'Game of Thrones' Recap: 'The Mountain & The Viper' Duel Has a Shocking, Violent End

viper and mountain recap

It's the duel we've all been waiting for: "The Mountain and the Viper" go at it on episode 8 (yes, 8!) on season 4 of Game of Thrones. It's hard to believe there are only two episodes left after finally seeing the bloody outcome of the trial by combat. What will we do when the show is over? I don't even want to think about that quite yet.

It just goes to prove the power of this show that this duel is so important yet features two relatively minor characters. Fans have loved Oberyn Martell, aka the Red Viper, ever since his introduction in the first episode of season 4, and they sort of kind of remember the Mountain making brief appearances, most memorably decapitating his own horse. But considering they were fighting to determine the fate of one of our favorite characters, it was next to impossible not to bite one's nails down into tiny little stumps during this epic scene.

Note: There are SPOILERS AHEAD. Watch first, then come back!


Seems Game of Thrones is never as comfortable as when there's a scene in a whore house. In Mole's Town, Gilly is doing her best to stay away from the debauchery and is confronted by one of the whores about her crying baby. Suddenly, the wildings attack! And we finally get a welcome, murderous look at Ygritte. She sees Gilly and her baby and opts to protect them instead of destroying them.

Samwell despairs thinking Gilly is dead, and the other members of the Night's Watch are surprisingly sympathetic toward him, reminding him of all the other crazy shit she's survived (particularly Craster's Keep and being attacked by a white walker). Jon Snow recognizes that means Mance Rayder is getting close, yet again building up to what should be an intense episode next week.

On the other side of the Westeros universe, even Missandei cannot escape a nude scene while Grey Worm gazes (lusts?) on. Daenerys innocently questions what exactly they take when the Unsullied are castrated -- and no one seems to know. Grey Worm comes to apologize for being a perv and proves how good his English has gotten, and there seems to be some odd, budding sexual tension between the two. Lord knows where they're going with this storyline (it doesn't happen in the books) ... and come on, don't we have a duel we need to get to?

Ser Barristan confronts Ser Jorah about his royal pardon, conveniently delivered to him by a boy from the village, when Jorah was initially used to spy on Dany (remember when Tywin Lannister had Mace Tyrell fetch a quill and paper?). "You'll never be alone with her again," Barristan warns, most likely breaking poor Jorah's heart. How else can they ever get it on? He approaches her on her throne and she immediately questions him. Jorah says that Tywin sent the pardon to break them all up. He admits that he sent letters to Varys and that he wrote about her being pregnant. She knows that the assassination attempt with the wine was made because of this information. Just as quickly, she banishes him, while he can't quite believe what happened -- kind of like the rest of us. Poor Jorah! Poor Dany! Did Jorah just get written off the show (book readers, hush!)? How can Dany continue to rule without her most trusted adviser? She fell right into what Tywin wanted her to do, but no one can exactly blame her for it either.

Anyway, in the North, Ramsay Snow orders Reek to become Theon Greyjoy again to take Moat Cailin. Place doesn't look like too much of a prize -- everyone is either sick or dying. Theon asks the commander of the garrison there to abandon their posts. Theon looks as though he may have a psychotic breakdown when the negotiations don't go well, thinking of the punishment that may be in store for him, but it seems the other men have had enough, kill their commander with an axe to the head, and opt to flee -- though Ramsay flays the Ironborn men anyway.

Roose Bolton is awarded the moat and tries to give Ramsay a fatherly lesson. He points out just how huge the North is. But then he gives Ramsay what he's really truly always wanted. "What is your name?" he asks Ramsay. "Ramsay Snow," he replies. "No not Ramsay Snow ... from this day until your last day, you are Ramsay Bolton," Roose announces. Looks like the biggest bastard on the show is no longer an official bastard. I'm sure Eddard Stark is rolling around in his grave leaving his precious North to be ruled by these sickos, having to think about Reek giving Ramsay a bath later on ... ugh!

Petyr Baelish of course has to answer now to Lysa Arryn's death by Moon Door. He's passing it off as suicide, but the nobles, including Lord Yohn Royce, have their suspicions and call upon Sansa Stark as a witness. She nobly comes to his defense in gratitude for him smuggling her out of the hell that was King's Landing. It's probably the most we've ever heard her speak, and her speech and acting and lying are hella effective, giving just enough of the truth but saving Petyr's ass in the meantime.

Baelish is back on his game, asking the Royces to throw their support behind Robin Arryn and to stand against the Lannisters. He tries to give Robin some lessons on ruling while constantly lusting after Sansa. Still, you gotta admit she looks good dressed in black floating down those steps -- seems Sansa has finally come into her own!

Meanwhile, her sister Arya and the Hound discuss what makes Arya happy, and she wishes she could have seen Joffrey die. The bite wound to the neck seems to be slowing the Hound down. They finally reach the Bloody Gate and come to discover that Lady Arryn is dead. In one of the highlights of the episode, Arya has the best reaction ever and busts out laughing. What else are they supposed to do at that point, I guess? These two should just give up and start their own spinoff.

Finally, we get to Tyrion's trial by combat. His brother Jaime is kind enough to give him some wine. "Wine always helps," he quips. They have a hilarious-that-turns-profound conversation about their cousin, Orson, who had a penchant for killing beetles. Tyrion says he became obsessed with figuring out why said cousin kept slaughtering the beetles. After all this time, he still doesn't know why, and Jaime also admits that he simply doesn't know. Why is any of this happening, and why do so many innocent people and creatures have to die on someone's sick whims, why do certain people have power and others don't -- all central questions in regards to the violence in Game of Thrones.

Speaking of violence, the Red Viper and the Mountain commence their duel. Oberyn shows off some impressive spear-weaving skills while the Mountain just looks huge and scary. Oberyn wants nothing more than for the Mountain to confess about the rape and murder of his sister and her children. He relentlessly taunts the Mountain, showing off how quick and nimble he is. Even Jaime looks impressed and happy for his brother. Oberyn stabs the Mountain with his spear and seems to be victorious. But the Mountain suddenly bounces back from the dead after Oberyn demands a confession and essentially smashes/crushes Oberyn's face in in one of the most brutal, bloody deaths on Game of Thrones. At least I think so because I had closed my eyes in horror at this point. Wow. What a way to go.

Tyrion is sentenced to death. If they actually go through with killing him (hush, book readers), I cannot even begin to imagine the fan reaction to that. But sadly we probably won't get into it until the season finale, since episode 9 will most likely solely focus on the battle at the Wall.

But seriously: WOW.

Did you expect the Mountain to win the duel against the Red Viper? Will you have trouble sleeping tonight as well?


Image via HBO

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