‘Game Of Thrones’ Book Readers Discussion: ‘The Mountain And The Viper’

(Note: to help clear up the discussion thread congestion, we’re publishing two Game of Thrones recaps this season, one for book readers and one for non-book readers. Doing it this way means those who have read A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows don’t have to begin every conversation with “SPOILER,” or those who haven’t won’t need to worry about learning something they shouldn’t.)

fter watching the end credits of “The Mountain and the Viper” in a daze, I got up, and — without saying a word to my wife — went into the kitchen. The spaghetti and meatballs we ate earlier that evening had to be put into the fridge, and I needed to distract myself from the alternate ending of The Princess Bride I had just witnessed. I immediately regretted this decision when I started scooping the saucy red meat into a container — the slopping noise was a Foley artist’s wet dream for, oh, a Mountain of a man squeezing out someone’s eyeballs. And then I heard the POP of a caved-in skull all over again.

Here’s the way Mountain vs. Red Viper is written in the book:

“Elia of Dorne,” they all heard Ser Gregor say, when they were close enough to kiss. His deep voice boomed within the helm. “I killed her screaming whelp.” He thrust his free hand into Oberyn’s unprotected face, pushing steel fingers into his eyes. “Then I raped her.” Clegane slammed his fist into the Dornishman’s mouth, making splinters of his teeth. “Then I smashed her fucking head in. Like this.” As he drew back his huge fist, the blood on his gauntlet seemed to smoke in the cold dawn air. There was a sickening crunch. Ellaria Sand wailed in terror, and Tyrion’s breakfast came boiling back up. He found himself on his knees retching bacon and sausage and applecakes, and that double helping of fried eggs cooked up with onions and fiery Dornish peppers.

What makes that “sickening crunch” so memorably brutal is how unexpected it is. The Mountain is on the ground, unmoving, ready for one final blow from Oberyn. But Oberyn didn’t pick this fight for murder (or Tyrion) — he picked it for murder…and vengeance. He needs the Mountain to say those words he’s been waiting for years to hear, but they never come. And that silence is what killed him. Well, that, and his squished grape head. Peacocking Inigo Montoya, I mean, Oberyn tried to make sense of what should have been simple — KILL KILL KILL — but while everyone around him was demanding blood, he craved knowledge. That, I believe, is why he got along with Tyrion: they both tried (and failed) to make sense of death, Oberyn with Elia and Tyrion with slow-minded Orson’s ritualistic murdering of beetles. But death doesn’t make sense. It just is, and sometimes all you can do is laugh it off.

So long as you’re alive enough to do so, that is. RIPrince Oberyn. More thoughts after the jump.

-As noted by Alan Sepinwall, the three times we’ve checked in on Theon/Reek were in EVENT EPISODES: the Purple Wedding, Tyrion’s trial, and this one. He theorizes that’s because David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are “strategically” placing most fans’ least favorite storyline into episodes where they’ll be forgotten, and I don’t disagree. Theon as Reek as Theon convincing his fellow Ironborns to kneel to the Boltons isn’t as misery porn as some of his other appearances, which is a weird thing to say considering some dude gets flayed, but it was still far less interesting than everything else going on around him.

-Meanwhile, the Stark sisters were nearly reunited, but like Jon and Bran from earlier this season, it’s unlikely to happen. Sansa has been turned into some not-undesirable hybrid of Maleficent and Katniss Everdeen, off escorting sickly Robin on a tour of the Vale (I’m disappointed Littlefinger didn’t wink at the camera after he said “leaves the nest”), while Arya’s beyond the Bloody Gates, slowly going mad.

-That’s still better than slowly dying, though, which is what’s happening to the Hound if he doesn’t get over his fear of fire. He’s rotting away, something the show doesn’t want us to forget.

-There are only two songs on this show, but only one that this charming lady can burp.

-The check-ins on Mole’s Town and Castle Black served as reminders that, yes, Ygritte is still alive, and yes, she’ll be reunited with (and fighting against) that Knows Nothing soon.

-Are we assuming the Unsullied fellas wash themselves with their pants on because they’re ashamed of their lack of pillar and stones, or would more than one d*ck on-screen at the same time be too much for HBO? At least give the ladies a little SOMETHING. Not that us fellas are complaining.

-I ship Missandei and Grey Worm SO hard.

-This was a gorgeously directed episode — I particularly loved the way Dany was unable to look at Jorah while exiling him. It’s also worth recapping how we get here: Jorah married a woman named Lynesse. She was accustomed to only the finest things in life, and not the harsh realities of the aptly-named Bear Island, so Jorah got desperate and tried to make her happy…by getting involved in the slave trade. That’s a big no-no, and he was sentenced to death. But before the execution happened, he fled and blah blah blah, you know the rest, thanks to the semi-skillfully handled exposition of Jorah telling Dany why he did what he did and his subsequent banishment. He’ll be missed, though not by Daario.

-Now that she has some meaty material to work with, Sophie Turner has been KILLING it this season. Her tearful monologue about what “really” happened to Lysa was a thing of beauty — even Littlefinger looked impressed by his niece’s tear-stained tale. That being said, I am NOT feeling the longing glances he’s shooting her way. It’s uncomfortable and wrong and doesn’t really serve the show. Littlefinger is a crafty pervert, and that’s why we love him, but leave Sansa out of it, please.

-Tyrion’s future is up in the air right now, but I hope it involves at least one more scene with Jaime (who was apparently almost touched by a male librarian once, so…). Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have marvelous chemistry together, even when one of them is pissing in a dungeon and counting off all the different -cides. (Fun fact: I learned what regicide is from The Simpsons.)

-I’m probably in the minority here, but I actually liked Tyrion’s Orson speech more than his drop the mic screed in “The Laws of Gods and Men.” Dinklage’s frustration was quizzical rather than furious, and that suits him well. He also dropped two instant classic Tyrion Bombs: “laughing at another person’s misery was the only thing that made me feel like everyone else,” and “turns out, far too much has been written about great men and not nearly enough about morons.” Oh, and “wine always help.” He may be boned and about to lose his head, but at least he’s kept his wits.

-There’s no cure for being a CUNK CUNK CUNK.

-I can’t watch the fight again (though it seems like a lot of people have problems with it, to which I say, a bisexual prince pranced around before his skull exploded like an egg in the microwave by a brute whose name, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, sounds like a black metal song title — what more could you want?), so I’ll let Pedro Pascal recap it.

Book Reader Spoiler Section: do you guys think the show has done enough to prepare us for the Battle of Castle Black, which is what I’m assuming comes next week (I haven’t seen the preview)? I’m not so sure, though consolidating Jon and Stannis’ plots will help the show greatly next season. Also, note that in their dungeon scene, Jaime scoffed a little after Tyrion says “patricide.” JUST YOU WAIT.

No list this week; instead, I made this.