Game of Thrones · NIU · Scholars of the Throne

Tis a Big and Beautiful World

This week’s blog covers:

S4 Ep 5: “First of his Name”

S4 Ep 6: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

S4 Ep 7: “Mockingbird”

S4 Ep 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”


This Week’s highlight(s):

This week’s highlight goes to Prince Oberyn of Dorne. These latest episodes show a side of the Game of Thrones universe that has yet to be seen. He hails from a land of sun and love. Dorne is not a patriarchal society. Women can inherit land and become warriors. Most likely due to where he grew up, Oberyn has a large worldview. In “The Laws of Gods and Men,” Oberyn meets with Varys at the Iron Throne. Oberyn tells Varys,

Tis a big and beautiful world. Most of us live and die in the same corner where we were born and never get to see any of it. I don’t want to be most of us.

This interaction is followed with an interesting line from Varys about desire and power. The framing of the shot and nod of Varys to the throne would suggest that he is interested in the throne, but it is very unlikely based on what we know about the character. This scene makes me wonder what Varys’ motivations were at the time.

In “Mockingbird,” Oberyn tells Tyrion about when he first met him as a baby. Oberyn explains that although rumors established that Tyrion was a monstrous freak, when he met the little baby, he found no monster at all. Just a baby. This is nicely reflected in the kangaroo court that is Tyrion’s trial when he yells, “I wish I was the monster you think I am.” Oberyn views on humanity make him a great character.

This Week’s Lowlife(s):

Petyr Baelish returns to the list of lowlifes this week after being relatively silent the last season or two. It’s in these latest episodes, we find out that this rat is actually one of the most lethal men in Westeros. He has been operating in the shadows and it is paying off. Besides his murder of Lysa through the moon door, it is revealed that he is directly responsible for the deaths of many, and essentially starting the War of the Five Kings. Without counting the thousands of lives that have ended due to the war, it is revealed that Baelish had Lysa poison her husband. He also betrayed Ned, which resulted in his execution, he gave Ros to Joffrey to torture and kill, and masterminded the poisoning of Joffrey. This guy is not to be messed with, but I really do hope at the end of this, he fails miserably and all his efforts are for naught.

This week’s lowlife status of Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane makes his long overdue appearance. This notoriously violent and infamously dishonorable giant has instilled fear in the people of Westeros and viewers alike since season 1, despite his murderous rage having only been mostly referred to and seen sparingly. The Mountain’s brother Sandor “the Hound” Clegane reveals to Arya in “Mockingbird” how he got his scars and debilitating fear of fire. This speech was used as Rory McCann’s audition tape. Check it out here! Due to bad weather while filming the tournament, production inserted the scene of Baelish telling the story to Sansa with Arya listening in during season 1’s “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things.” It wasn’t until “Mockingbird” that the Hound could tell his side of the story.

“The pain was bad. The smell was worse. But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it. My father, who protected him, told everyone my bedding caught fire. You think you’re on your own?

Although the Hound is a brooding, brutal, and frequently callous character, he is not without compassion. As a protector of Sansa and a traveling companion to Arya, he has found his way to my heart. In class, we have begun discussing whether it is nature or nurture that creates individual differences in the character’s behavioral and psychological traits. It makes me wonder what the Hound would have been like if he didn’t have the Mountain as a brother and parents that protected his violence. Hearing the Hound’s side of the story humanizes him and adds dimension to his character.

The Mountain also makes this list due to his murder of Prince Oberyn of Dorne, in “The Mountain and the Viper.” I will miss Pedro Pascal’s mischievous, honest, and good-hearted portrayal of Oberyn. These qualities are hard to come by in the Game of Thrones universe. Here’s a picture of the Mountain and Prince Oberyn in real life. It helps heal the pain. It really does.


I’d also like to briefly discuss the actor who portrays the Mountain. By season 4, we have been introduced to 3 different actors, but this one really is the perfect Mountain. Icelandic giant, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson definitely has a copy/paste name, but conveniently goes by the name Thor. Last year, at 26 years old, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson broke a 1,000-year-old viking record. He carried a 649 kg log on his back for five steps. That’s an equivalent to 1,433 lbs. Check out the video here! Standing at 6’9″, this former professional basketball player didn’t always look as he did now. Check out that transformation. Phwhoa.


