'Game of Thrones' Review: "Mockingbird"

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Game of Thrones’ season 4 conjures its seventh episode of the season, “Mockingbird,” as Tyrion's difficulty obtaining a champion for his trial against the Mountain takes an unexpected turn, while Jon's pleas fall on deaf ears, and Sansa discovers more of Littlefinger's nefarious intentions.

Last week's ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 installment, “The Laws of Gods and Men,” saw Tyrion's trial taking several shocking turns, while Daenerys held court in Mereen, and Yara attempted to reclaim Theon from the clutches of Ramsay Bolton. So, what does the latest installment of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4, episode 7, "Mockingbird!”

Jaime chides Tyrion for throwing away his opportunity to live, admitting in the process that he wouldn’t be able to defend his brother in the trial by combat, given the weak sword-fighting of his left hand. Tyrion theorizes he could still ask Bronn, to which Jaime reveals that Cersei has chosen none other than Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, as her own champion. Meanwhile, Cersei visits the Mountain, amid his effortless killing of prisoners.

Arya and the Hound happen upon a razed farm, finding a dying man who accepts their offer of a mercy killing to spare further pain. Arya admits her identity, as does the Hound her captor, before finally plunging a blade into the man. One of the raiders attacks the Hound from behind, though the Hound easily twists the man's neck, before a second raider explains the price on the Hound’s head, even after Joffrey’s death. Arya recognizes the man as someone who’d threatened her previously, and asks his name, before plunging Needle into his heart.

Jon and the other rangers return to Castle Black, going before Alliser Thorne and the council to request the tunnel be sealed in anticipation of Mance’s army. Thorne insists that the tunnel has protected them for generations, and should never be sealed, punishing Jon and Sam with wall duty until Mance’s army finally arrives. Meanwhile, a fancily-garbed Bronn visits Tyrion in his cell, explaining that Cersei has arranged a marriage with some promising prospects, and as such, he won’t fight for Tyrion. Tyrion offers in vain to double the price, though Bronn reminds him that Tyrion has never once saved Bronn’s life in their supposed friendship, while he’d barely stand a chance against the Mountain anyway. Acceptingly, Tyrion grips Bronn’s hand, and the two say their goodbyes.

Daario sneaks into Daenerys' private chambers with another offering of flowers, though he primarily seeks the opportunity to put his sword to use by killing her enemies, as his talents are wasted in Mereen. Instead, Daenerys coyly takes him up on another of his boastful talents, commanding him to take off his clothes. Meanwhile at Dragonstone, Selyse Baratheon interrupts Melisandre in a bath, advising against Stannis’ request to take their daughter Shireen on the impending voyage, given the girl’s heresy. Melisandre asks Selyse to look into the Lord of Light’s fire, and see that Shireen will become vital to the Lord’s cause.

Jorah finds Daario leaving Daenerys' quarters in the morning, and questions his queen’s judgment, before Daenerys explains that she’d tasked Daario and the Second Sons with retaking Yunkai and executing any remaining slavers. Jorah reminds her that he himself was once a slaver, and cruelty may not be the best option, leading Daenerys to task Hizdahr zo Loraq with acting as her ambassador instead, and sending Jorah to tell Daario how he’d changed her mind. Meanwhile, the Hound refuses any fire to treat his festering wound, relaying to Arya how his own brother had been the one to burn his face years earlier, while their father protected his brother. Moved, Arya offers to clean the wound herself.

Brienne and Pod take the comforts of an inn, before high praise of the cooking leads none other than Hot Pie to the table, wherein he rambles about his craft. Somewhat annoyed, Brienne answers his questions by admitting they have come to find Sansa Stark, a name that quickly puts Hot Pie on edge. The next morning, Pod worries that Brienne shouldn’t be so cavalier with telling people the nature of their quest, before Hot Pie returns to explain that he’d spent some time with Arya Stark, who most likely ended up with the Hound. Pod reasons that both Sansa and Arya would most likely end up at the Eyrie with their aunt Lysa, before the two opt to pursue the path in that direction.

