WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE IS GREATER THAN THE LOVE OF POWER, THEN THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE says a quote attributed to Jimi Hendrix on a bumper sticker I saw recently. Thankfully in the Seven Kingdoms and across the Narrow Sea and over the Wall love is just another will to power and power is the name of the game (of thrones! See what I did there? During this episode I also realized that Moon Door rhymes with Hodor, but I’ll spare you anything further about that-- probably.)
Tonight’s episode, “Mockingbird,” opens in medias res, presumably right after Tyrion has finished telling off the people of King’s Landing and demanding a trial by combat. Tyrion’s back in his grubby little dungeon cell, with Jamie fuming at him for blowing that extremely awesome and well thought out deal Jamie made with Tywin during last week’s episode. That Jamie needs to be told that he was playing right into Tywin’s hands makes me worry that perhaps Jamie is short more than just a hand, but perhaps that was just some exposition for the newcomers. Tyrion as usual gets the best lines in, especially when he gets to play Jan Brady: “You’re the golden son,” he says, “you could kill a king, lose a hand, fuck your own sister, you’ll always be the golden son.” Jamie cautions him that he, Jamie is the last friend that he, Tyrion, has got. Not true, as it turns out. More on that shortly. The argument closes out with the question—can Jamie champion Tyrion? No. He can’t fight with his left hand. Did he perhaps want to go die for Tyrion anyway? Um, respectfully decline. Where’s Bronn? Where indeed. One last question: who is Cersei naming as a champion? Bad news, Tyrion. It’s not Ser Meryn Trant. It’s . . .
Meanwhile in some random part of the castle devoted, at least on this occasion, to letting perfectly huge people disembowel and otherwise smash ragged old scarecrow looking convicts (I hope they were convicts?) a perfectly huge gentleman is impaling, disemboweling, and smashing ragged old scarecrow looking convicts. Looking on and then stepping through the entrails with her sleeves flapping like sails and looking somewhat smug (who am I kidding, extremely smug) is Cersei Lannister. She greets the perfectly huge gentleman by name. It’s Gregor Clegane, the Mountain! I’m pretty sure it’s not the same actor from Season One but hey, I’m supposed to go with their new version of Daario Naharis so whatever. Anyway, this dude! They don’t make shirts in his size, or perhaps he prefers not to wear one while exercising. This is Cersei’s champion, dummies! Go Cersei! Get er done girl! You got this, Cersei! GO CERSEI IT’S YOUR NAME DAY.
You know who hates the Mountain? Why, Arya Stark and her companion, the Hound! Here they are on horseback approaching a stone edifice, looking quite companionable indeed. They debate as to the contents of the edifice—could be food, could be soldiers—then find that it is definitely a bleeding man out front who wants to talk philosophy. They have a discussion very like one I once had while under the influence of psilocybin. Let us stop talking falsely now; the hour’s getting late, as Jimi Hendrix also said. What’s the point of all this? Well, the Hound gives the bleeding man water then stabs him in the heart and then tells Arya that’s where the heart is and it’s good that he did that because they’re set upon by two randos, one of who bites the Hound pretty viciously on the neck. The randos want the bounty on the Hound’s head. Arya recognizes one of them as a jerk who said nasty things to her a couple of seasons ago and long sentence somewhat shorter, she stabs the not-quite-rando, whose name is Rorge, in the heart. She got it on the first try because she’s an excellent student. Like Ice-T didn’t exactly say, she walks softly but she carries a small sword.
That sword was a gift from her brother! Jon Snow, let's go visit. He is back in the swirling snow of Castle Black having a huggy reunion with Samwell Tarly because they are besh frens. Good thing he’s got a friend, because Ser Alliser Thorne is heckling the fuck of him. There’s a town meeting at Castle Black and not only does Jon’s idea to seal off the tunnels to the castle get the great big nay-no, but he’s heckled some more and finally subjected to night duties at the top of the wall. Poor Jon Snow. He is just Cassandra-ing as hard as he can and no one will listen! Except his besh fren.
Speaking of friends, Tyrion is quickly learning that while Bronn is definitely his friend—if friend means thinking warmly of someone you have spent enjoyable hours with—friendship does not necessarily mean one is willing to risk being impaled and/or disemboweled and/or smashed by the Mountain. One might prefer to marry a dim-witted titled girl and get a shot at a castle of one’s own. Bronn’s new Cersei-supplied lady Lollys Stokeworth is beautiful, she’s rich, she’s got huge tracts of land. Anyway, when did Tyrion ever risk his life for Bronn? Bronn respectfully declines, though he is sorry. “Why are you sorry? Because you are an evil bastard with no conscience and no heart? That’s what I liked about you in the first place.” Didn’t I say Tyrion gets the best lines?
While we are on the subject of lines, that cheeky little Daario Naharis is laying some on the Daenerys Targaryen the Queen of Mereen. He does not say “You remind me of my big toe, because I’m going to bang you on every piece of weird stone furniture in this room,” but he brings her some flowers that he had to swim a mile to pick. Daario’s kind of bored and he would like to either fuck or fight, pick one. After a complete lack of clever repartee, they apparently bone, though in a wholly out of character move Game of Thrones does not show us the boning or even male frontal nudity. Whatever I didn’t want to see it anyway.
I want to see Melisandre in the bath! I get my wish immediately. Selyse, Stannis Baratheon’s wife, apparently also wants to see Melisandre in the bath. Selyse is clearly jealous/in awe of the Red Woman, there’s a great “female gaze” shot of Melisandre’s rear from Selyse’s perspective and some discussion of why men might want to cheat on their wives, which some people looking at that butt might temporarily understand. Melisandre rummages through her various vials, confessing that she employs illusions and tricks to give men “proof” of the Lord of Light. For a minute you wonder if Melisandre is just a charlatan, but let’s not forget the dark wraith pregnancy. That didn’t look like a trick, did it? On another note, Selyse thinks that her daughter should stay behind when they go north but Melisandre disagrees. The Lord of Light will need the heretic daughter.
