of ruling and this trend continued this week alongside her appeal to Daario Naharis’ love of women. It was good to see Dany take a step back from her ceaseless war against slavery and realise that, like Jorah says, there are good and evil on both sides of any war. I liked how Jorah drew on his own past here when it came to convincing her that trying to negotiate with the masters of Yunkai is a better choice than sending Daario to slaughter them. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if this move backfires and pushes Dany away from Jorah and towards Daario.
Speaking of Daario, while I like the way the show is portraying the relationship he has with Dany but I think I’ve more or less settled on the side of not liking the show’s portrayal of the character. He just feels way too nice and polite for what I imagined when I read the books.
Although the climax of the episode dealt with Sansa, it was Oberyn’s visit to Tyrion that felt like the strongest scene of the episode. The short conversation the pair shared did a great job of giving us just as much insight into Oberyn’s past (“That’s not a monster, that’s just a baby”) as it did Tyrion’s headspace and impending doom. Dinklage did a brilliant job of capturing Tyrion at his lowest and is was hard not to cheer when Oberyn revealed he was going to stand as his champion and avenge his sister’s death by slaying the Mountain.
Overall, Mockingbird was another strong episode that gave us some well needed breathing room before diving right back into the thick of things with the murder of Lysa Arryn. Next week’s showdown between the Mountain and the Viper was my favorite moment of A Storm of Swords and I can’t begin to talk about how excited I am to see it brought to life.