Ooh, it’s all going to kick off spectacularly and soon! This week is all about the build-up and the antici…pation. If only previous table-setting episodes had been like this – and I’m not just saying that because it was a Tyrion-heavy show, thought that certainly helped matters. The last three seasons have given us Big Moments for episode 9, but knowing what I know and based on “Mockingbird”, I think the last three might be packed with shriek-worthy, help-it’s-killing-me moments.

We last saw Tyrion raging against the machine, namely the judges, his family, the not-so-good people of King’s Landing, and life in general. The aftermath of his outburst is a ticking-off from Jaime in his filthy (but not the kind of filth he’d prefer) dungeon cell. Yes, once again Tyrion fell in love with a whore – he fell in love once and almost completely. If he’s not careful the bottle will be his last and only friend, not Jaime. Alas and alack, Jaime can’t serve as champion, because Bronn keeps pwning him in sword combat. Hope springs eternal, so Jaime promises to send for Bronn to see if he’ll repeat his performance at the Eyrie. Tyrion asks who Cersei’s chosen as her champion, and Jaime hesitates.

Well, you would, if the answer is The Mountain That Rides. Cersei strolls across some freshly gutted viscera to admire his work, the work in question being slicing up some prisoners, because reasons, perhaps some scientists believe. Whom he’s fighting doesn’t really matter, Cersei insists, smug in the knowledge that this behemoth of a dude isn’t going to lose. It’s a short, sharp, gross scene that segues perfectly into the next.

The Hound and Arya come across a dying peasant. He stopped asking under which House’s name his village was sacked this particular time and sprawls dying without the courage to end it himself, in case nothing is worse than dying in agony alone. Arya then informs him that, “Nothing isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing,” and I’m reminded that Arya has long since abandoned the Old Gods of her father (the creepy heart tree gods) and the New of her mother (all those sevens), and has embraced the GOD OF DEATH *cough* GOTH *cough*. The Hound gives the man what is referred to in ASOIAF as “the gift” by stabbing him in the heart and then helpfully pointing this out to Arya, who is getting lessons all over the shop.

Just as The Hound is about to bask in a moment of mentorly pride, Biter attacks and, well, bites a huge chunk of Sandor’s neck, so his “…and that’s how you kill a man” is immediately followed by “or you could snap his neck like so”. That 100 silver stag bounty? The idiots stupid enough to take on The Hound are Rorge and Biter. It was better when Arya didn’t know Rorge’s name, since of course this means he’s added to, then immediately crossed off, her death prayer. “You’re learning,” The Hound notes, the fatherly pride assuredly swelling in his chest. Ned Stark’s bleached bones must be doing a miserable fandango.

Speaking of miserable, the one thing that put a smile on Jon Snow’s mug – Ghost, his beloved direwolf – has been ordered out by Ser Alliser. Jon then gets to recap his adventures at Craster’s Keep, concluding with his advice to seal the Wall against Mance Rayder and his army of wildlings. Ser Alliser sneers for Westeros, pointing out that Snow is a steward, not a builder, and enlisting the opinion of First Builder Yarwyck to back him up. FBY frankly looks like he’d love to start sealing the Wall this very second, but fears the sneer too much to speak against Alliser. Jon and Sam get punished with a million years’ dungeon night watch atop the Wall until the full moon. Being chums with Jon is a liability!

Back to Tyrion, in what is starting to feel like a horrible version of speed-dating: speed-champion-courting, and he’s not doing well. Bronn strides into the cell in new gladrags and with a spring in his step. Tyrion told him that if anyone offered to buy Bronn’s loyalty, he’d double it – but Cersei has provided him with a highborn if dim-witted wife, which is hard to beat. The fact that it’s Cersei, of all people, to outbid Tyrion is hard to hear, but ultimately between Lollys Stokeworth and The Mountain, there’s no contest. Tyrion thinks he might have to face The Mountain himself, and Bronn would love to hear them sing that ditty. I got something in my eye around this point.

To Meereen and Dany’s expanding wardrobe (this week: boob AND back windows). Daario Naharis breaks into Dany’s room so he can offer her some plastic wildflowers and then complain about The Second Sons’ status as police force. He and his men are currently patrolling the streets to protect the newly freed citizens from revenge killings. This vexes him, seeing as how his CV skills section lists two items: 1. Fighting 2. Fucking, and his talents are being wasted. Dany appears to ponder this a moment before pouring him some wine, then commanding he strip down. It was nice to get a bit of female gaze for a change and, considering the follow-up scene, good to see Dany acting more in command of herself.

Since we didn’t get to see her boobs, we have to make do with Melisandre’s, as she sexily takes her last bath at Dragonstone. Selyse is sorry-not sorry to intrude and is rewarded with a joke that isn’t funny to anyone, a demonstration of Melisandre’s boffo, and the heartbreaking news that Stannis didn’t need much encouraging to do the nasty/create a bastard smoke-monster. The women vaguely plan for a fantastic voyage, deftly avoiding where exactly, and the real reason for Selyse’s visit – whether or not to bring Shireen – is established. Selyse votes no, because the brat’s practically a heretic, but Melisandre votes yes. At this point, if I were Selyse I’d be clutching my highborn pearls pretty hard, because what do we know about those with kings’ blood in the vicinity of Melisandre? They usually end up dying quite painfully. This is all going slightly off-piste again, so I’m unsure what’s being set up here, but it certainly can’t and won’t end well.

