‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper” Reaction

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The narrative acumen of the Game of Thrones show runners and their crew was on full display this episode. The opening sequence was masterful and cinematic, setting the perfect tone for the entire episode, which has to be the most well-structured, evenly-paced, and deftly executed installment of the season up to this point. All the transitions were narratively and thematically coherent; there was no filler in the episode, even if there was a small amount of fat in isolated instances. 

I think it’s time to start talking seriously about award nominations for Sophie Turner. She’s gone from being a pretty teenager with raw, unpolished acting talent to a striking young woman with maturity and control. Whereas Maisie Williams has been on a steady (albeit rapid) upward trajectory in the development of her craft (at least as it appears on screen), Sophie Turner seems to have undergone a sudden growth spurt. That’s not to say that she hasn’t developed progressively as well, I simply mean that she’s made a tremendous leap forward in terms of her performance that mirrors the changes in Sansa as a character. I continue to be impressed.

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Staying in The Vale, I’m beginning to think that Aiden Gillan is turning in a classic pulp performance the likes of which haven’t been seen on television since Twin Peaks. I just can’t imagine anyone else playing this character in any other way than he’s doing. He’s so close to going over the top at times that it’s actually exhilarating to watch him pull off such a deft balancing act with the aplomb he does.  To me, he’ll always be Tommy Carcetti first, but his Little Finger is one for the ages as well.

Some death scenes are more memorable than others. Even for this series Oberyn’s ranks highly in the books and the screen adaptation did not disappoint. Just in terms of visuals, that was quite simply the best skull-crushing since Drive, and in many ways it was an even more unforgiving presentation due to the detail presented in the medium-wide of the aftermath. You could actually make out the features of his face in pulp form. It was truly one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen on screen, which of course makes for beautiful television.

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Overall, I enjoyed this episode immensely. I think the season is winding down really well and I look forward to watching this episode again.

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