All season long, Game of Thrones has reflected what a cruel world Westeros has become in the wake of civil war, thanks to the largely callous nobility and politicians who rule it. Near the end of “The Mountain and the Viper,” Tyrion details his efforts as a young boy to figure out what his simple cousin got out of endlessly smashing beetles with rocks. He found no answer, but more than anything it sounds like Orson’s beetle vendetta was just a reflection of the cruel world around him. Tyron’s remembrance led directly into the gripping, harrowingly tense, and ultimately brutal and sadly cruel main showdown of the night: The Mountain versus The Red Viper, which ended with both lying flat on their backs but the latter’s head popped open like a melon.
Oberyn’s mission with the Mountain is unfortunately two-fold. He wants to kill him, as revenge for the decades-ago rape and murder of his sister and her children, but he also wants to hear his public confession. Oberyn is not only on a holy mission of vengeance, although his conviction in that regard cannot be understated. This is also pure theater—he wants the Mountain, in front of the capital’s gathered nobility, to admit that Tywin Lannister ordered the death of Elia Martell. That ends up being Oberyn’s downfall, as his refusal to strike the killing blow leaves him exposed and the Mountain does what only a titanically large man like him can do—smooshes Oberyn’s head apart. But Oberyn does get his confession! Just a shame he had to get it that way.