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Episode 8 - The Mountain And The Viper

"The Mountain and the Viper" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of HBO's medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The 38th episode overall, it was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alex Graves.[1] It first aired on HBO on June 1, 2014.[2]

Episode 8 - The Mountain and the Viper

In the episode, Mole's Town is attacked by wildlings, but Gilly is spared by Ygritte; Theon Greyjoy negotiates with the remaining ironborn at Moat Cailin; Roose Bolton legitimizes his bastard son Ramsay; Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is interrogated by the Lords of the Vale following Lysa Arryn's death; Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark arrive at the Eyrie; Jorah Mormont admits to Daenerys Targaryen that he spied on her for Robert Baratheon years earlier, and is banished from Meereen; and Tyrion Lannister's trial by combat takes place in King's Landing. The title refers to Tyrion's trial by combat, a duel between Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane and Oberyn "The Viper" Martell.[3] The episode achieved a viewership of 7.17 million in the United States during its initial broadcast,[4] and received positive reviews from critics.

At the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2014, the episode was nominated for Outstanding Music Composition (Original Dramatic Score), and won the award for Outstanding Production Design in a Single-Camera Fantasy Series (sharing with "The Laws of Gods and Men").[5]

This episode contains content from three of George Martin's novels: A Storm of Swords, chapters Daenerys V, Daenerys VI, Jon VII and Tyrion X; A Feast for Crows, chapters Alayne I and Alayne II; and A Dance with Dragons, chapter Reek II.[6]

"The Mountain and the Viper" was watched by an estimated 7.17 million people during its first airing.[4] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 1.811 million viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week. It also received 0.062 million timeshift viewers.[7]

The episode received high praise from critics and audiences alike, with the fight between Prince Oberyn and the Mountain being hailed as the episode's highlight. On Rotten Tomatoes it obtained a 97% score, based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With one of the most gruesome scenes to date, 'The Mountain and the Viper' delivers a tense, twisty final scene well worth the wait."[8]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Emily VanDerWerff gave the episode an A- and praised the staging of the final fight by director Alex Graves.[9] Erik Adams, also writing for the A.V. Club gave the episode an A.[10] Terri Schwartz, writing for, wrote the episode was "one of the strongest Game of Thrones episodes to date, and that's just the type of episode that the death of Oberyn Martell deserves."[11]

In the most blatant display of, this is F***** HBO yet, we get the most brutal episode of Game of Thrones so far. From killing ladies of the night, to killing snakes in the streets it was an all out battle pushing the limits of what you can legally do on tv.

The big, dramatic moment in tonight's episode, The Mountain and the Viper, comes at its end---when the Prince of Dorne, Oberyn Martell, fights Gregor Clegane, the Hound's older brother, in a trial by combat for the wrongly accused Tyrion Lannister.

In tonight's episode, we see an entirely new side of Sansa Stark---one that I find both welcome and unsurprising. Sansa was always the idealist. She believed in valiant knights and fairy tale endings. She was a princess in her mind, and she was off to wed her handsome prince. It couldn't last.

While the Starks floundered in the game of thrones, the Boltons thrived. Which is terrifying of course. Ramsay's use of Theon/Reek to take the fortress in tonight's episode illustrated at once just how deranged Theon has become, and that there's still some of his old self locked away in that shell.

And then he dies. When all seems won, the Mountain rises. It's awful to watch. Not necessarily harder than it was to find this out for the first time reading, but almost more terrible since Oberyn is so excellent in the show. His revenge is so sincere. You want him to have his justice, just like you want Robb Stark to beat the Lannisters in a decisive victory, and you want Ned Stark to arrest Cersei and Joffrey when he had the chance. And you don't want to hear The Rains of Castamere playing, but you do...even in the opening of this episode, you do.

Justice isn't in the cards, and Oberyn dies a grisly and terrible death, while Tyrion faces the axman's block. I was worried about this episode, worried that they wouldn't pull it off, that the drama of the book would be hard to convey on TV. But as Oberyn circled his downed enemy, repeating over and over again Clegane's crimes, I was drawn in. I was, once again, hoping that they'd just change the book. Does every good man really need to die this way? Why is war such hell?

There was an attention to detail and a style on display in The Mountain and the Viper that rivals anything we've seen in Game of Thrones thus far. The camera lingers just long enough on each character's face. Jorah's grief is carved out in front of us. Grey Worm's curiosity and lust. Theon's torment. Director Alex Graves (who also directed the Purple Wedding episode) treats us to one surprising, evocative scene after another. This is Game of Thrones at its finest.

Still, as ever, Game of Thrones did a very Game of Thrones thing and managed to genuinely surprise us. Just as it looked like the Viper was about to Inigo Montoya his way to victory, his desperation for vengeance betrayed him, allowing Clegane to gain the upper hand. As always, we were reminded that the only way to succeed in this world is to eschew all emotion, Tywin Lannister-style. Or perhaps, as of this episode, Sansa Stark-style.

Finally, the episode closes on the sequence that everyone was waiting for: the Mountain versus the Viper. Before we get to the actual trial by combat, we visit with the accused one more time. Jaime brings Tyrion a wineskin and they reminisce about their youth. During this scene, Tyrion recites a monologue about a cousin, Orson Lannister, who used to be singularly obsessed with crushing beetles.

The other character worth a mention was Sansa Stark. Again, Sophie Turner excelled herself and gave another strong turn. Her transformation towards the end episode was striking as she rocked medieval gothic chic. Is this a promise of another facet to Sansa Stark that we have not yet seen?

Yep. Total bummer. Fool us once, shame on Game of Thrones. Fool us this many times, shame on us. Ramsay Snow, sorry, Ramsay Bolton said it best, "if you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." At least "The Mountain and the Viper" contained a suitably epic send-off for the charismatic and instantly popular character. A showdown they'll write songs about. Forget the fantasy's former formula of delivering a major death in the penultimate installment of the season, this year every episode says goodbye to someone we've come to love. Or hate. This time both at once.

Oberyn Martell and Ser Gregor Clegane weren't the only significant losses that occurred in the episode. Jorah didn't die but he was banished from Daenerys' side which, for him, is probably worse than death. The sole rider with all of Meereen behind him was a striking image. A shame because he does love his Khalessi and stopped spying for Varys a long time ago. Of course, when Tywin heard that the knight was now a trusted advisor and no longer providing them information, the Hand of the King made sure to send that pardon Jorah's way and sow discord in Dany's camp.

It's sad to see Jorah go but that's what happens when you play the Game of Thrones. And no one plays the game better than Littlefinger. That's when he's not distracted by a dead Cat or her very much alive lookalike daughter. The last episode saw our "Mockingbird" have to toss Lady Arryn out the moondoor after his weakness resulted in the top player getting caught red handed and this week was spent struggling to cover up the uncharacteristic slip.

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.

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?

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.

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. 041b061a72


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