I’m only half way through the first Game of Thrones book, taking my time because my schedule doesn’t exactly allow for intense bouts of reading anymore. Meanwhile, those who have read far ahead of me take pride in knowing what comes next; smugly dictating my journey throughout the show whenever they want by throwing a subtle spoiler in the works here and there. One of the most common: “Littlefinger is the most dangerous man in the Seven Kingdoms, trust me.” I’m left thinking “how can someone with such a bad accent possibly the be most dangerous man in a world full of ridiculously dangerous men?” Simple: he is the smartest.
Aidan Gillan may not be the most pleasant man to listen to in Game of Thrones, but his decidedly cold and detached portrayal of Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish – keeping us guessing with occasional glimpses of creepy emotional neediness – has been stepping up in effectiveness since his re-appearance a few episodes ago. “Mockingbird” was undoubtedly his episode. His obsession with Catelyn Stark, even after her death, continues to drive his restrained warpath; we rejoiced when King Joffrey was in the firing line, but still aren’t too clear on his motivations for manipulating Lysa Tully into poisoning Jon Arryn. Another blurry murder comes with the shocking ending of this episode, as Littlefinger shoves Lysa through the moon door and down to her death, where her body will break apart like a twig as she so graphically explained to Sansa just moments before she was pushed.
Littlefinger is such a wild card in Game of Thrones, and pairing him with Sansa is a slap in a face to fans who thought she would be safe now that she’s out of King’s Landing. Sure, Sansa is the daughter of the woman Littlefinger has an unwavering loyalty too; but then again, the man is probably the most unpredictable character in the entire show.
A good deal of development for the duo of The Hound and Arya further endears us to this unlikely pair, with The Hound opening up quite widely to the young Stark, and while the exposition is probably because The Mountain has been re-introduced, Rory McCann’s vulnerable performance should be highly commended, taking an already fan-favourite and sprinkling enough sugar on top to ensure that should The Hound ever die in Game of Thrones, we will all be deeply upset.
Once again, Owen Teale’s scowling Alliser Thorne continues to put his pride above any sort of practicality as he ignores Jon Snow’s completely reasonable suggestion at fortifying Castle Black. The dull stab at politics when we switch to the Night’s Watch is something which is only upheld by our feelings towards Jon Snow, but with dwindling interest in Samwell, and a severe under-use of everyone else on The Wall, things are sadly not going to pick up here until the inevitable raid.
Speaking of under-utilised characters, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) enjoys the first actual piece of useful dialogue he has been given all season, proving his suitability as Dany’s trust adviser with his swift undermining of Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman), which could have also risen out of jealousy seeing as Dany and Daario have seemingly began sleeping together. Things are still moving slowly in Khaleesi’s camp, focusing on the structure of her army and slowly re-establishing which chess piece is capable of what, but there’s nothing of particular interest yet again.
A bit of fun is injected into the Brienne and Podrick venture, as they continue on the road to find Sansa Stark. We get the very welcome cameo from Hot Pie who doesn’t tell them about Arya until the last minute. It’s a nice bit of hope with Hot Pie revealing to Brienne that Arya is still alive, and also a sweet nostalgic gesture when he gives Brienne a wolf-shaped pie to give to Arya [*tear*].
Some more negligible faffing at Dragonstone puts a nice rug on the fire that started to burn in Stannis’ story when him and Davos visited the Iron Bank. Mere power play by the Red Lady here, and a reminder of how dangerous things are getting for Stannis’ daughter.
The remaining thread here is of particular note because it marks Pedro Pascal’s finest GoT performance to date. His cold tale of when he first met Tyrion as a child was engaging, with enough pacing to have us believe Prince Oberyn was actually insulting the Imp. But alas, it was pretty predictable that Oberyn would offer to be Tyrion’s champion since earlier in the episode we saw the hulking mass that is the (re-cast) Gregor Glagane approached by Cersei after a display of his unwavering brutality to a bunch of extras. This was of course, preceded by a very sad goodbye to Bronn (Jerome Flynn) who seems rather dandy now in the clothes that has has purchased with the money Cersei used to buy his betrayal. Fortunately, Bronn didn’t betray Tyrion in a big way, rather just refusing him and farewelling him like two old friends who have come to an understanding that the relationship is over. I do hope we see Bronn again, but I assume it wouldn’t be for quite some time since he doesn’t really fit into any other arcs and has always been a peripheral character.
While this episode mostly served as table-setting for the anticipated “The Mountain and The Viper,” and beyond. If it wasn’t for some very great performances from the likes of Peter Dinklage, Pedro Pascal, Rory McCann, and Aidan Gillan, the score would have been much lower. Alas, strong acting has always saved Game of Thrones when episodes have presented themselves as relatively tame entries in what is one of the grandest stories ever told on television.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Littlefinger murders Lysa
Prince Oberyn champions Tyrion/speech about how they first met
The Hound gets vulnerable
Arya kills again
Daario still uninteresting/not much happening with Khaleesi
Biding time at Castle Black
Episode M.V.P: Littlefinger
Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 3:30pm on Showcase