Sunday, May 18, 2014

Game of Thrones "Mockingbird" Review

“Mockingbird” may’ve been the kindest episode in the history of Game of Thrones. The episode’s kindness is tinged with brutality, uncomfortable truths, murder, but kindness lasts in every scene. Westeros is a truly shitty place to live. Well, the south may have its advantages. King’s Landing and northward, though, is nearly complete shit. Arya and The Hound wandered into the yard of a homeowner. Arya wonders about soldiers inside the house. The Hound walks forward, evidently unconcerned about soldiers. Sitting up, supported by a solid object, is a man recently stabbed in the gut. When asked why he hasn’t ended his suffering already, he responds, “Habit, I guess.” There’s a sweetly sad conversation between the dying man and Arya Stark. Arya reads into his words meaning about the nothing of nothing keeping one going even when that something is painful. She tells him her secret that she’s a Stark child, and the man doesn’t know the Starks, mistaking The Hound for her father. The scene shows a merciful kindness in two ways: Arya’s conversation with him, and The Hound mercifully ending his suffering with a stab through the heart. The scene also shows the wide effects of the war. The viewer follows many characters in many places, but each character in each place has a personal stake (or had) in the war of the five kings. Arya’s and The Hound’s meeting with the dying man shows that people without any clue about the houses and the conflicts pay a very final price regardless.

The episode doesn’t continue to introduce anonymous characters living in war-torn lands. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss return to the personal internal world of Westeros where the names of Stark, Lannister, etc., are well known. Tyrion needs a champion for his trial-by-combat after Jaime and Bronn pass on the opportunity. Jaime can’t fight with his left hand, and Cersei bought Bronn with a bride and land. Tyrion explained his actions during the trial to Jaime after Jaime wonders why his brother decided against saving his own life with admittance of guilt. Tyrion reminds his brother of his innocence, and of his own brother’s complicity in far worse crimes than the one Tyrion’s accused of, to which Jaime expresses hurt and a re-phrasing of his brother’s particular sentiments. Prince Oberyn visits Tyrion last, after Tyrion’s most trusted men left him for dead. Oberyn tells him a story of the time he met him, days after his birth. Stories traveled from Casterly Rock to Dorne about Tywin’s monster child. The camera fixes on Tyrion during the most stinging and searing parts of Oberyn’s memory. Tyrion had a red eye, a tale between his legs, two reproductive organs, and Cersei referred to her brother as the monster who killed his mother. Peter Dinklage never portrayed Tyrion better, with the sadness, tragedy, pain, and, also, the rigidity in his manner, the determination to not break from Oberyn’s terrible words from a terrible memory, the bitter knowledge that his sister will get what she wants because Cersei also gets what she wants. Oberyn wants something, too: justice for his family, and so he will champion for Tyrion against The Mountain. The groundswell of emotion that bubbled under Tyrion’s less-than-steely resolve bursts in a string of sounds mixing shock, surprise, and, of course, relief. Oberyn didn’t intend to further wound the already wounded Tyrion Lannister wth his memory; rather, he meant to show Tyrion someone in the world saw him as Tyrion sees himself, and that someone’s willing to fight for him, for the reasons already stated, and also because he’s not a monster. The viewer already has a fresh image of The Mountain in his or head during that scene. The Mountain disemboweled three men in 10 seconds. He’s the Lannister’s champion. Juxtaposed with The Mountain’s violence is Tyrion’s depth of thought, honesty of heart; but there’s an almost sinister quality to the beginning of the Oberyn/Tyrion scene: Tyrion’s covered in darkness, mostly on his left side, until the door opens, letting in light that lights the rest of him, suggesting that Oberyn may save him or that he’ll become that monster.

The following scene(s) synthesizes the central stuff of the episode. Sansa uses snow to build Winterfell. George R.R. Martin has not surpassed the descriptive beauty and power of Sansa’s solitary re-construction of Winterfell from her mind in the books. The show cannot hope to match the power of the written word painting the scene. Robin ruins Sansa’s solitary moment of reflection and tribute to her home. Sansa indulges the insane child by offering to include a moon door in Winterfell. Robin knocks down the tower, and then destroys her entire snow Winterfell with his feet because she told him he ruined it. Her kindness had a negative affect. Littlefinger approaches her after Robin leaves, crying, because Sansa slapped him for his behavior. Littlefinger reflects on the idea of re-making what others have ruined by ruining what’s been made, or something like that. Littlefinger seems to make up anything to get to the moment he can kiss her with any sort of subtext, which he does, before pushing his bride out of the Eyrie, through the moon door. Lysa wanted to murder Sansa for daring to kiss her husband, the man she killed for, the man for whom she’d do anything. George R.R. Martin never really returned to the brilliance of that chapter in the books. It begins so beautifully in the snow and ends with the greatest plot twist in the entire books (which the show broke apart) that re-frames the entire series for the reader and, hopefully, for the viewer (the last 3 episodes).

Other Thoughts:

-I probably could’ve kept writing more and more paragraphs, but the night matures by the second. There’s a rare bright spot unmarred: Hot Pie gives Brienne a lead about Arya Stark, and then asks her to give Arya a pie in the shape of a direwolf. Fantastic.

-The most interesting scene of the episode—and I apologize for using the banal word ‘interesting’—was the one with Melisandre and Lady Selyse. The contrasts of the scene stood out. Melisandre bathing freely, sensual and sexy, while Lady Selyse stand far from her, unable for a second to be as free and sensual and sexy. Melisandre spoke to the Lady about the potions that trick men into seeing the truth. Each potion serves a purpose—to help a man with his virility or bravery. Melisandre points Selyse to the flames, free of tricky potions, explaining that she needn’t trick her mind to see. The scene cuts before Lady Selyse sees what Melisandre in the flames. Shireen will join them wherever they go next.


-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode. Alik Sakharov directed.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.