I have only loved one woman, only one, my entire life
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Alik Sakharov
Season four had been really going strong with "First of His Name" and then "The Laws of Gods and Men", which is why it's a bit disappointing, albeit expected, that the season takes a step back with "Mockingbird", an episode featuring a series of borderline pointless decisions that sees Game of Thrones falling prey to some of its worst habits. As usual, there's more good than bad here, but this episode doesn't feel as polished and on point as previous episodes have been this season.
The fallout of Tyrion's trial turns out to be not as explosive as you might have first imagined. What transpires in King's Landing is a series of conversations in Tyrion's dungeon (three to be exact). First, Jaime comes to berate Tyrion for his outburst and going against the plan that Jaime had tried to make with his father: to have Tyrion plead guilty and be exiled to the Night's Watch. After Jaime declines Tyrion's request to be his champion for the trial by combat, Bronn comes by and also declines, saying farewell to Tyrion as he assumes the two will never work together again. Finally, Oberyn Martell drops in and agrees to be Tyrion's champion, as Cersei has chosen Ser Gregor Clegane to be her champion in the trial, and Oberyn seeks revenge on Ser Gregor for the death of his sister. What I most enjoyed about these conversations is that they all serve to be a sort of last hurrah for Tyrion, as he may not have much longer to live. Through the first three seasons, only two characters have proven themselves worthy of Tyrion's trust: Jaime and Bronn. Why else would Tyrion have a private conversation with these two as opposed to some other higher-up in the King's Landing political structure? The conversations that Tyrion has with Jaime and Bronn are treated completely as if they were goodbyes, because with Joffrey's murder and Tyrion being put on trial for the crime, it doesn't matter what the result of the trial by combat will be: nothing will ever be the same between Tyrion and those he's closest to in King's Landing. There is no going back to how things were before.
Sadly, not all the conversations in this episode are as intriguing, and this is when I go to one of the first problems in "Mockingbird". Arya and the Hound have a lengthy and somewhat pointless conversation with a wounded man (Barry McGovern), sitting and waiting to die. The man acknowledges that he wants to be put out of his misery, but it takes far too long until the Hound finally kills him out of mercy. Why here and now does Game of Thrones feel the urge to have a scene about when you should fight onward versus knowing when it's time to hang it up? We have never seen this man before and have no sort of connection to him, so his monologuing has little to no value. McGovern mumbles his dialogue quite a bit, so good luck trying to discern everything he's saying. Anyway, the conversation rambles on far longer than it has any right to, and Arya nor the Hound reflect later on anything the man said. Oh wait, I know why: it's because this man's death is immediately followed by the Hound being attacked by two men named Biter (Gerard Jordan) and Rorge (Andy Beckwith). Come on, D&D: you two are better than this.
So boring conversations are one bad habit in "Mockngbird". Another is using sex and nudity to desperately hold your attention, happening during a scene between Melisandre and Stannis' wife Queen Selyse Baratheon (Tara Fitzgerald). The two talk about leaving Dragonstone, and I should mention that Melisandre is lying naked in a bathtub while this conversation is happening, although it would change literally nothing about the conversation had Melisandre just been staring into a flame instead. Melisandre then gets out of the bathtub and walks over to where she is keeping all her magical drinks/formulas (whatever you're supposed to call them in Westeros). There is one shot during this moment that irritated me: as Melisandre stands looking over her drinks/formulas, the camera slowly pans down to her bare buttocks and stays there for a few good seconds. Why? What's the point of this? This isn't the first time we've seen Melisandre naked, but unlike before when she was using her body to take advantage of Stannis and Gendry, there is absolutely no reason for the cameras to be ogling all over Carice Van Houten's (or her body double's) naked body. It's pure objectification, and it serves no clear purpose to the story line.
While I'm on the subject of sex and nudity, how about Daenerys giving in to the advances of Daario, who tells Daenerys that his only talents are in war and women? Okay, I get that Daenerys probably misses having a loving companion (even though she has done basically nothing to imply that she misses having a significant other), but...Daario? He's certainly made attempts to woo Daenerys and win her heart, but this just comes out of nowhere. Not one thing throughout season four has given us the impression that Daenerys was working her way towards a romance with Daario; all we could go off of was that Daario had affection for her and would serve the Mother of Dragons, because he swore his sword to her cause. It's a bizarre scene and further complicates matters, not in a good way.
That's a lot of complaining I just did. Thankfully, "Mockingbird" gives us some satisfying moments to close on. Sansa is trying to be comfortable living in the Vale, but those hopes are slightly dashed when she sees how much of an immature brat that Robin is. Sansa slaps him after he throws a temper tantrum and destroys her Winterfell replica. Oh, but it turns out angry outbursts are genetic in the Arryn family, as Lysa threatens to push Sansa through the Moon Door after seeing her get smooched by Petyr Baelish. Baelish arrives to diffuse the situation, and just when it looks like he's about to win back Lysa's heart, he admits to only loving her sister Catelyn, and pushes her through the Moon Door to her death. I adore this scene mostly because it marks the death of another psychopathic character, but as soon as Baelish arrives, it becomes obvious that someone is going to get pushed through the door. Why did Lysa not step away from the Moon Door after letting Sansa go? I get that she had complete trust in Petyr and would never imagine that he would push her through the door, but don't even run the risk of tripping over backwards to your untimely death. Ah well, that's nit-picking at an overall delightful sequence. For the first time ever, Baelish performs treachery to kill a character we kind of hate, reassuring the idea that he's not a "villain", but simply a deceptive individual who seeks to come out on top and leave everyone else to suffer and die.
I've made it sound like "Mockingbird" is the first legitimately bad episode of Game of Thrones, with no real satisfaction coming out of it. However, when you look at things from top to bottom, "Mockingbird" is a decent episode that offers a little more good than bad. The conversations involving Tyrion in King's Landing are great. Jon Snow's tension-filled request to Ser Alliser Thorne is also great. On the flip side, you've got D&D showcasing more of the things that people tend to dislike about Game of Thrones: dull monologues and conversations, and sex and nudity for the sole purpose of keeping your attention. It's a bit of a disappointment, given that the ending is one of the most satisfying endings to any episode this season. It's to always be expected that an episode following a masterpiece or near masterpiece is not going to be as great. The unfortunate thing about "Mockingbird" is that it takes a few more steps back than anticipated.
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