Prince Oberyn Martell pays a visit to Tyrion in his cell, explaining that as a child he’d visited Casterly Rock shortly after Tyrion’s birth, and was disappointed to see that the rumors of Tyrion’s monstrous appearance were greatly exaggerated. Still, Cersei held a clear hatred for her brother even then, something that affords Oberyn the opportunity to take the revenge he wants in the present. Knowing that he’ll face the Mountain, who murdered his nieces and nephews, before raping and murdering his sister, Oberyn volunteers to be Tyrion’s champion, to which Tyrion breathes tremendous relief.

Sansa quietly constructs a replica of Winterfell in the Eyrie snow, before Robin comes along and asserts that it would prove better with a moon door to make bad people fly. Robin accidentally damages the sculpture, beginning an argument that ends with Sansa slapping him and Robin running off. Having observed the conflict, Lord Baelish urges Sansa not to worry about Lysa, admitting in conversation that it was his love fro Catelyn that led him to kill Joffrey. Baelish asserts that Sansa is even more beautiful than her mother, before kissing Sansa, unaware that Lysa is watching overhead.

Shortly thereafter, Sansa answers a summon from Lysa to the moon door, wherein Lysa grows violent and holds her niece over the massive drop for her jealousy over Petyr. Baelish himself appears and talks Lysa down from throwing Sansa out, before cradling his “silly” wife. Baelish admits that he only ever loved one woman, Catelyn, before hurling Lysa out the moon door.

OUR REVIEW:

Episodes like last week’s stunning “The Laws of Gods and Men” always come with a nasty side effect of reminding us how effective ‘Game of Thrones’ can be by focusing on a solitary location, and taking the time to build and develop its narrative over the course of an hour. Moving scattershot around Westeros still seems to be about the only way we’ll ever keep up with certain characters, and to wit tonight’s “Mockingbird” ably moved things around to position the story for the final three episodes of the season. Need we remind you, ‘Game of Thrones’ will also take next week off for Memorial Day, and Lysa’s untimely exit made for a strong enough punch to carry us through another week.

Not only that, but “Mockingbird” also put many of its characters in the rare position to display some new colors, or at least figuratively remove enough armor to display different sides. The Hound’s confession to Arya of his self-doubt and tragic childhood proved about the most tender we could expect between the pair, while even Melisandre got the chance to show a more light-hearted side, and Petyr Baelish let slip the depth of his perverse plans to now include Sansa and throwing Lysa through the moon door.

Exceptionally strong tonight were the scenes between Tyrion and Bronn, as we saw that the friendship between the pair could only go so far, while Tyrion himself remains wise enough to admit when he’d undervalued Bronn’s side of the partnership, and could never really offer the same kind of sacrificial loyalty. So too effective were Peter Dinklage’s scenes with both Jaime and Oberyn, as we finally saw Tyrion come to accept the gravity of his situation, yet another rare moment of humility for the character. It was also nice to be reminded that Jorah and Daenerys have a complex relationship wit ha few hints of jealousy here and there, after Daenerys deservedly took the reigns from Daario in their bizarre courtship.

All in all, there was quite a bit to like and end up pleasantly surprised by, even if a few scenes like that of Selyse and Melisandre, or Arya and the Hound’s conversation with the old man seemed to take up more time than they needed to. So too was it with Jon’s struggles against the Watch’s stubbornness, not necessarily offering any information we hadn’t already seen. The immediate ending notwithstanding, “Mockingbird” mostly languished in service of a holding pattern, while still providing a nice bit of spotlight along the way, as we wait for the final three hours.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of sword-swinging ‘Game of Thrones’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s installment, “Mockingbird”? Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 coverage, and join us in two weeks for the all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4's latest installment, "The Mountain and the Viper" on HBO!

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