Game of Thrones – Season Four, Episode Seven

got4More of Season Four of GOT – or three-point-five, as I like to think of it. This week, we had more development and more buildup to what is to be the season’s climax. And judging from all the tidbits ventured this week and in previous episodes, this will all come down to an assault on the Wall involving Mance Rayder at one end and Ygritte and Tormund at the other, and Tyrion’s fate being decided in a trial by combat. Those are the main big ticket items are they are set to be exploding in the coming two weeks!

As for the lesser plot points, Arya is either going to make it to the Eyrie with the Hound or strike out and finding her own path. Sansa is going to be stuck with and hit upon by her creepy-uncle figure Petyr and try not to vomit. Brienne is either going to find her and her sister or get lost in the woods with Podrick (and maybe find out what the whores in King’s Landing already know!), and… something involving Daenerys and Stannis. Not a lot of promise there yet, but whatever…

Mockingbird:
GOT4_7_3The episode opens in King’s Landing, where Tyrion and Jaime discuss his demand for a trial by combat. Jaime tells him he cannot fight for him since the loss of his hand, and Tyrion asks that he find Bronn for him. Jaime then lets Tyrion know that Cersei plans to call on Ser Gregor Clegane – aka. the Mountain – to be her champion. We then see him in a yard slicing through prisoners before Cersei comes to his side and thanks him for answering her call.

Bronn comes to Tyrion and tells him that he’s now married, and that Cersei arranged it. He declines the offer to be Tyrion’s champion since the odds of winning are slim, and because Tyrion can offer him little. Prince Oberyn arrives later, telling Tyrion of how he was at Casterly Rock after Tyrion had been born and how Cersei had been horribly cruel to him even then. He then tells him that he intends to seek justice for his family, and that he will be Tyrion’s champion so he can kill the man who murdered his sister and her children.

GOT4_7_2Farther north, Arya and Sandor Clegan come upon another burnt out hut and a dying villager. After telling them of his woe, Sandor stabs him in the heart to end his pain. Two men then jump him, one biting Clegane’s shoulder before he manages to snap the man’s neck. We then see that it was Biter and Rorge, two of the prisoners Yoren was taking to the Wall before. Arya recognized Rorge and remembers how he threatened to rape her. After learning his name, she stabs him through the heart, and Sandor congratulates her for learning.

At the Wall, Jon Snow returns from his mission to Craster’s Keep to kill the muntineers. A council is held to discuss what to do about the impending Wildling attack, and Jon Snow advices that they block the gates with rocks and ice. He is overruled by Bowen Marsh and Janos Slynt, both of whom mistrust Jon due to his time amongst the Wildlings. To add insult to injury, he and Sam are given the night’s watch until the next full moon.

got4_7_4In Mereen, Daenerys finds Daario in her chamber offering himself to her, which she accepts. In the morning, Mormont comes around and learns of what has happened. He counsels Daenerys not to trust him, but she replies that she doesn’t, which is why she has sent him to liberate Yunkai and kill all the masters. Mormont cautions her that her actions will only lead to more suffering, and advising mercy. As a compromises, she decides to send Hizdar zo Loraq with Daario to caution the masters into obedience.

In the Riverlands, Brienne and Podrick set down at an inn for the night and enjoy some kidney pies – which, as it turns out, which cooked by Hot Pie. They meet him while taking their meal, he sits down to chat. She lets him know they are looking for Sansa Stark, and that they intend to bring her home. He confides that he knew Arya, and that she was in the company of the Brotherhood Without Banners, and that the Hound was with them too. From this, Pod suggests that Arya would likely be heading to the Eyrie, and that Sansa may be there as well.

got4_7_5In the Eyrie, Robin finds Sansa in the courtyard playing in the snow. She has built a snow castle of Winterfell, which Robin accidentally damages. This prompts an argument, Robin throws a tantrum and kicks down the castle, and Sansa slaps him. He runs off, and Petyr comes in and tells her not to worry. She asks him why he really killed Joffrey, and he confesses he did it to avenge her mother because he loved her. He then kisses her, which her aunt sees.

