Video Podcast of Game of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 8, “The Mountain and the Viper”

Ok, slightly delayed by me moving across country and various internet problems, here’s the recap from last week’s mind-blowingly good episode!

Check it out!

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39 thoughts on “Video Podcast of Game of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 8, “The Mountain and the Viper”

  1. empire25 says:

    I agree with you guys that the Littlefinger trial is one of the highlights of the episode as well as the season. However, their is some narrative tension that is not being mentioned. Sansa is telling Baelish that she helped him because it was safer for her to bet on the man she knew rather than the strangers she didn’t. However, she trusted Royce enough to tell her who she was, to that tell him that they had met before, and push his Stark loyalist buttons. She was probably not worried that they would have thrown her out the moon door. Rather, this was a bet on Littlefinger as a long run play for power and agency. Bold fashion statements (Winter is the time for them) seem to underline this thinking.

    • And a bet that she knows where LF’s levers are.

      • Winnie says:

        Definitely. This is one area in which I think the show is ahead of the books in that we are actually *finally* getting to see Sansa make a journey from victim/pawn to Player.

        I also think it’s incredibly important to get this particular apprenticeship for Sansa-Bran’s learning to be a Greenseer, Arya is becoming a super assassin/spy, Rickon will probably be Lord of the North…but *Sansa* is going to be the family’s politician and that’s damn important for navigating future events, for rebuilding Westeros and for the Starks. Frankly, had they *had* someone in the family who knew how to play the Game-*really* play it, they never would have found themselves in their current predicament. I am now absolutely Salivating to see what happens there.

      • empire25 says:

        BTW, in terms of the outfit, I am thinking in terms of that scene from Django unchained, where Django gets to pick his first outfit as someone who is not a slave from the haberdashery, and he picks the most outlandish outfit possible. Sansa is picking out her first non political prisoner outfit and making an appropriately outlandish choice.

  2. Petyr Patter says:

    I hated how they portrayed the Vale Lords, Sansa, and Baelish power triangle. The show is presenting this as “new Sansa,” complete with Rule of Cool new dress. She is smart, can lie, manipulate, and read motivations. Yet, when Littlefinger is right at the edge with three powerful lords ready to execute him, she saves him.

    Let me put it this way, had there been a scene where Baelish asks Sansa to lie to the Lords for him… I think most readers and show watches would agree it was incredibly stupid to side with such a dangerous and immoral man. Instead, she saved him on her own initiative. This is not smart. Baelish has already killed two people right in front of her, framed her for regicide, and has otherwise acted as the perfect Lannister man which doomed her brother’s war effort. The only smart policy when dealing with Baelish is a dead Baelish. And the thing is, all she had to do was tell truth.

    Yet, she saves him because… she doesn’t know how the Vale Lords would treat her? Then she shouldn’t have revealed herself at all. Because Baelish has a school yard crush on her, that makes her safer with him? Maybe the best case scenario for Sansa is he never lets her leave. A man like Littlefinger would control his the object of his affection, not give her the keys to the proverbial (or literal) kingdom. Worse scenarios include he just kills her because she has dirt on him, or sexual assault.

    • WPA says:

      She knows she has the trump card- she’s Cat’s daughter- the closest thing to Cat left, and she knows that’s leverage against him.

    • I think it makes perfect sense – and keep in mind, she did the same damn thing in the books.

      In fact, in this version she’s in better shape because now she’s got the three Vale lords on her side.

      • Petyr Patter says:

        But she could have killed Littlefinger! At least when she was asked by Robert what happened between Joffrey, Arya, and Nymeria, she didn’t lie to cover Joffrey. She just claimed amnesia.

        You are right, she had the Vale Lords on her side. That is good, it is good she believed she could reveal herself to these strangers by virtue of his Yohn’s time in Winterfell and play into their expectations.

        Yet, what is the point of using that influence if it delivers the Vale to Littlefinger?

        • Sure she could have – but she doesn’t have any particular motive to do so. She doesn’t know about what he did to her family, he saved her life more than once, etc.

      • JT says:

        Yeah, but this totally ruins Littlefinger’s character. Littlefinger is opportunistic, but he’s not stupid. Showing up in the Vale, marrying Lysa and killing her two or three days later with no one to blame is beyond idiotic.

        The writers were so eager to make Sansa seems smart and make her a player that they ruined Littlefinger in the process.

        • I disagree. He did the same damn thing in the book. The slight change of the minstrel isn’t a huge improvement.

          • Petyr Patter says:

            I would say the big difference isn’t Marillion, but Sansa acting on her own initiative versus Littlefinger’s coaching. I didn’t mind Marillion being written away. In theory, Sansa taking initiative should be good for her character development, but it is initiative she doesn’t show in the books. This has a lot of unfortunate ripple effects. For starters, it makes Littlefinger look like a man without a plan. From my perspective, Sansa’s decision to testify for him on her own initiative just makes Sansa look like the bigger idiot. This is telling Cersei her father is sending them away levels of stupid.

