Game of Thrones recap: The Showdown

An emotionally brutal episode, "'The Mountain and the Viper' has an upsetting fight climax, while Sansa takes a shocking dark turn
Ep. 08 | Aired Jun 1, 2014

SPEAR OF INFLUENCE: The Mountain (Hafthor Bjornsson) and The Viper (Pedro Pascal) fight to the death.

After an endless two-week break, tonight's return of HBO's Game of Thrones has the rumble-in-the-capitol title bout we've been waiting for. In one corner, there's Prince Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell, the revenge-seeking, spear-wielding, Dornish polyamorous defender of his family's honor. In the other, there's Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, the raping, torturing, murdering, brother-face-burning war crime stooge for the Lannister clan.

The potential impact of this trial by combat is pretty major. Tyrion, whom one could argue has been the star of the show since Ned Stark lost his head, will be executed if Oberyn loses. Plus, Oberyn or The Mountain will presumably die in this fight. And there's also the other Lannisters to consider -- particularly Cersei, who is hugely vested in wanting her little brother dead. And let's not forget Oberyn's lover Ellaria Sand is on the scene as well

Yet the fight is only one section of tonight's episode, and naturally Thrones will make us wait through most of the hour until we get the main event. There are undercard scenes with Littlefinger, Arya, Gilly, Dany and Theon (separately, of course, not together -- though that would be wild, if they all just suddenly happened to run into each other).

So let's get out the foam fingers and sunspear flags in anticipation of cheering on the Prince of Dorne.

Molestown: Skanky tavern-dwellers have belching contests that replicate various Westeros hit songs. One local who could really use some Valtrex gives Gilly a hard time for her baby, virginity and lack of skin blemishes. Earlier this season we saw Sam tuck Gilly away in the one place he knew she would safe from sexual assault (a brothel!?) -- but now it's under attack from the advance Wildling commando team. The Wildlings swam the village and Terminator Ygritte kills innocent people left and right.

Ygritte is the one who finds Gilly and her baby (yes, an Unexpected Character Pairing -- and not the last of this season, either). The redhead finds a nugget of empathy in her frosty Snow-hardened heart and spares them.

At Castle Black, Samwell is devastated with guilt. His brothers point out that Gilly is a survivor, and not to give up hope.

Meereen: Bathing scene. Lots of abs. Comely Missandei is washing herself when Grey Worm spots her and stares and stares and stares. Later, she has some girl-chat with Dany, who wonders if the Unsullied men lost "the pillar and the stones" when they were castrated. Dany is also doing Missandei's hair, which is pretty nice, since she's the queen and all.

Missandei then tells Grey Worm she doesn't mind that he saw her. Grey Worm explains he's not bitter about being castrated because it would have set him on a different path. Could this be the start of a new romance? Or will their love be, uh, cut short? Maybe Theon, Varys and Grey Worm can meet for drinks and form a support group.

NEXT: Meet enchanted evil queen Sansa


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