TV Recap: Game of Thrones, ‘Mockingbird’

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Plot: After usurping his father’s master plan, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is in desperate need of a champion. Jon (Kit Harington) faces the consequences of his actions. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) uses new tactics to keep those closest in her service. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod (Daniel Portman) make a startling discovery on their quest for Sansa (Sophie Turner). Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann) bond after their circumstances drastically change. Petyr (Aidan Gillen) shows his true colors.

A big theme throughout this season is a relative lack of direction for some characters. Throughout the past six episodes, several individuals were put down paths without much in the way of guidance. Tyrion is on trial for a crime he didn’t commit and lacks the abilities to get out. Brienne and Pod have no idea where Sansa is but are traveling for her anyway. Sansa is in the most precarious situation of her young life, and she can’t find a way to make it better for her. In slightly similar manners, both Arya and Jon know exactly what they hope to accomplish, but the massive uphill battles that they face make getting from A to B that much harder. With only three episodes to go now, it was hardly a surprise that “Mockingbird” gave most of these characters some fresh insight into what their lives have in store. It was an all-around great episode that only got held back by a few unnecessary moments.

Photo Credit:  Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Tyrion declaring a trial by combat after the farce he had to endure was essentially the Westerosi version of a mic-drop. Everyone near him was still reeling from his shocking decision. In truth, it really was the only decision he could make. This is the second time Tyrion is accused of a poisoning he did not commit. The first came in Season 1 against Lady Lysa (Kate Dickie), and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) was the exact champion Tyrion needed to get out alive. His situation now though is infinitely worse. His own sister wants him dead so badly that she has picked The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) to fight for her. Naturally everyone runs in fear from the elder Clegane. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) chooses not to fight since fighting with his left hand is still difficult, and Bronn has too much luxury to put his life on the line. It was heartbreaking but a little expected to watch Tyrion’s grand escape slowly slip out of his fingers.

Then Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) swoops in to save the day (hopefully). After an extremely powerful scene where Oberyn reveals how long Cersei has wanted Tyrion dead, he pledges to fight for him against the Mountain. Thankfully nothing else happened at King’s Landing once this was done as it was the ultimate way to wrap up that story for the night. When you really think about it, Oberyn is the perfect choice. The Red Viper of Dorne is renowned for his abilities in the battlefield. Fueled by his hatred for the Lannisters and the Mountain, it would be foolish for this hardened warrior to pass up the chance to get the revenge he so desperately wants. It also goes to show just how much Tyrion is disconnected from his family. He may be a Lannister, but Oberyn’s willingness to save him in the name of revenge really separates the half-man even further. It was an appropriate seismic shift that I cannot wait to see unfold in two weeks.

Even though she didn’t get any coverage until the final few moments, Sansa’s tale contained an equally jaw-dropping twist that completely changed her entire situation. As we saw when Sansa first arrived in the Vale, Lysa was nothing but a threat to the poor girl. Her jealousy against Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) is enough to threaten one of the few surviving members of her family. That was compounded even further last night when Sansa both slapped Robin (Lino Facioli) and was kissed by Petyr. The poor girl only wanted to make a model of Winterfell in the snow too! Poor Sansa is subsequently threatened to be thrown out of the Moon Door for her incidental actions against her completely bonkers Aunt. Yet then Petyr swoops in and saves her…only to push Lysa herself through the Moon Door and to certain death.

If anything, Lysa’s quick removal from the show can prove to be very beneficial for Sansa. Petyr may be a ruthless human being, but the one person he was ever loyal to was Catelyn. Clearly his love for Sansa’s deceased mother still burns brighter than ever. Lysa herself was merely a stepping stone in his quest for ultimate power. While it’s unfortunate that Sansa is a big cog in his grand plan, his fervent devotion to her gives this grand change a massive upside. For the first time in a while, Sansa is actually with someone who will kill anyone if it means protecting her. Petyr is just the right amount of crazy that Sansa needs to maintain the dwindling Stark bloodline. Though the situation is far from ideal, staying with Petyr is the most direction Sansa has received since her life was ruined in King’s Landing.

Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

While their scenes were unfortunately short, as usual, Brienne and Pod made an incredible discovery. They have officially learned that Arya is alive and is being taken to The Vale with The Hound. This was all thanks to Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey) who had an excellent cameo. Not only is Brienne’s promise to the late Catelyn that much stronger now, she actually has some direction in her journey to bring Sansa to safety. It was honestly amazing to finally get some plot movement with everyone’s favorite new pair.

Speaking of Arya, her scenes with the Hound were the most powerful all season. For the first time ever, their budding kinship took a drastic turn. Arya has long since maintained that she wants the Hound dead for what he’s done. It’s tough to blame the poor girl too. Yet after he’s brutally attacked by the men Arya used to travel with, she chooses to mend the Hounds’ wounds while he opens up to her about his brother. It was a welcome bit of ice-breaking between this typically very tense pairing. I have no doubt that the Hound will continue his journey to take Arya to the Vale without any questions. How that will end though has appropriately changed as much as their relationship.

Both Jon and Dany received some minor attention last night, though I was a much bigger fan of the latter. Though we never saw the deed done, it’s heavily assumed that Dany and Daario (Michel Huisman) had sex. This is huge merely for the fact that it’s the first time since Dany became Khaleesi that she has used her sexuality to keep her subjects in line. It’s been interesting to see what type of queen Dany could become and last night proved she is unashamed in seduction. It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say she had a little Cersei (Lena Heady) in her at that moment. As for the aforementioned Jon story, it was frustrating to watch Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) continue to undermine him. Yes I know that the two have always had bad blood, but clearly Jon liberating Craster’s keep was a smart idea. It’s almost as if everyone forgot that even happened though. What gives?

There was also a brief scene last night with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) but it honestly felt wholly unnecessary. I guess Stannis (Stephen Dillane) is on the move now? This is when the show would benefit from presenting and not telling.

With only three episodes remaining this season, “Mockingbird” gave us the appropriate changes we needed to give most of our cast some direction into the final moments. “The Mountain and the Viper” already looks like its going to completely build off these changes to get a lot of steam. We’ll have Oberyn fighting Gregor, Petyr on trial for killing Lysa, Wildlings attacking Mole’s Town, and who knows what else. “Mockingbird” really was another great episode that successfully balanced the fallout from Tyrion’s trial with heavy movement across a ton of stories. Wherever we go from here is bound to be exciting.

Rating: 8.7/10

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