Abruptly we’re back with the Hound and Arya. The Hound is screeching some fairly creative invective while trying to sew up his bitten neck. Arya, temporarily forgetting that the Hound is on her kill list (or perhaps she has met her quota for the day?) suggests that the Hound use fire to clean his wound. He’s not really into this idea, given his history. She tries to apply fire to him against his will, and roars that she’s more trouble than she’s worth and he wishes he’d never seen her. Then they have a heart to heart about how her brother gave her a sword, but his brother gave him a giant facial scar by pressing his face to a fire. Apparently the Mountain does not like people playing with his toys. Noted. Arya, still forgetting that she wants to kill the Hound, persuades him to let her clean and stitch the wound.
Another unlikely pair, Brienne of Tarth and Pod of King’s Landing, is sitting down to some kidney pie at an inn. They’re digging in when the cook comes by to be a tiresome foodie. It’s Hot Pie! He yammers about the kidney pie as if he’s on some incredibly boring food blog. Brienne seems to glean that he may be of some use to her quest, and turns out, he ain’t seen a Sansa Stark but he’s seen an Arya. Now they know she’s with the Hound, and likely on her way to her aunt Lysa at the Eyrie. Lysa is the last relative the Stark girls have who still a) has money and b) hates Lannisters.
Oberyn Martell also hates Lannisters, but here he is in a dungeon with Tyrion Lannister. This is almost the best scene in the episode. He tells Tyrion about his visit from Cersei, the one two episodes ago in which she was so deceptively human/not smug. She had me convinced, but not Oberyn Martell. “Making honest feelings do dishonest work,” Tyrion says. I feel like such a sucker. “It is rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters,” Oberyn says, and then relates a story about how long Cersei has really wanted Tyrion dead. Oberyn and his sister Elia—the one that he wants to avenge—visited Casterly Rock shortly after Tyrion’s birth. Oberyn and his sister, who must have been children themselves at the time, heard rumors of Tywin Lannister’s monster baby the whole way to Castle-y Rock and were disappointed to find that when Cersei showed them her new brother, he was just a baby—large in the head and short in the limb, but “not a monster, just a baby,” Oberyn tells Cersei. “He killed my mother,” Cersei responds, and pinches baby Tyrion’s baby penis “so hard I thought she might pull it off, until your brother made her stop. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she told us. ‘Everyone says he will die soon. I hope they are right. He should not have lived this long.’” Hearing this, Tyrion’s eyes are full of hate, full of hurt, and full of tears. Oberyn still wants justice for his own sister. Tyrion says he’s come to the wrong place but Oberyn reveals a name on his own kill list—Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, who carried out the murder of his sister and her children. “I will be your champion,” Oberyn says. At the last minute and from an unlikely quarter, Tyrion finally has an ally powerful enough to defend him.
Mrs. Tyrion Lannister steps out into the snow at the Eyrie, clearly happy to be back in her native element. She ‘s building a snow-castle model of Winterfell when her cousin Robin comes out to tell her that he’s the Lord of the Vale and a very im-potant puh-son. He seems a bit obsessed with the Eyrie’s Moon Door. I feel like they’re building up to something, maybe? He tries to add a Moon Door to the Snow-Winterfell and succeeds only in knocking some of it down, to Sansa’s annoyance. He throws a temper tantrum and kicks the whole castle down and Sansa smacks him and everybody claps. I mean, everyone except the people on the show. Creepy Old Uncle Littlefinger comes creeping out of the snowy shadows and he is so creepy and growly. I don’t think Lady Lysa is at all paranoid; I think Creepy Old Uncle Littlefinger definitely wants Sansa to sit in his lap. Sansa wants to know why Littlefinger really killed Joffrey and he tells her the most convenient truth: that he did it because he loved her mother, Catelyn Stark. Watching Sansa’s face go soft and grateful, he moves in for the coup de grace: in a world where the power of love was greater than the love of power, he might have been Sansa’s father. He then lays a very unfatherly kiss on her, after telling her she’s more beautiful than her mother ever was. EW. EW. EW. Of course, weird old Loose Cannon Lysa is watching all of this from a distance and of course, she is displeased.
Weren’t we just talking about a Moon Door? Funny because the next scene stars a Moon Door! Aunt Lysa and Niece Sansa are both wearing appropriately flappy gowns that flap appropriately in the breeze coming through the open Moon Door. Lysa has summoned Sansa here to the Moon Door for a heartwarming discussion about what happens to the bodies of the unfortunates who are tossed through it. Sometimes the head is intact, says Lysa, “blue eyes staring at nothing.” Sansa side-eyes her aunt, obviously thinking, “My eyes are blue, is she hinting at something?”
“I know what you did,” Aunt Lysa says, and then goes completely Loose Cannon Lysa, screaming about how Sansa is a whore and anyone who’s ever stood between Lysa and Creepy Old Uncle Littlefinger is dead. Littlefinger himself shows up just in the nick of time, right as Lysa’s indignant spittle flies and Sansa’s gown flaps alarmingly. She’s about two seconds from going through the Moon Door. Seeing Littlefinger, Lysa once again shrieks about lying for him, killing for him. He soothes her, takes her in his arms, and tells her he’s only ever loved one woman. Her face, like Sansa’s a few minutes before, goes soft and grateful. He then mentions that the one woman was her sister, and shoves her through the Moon Door.