Afterward, Lysa summons her to the throne room and asks her to stand beside her at the Moon Door. She accuses her of kissing Petyr, flies into a jealous rage and threatens to throw Sansa out. Petyr then enters and calms her down by promising to send Sansa away. She lets Sansa goes and begins to cry. Petyr them takes her in his arms and says he’s only ever loved one woman, her sister, and then shoved her out the Moon Door.

Summary:
Overall, not a bad episode! And a nice surprise after last week’s bomb-fest. There were the bits and pieces I was expecting and looked forward to – including Oberyn becoming Tyrion’s champion, the presentation of the new Mountain (once again recast, and played this time by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), and Petry shoving Lysa out the Moon Door. Other than that, not much happened, but not much was meant to. There’s plenty going on before the season finale, and this episode needed to set much of that up.

That being said, there were some bits that seemed kind of dumb. As usual, this had to do with the ongoing storyline in Dragonstone, where they usually cut to whenever they need some pacing. The only difference was, this time around they at least hinted at something significant, which appears to be that Melissandre wants Selyse (Stannis’ wife) to sacrifice her daughter to the Red God. And while I can’t complain about seeing Melissandre naked, it was admittedly unnecessary – much like Daario dropping his pants!

Speaking of which, Daenerys’ parts were once again filler. First, we have her bedding Daario (which is something that doesn’t happen until book V) and then sending him off to recapture Yunkia (something that didn’t happen in the books at all). I tell ya, they are just trying to keep her storyline going since they did a rush job on all those sieges! A Storm of Swords, which this season and last are based on, ended with her seizing Mereen. But with that done, they now have nothing for her to do but deal with the travails and travesties of ruling. BORING!

But other than that, things were pretty good. I really do enjoy what they are doing with Oberyn, who is being very well played by Pedro Pascal. When it was initially announced that he would be playing the role, some fans were critical since they didn’t think he looked the part. In fact, the word “whitewashing” was used. However, I think he’s done a magnificent job in the role. And Kate Dickie really killed it as the irrational and insanely jealous Lysa Arryn. Too bad Petyr killed her 😉

And let me take this moment to say that I am glad they’ve recast a few roles. Daario Naharis, as played by Ed Skrein last season, didn’t look a DAMN THING like he is described in the books. Michiel Huisman, who plays him this season, might not fit the role to a t, but he’s way closer than that braided-haired, beardless pretty boy. And after replacing Conan Stevens in season one with Ian Whyte in seasons two, I’m glad they have an actor again who captures The Mountain’s true appearance and nature.

So now, things are all set for next week’s showstopper – the fight between Prince Oberyn and Ser Gregor Clegane. It is appropriately titled “The Mountain and the Viper”. And no spoilers, but it’s gonna be epic and very… George RR Martinesque!

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 13

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7This week on the Walking Dead… more pacing, more backstory, more filler! After last week’s bottle episode that focused entirely on Daryl Dixon and Beth Greene in the wilderness, we got a more balanced episode that saw more from that unlikely duo, plus some updates on Beth, Bob and Sasha as they continue to look for Glenn and proceed towards Terminus. And as usual, we got to hear a bit more about their pasts and got another earful about the need to “keep hanging on”.

Throw in some more kills and foraging, and you’ve got yourself another pacing episode as we near the season four conclusion. I know, it sounds like I’m being critical. But in honesty, I found it entertaining and enjoyable.

Alone:
wd4_13_1The episode opens with a flashback on Bob Crowley’s life before he reached the prison. This consisted of wandering through the woods, maintaining a thousand-yard-stare, and then getting picked up by Daryl and Glenn as they found him on the road. As is their custom, they asked him the two big questions: “How many Walkers have you killed?” and “How many people have you killed?” He then joins them, indifferent to what kind of people they might be since he’s sick of being alone.