            Remember, he’s killed two people right in front of her, Lysa and Dontos. Both ‘knew to much.’ His strangely timed escape plan left her implicated in regicide.

            Her time with Baelish isn’t only going to end with her running away, her killing him, or Sansa needing to be rescued from him. She’s not going to accomplish anything by working with him.

          • Yeah, but that’s not what happened – LF had a plan, but the plan depended on Sansa going along with it, both in the books and in the show.

            And I don’t see how this makes her look stupid at all – she’s now got leverage over LF and three of the most important lords of the Vale.

          • Sean C. says:

            The idea that this was his plan in advance really doesn’t accord with the later scene of Littlefinger curiously grilling her on her motives. He was clearly uncertain why she’d done what she did, and if he had any questions about her motivation, he would have sorted it out in advance.

        • David Hunt says:

          He was almost certainly going to get rid of her at some point…but it’s almost irrelevant to why he shoved through the Moon Door. He did it because Lysa almost killed Cat 2.0, the only woman that he’s ever loved (as LF understands love). LF wasn’t going to send “Cat” away now that he had her, and there so no way that Lysa wasn’t going to go batshit again the next time she saw Sansa and LF within 30 minutes of each other. The only solution was to make sure that Lysa couldn’t do that. Out she goes.

          The above is over-complicating it though. Lysa almost took “Cat” away from him, so he killed her.

          It’s entirely possible that he knew exactly how much of a bad idea it was to do it, in that manner, so soon after their marriage, but it wasn’t going to stop him. Getting back “Cat” is one of his lifelong driving obsessions. He’s (usually) capable of intelligent planning to achieve these obsessions, but when Sansa was directly threatened, I don’t think knowing what a bad position her murder would put him in was going to stop him. It’s kind of an insanely more extreme variant of how Tyrion will occasionally mouth off to powerful people even though he knows it a bad idea. He can’t help it. As I’m re-reading AGOT, I have an example from there. Tyrion mouthed off to Lysa even though he knew it was a bad idea and got himself thrown in a skycell. I haven’t read Tyrion’s regicide trial in a couple of years, but I expect there’s some good examples there as well.

        • Bail o' Lies says:

          Think of what Sansa is doing is as a testing of the waters for the Vale lords while staying with Littlefinger just incase.

          Sansa is currently wanted by the crown for the crime of regicide. Littlefinger is hiding her which means if it is found out the Lannisters will kill him. So if the Vale lords tell the Lannisters they will get what they want: Littlefinger removed for hiding a criminal wanted by the crown, Lord Robert (robin) as their ward, and probably some rewards for their service as well as proving their loyalty to the crown. If they rat out Sansa they get everything they want and more but if they keep the secret and prove their loyalty to the Starks and Arrnys (and show that their with Sansa for the long haul) than Sansa has a powerbase to build off of inorder to over throw Littlefinger later on as well as help the North later on.

  3. Sean C. says:

    Benioff’s commentary on the moment where Sansa is called in is “Littlefinger thinks the jig is up”, so I don’t think he planned anything she was going to say. The whole tenor of that scene, and the subsequent scene where he confronts her about her motives, are that he was taken by surprise entirely. Which does make him look like an idiot — after the show making Sansa look dumb for so long, I suppose that’s preferable, but it would be better if Sansa could outwit a smart person.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about this plot development (the fact that her getting more active at the flip of a switch leads to her dressing like a vamp could lead some uncomfortable places in the future; the writers have a very narrow definition of what a female “game player” looks like), as I liked the scenes, and I liked the actors playing Royce and Waynwood. Gillen didn’t ruin things either.

    Regarding Tyrion making fun of his cousin, Tyrion’s compassion for others only extends so far. If anything, I thought that moment was a welcome bit of the book character cropping up instead of “Saint Tyrion” — Tyrion in the books has an unending stream of nasty jokes to make at the expense of the mentally challenged and physically ugly Lollys Stokeworth, even (especially, even) after she’s been raped repeatedly. The scene itself was a bit long, but I liked it on the whole.

    In the realm of stupid plot devices, the mechanism for Jorah’s spying being exposed was astonishingly dumb, and it’s especially ridiculous considering there was a much better way to go about the same basic idea, which would be Tywin’s agents making it look like Jorah was still spying and leading one of Dany’s other followers to “discover” the communication. And at this point, I’m finding the show’s approach to Dany this season very frustrating. GRRM famously said he didn’t want the kings to have POVs (though he subsequently reversed himself on Robb, in retrospect), with Dany’s chapters an exception once she actually becomes a ruler — and yet on the show the writing has distanced the audience from Dany ever since she took office. We really needed to see the moment when she learns for the first time that Jorah was spying on her.