Jorah happens upon Daario leaving Dany’s chambers looking well cheerful (and she’s in a pretty good mood too). Dany’s modelling the latest Meereenese everything-window dress made of thin strips of phwoar and gleefully lays out her plan to send The Second Sons to retake Yunkai. Jorah mopes for a bit about how Dany shouldn’t trust this gross sellsword, till Dany reminds him he was a sellsword with The Golden Company. Of course, he’s a former spy, so he’s projecting in a big way. Dany wants blood, dammit, but Jorah manages to convince her that she’s risking becoming as monstrous as the masters. The clever compromise is to add Hizdahr zo Loraq to the mix as ambassador and offer the masters the choice of her way or the highway. It’s good to see the Khaleesi back in our Daenerys, aptly summed up when she orders Jorah to tell Daario first that she changed her mind and then amending that to “tell him YOU changed my mind”. She knows Jorah’s in love with her, and she’s playing them both like mega chumps, and DAMMIT it’s good to see her back in charge again.

Precious Moments Theatre Featuring Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark continues. The Hound’s bite wound is going to go more than merely septic, and calling it a cunt isn’t going to change that. Arya offers to cauterize the wound, but that isn’t going to happen. He tells her the story of how he came to be so scarred, a story we’ve heard before but which isn’t any less heartbreaking on the retell. A young Gregor shoved his brother’s face in the fire for a perceived toy theft (he was just borrowing it!), which was painful and smelly, but worse was his father’s betrayal. Arya, possibly remembering the day Jon gave her Needle or maybe seeing Grey Wind’s head sewn on Robb’s body, offers to clean the Biter bite wound. But can she bear to take his name off her list?

Brienne and Pod treat themselves to a hot meal and a kip in a bed instead of a ditch and are served wine by none other than Hot Pie himself. Being Hot Pie, he bores them stiff with reveries about kidneys and gravy. Brienne asks after Sansa Stark, and HP mumbles his excuses and leaves, for which zero people can blame him. As they pack up to go, HP returns and ‘fesses up: he neva hoida no Sansa Stark, but Arya is definitely alive and definitely been taken hostage. Pod susses that he means The Hound and further, the cleverclogs, that he must be bringing her to the Eyrie since Lysa is her last remaining relative. With a fork in the road beckoning them, Brienne defers to Pod’s wild guess, and the two set off, their mutual respect deepening with every scene they share.

Mystery Date #3 arrives at Tyrion’s cell: It’s Oberyn come to chat about his first meeting with the disappointingly non red-eyed, beclawed, and tailed baby dwarf. Cersei tried to sell him out too, but despite her formidable rack, his desire for justice overwhelms his desire for shagging. Framed in the light of a flickering torch, he looks truly heroic as he offers his championly service to a visibly grateful Tyrion. Obz is looking confident, confident, dry, and secure about his chances against The Mountain, and confidence is what’s keeping Tyrion going.

Finally, Sansa is playing in the snow constructing Winterfell from memory in a rare moment alone, somewhere peaceful. Naturally that peace is interrupted when her child-fiancé Robin arrives to be obnoxious. His attempts to improve the snow-castle only ruin Sansa’s hard work, and she snaps and slaps him. This slap, I’m sure, held all the anger and bile she wished upon bigger bullies like Joffrey. This is witnessed by Littlefinger, who tries to reassure her by skeezing so hard I’m surprised he didn’t slip and fall over. He had a point about the lack of discipline from Lysa, but to gush over someone’s mother, wish you were her father, and THEN grownup-kiss that poor girl is a fridge too far. And of course Lysa sees the kiss and flips out, threatening Sansa with the Moon Door.

Littlefinger soothes Lysa with sweet lies and assures her he’ll send Sansa away, allowing her to scamper away to safety. Lysa, however, remains bawling. Littlefinger’s cruelty comes out in spades as he coos that he only loved one woman, Catelyn. Lysa hardly has time to take that in before he shoves her to her horrible, horrible death. Please let this be the very last we see of the Moon Door. It genuinely gives me nightmares. I’m almost sad to see Lysa go, as Kate Dickie’s performance has been scary-brilliant and indicative of everything impressive about this show. 9/10.

Sexy, Important Thoughts

  • “You’re the golden son! You can kill the king, lose a hand, fuck your own sister – you’ll always be the golden son!” Harsh on all counts.
  • If you asked “who is?” upon cutting to the Mountain, you’re not alone – this is the second recast. And yes, he really is that massive – Hafþór “Thor” Björnsson stands a whopping 6’9”.
  • Did anyone else have to stifle a laugh at the poor dying man’s wheeze “They burnt me ‘ut!”
  • Arya’s comments about death and nothingness reminded me of Louis CK’s nonsensical rant to his child who kept asking why: “Well, because things that are not can’t be” “Why?” “Because than nothing wouldn’t be, you can have fucking nothing isn’t!”
  • Brilliant fight poster Viper vs Mountain via thefatgit (all hail the mighty Tumblr!)
  • HBO’s taking a break – “The Mountain and the Viper” will air on 1st June so we have to wait EVEN LONGER to find out what happens, o cruel world.