Who's winning the "Game of Thrones"?
At this point, there's really only one correct answer: Lord Petyr Baelish, that oft-overlooked advisor to kings, better known as "Littlefinger."
He's sparked a great war that's thrown three prominent families of Westeros – the Lannisters, Starks and Baratheons – into a death struggle. He's murdered the king. And, now, he's claimed control of The Eyrie stronghold, by killing the very woman he manipulated into starting the war in the first place.
Well played, Lord Petyr. Well played.
"Mockingbird" – the seventh episode of the fourth season of "Thrones" – was perhaps my favorite so far this season. It deftly advanced important storylines of every major character, while simultaneously building suspense and injecting action at key moments.
In a drama as sprawling as "Thrones" that's a difficult feat to pull off.
And, really, who didn't want to see that nut-job Lysa Arryn get tossed out the Moon Door?
The episode opened with an imprisoned Tyrion trying to recruit various fighters to be his champion in a trial by combat. (Which, let's be honest, is much more fun than the American jury trial.)
After a touching scene in which Tyrion and Jaime share a nice brotherly dynamic – "He knows I'm innocent and he's willing to sacrifice me anyway," Tyrion says of their father – the brothers conclude that Jaime can't fight for Tyrion while missing a hand.
Tyrion hopes to recruit the sell-sword Bronn, but Cersei has outmaneuvered him. She's recruited The Mountain (scratch that – THE MOUNTAIN) to fight for her.
THE MOUNTAIN is one big scary dude. We haven't seen much from him since he cut off that horse's head in the first season. Cersei talks to him while he's training by killing a bunch of weaker men.
"Who am I fighting?" he asks.
"Does it matter?" Cersei replies.
Good line. Made me laugh. This is the stuff of myth and legend that makes "Thrones" so much fun to watch
When Bronn arrives to Tyrion's cell, he expresses reluctance about fighting THE MOUNTAIN.
Cersei also had made Bronn rich, by marrying him to a dim-witted rich girl.
"He's freakish big and freakish strong," Bronn says of THE MOUNTAIN. "I like you. I just like myself more." (Who doesn't?)
It appears that Tyrion will be left without a champion until The Red Viper pays him a visit.
Oberyn Martell wants to settle a score with THE MOUNTAIN, who killed his sister and her children during Robert's Rebellion.
"I will be your champion," The Red Viper says. (Yes!)
The Red Viper vs. THE MOUNTAIN. This should be fun.
On the road to The Eyrie
Arya and The Hound come upon a wounded man. The Hound stabs the man in the heart, putting him out of his misery. (He's so kind.)
But they are ambushed from behind by men seeking to collect a Lannister bounty placed on The Hound. One of the men bites him in the neck.
The Hound kills one of the attackers and Arya stabs the other.
As they continue on the road, The Hound's wound is getting worse. Arya offers to burn the wound for him, cleaning it, but The Hound, who is afraid of fire, refuses. Methinks this wound is not a good sign for The Hound's health.
Jon Snow is trying to get the Night's Watch to fortify some passages under the wall, because he says the gates there won't stop an attack from the giants in Mance Rayder's army.
This is sound advice. So, naturally, Sir Alliser Thorne instead orders Jon to patrol atop The Wall at night, which should be cooold.
Daenerys finally goes for it, and accepts Daario's advances. We see male nudity. After they sleep together, Jorah Mormont finds out and isn't too happy about it.
Daenerys reemphasizes that she's committed to ending slavery on the continent.
"Slavery is real," she says. "If I can end it, I will end it."
Daenerys isn't so much playing a Game of Thrones, as she is stomping all over the chess board.
Melisande is taking a bath. We see female nudity. Melisandre tells Stannis' wife that she has a plan involving her daughter.
"The Lord needs her," she says.
This sounds super creepy and I'm hoping Stannis doesn't go along with whatever dark plan the red woman has in mind.
Sansa is building a model of Winterfell in the snow when Robin throws a fit and ruins it. Sansa slaps him (good!) and Littefinger sees this.
"His mother should have a long time," he says of disciplining the boy. (Incidentally, is he still breast-feeding??)
Littlefinger tells Sansa of his enduring love for her mother and he kisses her long and passionately on the mouth. (Weird.)
Lysa Arryn sees this and is overcome with jealousy. She tries to throw Sansa out of the Moon Door, which would be a really terrifying way to die.
Littlefinger persuades Lysa to stop her attack on Sansa. She pushes the girl away.
"I lied for you. I killed for you," she exclaims! She looks crazy.
Littlefinger draws her in close, and then pushes Lysa Arryn down the Moon Door. Damn. Helluva double-cross. And, helluva episode.
Episode grade: A