    • I disagree – let’s say they’d worked it out together. She could still decide to sell him out in that moment.

      And I highly disagree about the mechanism for Jorah being revealed – I think it works with a neat through-line from Tywin asking for paper to the paper being delivered. You don’t need a faked set of communiques that would give Jorah a reason to fight back; the truth of what he did is enough.

      • Sean C. says:

        But the whole plan hinges entirely on Jorah not contesting it (because if he did, everybody would have to be a complete dumbass to believe that it was real, seeing as Tywin hand-delivered it to them), which is a calculation that Tywin should not be able to make, since he knows nothing about Jorah.

  4. Carmed_up says:

    I guess this episode shows how things can really change over time. Like in the case of Sansa Stark. And a downturn for both Tyrion and the lady Tyrell. We can expect reversal of roles in Season 5, maybe?

  5. Maddy says:

    I absolutely loved the Sansa trial scene. As a book reader my mouth was on the floor. My one major caveat was them making LF look like an imbecile but after thinking about it and listening to the podcast I have come around on that. And you’re totally right is if this didn’t get the Sansa haters on board with her character absolutely nothing will.

    Seriously I think I have watched that scene at least 10 times. Sophie Turner was amazing and there were new layers I found every time. That scene and the Oberyn/ Tyrion scene in the dungeon are my favourites of the whole season so far.

    I’m worried about ep 10 though – the previews make it look like there’s a Jaime/ Cersei reconciliation (made even more awkward by the return of Alex Graves directing) which … nothing about that is OK AT ALL for so many reasons. And it’s probably going to overpower what should be an amazing episode.

  6. David says:

    FYC: A brief coda RE: the Mountain/Viper fight.

    My initial take was v. positive as well, Steven. After some conversations with a stage-combat professional and further review, I’ve regretfully had to lower my rating.

    The Viper’s stunt double was a joy to watch, don’t get me wrong, and the ending was every bit the faithful-to-the-books shock I’d hoped for.

    But the Mountain’s sword work throughout is clunky, basic, and awkward in a way that speaks less to “massive armored monstrosity” and more to… well, clumsy, basic, awkwardness. E.g.: there’s a parry-1, stopping a cut from the Viper’s spear aimed at his left leg, in which the Mountain places both hands on the hilt of his sword – *and both hands are upside-down.*

    Once I stopped paying so much attention to the Viper’s beautiful wushu work with the spear and focused more on the Mountain, I was increasingly confused and disappointed. Without a shield, why didn’t we see more of a (proper, please!) two-handed grip on the sword?

    Perhaps there just wasn’t a stunt double large enough to fill in for that actor. But from a guy who was once scouted for football, I was expecting something more in the way of coordination and athleticism, not just ponderous size. This iteration of the Mountain was large and had muscles to match, but his contribution to the fight wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

  7. David says:

    Only *if* it grabs you. It’s the fight-choreography equivalent of that Bran & Luwin scene way back in season 1, where Luwin’s going over the banners of houses and such. It gets the information across, but it’s ham-handed and assumes that your audience can’t or won’t invest the attention required to track more technically complex storytelling.

    RE: Star Wars: aw, come on, man. No love for some classic kendo? =D

    • Classic kendo doesn’t involve turning your back to your enemy when you’re standing right in front of him.

      And honestly, I thought the fight was just fine. In the fight, you should be paying attention more to the Viper’s fancy wuxia than the Mountain’s solid fundamentals, because the whole point is to lure the audience into a false sense of security.

  8. JT says:

    This always bothered me – Tyrion has a trial, is about to lose and then demands a trial by combat. It’s perfect game theory, but it seems like a big loophole in the system. Shouldn’t everyone ask for a trial and then if (and only if) things are going bad for them demand trial by combat? It’s not like you have anything to lose by going this route…

    • David says:

      Not necessarily; at the stage in his trial at which Tyrion opted for TbC, he had yet to be sentenced. Trials in which the verdict is considered to be a close or uncertain thing might result in leniency during sentencing; if you’ve invited the gods to step in and they’ve supposedly found you guilty, why should the judges apply anything less than the maximum penalty?

      • JT says:

        He hadn’t been sentenced, true – but it was clear that he was going to lose the trial. Shae had just testified against him, Sansa can’t be found, and Varys testified against him. I guess an accurate way of saying it is – let the prosecution present their case, and if after hearing it you realize you’re in trouble, roll the dice on a trial by combat.

    • 1. Not everyone has the right to trial by combat; it’s reserved for Knights and the highborn.

      2. There’s a reason why trial by combat was replaced by trial by judge/jury.

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