Flash forward to the present where he, Maggie and Sasha are still searching for Glenn. After fending off a group of walkers in the mist, they proceed to the railroad tracks where they too find a sign showing them how to get to Terminus. Maggie insists they go to this town since she’s sure Glenn would have if he saw the sign, but Sasha thinks its a trap. Grudgingly, they stay together and follow the tracks to the destination.

wd4_13_3Meanwhile, Beth and Daryl continue to track through the woods and Beth is injured when she steps in a small trap. They proceed to a funeral home surrounded by a vast graveyard and put in their for the night, noticing that someone else seems to have taken up residence. As they eat and wait, they continue to bond. Beth is insistent that Daryl accept that there are still good people in the world, but realizes he does because of her.

As they wait for Beth’s leg to heal, a dog comes around to the house and tripping their string of cans. One night, it returns, and Daryl opens the door to find a herd of walkers fighting to get in. Daryl lures them to the embalming room in the basement where he uses surgical tools to kill them while Beth escapes out the back. When Daryl makes it to the road, he sees her bag lying on the ground and a car drive off.

wd4_13_4Daryl runs through the night, following the road, and finds his way to the tracks where he finally collapses. He is then found by a group of armed men who appear to want to scavenge his equipment. A standoff ensues as Daryl points his crossbow at their leader, a man named Joe. We recognize him as one of the gunmen who Rick run afoul of earlier, and he encourages Daryl to come with them and “hurt other people”.

During the night, Sasha suggest to Bob they abandon the search, find the nearest building, and hold up. The next morning, they a wake to find that Maggie has gone on without them. They head along the tracks, hoping to catch her, and find that she’s left a trail of carved messages telling Glenn to go to Terminus. They eventually find their way to a series of buildings and Sasha once again suggests they set down there, but Bob insists they continue.

wd4_13-2Bob challenges Sasha to maintain hope that they find Tyreese and the others at Terminus; but sensing she won’t come, kisses her goodbye. He heads off alone again, and Sasha heads into the tall brick building. Looking out the window, she spots Maggie sleeping below. She accidentally knocks a window pane, which wakes up Maggie and causes Walkers to converge on her. Together, they manage to fight them off.

Maggie tells Sasha that she heard all she said, but that she was still waiting for Sasha and Bob to catch up since she needs them. They come together and eventually find Bob, and proceed on their way to Terminus. Somewhere else along the tracks, Glenn stops to read from a map that points the way to the same location…

Summary:
Compared to last week’s episode, this bit of filler proved to be more entertaining, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of Maggie, Bob and Sasha’s thread. It also managed to hint at what’s coming, thanks to the introduction of Joe and his party of  hunters/marauders. We already know from episodes past that they are some bad news, so I imagine Daryl will have his hands full in the near future.

I also enjoyed the shooting locations for this episode and the action sequences. Maggie really redefined the word badass with the way she used a street sign like it was a battleaxe, chopping and hewing her way through a horde of zombie heads. And that last shot, where she decapitated one of the biters? Holy crap, that was good! And of course, Sasha did pretty good too, wielding a sharpened stick like it was a combination spear/bo staff.

Alas, there were things I didn’t like much about this episode. For one, they seem to be running headlong towards a romantic entanglement between Beth and Daryl. I imagine there are some people out there clamoring for it to happen, but c’mon people! She’s still a child and Daryl is not the type to play the creepy old man! Still, the dynamic between them is very effective, and the budding relationship is touching. I just think it would be better if it didn’t get romantic!

And unlike other episodes, the title wasn’t so double-entendre-y this week. It was very much obvious, and harped on yet another theme that is growing tired on this show. Yes, the message of this week’s episode was more than clear: no one can make it out here alone. And of course this plays into the whole “we got to keep holding on” message that is played at least once an episode.

And what’s also a little bothersome is the fact that next week’s episode looks like more of the same. After hearing from Rick, Carl and James, Daryl and Beth, and now Maggie, Bob and Sasha, we’re about to get a bottle episode dedicated to Tyreese, Carol and the girls.

But there’s only three episodes left and they are already dropping hints as to how its going to wrap up. I predict a showdown between Rick and co. and Joe and his band of very bad men. But we’ll see soon enough!