Thought Provoking Theme(s):


Agency consistently acts as an important theme throughout the series. This week, we see it through Dany and Bran. Dany is faced with the decision to continue her conquering or choosing to stay and rule, enforcing freedom. She ultimately decides to rule in Meereen and take back the cities that have once again been brutalized by the powerful. Bran must decide if he should continue North in his search for the three-eyed raven or reunite with his brother, Jon, which would mean regaining family and safety. Bran ultimately decides to continue North. These decisions are major for both of the characters. Only time will tell if these decisions were wise.


In one of the most interesting monologues of the season, Tyrion is faced with his probable death. He begins talking with Jaime about their cousin Orson Lannister, who would sit for hours smashing beetles. Tyrion tells how he used to watch him for hours and wondered why he would just smash beetles all day. Tyrion is questioning why seemingly random acts of brutality happen in the world. Tyrion is not a natural killer, unlike the Mountain and many more. He cannot grasp why this senseless violence occurs so much. It’s a question that I have asked many times before.

7 thoughts on “Tis a Big and Beautiful World

  1. That audition tape was an eye opener–“Look at me!” I wasn’t clear whether that part was improvised or in the script given to him–but testosterone fueled aggression it demonstrated.
    Your description of the Varys/Oberyn scene brings up a pet peeve of mine. I am worrying that GOT is starting to bring in writers who don’t respect the books, or what was created in the first three seasons. Varys was established as the one powerful character who did NOT lust for the Throne–he articulated the need for “the good of the realm” in contrast to all the over achievers wanting power. This scene feels to me like it was a rainy day, let’s shoot something with Varys and Oberyn to flesh out Oberyn’s character a bit more, oh, Varys is on the set? bring him in. If I had been there as a script adviser or some such capacity, I would have never let them get away with that scene, it ruins the most interesting part of Varys, his dedication to order. Phooey on HBO on this one!


  2. I liked your analysis of agency with Bran. He made a big move by not going to castle black and following the whispers of the weirwood tree. I too am curious moving forward as to the journey they will have. He is becoming more comfortable as a warg, but I wonder if Summer was hurt because of the trap it fell into. Overall, I’m not sure why he is being beckoned to go north, but I’m sure it’ll be a game changer.


  3. I read Varys’ nod to the throne as some attempt to confuse Oberyn..But overall, I was definitely confused by that interaction. It definitely doesn’t make sense that Varys’ character would want the throne. I like your point about Tyrion’s inability to understand senseless brutality.
    Also- the actor who plays the mountain is absolutely terrifying. I thought maybe they used some effects to make him look that big…but wow…


  4. Recently The Mountain (I won’t even attempt to type his name out) sparred with UFC MMA champion Connor McGregor and it really shows how massive he is relative to a 6 foot 170 lbs regular sized human being. I hate that scene where he is just brutally murdering what I perceive as slaves or low-borne citizens, that is barbaric as hell.


  5. I think Game of Thrones is centered around the major decisions that characters need to make. You pointed out Daenerys and Bran, but there were other characters who had difficult choices, Sansa had to choose to help Lord Baelish or throw him under the bus. Both options would yield different results but in the end is there one that is going to be truly the best? I am interested to see what the decisions the characters made this week give them. Will Daenerys be alright in slaves bay and will she cope with the loss of Ser Jorah? Is Bran going to survive the North? There is only one way to find out…..


  6. I also wondered what the heck was going on with Varys and Oberyn. I agree, Varys doesn’t want the throne, but why did he nod at it to Oberyn? So confused. Cool info about the actor that plays the Mountain!


  7. Like Tyrion and yourself, I have also often questioned senseless acts of brutality.. in Westeros and our world alike. If you’ve read my blog form this set of episodes, you know that I was incredibly intriqued by the “smashing beetles” scene as well. It felt like the first time in GoT that serious issues were discussed using a rather simple metaphor to explain a huge concept throughout the show. Poor Oberyn.. like I mentioned on Nates Watch.. there are few things on television that make me turn away from the screen.. but this is one of them.


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