'Game Of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 8 Review: Trial By Combat And The Best Moments From 'The Mountain And The Viper'

'Game Of Thrones' Season 4, Episode 8 Review
'Game Of Thrones' Season 4, episode 8, "The Mountain and the Viper," decided Tyrion's fate via trial by combat. HBO

On "Game of Thrones" Season 4 episode 8, "The Mountain and the Viper," Tyrion's fate was decided by the highly anticipated trial by combat between Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, and Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper. While all eyes were on King's Landing, the trial of Littlefinger served as a milestone moment in the development of Sansa.

Warning: Full "Game of Thrones" Season 4 spoilers ahead.

Trial By Combat And Tyrion's Fate

The series has upped the ante with Sunday's episode as it featured two shocking deaths as the trial by combat was a draw but the tie cost the Red Viper and the Mountain their lives and sets up the death of Tyrion.

In the International Business Times' interview with Alex Graves, who directed Sunday's episode, Graves discussed what is next for Tyrion following the trial by combat. According to Graves, "As Joffrey's death was really the beginning of a storyline, at the end of this fight it is the beginning of another storyline which is, 'Well, they are going to kill Peter Dinklage,' so what's going to happen?" That's the big question following "The Mountain and the Viper;" will "Game of Thrones" really kill Tyrion, perhaps the best audience surrogate?

Before the trial, Jaime and Tyrion share a moment in the cells as they await the fateful trial. Peter Dinklage continues to deliver amazing performances and his story about cousin Orson, triggered by Jaime's noting there is no word for one who kills their cousin, was one of his finer moments. There is no cousin Orson in "A Song of Ice and Fire" but the story about the senseless destruction of life weighs heavily on the "Game of Thrones" series. As for the bettle smashing, Orson's reasons remain a mystery.

Prior to the battle, Oberyn and Elaria share one last moment which further emphasizes why the Red Viper and his paramour have become fan favorites and why they will be missed from the show. During the interview, Graves talked about shooting the fight between Oberyn and the Mountain in a slick fashion as a way to contrast the finale and the horror of seeing the Red Viper's destroyed skull was a stunning way to end the episode. Oberyn wants a confession from the Mountain and his passion gets the best of him. He ultimately gets the confession he wants, the Mountain raped and killed Elia Martell, but it cost the Red Viper his life.

With the deaths of the Red Viper and the Mountain, Tywin announces the verdict; Tyrion is found guilty and is sentenced to death.

Jorah Is Banished 

Meereen was another focal point of "The Mountain and the Viper." Starting with a new subplot, Grey Worm and Missandei share a moment and while it is an interesting subplot that adds new dimension to the two characters. While I'm not sure where it is going, it was a fun diversion and a nice glimmer of hope in a rather bleak world. Despite the very serious nature and high stakes of "The Mountain and Viper," the episode featured some great comedic moments that broke up the pace and tone including Daenerys' "pillar and the stones" comment.

While I am holding judgment with the Grey Worm and Missandei storyline, I really enjoyed Jorah's banishment from Meereen and from the service of Daenerys. Ser Barristan receives the pardon from "Game of Thrones" Season 1 and presents it to Jorah. Knowing he has been found out as a traitor, Jorah can barely face Daenerys and seeing the proud man's voice tremble as he begs for forgiveness was a powerful moment. Forgiveness is not an option for Daenerys and Jorah has been banished begins and it is unclear what the future holds for Jorah. Daenerys is a ruler of action and she continues to stand by her convictions although that could become detrimental as she will have to deal with the savvy players in the game of thrones if she wants to rule Westeros.

A Father's Love Conquers All

Ramsay uses Reek to capture Moat Cailin. The Ironborn are stubborn but sensible and most of the soldiers are sick or dying and despite an attempt to rebuff the offer from the Boltons, they surrendered Moat Cailin for freedom. Too bad the Boltons are not great at keeping promises and Ramsay's men kill and flay the Greyjoy men. This tremendous victory earns legitimacy for Ramsay and he is officially Roose's son and bears the name Bolton and the North is effectively in the hands of the Bolton family.

The Trial Of Littlefinger

Following the death of Lysa, Littlefinger tries to convince the jury her death was a suicide but to no avail. Lysa may have been crazy but not suicidal and the panel bring Sansa to the stand. Needless to say, this has been Sansa's strongest moment in "Game of Thrones" Season 4 and perhaps the entire series. Sansa does a masterful job swaying the jury and the best part is she is telling the truth throughout her testimony until the very end. Sansa reveals herself and confirms Littlefinger's version of the story in an Oscar-worthy performance but Lord Royce may not be so convinced. As Littlefinger works to groom Robyn, Sansa has transformed into the Lady of the Vale in a stunning sequence.

"Game of Thrones" Season 4 has really streamlined the "A Song of Ice and Fire" storyline between the two characters in a way that kept the important developments but also enhanced the storyline.  

Another interesting thing "The Mountain and the Viper" set up was a potential showdown between Littlefinger and Roose in the future.The two cunning, social climbers have their eye on the North and the two will be great adversaries if that is the case.

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh

Speaking of comedy, Arya and the Hound arrive at the Vale and it is another close call between the Stark children. In "Game of Thrones" Season 4, episode 5, "First of His Name," Jon Snow and Bran were at Craster's Keep but were not reunited. The Hound had just one plan, to bring Arya to the Vale and sell her to her aunt, Lysa. Through everything, the fight at the end of the season premiere to the ambush in "Mockingbird," and all the miles on the road just to be three days late. Like Arya, sometimes all you can do is just laugh.

Castle Black Under Attack

Ygritte's band of wildlings lead an attack on Mole's Town. As Tormund and Styr kill everyone in sight, Ygritte stops for a moment and spares Gilly and her son's life. Sam is devestated when he hears the news of the Mole's Town attack, fearing for Gilly's safety but his Brothers in the Night's Watch are supportive and assure him she is alive....maybe. Jon Snow continues to make the right decisions, waiting for the proper attack on Castle Black from Mance Rayder's army. The epic battle for Castle Black will occur in "Game of Thrones" Season 4, episode 9, "The Watchers on the Wall."

 

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