Last night's Game of Thrones was the first of the season that really gave the impression of dominoes falling. From the outcome of Tyrion's trial, to Petyr's final moments with Lysa, to Daenerys' consummation of her flirtation with Daario, all of the pieces the show has arranged are beginning to tumble. This is a show where it's so easy to forgive whole episodes that seem to function as place-setting (with perhaps one big action sequence or shocking twist to tide the audience) because we know how satisfying the denouement will be.
Fans of the show who have never read the books probably could have predicted Lysa's fate or Oberyn's decision. They are eminently logical and serve the story well. But even if you saw them coming, it had to be satisfying to see them play out. Lysa's foolishness was plain from minute one of her re-appearance. By locking herself and her son in the Eyrie, she's made no friends and is forced to rely on one of her oldest, Petyr, who has become a legitimate lord but plays on his teenage manipulations of her.
It's sad to admit that Petyr chucking Lysa out of the moon door is as close to this show gets to a genuine hero moment these days. We've been waiting for Lysa to receive her comeuppance since she almost chucked Tyrion out the Moon Door in season one and spurned her sister's requests for help. Lysa's note to Catelyn, which prompted her kidnapping of Tyrion, was one of the instigating events of all the subsequent chaos, especially Ned's beheading. She's raised a brittle baby of a son who is totally unfit to rule a mighty kingdom, and she's so jealous of Petyr's attention to Sansa that she almost pushes the poor girl to her death.
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 other main chunk of plot this week was devoted to the aftermath of Tyrion's demand for trial by combat, and it felt like a long series of goodbyes. Jaime, once again his brother's first choice for defender, is sad and helpless with his one arm. Bronn, who stepped in ably before, has been married to a lady and promised a castle by Cersei, and Tyrion can hardly blame him for once again making the pragmatic decision. The scene with Bronn was exceptionally well-done—it likely won't be the last time we see the charming cutthroat, but it might be the last time we see him and Tyrion palling around like this. Much like Tyrion's goodbye with Pod, it was lovely but very sobering.
In the end, Oberyn's offer to serve as Tyrion's champion makes perfect sense. Since his introduction, he's been talking about the Mountain's great crimes and horrendous murder of his sister and her children. He doesn't really care about serving on the small council or restoring an alliance between Dorne and the throne. He wants vengeance, and the Mountain is the easiest place to start. Next week's episode is called "The Mountain and the Viper," a set-piece that will hopefully rival Tyrion's trial or Joffrey's wedding. Our brief, absurd glimpse of the Mountain serves only to remind us what a brutal non-character he is, slashing people to pieces without motivation or explanation, caring nothing for his next assignment.
The rest of the show was bitty little pieces of information, all of which will inform the final epic sweep of the season, which will wrap up all of the massive third book's plotlines and probably give us glimpses into how the show will look to plot the even more-sprawling fourth and fifth tomes. Arya's transformation from prisoner to active partner of the Hound is essentially complete, and while her humanity remains (both in her dealings with a wounded farmer and the Hound himself), her cold-bloodedness is also fully developed. She stabs the awful bandit Roge without a second thought, earning a grunt of approval from her supposed captor.
Daenerys finally hooked up with Daario after more than a season of flirtation; the scene was weirdly anti-climactic, and largely her decision rather than his, although his relentless pursuit definitely played a part. After slaking her lust, she sends Daario off to re-take the revolting Yunkai, although Jorah wisely counsels her to practice a modicum of mercy this time. It now feels like every part of the Daenerys Slaver's Bay storyline is wrapped up, but since she's not going anywhere for a bit, future twists must await us, be it this year or next.
Other scenes really felt like obscure snippets. Melisandre's meeting with Selyse was so cryptic it will have to be re-watched when her plans for her daughter Shireen become clear. Brienne and Pod's chance encounter with Hot Pie felt more like a deus ex machina than good detective-work, but it at least prodded them in the right direction in a show that so often seems to have characters walking endlessly along roads and criss-crossing each other without ever meeting. How many times in the last two seasons were people heading for Riverrun and never making it there? Now everyone's destination is the Eyrie, which is even more impregnable, but again, further twists surely await.
There's only major things to wrap up now, which is when Thrones always gets truly exciting. How will Tyrion's trial by combat play out? What will happen when the Wildlings reach the Wall? Where exactly is Stannis headed, and how quickly will Petyr and Varys move with whatever respective schemes they have running? Most importantly, what will the real power behind the throne, Tywin Lannister, do next? One thing we definitely can predict: the dominoes will keep falling.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.