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The Best of This Week’s Game of Thrones Recaps: ‘Mockingbird’

While Game of Thrones isn’t exactly the most feel-good show around, some episodes, like this week's "Mockingbird," are much less oppressive than others. As Vulture recapper Nina Shen Rastogi wrote, “There were a number of moments last night that felt … well, sunny isn’t quite the right word, but at least we might say they were rather uplifting, given the grimness that is the show’s consistent backdrop.” This week, Hot Pie made hot pies, Daario and Daenerys got busy, Tyrion found his champion, and Lysa flew through the Moon Door. Here is your recap of the recaps:

“Who's this latest visitor to Tyrion's cell? Is it a fancy out-of-town silk merchant? A smooth-talking royal advisor? No! It's Bronn, everyone's favorite horny, stabby, take-your-gold-hand-and-smack-you-with-it mercenary… except he's been hastily reformed (by Cersei, of course) and will soon be married to a lovely young lady named Lollys Stokeworth. Which means that he just doesn't have time right now to jump into the death-match ring on Tyrion's behalf.” —Previously.TV

“The mockingbird in the title could easily refer to Baelish (Aidan Gillen), a man who has so perfected the art of faking it that that he manages to be convincingly loyal and untrustworthy at once. He tells Sansa (Sophie Turner) that he arranged for Joffrey’s murder out of his lifelong love for her mother, Catelyn Stark. Then he kisses Sansa (‘Call me Petyr,’ he whispers in his inimitable, creepy way). Then he rescues Sansa from her murderously jealous aunt by toying with Lysa’s emotions, again... ‘Oh my sweet wife, my sweet, silly wife,’ he says as Lysa sobs, seconds before giving her a fatal shove. ‘I have only loved one woman, only one my entire life. Your sister.’” —New York Times

“Though it’s of little consolation to Tyrion, there’s a familial psychodrama playing out on the other side of his trial as well. After much mention of him, we finally got a look at Ser Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane last night, and it was appropriately terrifying. (For those keeping score, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is the third actor to play the role and by far the most Brobdingnagian.) Was he slaughtering those wretches for fun? For sport? For practice? Either way, the Mountain’s gut-spilling bloodlust made for quite a contrast with the sight of his brother, the Hound, quietly spilling his own. Cruelty is a connoisseur’s game in Westeros, a vicious place where the phrase ‘pick your poison’ is often meant literally.” —Grantland

“She hasn’t had to kill with her hands, but what Sansa must do emotionally is damn hard work, work that Sophie Turner conveys remarkably (in a performance that, I think, has gotten underappreciated because her character isn’t the crowd-pleaser that others are). Whether it’s enduring the cruelty of the Lannisters while keeping her composure, reassuring her crazy aunt that she has no designs on her now-uncle, or resisting said uncle’s advances in the Eyrie courtyard, Sansa can never let up, can never stop keeping up her guard and her appearances for one damn second. Which is why it’s so sweetly sad to see her have a moment of play in the snow (even if she’s building a monument to the dead) and even to get into a fight with her cousin/fiance Robin — because it’s a child’s fight, over a ruined snow castle, and for a few moments she has the opportunity to simply be the girl she is, not a wary target, a prisoner, a prize.” —Time

Also on the road somewhere? The Brienne n’ Pod Show! The best show ever. This week, they’re eating kidney pie at an inn. And who made that kidney pie? An extremely talkative Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey)! Yay Hot Pie! Remember Arya’s friend who made her the wolf bread? He’s back, he’s making pie and he’s chatting up a storm. To shut him up, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) lets him know they’re looking for Sansa Stark, and Hot Pie denies knowledge of the family and peaces out.” —The Playlist

“Chekhov’s Moon Door has been deployed, a bit earlier than we might have expected, and it’s Lysa Arryn’s turn to be cracked like an egg on the rocks below. Littlefinger has had a way lately of making a huge impact in his tiny amount of screen time, with a lifetime’s worth of lies now seeming to line up exactly the way he planned them. He’s the man who set off the entire plot of the show by plotting to kill Lysa’s husband Jon Arryn, and this season he’s reshuffled the deck of Westeros, twice, with a high-profile assassination. It’s only a pity he couldn’t toss snotty, awful Robin in after her.” —Vanity Fair

One of the most interesting things about Game of Thrones is the way in which it constantly reminds us that while Ned was honourable, he wasn't always right. He would have killed Jorah for being a slaver yet that belief in just punishment and an eye for an eye denies any concept of redemption. By contrast, Jorah is not necessarily honourable but, like that other morally grey character Jaime Lannister, he is capable of doing good. Of course there's no guarantee that Daario, a man with a liking for severed heads, will actually listen to the Khaleesi's new orders but, hey, at least Jorah tried.” —The Guardian

Of course, someone who’s been actively searching for an excuse to fight the Mountain is another matter altogether. Enter Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell, the Red Viper, a warrior/poet specializing in poison and advanced sexual technique. I’ve noted before (a few times) how fantastic I find actor Pedro Pascal to be in this role, and he did not disappoint tonight in what I found to be easily the episode’s best scene. The dialogue was top-shelf (Tyrion: ‘Making honest feelings do dishonest work is one of Cersei’s many gifts’; Oberyn: ‘It is rare to meet a Lannister who shares my enthusiasm for dead Lannisters’) and both Pascal and Dinklage delivered beautifully understated performances. Oberyn’s gentle description of his childhood meeting with cruel Cersei and baby Tyrion; his central, animating desire to serve justice to the Mountain — it all added up perfectly, inevitably, to his offer to be Tyrion’s champion. (The latter’s look of bottomless relief and gratitude was a nice bookend for his crestfallen visage when talking to Jaime.) June 1 can’t come soon enough.” —The Atlantic

