Dragonstone: Melisandre boobs. The most interesting thing about this scene is the Red Woman's admission that not all the magical powers she displays are real -- some of what she does to impress people are merely tricks "that led them to the truth." The second most interesting is thing is that Melisandre keeps some sort of lethal-to-the-touch poison on the shelf right next to her bubble bath. Beta-female Selyse meekly ogles his wife's mistress and gets steamrolled on her parental decision to leave little Shireen behind on their upcoming sea voyage. Wait, sea voyage? To re-take King's Landing, I assume, with their wealth from the Iron Bank?
King's Landing: Have the scenes set in Tyrion's cell been getting progressively darker all season? Certainly in this episode, his cell has been literally darker in each passing scene, as Tyrion's situation gets increasingly dire and he descends into despair. He's barely left with torchlight in this scene.
Tyrion has been visited by his protector ghosts of Christmas past (Jaime), present (Bronn) and now his future -- Prince Oberyn. This was the first scene actor Pedro Pascal shot for Thrones, by and by, which is pretty amazing considering how formidable and pivotal it is.
Oberyn tells of visiting the Lannisters' home when Tyrion was just a baby. He gives a horrifying anecdote of Cersei abusing The Imp as an infant, and how Jaime ordered her to stop. He recalls Cersei said, "It doesn't matter, everyone says he will die soon. I hope they are right, he should not have lived this long." This confirms Tyrion's suspicions of how deeply her antagonism for him runs. It also infuriates and saddens him. He now knows that even as an infant, he was hated and tormented. It's like he never stood a chance. He's struggling not to cry, and we are too. Recall here The Hound's statement -- how the worst part was that a family member was abusing him. "It's rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters," Oberyn says.
But once again, Cersei's use of strategy is short sighted. By appointing The Mountain, such an obvious Goliath, she picked the one person that one of the best swordsmen in King's Landing desperately wants to fight. "I will be your champion," Oberyn declares, and Tyrion's face breaks into relief. Everybody is talking about Peter Dinklage's big speech last week, but this week's performance is just as great.
Also, let's praise George R.R. Martin for this scene. I suspect this twist plays less surprisingly on the show due to unavoidable story compression. Did many of you see this coming earlier, during this episode before Oberyn's reveal? That may explain why producers wrote this scene's ending a little differently. In A Storm of Swords, this beat was the best kind of shock -- totally unexpected, yet completely obvious in retrospect. I actually liked Martin's closing dialogue better, which came at the very end of a Tyrion chapter. Oberyn tells Tyrion that he will try to save him. Then:
“You?” Tyrion studied him. “You are one judge in three. How could you save me?”
“Not as your judge. As your champion.”
BOOM! I jumped out of my chair all geekily excited when I hit that line. It felt like this wonderful piece of plotting clicking perfectly into place. If you only read one of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books, read that one.
NEXT: The Moon Door is hungry and must be fed; Teases of what's to come