Riverlands (at least, I think Arya and The Hound are in the Riverlands — that's become my all-purpose ‘wandering around in the Westeros forest’ location tag): So in this week's Road Trip Adventure-Time, Arya and the Hound come upon a dying man and have an existential discussion. Their Beckett-like debate is familiar to those who have watched a loved one suffer, or been jammed cart-to-cart in an endless line at Costco on a busy Sunday:
‘So why go on?’ Arya says. ‘Nothing could be worse than this.’
‘Maybe nothing is worse than this,’ counters the dying man.
‘Nothing is just nothing,’ double-counters Arya.
The Hounds puts the man out of his misery, abruptly concluding this production of Waiting for Gregor.” —Entertainment Weekly 

“The children on Game of Thrones have been robbed of their youth in any number of ways. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) has been brutally sexually harassed before she can come to terms with her own sexuality. Her sister Arya watched their father executed, then embarked on a terribly dangerous subterfuge to stay alive. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was literally sold to a military leader to secure an alliance. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) had to become a king and a war leader before he learned to live independently... But this week, the line between adulthood and childhood on Game of Thrones is blurred in the other direction, too. This is not the first generation of children in Westeros and elsewhere to experience horrible traumas. From the Vale to Meereen, grown-ups everywhere seem to be caught in their pain, and taking it out on everyone around them.” —Washington Post 

“For all that we critique the show's handling of nudity and sexuality, we should probably also celebrate it when it's, you know, sexy. To wit: Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, getting some of that Daario D. Henry Kissinger once called power ‘the ultimate aphrodisiac,’ but it's unlikely he realized that it applies not just for those in the presence of power, but for those who wield it as well. Dany is intoxicated by her command of this swaggering sellsword, and the master/servant dynamic she establishes by making him drop trou in front of her – and the audience, woo-hoo! – is intensely erotic. The look on her face as she stares at Daario's exposed Naharis? Hot as dragonfire.” —Rolling Stone

“Holy Game of Thrones was that ever an episode, Batman! The gift that keeps on giving, this week’s installment of the HBO Sex-and-Murder-Palooza showed us the power of influence and what happens when you’ve got yourself a champion. The Stark girls are growing up. Little by little — for better or for worse (cough, Arya) — they’re learning the cruel, cruel ways of the world and how to operate within it. Lessons by the pound where lofted upon Sansa and Arya in particular this week, with Bran nowhere to be seen (let alone Rickon), and Jon Snow getting forced to swallow his pride in the face of antagonism. But perhaps the most important lesson of all? Never cross a mockingbird — you’ll get a whole lot worse than mocked.” —Nerdist 

“There’s also only one scene for Melisandre and Selyse in this episode, although it doesn’t suffer quite the same for two reasons. The first is that I appreciated the way the scene played off the one before it, in which Daario shows up at Daenerys’ window hoping for a word and ending up in her bed. Daenerys uses his loyalty — or at least his perceived loyalty — for her own uses, pushing back against his love of war but making use of his love of women. It’s a rare scene that focuses on the female gaze in the series, both through the lengthy rear nudity from Daario (probably with a stunt bum, given the framing) and through the way the camera focuses on Daenerys poring over his body while she remains fully clothed.” —A.V. Club 

“Last week, I joked about Theon, Varys, and Grey Worm getting together for a support group to discuss their specific mutilation. But the cast as a whole has a lot of wounds and scars in common, both physical and emotional. Here, we get to experience a lot of talk about being the less-favored child, and how that can lead to a lifetime of many different forms of pain. The Hound will always display the mark of the Mountain(*), and the memory of where this said he stood within House Clegane. Lysa Arryn was consumed with jealousy for her older sister until it apparently drove her mad, and Tyrion has gone his whole life painfully aware of how much his father and sister wish he had never been conceived.” —HitFix

“So it's great that Petyr knocks her off, but my God, what a cruel way to do it, leaving Lysa with the final thought that his heart always belonged to Catelyn as he shoves her to her death. Weirdly, as cold-blooded as the moment is, I don't think Sansa should fear death from Petyr, as he holds genuine affection for her. But she should fear other things, since that kiss he planted on her is probably just the start of something. Sansa represents everything Petyr wants: his unfulfilled love of Catelyn, plus the power and influence of the North, to which she is heir. Be careful there, Sansa!” —The Wire

“They say when God closes a door, he opens a window. And in this case, when God lets someone be thrown out a door, he opens a window for a power vacuum in the Vale, and the potential for a Baelysh/Stark wedding and/or rape, and Littlefinger's takeover of the entire North, which means potentially a showdown between the recently departed's husband and that other nutjob Ramsay Snow, meaning one bastard will be fighting to keep the North while a member of a minor house who wormed his way up through national politics will be potentially the most powerful man in the continent. Or something like that... Oh Lysa. You were kind of a raging psychopath, but we'll truly miss you. Your death is making us ponder the Big Questions in life: If all the slimy wackos are dying, who will be left for us to hate?” —The New Republic